Sunday, July 15, 2018

Zoo News Digest 15th July 2018 (ZooNews 1001)

Zoo News Digest 15th July 2018  (ZooNews 1001)

Western Kiang Equus k. kiang
Photo credit Pradeep Rana

Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

I am absolutely delighted to learn that the Democratic Republic of Congo and China animal deal is off. It has bothered me for weeks that this should have even be considered to take place. That said what bothered me even more was that there was practically zilch in the press condemning. Don't believe me? Do a search. In fact practically the only condemnation I saw was by the infamous 'Born Free Foundation'. There was nothing from any of the major zoo organisations. Okay I do know that there were people beavering away behind the scenes and I thank them for it but really what is wrong with standing up and being counted?

Zoos need a vet. Not just any vet… but a vet with experience and someone trained with and an understanding of exotics. Not for the first time do I see the "not enough vets" being the cause of problems in certain  zoos on the Indian subcontinent. The truth of the matter is that the problem is the lack of trained and qualified Zoo Keepers. One experienced Zoo Keeper is worth ten vets. A good Zoo Keeper offers quality of care and can spot when something is wrong long before it actually becomes wrong. There are zoos with many more animals than Karachi Zoo that do not have a vet at all. They manage nicely with regular or as needed visits. What they do have is Trained Zoo Keepers. 'Daily Wage' non-permanent employees  are never going to solve the continuous problems these collections have. Looked down on by most as nothing more than shit shovellers, the lowest of the low nothing is going to get better anytime soon. Not knocking vets you understand but prophylactic husbandry is the way forward.

The internet is crazy. Facebook in its greater wisdom decided to hold back on putting out ZooNews Digest number 1000 because of 'political content'. What political content? Politics comes into everything these days. I ran through the links and could not find anything objectionable so I objected and quickly it was approved. I imagine some sort of artificial intelligence at work.

Then there was YouTube the same week. I don't have much on there. A few personal bits and pieces. Ten years ago I was at a party in Thailand for a two year old girl. There was some dancing and some Thai music playing. Now somebody another is putting claim to that. I took the video down. Easiest way out of the nonsense.

I am probably the least politically correct person I know….and as I get older become even less so. I wonder when all this ridiculousness will end.

Following a number of discussions online this week singing the praises of zoos. I sing very badly and would never sing such a song. I am in favour of Good zoos and not all zoos. I am 100% pro Good Zoo but, sadly imho most zoos are bad. I am talking worldwide here. 

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

Did you know that advertising your vacancy or product on ZooNews Digest can potentially reach 78,000 + people?

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 78,000 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 823 Zoos in 154+ 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,

China-DRC wildlife export deal off after worldwide pressure
The proposed deal between the Democratic Republic of Congo and China where a number of wildlife from DRC were to be taken to two Chinese zoos has been called off. This follows after worldwide outrage against the deal led by different organizations including Conserv Congo and Virunga Community Programs.

Confirming this, Adams Cassinga of Conserv Congo in a private email message to Virunga Community Programs said that he spoke to his contacts in the ministry concerned and confirmed the deal has been called off.

“We are just pushing for a written letter guaranteeing that it will never happen. Thank you so much for your support. Other activists were very crucial in the success of this endeavor. My sincere gratitude!” said Cassinga who has

26 rhinos gifted to various countries from CNP
Twenty six rhinoceros have been gifted to various countries so far from Chitwan National Park (CNP).

Ved Prasad Dhakal, the chief conservation officer at CNP, said six rhinos have been given to America, four to India and two each to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Myanmar, Japan, Germany, Britain and Austria.

The CNP record shows that four rhinos were sent to Dudhuwa of India for the first time in 1985. Lately, a pair of rhinos was gifted to Austria in 2006.

Two pairs of the endangered wildlife are being gifted to China after 12 years. With this, the number of rhinos sent to various countries as present reaches 30.

Elephants were brought from India, Myanmar and Thailand in exchange of rhinoceros before this.

Former chief conservation officer Ramprit Yadav said that 16 elephants have been brought so far from India alone in exchange of rhinos. Accordi

World Association of Zoos and Aquariums Annual Report 2017 

Jaguar escapes enclosure at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and kills 4 alpacas, an emu and a fox
A New Orleans zoo remained closed on Saturday after a jaguar escaped its habitat and killed six other animals.

Audubon Zoo said the 3-year-old male jaguar, named Valero, was spotted outside his enclosure by a zoo employee around 7 a.m.
Valero attacked four alpacas, one emu and a fox. The animals died.
Kyle Burks, vice president and managing director for the zoo, said at a news conference that Valero was sedated by a team of veterinarians and the animal was returned and secured in his area. No humans were injured.
The zoo was closed Saturday but said it will reopen Sunday.
"We care for these animals every day," Burks said. "We closed the zoo today to help our team mourn."
No explanation has been given for the jaguar's escape, but the zoo said an "after-action review" is taking place, as well as an investigation into


The Butterfly Project
I was asked to participate in a special project that I will refer to as the London Butterfly Project. A botanical specialty group in the UK has built a large garden designed to show the symbiotic relationship between plants and animals. Each year this group sets up different gardens with different themes in different parts of the United Kingdom. Their focus for 2015 is to demonstrate the role that butterflies have in certain ecosystems. This project includes more than 10,000 butterflies of many different species that live in the garden, which is hidden among the tall buildings of London. The garden occupies a space that is larger than a football field.

Meet the koalas of Longleat: Six marsupials are making conservation history by being flown 10,000 miles to safari park to become first of their kind to live in England
Wrapped up securely, the southern Australian koala looks very much at home in the arms of Viscountess Weymouth.

As well he might, for soon he will be flown 10,000 miles from his natural habitat in Australia to the grounds of Emma Weymouth’s magnificent stately home at Longleat safari park – in a pioneering conservation project aimed at protecting the survival of his species.

While northern koalas can be found at Edinburgh Zoo, this w

Connecting the dots Part-5 of "What the funk"
To ensure the koala can thrive into the 21st century, they must be part of society. With this in mind, it is important to reference last week's announcement that koala milk could provide society the protection of super bugs in the near future. Anything is possible! The koala is the fourth marsupial to be genetically sequenced - with the Australian Museum Research Institution finding over 26,000 genes.

As koalas numbers drop off due to urbanization, Australian society needs a simplified approach to include the koala in their d

Eight zoo staff quit after probe into 'malicious campaign'
Eight staff have quit the South Island's largest zoo following an internal investigation into a "malicious" 14-month campaign alleging animal welfare and health and safety breaches.

The zoo's chief executive said while all allegations were found to be unsubstantiated, the "constant attack", had taken its toll.

Orana Wildlife Park initiated an internal investigation into the allegations after photos and letters were sent to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), donors and other external agencies.

Eight staff have since resigned.

Report: Zoo Discussed Wild Dog Exhibit Dangers Before Death
A newly released report shows that Pittsburgh Zoo staff raised concerns about a child falling through an opening into an African painted dog exhibit on at least six separate occasions before a fatal mauling in 2012.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says the federal report was released this month more than four years it filed a Freedom of Information Act request. The report found the zoo's fencing around the wild dog exhibit was "not sufficient" to prevent 2-year-old Maddox Derkosh from falling into the exhibit.

Custodians: In Defence of Zoos, Ambassador Animals, and Captive Breeding (Part II)
We’ll start this article with a brief history of zoos and animal parks in general and then as applies to South Africa. Even though zoos are historically common and significant in human history, our understanding and ethical treatment of animals has vastly evolved and what was acceptable even 50 years ago is no longer considered now in many ecological circles. To that end, I do not condone all zoos and, in fact, there are many that should be shut down immediately, but there are several that are worth supporting. I will also be talking about the organisations in place to keep check on such facilities, including animal welfare groups, zoological associations, studbooks, and conservation permit associations.


Let Mountain Lions Eat Horses
The craggy mesas and sagebrush valleys of the West have a wild horse problem. Too many horses, the federal government says, are crowding the scraps of public land set aside for them, and in places they are trampling the delicate desert springs and eating the golden range to dust.

About 83,000 roam the West — more than three times what federal managers say the land can sustain. By next summer their numbers could grow to 100,000.

Late last month the federal Bureau of Land Management, which oversees the management of wild horses on its vast land holdings, gave Congress a range of options for cutting the herds


Saving California Condors — With a Chisel and Hand Puppets
Sometimes saving a species from extinction requires a helping hand — or a jailbreak.

That may sound like a mixed metaphor, but it’s actually the case for critically endangered California condors (Gymnogyps californianus), North America’s largest birds. Every once in a while, a condor chick needs a little help getting out of its egg, and human caretakers need to step in to gently assist it on its journey out of the shell.

Take the chick known as OZ07, whose egg was laid this past February in Oregon Zoo’s condor captive-breeding program, about 50 miles south of Portland. In April, as the egg approached its hatch date, keepers could tell that the chick was active but unable to break through the shell. Condor eggs only contain enough air for a chick’s first breath, so keepers knew they needed to let in more air. They chiseled a tiny hole in the shell, giving OZ07 a source of much-needed oxygen.

That wasn’t quite enough, though. “Oz” w


'Kitty Litter' Parasite Is Wiping Out One Of Earth’s Rarest Seals
In May, two critically endangered Hawaiian monk seals were found dead on a beach on Oahu. Both were female, and one was pregnant. After performing a necropsy, veterinarians determined that both animals died of toxoplasmosis, a potentially fatal disease that originates in domestic cats.

For veterinarian Claire Simeone, the deaths of these seals confirmed a sobering suspicion about the disease.

“Females seem to be more likely to die from this disease, and from a conservation standpoint, that’s very concerning,” says Simeone, director of the Ke Kai Ola hospital for


UV‐light and dietary vitamin D and their effects on ionized calcium and 25‐OH‐D plasma concentrations in captive gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua)
In this study, the effect of ultraviolet (UV) light and dietary vitamin D on calcium metabolism in permanently indoor‐housed gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) was investigated. The study consisted of three periods, each completed with blood samples to analyse plasma concentrations of 25‐OH‐D, 1,25‐(OH)2‐D, ionized (iCa) and total calcium (tCa). During the first study period (D), animals were housed under routine conditions without UV‐light and fed a diet of different fish species, supplemented with 1,000 IU vitamin D per animal and day. The following study period (Baseline) of 28‐day duration consisted of the same diet without any vitamin D supplementation and without UV‐light. During the study period (UVB) artificial UV‐light was added for 3 weeks. The vitamin D content of fish was measured by high‐performance liquid chromatography. It varied between fish species and between facilities, ranging from no measurable content in capelin (Mallotus villosus) to 7,340 IU vitamin D/kg original matter (OM) in herring (Clupea spp). The average dietary vitamin D content was 311 IU/kg OM at facility 1 and 6,325 IU/kg OM at facility 2, resulting in a vitamin D intake per animal and day without supplementation of 130 IU (25.5 IU/kg body weight BW) and 2,454 IU (438.2 IU/kg BW) respectively. The supplementation of vitamin D elevated significantly the plasma concentrations of 25‐OH‐D by an in

Cashing in on exotic cubs: unlicensed Las Vegas businessman arrested
Animals illegally kept in valley neighborhoods were forced to interact with the public so their owner could make a profit. A Las Vegas man who cashed in on exotic cubs says that what he's doing with dangerous animals is nobody's business.

Exotic cubs like liligers are adorable to look at but they are not pets or playthings. They are wild animals that can be dangerous and that's exactly what led their former owner to get in trouble with the law. The events that led to Jeff Lowe's arrest began when animal control and city marshals descended on his home on Natalia Court.

When the City served a search warrant in November, they impounded a tiger, a liliger and a lemur.  According to vet records, the two cubs were sick.  As part of the plea agreement, Lowe had to surrender the animals and pay $10,000 in restitution for their care.
He told us on the phone that he bottle-feeds his big cats from birth and no one is more knowledgeable about them than he is. When they get too big, he retires them to his USDA-licensed Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma where he says they live safe and healthy lives.

Video of Lowe on Facebook contradicts what he told us. The video shot by a British media company shows Lowe being mauled by one of his lions.

"I didn't think he was gonna kill me, but you n

President, PM House’s zoos fed food bought for Islamabad Zoo: report
The animals in the mini zoos in the president and prime minister houses are fed the food procured by Marghazar Zoo and not from the houses’ own budgets.

According to a report in the local media, the mini zoo in President House was established in 2008 on the orders of the then president, Asif Ali Zardari, who is said to be fond of animals. The animals in the zoo include some deer, shinkara, pheasants and other birds such as grey parrots and pigeons.

On the other hand, the zoo in the Prime Minister House is smaller with just a few peacocks and pigeons.

According to a senior official of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI), a large portion of food purchased for Marghazar Zoo is taken to the zoos in the presidency and Prime Minister House as they do not spend on their zoos from their own budgets and put the burden on MCI.

“The annual cost of procuring food for the main Marghazar Zoo is Rs50 million of which Rs3 million goes towards food for the other two zoos,” he said.


10 Important Things a Zookeeper Needs to Know By
Being a zookeeper is a great opportunity for a lifelong learning process. It’s a profession that requires continuing education every day. In general, people think that being a zookeeper is just a job where one gets to hug animals all day, but in reality, general work duties include feeding, cleaning enclosures, making enrichment items, observing and recording the behavior of animals, training the animals, educating zoo visitors and much more. Some zookeepers may work with more than one species of animal while others may specialize in a group of animals such as predators. Zookeepers spend a lot of time with the animals and always have to pay special attention to safety requirements, as there are always risks of bites or animal escapes. So as we can see, a zookeeper’s job is very responsible and complex which requires job specific and transversal competencies.These competencies and gained knowledge should be constantly updated.

Killer Whales: Bond with These Clever Creatures at Kamogawa Sea World
Whoosh! Four killer whales jump high in a pool, making a big splash.

Welcome to the “Killer Whale” show, the most popular event in Kamogawa Sea World along the coast of Chiba Prefecture.

Some of the killer whales’ high jumps exceed five meters in height, and the animals are compelling and believable. Children, keeping away from the flying spray from the pool, shout for joy watching the aquarium.

Killer whales, a member of the whales and dolphins family, are carnivorous. The largest killer whales are over seven meters in length and weigh over five tons. They are said to be the strongest among the creatures living in the ocean and they stand at the summit of the whole biological system. Killer whales are the “Kings of the Ocean” as they attack seals and other whales.

Fear in village as more details emerge about where giant tarantulas were spotted
Residents living near to where giant venomous tarantulas are thought to have been seen in Derbyshire say they feel frightened and vulnerable - including an alarmed cattery owner.

The bird-eating spiders are thought to be on the loose after their babies were found abandoned in a car park on Thursday.

The RSCPA say that, if members of the public see the creatures, they should not try to handle them or approach them.

Bird-eating spider babies, which can grow to the size of a dinner plate, were found inside some discarded pots at the side of a car park at Bateman's

Shortage of vets spells misery for Karachi zoo animals
A white African lioness stares blankly at the spectators crowded outside her small, steel-barred cage, her extraordinary coat dotted with numerous spots, the result of a fungal skin disease that has marred her once pristine fur.

The ailment is curable -- or, rather, it should be. But at the Karachi Zoological Garden there are not enough vets to give proper treatment to its more than 850 animals, many held in cages built over a century ago.

"Here we have a mere two veterinaries and three paramedics. They are not at all sufficient," said the zoo's chief, Mansoor Ahmed Qazi.

Management have been pushing the city council to approve a third veterinary position for the zoo's population, including lions, tigers, elephants, chimpanzees, birds and reptiles.

But the council has usually focused more on sewage, roads, and garbage removal in the chaotic port megacity of some 20 million people, which until recently had been rocked by years of political and ethnic violence.

"This is unfortunate, that the zoo is heavily understaffed and thus not able to take good care of the animals," said Humaira Ayesha, an expert from the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) in Karachi.
Unfortunately the problem is not limited to Karachi.

Islamabad's zoo has long been criticised for its treatment of its lone elephant, Kaavan, which became the subject of a high-profile rights campaign backed by music icon Cher in 2016 after it emerged the animal was being kept in chains.

And the zoo in northwestern Peshawar, which opened in February, has admitted that 30 animals so far have died while being transferre

Karachi's cruel cages: African lions are ravaged by fungal skin disease at Victorian-era zoo in Pakistan that can't afford vets to care for its 850 animals
A white African lioness stares blankly at the spectators crowded outside her small, steel-barred cage, her extraordinary coat dotted with numerous spots, the result of a fungal skin disease that has marred her once pristine fur.

The ailment is curable - or, rather, it should be. But at the Karachi Zoological Garden there are not enough vets to give proper treatment to its more than 850 animals, many held in cages built over a century ago.

'Here we have a mere two veterinaries and three paramedics. They are not at all sufficient,' said the zoo's chief, Mansoor Ahmed Qazi.

Management have been pushing the city council to approve a third veterinary position for the zoo's population, including lions, tigers, elephants, chimpanzees, birds and reptiles.

The Fragile Songs of the Sumatran Rhinos
At four o’clock in the morning on May 12, 2016, Zulfi Arsan balanced himself on a tall fence post, poised to jump into a pen with a rhinoceros.
As lead veterinarian of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (srs) on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, he watched as the rhino named Ratu gave birth to her second calf. The calf, who later would be named Delilah, was coming out wrong—hind feet first. This meant the umbilical cord could strangle her. Arsan was ready to try to help.

A minute passed. Then, a breath. And another.

Thus was Delilah born, the youngest Dicerorhinus sumatrensis, the smallest, oldest and most endangered species of rhinoceros in the world. With fewer than 100 left of her kind, her first breaths gave hope that Sumatran rhinos still could be saved from extinction, largely than

Controversy over rhino hybrid embryos
SCIENTISTS, for the first time, have created hybrid embryos with DNA from the nearly extinct northern white rhinoceros, an advance that could ultimately lead to the first resurrection of a mega-mammal.
But while this could provide a new way to produce future generations of endangered or extinct animals, applying this approach to the white rhino does not meet with universal approval among conservationists.

The international team of researchers, led by Professor Thomas Hildebrandt from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, have used an existing assisted reproduction technology developed for horses, and applied it to the white rhino.

Eggs and sperm from northern white rhino are in short supply, owing to the rarity of the subspecies. So the team also used material from southern white rhino, successfully fertilising southern

Some time before, we received a message from Upreshpal Singh, the Director of Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia (FOTO), asking for Perhilitan as well as the NRE Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar to stop the transfer of two elephants from Perhilitan to a recently-opened park in Langkawi, the Langkawi Nature Park (LNP).

Along with the message, we’ve also received pictures and documents that allegedly depict the state of abused animals at another safari park, the Bukit Gambang Safari Park (BGSP) in Pahang. However, we couldn’t find any other mention of the depicted cases of verify their truth, so we should probably take these with a pinch of salt.

The challenges and conservation implications of bear bile farming in Viet Nam
Legalized trade in commercially farmed wildlife products is sometimes promoted as a conservation strategy. In theory, flooding the market with cheaper or better quality products will decrease the profitability of poaching. Bear bile is highly sought-after for use in traditional medicine and overhunting to supply the demand for bear parts has led to declining populations across South-east Asia. Bear bile farming was established to help supply the high demand for bear bile. In Viet Nam it is legal to keep registered bears, but illegal to extract or sell bear bile. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 66 bear bile farmers in Viet Nam to examine the conservation implications of bear bile farming. The results show that demand for wild bear bile was not satisfied by the widespread availability of farmed bear bile. Farmers report a strong consumer preference and willingness to pay more for wild-sourced products. The existence of bear bile farms presents considerable challenges to law enforcement. The results suggest that bear bile farming in Viet Nam relies on restocking from wild populations, and farmers openly admit to extracting and selling bear bile, in clear violation of national legislation. T

Ohio emerges as model on exotic animal rules
In the late afternoon hours of Oct. 18, 2011, 62-year-old Terry Thompson opened the cage doors that contained his lions, tigers, bears, wolves and more on his Zanesville farm and set them free. Then he turned a gun on himself.

Reports of wild animals running loose quickly started pouring into Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz’s office. He didn’t know how many animals Thompson kept on the property or how much of a head start they had. But he did know this: Sunset was 90 minutes away.

Lutz quickly gave the order to his deputies: Put down any animal off the property or close to leaving the property.

“There is no way we could have those types of animals loose in our neighborhoods,” Lutz said.

Melbourne zoos dump Nestle products over palm oil controversy
Zoos Victoria has dumped Nestle products from its kiosks and food carts after the company was suspended from an international organisation that promotes the sustainable use of palm oil.

The organisation, which operates the Melbourne and Werribee zoos, has long campaigned for the sustainable production of palm oil — an ingredient blamed for threatening the critically-endangered Sumatran orangutan population.

The vaquita, the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise, is nearly extinct due to China’s demand for the swim bladders, or ‘maws,’ from a giant Mexican fish called the totoaba. By-catch from the Illegal fishing of totoabas with the use of gillnets is killing vaquitas. In fact, the use of gillnets for illegal totoaba fishing is endangering the entire marine ecosystem of the Upper Gulf of California. The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) estimated that, as of November 2016, no more than 30 vaquitas remained. Analysis of 2017 acoustic monitoring data showed that the decline of the vaquita has continued unabated.

Voices of ZIMS: Expert Advocate Zak Showell
ZIMS is more than just a tool – it’s a movement. A movement started by our community more than 40 years ago to be better and do better. A movement that’s about collaborating and sharing knowledge for the wildlife in our care. ZIMS belongs to our community – a community that is passionate about what we are trying to accomplish. This series features their voices. First up is ZIMS Expert Advocate Zak Showell, who is also Director of Shaldon Wildlife Trust.

Curious Hobart: What happened to the Beaumaris zoo?
Hobart's old zoo is famous as the location where the last thylacine in captivity died, with the species being classified as extinct in the 1930s.

The black-and-white footage of the animals, pacing the confines of the wooden frame and wire enclosures, is emblematic of the zoo, which closed down a year after the last tiger's death.

Like many others, Dave Abel had heard about the zoo and seen the ruins of old enclosures in the fenced area in Queen's Domain.

"When I saw the Curious Hobart articles, I was reminded of this question I had when I first arrived in Hobart 11 years ago," Mr Abel said.

"I have seen the plaq

Ending extinction through conservation medicine, alum works with miniature buffalo, white rhinos
Earth is home to an extensive web of incredibly complex and wildly diverse ecosystems. The harmonious interaction among these ecosystems is what allows life to thrive at Earth’s deepest depths and highest peaks. But one species has upset the balance.

“It’s no secret that humans have had an impact on Earth’s biodiversity,” said Molly Corder, a spring 2018 graduate of the Department of Biology’s Professional Science Master’s (PSM) in Zoo, Aquarium and Animal Shelter Management. “Today’s scientists are tasked with the race against time to save endangered species and bring back n

Inspection at wildlife sanctuary following 'animals in distress' claims
AUTHORITIES will carry out an inspection at Bahrain’s main wildlife sanctuary following claims that animals were confined in small cages and exposed to the scorching summer heat.

It comes after a video and pictures of birds and animals at the Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve were shared on social media.

Supreme Council for Environment (SCE) senior environmentalist Ali Mansoor said a team would visit the park today, while the Bahrain Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) carried out its own inspection yesterday.

“We have been alerted to the videos, pictures and claims,” Mr Mansoor told the GDN.


“We understand the BSPCA visited the park and is also preparing a report.

“A team from the SCE will visit the facility, inspect these claims and submit a report, based on which further decisions will be taken.”

However, he said Al Areen officials had reassured him that the images shared on social media did not tell the full story.

“I personally spoke to Al Areen officials who said the pictures presented only part of the story,” he said.

The pictures and footage were sh

Rare leopard born at Highland Wildlife Park could be released into wild
A critically-endangered leopard cub born in Scotland could be released into the wild in Russia as a world first. News that Amur leopards Freddo and Arina had become parents was confirmed recently at the Highland Wildlife Park near Kingussie by the cub making a crying sound. It is hoped the cat will be moved to Russia in future as part of conservation efforts and would be among only 100 which remain in the wild. If successful, it would be the first ever reintroduction to the wild of a critically-endangered Amur leopard. Douglas Richardson, head of living collections, said: “Our approach to managing this highly-threatened cat is globally unique, with the zoo and conservation community watching what we do with a view to following our lead. “Being able to send captive-bred Amur leopards back to a part of their historic wild range in Russia would repre

Boy who saw tapir attack sister at Dublin Zoo awarded €25,000
A boy who witnessed an attack on his toddler sister by a Brazilian tapir at Dublin Zoo, and saw his parents injured while attempting to save the girl, has been awarded €25,000 in the Circuit Civil Court.

Ruari Owens, who was 10 at the time of the incident, saw the female tapir lift his then two-year-old sister, Katie, in its mouth and violently shake her, causing her serious injury on August 8th, 2013.

Daragh Owens and Patricia Frost, Katie’s parents, fought off the animal, which had earlier given birth to a calf, and were also injured in the attack.

Francis McGagh, counsel for the family, told Judge Francis Comerford that the children had been in the tapir cage and Ruari had seen the sudden and violent attack up close.

Mr McGagh, who appeared with Cath

Butterflies tagged at OKC Zoo found in Mexico
Two Monarch butterflies tagged at the Oklahoma City Zoo last fall were found in Mexico.

A male butterfly, tagged on October 2, 2017, was found on February 20, 2018, in El Rosario, while a female butterfly, tagged on October 5, 2017, was found on February 10, 2018, in Sierra Chincua.

Last fall, OKC Zoo Education and Horticulture teams dedicated sev

Cognitive Bias in Zoo Animals: An Optimistic Outlook for Welfare Assessment
Cognitive bias testing measures how emotional states can affect cognitive processes, often described using the “glass half-full/half-empty” paradigm. Classical or operant conditioning is used to measure responses to ambiguous cues, and it has been reported across many species and contexts that an animal’s cognitive bias can be directly linked to welfare state, e.g., those in better welfare make more optimistic judgements. Cognitive bias testing has only recently been applied to animals and represents a key milestone in welfare science: it is currently one of the only accurate methods available to measure welfare. The tests have been conducted on many farm, laboratory, and companion animal species, but have only been carried out in zoo settings a handful of times. The aims of this review are to evaluate the feasibility of cognitive bias testing in zoos and its potential as a tool for studying zoo animal welfare. The few existing zoo cognitive bias studies are reviewed, as well as those conducted on similar, non-domesticated species. This work is then used to discuss how tests could be successfully designed and executed in zoo settings, which types of tests are most appropriate in different contexts, and how the data could be used to improve animal welfare. The review closely examines the many variables are present in the zoo whic

Hong Kong only has 47 Chinese white dolphins left
Just 47 of the pink sea mammals were spotted from April 2017 to March 2018, according to the latest report by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department. That is the same number as the local population sank to in 2016-17, the lowest since records began in 2003.

There were 188 in 2003. That number plunged to 87 in 2014-15, and 65 in 2015-16.

“Although we did not see a drop in numbers, it still is at a historic low. We are not optimistic,” Taison Chang Ka-tai, chairman of the Hong Kong Dolphin Conservation Society, said.

“I think we should only

Captive population of rare skink established
A secure population of one of New Zealand’s rarest skinks, the critically endangered Chesterfield skink has been established in captivity, with support from the Endangered Species Foundation (ESF) and Auckland Zoo.

In 2017 the entire population was estimated to be fewer than 200 individuals. However, the species was seriously impacted in February 2018 when tidal surges created by Cyclone Fehi destroyed almost half of their habitat.

With the threat of coastal erosion increasing, DOC staff and volunteers caught 50 animals over the following months and had them flown to Auckland Zoo where a captive population has been established.

How Norwich scientists are leading the fight to save the endangered koala
The researchers from the Earlham Institute at Norwich Research Park have been working with an Australian-led consortium to sequence the koala’s genome, and believe the work to understand its genetic building blocks could ensure the species’ long-term survival.

The koala is under threat from a host of dangers including habitat loss, chlamydia and the koala retrovirus, an immuno-deficiency that makes them more susceptible to disease.

Professor Rebecca Johnson, director of the Australian Museum Research Institute, which led the project, said: “The expert contributions from the teams at the Earlham Institute were a critical component of this study.

“I’m so proud of the work this great

5 Simple Reasons You Should Use an Approximation Plan!
Within my career I’ve developed a different way looking at behaviors animals have. Some behaviors desirable some behaviors undesirable. Regardless of what behaviour it is and in what box we should put it I started to see how these behaviors could be solved or how they could be build up by building blocks or successive approximations. How I got there was just making training plans for every single behavior I was going to train. This allowed me to look different to the behaviors animals perform. Breaking behaviour down into blocks allows you to have a more problem solving view towards behaviours or even a better understanding of what animals are able to do.

It’s a great tool to have and even better, you will be very pro active. Here are some reasons why you should do it to!

Lion kept in glass case in café as customers sit just feet away in Istanbul
A café that kept a lion in a narrow glass corridor for customers to watch while they drank has sparked anger on social media.

Video footage showed the big cat constantly pacing to and fro, as if in frustration at being confined to a space less than a metre wide - barely broader than the animal itself.

How Far Do We Go to Save a Species?
Ask Thomas Hildebrandt why he walks with a limp, and he will tell you with a quick laugh that he had his arm up to his shoulder inside the back end of an elephant when the elephant decided to sit down.

This boyish German scientist is head of reproduction management at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and the leading world expert in the artificial insemination of giant mammals. He just made headlines by announcing the creation of the first in vitro rhino embryo, and soon he will fly to Kenya for his most challenging job yet. He will either go down in history as the hero who saved the world's rarest large mammal—or as the idiot who accelerated its demise.

Last spring, obituaries for Sudan, the last male white northern rhino, made the front page of newspapers around the world. Before his guards at the safari park Ol Pejeta in Kenya put the ailing Sudan to sleep at age 45 (an eternity in rhino terms), a small army of bodyguards protected “the most eligible bachelor in the world” in his last years around the clock with machine guns. At one point the wildlife sanctuary opened a Tinder account for the 5,000-pound colossus, with the polite intro, “I don’t mean to be too forward, but the fate of my species literally depends on me.”

But no one swiped right. Or rather, the only two females of his species left on the planet weren’t available for dating: his 28-year-old da

White storks to breed in Britain for the first time in 600 years
White storks are set to breed in the British countryside for the first time in more than 600 years.

A reintroduction scheme, which has been organised by a coalition of wildlife groups and is currently being finalised, will release up to 40 birds each year in an effort to restore the species.

The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation are both playing a part in the programme, which aims to establish a self-sustaining population in Sussex by 2030.
While around 20 migrant white storks are spotted in Britain every year, the last pair that were recorded successfully breeding in the wild nested on St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1416.

Six birds have already been released and more captive birds are currently being held at Knepp Estate, a 1,400-hectare site that forms the headquarters of the Knepp Wildland Project, which supports the reintroduction of British wildlife.

“We want to look at whole ecosyst

Paws for Thought
The most important justification for zoos is that the animals act as ambassadors for their wild counterparts, by raising awareness and support for conservation. There is a crisis for cats in the wild and my mission is to make a difference. We can’t let these animals disappear.” So says Giles Clark, managing director of the Big Cat Sanctuary and star of the recent BBC documentary Big Cats in the House, in which he shares the limelight with Maya the jaguar and Willow the cheetah.

After watching the documentary and becoming immersed in Clark’s world, it comes as something of a surprise to hear his voice on the phone. There is a distinct Aussie twang to it, legacy of his two decades of globetrotting, which helped him develop his big cat expertise.

He says amazing

In a Race to Save the Northern White Rhino, Scientists Have Succeeded in Creating Hybrid Embryos
Scientists say they’re several steps closer to perfecting a method that could prevent the extinction of northern white rhinos, of which only two animals are known still to be alive.

According to a paper published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications, researchers have succeeded in creating embryos using frozen northern white rhino sperm and eggs from a southern white rhino, a closely related sub-species.

It’s the first time such hybrid embryos have been created and the scientists from Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic say it could provide a pathway to saving the critically endangered northern white rhino after the last male, called Sudan, died in March.

They plan to harvest the egg cells of the two surviving female rhinos soon and use preserved sperm to produce “pure” northern white rhino embryos. Since the females, a mother and daughter called N

The lost royal ‘zoo’ at Windsor
Royal menageries became homes for the many animals that were given in previous centuries as political presents from their respective countries and thereby entered a life of exalted captivity, the nature of any zoo now being a controversial one.

The oldest baroque zoo was founded at the Austrian imperial summer residence of Schönbrunn, in 1760, just as there was a Royal Menagerie in the fabled gardens of Louis XIV’s Versailles. Animals were often exchanged as diplomatic gifts to court the friendship of the monarch. These ranged from the most exotic, such as the polar bear given to Henry III by the King of Norway in 1252, to the more conventional personal presents, such as the two lap-dogs which Henry VIII gifted in 1541 to his fifth queen, Katherine Howard (this type of dog was the only one allowed at court outside of the 1526 sumptuary set of rules to reform the Royal Household, known as the Eltham Ordinances). Much less known is the fact that there was once a Royal Menagerie at Windsor, or that it was once home to the first giraffe ever to arrive in England.

Get flipping excited! Penguins lay first egg
In 40 days, we may have first penguin born in India; zoo officials say there won’t be any interference.
Mr Molt and Flipper have put an end to the did-they-didn’tthey conundrum. Flipper, the four-and-a-half-year-old Humboldt penguin housed in Byculla zoo, la

Why I Put My ZooKeeping Career On Hold..
For those of you that know me personally, or professionally, you probably think I'm crazy for taking a leave of absence from the Zookeeping field. After all, I did spend 2 whole years (about 720 days straight, seriously) attending the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program in Moorpark, Ca. Then another 3 or so years specializing in Educational Outreach Programs across Southern California, and a few in New York City..

Peshawar zoo faces outcry over animal deaths
A Twitter campaign under the hashtag #ShutDownPeshawarZoo is giving animal-lovers a platform to voice their concern.
However, Mohammed Ali, the zoo’s director, said that steps are being taken to improve the situation.
“Only a few animals have died in Peshawar zoo, while in advanced zoos abroad, including those in the UK, the animal mortality rate has been recorded in hundreds,” he said.
Ali said the zoo was understaffed and its management was working to ensure animals received proper care.
“Steps have been taken to address the issue of animal care,” said Ali.
“We are focusing on impr

Islamic Defenders Front protest newborn camel at Surabaya Zoo they thought was named after Prophet’s mother
Indonesia’s most infamous religious hardliners, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), are primarily known for their protests of everything from politicians and pluralism to porn stars and Lady Gaga. But this is the first time we’ve heard of them protesting at a zoo, and it’s all because of a newborn camel calf.

On May 15, a single-humped camel was born at the Surabaya Zoo, which by some reports had been named Aminah. She is the sixth calf born from the zoo’s camel couple, Okky and Milo.

On July 1, the FPI reportedly raided the zoo to protest the calf’s name, which they said is an insult to the Prophet Muhammad because it contains half of his mother’s name, Siti Aminah.

The matter was soon resolved after the zoo clarified that there was a misunderstanding when the cal

Coimbatore zoo takes precautionary measures against Nipah virus
The Coimbatore Corporation Zoo has been taking special precautionary measures to prevent spread of the deadly Nipah virus, as several bats travel between Kerala and Coimbatore.
The director of Coimbatore Corporation Zoo, S Natha, said, "We have asked workers in zoo to clean floors to clear saliva and droppings that can spread the virus. We also spray bleaching powder all around the area."
"We have allotted three teams to identify it in dead bats but haven't got any case," he said.
As many as 16 people lost their lives in Kerala due to the out

Draft strategy released by Aboriginal community to reintroduce dingoes into Victorian state and national parks
Dingoes could once again roam state and national parks in central Victoria if a land management plan developed by the region's Aboriginal people — who hold native title rights for the land — is approved.

Reintroducing dingoes into the wild is one of the goals outlined in a draft strategy for the joint management of six parks and reserves inside Dja Dja Wurrung Country.

The strategy would involve shared management of the parks between the land's traditional owners and Parks Victoria.

"Native apex predators, such as the Gal Gal (dingo), provide an overall benefit to biodiversity and ecosystem function, including through their intera

Parrots Use Chemistry And Physics To Create Brilliantly Colorful Plumage
Parrots use the same molecules to create magenta, red, orange and yellow plumage, but these molecules create different colors based on how they are physically arranged inside the feather structure

Paignton Zoo's lion dies after contracting TB
“I don’t know yet what the consequences might be. It’s even too early to say what sort of TB it is with any great degree of certainty and where it might have come from.”

TB is a complicated disease which comes in many forms, is hard to detect and harder to confirm.

The zoo has a strict disease monitoring programme and preventative health system in place to minimize the risk of any infectious disease spreading through the collection.

Guam Kingfisher Hatches at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
A female Guam kingfisher, a brightly colored bird and one of the most endangered bird species on the planet, hatched at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia, May 17. The Guam kingfisher is the most endangered species living at SCBI. There are about 140 Guam kingfishers in the world and they all live in human care.

By June 13, she was starting to get a hint of her adult plumage. When she is fully mature, the feathers on her breast will be white, her body will be cinnamon-colored, her wings will be greenish and her tail will be blue.

It has been four years since the last chick hatched at SCBI. Guam kingfishers are notoriously difficult to breed. They are territorial and it has been difficult to match compatible breeding pairs. The chick’s mother and father moved to SCBI from the Saint Louis Zoo in 2016 and 2014, respectively. This was the first fertile egg they have produced together. However, since the pair did not display appropriate parenting behaviors, keepers artificially incubated the egg and are hand-raising the chick.

The incubation period for Guam kingfishers is relatively short — only 21 to 23 days. The chick hatched after 22 days. During the incubation, keepers candled — or shined a light against the shell of the egg — to track the chick’s development. When it hatched, the chick weighed 5.89 grams. For the firs

Wildlife park lions poisoned, butchered
 The poisoning of six lions at the Mystic Monkeys & Feathers Wildlife Park north of Pretoria has been described as cruel, inhumane and devastating.
Four of the animals were butchered, their heads decapitated and some paws cut off.

Of the lions killed, two were white males, another two brown lions - a male and female around the age of 3 and 4 - and two still very young, at just 6 months old.

A manhunt is under way for the culprits and Limpopo police and private security company Hi-Risk Unit said it was hot on their trail.

“We are still gathering information, but we have received a lot of leads. Th

Who Will Save the Elephants?
There’s a Buddhist proverb, later interpreted by the American poet John Godfrey Saxe, about people and elephants that goes something like this: Six blind men encounter the world’s largest land mammal and decide to investigate. They each arrive at a different part. One runs his hands over its side: “It feels like a wall.” One wraps his arms around a leg: “It feels like a tree!” One grips the trunk: “It’s like a snake!” One knocks on a tusk: “No, it’s like a spear.” One fingers an ear: “No, it feels like a fan!” One swings from the tail: “It feels like a rope!” And they argue for hours, and in some versions even come to blows, because each was sure of what he’d felt and what he understood an elephant to be, and each was sure that they were right and the others were wrong. Saxe said the elephant was god, and our fumblings religious certainism; the moral is about certainty and truth and accepting alternate points of view. These days, though, that parable could just as easily be about something else—namely the seemingly inevitable human propensity to abuse and

Outrage over alleged plan to export rare animals from Congo to China
Mountain gorillas and other endangered species from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are at risk of being taken from the wild and exported to Chinese zoos, conservation groups have alleged.

A leaked letter from the DRC’s environment minister to a Chinese company, apparently referring to a request for a number of rare species, has sparked outrage from wildlife charity Born Free and other organisations.

The correspondence, posted on Twitter by an environmental activist, refers to a request for a dozen mountain gorillas, 16 pygmy chimpanzees or “bonobos”, 16 chimpanzees, eight African manatees and 20 okapi. The animals, all of which belong to species threatened by extinction, were apparently requested for Taiyuan zoo, in the northern province of Shanxi, and Anji Zhongnan zoo in eastern China.

The DRC has no captive breeding programmes, so it is understood that any agreement would necessitate the anim

Demand for big cat parts fueling lion killings
A surge in demand for big cat body parts on South Africa’s black market is endangering the future of the country’s captive lion population, conservationists have warned.

A series of recent attacks on predator parks, where hand-reared big cats are kept overnight in zoo-like enclosures, has raised fears that the safety of lions held in captivity can no longer be guaranteed.

Six lions died over the weekend when pesticide-laced chicken meat is believed to have been thrown into their enclosure at a wildlife park north of Pretoria over the weekend, the third known mass poisoning in three months.

This Egyptian man wrestles with deadly reptiles, extracts venom for sale
“I grew up in a family that worked in hunting, selling animals and reptiles. Snakes lived under our beds inside my grandfather’s house. This is how I became acquainted with them and eventually let go of my fear,” says Salah Tolba, 51, explaining the beginning of his reptile hunting career.

A 51-year-old man with a heavy mustache dressed in a countryside robe, Tolba was cleaning the lions’ cage as he began telling his story. The father of nine owns a garden located in Abou Rawash, in the outskirts of Giza. He calls it “Africano Tolba” and opens it to the public to visit his predators.

Tolba is a man of extraordinary talent. He inherited his family legacy of reptile hunting, which dates back 300 years and turned it into a full-time business. At first sight, his park, a sanctuary for differ

Rethinking the orangutan
The critically endangered orangutan--one of human's closet living relatives--has become a symbol of wild nature's vulnerability in the face of human actions and an icon of rainforest conservation.

New research published June 27 in the journal Science Advances indicates this view overlooks how humans, over thousands of years, fundamentally shaped the orangutan known today.

Ignoring this obscures understanding of orangutans and impacts conservation efforts, said lead author Stephanie Spehar, an associate professor of anthropology at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

"It was often assumed that environmental factors like fruit availability were primarily responsible for most features of modern-day orangutan

Endangered Species – it’s all in the mind
Whenever conservationists come together to discuss the future of endangered species, you can be sure someone, sooner or later, will suggest that nothing will be achieved unless one can ensure the humans living alongside, or sharing habitats with, animals can be encouraged to value them.

The word ‘value’ can be interpreted in a variety of ways. Some observers mean people ought to appreciate animals for what they are, fellow species on planet Earth, which contribute, in any number of ways, to biodiversity as a whole. Others are more inclined to view animals, particularly exotic species, as a living resource from which humans can benefit; through hunting, captive-breeding, eco-tourism, or whatever. They take what might be regarded as a somewhat mercenary approach to conservation, believing that fauna must contribute in some form to ensure their o

flock of 10 penguins which flew in to Egypt from Japan are to go on display in the country’s indoor snow centre today, July 1st.

The group of 10 Gentoo penguins flew in to Egypt in February and have since been adapting to their indoor snow habitat before being unveiled to the public.  It is believed to be the first time that  penguins have lived in Egypt.


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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

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 | | Skype: peter.dickinson48