Saturday, November 21, 2015

Zoo News Digest 17th - 21st November 2015 (ZooNews 914)

Zoo News Digest 17th - 21st November 2015 
(ZooNews 914)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

It is coming to those happens twice a year, where the seasons cross over and there will be dozens of stories about what zoos are doing to warm up or cool down their animals. Why these places don't have some sort of permanent system in place I can't really figure out because all it reads to me is inadequacy and we should never be inadequate for the lives we care for.
Probably the most disturbing 'inadequate' story of the past week is that from Ludhiana Zoo in the Punjab where it is stated " Zoo officials spend lakhs on the diet and medicines of animals, but due to lack of funds, the department fails to pay contractors feeding animals. The state government has passed zero budget for forest and wildlife in the assembly, so the department has no money to feed their animals and take care of them."
No money to feed their animals!! Just what the hell is going on? This isn't just inadequate it is total incompetence. I daresay there will be a follow up on this and as per usual from this part of the world the blame will be placed on the Zoo Keepers and Daily Wage Staff.....when in reality the State government are and should be held responsible. The quote so often attributed to Mahatma Ghandhi 
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated". Well going by the way the Punjab are going with their zoo it doesn't hold out much hope for the people.

The other story which is bothering me is of the escaped 'wolf' in Scotland. Most of 'Joe Public' have a preconceived idea of wolves that dates back to the dark ages. I daresay the collection told the newspapers that it was not a wolf in the true sense of the word but a shy mainly frugivorous canid that is neither a wolf nor a fox....but the papers know better...scaring people sells more copy. The only good thing is that only one newspaper has picked up the story so far.

The Red Panda escape on the other hand has gone from local to international. 

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 

Interesting Links

Knowsley Safari Park has unveiled £1.5m plans to introduce two new attractions: a five-acre tiger habitat and a safari drive lodge.

The zoological park said that the habitat would form a central area to the existing walkaround while the lodge would allow visitors to stop off on the main safari drive for the first time and enjoy views of the animals.

The work, which is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016, will take up to four months to complete.

Eveline De Wolf, head of the animal collection, said: "The new tiger habitat has been designed especially for Sinda and Bira, our Amur tigers, to provide an enriching habitat with naturally flowing water that is integrated into the long-established woodland.

"It will be great for visitors too, with a full trail around the habitat and elevated views from specially designed timber viewing platforms."

Edward Perry, director of operations, said: "The addition of the safari drive lodge has been in planning for a long time and will give visitors the chance to stop off mid-drive,

Red panda vanishes from California zoo
A red panda is missing on California's far north coast.
 The tiny creature named Masala disappeared from the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday.
Zoo manager Gretchen Ziegler tells the Times-Standard newspaper that any resident who spots the 1 1/2-year old panda should not approach it, but try not to lose sight of it and call the zoo or police.

Ziegler says the biggest threat to Masala would be cars or an animal that preys on small animals. Red pandas are abou

Earth Matters: Thailand’s efforts to help endangered Asian elephant
After camping among wild African elephants in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, last September, I greatly anticipated visiting wild Asian elephants in Thailand this month. But when I arrived, I found that finding wild elephants in this country is a little tricky.

Like their larger African cousins, Asian elephants are a highly endangered species. According to the the American Museum of Natural History, hundreds of thousands of elephants roamed Asia until only about 100 years ago. Today, they have been wiped out from large areas of India, Southeast Asia and China, leaving fewer than 50,000.

I found three great places to visit Asian elephants in northern Thailand, all about an hour’s drive from the city of Chang Mai. Trouble is, the elephants in these places are not exactly wild. That’s because 95 percent of Thailand’s elephants are living in captivity, and nobody really knows how many wild elephants are left.

A friend and I drove to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in the densely forested hills near Lampang. The TECC is a government-sponsored elephant camp that houses more than 50 Asian elephants (including six of the Thai Royal family’s white elephants). TECC seeks to educate tourists about the plight of elephants and to raise money for their conservation.

We watched the elephants bathe and frolic with their trainers in the creek flowing through the TECC grounds — truly a highlight of this trip!

After bathing, about a dozen eleph

France bans imports of lion hunt trophies
France has banned the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies, nearly four months after the killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion by an American trophy hunter sparked international outrage.

In a letter to the actor and animals rights activist Brigitte Bardot, France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal, said that she had instructed officials to stop issuing permits for lion trophies and was considering stricter controls on trophies from other species.

“Following your letter and recent visits in Africa in preparation of the climate summit in Paris, I want to let you know I have given orders to my services to stop delivering certificates for importing lion trophies,” Royal wrote in the letter dated 12 November.

“Concerning other species trophies, I am in favour of a much stronger control for hunting trophies and this issue will be discussed with all the countries concerned and with the EU.”

In July, conservationists and MEPs called for an EU-wide ban on the import of lion trophies following the death of Cecil the lion

Hong Kong detector dog sniffs out endangered dried seahorses in airport crackdown
A dedicated detector dog named Maggie sniffed out a parcel containing 16.8 kilograms of dried seahorses at the Air Mail Centre of Hong Kong Airport on Wednesday.
The huge haul was found in a box with no relevant permits, sparking an investigation into the contravention of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) set up a Quarantine Detector Dog Team in 2008 to bolster its efforts in combating the illegal importation of animals and animal products, including endangered species.
The AFCD yesterday reminded the public not to buy, import or export endangered species, pointing out t

Sea Urchin Goes to the Dentist at National Aquarium
If you think that humans are the only ones who have to worry about dental care, think again. A pretty diverse group of animals has to put effort into maintaining their pearly whites, including a sea urchin that recently went under the knife at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

The aquatic creatures are equipped with five calcareous plates that support their teeth. With the help of their beak-like mouths, the sea urchins scrape algae right off of rocks and grind up mussels, a process intended to keep their teeth ground down.

Invertebrate Conservation Sub-Committee meeting: Abu Dhabi 12-13 September 2015: Report
-- B.A. Daniel, P. 1
Implications of invoking Section 62 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for resolving Human-Wildlife Conflict
-- S.S. Bist, Pp. 2-4
Largest breeding colony of Greater Adjutant, Leptoptilos dubius Gmelin, in Dadara-Pasariya-Singimari Villages in Assam, India
-- Purnima Devi Barman and D.K. Sharma, Pp. 5-6
Cyperus conglomerates curvulus - a new distribution record for India
-- V.P. Prasad, P. 7
Case Report: Surgical Intervention of Velvet Antler Fracture in a Captive Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor)
-- Deepak Sharma, Pp. 8-10
Husbandry and Care of Amphibians (Chapter 34, ZOOKEEPING)
-- Andrew M. Lentini, Pp. 11-22
ZOOLEX: Minnesota Zoological Gardens, Minnesota Trail: Beavers
Pp. 23-26
Education Report
P. 27
Announcement: ZOO T-shirts
P. 28
Announcement: IUCN World Conservation Congress, 1-10 September 2016, Hawai'i
Back cover page
The November 2015 issue of ZOO’S PRINT Magazine (Vol. 30, No. 11) is online at <> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.
If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <>

'Frozen Ark' collects animal DNA in face of mass extinction
A British-led project called "Frozen Ark" is preserving the DNA of endangered species before they disappear as the Earth undergoes what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction.
"Many of these species are going to go extinct before we even know they exist," said John Armour, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Nottingham, which is host to the project.
"The whole idea of the Frozen Ark is to get and preserve that material for future generations before it's too late."
Launched a little over a decade ago by Britis

***** in November 2015

~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~

Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



Stoat Heath is a display of stoats and their typical habitat by Aktion
Fischotterschutz, an organization for the conservation of otters, in a
special park for mustelids in Hankensbüttel, Germany. The barriers are
designed to keep the stoats in and their predators out of the exhibits.

Here is the German original:



The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums launched two important
guidelines for zoos at the 70th WAZA Annual Conference and Technical
Congress held in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates:

The World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy:

The World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy:


We keep working on ZooLex ...

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization is a non-profit organization
registered in Austria (ZVR-Zahl 933849053). ZooLex runs a professional
zoo design website and distributes this newsletter. More information and


New conservation technology network launches today
A new online platform, launched today, will allow conservationists and technology experts to share ideas on how to tackle some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges.

Half the world's natural history specimens may have the wrong name
As many as 50% of all natural history specimens held in the world's museums could be wrongly named, according to a new study by researchers from Oxford University and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The real story about our elephant project
As you may know, we’re awaiting approval of a permit to relocate 18 elephants who face certain death in Swaziland. We’re joining two other accredited U.S. zoos to give them the newest, most innovative homes for elephants in human care. Some anti-zoo activists are spreading untruths about this project and attacking us to spark negative comments to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services. They believe these animals are better off dead than living in our remarkable new habitats – and we strongly disagree.

So we’re sharing the facts in this short VIDEO below. We partner with many African conservation groups, helping save species in crisis there. It’s a difficult, complex situation with few easy answers. Between the horrific daily poaching deaths and the devastating Swazi drought, there simply is no safe place for these elephants in Africa. Swazi officials have worked on their thoughtful conservation plan for 50 years, and their decision about these elephants is critical to saving the nearly extinct black rhino. We are proud to o

Capuchin monkeys use sticks as shovels to dig out caiman eggs
Capuchin monkeys are renowned tool users – they famously wield hammers and anvils to crack nuts – but the newest addition to their arsenal combines ingenuity with a certain bravado.

Quite by chance the monkeys have been spotted using an improvised shovel to steal eggs from caiman nests in the Amazon rainforests of the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil.

The monkeys grab a long stout stick and then dig away at the caiman’s nest mound, flicking the rotting vegetation aside until they reach the eggs.

The monkeys then pick up one egg at a time, carry it away to the relative safety of a nearby tree, eat it and then come back for more.

It’s a risky strategy. The metre-high nest mounds are often gu

Disturbing: Ex-SeaWorld Trainer Reveals What It Was Like Getting Splashed All The Time
Every year, millions of visitors flock to SeaWorld to see incredible performances by dolphins and killer whales. But what looks like harmless family fun on the surface has a dark side. Now, one brave ex-trainer is exposing the reality of being repeatedly and systematically splashed.

Former trainer Jeff Rodriguez has gone public with his story in the hopes that he can stop SeaWorld’s cycle of exploitation.

“They prey on young people who have dreams of working with animals,” Jeff said. “At first, it’s just a light mist, then it’s Shamu splashing these huge waves right into your face. They keep upping it, and before you know it, you are getting splashed very hard.”

Jeff had to endure large, wet splashes—sometimes right in his eyes—on a daily basis for four years.


“The splashing might seem fun from the safety of the bleachers, but imagine that big splash blasting right into your face,” said Jeff. “For the audience, it’s just a few quick splashes and then they head back to their hotels, but for us, we get wet—like, real wet.”

“Some days, we’re in the water with these animals for eight or nine hours,” Jeff added. “We’re getting splashed constantly.”

When it comes to where the blame lie

Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc welcomes 200 rare animals
VietNamNet Bridge - The Vinpearl Safari Park on Phu Quoc Island, the first wildlife zoo in Vietnam, has just received 200 endangered animals of different species from various bio-geographic regions in the world.
The rare animals include white antelopes (addax), black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata), ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and giraffes.
The Conservation Park, part of the Vinpearl Resort project in Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang Province, one of the biggest zoo in the world, is scheduled to be put into operation on December 24.

Captured kitten to undergo wildcat DNA test
A kitten captured after getting trapped in a garden shed is being tested to confirm if it is one of Scotland’s rare wildcats.

The five-month-old has the markings of a wildcat, eats only raw meat and behaved so ferociously when cornered it has been nicknamed Grumpy Cat.

Experts at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland are now doing DNA tests that will prove conclusively whether the kitten – picked up near Alford – is a wildcat.

There are thought to be fewer than 400 Scottish wild

The end of canned lion hunting looks imminent
Breaking news has also come out of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) AGM. A motion has been passed that disassociates PHASA with the captive-bred lion industry until such a time that the industry can convince PHASA and the IUCN that the practice is beneficial to lion conservation. This came after canned lion breeders and supporters were apparently outvoted 147 to 103. 

Why Zookeepers Don't Want To Touch Seattle's Newborn Gorilla
Zookeepers have noticed that Nadiri, a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo, has been restless at night and walking around more. For two weeks, they’ve watched her on closed-circuit television, waiting for signals that her baby is ready to arrive.

Nadiri, a 19-year old, first time mother, was due on Thursday. Her minders are hoping to be hands off at this birth – to give mother and child the time they need to bond.

Update: Baby Gorilla Is Born, But Mom Walks Away

“If we never have our hands on this infant, never have to handle it in any way, I would consider that a huge success for all of us,” said Harmony Frazier, a senior veterinary technician at the Seattle zoo.

At the very least, they hope it goes better than Nadiri’s own birth.

Nadiri’s traumatic birth in February 1996 – and what happened after – tugged Seattle heartstrings. Woodland Park Zoo received 3,000 submissions for baby names. Long lines formed to watch baby Nadiri at the zoo nursery. Bruegger’s Bagels held a press conference to financially adopt the newborn and lavished the baby gorilla with diapers and f

Wolf escapes from Galloway Wildlife Park - but public told not to panic
The five-year-old wolf disappeared last week but owners of the wildlife park say she poses no threat to the public.
A wolf is on the loose after it escaped from a Kirkcudbright wildlife park on Saturday.

The animal made a run for it after torrential rain and high winds knocked a tree down onto its enclosure and left a hole in the fence at the Galloway Wildlife Park.

Animal keeper Cameron Denerley was only made aware of the wolf’s disappearance when a woman who lives nearby spotted it roaming around the area.

He said yesterday the animal (pictured) poses no danger to the public and anyone who discovers it should walk away and phone him immediately.

“It’s a five-year-old female that was born here so it’s not a wild animal,” he said.

“She’s quite shy and would probably be more scared than any member of the public who came across her. She won’t attack anyone but we want her back.”

Cameron and his father also spotted the wolf at the golf course near the park on Monday night but were unab

Ruff sex: Scientists identify genetic sequence of a bird with four genders
Talking about the "birds and the bees" is a tricky and delicate matter. Especially if you are referring to the mating behaviour of a particular bird called a ruff.

A ruff is a type of wading sandpiper. The female ruff looks similar to the type of sandpiper you may see at the beach. But the male ruffs are a more diverse bunch. There are three different kinds of male genders -- including a "female mimic." Scientists have known about this for a few years. But now a group of biologists has found the group of genes responsible for the unique gender diversity and behavioural traits in ruff sex.

"We try to avoid the use of that word actually because it takes you to strange places on an internet search engine," David Lank tells As It Happens host Carol Off.  "The enigma of the species is how there are three distinctly different kinds of males and how they co-exist in the same species."

Lank is a biology professor at Simon Fraser University and co-author of the new study.

The male genders are split into three categories: territorial males, satellite males or female mimics. Lank explains that during the mating season each gender competes for fe

Truth Squad: Blackfish Scientists Get Schooled
The anti-zoological crowd has built its legacy on sneaking misinformation into society through films, books, speeches and social media.

Sometimes, anti-zoo proponents will even try to sneak their agenda into real science, as Jeff Ventre and John Jett did with their 2015 paper claiming wild killer whales live longer than those in zoological facilities.

Since Ventre and Jett were so eager to pretend to be experts, they should have been ready for the real ones to call them out, which is exactly what happened at IMATA 2015.

Dr. Kelly Jaakkola, one of the world’s foremost experts in dolphin cognition, and Dr. Grey Stafford, a PhD biologist and expert on positive reinforcement training in zoological species, tore apart the Ventre and Jett paper in a 15 minute smackdown dual presentation at the conference held in the Bahamas.

“What you’ve got here is bad science” Dr. Jaakkola said, while introducing the Ventre-Jett lifespan piece, “and I don’t say that lightly, as a scientist.”

UAB engineers develop new method to repair elephant tusks
When Birmingham Zoo veterinarians approached researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering to help them stop a crack from growing in their oldest elephant’s tusk, the engineers saw an opportunity to use their expertise in materials science to improve the industry standard for the repair process.

Cracks in elephants’ tusks historically have been repaired by adhering a metal ring to the tusk in order to stabilize the crack and prevent it from growing any farther up the tusk.

The Birmingham Zoo asked the director of UAB’s Materials Processing and Applications Development Center, Brian Pillay, Ph.D., to do just that, for Bulwagi, a 35-year-old male African elephant in their care.

Pillay’s immediate response was to innovate the process, and apply some of the science the lab uses in other materials processes to create a new, more robust and seamless tre

Scientists discover method to eliminate killer fungus in amphibians
Research published today details the first-ever successful elimination of a fatal chytrid fungus in a wild amphibian, marking a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease responsible for devastating amphibian populations worldwide. The highly-infectious chytrid pathogen has severely affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide; driving population declines, extirpations and species extinctions across five continents.

The zoo of the city of Nyíregyháza in North-eastern Hungary was ranked first by the foundation of Anthony Sheridan in the category of comprising zoos with between 250 000 and 500 000 visitors a year. The high ranking is due to the rare species of animals and the significant number of visitors, from Hungary and abroad.
„19 years ago, when we developed the idea of the institution, we simply wanted to open a zoo with a novel approach in this wonderful oak forest at Sóstó" – says Mr. László Gajdos, director of Nyíregyháza Zoo, which is one of the youngest participants of the competition. „We regard our work as a mission, and we see this recognition as a confirmation that we proceed in the right way. Our aim is to ensure the best conditions for the 5000 animals living here, and that our 450 000 visitors every year could leave th

Zoo animals crave human touch
In a city like Ludhiana, where people don't hesitate to spend big money on their pets, there are no takers for zoo animals up for adoption. Since Punjab government approved the animal adoption scheme on June 15, 2009, there have only been two cases of animal adoption, that too by a city based school. In 2010 and 2011, Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines adopted a tiger, black bucks and birds for two years. But no one came forward to adopt the animals after that. Adoption entails bearing expenses of food and upkeep of the animal.

Zoo officials spend lakhs on the diet and medicines of animals, but due to lack of funds, the department fails to pay contractors feeding animals. The state government has passed zero budget for forest and wildlife in the assembly, so the department has no money to feed their animals and take care of them.

District Forest Officer (DFO), Surjit Sahota said, "It would be great if citizens come forward to adopt zoo animals, because funds are always limited. They should join this good cause. Adoption can be for one year and for one month too. Anybody can adopt an animal. The person adopting will have to pay a fixed amount."

Sandeep Jain, president, People for Animal (PFA), Ludhiana said, "There should be awareness about this scheme. People do not know they can adopt zoo animals. Sec

Australian Reptile Park snake handler Billy Collett bitten milking venomous death adder
THE head keeper at the Australian Reptile Park was taken to hospital on Tuesday after being bitten by a highly venomous death adder while milking it.

The park confirmed head reptile keeper Billy Collett was bitten on the index finger by a common death adder — the sixth most venomous snake in Australia — during a routine venom extraction procedure at the park.

It was the first time Mr Collett — who was milking the adder as part of the park’s venom-milking program — had been bitten by a snake.

Tulsa Zoo: Tova The Elephant Had Massive Bladder Stone
The necropsy performed on the elephant that was euthanized on Sunday revealed she had a 10-pound bladder stone, according to the Tulsa Zoo.
The zoo said Tova the 43-year-old Asian elephant was euthanized because she had stopped eating and drinking and was in pain. Experts from the Center for Elephant Conservation tried to find what caused the symptoms. Despite that, Tova was euthanized to end her suffering.

Baby Tiger Drugged And Dragged Around Casino — Just For Fun
When Russia's latest attraction, the ritzy Tigre de Cristal casino, opened its doors last month, it needed something big to make an impact. So, it decided haul around a 5-month-old endangered tiger cub who was drugged so heavily she couldn't open her eyes.
Patrons and members of the public were shocked to see the young Amur tiger being carted around the casino floor in Vladivostok, Russia. Barely conscious, her inner eyelids drooped shut, leaving her with a blank red stare.

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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 international independent 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, a dreamer, a traveller, 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.

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Peter Dickinson
Contact email -
Dubai: ++ 971 (0)50 4787 122

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address: (not where I live...currently in Dubai)
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LL22 8NP

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"These are the best days of my life"

Monday, November 16, 2015

Zoo News 1st - 16th November 2015 (ZooNews 913)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 16th November 2015 
(ZooNews 913)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I have been a bit off the map recently so postings on Facebook have been a bit sparse. I didn't always have a WiFi connection and when I did the use of a Smartphone baffles me a lot. I daresay I will get there in the end, probably just as technology lumps something else on me to figure out. I had my laptop of course. Big, heavy and more than ten years old. Whereas I do understand it, it doesn't always understand how to do things. I know I have to get a new one but I can't rightly afford one right now.

The SEAZA conference in Singapore was both interesting and fun. A great opportunity to catch up with some people I have not seen for many years and to meet some I have known for years and yet never met. I don't often get away to conferences but have been to a few in a relatively short space of time. Lots to listen to, pegs to place into the right holes. What is very evident to me is that these organisations still have a long way to go. If I feel dissatisfied with the general situation in the zoo world then I am pretty sure I am not alone. "Slowly, slowly, catch a monkey" is not what needs doing, we really need to get our skates on or face the wrath of the animal activists. I don't want to see them getting any credit at all for zoos cleaning up their act. It is up to us to get our own house in order and we need to do it sharpish. It is no good turning a blind eye to what is bad in our zoos because of influence or power or because we don't want memberships to drop off. Action is needed for the animals under our care and for the reputations of the rest of us which are placed in the same boat as the worst facility. Tomorrow may be too late.

From Singapore I moved off to the Philippines. Not been back for six years and it was a sort of second home back then. In fact I do actually have a home there still. I don't have any brick and mortar abode anywhere else other than my rental apartment in Dubai. This was a holiday…I needed one. I had intended to visit a few more collections than I did but time was short and relaxing and pleasure came first. Below you will see a couple of extracts from my diary about two of the collections I did re-visit.

Could the zoo get worse? Well the short answer is yes! It is several
years since I last visited and it has gone downhill in a big way.

If there is anything I could fact the ONLY thing is
the conditions in which the single elephant 'Maali' is being kept.
This unfortunate animals quarters having been the frequent brunt of
criticism by animal rights groups for years ... And were partly
justified. What I personally know is that she is popular and loved by
the people of Manila and by the staff and volunteers who take care of
her. Her accommodation was been vastly improved and expanded now. She
has a pool and waterfall and big boomer balls to play with. However it
is she, the animal herself which is the real seal. She is in beautiful
condition and as someone who knows a little bit about elephants I
would say she is both happy and content. True, company MAY make her
happier but who knows? Nobody and especially  not the so called
elephant 'exspurts' out there.
If it were me I would redevelop exactly half of Manila zoo just for
her and bring in some companions. Give it a try.

The zoo is shit. It is bloody awful. The only other animals of any
interest were the two 'Hebra'. Zeedonks are two a penny but I don't
recall seeing a Hebra before. Magnificent looking animals too. I
recall from several years back seeing the parents of these animals
mixed together and wandered at the time. Parents now gone the progeny
remain but held separately. Valueless of course. Only of academic

The stinking open sewer still runs through the zoo. The boating lake
is still a dirty green dead swamp.

If more money was to have been spent on cage improvements than the
totally inadequate barriers (where they exist) one may have noted a
slight bettering. But no, it truly is a bloody awful zoo.

The poor poor Palm Civet. A bigger cage than before but the Palm Civet Gauge is applicable as it ever was as a gauge to a zoo.

I woke a fraction before Hera rang to see if I was still going to
Manila Ocean Park. I was but it was later than I expected. 
Therefore my visit shorter than planned.

The walk there was quite a bit shorter than I remembered. I wish I
could say the visit was a good one but it wasn't. It was impossibly
busy and mainly with around two million schoolkids. I had to fight my
way through to see anything. Also very very very noisy too....and the
music too loud.

The signage and educational graphics were on the whole very good but
the general veneer of the place was looking worse for wear. There was
a photo of Hera in the section on 'Ocean Park History'.

To me there are few things more depressing in an aquarium than anemone
fish that does not have an anemone.

What I found most annoying was Humboldt Penguins in Antarctica. They
were promoting the penguins big time. I thought the graphics showing
the Humboldts in the Antarctic wastes was a bit over the top.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 

Interesting Links

Plan to Export Chimps Is First Test of New Measures to Protect the Species

Nine injured by startled elephant at Chiang Mai Night Safari
A STARTLED elephant barrelled into a crowd of tourists at Chiang Mai Night Safari on Saturday, mowing down nine, who were offered lifetime passes and Bt30,000 as compensation.

The 23-year-old pachyderm named Lamduan had participated in the animal parade for the first time.

Four of the injured were in a serious condition and had to stay at the hospital. The other five were allowed to go home.

To Exchange or Not: Zoo's Tiger Dilemma
The Nandankanan Zoological Park, known for its stock of tigers, is in a spot of bother as it is being flooded with requests for the large cats in animal exchange programmes. With its tiger population already in a precarious state, the Zoo is pinning hopes on resumption of planned breeding of the carnivores.

With just 24 tigers in its possession, Nandankanan Zoo is currently undecided over an exchange programme with West Bengal which has sought two pairs of the large cats for one giraffe.

The West Bengal Government is setting up a tiger safari in its Siliguri Zoo for which it has asked for two pairs of tigers in exchange for a giraffe. This deal, if it goes ahead, will put pressure on the tiger stock of Nandankanan Zoo.

Currently, the Zoo has 16 normal coloured (Royal Bengal Tigers) and eight white tigers. While it cannot part with the white tigers, the population o

A leopard safari near Dehradun soon
Leopard safaris are set to begin in Uttarakhand for the very first time. The Chidiyapur range of Haridwar Forest Division, where five leopards are lodged - all of which were earlier injured or trapped in human-animal conflict - will be used as a spot where tourists will be taken for these safaris. Chidiyapur is just a two-hour drive from the state capital.

State forest minister Dinesh Aggarwal said, "We have already announced a tiger safari in Corbett Tiger Reserve. Now, the first leopard safari will also be launched in Chidiyapur. There are around five leopards trapped in different cages at Chidiyapur - these animals will be released into large enclosures so tourists can arrive to see them in jeeps. Needless to add, adequate security measures will be taken."

The leopards are all old and unable to hunt. They have been lodged at Chidiyapur after being trapped. Some of them had also killed and eaten humans.

The forest department has been hard-pressed for funds to take care of these leopards. The leopard safari idea, if successful, would help generate funds. The minister said officials are al

Vinpearl round pick of Phu Quoc Safari rare animals first
Park and Preserve Care Animals Wild model first sold in Vietnam and achieved regional level - Vinpearl Safari has welcomed nearly 200 rare animals, representing biogeographic regions on Vietnam world such as twisted antelope horns, Lemurs black white, tailed Lemurs cavity, Giraffe ...

Park Care and Conservation of Animals Vinpearl Safari populations super project Vinpearl Resort in Long Beach, Phu Quoc. This is a semi-wild zoo has an open area, in the form of first and only safari in Vietnam. Large-scale project, divided into several stages of development. In the first phase covers an area of up to 380ha, including 140 with more than 2,000 animals and 400 species of fish to native plants and importe

Tulsa Zoo's Tova the elephant dies Sunday morning after rapid decline in health
The Tulsa Zoo reports that one of the zoo's newest Asian elephants, Tova, has died.
 Zoo staff says they observed initial signs that Tova was sick on November 9th. The zoo says colleagues from the Center for Elephant Conservation aided experts to ensure all treatments were explored.

Thanks, Merci, Spasibo, Gracias, Tak....
Thanksgiving is around the corner.  For my non-American friends, you may or may not know that Thanksgiving is a holiday in which we choose to do several things in the month of November, such as:

1. Posting stuff on Facebook about what we're grateful for
2. Decorate too early for Christmas

Byculla zoo splurges Rs 106 crore on penguin enclosure
Despite apprehension and more than year-long opposition, the Jijamata Udyaan will get six Humboldt penguins, apart from a 5D theatre, exploration centre and ‘robotic’ zoo. All this at a cool cost of Rs 106 crore.
The penguins, native to coastal Chile and Peru, live in the cold-water currents named after explorer Alexander van Humboldt. The current population of this species is estimated between 3,300 and 12,000, and in 2010, it was granted protection under the US Endangered Species Act. Experts say that the Byculla zoo’s cost of maintenance towards these penguins is more than the cost of procuring them. The BMC has invited bids for all three projects. “We have invited tenders for two projects, one for construction of the penguin enclosure and another for enclosures of five other animals. Byculla zoo will be the first facility in India to have Humboldt penguins. The contract will involve maintenance of the penguins for the next five years. The other animals will be taken care of by our in-house vet. The penguin facility will be operational in four months,” said Dr Sanjay Tripathi, zoo director.

Saving Apes From Ebola: Harms, Benefits and Probabilities
Recently, in a New York Times Op-Ed, Dr. Peter Walsh made the case that curtailing biomedical research on chimpanzees may negatively impact the ability for conservationists to save that species in the wild. It's a compelling argument on the surface, pitting animal protection groups who have cried victory in helping eliminate the invasive use of chimpanzees for medical research, against those invested in shielding chimpanzees in Africa from a very real threat: the Ebola virus.

But is it that simple?

Recent regulatory changes by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service have re-grouped captive and wild chimpanzees as both deserving of endangered status and have granted all members of that species a number of protections. While these protections have been in place for wild chimpanzees for some time, only recently were their relatives living here in the United Stat

Elephant Caravan in Laos sparks conservation debate
For centuries Laos has been known as the Land of a Million Elephants. Now there are fewer than 900 of the iconic creatures – and less than half of those are wild. If the population continues to decline at the current rate, elephants will be extinct in Laos within a few decades.

These statistics add an extra poignancy to the Elephant Caravan, a 45-day procession of elephants and their mahouts currently making its way across northern Laos. The caravan started in Pak Lay district on 27 October and will end, 391 miles later, in Luang Prabang on 9 December with 20 elephants parading through the streets. The parade is part of the celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of Luang Prabang’s listing as a Unesco world heritage site, but the primary purpose of the project is to raise awarenes

Council eyes harassment of zoo animals
Any fool knows that it’s just not cool to harass or bother animals. It’s especially uncool to do that to captive animals.

At the request of the Sequoia Park Zoo, the Eureka City Council will consider adding an ordinance to the city’s municipal code specifically aimed at protecting the zoo’s animals.

“The Zoo has recently experienced issues with individuals entering zoo exhibits by jumping over or around safety barriers,” City Attorney Cyndy Day Wilson wrote in a report to the council. “In order to safeguard all animals at the Zoo, staff is proposing that language be added to the EMC (Eureka Municipal Code) which prohibits anyone, with the exception of Zoo staff, from entering an animal enclosure without first obtaining Zoo staff approval.”

At the same time, the proposed ordinance will outlaw teasing, injuring or frightening the zoo animals.

“Such behavior, in staff’s opinion, causes unnecessary stress to the Zoo animals and can lead to injury or death,” according to the staff report. “It is also potentially hazardous to the visitor.”

Several attempts to contact Sequoia Park Zoo manager Gretchen Ziegler were unsuccessful Friday. However, Eureka Police Department Public Information Officer Brittany Powell could find no calls for assistance to the zoo in that regard in a review of recent call logs.

If adopted, the ordinance will make it unlawful to feed or toss anything in the animals’ enclosures; to climb or attempt to climb into the enclosu

New rhino horn DNA test deployed in Vietnam to aid enforcement against illegal wildlife trade

Heading for one of the worst years on record for rhino poaching, with 749 animals already slaughtered in South Africa alone for their horn, a team of wildlife forensic scientists from the United Kingdom and Australia have teamed up to train scientists in Vietnam in rapid rhino horn identification. The scientists were given unprecedented access to rhino horn seizures in the country by authorities in order to facilitate the DNA testing. 

The training, funded by the UK Government, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Australian Museum, was particularly vital as the number of poached rhinos is now coming perilously close to outnumbering the birth rate of rhinos in the wild, a position that may ultimately lead to the decline and possible loss of these enigmatic species.

Dr Ross McEwing, from RZSS and TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network, and Dr Greta Frankham and Kyle Ewart, from the Australian Museum Research Institute’s Australian Centre Wildlife Genomics, spent a week in the wildlife genetics laboratory of the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources in Hanoi. The rapid identification techniques taught allows seized rhino horn to be speedy tested in only 24 hours to confirm if it is real or fake and also determine the species of rhino being illegally traded.

Dr McEwing of RZSS and TRACE Wildlife Forensics Network explained: “One of the fundamental issues in Vietnam, a country synonymous with the illegal trade in rhino horn, is the requirement to identify true rhino horn from fake material in order to progress any criminal investigation, a process that can take many weeks due to limited capacity and which results in a very low rate of conviction.
“The new rapid DNA testing technique, developed by the Australian Centre Wildlife Genomics, allows this process to be undertaken quickly and inexpensively in under 24 hours. Ensuring Vietnam authorities have the capacity to carry out this new test will help enforcement officers monitor and prosecute those responsible for trading rhino horn.”
Kyle Ewart from the Australian Museum Research Institute’s Australian Centre Wildlife Genomics added:

“Three species of rhino are routinely traded in Vietnam – white, black and Indian rhinos – and identifying the species forms part of the investigation, helping enforcement agencies direct resources to target individuals and trade routes.

““We’re at a tipping point for rhino with the number of poached individuals coming precariously close to outnumbering the birth rate, a position that will ultimately lead to the decline and possible loss of these enigmatic species,” said Dr Rebecca Johnson, Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute and Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics.

Dr McEwing, who coordinated the training, said: “Deploying this new technique in Vietnam was only possible thanks to support from both the Australian Department of Environment and Vietnam CITES Management Authority. It shows just what can be achieved when organisations from different countries work collaboratively to tackle the international illegal wildlife trade. This international capacity-building project showcases the valuable scientific expertise and collection resources available at institutions like RZSS and the Australian Museum and legitimises our investments in the wildlife forensics field.”

Captain Paul Watson's Moral Compass Loses Its Way
"Actually oceanariums are in many ways are victims of their own success. They educated the public so well about dolphins, whales, and other marine life that a public that didn't care a fig about these animals [...] Unfortunately this compassion for whales and dolphins is not harnessed as a force against the killing industry, but is instead turned against the teacher. Paul Watson, 1995"

Many might be aware of the activities of the conservation organisation Sea Shepherd and its controversial founder Paul Watson. In recent years, Sea Shepherd seems to have lost its way and has drifted into the realms of animal-rights. Rather than just opposing the killing of whales and dolphins in whaling and drive fisheries, in such countries as Japan and the Faroe Isles, they have moved their sites to attacking the maintenance of whales and dolphins in captivity.

In a recent commentary on their website Paul Watson decries the death of a killer whale at the Marineland in Antibes, France. The whale called Valentin died some time after a serious flooding incident that seriously affected not only the marine park but also the surrounding area and involved the death of at least 19 people.

US rolls red carpet for 18 Swazi elephants
The 18 local elephants that will travel all the way to the United States of America will find comfort in zoos worth over E500 million.
The elephants which are currently with Big Game Parks will be exported from Swaziland as there is overpopulation which has stripped the already drought-ridden parks, depriving other species, like endangered rhinos of food.
The zoos are Dallas  Zoo in Texas, Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo in Nebraska and Sedgwick County Zoo in Kansas. all these have applied for the importation of the18 elephants from the Big Game Parks.
The three zoos have invested a combined sum of about E500 million for the construction of elephant exhibits. As part of the deal, the zoos agreed to contribute E5 million ($450 000) to the park’s black rhino conservation efforts over the next five years.
The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) recently made public permit request so as to import the elephants and the agency may be poised to grant the request.
“The three zoos have invested a combined sum of E526 million ($39m) on average for the construction of elephant exhibits and they fully expect it to pay off, “according to Catherine Doyle, Director of Science, and Research and Advocacy with the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
"It's not a question of 'if' but a question of 'when' we will have young elephant calves born here. That’s going to skyrocket the attendance like nothing ever has here before," said Sedgwick County Zoo Director to the Wichita Eagle,
This is despite the fact that over 80 scientists, conservationists and professionals from around the world have already issued a statement opposing this plan.
PAWS’s Doyle said for the second time in a little over a decade, US zoos are colluding with Big Game Parks (BGP) to import wild elephants.
“BGP is again threatening to kill elephants if permits are not issued, claiming that an overabundance of elephants is causing damage to the environment and conflicting with selected ‘higher priority’ conservation objectives, particularly black rhinos. In truth, just two of the parks managed by BGP has elephants, where a total of 35 or fewer elephants are enclosed in small fenced areas, limiting their threat to landscape and other wildlife.
Only one of those two areas currently h

Wildlife: Committee formed to purchase new animals
Wildlife Department Director General Khalid Ayaz Khan has said that a five-member committee has been constituted to oversee the purchase of new animals for Lahore Zoo.

He was speaking at a special meeting to address the shortage of animals at the facility.

The director general said that the committee would be required to determine prices for the animal and bird species selected for purchase. The vetting process would be made comprehensive to ensure that only firms with good repute were selected for the purchase, he added.

The director general said that once the recommendations of the committee were available, a summary would be sent to the chief minister for approval. The animal and bird species to be purchased are: a female rhinoceros, a male hippopotamus, two female red deer, two female Asiatic wolves, two male and four female wallabies, two female sika deer, one male and two female black and white colobous monkey, two female vervet monkeys, one male and two female capuchin monkeys, two female otters, two female lamas, one pair guanaco, a pair of African chimpanzee, a pair of land tort

Real-life 'penguins of Madagascar' make their great escape from controversial zoo
The zoo has hit the headlines on a number of occasions - and now it seems even the penguins are trying to get out
A group of pesky penguins at a zoo have clearly been watching too much TV.

The birds were caught on camera as they channelled the escaping penguins from the 2005 Dreamworks movie Madagascar by making a break for freedom.

In the clip, their incriminating footprints can be seen all over the corridor and it doesn't take long for zoo staff to figure out what the cheeky animals were up to.

Realising their plan has been foiled, th

Dozens of animals suffocated in North Korea zoo, source says
 Exotic animals, including Persian leopards that North Korea received from Russia as a gift, are languishing at Pyongyang Central Zoo, according to a source on the country.

A breakdown in ventilation or air-conditioning facilities, most likely due to frequent power outages in North Korea, has contributed to the suffocation of some of the animals, in addition to poor zoo management, South Korean news network Channel A reported Wednesday.

Pyongyang Central Zoo was one of many North Korean institutions that had received special instructions from Kim Jong Un ahead of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Korean Workers' Party.

But a source, speaking to South Korea media on the condition of anonymity, said that the "self-designed" ventilation facilities devised by North Korean engineers were not suitable for the purposes of animal husbandry, and new construction could not be completed on deadline. Dozens of animals also suffocated when air-conditioning recently stopped running for four hours, the source said.

Aquatic animals scheduled to perform on O

Zoo Boss Due In Court After Tiger Death
The owner of the South Lakes Safari Zoo is due in court charged with health and safety breaches following the death of a big cat keeper who died after being mauled by a tiger.

Barrow Borough Council is prosecuting the Dalton attraction and its owner, David Gill, following an investigation into the death on 24-year old Sarah McClay in May 2013.

54-year old Gill,

Critically endangered painted batagurs arrive at Chester Zoo
Four critically endangered Asian turtles have arrived at Chester Zoo - boosting survival hopes for the rare species.

The painted batagur turtles, aged between one and three years old, moved to Chester from Toronto Zoo in Canada as part of an international breeding programme aiming to maintain a thriving population of the turtles in zoos around the world.

Chester is the only zoo in the UK to care for the species and herpetological experts hope to create a safety-net in case the turtles become extinct in the wild.

Chester Zoo also supports vital conservation work in Sumatra, where one man named Joko Guntoro set up the Satucifa Foundation and made it his life’s mission to try and save the turtles.

Joko monitors the beaches and rivers where the animals live, collecting eggs and rearing the young to improve their chances of survival, before reintroducing them back into the wild and tracking their progress. The information being gathered is giving conservationists a better understanding of how the turtles live and their biology.

Curator of lower vertebrates and invertebrates at Chester Zoo Dr Gerardo García said: “Painted batagurs are one of the world’s most endangered turtle species. They’re currently at an extreme risk of extinction,

Thailand returns 14 smuggled orangutans to Indonesia
Fourteen orangutans smuggled into Thailand illegally were sent back to Indonesia today, but the operation was not without incident – one of the powerful apes tore a wildlife officer's finger off when he tried to put them in cages.

Twelve of the orangutans were smuggled into Thailand as babies and rescued seven years ago by police and sent to a wildlife breeding centre in Ratchaburi, 80km west of Bangkok. Two of the great apes were born at the centre.

"The animals were still babies when we got them and they should have been sent back right away," Edwin Wiek, director of Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand said. "Now it's too late for them to go back to the wild."

The World's Oldest Zoo Is a Modern Attraction With a Storied Past
The year: 1752. The place: Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of his majesty Franz Stephan I of Lorraine. Stephan was new to Vienna, having married an empress, and he wanted to bring his collection of exotic animals with him. So he built a menagerie using his private funds, filling it with exotic birds, monkeys, and other creatures. An octagonal pavilion sat at the center, surrounded by 13 animal enclosures and lushly painted with scenes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

At the time, collections of wild animals were common in royal courts throughout Europe. They were stocked with animals brought back from exploratory missions financed by ruling families and provided an opportunity to show off their acquisitions as the Enli

Diwali Puts Zoo Animals in Distress
Distressed by the sound of  crackers, the male white tiger at Thiruvananthapuram zoo, Shravan, has hurt himself. The young tiger now bears a bruise on his face, caused while pacing to and fro in the enclosure.

 Shravan is not the only animal affected by the noise. Malar, the female white tiger, has not been having food since Monday. Manikantan, another Bengal tiger, has spent the wee hours of Tuesday awake. The next morning he was found drowsy, in shock, confining himself to a corner of the cage, according to zoo officials.

 The zoo’s oldest tiger, Karishma, passed away on Tuesday. While postmortem report reveals that the tiger had tumour in its ovaries and various old age ailments, the sound of crackers has been proposed as a trigger for its death.

 The endless burst of fireworks has sent nearly every animal in a tizzy. Zoo officials say that all birds have been shrieking badly. Rhea is the worst affected. The birds of this species, being highly sensitive to sound, have been running amok inside their enclosures. Earlier, there have been instances of the bird hurting itself, while in panic.

 Noise pollution used to be an everyday affair at the zoo, as Nishagandhi auditorium, which has programmes all too often, used to play music loudly. Following the complaint of a concerned citizen, Kerala State Human Rights Commission had issued an order to curb noises. Ever since, the zoo has not had much problem from its neighbour.

 The crackers, however, are being burnt by residents in

Hamilton Zoo review won't cover big cats despite fatal tiger attack
Hamilton City Council will not review its zoo's keeping of large exotic animals as part of investigations into a fatal tiger attack.

The review of the zoo comes after a fatal tiger attack on curator Samantha Kudeweh on September 20.
Kudeweh was killed by one of the zoo's male Sumatran tigers, Oz, while carrying out routine duties inside the animal's enclosure.

The independent external review, worth an estimated $80,000, is one of five reviews into Hamilton Zoo,  Lance Vervoort, council's community general manager said.

The keeping of large exotic animals was crucial to a global breeding programme, Vervoort said.

Graduate defends ZSL London Zoo’s controversial job vacancy which looked for ‘unpaid intern with a Masters degree’
A graduate has spoken out in defence of the controversial ZSL London Zoo internship vacancy which was criticised for looking for a highly-qualified candidate to help run a global conservation project for six months - without any salary.

The graduate, known only as E, described how, having been a ZSL intern in the past, she felt it necessary to speak out ‘to counteract this article/media criticism’ and insisted how she did not feel like she had been exploited during her time with the zoo.

Originally brought to the attention of the careers advice site Graduate Fog on Monday by a ‘disheartened’ graduate, the zoo’s job ad - which has since been removed from the ZSL London Zoo job page - outlined how applicants should have an ‘undergraduate or Masters level degree’ and, beginning later this month, would only receive ‘up to £5 per volunteering day for lunch’.

As well this, the vacancy said reimbursement for travel costs ‘up to the maximum equivalent of

Zoo celebrates 25 years of ferret conservation
The Louisville Zoo is celebrating the 25th anniversary of its black-footed ferret conservation program, an effort that has produced more than 1,000 kits.

The program and the zoo's Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center date to 1990, with the construction of the facility. The first kits, or baby ferrets were born in 1991. In 2014, the ferret conservation center in Louisville saw the birth of its 1,000th kit.

The zoo is a participant in a program to re-establish the ferrets into their native Great Plains habitat. Since the local program began, the zoo has provided more than 700 ferrets for reintroduction into the native habitat.

Zoo officials said keeper Guy Graves, who has been with the program from the outset, has helped the program succeed.

Zoo officials said in a release that "Graves’ long-term involvement has allowed him to gain a keen insight into the habits and behaviors of the ferrets under his care, and with this knowledge he has made valuable contributions to the program. Other facilities often rely on expertise shared by Grav

Sea lion found beaten to death in Dortmund zoo
German police are looking for suspects after a sea lion named Holly was found beaten to death in her enclosure at Dortmund zoo.

Zoo director Frank Brandstätter told the DPA news agency on Monday that the 21-year-old sea lion, who had been a crowd favourite, was found by workers on Friday morning.

The other six sea lions in the enclosure were unharmed and Brandstätter said zookeepers initially thought Holly had died accidentally until they saw the severity of her injuries.

Police say an autopsy found the animal’s sku

Kano Zoo requires N40​ ​m​illio​n to restock animal​s
The management of Kano Zoological Garden, Audu Bako Zoo, says ​the garden requires N40 m​illio​n to enable it restock​ ​new species of animals.
The Director, Zoo services, Ali Yola​,​ disclosed this in Kano on Saturday.
He said, the management had already forwarded the request to the state government for consideration and approval.
He said restocking the zoo with new animals would attract more visitors to the zoo and generate more revenue for the state.
“Over the years we have been looking for an opportunity to restock the zoo with new animals.
“Some of the animals, at the zoo now have no partners; they are either males or females only.
He said acquiring additional animal species was necessary in order to meet international standard.
“We also need to have standard education centre. So the facilities at the centre need to be rehabilitated to meet the required standard,’’ he said.
He said as part of effort to generate more revenue, the agency had in 2012 introduced mobile zoo which enabled it to showcase its different species of animals to the public.
He said 50 per cent of the people who visit the zoo are secondary school students who come from different parts of the country.
He said the state government had recently given the management approval to rehabilitate some facilities and erect pavilion/tents for conferences to generate more revenue.
Mr. Yola disclosed that the zoo had donated and exchanged animals with University of Ibadan zoo, Karimi Sanda Park, Maiduguri, Jos Park and National Museum

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
The well-known dependence of Giant Pandas on bamboo is a relatively coarse relationship compared with some of the amazingly intricate and subtle dependencies researchers are discovering.  November’s stories at (NEWS/Botanical News) highlight some new discoveries:

·         For orangutans any old tropical forest won’t do. Some locales produce more nutritious leaves, supporting a denser orangutan population. So conservationists must focus not just on any orangutan habitat, but on the best habitat.

·         Protozoan-infected monarch butterflies pass disease spores to their offspring. Sick monarchs seek host plants that will cure the caterpillars. How effective those plants are depends on the species of milkweed and on soil mycorrhizae. So not all milkweed plantings are equally helpful to monarchs.

·         Leaf-cutter ants farming fungi? Sure. But bees farming? A Brazilian stingless bee has been found to transport fungi to new nests where it grows and feeds their young.

·         Do herbivores threaten the plant communities they naturally feed on? Not necessarily. New research demonstrates that browsed plants may respond by producing more seeds with even greater viability. Bite me.

·         Conservation threats come in many forms. One of the rarest primates in the world is threatened by…. overzealous collecting of bonsai trees.

Now is the time to think about invasive species in the landscape. This video from Utah State University Extension service reveals the pernicious gnome infestation.

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors!

Follow on Twitter, Facebook Or visit –  new stories every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.

'Tarzan' zoo intruder ordered to mental health facility
A man who claimed to be Tarzan when he broke into a monkey encampment at the Santa Ana Zoo has been ordered to a state mental hospital, his lawyer said.

John Rodenborn, 37, was ordered to a state mental hospital Thursday after he was found mentally unfit to help with his own defense, said attorney Jim Sweeney.

“If, when he’s competent to stand trial, he’ll be sent back to Orange County court, and the case will essentially start again,” Sweeney said.

Prosecutors filed charges against Rodenborn on Thursday in connection with the Aug. 4 Tarzan incident at the Santa Ana Zoo. He faces misdemeanor charges of possessing a controlled substance and entering an animal exhibit at a zoo without consent.

At the time, Rodenborn was shirtless and covered with mud, claiming to be Tarzan, and was found swinging from the trees. He was arrested and found to be in possession and under the influence of methamphetamine. Authorities described him as a transient.

He also was charged in August with stealing a cellphone at a Costa Mesa art gallery days after his arrest at the zoo. Security video showed him entering the business and

Giant panda Yang Guang has a ball of a time

Quolls return to mainland home after island breeding program
Endangered quolls that have been living it up in paradise off the Arnhem Land coast for the last dozen years have started returning home.

The quolls were sent to Astell and Pobassoo Islands to be an insurance population in 2003, amid fears for the animals with the arrival of cane toads in the Territory.

Quolls used to be very common according to Dion Wedd, curator at the Territory Wildlife Park.

"If you talk to anyone who's been in Darwin for more than 20 years, they'll tell you that they had quolls in their sheds... they would come and steal pizza out of your hand," Mr Wedd said.

Sixty-four quolls were sent to Astell and Pobassoo Islands off Arnhem Land in 2003.

Since then, their numbers have increased substantially.

"We put 45 on Astell in 2003, we put 19 on Pobassoo," Mr Wedd said.

He said at the last count, in October last year, there was 4,000-5,000 quolls on Astell Island and between 700 and 1,500 on Pobassoo Island.

Once the newly returned quolls are settled at the Territory Wildlife Park, they will undergo toad-aversion training.

Senior lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, Jonathan Webb, said the quolls will be fed a small dead toad which has been coated with a nausea inducing chemical.

"(The) good thing about taste aversion is it onl

Cruel vandals break into a Queensland wildlife park and slaughter lizards and a turtle and feed them to the crocodiles
An investigation is under way after callous criminals broke into a Queensland wildlife park and killed two lizards and a turtle before attempting to feed them to crocodiles.
Operator of Kuranda Koala Gardens, Peter Freeman, told The Cairns Post that when staff arrived at work on Monday, they found a hole cut in the security fence.
Mr Freeman said two water dragons and a freshwater turtle from the zoo's outdoor wildlife enclosure had been killed with rocks.

Topeka Zoo director: 'Not much' is true in online petition seeking elephants' removal
Aging Topeka Zoo elephants Sunda and Tembo have made a remarkable transformation in recent years and are in “really good health,” zoo director Brendan Wiley told city council members Tuesday evening.

“We may have the best nonbreeding elephant program in North America — and if we’re not the best, we’re definitely right there at the top,” Wiley said.

He made reference to a petition posted at asking that Sunda and Tembo be removed to an elephant sanctuary. More than 150,500 people have signed the petition, which says the elephants — “after a lifetime of neglect” — should be able to spend the rest of their days happy and healthy. The petition is at

City council members voted in 2010 and again in 2012 to keep the zoo’s elephant program in place, and stipulated as part of the latter vote that the zoo work to improve that program. Both decisions came after council members receive

SeaWorld phasing out killer whale shows in San Diego
The Shamu show at Sea World has been at the center of controversy for years now. On Monday, the theme park announced it will be doing away with the show at the San Diego location.

Sea World plans to keep the whales but feature them in a more natural environment where they won't have to perform tricks. So is it enough to change the perception of Sea World with conversationists?

The show is currently called "One Ocean" and has been a fixture at the San Diego park for decades. The jumping, diving, and splashing will come to an end by 2017.

CEO Joe Manby says it's more in line with park-goer values.

"In 2017 we will launch an all new Orca experience, a natural setting, and a strong conservation message," said CEO Joel Manby.

Dr. Grey Stafford, the director of the Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium, and Safari Park, started his career at Sea World 25-years-ago. He says the 2013 movie Blackfish did a huge disservice to the park, inaccurately portraying SeaWorld's care and treatment of Orca's.

"It's misled not only the public but also state and federal regulators and so forth, to thinking that these animals don't receive great care when in fact they do," said Dr. Stafford.

SeaWorld has seen a steady decline in attendance in 2015; the park has been recently threatened by a proposed "Orca Act" that would force SeaWorld to end Orca captivity. Valley residents shared mixed reactions to the changes.

"It's really gonna change how people go, I mean that's what people go to see is Shamu, and you know sit in the splash area, what's the point of going now. I think they

Call for Belfast Zoo to close down - what do you think?
Figures today have prompted questions over the future of Northern Ireland's only zoo as it is losing £865,000 a year.

The Zoo's 55 acre site opened in 1934 and is currently home to more than 1,000 animals and 150 species.
Belfast City Council revealed that the running costs of the zoo are £2.7million per year and that it generates an income of £1.9million.

The current operating deficit is £865,000 - this equals almost £17,000 a week.

However UUP councillor Chris McGimpsey disputed the Council's figures stating that the losses were in fact much higher and that it was costing the ratepayer £40,000 per week.

Speaking on BBC Talkback he described the zoo as a "Victorian animal peep show".

He said: "I don't go very often because I always feel saddened once I leave.

"My difficulty with the zoo is not just that you lose interest, it's what you have up there is an Victorian animal peep show which has been on the Bellevue hill for over 100 years and we keep it going because we don't know

Wild chimpanzee observed caring for disabled infant in ‘first case of its kind’
Researchers have observed a chimpanzee looking after its ‘severely disabled’ daughter in Tanzania
For the first time in the wild scientists claim to have observed a female chimpanzee caring for an infant with severe disabilities.
A team of researchers from Japan’s Kyoto University studied a mother providing care for her daughter living in the Mahale Mountains National Park in Tanzania over a two-year period.
The infant, known as XT11, was born at the park in 2011 and displayed symptoms resembling Down's syndrome seen in other chimps in captivity.
She lived for 23 months and researchers doubt she would have stayed alive for so long without the help and care of her mother and sister.
Michio Nakamura, an associate professor at the university, told the Japan Times: "She had a fish look and kept her mouth half-open, so we assumed she had some kind of mental handicap."

Top Isle of Wight attraction Seaview Wildlife Encounter closes after 44 years
ONE of the Isle of Wight's best known attractions, Seaview Wildlife Encounter, has announced it is closing after 44 years in business.
The award-winning wildlife park made the announcement on Facebook today (Sunday).
In the statement, a spokesperson said: "An extremely difficult decision has been made to close the park.
"This is due to many internal and external factors — the seasonal nature of the business combined with intense legislation and regulation that we believe will only increase in the future.
"We hope that you will understand that it is time now for the family to bow out gently and to thank all of our wonderful visitors for their support over the years.
"A huge thanks to our amazing team — without you we could not have continued to have kept our beautiful park to the standard that it was today on our las

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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 international independent 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, a dreamer, a traveller, 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.

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Peter Dickinson
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Dubai: ++ 971 (0)50 4787 122

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address: (not where I live...currently in Dubai)
2 Highgate
North Wales
LL22 8NP

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"These are the best days of my life"