Monday, August 10, 2009

Zoo News Digest 6th - 10th August 2009 (Zoo News 611)

Zoo News Digest 6th - 10th August 2009 (Zoo News 611)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

The discussions over whether further Komodo Dragons should be sent to Bali Marine and Safari Park continues. The islanders seem to believe that less tourists are likely to visit the natural environment if they can see the Dragons in zoos. I actually believe that the opposite is likely to apply. I have seen dozens of Komodo Dragons in zoos and am no less keen to see them in the wild. The argument for removal I find quite confusing. 'Genetic Purification'...just what is that mean exactly? Is this a science I have overlooked? Apart from my not understanding the logic involved the only definition I have been able to turn up is "an absolutely meaningless cultural imposition on a natural state."
Now we learn that there is a question mark over the origin of the Komodo Dragons that the Bali Marine and Safari Park already hold. Where did they come from? I don't suppose it was difficult in getting them there if you recollect they previously managed to sneak a bunch of elephants past the noses of the authorities.

I thought that the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Cell Phone tours an absolutely wonderful idea. I have used similar technology in some museums and art galleries I have visited and pondered on zoo applications. The uses were obvious and definitely visit enhancing. The problem was the equipment was expensive and much open to abuse in a zoo setting. This was definitely the way round the problem. Nobody is going to abuse their own cell phone! I look forward to learning of more collections taking up the idea.

Congratulations to San Diego on the Panda cub. I was interested to see that the Panda cam went into meltdown with so many viewers. I just hope that it does well. If this was Chiang Mai Zoo they would have removed it, weighed it and bottle fed it already. Which brings me to a point. I have not seen mention of the Chiang Mai cub in well over a week. I do hope it is okay.

I always like to see the stories of orphaned seals being returned to the see. The rearing and rehabilitation of these endearing but dangerous little creatures took up a large part of my life. It is so satisfying to, within a zoo setting, to actually return a species to the wild. It is even more satisfying to learn, years later that some of these have been spotted, fat and happy hundreds of miles away. Success stories. I actually miss working with them (though not the smell of fish). Each was an individual challenge and a problem to be solved. Towards the end of that stage of my career each seal became easier than the one before. I had learnt a lot.

I fail to understand how Chris Daly cannot grasp the fact (because that is what it is...A FACT) that zoos are animal sanctuaries. They give sanctuary to species. In good zoos for all the right reasons amongst which are conservation (within official established breeding programmes), education and edutainment. There is very little in a name. A collection does not sprout the wings of an angel because you bestow a new title upon it. It will be as good or as bad as it was before. Turning a collection round needs work. It requires an assessment of staff and management practices, of policies and of ethics. The very last thing it needs is a name change, especially if it is to pander to someone like Chris Daly. Still, I suppose he can't move back on the issue now or he would lose some of his new celebrity friends.

I note that Dubai Zoo has a new Giraffe. Whereas I don't knock the achievement I do worry about the space problem. Dubai Zoo is tiny and does the very best with the space it has but it has been constricted for far too long. Dubai Zoo was started by Otto Bulart as a private concern. Otto was a construction engineer working in Dubai at the time. A few years down the road he received a visit from the founding father of the UAE, Shaikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan who took Otto Bulart to the desert outside of Al Ain in Abu Dhabi emirate. Here he said to Otto. 'Build me a zoo, take as much of the desert as you can see'. And he did. After the space deprived Dubai Zoo he built paddock after enclosure that the whole of Dubai zoo could have fitted into, sometimes several times over. Times have changed. Al Ain Zoo has had a change of name and has shrunk to perhaps a third of what it had reached before...
Dubai Zoo was certainly one of the oldest in the Gulf region. Then again it is all very much a 'name' thing again. The 'Nursery' in Ahmadi, Kuwait kept gazelles, monkeys, porcupines, eagle owls, desert foxes and a number of species back in 1952 and before. Then lets not forget Kuwait Zoo...not the present one or the one before that but the one I visited in 1955. Not a memorable visit as I recollect. It could have put me off zoos for life.
Lots of Giraffe in the UAE incidentally.

Another question: What is 'Conservation Game Hunting'? I have a very strong dislike for canned hunting and the people involved. It is a sick 'game for a sick mind. I am not against hunting and can see a place for it in several different environments. If it becomes necessary to cull elephants, buffalo or other big game in the the WILD then I see nothing particularly wrong in some rich 'jerk off' paying for the thrill. If that is the way they get their rocks be it. Lets take their money and use it for the benefit of conservation in the wild. If such killing is not in the WILD then there is definitely something wrong. Zoos have to face and cope with their surplus problems and not pass them on. Too many blackbuck and bison? Check out which other genuine zoos need them. Gift them on. Don't sell. Quid pro Quo. Alternatively, shoot them...feed them to the lions, have a barbecue. Utilise the bounty, and don't hide what you are doing.

The SEAZA conference ended in Seoul, S. Korea yesterday. It is very sad that no-one sponsored me to attend. There are a few questions I would have liked to have asked.

Talking of Conferences. Is your event being advertised here? If not, why not? Zoo News Digest is read by more people in more zoos in more countries than any other publication. What's more it is the longest established ezine of its kind on the internet. If you want people to know...let me know.

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This Weeks Books of Interest to the Zoo Professional

On with the links:

Students protest plan to move Komodo dragons
Strong public opposition to a government plan to move 10 Komodo dragons from their natural habitat to Bali was fervent as ever on Tuesday. Rallies sprung up on Jl. Soeharto in East Nusa Tenggara's capital, Kupang, as student activists urged the governor to ignore a ministerial decree that sanctioned the transfer of the reptiles. "If the goal of the move is genetic purification, why should the dragons have to leave their habitat? It's illogical," rally coordinator Herman Son said. Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Kaban issued a decree in February, allowing the transfer of 10 Komodo dragons from Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara to Bali Safari Park. In a joint statement, the student activists requested the minister revoke the decree and thereby advocate the conservation of the rare reptile in the habitat to which it is endemic. Students protest plan to move Komodo dragons Komodo island has now been

Saving the species is the number one priority
Management at the Bali Marine and Safari Park has insisted that a plan to resettle several Komodo dragons from their original habitat in Flores to the nature reserve in Bali was initiated by the central government. "We are just carry out orders. The policy came from the top," park head Hans Manangsang said Thursday. The plan to relocate the endangered animals has been rejected by the East Nusa Tenggara administration and some environmentalists, with protests being held almost every day since the plan's announcement. Recently, the Forestry Ministry issued a decree allowing the resettlement of 10 Komodo dragons from their habitat in Wae Wuul, West Manggarai, Flores, to the Bali park. "Despite the decree being issued, we have not yet set up a special team to handle the relocation," said Manangsang. He strongly denied that the initiative was aimed at boosting business interests or Bali's profile and tourism industry. "Our main objective is to protect and preserve Komodo dragons from natural and human threats that may lead them to extinction," he said. The number of Komodo dragons in East Nusa Tenggara is beginning to drop as forest fires, global climate change and a lack of food resources begin to take toll, he said. Human threats such as poaching have contributed to overall dwindling numbers of the ancient creatures. "They will soon become predators to one another because there is no food around," Manangsang said. He said the Bali Safari Park was a conservation area which could support the original habitat conditions of the creatures. In the park, many endangered animals are being treated and monitored to prevent them from dying out. The park now has four Komodo dragons, one of which is pregnant. "I don't know whether the egg is in good condition and will hatch perfectly," he said. He said that a park in Bogor, West Java, has successfully bred the endangered Bali Starling back from near extinction. The number of these rare birds was dropping but now sits at around 90. "We already returned the 90 Bali Starlings to their original habitat in West Bali National Park in Jembrana in 2007 and 2009. Previously, there were only five Bali Starlings left in the National Park," he said, Environmental group Walhi's Bali office director, Agung Wardana, insisted that any plan to move the Komodos from their habitat was unacceptable. "We strongly urge the central government

East Nusa Tenggara asks Bali to return four Komodo dragons
Deputy Governor of East Nusa Tenggara Esthon Foenay asked the management of Bali Safari Park on Thursday to return four Komodo dragons to their natural habitat in the eastern province.“Komodo is a rare animal. How can a rare species be found almost everywhere? We hope institutions or individuals who possess the reptiles will voluntarily return them to us,” Esthon said. The deputy governor’s request comes on the heels of controversy over a central government plan to resettle 10 Komodo dragons from East Nusa Tenggara to the safari park in Bali.Esthon said the East Nusa Tenggara government and people had been questioning how the Bali park management could secure the four Komodo dragons.“Komodo is our identity and dignity. Anyone who intends to conduct a study on the species, please come to its natural habitat here,” Esthon said.Head of the Komodo National Park, Tamen Sitorus, said

Unknown History of the Dragons in Bali
The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) provincial government urged the Safari Park Bali management to relocated the four komodo dragons to its natural habitat in the Komodo National Park in West Manggarai regency."If the komodo dragons are everywhere, it will not be a rare species anymore," said NTT vice governor Esthon Foenay in Kupang on Thursday, Aug. 6. He further added that the dragon is one of NTT's signatures and has been the mascot and area's pride."If there are people who want to make a research and genetic purification, please visit their natural habitat. This ancient beast has caught the world's attention, they should stay [in their habitat]," he stressed.The four dragons which are located in the Safari Park Bali have raised question among NTT people since their natural habitat and the time of their transfer to the Safari Park Bali have yet to be discovered.The protection division head of the

Metroparks zoo offers cell phone guided tours
ere is a new way to visit the zoo. Instead of slowing down to read the sign’s one can use their cell phone to learn about the exhibit. Keeping in step with today's technological advances; the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo now offers a Guide by Cell tour service for visitors. The service is simple to use. Numbered signs around the zoo designate the cell phone number accessible tour stops. Visitors can then call 216-453-3962 and enter the required stop’s extension. A recorded script written by the zoo’s education department would then provide visitors background information on the exhibit. Visitors with the latest high tech video gadgetry phones can enhance their tour by downloading videos. These videos will show behind the scene moments one could

San Diego Zoo's giant panda, Bai Yun, gives birth to a healthy cub
Late last month, the San Diego Zoo announced that its resident female giant panda, Bai Yun, was pregnant. Pandas' reproductive systems are still largely a mystery to researchers, so even zoo staff, who'd been monitoring Bai Yun extremely closely, didn't know when she would give birth. Today just before 5 a.m., Bai Yun gave birth to what the zoo's senior research technician Suzanne Hall called a "vigorous, squawking" cub. For about 24 hours prior to the birth, Bai Yun had been restless, alternating between sleep and bouts of nest-building, Hall wrote on the zoo's blog. The cub's gender is not yet known.Bai Yun is described by zoo staff as an excellent, attentive mother; she's given birth to four other cubs (Hua Mei, Mei Sheng, Su Lin and Zhen Zhen) since arriving at the zoo as part of a scientific exchange with China in 1996. This pregnancy included an interesting development: An ultrasound last month revealed that Bai Yun was carrying not one, but two fetal cubs. But Hall pointed out at the time that, in one of the panda's previous pregnancies, she had

An array of improvements brightens Kansas City Zoo
The Kansas City Zoo is making a strong comeback.That’s the encouraging state of the 200-acre facility during its centennial celebration this summer. Among the positive signs:•Attendance is up significantly, headed for its highest level since 582,000 people arrived in 2001.•The make-it-easy-to-park-here front entry plaza that opened last year has been a big hit with visitors.•The just-renovated Tropics building — the entire home for the original zoo when it opened in 1909 — is beautiful inside, featuring a chocolate tree, spiny palms, black bamboo, ferns and orchids in a rain forest setting. Wide-eyed children watch white-cheeked gibbons scamper above and Asian small-clawed otters swim below.•Several new, large wood viewing decks with benches and roofs provide shade for patrons while bringing them closer to dozens of animals in the expansive African exhibit.•A newly air-conditioned viewing enclosure allows visitors to getthisclose to lions, pressing against thick glass, face to

Sounding Off: Privatize the zoo?We asked our Sounding Off list members:Should Dallas hand over management of the city-owned zoo to a private organization?
If the spirit moves you, feel free to respond to this question in the comments section here. Or, if you'd like to join the Sounding Off print respondents, click this link to send your full contact information to communityopinions@dallasnews.comFor some of the responses to this week's question, keep reading ...Katherine Palomino, First grade bilingual, Rowlett Elementary, Garland ISD: Dallas has to do what is best for the its own operations and budget. But I have always felt that the Dallas Zoo was ours, and loved sharing the enjoyment of it with other Dallasites. If the zoo does change hands, I hope that the new group fosters that feeling of ownership also. Lin Barbee of Dallas: Since the Dallas Zoo is currently controlled by another zoo (the Dallas City Council), I don't see how handing over operations to a private group could be anything other than an improvement.Victor Aves of Dallas: The zoo needs help! Better marketing, upkeep and communication would help get more citizens and visitors there. I would gladly outsource the zoo operations -- initially for a limited period, two to three years to see how it goes. If it goes well, continue the


Endangered habitat
At the Stone Zoo, attendance has been on the rise over the last several years. A new $750,000 black bear exhibit stands near the Stoneham institution’s main entrance, not far from displays that include jaguars, cougars, and coyotes. A gift shop sells T-shirts, key chains, and postcards festooned with zoo images.While visitors are wowed by the exotic animals and exhibits at the 104-year-old, 26-acre zoo, state legislators - faced with making large cuts in the budget for the fiscal year that started July 1 - are taking a closer look at the zoo’s financing. For more than a decade, Stone Zoo and Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo have been managed by Zoo New England, a quasi-public agency heavily dependent on state funding. Last month, Governor Deval Patrick announced plans to cut the zoos’ funding this year from $6.5 million to $2.5 millionAfter Patrick’s announcement, Zoo New England officials warned legislators they’d be forced to close the zoos and possibly euthanize animals if the funding was not restored. Legislators promptly vowed to save the zoos, sending a new supplemental budget to Patrick late last month with a $5 million allocation for the zoos. Patrick vetoed $1.5 million Friday, leaving Zoo New England with a $3.5 million appropriation for the fiscal year.While the zoos appear to be spared for now, Patrick and legislative leaders are adamant about Zoo New England moving toward a budget that includes less state funding. Patrick has given Zoo New England president

Orphaned Seals Return to Sea
On Thursday, Norddeich seal station in the northern German region of East Frisia released five baby seals from a batch of over 70 pups back into the wild. The flippered creatures had spent the last few months at the station learning to fend for themselves.Each summer the seal orphanage, 100 kilometers northwest of Hamburg in the town of Norddeich, raises between 30 and 80 motherless seals until they are strong enough to be released back into the North or Baltic Sea.Robert, Kalli, Jack, Inge and Rollo were found in the Wadden Sea on the western coast of Schleswig-Holstein. Others that had lost their biological mothers were picked up off the coast of the state of Lower Saxony. SPIEGEL ONLINE talked to Peter Linau, who runs the conservation center, about the work of saving orphaned seals and delivering them back to nature.SPIEGEL ONLINE: Where do the seals which are being looked after in Norddeich come from?,1518,641084,00.html

Banham Zoo breeding endangered parrots
Banham Zoo's latest and most colourful arrivals have shocked staff by suddenly being classified endangered - but staff are aiming to save the species.The zoo received two sun conure parrots in June, thinking at the time that the birds were common in their native South America.However, since then, the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has officially labelled them an endangered species.It is now thought there may be just one flock

Zoo plans security changes
Additional safety measures sought after bobcat, porcupine freed at zooStaff members at the Topeka Zoo are discussing increased security options to prevent vandalism that resulted in two animals escaping their exhibits Thursday morning, director Mike Coker said.Coker said animal keepers discovered about 6:15 a.m. Thursday a bobcat roaming the facilities and a porcupine resting in a tree near its exhibit."They were neatly returned to exhibits by staff," Coker said. "There was no injuries to the animals, no injuries to anyone at all."Johnson is the zoo's lone bobcat and was found 200 to 300 feet from his exhibit. Prickles, the North American porcupine, is the lone porcupine at the zoo.Both animals were contained, checked over by the zoo's veterinarian and returned to their exhibits by 8:15 a.m., Coker said.While the property damage was minimal -- less than $100, according to a Topeka Police Department report -- it did appear the vandal or vandals' purpose was to free the animals, Coker said. A chain was cut on a small, exterior access gate to enter the zoo, then the lock hasps on the two exhibits were cut to release the animals.Coker said visitor safety

Zoo Elephants Becoming Mayoral Campaign Wedge Issue
As SF Appeal is reporting, the San Francisco Zoo has no plans to build (and cannot afford to build) any new sanctuary that would humanely house elephants, following on a 2005 decision by the city not to house elephants there after all the zoo's elephants croaked. This revelation comes on the heels of reports of a certain Rec and Park commissioner who wishes they'd get some elephants again because his grandchildren like them. Anyhow, Chris Daly has used this opportunity to mention that this issue may come up again under a Bevan Dufty mayorship, because he plans to let the zoo remain a zoo, while Daly would transform it into an animal sanctuary.

Dufty: No Elephants At Zoo Again, Ever
Earlier today, the mainsteam media faithfully informed us that, at least according to a fervent animal rights activist, a certain Recreation and Park commissioner keeps asking Recreation and Park staff when the San Francisco Zoo is going to get another goddamned elephant. Because, you see, my grandchildren really like elephants!(Elephants, as you may know, are native to Africa. The Outer Sunset, where the zoo is located, is nothing like Africa. Except -- no, fuck it, it is NOTHING like Africa out here. It is not hot and Savannah-like, there are no jungles or massive rivers, Joseph Conrad wrote no books about it and Dave Chappelle would never come here for a break. Nothing like Africa.) The zoo's been elephant free since 2005, after half of the zoo's elephants died or were euthanized and the survivor was trucked off to the Sierra foothills

Daly won’t drop Zoo sanctuary idea
A proposal to turn the San Francisco Zoo into an animal sanctuary just got let out of the cage again.During a Rules Committee hearing Thursday, Supervisor Chris Daly pressed the issue, which he championed last year but which never got enough political support to move ahead.On the agenda was discussion of whether to forward to the full board of supervisors appointments to the Recreation and Park Commission -- the list included the reappointment of Commissioner Larry Martin.“Why not a sanctuary type of situation at the zoo in terms of evolving what we have there from what I think is the situation where we have less than ideal conditions for many of the animals there,” Daly asked Martin, who Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to reappoint to the commission.Daly went on to say that “technological advances” have enhanced people’s “ability to learn about animals without the lock-up kind of situation that we still find at our zoo.”Martin was vague in his response. “I think there

Monkey business for wedding party
An ape rescue centre has been granted a wedding licence for couples to tie the knot among chimpanzees.The first ceremony is set to take place in September at the 65-acre Monkey World site in Wool, Dorset. Couples can say their vows alongside Paddy's Enclosure where 20 of the park's 58 rescued chimpanzees live. Wedding guests can also visit the rest of the park for pictures among the 235 animals, including 13 orangutans, 13 woolly monkeys and 90 capuchins. Dr Alison Cronin, director of Monkey World, said: "Our first wedding is in September and we're planning on a very special and unique experience for people who want to come and join our family and bring their families to the park." The centre was set up in 1987 by Dr Cronin and her husband Jim to provide abused Spanish beach chimps

Zoo officials on toes after tiger attack
The authorities at the Nehru Zoological Park adopted more precautionary measures at the zoo after a man’s hand was bitten off by a white tiger.“More security personnel have been deployed near the enclosure of the white tiger which bit off the hand of a visitor,” said Dr Abdul Hakeem, veterinarian at the Nehru Zoological Park.“Authorities are also planning to increase the height of fences around all the wildlife enclosures in the zoo by two or three inches,” he said.The condition of the victim, Mr Ramesh Kumar, who is undergoing treatment at the Osmania Hospital, is said to be stable. Mr Kumar is from West Godavari district.Ramesh lost the muscles on his right forearm almost up to the shoulder and also suffered some scratches on his face. All that was left after the attack was a bone, doctors said

Endangered snake at Lincoln Park Zoo is expecting
One of the region's last remaining Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes is pregnant after spending several months at the Lincoln Park Zoo, officials there say.In April, workers from the zoo teamed up with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and environmental groups to scour northeastern Illinois for the snakes, believed to be on the verge of extinction.The search teams found a pair of Eastern Massasauga rattlesnakes and brought them back to the zoo. Zoo officials think these two snakes could quite possibly be the last two remaining of their kind in northeastern Illinois. A zoo press release says the female,31000

Orangutan ruse misleads predators
Wild orangutans in Borneo hold leaves to their mouths to make their voices sound deeper than they actually are, a new study shows.The apes employ the leaf trick when they are threatened by predators, according to scientists observing them. By holding leaves to their mouths, the orangutans lower the frequency of the sounds they produce. This is used to ward off predators, giving them the impression the apes are a bigger target. The international team made

New nestlings bring cautious hope for Asia's Threatened vultures
The Critically Endangered Slender-billed Vulture Gyps tenuirostris has been successfully bred in captivity for the first time, raising hopes that captive breeding has the potential to save this and other Critically Endangered Asian vultures.Two Slender-billed Vultures - which are rarer and more threatened in India than the tiger - have been reared at dedicated breeding centres in India, along with three White-rumped Vultures Gyps bengalensis (another Critically Endangered species). It is estimated that only 1,000 Slender-billed Vultures remain in the wild and their population is decreasing dramatically every year.Last year saw the first successful captive breeding of White-rumped Vultures and there are encouraging signs that a third Critically Endangered species, Indian Vulture Gyps indicus, may breed in the centres next year.Chris Bowden of the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK) is in charge of the Society's Asian vulture programme. He said: "This news is a huge boost to those of us fighting to save Asian vultures, which face extinction in the wild within the next decade unless we can prevent the veterinary use of

Dolphin hunt film sparks dilemma for tourists
The affecting cloak-and-dagger documentary “The Cove,” which documents a brutal dolphin hunt off the Japanese town of Taiji, is putting would-be amusement park visitors in an ethical bind and park owners on the defensive. The film’s protagonist, Ric O’Barry, who trained the animals that played TV’s Flipper before he had a change of heart, indicts businesses like Sea World as being either overtly or tacitly complicit in the cruelty. “The captivity industry keeps the slaughter going,” O’Barry charges in movie. If he has his way, the gruesome images of bloody dolphins will keep you from buying a ticket to a marine park, or stepping into a pool of one of those “dolphin encounters” at a tropical resort. Park owners, on the other hand, are crying foul, insisting they have nothing to do with dolphin slaughter and that buying a ticket helps support valuable education and environmental work. ‘The Cove’ puts amusement park visitors in bind, park owners on defensive

Position sought: Acting zoo director Lee Ann Whitt wants to continue in late husband's footsteps
The city of Alexandria is searching for a new full-time zoo director.The zoo has been under the direction of Lee Ann Whitt for the past year, as the former zoo educational curator has served as acting director since the death of her husband, Les Whitt, who ran the Alexandria Zoo for 34 years. Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy said he hoped Lee Ann Whitt would apply for the position."We have been served highly faithfully and in excellent fashion by Lee Ann Whitt," Roy said, adding he had to be careful with speaking about potential candidates so as not to be "accused of pre-selecting" the next zoo director.Later, Lee Ann Whitt confirmed that she has applied for the zoo director position

Dudley Zoo keepers participate in international conference
THREE keepers from Dudley Zoo joined delegates from across the world for an international conference on enriching the lives of zoo animals. Sophie Cousins, senior keeper in the birds section, Jay Haywood, assistant head of ungulates and cats, and Pat Stevens, assistant head of primates, spent a week in Torquay for the conference, which was organised by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria. A total of 230 delegates, from as far afield as China, America, Australia and Russia, gathered for the event, which included lectures, workshops and trips aimed at swapping ideas about how to improve the lives of zoo animals by providing mental and physical stimulation with various devices and toys. Keepers visited Paignton

Zoo goes ape to preserve precious forests
AS SUMA, one of Melbourne Zoo's oldest orang-utans, fixes her trusting eyes on a playful toddler from the sanctuary of her enclosure, thousands of kilometres away her relatives in Sumatra and Borneo watch with fear the activities of the humans who come their way.While Suma and her daughter, Kamil, live in safety, wild orang-utans are under increasing threat of extinction as their native rainforest habitat is razed for palm oil plantations to supply the world's food and soap product manufacturers.An estimated 40 per cent of Australian groceries contain palm oil but manufacturers are not required to list it as an ingredient, so most consumers are unwittingly buying products containing the oil - including detergent, shampoo, toothpaste, lipstick, chocolate, biscuits, snack bars, noodles and desserts - thereby fuelling demand for it.By law, manufacturers must declare

Dubai Zoo's unrelenting efforts pay off with birth of rare baby giraffe
A rare baby giraffe was born at Dubai Zoo on Thursday.The latest arrival at the Beach Road enclosure is due to the efforts of the zoo team, which is administrated by Dubai Municipality's Public Parks and Agricultural Department.Saleh Al Najar, deputy director of the Dubai Zoo, said this type of giraffe rarely ever reproduces in captivity. He said: "This giraffe inhibits savannas and grasslands in Africa and the southern desert. However, the efforts of the zoo team in providing a [more] natural habitat for mating of birds and other animals have been successful and crowned by a number of births, among which was the birth of this baby giraffe."The first giraffe born at Dubai Zoo was Laila on April 9, 2000 while the second-born, Razia, died a few days after birth in the summer of 2002. Al Najar said flamingos had also reproduced in captivity at the Dubai Zoo along with many other species of birds.Dubai Zoo is the oldest facility of its kind not only in the UAE but also in the region. It was the first zoo in the Arab world to breed rare chimpanzees and Arabian wildcats.During the first couple of years of its existence, Dubai Zoo only housed a few animals such as big cats, monkeys and hoofed-animals. There was also a small aquarium and reptile cage. Dubai Zoo was originally built in 1967 on a two he

Out of Africa for the first time to learn about gorillas at Bristol Zoo
An African primate keeper is improving his knowledge of gorillas with a three-week training visit to Bristol Zoo Gardens.Ernest Bongmoyong is the head keeper at a primate sanctuary in Cameroon that cares for more than 250 young primates, orphaned by the illegal bushmeat trade.Mefou National Park is one of the largest primate sanctuaries in Africa and is run by conservation charity Ape Action Africa, which has its UK base at the zoo.It is the first time Mr Bongmoyong has left Cameroon and the trip has been funded by volunteers at the park who believed he deserved the opportunity to visit the zoo to gain knowledge and skills to benefit the project in Cameroon.He said: "I only work with young primates, including tiny babies, so seeing Bristol Zoo's family group, including the adult gorillas, is

Celebrity bear Knut to get ‘racy’ Italian playmate in Berlin zoo
She is nubile, blonde and Italian . . . and, no, this is not another story about Silvio Berlusconi.Gianna — named after the singer Gianna Nannini — is being lined up to be the playmate of Knut, the celebrity polar bear, whose heartrending biography and love of human applause have earned millions of euros for Berlin zoo. Both bears are two years old so there is still time — serious mating begins in another two years or so — before the world is presented with mini-Knuts.The zoo, however, seems to be setting the stage for an elaborate courtship. The first step will be to build a “canoodling fence” between Knut’s enclosure and that of Gianna. This will give Knut time to sniff her and get used to the idea of female company before they share a compound. Gianna and two other adult bears, Yoghi, 10, and 32-year-old Lisa, are ordinarily resident in Hellabrunn zoo in Munich, but Berlin has agreed to take on all three while Munich extends its bearpit.It seems that Yoghi and Lisa will eventually go

Chester Zoo hosts cool design competition
CREATIVE young designers are being urged to let their imagination run wild in an ice cream firm’s competition.The Design a Fab Den contest has been visiting Chester Zoo over the weekend in the form of a giant igloo designed in the colour scheme of a Fab ice lolly.Attractions inside the igloo, which is at the zoo until Monday, include toys, games, ice lollies and contest forms.Ice lolly firm Fab will donate £1 for every entry received to Rainbow Trust Children’s Charity.Winners of the competition will see their design transformed into reality.James Beaumont, from R&R ice creams, added: "Design a Fab Den is a great way to engage children during the summer holidays, get them away from the TV and encourage them to explore their creative side."For more information about the competition

Calls for Taronga Zoo welfare chief to resign
THE chairman of Taronga Zoo's conservation and welfare committee, Anthony English, has been called on to resign after it emerged he was an advocate of game hunting in NSW.The Greens and Animal Liberation NSW both called on Dr English to resign from the committee yesterday, saying there was a conflict of interests between his advisory role at the Game Council NSW and at the zoo. "He is unsuited to further the conservation aims of the zoo, given his strong support for conservation hunting," said the Greens' spokeswoman on animal welfare, Lee Rhiannon.The call comes after the Herald revealed Taronga Western Plains Zoo, near Dubbo, sold endangered blackbucks antelope from Western Plains to a member of the Shooters' Party who would move to hunt the species in an enclosed game reserve under legislation before the NSW Parliament.Western Plains Zoo confirmed yesterday that it had sold 82 blackbuck and five bison to seven private parks in NSW since 2004.The zoo's general manager, Matt Fuller, would not be interviewed by the Herald but told the ABC the animals could not be hunted in NSW."We would never sell animals or trade animals with any individual which would ultimately mean they would be hunted for trophies," he said.Dr English, who is a member of the Order of Australia and participated in the 2020 Summit, would not be interviewed by the Herald about his involvement in the sales or his support for conservation game hunting.A colleague on the conservation and welfare committee, Professor Richard Kingsford, said the ideals of private game reserves and public zoos could not be reconciled - although he would not comment directly on Dr English's views. "I just can't see what the value of that would be in a conservation sense."

Zoo Negara hopes to get more tropical animals
Zoo Negara is looking at expanding its collection of animals, especially those from the tropics.Malaysian Zoological Society chairman Datuk Ismail Hutson said the zoo was hoping to increase the percentage of its tropical animals from 60% to 90% or 100%.“We are targeting to become a world-class zoo by 2015, so hopefully before that we can expand the collection of our animals.“We prefer to concentrate on local tropical animals. If possible, we want to have a collection of every tropical animal in the region.” he told The Star.The zoo has been working closely with the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) through the years to achieve that, said Ismail, adding that even the department faced problems in acquiring tropical animals.“These animals, for example, the rhinoceros, Malaysian gaur and Siamang are becoming very rare. Maybe we can get them from Indonesia but it takes time.“We have a few gaur and only one Siamang here. If we have more, they can breed,” he said.Ismail, along with Zoo Negara director Dr Mohamad Ngah and Zoo Negara animal welfare committee chairman Prof Dr Zulkifli Idrus have also refuted a news report on Aug 2 which painted the zoo management in a negative light, said Ismail, adding that it may cause sponsors to pull out.He said the false information was spread by some council members who “may have a personal agenda”.The welfare of animals is the utmost priority for the management, said Dr Zulkifli, adding that the zoo’s mortality rate last year (4%) was a standard one and the lowest in eight years.“People also overlook the fertility rate, which is a good indicator of the welfare of the animals,” he said.Meanwhile, Dr Mohamad revealed

Temuka aviary birds viciously attacked, decapitated
A vicious attack at the Temuka Domain aviary on Tuesday night left 32 birds dead, many of them decapitated.Heads and feathers were ripped from the birds' bodies and their remains were scattered around the domain, about 19km north of Timaru, the Timaru Herald reported.Cockatoos, parrots, canaries and rainbow lorikeets were among the dead, and some were sitting on eggs.Temuka police yesterday took photos and fingerprints from the aviary.Sergeant Graham Sharpe said police hoped the aviary's parrots would have fought their attacker and left scratches or bites to help identify them."It is just mindless and will be

Dubai aquarium likely to enter Guinness records
The acrylic viewing panel at Dubai Aquarium & Discovery Centre at the Dubai Mall is expected to be featured in the upcoming edition of the Guinness Book of World Records in 2010.The viewing panel measures 32.88 metres wide x 8.3 metres high and 750 mm thick, surpassing the current Guinness World Record holder, Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan, at 22.5 metres wide x 8.2 metres high and 600 mm thick.Designed by architects at Peddle Thorp Melbourne of Australia, the acrylic viewing panel, which weighs 245,614 kg, is built to withstand the enormous pressure of 10 million litres of water 10.5 metres deep used in the aquarium, but transparent enough to give visitors

Beluga Whales Pregnant At Shedd Aquarium
Two beluga whales at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium are pregnant.Shedd senior vice president Ken Ramirez said Tuesday that both female whales are healthy and staff at the aquarium remain "cautiously optimistic" about the pregnancies. Ramirez says the pregnancies have been progressing normally. The whales that are expecting are 23-year-old Puiji (poo-EE'-jee) and 20-year-old Naya (NY'-ah).Shedd's beluga whale Naluark (nah-LOO'-ark) fathered both calves.Shedd officials say the belugas

Hatching a plan to save the turtles of Terengganu
IN the next year or so, a drive to Penarik will be an interesting one. And it is not just due to the scenic route, where coconut trees dot the sandy white beaches or the serene blue ocean. It is because the site will also be home to the Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC).
The objective of the centre, to be located on a 3.2ha plot, is the conservation of the species as well as a site for research and outreach programmes.
Malaysian Nature Society president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor told the New Straits Times that these would include educational campaigns, volunteer and fund-raising activities.
The TCC will also aim to restore



The Zoo Biology Group is concerned with all disciplines involved inthe running of a Zoological Garden. Captive breeding, husbandry,cage design and construction, diets, enrichment, man management,record keeping, etc etc

Here is a brilliant site which was just referred to on the Zoo Biology Group. I joined up straight away. Having a couple of hiccups but it may sort itself out in a day. Thanks to Antoine Leclerc, DVM for referring to this site.


The Foragers Source is a non-profit group of zoologists dedicated to improving the nutritional care of captive wild animals. The goal of this website is to provide a platform for the exchange of experience and knowledge in order to improve the health and quality of life for captive wild animals throughout the world.

Food for Thought

While the nutritional needs of captive wild animals are very complex, there is limited knowledge on the nutrient composition and potential dangers of specific food sources currently being used in most zoological institutions.

The scientific literature contains some information on these food sources, but many of these articles are found in relatively unknown journals or conference proceedings that are difficult to obtain by most zoo personnel.

Additionally, the fact that seasonal and geographic factors influence the nutritional properties of food sources, makes the task of harvesting them even more daunting.

Improving the Situation

The Foragers Source hopes to improve the state of captive wild animal nutrition by providing zoological professionals access to the following resources:

  • research article archive

  • plant sample datebase

  • plant species identification database
And more.

Take a look at:


Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

Health care is big news and, as usual, humans are lagging behind plants and paying too much for the privilege.

August links at (NEWS/Botanical News) highlight some remarkable plant health stories:

· What would African savannas be without Acacia trees? A fungal epidemic is destroying seeds and threatening a generation.

· Faking illness may be good for you! At least it appears to be for certain Amazon plants.

· Keeping whole and healthy requires resourcefulness. Some plants produce a variety of crystals to fend off different attacks (think Dumbcane as Robocop).

· Prairie dog herbivory may push plants to accumulate toxic heavy metals from the soil.

· Plants are generous, too. That Yaupon Holly in your backyard can provide your own antioxidant green tea (no, don't try this at home yet).

A new exhibit lets visitors see what animals see and hear what they hear:

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and -- most importantly -- visitors! Remember, over a hundred other stories can be found in the archive section of the website.


Zoo Horticulture
Consulting & Design
Greening design teams since 1987


Announcing the ASZK Des Spittall Scholarship for Keeper Research

Named in honour of the late Des Spittall, a life member of ASZK, the ASZK committee has launched the Des Spittall Scholarship for keeper research. This is open to people who have been a financial member of ASZK for 12 months or more. This is an annual scholarship up to the value of $2,000. Applications close 31st October 2009Please forward ‘Des Spittall Scholarship for Keeper Research’ application to ASZK President no later than 31st of October each year at email


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ZooNews Digest is an independent publication, not allied or attached to any zoological collection. Many thanks.

Kind Regards,

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Peter Dickinson

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