Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Commercial Farming and Trade of Endangered Species - A shortcut to extinction

Commercial Farming and Trade of Endangered Species - A shortcut to extinction

Education for Nature - Vietnam (ENV) today hosted a press conference calling for a complete ban on the commercial farming and trade of endangered species. The media event followed a lively round-table meeting held yesterday (July 26) with representatives from law enforcement agencies, decision makers, scientists and conservation experts.

Commercial farming and trade of wildlife is a hotly contested topic in some circles where proponents argue that commercial trade benefits conservation while opponents including ENV warn that commercial trade stimulates demand, compromises conservation, and in its current form in Vietnam, has little or no benefit to conservation. 

The results of an investigation of wildlife farms in Vietnam conducted by ENV show widespread laundering of wild sourced animals and abuse of regulations at all of the licensed farms that were inspected.

ENV’s position is to call for a 100% ban on the commercial farming and trade of endangered species that are protected under Vietnamese law or international treaty.

More photos of the event can be found at ENV’s official Facebook page.

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

So you want to work in the new Dubai Safari Zoo?

So you want to work in the new Dubai Safari Zoo?

Until recently I was receiving two or three emails a day asking for more details or how to apply to work in the new Dubai Safari Zoo. I didn't have an answer. It is not as though it is a secretive venture, it has had a lot of press but as to who was involved in the planning, the architects, the consultants this seems to be a very tightly closed book. There are seemingly 8 consultants involved in the project.

It has been suggested that the actual plans for the Safari Zoo had been in existence for several years. These having been drawn up for a similar venture which never actually got past the planning stage.

Just looking at the picture above suggests that the plans go beyond a simple transfer of animals from the existing Dubai Zoo.

Dubai Zoo incidentally I don't believe should close. I believe it should be re-developed with fewer animals. The location of Dubai Zoo make it ideal for visits and this is borne out by the large number of visitors it gets each week. Many of these are housemaids and nannies taking their young charges out for the day.

The new Dubai Safari is located outside of the city and is very difficult to get to without a car, though no doubt, in time, there will be a metro link.

You will note from the map above that there is mention of elephants. There are none in Dubai Zoo and, as far as I am aware* there are currently only two elephants in the UAE (there used to be more). That the Safari will have elephants is confirmed in this rather jumpy video.
(actually a few more than two now hidden away privately in 2016)

What we do know of the new Dubai Safari Zoo is gleaned from the press:

Well this, from February 2013 suggests that animals will be moved in by the end of March. At the time of writing it is April 2014 and there has nothing moved in yet:

"First phase of Dubai Safari ready by end of March - 1,000 animals and birds expected to be moved to new facility, which is currently 80% complete"

"Dubai’s new safari park in Al Warqa area, which is scheduled to open by this year-end, is an eco-friendly project.

Speaking to Emirates 24|7, a Dubai Municipality (DM) official said, “The park will be spread over an area of 119 hectares. It will comprise a safari village, Arabian village, Asian Village and African village apart from a zoo for children, butterfly park, botanical garden, resort, and golf course, in addition to educational and veterinary facilities.”

About 1,000 animals from across the world will be housed there in temperature-controlled environment.
The animals and birds from the current Dubai zoo will also be transferred to the new venue in Al Warqa, which is 80 times bigger than the Jumeirah facility."

"You might be forgiven for thinking that you have entered into foreign waters as you make your way through wadis filled with flamingos and animals running through greenery – this is the new Dubai Zoo.
Known as Dubai Safari, the Dh150 million park project is right on track and senior officials at Dubai Municipality have confirmed that the new Dubai landmark has completed its first phase of construction and, as scheduled, will be completed by the end of 2014.......The first phase took time to complete because it used to be a landfill, so we had to clean and level the site. One of the other main challenges was designing the zoo because we had to keep in consideration the summer heat as it can get very hot between the months of May and September,” he said.
Lootah explained that some of the animals need to be kept in a controlled environment, and these buildings would use simple, water-cooled greenhouse technology. The buildings are envisioned to be large structures equipped with an artificial mud pathway with dense vegetation, which would reduce the temperatures for visitors moving between exhibits.
With the advice of a municipal zoologist and international specialists, Dubai Municipality was also able to choose what kind of animals would be chosen to live at Dubai Safari. For the animals’ consideration, the safari park will be closed at night so that they can rest peacefully."

Dubai Safari Video

"Dubai Safari, that covers 60 hectares of the total area, aims to establish the best centre for wildlife in the world, provide a variety of environments appropriate for different animals, attract visitors from different parts of the world and use modern interactive methods in control and movement to ensure a unique experience for visitors."

I'm none too sure how the Crocodile Zoo is doing because that should have opened in 2013:
"Crocodile park in Dubai to open by 2013 - Dubai will soon be home to about 100 crocodiles as it adds another first to its list and plans to come up with a sophisticated ‘Dubai Crocodile Park’.
The project entails an estimated investment of about $8 million to $10 million.
Expected to come up near the planned Dubai Safari in Mushriff area the park would be spread over 25,000 square metres of area and house Nile crocodiles.
The authorities are targeting to complete the project by 2013."

Dubai Safari has already started hiring staff. They have employed a number of local tour guides. These vacancies were posted on the Dubai Municipality website. One thing that is sure that no-one who is familiar with the Arabian Gulf region would sensibly move any animals anywhere now till the end of the year. It is hot and getting hotter. Heat stress is a killer.

The expected completion date is now sometime in 2015.

You can access the site here:Click HERE

It isn't too helpful as vacancies are advertised in Arabic. You can get around it though by using Google translate and a bit of time. They are going to have to start looking for qualified Zoo Professionals soon. I daresay the first ads will appear on the website.

In the meantime I will keep my ear to the ground. Anything I hear will go in the first place on to ZooNews Digest and later on to Zoo Jobs.

If you have any reservations about moving to Dubai. It is a wonderful place to live and work. It is multi cultural. Freedom for all faiths to practice. The nightlife and restaurants are amongst the best in the world. It is a fun city catering for all interests.

* I say "as far as I am aware" because I don't believe anyone really knows what is hidden away in the many private collections in the UAE.

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Zoo News Digest 24th July 2016 (ZooNews 932)

Zoo News Digest 24th July 2016 
(ZooNews 932)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

Sadly yet another Tiger Attack. What was the woman thinking? We will probably never know.
The Dartmoor Lynx story rolls on. I have a feeling now that it is not going to end well. It has sparked of debates and stories everywhere of big cats living in the wild in the UK. I could add my own stories....perhaps one day.

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 25,000 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 250,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 800 Zoos in 153+ countries? That the subscriber list 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, 


How a secret location near Sydney is helping save the Tasmanian devil
It's a little bit of Tasmania tucked away three hours north of Sydney.
Here 180 Tasmanian devils live free from the cancer that has wiped out more than 70 per cent of the wild population.
But Tim Faulkner, general manager of Devil Ark in the Barrington Tops, is worried that there aren't enough devils in captivity to ensure the long-term survival of the species.

"The Tasmanian devil is facing extinction with no cure for devil face tumour disease," he said. "There is a real ris

Woman mauled to death by a tiger in front of her family after ignoring warnings and jumping out her car at Chinese safari park
A woman was eaten alive and another seriously injured after they jumped out of a car in a tiger enclosure at a Chinese safari park.
The middle-aged woman was killed instantly after she followed the younger woman out of the car at the Badaling Wildlife World, near the Great Wall of China.
Both had ignored repeated warnings to stay inside the vehicle, according to local media.
Sohu reported that the family - one older woman, a younger woman, a child and a man - were in the park, just over an hour north-west of Beijing, on Saturday.
The younger woman and the man are understood to have had an argument, at which point she stormed out of the car.
The older woman then followed her out - and was instantly attacked by the Siberian tiger.

 Beijing zoo, where tigers attacked 2 people, has been closed
A BEIJING wildlife zoo, where a tiger mauled a visitor to death and left another seriously injured, has been closed.

The incident happened on Saturday in the tiger enclosure at the Badaling Safari World, where visitors can drive in their vehicles, but they are warned not to get out of the vehicles.

But two of them did not heed the warning, the publicity department of Yanqing District said.

Sources told the Legal Evening News that the car was carrying a family of four — a middle-aged woman, a young woman, a man and a child.

Reportedly, the young woman had a quarrel with the man, and got out of the car at which point a Siberian tiger pounced on her and dragged her away. The older woman got out of the car and tried to drag her back, but was attacked by another tiger, the paper reported.

The family was rescued when zoo workers rushed to chase off the tigers. The older woman died on the spot,

Animals at 'world's worst zoo' in Gaza to get new homes
A news life awaits for 16 lucky animals who will be rescued from the Gaza Strip's Khan Younis zoo, which has earned the unfortunate moniker of “world's worst zoo.”

International animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS announced Friday that they will be shutting down the zoo and have arranged new homes for the zoo's remaining animals.

2016: So Far, Another Deadly Year for Pangolins – Especially African Species
Just one day following the release of our infographic showing the shocking volume of pangolin scales seized during the first 193 days of 2016, we received the dreadful news that an additional 7,300 kg of pangolin scales were seized today in Hong Kong.
Now, the year’s total of pangolin scales seized stands at a staggering 14.5 tonnes.1

To date, we have confirmed 51 pangolin trafficking incidents spanning 19 countries. Scales from African pangolin species *seized in Asia* currently account for a minimum of 78% of the 14.5 tonnes of pangolin scales intercepted this year. Pangolin scales comprise approximately 20% to 30% of the animal’s weight, depending on the age and species, according to pangolin expert Lisa Hywood of Tikki Hywood Trust in Zimbabwe.

In addition to the 14.5 tonnes of pangolin scales, 345 kg of unidentified pangolin bodies (“meat”) and 413 live pangolins have been confiscated this year2 as law enforcement authorities grapple with the pangolin trafficking crisis.

However, Annamiticus notes a disappointing lack of prosecutions following these seizures. In particular, there is a glaring absence of arrests and investigative activity regarding the large container shipments intercepted in China, including Hong Kong.

All eight pangolin species are at risk of extinction, and are currently listed in CITES Appendix II, which allows for regulated legal commercial trade only if such trade is not a threat to wild populations. Asian pangolins are supposed to be further protected by a zero export quota for wild-caught individuals. Unfortunately, the CITES Appendix II listing provides a loophole for using legal trade as a cover for illegal trade, as well as leaving wild African pangolins vulnerable to collection for zoos (which is already happening).

In September of this year, the Parties to CITES will vote on proposals to transfer all eight pangolin species to CITES Appendix I – the strongest protection possible under internati

Baby orangutan caught under influence of drugs to be ‘deported’
 A baby orangutan is on the verge of being deported after it was caught under narcotic influence. It has been referred to the Kuwait Zoo in preparation for deportation, reports Al- Rai daily quoting sources from the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR).

Revealing that the orangutan was referred to PAAAFR by Ministry of Interior, the sources explained that its owner was arrested following a traffic accident two months ago after he and his pet baby orangutan appeared under the infl uence of drugs. The owner, who was referred to the General Department of Drug Control, admitted that he used to share drugs with his pet for fun.

PAAAFR kept the orangutan in its custody for some time before sending it to the zoo.

Reportedly, PAAAFR has contacted the Embassy of Indonesia and has requested to send the orangutan to Indonesia because it is the place of origin of the

Report Finds Circus Animal Welfare Is Awful
Life under the big top might seem fun and exciting, but a recent report commissioned by the Welsh Government shows that circus animals don’t lead a “life worth living.” The report, titled “The Welfare of Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses” and conducted by Professor Steve Harris from Bristol University in the United Kingdom, consulted 658 experts and organizations from around the world. These experts included 138 circus trainers, 206 lawyers and veterinarians, 107 NGO employees, 144 animal scientists, and 58 zoo and government officials. The report found that most of the 12 welfare criteria used in the European Welfare Quality Project are compromised and minimum recommended enclosure sized for animals in circuses are just over 25 percent of the recommended size for animals in zoos. Harris says, “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements, a

The internet is an endless portal into thousands of cute wildlife videos – but what do these videos show and tell us about the animals they depict, and the reality of their lives? How does the way media represent these animals, particularly chimpanzees and other apes, impact their well being and efforts to save them in the wild?

The Appreciated, Appreciative Zookeeper
I shouldn't complain.  It's pretty awesome we get an entire week of appreciation.  Some professions only get a day.  Others...nothing at all.

And frankly, we get a lot of personal satisfaction from working at zoos and aquariums who put their animals first.  But like any career, there are times it feels like a job.  There are times we feel unappreciated.  This Appreciation Week is a good shot in the arm, but also a reminder that we get to do some really, really cool and meaningful stuff.

But what are some of the challenges that typically leave us feeling unappreciated?  Usually, it doesn't have to do with the animals.  In fact, interacting with animals is the highlight of our day*.  But a lot of our job takes us away from happy animal encounters and into situations that make us wonder if maybe we should just sort packages for UPS.

Bizarre moment an ELEPHANT is put on a raft to prove that feeding crocodiles at the world's most terrifying tourist attraction is SAFE
A terrifying tourist attraction which allows guests to feed meat to crocodiles from a raft has tried to prove it is safe - by floating an elephant on it.
Last last week pictures emerged of Chinese tourists dangling lumps of beef into the jaws of the killer reptiles at the Utairatch crocodile farm and zoo near Pattaya, Thailand.
The images, posted by a local taxi driver, sparked a safety frenzy with police and officials rushing to the facility to close it down.


My Experience At The Tiger Temple Sanctuary In Thailand
I stood in line, restlessly shifting from left foot to right as little rivulets of sweat ran down the nape of my neck. The Bangkok heat was not meant for standing. Outdoors. To take a selfie with a tiger. A tiger that’s chained to the ground. What was I doing here again?! That thought ran through my mind in spurts but I kept reminding myself, the objective was to spend some time with my cousins, whom I was traveling with on a short Thai holiday, so if we were bonding over tigers, then hey, maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing.

I’m not usually a bus tour sort of traveler. I think early on in my travel life, I recognized my desire for doing things on my own without being carted around like cattle from one sight to another with 50 other tourists oohing and aahing at something. So it was kind of surprisin

San Francisco man singlehandedly revives a rare butterfly species in his own backyard
The California Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies used to flutter about San Francisco aplenty, but their populations declined in the 20th century as more areas were developed. Now in the early 21st century, they’re incredibly rare in the city, so one resident decided to do something. California Academy of Sciences aquatic biologist Tim Wong built a butterfly home in his own backyard, and around three years later is seeing the colorful blue butterflies slowly return.

Please stop this Ark Avilon isn't clever
How it Should be...see below!
See Here

Troubled Highland zoo finds loophole to stay open without licence… By letting people in for free
A troubled Highland zoo has found a loophole allowing it to remain open without a licence – by scrapping admission charges from today.

It will mean several months of asking customers for donations to help feed the animals.

Black Isle Wildlife Park had its zoo licence withdrawn by councillors last month (JUN) after a series of inspections exposed basic failings in animal welfare.

Visitors had complained of dead animals, inadequate feeding standards and cages in poor condition.

Subsequent inspections found the zoo, at Drumsmittal, North Kessock, was “seriously below the standards required for operators to be in possession of a zoo licence.”

The 50-acre park’s owners, Eric and Maureen Maxwell, had until today to appeal but have instead decided to rebrand the place as a “petting zoo” for domestic species only which requires only a “public entertainment” licence.

It means all its exotic creatures must go. Most have already been rehomed elsewhere.

The couple have invited critics to visit the place to review the changes.

Family friend and spokeswoman Alison Gallagher confirmed that they would not appeal the loss of their zoo licence.

She said: “It will be free admission and a request for dona

Man arrested for trafficking cheetah in Qatar
An “Arab national” has been arrested for trying to sell a cheetah in Qatar, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME) has announced.

According to QNA, the person violated the provisions of Law No. 5 of 2006 for regulating trade of wildlife, animals of rare species threatened with extinction and their products.

Welcome to the Avian Scientific Advisory Group (ASAG)
The mission of the Avian Scientific Advisory Group is to support Zoo and Aquarium avian programs, conservation of bird species and to serve as a resource on avicultural knowledge.

ESA Announces Finalists for the 2016 YouTube Your Entomology Contest
Since 2009, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) has held a contest called “YouTube Your Entomology,” which invites entomologists to showcase their talents and creativity through video. The popular contest has been featured in the New York Times and other media outlets, and the videos often focus on research, teaching, outreach, and other areas.
For the 2016 contest, 43 videos were submitted, and the ESA judges recently selected five finalists. A winner and a runner-up will be announced in September at the 2016 International Congress of Entomology in Orlando, Florida. All finalists will receive a Stinger Award. In addition, the winner will receive $400 and the runner-up will receive $200.
The five finalists and their videos are:

Severe Coagulopathy after Ingestion of "Snake Wine"
This report describes a patient who developed coagulopathy after ingesting snake wine, which is an alcoholic libation containing an entire venomous snake.
A 68-year-old man was admitted to the hospital 19 h after ingesting snake wine. The laboratory features upon admission included unmeasurable activated partial thromboplastin (aPTT) values, prolonged prothrombin time (PT) values, increased fibrinogen levels, modestly elevated fibrin degradation product and D-dimer values, uncorrected aPTT and PT values after a mixing test, and normal levels of aspartate transaminase and alanine transaminase. No pesticides, warfarin, or superwarfarin in the patient's blood or urine were detected. His coagulation profile normalized on the 6(th) day after admission after antivenom treatment. He was discharged 10 days later without sequelae. WHY SHOULD AN EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN BE AWARE OF THIS?: The physician should be aware that ingesting snake wine may lead to systemic envenomation. As for coagulopathy, which may develop by ingesting snake

John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme - Zoo Songs

Forms of HIV carried by chimpanzees can infect HUMANS: Study supports theory AIDS epidemic started in primates
The first strain of a virus considered the ancestor of HIV - the virus that causes AIDS - may have been passed to humans through a bite wound or scratch from a hunted chimpanzee whose blood seeped into a small cut.
Experts believe it was passed to humans in the early 1900s, somewhere near a West African rainforest.
Now a study has backed up this theory, by proving forms of HIV can cross between chimps and humans.

Bowmanville Zoo co-owner Michael Hackenberger’s pretrial on animal cruelty charges slated for Sept. 15
A pretrial date has been set for the case against Bowmanville Zoo co-owner Michael Hackenberger, charged with animal cruelty.   
Sept. 15 is when the Crown and defence lawyer David Elmaleh will return. The case was carried over from a judicial pretrial conference Thursday, July 21 to allow more time for the lawyers to prepare their arguments.        

Mr. Hackenberger did not make an appearance at the provincial offences court in Whitby on Thursday. His lawyer appeared on his behalf.   

A publication ban is in place.   

The Ontario Society for the Pr

Dr Fidgett’s A-Z of Zoo Animal Nutrition
Would you like to own a strictly-limited edition children’s book ‘Dr Fidgett’s A-Z of Zoo Animal Nutrition‘ and create a better climate for women in science? Designed to inspire the zoo nutritionist in everyone, the book includes 26 original and beautiful illustrations of wildlife, donated by wonderfully generous and talented friends. Your purchase includes the option to add a personal dedication in the book for someone you love!

Cheers to All of the Zookeepers
Cheers to the zookeepers among you.
To the people who wake up early, long before the sun rises to begin preparing the animals’ diets in the always-clean commissary. To the ones that rinse lettuce and kale for the sulcata tortoises, roll raw meatballs for the Sumatran tigers, and load bales of hay and alfalfa into wheelbarrows and trucks for the Grevy’s Zebras, white rhinoceroses, and Thomson’s gazelle that all share the same sprawling exhibit. Cheers to you who cut up squash and sweet potatoes just the way that the picky eleven-year-old three-toed sloth prefers. To those who hand feed the Magellanic penguins individual capelin to make sure each of the fourteen birds gets their fill.

AKF Dedicated Issue – Gorillas
Gorillas are managed as intensively as any species in the zoo industry. This issue highlights some of the outstanding and innovative work being performed by AAZK members to conserve the sustainability of gorilla populations both in situ and ex-situ.

A World Like No Other for Flamingos
There are alien landscapes that change as quickly as the altitude ranging from the lowland rainforest of Bolivia’s Madidi where new species are being discovered regularly to the 250-mile-wide salt desert where islands are covered in 30-foot-tall cacti.

My field trip in early April started in the altiplano, the high plains, where airplanes don’t need to descend, they just land. The adventure included a few cab rides, a puddle jumper, and a six-hour off road drive that brought us close to 15,000 feet above sea level to Laguna Colorada at the top of Bolivia. This location is one of the world’s largest breeding sites for three of the six flamingo species – Chilean, Andean, and Puna. They congregate in the tens of thousands each year to feast on the phytoplankton and look like a sea of crimson pink in the mid-day sun. Researchers and many local people came together to identify, band, catalog, and release over 1000 yearlings (year-old flamingos) in just a few hours.

It was amazing to be part of the effort to help save these

MSc Zoo Conservation Biology induction information 2016/17

Wild birds 'come when called' to help hunt honey
New findings suggest that the famous cooperation between honeyguide birds and human honey hunters in sub-Saharan Africa is a two-way conversation.
Honeyguides fly ahead of hunters and point out beehives which the hunters raid, leaving wax for the birds to eat.
The birds were already known to chirp at potential human hunting partners.
Now, a study in the journal Science reports that they are also listening out for a specific call made by their human collaborators.
Experiments conducted in the savannah of Mozambique showed that a successful bird-assisted hunt was much more likely in the presence of a distinctive, trilling shout that the Yao hunters of this region learn from their fathers.
"They told us that the reason they make this 'brrrr-hm' sound, when they're walking through the bush looking for bees' nests, is that it's the best way of attracting a honeyguide - and of maintaining a honeyguide's attention once it starts guiding you," said Dr Claire Spottiswoode, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, UK, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa, w

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New Meetings and Conferences updated Here

If you have anything to add then please email me at
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

Recent Zoo Vacancies

Vacancies in Zoos and Aquariums and Wildlife/Conservation facilities around the World

About me
After more than 47 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 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, a people watcher, a lover, 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