Tuesday, October 2, 2018

‘War Zone Zoo’: the Berlin Zoo and WW2





‘War Zone Zoo’: the Berlin Zoo and WW2


May 1945. The war in Europe has come to an end. Bombardments by the Allies and house-to-house combat between the German Wehrmacht and the Russian Red Army have turned the city into a pile of rubble. The impressive 19th century zoo next to Tiergarten Park has also suffered heavily from the violence of war. Many stray bombs came down on the premises. During the battle of Berlin, the zoo turned into a battlefield as tanks and shells left their destructive traces. The premises of the zoo, once so well-attended, has deteriorated to a gruesome cratered landscape. Dead soldiers and carcasses of animals lie scattered everywhere. Less than 100 of the approximately 3,500 animals have survived.

‘War Zone Zoo’ tells the gripping tale of the Berlin Zoo, its employees and its animals in wartime. Its history and restoration also pass review. This is a story of how violence and dictatorship made the Berlin Zoo lose its innocence, but it is also a story of love for animals, human powers of survival and the rebirth of the historic and public icon the Berlin Zoo still is today. Below are two chapters of this new book written by Kevin Prenger.

The zoo under fire
On September 8, 1941, the zoo was struck by the first bombs. Six 250 pounders inflicted particularly heavy damage on the forest restaurant and its surroundings while the cattle stables were set on fire by incendiaries. Damage was minimal however and was repaired within a few weeks. For two years afterwards, the zoo was not hit again with the exception of five 250 pounders which came down on uncultivated terrain between the enclosures of the cattle and the wolves. It was on November 22 and 23, 1943 the zoo was subjected to the heaviest air raid so far. Arthur “Bomber” Harris, commander-in-chief of R.A.F. Bomber Command had launched the “Battle of Berlin” a few days previously, intended to force Germany to surrender by massive bombing attacks on Berlin and other cities in Germany. On November 22, 764 bombers of the R.A.F. unleashed a massive attack on the western part of Berlin, including Tiergarten. Over a period of a week, more attacks would follow, claiming 3,758 dead, 10,000 injured and half a million homeless. When it was over, hardly a single habitable house was still standing in the streets around the zoo.

The zoo did not fare much better than its surroundings. On November 22, sometime between 19:15 and 19:30, the zoo was hit by various types of bombs, including more than 1,000 incendiary bombs. Raging fires could hardly be extinguished because the water mains had also been damaged by the bombs. Numerous animal houses and enclosures were struck by bombs or burned to the ground, including the houses of the elephants, monkeys and predators. Other buildings were damaged as well, such as the quarantine building, various utility buildings and Heck’s villa. In less than 15 minutes, 30% of the zoo population was killed. The next day, towards 20:00 the aquarium building was completely destroyed by a direct hit. In the morning, passers-by on the Budapesterstraße were confronted with the gruesome sight of the lifeless bodies of 4 crocodiles. The reptiles had probably been flung out onto the street by the explosion. If they had survived the blast, they must have died from the cold outside instead.



Following the bombardments, frightening rumors erupted in the city about dangerous animals having escaped from the zoo. In the dark bomb shelters just the thought of roaming poisonous snakes and hungry crocodiles was enough to frighten the people to death. Stories about elephants stampeding through the streets and tigers prowling through the ruins fed the imagination but actually, the Berliners would never have to be afraid of escaped dangerous animals. Apart from the dingo that Maria van Maltzan took back to the zoo, only a few monkeys, smaller animals and birds escaped. Josepha von Koskull, employed as a Luftschützwärtin (member of the air raid protection), observed another escaped animal in the morning after the air raid of November 19. After having weathered ashes and the red hot glare of smoldering heaps of debris on her way to the zoo, she noticed a bewildered looking “shepherd’s dog” near her completely burnt out guard house creeping past. She took pity on the exhausted and dazed animal and wanted to share her slice of bread with it. Just as she was on the point of doing so, two zoo keepers turned up to take the escaped wolf back to its cage.

During the bombardment, many animals had not even had the chance to escape as they had been killed during the inferno. Of the larger animals, 7 elephants, a black rhino, a chimpanzee, an orangutan, 7 predators, a couple of giraffes, 2 pygmy hippos, an elephant seal and half of the antelope and deer had been killed. A larger part had survived though: 721 mammals and 1,212 birds of various species. Among the survivors were giraffe Rieke, female orangutan Buschi and gorilla Pongo who had been with the zoo since 1936 and had appeared on the cover of the 1937 issue of the visitor’s guide. There was only one survivor in the heavily damaged elephant house, the bull Siam which had lost its entire harem. As sad as the losses may have been though, they could have been far worse if manager Heck had not evacuated a large number of animals in advance to zoos elsewhere within the Reich.

Prior to the bombardments of November 1943, a number of Heck’s colleagues had declared themselves willing to take in animals for the time being as well as after the raids. Animals were temporarily housed in the zoos of Wien-Schönbrunn, Breslau (Wroclaw), Frankfurt am Main, Halle, Cologne and Königsberg (Kaliningrad). Private collections also had taken animals in and on the Schorf Moor cattle enjoyed a habitat undoubtedly better than that of the zoo. A very helpful zoo that took in a large number of animals from Berlin after the November 1943 raids, was the Mulhouse zoo in the Alsace. At that time the city, Mülhausen in German, was part of the German Empire. On February 7 and 10, 1944 transports from Berlin arrived carrying 237 mammals and 149 species of birds, an amount which would have easily filled a fair sized zoo by itself. Out of the 750 of 247 species,

evacuated from Berlin for their safety, only giraffe Rieke returned from Vienna, in 1953. The other animals had either died of old age or by the violence of war, most other zoos in the Reich had been subjected to as well.

 Picture
Buildings in flames after a bombardment of Berlin in July 1944.(Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-J30142 / CC-BY-SA)

While clouds of dust were slowly descending after the November raids, Berliners went about assessing the damage and salvaging the victims; in the zoo, work was taken up quickly to care for the surviving animals and to clear the premises as far as possible. Forest workers of the Reichsforstamt, soldiers from the Flak tower, a police unit, a platoon of the Technische Nothilfe (emergency rescue team), engineers of the Wehrmacht and prisoners-of-war, were all deployed to clear up the zoo. A team of veterinarians was brought in to dissect the giant corpses of the elephants so they could be taken to the destruction facility in pieces. In order to take off the edge of hunger after the hard labor, a canteen was established with a very peculiar menu. “We had meat coming out of our ears”, Heck declared. “Many of the edible animals which had fallen victim to the air raid ended up in the pot. Particularly tasty were the crocodiles’ tails; cooked tender in big containers, they tasted like fat chicken. The dead deer, buffalo and antelopes provided hundreds of meals for man and beast alike. Later on, bear ham and bear sausage were particular delicacies.”

For the zoo, the 1943 November raids were not yet the end of the terror from the sky as it was hit again by explosives, incendiaries and aerial mines on January 29 and 30, February 15, March 24 , May 8, in October, December 31, 1944 and on February 24, 1945. The zoo, once the glory of Berlin with its grandeur and richness in animals, turned to rubble just like the surrounding city. Yet the zoo remained open to the public until the last. As late as April 22, 1945, it closed its gates to the public. It was a perennial concern for the keepers to obtain sufficient food for the animals in a city where everything was on ration and to help those animals, used to a warmer climate, survive the cold winters. Various buildings proved to be uninhabitable after raids, requiring a search for alternative housing. For instance the pygmy hippos were temporarily housed in a lavatory building where the temperature could still be kept at an acceptable level. Various buildings had undergone hap hazard repairs to offer the animals at least some protection and simultaneously shore up their ramshackled housing.

Saved from the fire
In the middle of the war, May 29, 1943, a baby hippo was born. After the defeat in the battle for Stalingrad (St. Petersburg) in the previous winter, in which the Wehrmacht suffered crippling losses, the arrival of new life was an encouraging event for keepers and visitors of the zoo alike. The young bull was baptized Knautschke. After having survived the heavy bombardments of November 1943, the eight month old animal barely escaped with its life during the air raid of January 30, 1944. The little hippo survived, thanks to a couple of courageous young men, one of them being Peter Schmidt. He was posted to the Zoo Flak bunker as of January 12 as Luftwaffenhelfer (air force apprentice). Along with other boys, 15 and 16 years of age, he was tasked with various jobs, ferrying munitions for example. Owing to a shortage of men, boys like Peter were soon employed to operate the anti-aircraft guns. Because Peter had not yet finished his training, he was suspended from this job in January 1944.

In order to give Peter and other inexperienced boys something to do, their Hauptwachtmeister offered them the opportunity to report as volunteers for guarding and clearing jobs in the zoo. Most of them, including Peter considered this an adventurous job and signed up for it. So it came to be that on in the night of January 30, Peter and his comrades were in the zoo. A year earlier to the day, the 10th anniversary of the seizure of power by the Nazis had been celebrated but after the air raids on German cities, the loss of the battle of Stalingrad and the defeat of Erwin Rommel’s Afrikakorps in North-Africa in May 1943, there was no festive mood at the time. That night, around 20:15, Berlin was hit again by a heavy bombardment causing further damage to the zoo as well. Places like the main restaurant, the ostrich house and the hippo house were hit. Peter and the other Luftwaffe apprentices had their work cut out for them.

As they made their way through the dark zoo, they stumbled upon a burning building made of bricks. It was the hippo house. It had various entrances, one of them destined for Knautschke. His exit was blocked by debris and pieces of wood. Peter and the other boys saw how the young hippo vainly tried to escape through a side exit. The passage however was too small for the already fairly large animal and its head got stuck. Wheezing and snorting, the hippo tried to get clear while glowing tinder and burning pieces of the roof were falling on it. The boys took pity on the helpless animal and tried to enlarge the exit. The masonry had become fissured from the heat and the vibration and between the three of them, they managed to work some chunks free so Knautschke would fit in the opening. Subsequently he jumped into the water basin with a big splash, disappearing in a cloud of steam.

Peter and his comrades were relieved they had freed Knautschke from his precarious position but wondered whether they had done the right thing. They could not assess the condition of the animal as the young hippo had been subjected to the heat and its skin had been burned in various places. Despondently they returned to the Flak bunker. They later learned their rescue attempt had been successful. Knautschke’s injuries turned out to be minor. Manager Heck invited Peter and the others to the zoo and personally showed them around, carrying the young chimpanzee Susi on his arm. Susi was to survive the war, just like Knautschke. The hippo became the darling of the public and would produce 35 offspring. His life story had a bad ending though. During a fight with one of his sons in 1988, his lower yaw became so badly damaged he was no longer able to eat and he was put down at the age of 46. Nowadays, a life size bronze sculpture of the popular animal, one of the few that would survive the war, stands at the entrance of the new hippo building.

Picture

Life size sculpture of Knutschke, the hippo that had been saved from a burning building in the zoo and survived the war. (Manfred Gräfe, Stiftung Stadtmuseum Berlin / CC-BY-SA)

 Picture
Post war picture of hippos Knautschke and Bulette, one of his 35 offspring. (Zoologischer Garten Berlin)




Sunday, August 26, 2018

Zoo News Digest 26th August 2018 (ZooNews 1006)

Zoo News Digest 26th August 2018  (ZooNews 1006)

 




Peter Dickinson

elvinhow@gmail.com

 

Dear Colleague,


Just days away from leaving Dubai now. This last month has been really chaotic with things that needed to be done, seen and attended and with all the endless bureaucratic bungling that is Dubai I am wondering that I will get everything sorted in time....If I don't I will be fined for overstay It would really have been easier to stay than go....I didn't have to go, I could have stayed and as I loved my work and I love my staff and the penguins and will miss them all badly....well I have learned for my next life. Whatever I am moving on to my next adventure and whatever it brings with it.

 "good zoos will not gain the credibility of their critics until they condemn the bad zoos wherever they are." Peter Dickinson


Lots of interest follows. 


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Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 85,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 78,000 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 900 Zoos in 155+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
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Using a Target All The Time Gives You Less Focus
Im in love with using targets. We are using them for everything and all the time for shaping a various amount of behaviors. It’s the best tool after a bridge in my belief. Targets come in all shape and sizes. Training animals for match to sample might be as well just a different target point. A platform or scale might just be a target point. Your hand or a physical target pole is just a different target point. There are so many different ways to train behaviors but 9 out of 10 times there are targets involved but should we stop there? Often enough as trainers we train the animal to the point where we have desensitised the animals for scenarios and trained them for duration on the target. All criteria leading towards the final goal. But…






A nail in the coffin of the captive lion breeding industry?
There was an overwhelming consensus for the need to bring an end to the controversial captive lion breeding industry in South Africa at a two-day Parliamentary Colloquium of the Portfolio Committee of Environmental Affairs.

However, in an article in this morning’s Cape Times “SA’s lion conservation policies rooted in science” is a carefully scripted piece by Minister Molewa trying to justify an industry the majority of attendants at the colloquium agree has passed its sell-by date.

Mr MP Mapulane (chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Environmental Affairs) summed up the sentiment around the room by saying “South Africa is allowing a practice that everybody is turning their backs to, we need to find a solution as a country to improve the situation”.

The consensus is that the captive lion breeding industry has little to no conservation value, raises serious animal welfare issues, and doing serious damage to Brand SA. As Dr Ali Kaka (CIC Ambassador for Africa) says “the bad publicity has to be noted” and “South Africa’s conservation success rightly or wrongly will be questioned and smeared”.

This was confirmed in a new report





CAN ZOOS BE REDESIGNED FOR A MORE ETHICAL GENERATION?
n early June, when animals were feared to have left Eifel Zoo in Germany after flooding breached the zoo’s fencing, you could hear the cheers echo around the world. A week later, a dream-like video emerged of an elephant walking through the small town of Neuwied, in the east of the country, having escaped from a local circus. Social media went wild. Public sentiment was defiantly on the side of these defectors, applauding their righteous break for freedom.

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Cebu Safari bids to become PH's largest with Asia's longest zipline
The Cebu Safari, a 170-hectare development, is home to some 1,200 animals imported from Spain, Australia, US, Africa, and other parts of the world, but the park's officials refuse to call the facility a "zoo."

"We do not call this a zoo because the zoo's concept is caged animals. Dito, ang concept is for them to be in natural habitats," Cebu Safari operations manager Shirley Vidaurrazaga told ABS-CBN News.

"We tell guests that the animals are here for you to see, not to entertain you," Vidaurrazaga said.

Guests can either ride safari trucks to see zebras, wildebeests and other animals grazing in a savannah, or walk along terrains where black swans, pelicans, and other fowls nest.

The project's ambitious goal is to be a world-class safari, and a one-stop adventure destination for foreign and local tourists. It is over an hour's drive from Cebu City.

"We have bred orangutans, black-crested macaques, lions and tigers, and we are set to open an animal hospital by the last






First Humboldt penguin chick born in India dies in Mumbai zoo
The first-ever Humboldt penguin, born in Mumbai zoo last week, died here two days ago, an official said here on Friday.

Hatched on August 15, the penguin died on August 22 (Wednesday), shocking the zoo authorities.

An autopsy was performed by a three-member team of the Bombay Veterinary College, Parel, at the zoo hospital.

The preliminary report revealed that the chick suffered from "new-born anomalies like yolk sac retention and liver dysfunction" resulting in its death.

The Veermata Jijabai Bhonsale Udyan & Zoo authorities said that parents of the chick -- Mr. Molt and Flipper -- took good care of it after it was hatched, but it failed to survive.

However, it is not clear why the development was kept under wraps by the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for more than two days though the chick's birth had generated





Owner of troubled zoo is accused of neglect by trainer as a trail of dead animals are found including an emu and three ibises
Questions are being raised at Britain's most troubled zoo over who is responsible after a trail of dead animals have been found over the past eight months.

Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, in Ceredigion, was the place where two lynx died within days of each other, and now a slew of other animals have died- including an emu that escaped close to the lion enclosure and perished after being 'strangled'.

As well as the emu, three northern bald ibis died after getting tangled in some netting and Dana, a squirrel monkey was found in her own blood in an allegedly filthy cage, according to a previous keeper at the zoo.

Mark Anthony, an animal trainer who was at the zoo, has claimed a number of animals have died from neglect, according to The Times





Giant panda conservation success of China and world’s zoos celebrated in Beijing exhibition
Film screenings, artwork and photographs are featured in the first exhibition devoted to what its organisers call “panda culture”.

Is the giant panda worth saving? China’s big profits have the answer
It traces the giant panda’s journey into Western consciousness, recalling how French priest and zoologist Armand David, known as Père David, was the first foreigner to bring them to the attention of the West. The French missionary described the body of a white bear with black legs and ears in his journal in 1869 while stationed at the Dengchi Valley Cathedral in Yaan, a city in Sichuan province.

Launching the exhibition, Yang Chao, director of the Department of Wildlife Conservation and Nature Reserve Management of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration, said the threat to giant panda populations had been reduced through conservation work.





Whole lot of biomechanics involved in movement of tigers
Just like an automobile, the tiger too has an engine, torque, turning radius and ground clearance. The feline has a success rate of 80 per cent in hunting.

Just like how so many spare parts are involved in making an automobile run, there is a whole lot of biomechanics involved in the functioning of a tiger.

In this week's Zoo Tales series featuring Arignar Anna Zoological Park, popular called Vandalur zoo, we will see about the hunting techniques and biomechanics of the tiger.

As it is popularly known, tigers are solitary hunters. Cro




Beer, Drinking Water And Fish: Tiny Plastic Is Everywhere
Plastic trash is littering the land and fouling rivers and oceans. But what we can see is only a small fraction of what's out there.

Since modern plastic was first mass-produced, 8 billion tons have been manufactured. And when it's thrown away, it doesn't just disappear. Much of it crumbles into small pieces.

Scientists call the tiny pieces "microplastics" and define them as objects smaller than 5 millimeters — about the size of one of the letters on a computer keyboard. Researchers started to pay serious attention to microplastics in the environment about 15 years ago. They're in oceans, rivers and lakes. They're also in soil. Recent research in Germany found that fertilizer made from




Giraffe, rhino deaths raise alarm at former Buenos Aires zoo
Shaki was 18 when she died - too young, given the life expectancy of a giraffe. Ruth the rhinoceros was recovering from an infection until she fell, was stuck in thick mud for hours while zoo staff tried to rescue her, and then died.

The recent deaths at Buenos Aires Zoo have fuelled charges by conservationists that an attempt in 2016 by the city government to turn the zoo into a less intensive ecological park and relocate most of its 1500 animals to sanctuaries has been a poorly planned disaster.




Illegal Majorca turtle farm shut down by police
Europe's biggest illegal turtle and tortoise farm has been shut down on the Spanish island of Majorca, police say.

Civil Guard officers say they rescued 1,100 animals from a farm near Llucmajor in the south of the island, many of them endangered.

The protected species were reportedly kept in poor conditions on the site.

Two German men were arrested on suspicion of running the farm, as well as a Spanish pet shop owner in Barcelona.

The three suspects face charges of money laundering and trafficking an endangered species.

Authorities said the farm was set up to breed turtles on an industrial scale, while the pet shop owner "laundere





More protection needed for Chinese pangolins
Pangolins should be considered a top priority for conservation in China, with nature reserves set up in key mountain habitats.

That's the message of scientists studying the decline of the scaly mammals in eastern China.

Pangolins, or scaly anteaters, are considered to be the world's most trafficked wild mammal.

Research found numbers had dropped by more than 50% over three decades since the 1970s.

The animals are poached in Asia and Africa for their meat and also for their scales, which are sought after for use in traditional medicine.

Pangolins are now mainly confined to the Wuyi Mountains in northern Fujian province, where many rare and unusual animals are found.

Yang Li, Xiaofeng Luan and Minhao Chen of Beijing Forestry University in China say pangolins deserve more attention from scientists and local people.

"Pangolins have been listed in the list




Palestine's first aquarium brings marine life to landlocked West Bank
A giant ship sits staunchly in the city of al-Bireh, which lies next to Ramallah, the de-facto Palestinian capital of the West Bank. The architecture looks out of place against the block-built stone houses and apartments in the area.

But even more so, it catches the eye as one drives past it, due to the West Bank being landlocked.





Pasuruan zoo welcomes birth of white lion cub
Prigen Safari Park zoo in Pasuruan, East Java, has just welcomed the birth of a white lion cub named Aldovo--the fifth white lion in the zoo.

Aldovo, a male, was born on July 27 to 3-year-old mother Meng Meng and 5-year-old father Kaka.

The zoo’s veterinarian, Dessy, said the other four white lions in the zoo were brought from Chimelong Zoo in China in March, including the couple Meng Meng and Kaka.

“Meng Meng gave birth to Aldovo in a cage during quarantine,” she said on Thursday.

However, Dessy added that right after Meng Meng gave birth to Aldovo, she did not lick her cub like most mammals usually do after the birth process. 

“We are now trying to get Me





Orangutan expert sees connection between zoos, Borneo release center
Indonesian orangutan conservator Jamartin Sihite looked into the eyes of a captive orangutan against others’ advice some 10 years ago, and the result changed his life and career.

Sihite, then an environmental scientist and ecology specialist working for organizations including the World Wildlife Federation Indonesia and the Nature Conservancy, found himself haunted by what he saw in the eyes of an adult orangutan confined in a cage for some 25 years.

“They trapped me,” he said. “Most people fall in love with a baby’s eyes. It looks like a human’s, which is why some want them as pets. … When I looked in the (adult’s) eyes, I saw a loss of hope, a loss of soul.”

Sihite could not escape that look and vowed quietly, “I will work to make you free.”

While he was not able to help that individual orangutan — adults kept captive cannot be returned to the wild —





Scientists Find Evidence of 1,000-Year-Old Parrot-Breeding Operation in the American Southwest
DNA evidence appears to have revealed an ancient parrot-breeding operation in the southwestern United States, a new study reports.

A team of researchers from several U.S. universities analyzed ancient scarlet macaw DNA to try to understand how so many scarlet macaw skeletons ended up outside their native range of Central and South America. After reconstructing genomes from bird bones, it appeared that some group of humans had bred the macaws.

“Our results suggest that people at an undiscovered Pre-Hispanic settlement dating between 900 and 1200 CE managed a macaw breeding colony outside their endemic range and distributed these symbolically important birds through the [Southwestern United States],” the authors wrote in the paper published in the Pr





The battle for the soul of biodiversity
An ideological clash could undermine a crucial assessment of the world’s disappearing plant and animal life.
It’s a hot and humid afternoon in the suburbs of Washington DC, and Bob Watson is looking worried. The renowned atmospheric chemist sits back on a bench in his yard, hemmed in by piles of paperwork. He speaks with his characteristic rapid-fire delivery as he explains the tensions surrounding the international committee he helms. The panel is supposed to provide scientific advice on one of the world’s most intractable problems — the rapidly accelerating loss of plants and animals. But a rift in the research community risks diminishing the whole effort. In a few days’ time, Watson will fly to England to mark his seventieth birthday, but right now he is not in a celebratory mood.

Watson is talking about a conflict infecting the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), a younger sibling to the Nobel-prizewinning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). B




Dusit Zoo closing delayed until September 30
As a gift to supporters of the Dusit Zoo the organisation behind the much-loved animal enclosure will delay its permanent shuttering in central Bangkok until September 30, the operation announced on Friday. The zoo was originally scheduled to close on August 31.

After the closing date was recently announced, visitors poured into the zoo to bid farewell to the nation’s first and most popular zoo. That led the Zool





Fight to the death at troubled Borth Wild Animal Kingdom
First there was the unhappy episode that ended with two dead lynx.

Now the claws are out at Britain’s most troubled zoo to find who is responsible for the trail of dead animals at Borth Wild Animal Kingdom over the past eight months.

There’s the emu “strangled” during a botched rescue attempt after it escaped dangerously close to the lions. Three northern bald ibis, a critically endangered species on loan from another zoo, died mysteriously after getting tangled in netting. They were found to have glass and cable ties





Environment and Resources Authority says no to illegal Rabat zoo
The owners of the zoo want to have four cages permitted, but the ERA says “retroactive sanctioning” would be a reward for the abusive change from a cow-breeding farm into an exotic animal farm
The Environment and Resources Authority has described a proposal to regularize the illegally-developed Serengeti Animal Park along Dingli road in Rabat as a flagrant example of development carried out in the absence of any “environmental considerations whatsoever” which has resulted in “illegal commitments and excessive land-take at the expense of the countryside”.

The owners of the zoo want to have four cages regularized: one cage is listed as being able to hold eight tigers, another to hold three lions, another for three jaguars and one for three leopards.

The ERA has insisted that the applicant who has applied for a change-of-use from a cow-breeding fa




Dolphin, 46 penguins left at shuttered aquarium in Chiba
A female bottlenose dolphin named Honey and 46 Humboldt penguins remain at an aquarium here more than six months after it was shut down, apparently because of stalled negotiations for the animals' transfer to a new facility.
The Chiba prefectural public health center says there is "no problem" in the way the marine animals are being kept at the closed Inubosaki Marine Park Aquarium, but the municipal government of Choshi east of Tokyo where the facility is located, has been inundated with more than 800 emails and letters urging that the animals be moved to a different aquarium.

Honey was captured in the waters off the town of Taiji in the western prefecture of Wakayama in 2005, and became popular at the Choshi aquarium as she starred in dolphin shows.

The aquarium originally opened as a city-run facility in 1954 and w





Why there’s been a boom in discovering new species despite a biodiversity crisis
Something of a boom in the discovery of new species is taking place right now. It is so significant that some say it is similar to the period of the 18th and 19th centuries when European naturalists ventured into newly discovered lands and brought back an astonishing number of exotic new plants and animals. But how can this be so when species worldwide are disappearing at unprecedented rates?

This is the dichotomy Earth finds itself in as it enters a new chapter in its history – the Anthropocene Epoch, a time marked by the significant global impact that humans are having on the planet’s ecosystems.

What is most unexpected is that such discoveries are not limited to small cryptic organisms (such as insects or parasites) but large animals such as giraffes, elephants, dolphins and even orangutans. In fact, more than 400 species of mammals have been discovered since 1993, and our own order – primates – rank third, with the discovery of more than 50 new species worldwide. Some scientists are even calling it the “new age of discoveries”.

But why are we suddenly finding so many new species after more than a century of believing that there was nothing exciting left to be discovered? People all over the world are now aware that Earth’s biodiversity is in crisis and – for the first time in geopolitical history – the United Nations has re





Do Animals Experience Grief?
For many weeks, news of a mother orca carrying her dead infant through the icy waters of the Salish Sea captured the attention of many around the world. Keeping the infant afloat as best she could, the orca, named Tahlequah, also known as J35 by scientists, persisted for 17 days, before finally dropping the dead calf.

This has been one of the most protracted displays of marine mammal grieving.

Among scientists, however, there remains a prejudice against the idea that animals feel “real” grief or respond in complex ways to death. Following reports of the “grieving,” zoologist Jules Howard, for example, wrote, “If you believe J35 was displaying evidence of




FOSSILS REWRITE THE STORY OF LEMUR ORIGINS
Discovered more than half a century ago in Kenya and sitting in museum storage ever since, the roughly 20-million-year-old fossil Propotto leakeyi was long classified as a fruit bat.

Now, it’s helping researchers rethink the early evolution of lemurs, distant primate cousins of humans that today are only found on the island of Madagascar, some 250 miles off the eastern coast of Africa. The findings could rewrite the story of just when and how they got to the island.

In a study published August 21 in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have re-examined Propotto’s fossilized remains and suggest that the strange creature wasn’t a bat, but an ancient relative of the aye-aye, the bucktoothed nocturnal primate that represents one of the earliest branches of the lemur family tree.

The reassessment challenges a long-held view that today’s 100-some lemur species descended from ancestors that made th





Malaysia makes record RM50 million rhino horn seizure
Malaysia has made a record seizure of 50 rhino horns worth an estimated $12 million at Kuala Lumpur airport as they were being flown to Vietnam, authorities said Monday.

Customs officials found the parts in cardboard boxes on August 13 in the cargo terminal of the capital’s airport, said Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, head of Malaysia’s wildlife department.

The 50 rhino horns weighed 116 kilograms (256 pounds) and are worth about 50 million ringgit ($12 million), he told AFP, adding that the seizure was “the biggest ever in (Malaysia’s) history in terms of the number of horns and value”.


Vietnam is a hot market for rhino horn, which is believed to have medicinal properties and is in high demand amo





23-TO HOLD or NOT TO HOLD
The cultural differences between KOALA Parks in Australia

There is a difference between true koala parks THROUGHOUT AUSTRALIA that generate their income from the koala while allowing handling of koalas, versus the koala parks that do not. You would be surprised at the differences between parks across various states of Australia, and the reason for the differences will come as a shock to many. For example, many of these differences stem from fear, old-school culture and conservatism and sub-conscious behaviours and lack of education. For me, it is not surprising that the private wildlife parks and zoo are the ones that are willing to try something different and allow their guests to enjoy new experiences such as handling koalas!

In general, zoos and wildlife parks controlled by a government department, are the most conservative throughout Australia. They still hold on tightly to old-school behaviours. I think this started from conservationists of the past that created a culture of this control and protectionism. Over time, this created a culture that said, "hands off our koalas!" It started to emerge when hunters had total control of the amount of koala pelts they could collect; they were ungoverned at this time and it placed the koala on the brink of extinction. Australians hunted koalas for their fur from the late 1800's right up until the late-1920's. This practice was stopped because they were nearly wiped out. This set the culture of protectionism right-up to this very day. Adding to this is the fa





Illegal wildlife trade rife at the New Zealand border
Protected species the world over are being hammered by the global illegal wildlife trade. Recently released data from the Department of Conservation show that New Zealand is part of the problem, as wildlife seizures skyrocket.

Seizures of internationally protected species have increased by a whopping 300% at our border - from 2,268 seizures in 2011 to 9,078 seizures in 2017.Each seizure included one or more item, occasionally over one hundred.Most of the seizures occurred at airports, Auckland airport in particular.

Jane Goodall Institute New Zealand (JGINZ) Ambassador and environmental policy analyst, Fiona Gordon, says that New Zealand seizures include everything from crocodile jerky, coral and shells to medicines containing American ginseng, pangolin, tiger, leopard and the critically endangered Saiga antelope. "Then there’s the particularly grisly items," she says, "the elephant feet, ivory carvings, bears’ gall bladders, python belly skins, primate skulls and chopped up sea horses."

Not to be blamed solely on the sinister operation of criminal syndicates, the illegal wildlife trade includes the innocent purchases of tourist trinkets, fashion statements, herbal remedies and snack food. It’s all part of the global illegal wildlife chain.

The 9,078 seizures of illegal wildlife in New Zealand for 2017:

- Corals and shells -over 5,500 seizures. Largely fr




Picking a bone with captive predator breeding in South Africa
In July 2018, without public consultation or scientific substantiation, South Africa’s Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) raised its annual lion skeleton export quota to 1,500, up from 800 the year before. These skeletons are supplied by the predator breeding industry, which breeds lions in captivity for multiple and sometimes overlapping purposes. This is the working paper of a report in two parts.

The first is a formal academic review of the scientific and ‘grey’ (reports and newspaper articles) literature pertaining to the predator breeding industry. It interrogates the most recent attempt to quantify the economic significance of the industry and finds its conclusions questionable for a number of reasons. One of its claims, for instance, is that the predator breeding industry provides positive conservation value. The review examines this claim against the available literature and finds it dubitable. Even if the conservation impact was neutral, it is not clear that the genetic impairment and welfare problems justify the continuation of the industry, even under the banner of ‘sustainable utilisation’ and the ‘wildlife economy’ doctrine. This is especially important if the theoretical possibility of future




New perspective on how lemurs got to Madagascar
The lemurs of Madagascar are at the centre of a new mystery.

Scientists believe the story of how they arrived on the island is more complex than we thought.

After looking again at the fossil evidence, they question the idea that lemurs have been evolving in isolation on the island for 50 million years.

Finding out more about lemurs' ancient history could help conservation efforts.

A recent study found that almost all species of lemur face extinction.

"It deepens the mystery," Erik Seiffert of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, told BBC News.

"It makes it even more import





Two koalas die in a month at Belgian zoo
Two of the three koalas at a top Belgian zoo have died in the space of a month, officials said Tuesday while rejecting fears of an "epidemic" among the Australian marsupials.

One female named Zelda died from a stomach problem earlier this month at Pairi Daiza zoo, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) southwest of Brussels, the zoo said.

The second female, called Carina, passed away on Monday after suffering from koala retrovirus, which the animals are particularly prone to.

"It's a sad coincidence but the two deaths had very different causes, there is no epidemic," Aleksandra Vidanovski, a spokeswoman for Pairi Daiza, told AFP.

Efforts are now under way to show the surviving koala, Coco, "all the love" she would have received f





Zoo or death cell: Giraffe latest exotic animal to die at Peshawar Zoo
A giraffe has become the latest in a long list of animals to have perished at the Peshawar Zoo, which only opened its doors earlier this year.

A zoo official told The Express Tribune that two giraffes had died inside the zoo. The official added that it was up to the contractor to compensate the zoo for the death of the animals, caused by a sudden change of climate for the animals.

“At least one animal died during the offloading process inside the zoo while the other died soon after,” the official said, adding that that the animal killed in off-loading was not





Guwahati Zoo in grip of deadly canine distemper virus
Eight jackals died of canine distemper disease at the Assam State Zoo, widely known as Guwahati Zoo, sending officials into a tizzy.

The deaths, occurring over the past two weeks following the spread of canine distemper virus, prompted the authorities to put in place precautionary measures. Canine distemper is a viral disease and it could affect domestic as well as wild animals.

“We suspect canine distemper virus had caused the deaths of eight of the 18 jackals that we had in the zoo. There have been instances of the virus spreading to other animals, including tigers and lions, in other zoos. So, we are not taking any chances. We have put in place all precautionary measures to prevent it from spreading further,” divisional forest officer Tejas




New life for former research chimps
On a sunny Tuesday in May, 11-year-old Hercules made a brave move and ventured outside alone. He moved slowly at first, looking at the ground and shaking his head before walking across 2 acres of forest to observe the sights and sounds around him. Not far behind him was Leo, also 11, who ran forward before stopping, sitting down and staring up at the sky.

Hercules and Leo are former research chimpanzees, and it was the first time in their lives they had ever been outside.




Conservation Matters
Some participants of the recently-concluded Southeast Asian Bat Conference held in Bacolod City visited this small island in Sagay City in northern Negros Occidental.

The main purpose of the visit was to see the bat colony that is present in the area, which is only about 30 to 45 minutes boat ride from the city proper of Sagay. A good number of flying foxes, including large flying foxes and island flying foxes, are roosting in the mangrove forest, now popularly known as the Suyac Island Mangrove Eco Park.

The mangrove forest, estimated at 10 hectares, in the island is purely natural and comprises of numerous old trees. According to several old folks in Suyac, some of these mangrove trees are most likely century-old already.

The city government of Sagay had constructed a watchtower so that visitors would be able to see the flying foxes and water birds in the island. This is one of the added and unique attractions in the mangrove park, because wildlife protecti





Keeping Ethics at the Center of Animal Research
For Melanie Graham, MPH, Ph.D., making scientific progress while also respecting animals’ inherent value as living beings isn’t just possible—it’s essential.

“What interests me is care and compassion for humans and animals,” said Graham, associate professor of surgery in the University of Minnesota’s Medical School. “I believe there is a balance that is capable of promoting animal welfare and making biomedical progress in ways that will change lives.”

Nearly every medical treatment, medical device, and diagnostic tool available today was developed with the help of animals in research, from heart transplants to chemotherapy. Future treatments and cures for some of today’s most debilitating illnesses, like multiple sclerosis, brain cancer, and depression, will likely also rely on progress made through animal research.





Mumbai’s Byculla zoo officials plan to preserve penguin eggshells for research, display
After welcoming its newest inhabitant, a baby Humboldt penguin, on August 15, the  Veermata Jijabai Udyan (Byculla Zoo) has now decided to preserve the egg shell and CCTV footage for documentation and research. Sanjay Tripathi, veterinary doctor and zoo in-charge, said, “The egg shell fragments have been kept in the zoo centre and will be preserved. We also plan to put the shell on public display. The matter is pending discussion.”

Besides this, footage from the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras in the aquarium, which have recorded every movement of the penguins will be documented and used for research. Tripathi said, “Right now, the doctors, including me, are busy with the baby penguin, checking its health regularly. The CCTV video will definitely be used for study purposes as it is the first-ever penguin to be born in India and in Mumbai’s zoo.”

A 75-gram penguin was born at night on Independence Day. The new-born is greyish in colour and it will be two years before the characteristic white stretch manifests. Mr Molt, the youngest, and Flipper, the oldest, are the proud parents of the newborn penguin. The Flipper laid an egg on July 5 and on August 15, exactly 40 days after





UVU research shows penguins aren't as monogamous as widely believed
Prevailing wisdom has maintained that penguins are monogamous creatures — two parents bonded for life. Take Roto and Copper, and Coco and Gossamer, for example, two gentoo penguin couples at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium.

Roto and Copper have raised three chicks of their own, supposedly never straying, and biology professionals have had no reason to believe otherwise — until recently.

"The staff that watches over the penguins noticed that some of the penguins were displaying behavior that suggested they might not be 100 percent faithful to their mates," said Eric Domyan, a professor of biology at Utah Valley University who led the research project.





New Ape Alliance Report on Chimpanzees in Chinese Captive Wild Animal Facilities
The Ape Alliance has published a detailed account of chimpanzees in Chinese captive wild animal facilities.   This important report is compiled from several sources and the direct observations of Ape Allies in China and Africa. It documents the discrepancies between the number of chimpanzees (and other endangered species) reported to have been shipped to China, the number declared to have been imported by China and the number observed on public display in zoos, wildlife parks and shows all over China. The figures don’t add up – which begs the question, where did these animals come from?

In his Foreword, Ian Redmond OBE, Chairman of the Ape Alliance, says, “The Chinese Government has won plaudits from conservationists and caring members of the public all over the world by closing its domestic ivory markets to reduce the incentive for poachers to kill elephants. It is to be hoped that such decisive action can now be taken to reduce the demand for chimpanzees and ot




Gabon Gorilla Project Update        August 2018
We thought you might like the chance to see the kind of updates we get from our overseas projects. Updates like these are the reason we're working so hard to raise funds to continue our vital conservation work....

Update by Alice Zambarda
Animal Behaviourist - Field Coordinator
Projet Protection des Gorilles  - Gabon

"In the last couple of weeks we had the chance to see all the 5 groups of gorillas.

The Tongas are along the Lewou river. The group is doing well; we were able to see only Tonga, a couple of females and two juveniles, who were close enough for identification (Tonga, Zora, Miyandza, Ntsege and Mpassi). There were more gorillas in the group, but they were moving behind the bushes and never came close to us. The group is getting shy and they start behaving more like wild gorillas.





APPLICATIONS FOR THE WHITLEY AWARDS 2019 ARE NOW OPEN!




Iranian zoos to be monitored online
The Department of Environment (DOE) will launch an online monitoring system in zoos across the country, the Department of Environment’s director general for hunting and fishing has said.

“Putting in place the necessary infrastructure for this plan is underway; newly constructed zoos are supposed to have an online monitoring system, and the old ones must launch the system as soon as possible,” IRNA quoted Ali Teymouri as saying on Saturday.

Teymouri stated that all provincial departments of environment must supervise the zoo online systems to register all animal species entering or leaving the zoo, casualties and causes.

The necessary infrastructure has been prepared to some extent in two zoos, and the rest of the zoos will launch the in the near future gradually, he added.
There are about 80 zoos, animal rehabilitation centers and bird gardens in the country, he said, adding that according to a memorandum of understanding signed between the DOE and the Veterinary Organization, the organization is tasked with monitoring animal’s health and diseases in all centers.

Referring to some 15 zoos active in the country, he stated that when the DOE decides to issue a permit for the construction of a zoo or garden, the Veterinary O





Zoo cares
The Lahore Zoo entertains millions everyday. Improvements within it and more efforts to build a popular understanding of animals may help it to serve a more useful purpose in the years to come
As you walk through the Lahore Zoo, spread over 250 acres of land and established in 1872, pairs of eyes, some angry, some hopeless, some filled with pain and some glazed over with boredom stare out at you from behind the narrow bars of the cages in which the animals are kept, often for life. A number of them are held alone, an especially unsuitable situation for those who naturally live in herds or large groups. They also live completely aimless lives, with no partners, no company, no structures, or toys in their cages which can keep them stimulated or entertained.

It seems few realise that, like humans, animals too need something to ward off the boredom of the hours, especially in a situation where they do not hunt, do not roam a territory, and see no variety in scenery.

Tragically, even the sole chimpanzee left alive at the zoo, Pinky, lives on her own. Her companions have died one by one, leaving this highly intelligent and social animal with nothing to entertain her. In their natural





Red-tapism hinders release of excess deer, blue bulls in zoo
Inordinate and unavoidable delay on the part of some officers has held up release of excess 20 deer and four blue bulls from Maharajbag zoo in the wild in Melghat even after 18 months. The process began with Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife), Nagpur, writing a letter to the Maharashtra Zoo Authority (MZA) and Field Director, Melghat Tiger Reserve, Amravati, on January 2, 2017 for necessary steps for soft release of these wild animals in Melghat and asking them to submit reports to him.

The MZA had said, these animals are in excess to the enclosure capacity posing threat to their health. It had suggested to release the animals after giving fitness certificate or on the basis of Herd Register Copy regarding regular health examination by the zoo.

The zoo has ten male, ten female deer and four blue bulls extra and as per the norms of Central Zoo Authority (CZA), they should be released in jungle. The total number of spotted deer is 30 and of them 20 additional wild animals require to be shifted elsewhere.

The PCCF (Wildlife) had asked the Field Directo





Are Cities Making Animals Smarter?
A mysterious wild cat in Sri Lanka may hold a clue.
The goldfish were the first to vanish. Every so often, a few would go missing overnight from the office’s tiny outdoor pond. But goldfish were cheap, so no one in the building—an environmental nonprofit in the bustling, sweaty center of Colombo, Sri Lanka—bothered investigating.

Then the dragon koi began to disappear. Lustrous and ethereal, each of these whiskered Japanese carp cost around 10,000 Sri Lankan rupees, or $65. In a fit of extravagance, the building’s landlord had bought 10. Soon, he had seven. Then three.

Panicked, the landlord installed four security cameras to catch the thief. The pond rested at the end of a narrow driveway surrounded by tall concrete walls, so whoever was swiping the carp had either a key or the superhuman ability to bound up nearby roofs and drop in undetected. The landlord couldn’t imagine what kind of person would steal a fish, but he was eager to find out.

A couple of days after the cameras went up, Anya Ratnayaka woke to a string of text messages bursting with exclamation points. Ratnayaka, an obsessive young conservationist, worked a desk job at the nonprofit at the time. She’d paid little attention to the mystery of the dwindling





Injured pygmy elephant recovering well
An endangered Borneo pygmy elephant rescued from Sabah's east coast is recovering from the injury sustained when its foot was caught in a snare trap.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Christina Liew said the animal was responding well to preliminary treatment, but it had to be taken to the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary (BES) in Kinabatangan for better care.

Liew said wildlife rangers were having trouble approaching the elephant, which could become aggressive when afraid or stressed.





Japan’s bears are widely vilified and little understood
On Aug. 6, the BBC aired a story about four Ussuri brown bears being successfully transported from a museum in Hokkaido to a wildlife park in England. In the story, a British organization called Wild Welfare said it had become “concerned” about the animals’ living situation at the Ainu Museum, where they had been kept in old, cramped cages for most of their lives, which one member said is “sadly reflective of the conditions that many captive bears in Japan are in.”

The BBC treated the story as breaking news, but in Japan few news organizations covered it. Jiji Press, which reported the story from the United Kingdom, mentioned that Ussuri bears are “endangered,” and explained that the museum was incapable of caring properly for them. The Hokkaido Shimbun reported that foreign visitors to the facility had complained about the small enclosures for the bears, and that the museum decided to give them to the wildlife park because it has a “better environment.” The newspaper also mentioned that the museum was closed in March for long-term renovations, and NHK said the bear





Recovering conservationist: Q&A with orangutan ecologist June Mary Rubis
For more than a decade, June Mary Rubis has worked on orangutan conservation in Borneo. The critically endangered apes face a bleak future there, hammered by habitat loss to plantations and mines, poached for the illegal pet trade, and exterminated by farmers.

While working for an international NGO in Borneo, Rubis was involved in orangutan education programs for indigenous peoples. She interacted with the communities and studied their dynamic relationship with the Bornean orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus). And as her understanding of the connection between indigenous peoples and orangutans deepened, she came to realize that most of the orangutan conservation work being done failed to accommodate the complexity of this relationship.

Rubis also concluded that most conservationists unfairly blamed indigenous peoples for orangutan deaths. The communities thus felt discouraged from getting involved in efforts to protect the animal, she said.





A New View of Evolution That Can’t Be Represented by a Tree
In 1837, Charles Darwin sketched a spindly tree of life in one of his notebooks. Its stick-figure trunk sprouted into four sets of branches. The drawing illustrated his radical idea that, over time, organisms change to give rise to new species.

“I think,” Darwin scrawled, suggestively, above his humble tree.

Biologists have worked since then to fill in the details of that tree. While all beings are related, Darwin intimated, it should be possible to classify all living things into distinct lineages of more closely related species — branches — based on their shared evolutionary histories.

Darwin and others used physical similarities and differences between organisms to add ever more details to his basic tree. Then, after the discovery of DNA’s structure in 1953, scientists began tracing the evolutionary history of life through its shared genetic code.





How Do You Tell the Difference Between a Male and Female Leopard?
his may sound like a simple one, but it’s not always as clear-cut as one would think. Ok if you have a clear view of the leopard’s nether regions, or a male and female are next to each other, then the difference is glaring, but in certain situations, it can be mighty hard to distinguish between the sexes.
A young male can easily be confused with a female, and after dark with only the beam of the spotlight to go on, it’s hard to properly gauge the size of a leopard.

I’ve starred in a number of embarrassing incidents in which I’ve too quickly pronounced on the sex of a spotted cat, only to hastily be made to retract my statement, muttering some excuse as to why I botched what should surely be a simply matter of differentiation. “The grass was too long” or, “It can be really hard to tell” are two of my go-to lines.

When I first came to the bush, the thrill of seeing a leopard in the flesh was so overwhelming that I didn’t really worry about whether or not it was a female or male or what age it was (mainly because I was completely unable to tell), but after more and more leopard sightings, sexing them started to become much e




Iran, UNDP prepare draft for Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah
Iran’s Department of Environment (DOE) and United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have jointly drawn up the draft of the Conservation of Asiatic Cheetah Project (CACP) phase III.

Hamid Zohrabi, deputy environment chief for DOE’s natural environment and biodiversity directorate said on Saturday that the project will go into effect by the end of 2018.

According to UNDP, the cheetah project is about reversing the drastic decline of the endangered Asiatic cheetah and conserving it from extinction. It is now estimated that fewer than 50 Asiatic cheetahs are living in the wild in Iran.

The Asiatic cheetah mainly inhabits the desert areas around Dasht-e Kavir in the eastern half of Iran, including parts of the Kerman, Khorasan, Semnan, Yazd, Tehran, and Markazi provinces. Most live in five protected areas, Kavir National Park, Touran National Park, Bafq Protected Area, Dar-e Anjir Wildlife Refuge, and Naybandan Wildlife Reserve. The cheetah has been listed as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List since 1996.

The cheetah/livestock interactions and the presence of human beings and guard dogs in cheetah’s habitats, road accidents and habitat fragmentation are of the main threats making the cheetah’s future uncertain.  

Phase I of the CACP was co-funded by the Global Environment Facility between 2001 and 2008.

Phase II implementation commenced in 2009. It





To Visit Or Not To Visit A Zoo Or Aquarium? The Future Of Wildlife Could Depend On Your Answer
Last week, as a Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) mother was photographed off the Washington state coast pushing her deceased newborn toward San Juan Island, a heartbreaking glimpse into the plight of this endangered killer whale population in the wild, a British travel company made a ham-fisted announcement that somehow in the name of “animal welfare” it will no longer sell tickets to zoological parks that display killer whales.





Couple who gave up jobs to run wildlife park end up £350,000 in debt, as they admit 'we didn't have any idea what we were doing'
A novice zoo keeper couple who gave up their jobs to run a wildlife park in Wales have ended up hundreds of thousands of pounds in debt after the death of two lynxes, as they admit “we didn’t have any idea what we were doing”.

Dean, 50, and Tracy, 47, Tweedy relocated 200 miles from Kent with their three young children and left careers as a street artist and psychotherapist to run Borth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberystwyth in 2017.

But, after just 15 months the couple reportedly owe creditors around £350,000 after the zoo was temporarily closed and threatened with a ban on keeping lions and leopards as the couple were blamed for the death of two lynxes.

The couple had planned to use the zoo as a sanctuary for animals and to provide therapy sessions for adults, and the zoo was featured in a three part report on BBC’s The One Show.

The couple had already amassed 40 pets at their previous home in Kent and were originally looking





Bouncing back! Tree kangaroo thought to have gone extinct is captured on film for the first time in 90 YEARS by an amateur photographer
 Scurrying through the branches, it was the blur of brown fur that caught the eye of an intrepid Briton thousands of miles from home.

Amateur naturalist Michael Smith was on a two-week trip to the Indonesian province of West Papua searching for orchids when, deep in the rainforest, he spotted movement 90ft above his head, and started taking pictures.

Having visited the same location last year, he was aware of stories about the elusive Wondiwoi tree kangaroo of Indonesia, a rare species of marsupial that had last been seen in 1928 and was feared to be extinct.

Now the photographs taken by Mr Smith have a caused a sensation and experts are convinced that he may have captured the first pictu





Sea World is turning into a homeless shelter for sea cows during Florida's deadly red tide
The normally clear waves on Florida's Gulf coast are a stinky, muddy, brown-red mess this year.

A persistent red tide that came in October continues to plague the waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico, killing off sea creatures big and small. It's even dangerous for people to breathe the contaminated air.

The tide is caused by toxic levels of a sea algae called karenia brevis. Massive blooms of the algae, which occurs naturally at low levels in the ocean, have washed ashore up and down the coast of southwestern Florida. The blooms feed on nutrients like fertilizers that wash into coastal seawater, and thrive in water that is a little bit warm, but not too hot.

The dangerous algae harbors a deadly brevetoxin, which is why red tides are animal killers.

Scientists at the Mote Marine Laboratory say this is the worst red tide they've seen in over a decade. Last week, Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for seven Gulf coast counties.

In addition to fish that suffocate due to the brevetoxin, manatees suffer when they nibble on seagrass that's been contaminated with the chemical. This red tide has already killed an estimated 92 of them since January, according to Florida's Fish and Wildlife Conservation





'Fritz' — Europe's oldest gorilla — dies in German zoo
A gorilla named Fritz, the oldest of his kind living in a European zoo, was euthanized on Monday in southern Germany.

Officials at Nuremberg Zoo said the 55-year-old's health had deteriorated steadily over the weekend — to the point where he could hardly move at all.

Not even his favorite snack of raspberry jam with quark — a kind of German curd cheese — was enough to lift his spirits, the zoo said.





Two zookeepers attacked by bear in central Romania city zoo
A bear attacked two zookeepers at the Brasov Zoo on Monday morning, August 20, while they were cleaning the bears’ cage. The two men, aged 60 and 47, suffered multiple injuries and one of them is in serious condition, local Mediafax reported.

According to Roger Rois, the head of the Animal Care and Environmental Protection Service at the Zoo Brasov, the two zookeepers failed to respect the working procedure and didn’t make sure that the animals were no longer in the cage when they entered to clean the place. One of the bears was still inside, behind a door, and attacked the first zookeeper who entered the cage. The




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If you have anything to add then please email me at elvinhow@gmail.com
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About me
After more than 50 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' (many more before that) and writes about these in his blog http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/


Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, an introvert, a people watcher, a lover, a storyteller, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.


"These are the best days of my life"






Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | elvinhow@gmail.com | Skype: peter.dickinson48