Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Zoo News Digest 5th - 7th October 2009 (Zoo News 623)

Zoo News Digest 5th - 7th October 2009 (Zoo News 623)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,
So a couple of utter dipsticks got chewed up by a tiger in Calgary Zoo. They got what they deserved. Their minders should have kept hold of their leashes a bit tighter. If these two guys have the cheek to try and take things any further I would guess that it was a deliberate act just so they could proceed with legal action. Lock them up. Throw away the key.
Great article by Luke Hunter, please read it. A little fact to make some uncomfortable:
"Inevitably, the marketing behind these outfits is heavy on the C-word -- 'conservation.' Visitors are told relentlessly that, by handing over their cash to cozy up to tame lions, they are helping to save the species in the wild. There's little doubt that lions are in dire need -- they have been eradicated from over 80% of their range in Africa alone -- but don't believe their advertising. Churning out cubs for photo opportunities is a great revenue earner but none of those cubs are set free. They are too tame. If they were ever to wander into a village or farm looking for a belly rub or a feed, the surprised locals would, not unreasonably, reach for their rifles or spears. Even assuming there is someplace sufficiently wild and people-free, captive-raised lions simply don't have the skills and experience to survive. Many of the tame lions released by Joy and George Adamson (of 'Born Free' and Christian the Lion fame) starved to death, were killed by people and wild lions or, in some cases, killed people themselves and were shot."

I was delighted to read of the discussions in Nagpur, India amongst the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) officials and conservationists. I do despair though when I read statements like "end with all three cubs being condemned to a life in the zoo". If the zoo is a good one then there is no condemning anything but the statement.

Call me a barbarian if you like but I can find nothing in me that wants to preserve those ghastly Tecton buildings in Dudley zoo. I would bulldoze the lot of them. They are unattractive, hardly functional and of no interest to anyone other than students of architecture...and there are no too many of them about.

The Wildlife Conservation Society are being sued by two women after a small problem caused them to be stranded in the Skyfari for a few hours. They were not hurt, they were not at risk and maximum efforts were being made to rescue them from the start. These women are teachers for heavens sake. They should grow up and stop this stupid nonsense and just learn from life's lessons.

Then we have the Blessed Concerned Christians Canada complaining about a statue of Ganesh outside of Calgary zoo. I thought they were joking to begin with but no....they are serious! Have they really nothing better to do. Their chairman states "Whether you're a believer of any faith or an atheist or agnostic, if you're a non-Hindu, it's a god that does not represent your views." And who says so? Does he actually know anything about Ganesh? Ganesh is very popular here in Thailand....a Buddhist country! This is the statue of him at the end of my road. These are not Hindu's praying to him for luck.

And the one below is the statue outside Calgary zoo.

Not quite the same is it?

I thought it was a while since we had a green polar bear story. They come round as regular as clockwork.

My article on Craig Busch continues to generate flak. I am more than happy to take the criticism but I have yet to see evidence of any of the critics actually reading what I said. I tend to delete the truly abusive comments from which ever direction they arrive from.

Please feel free to use the comment section at the end of this Zoo News Digest.

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Tiger victim linked to security guard at Calgary zoo
The man mauled by a tiger at the Calgary Zoo is the common-law husband of a security guard who was working the night he and a friend scaled a fence and snuck up to the cat’s enclosure, according to a police source.Meanwhile, investigators said criminal charges will be laid soon, to the delight of many zoo visitors Tuesday who said the 27-year-old intruder deserves to be punished for the overnight escapade.“He should be charged for breaking into the zoo and for jumping the fence and for bothering the tiger,” said Lorita Sonnenberg.“He was asking for trouble and he obviously got it, but no one can blame the tiger, because he was following his instincts.”The man is recovering in hospital with serious claw and bite marks to both arms after being snared by a two-year-old Siberian tiger Monday shortly after 1 a.m. local time.The man’s friend, also 27, was not seriously

Recent incidents involving tigers in captivity
A man who suffered "significant" arm injuries after allegedly sneaking into the tiger enclosure of the Calgary Zoo appears to be the latest case of misadventure involving a big cat at a metropolitan zoo. As Monday's incident is not the first time that a member of the public -- or a zookeeper -- has been seriously injured, or killed, after getting too close to a big cat being held in captivity. Last year, a Scottish teenager was bitten by a white lion at the Zion Wildlife Park in New Zealand after she put her hands through a hole in the fence. And in the first half of this year, two zookeepers were mauled -- one fatally -- in separate incidents by the same white tiger at the same zoo. Last summer, a Japanese zookeeper was mauled to death while cleaning out the cage of a 150-kilogram male tiger. Police believed the zookeeper had failed to lock the door to the cage, which allowed the tiger to get inside the enclosure at the same time. Nearly two years ago, a teenager died at the San Francisco Zoo after he and his friends allegedly began taunting a Siberian tiger, while standing on the railing of its enclosure on Christmas Day in 2007. The tiger escaped her enclosure and mauled the teen the death, and injured two other people. The tiger, named Tatiana, was shot to death by police. The zoo has since upgraded its enclosures, but it hasn't stopped members of the public from trying to gain access to its larger animals. Only last week, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a man sneaked into the grizzly bear exhibit, but escaped injuries after zookeepers quickly saw what was happening and quickly took him into custody. And in May 2007, a 32-year-old woman died after being clawed by a tiger at a private zoo in British Columbia. Three months before, in February 2007, a six-year-old girl died at a zoo in China's Yunnan province after being bitten to death by a tiger. She was standing behind the tiger, posing for a pictu

Walking with Lions: The Myth of Conservation
Barely a month goes by without news of someone getting into a tussle with a 'tame' big cat. A recent case in point showed a young lion in a South African resort roughing up a British journalist who thought it would make good copy to go into the animal's cage for a close encounter. It's easy to dismiss the stunt as journalistic nonsense (which it is) but dozens of operations across Africa sell similarly close encounters with lions to the average tourist. For a fee, just about anyone can play with cubs, take a stroll with young lions or pose for photos to show the folks back home.Inevitably, the marketing behind these outfits is heavy on the C-word -- 'conservation.' Visitors are told relentlessly that, by handing over their cash to cozy up to tame lions, they are helping to save the species in the wild. There's little doubt that lions are in dire need -- they have been eradicated from over 80% of their range in Africa alone -- but don't believe their advertising. Churning out cubs for photo opportunities is a great revenue earner but none of those cubs are set free. They are too tame. If they were ever to wander into a village or farm looking for a belly rub or a feed, the surprised locals would, not unreasonably, reach for their rifles or spears. Even assuming there is someplace sufficiently wild and people-free, captive-raised lions simply don't have the skills and experience to survive. Many of the tame lions released by Joy and George Adamson (of 'Born Free' and Christian the Lion fame) starved to death, were killed by people and wild lions or, in some cases, killed people themselves and were shot.The more sophisticated operations counter this by declaring that tame, tourist-friendly lions are not intended for release: rather, only later generations of captive-bred lions, not exposed to people, will be set free. Even setting aside the formidable obstacles in 'training' captive-bred lions to be wild, there simply isn't the need. In South Africa, there are now more than 500 reintroduced lions in 37 reserves -- the key difference being that all of them are wild born and bred. Starting back in 1992, South African biologists pioneered the process of translocating wild lions from marginal areas and reintroducing them into areas where people had wiped them out. It takes money and has risks, but considerably less of both than using captive lions. Wild lions captured in one place are already much better equipped to survive as wild lions in another place. But, of course, using wild lions to re-establish the species rules out charging gullible tourists for an up-close experience. Cue cub cuddling.
If all of this fails to convince you to think twice about paying for an 'encounter,' ask the handlers point blank how many of their lions have gone back to the wild? If they furnish you a figure, they are probably lying. As I write this, I do not know of one example. In fact, most of them never actually attempt releases. Which begs another question -- what really happens to their lions? When cubs grow up, they cost a lot to feed and maintain, and they need to pay their way somehow. No problem. There is a thriving market for lions, mainly in South Africa, among 'lion farmers.' They buy surplus cats, much as livestock producers buy new stock on auction, and they breed them. For hunting. As adults, the cubs that cavort with tourists often end up in the gun-sights of trophy hunters. It's quite legal provided you have the permits. If you don't believe me, have a look at this report from the excellent South African program Carte Blanche.The bottom line is, the 'lion encounter' industry is only that -- an industry. I'm the first to applaud businesses finding ways for wildlife to generate a profit when it actually helps protect that wildlife. The same tourists who spend $200 for an afternoon of walking with tame lions could instead visit nearby national parks and game reserves where the entry price and lodge fees truly do help to conserve wildlife. For my money, stick with the real thing: no matter what the glossy brochures and slick websites claim, it won't ever involve tame lions.

Raccoons maul Fla. woman, 74, who shooed them away
A 74-year-old who was "filleted" by raccoons when she tried to shoo them away from her central Florida home was hospitalized for more than two days, authorities said Monday.Gretchen Whitted, of Lakeland, was in stable condition Monday, two days after she saw a family of raccoons near her back patio. She told rescue personnel she tried to wave the animals away; a few minutes later, she spotted them at her front door and tried to run them off again. Then they attacked.Whitted fell, and the five animals bit and clawed at her, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said."They enveloped her," the sheriff said."We're not talking about a lot of little bites here," Judd added. "She was filleted."A neighbor called for help after hearing the woman's

Pet bear kills Pennsylvania woman
A 37-year-old Pennsylvania woman died Sunday after being mauled by her pet black bear, authorities said.Kelly Ann Walz was attacked when she entered the bear's cage to feed the 350-pound animal and clean its cage, according to Pennsylvania State Police. The bear lived in a 15-by-15-foot steel and concrete enclosure on Walz's property in Ross Township.The bear wasn't the only unusual animal living on the property, an official with the State Game Commission told CNN affiliate WFMZ-TV. The homeowner had a permit to keep a Bengal tiger and an African lion, and the property routinely passed inspection and had no

Escaped red panda fatally injured
A red panda which survived for 19 months in the wild after escaping from a wildlife park has died.Isla was found injured by the roadside a few miles from the park last week and died later of a severe head injury.She and her mother Pichu escaped

Zoos need to play vital role in wildlife conservation
We do not have any moral right to keep wild animals in captivity, believes every conservationist, unless it is for the welfare of the animal itself. But it's an unfortunate fact that we have, and need, zoos. Increase in human population has resulted in large-scale destruction of animal habitats, and in the changed scenario zoos have to change their roles and give something back to nature in the form of conservation efforts, say some experts, instead of simply taking animals away from their natural habitats and putting them on display. TOI spoke to a cross-section of people, including Central Zoo Authority (CZA) officials and conservationists, and discovered there are divergent views over the role of zoos in conservation. In view of the man-animal conflict in many regions, the CZA has a big role to play in rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals. However, except for a few successes, not much has been achieved since its inception in 1992 due to many factors. This has led to scepticism among conservationists that wildlife has no future in zoos, unless it is managed more scientifically. To prove their case, conservationists Prafulla Bhamburkar and Kundan Hate point to the three Junona tiger cubs that have landed in the city zoo. The cubs had a good chance of being trained and released in the wild. However, there is no hope now since the zoo lacks space and scientific research. The recent capture

Supervisors balk at pool closings, zoo privatization
Milwaukee County supervisors on Tuesday balked at County Executive Scott Walker's plans for pool closings and eventually privatizing operation of the Milwaukee County Zoo. Walker's 2010 budget plan seeks closure of indoor pools at Noyes and Pulaski parks and shutting down outdoor pools at Holler, Jackson, Kosciusko (Pelican Cove) and Washington parks. Those moves would save $650,000 next year and figure into Walker's

Amarillo accepts grants for zoo
The Amarillo zoo will become larger as the city has renewed its commitment to its expansion. Thirty percent of the zoo's customers come from I-40 traffic. Grants are available to improve the educational experience of a zoo. Today, more than $100,000 was given to the zoo by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to help pay for a new education center. Amarillo Mayor Debra McCartt says, "We made the decision a few years ago that the zoo is really important to the city of Amarillo and we decided to put some dollars into it, some funding into it."October 24th will be the first day a fee will be collected for admission into the zoo. Three dollars for adults, one dollar for kids. The new Herpetarium will also open that day. Larry Offerdahl, the Director of Parks and Recreations says, "Well, we want to double the size of the zoo over the next ten to fifteen years, but charging a very modest fee, to come out to the zoo and they know that 100 percent of that fee is going into the zoo improvement fund."An Education Center will soon be built that will provide programs for kids all over the Panhandle. It's the next step toward getting accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Ultimately the zoo will have a permanent

Zoo Conference Continues This Week
This week over 200 zoo leaders from around the world are in the city to talk about preventing species from becoming extinct and other animal-related topics during a conference.The zoo officials are taking part in the Worldwide Association of Zoos and Aquariums forum at the St. Louis Zoo and the theme this year is "Zoos and Aquariums: Global challenges, opportunities and strategies." Keeping species biodiversity around the world, especially in rain forests, has been a big topic at the conference.Officials say the event is a good way for the

Zoo-bred Asiatic lions for Madhya Pradesh jungles?
The king of the jungle may yet roam the forests of Madhya Pradesh, with the state now planning to borrow and breed zoo lions for the wild after Gujarat refused to part with its big cats of Gir.Madhya Pradesh wants to create a new population of Asiatic lions with the help of the Delhi and Hyderabad zoos, an Indian forest service official said. Efforts are on to get at least two pairs of Asiatic lions from zoos, use them for breeding and let loose their descendants in the Kuno-Palpur sanctuary in Sehore district. If the plan is successful, it will be India’s first population of Asiatic lions outside the Gir forest of Gujarat. “Once their numbers grow in the coming

Dudley Zoo buildings 'need protection like Machu Picchu'
Animal enclosures at Dudley Zoo have been listed alongside world heritage sites such as Machu Picchu in Peru as in need of protection. The World Monuments Fund watch list for 2010 includes 93 sites considered to be at risk in 47 countries, ranging from the Merritt Parkway road in Conneticut to the ancient site of Machu Picchu. The watch list includes six sites from the British Isles, including the Sheerness Dockyard, in the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and the Carlisle Memorial Methodist Church in Belfast. The 12 modernist Tecton buildings at Dudley Zoo, West Midlands, which include six animal enclosures, are also considered to be at risk, according to the latest biannual list. The Georgian dockyards in Kent, which include Grade I and II listed buildings and ancient scheduled monuments, are on the list because parts of the site are unused and

Lawsuit Filed Over Bronx Zoo Skyfari Breakdown
Two women are suing the Wildlife Conservation Society because they spent five hours stranded on the Bronx Zoo's Skyfari one evening in July 2008. After a strong gust of wind knocked a cable car's wheel off track, stopping all cable car movement, some 37 zoo visitors were left with nothing to do but sit 100 feet above the ground (and lions and gazelles) alone with their thoughts—or, worse, other people. Robin Dean, 26, and her 27-year-old friend, Migdalia Arinegas, both teachers, have filed a lawsuit in Bronx

Indian god statue at Calgary Zoo offends Christian group
A dancing elephant statue at the Calgary Zoo has kicked up controversy after a Christian group condemned the figure as an inappropriate religious icon.Zoo officials say they have no plans to replace the Ganesh statue — which has stood near the elephant enclosure for at least two years — despite calls for its removal from Concerned Christians Canada.The group sent a letter to the zoo earlier this week, calling the statue an image of a Hindu god that has no place in the publicly funded zoo."The zoo is not a place of religious expression," said Concerned Christians' chairman Jim Blake."Whether you're a believer of any faith or an atheist or agnostic, if you're a non-Hindu, it's a god that does not represent your views."The issue first arose after the Concerned Christian group was approached by some zoo visitors upset over the elephant statue.Grahame Newton, the zoo's director of corporate services, says the Ganesh statue isn't a religious icon, rather a cultural symbol that shows the tie between the elephants and Asian culture."It was actually chosen more (as) a symbol of how animals and cultures tie closely together," he said.An anonymous donor supplied funds for

Polar bear cub hitches a ride
Arctic waters are at best chilly and at worst close to freezing.Which may explain why a polar bear cub has recently been seen riding on the back of its mother as the bears swim across parts of the Arctic Ocean. The cub then briefly rode her back as she clambered out of the icy water, a unique event photographed by a tourist. Experts have rarely seen the behaviour, and they say the latest find suggests it may be a more common practice than previously thought. Dr Jon Aars from the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromso describes what happened in the journal Polar Biology. On the 21 July 2006, Mrs Angela Plumb, a tourist from the UK, was aboard a ship in the mouth

Shark-attack survivor, animal advocates vie for zoo prize
The miracle survivor of one of the world's worst shark attacks, animal advocates and a celebrity known as the "public face" of conservation efforts in Rwanda are among 29 nominees for the Indianapolis Prize.The nominees, announced today, "dedicated their lives to saving the Earth's endangered species" and thus will compete for the $100,000 prize, according to a news release.The release says the nominees' work spans the globe, representing a range of species from insects to mammals, and includes amphibians, elephants, bats, wolves and sharks, among many others.A nominating committee will review the applications and select the six finalists next spring. A prize jury will then determine the winner, who will be announced in mid-2010 and honored at the next Indianapolis Prize Gala on Sept. 25, 2010, in Indianapolis.Most famous, perhaps, is

Keepers to Czech out foreign zoo
STAFF at Dudley Zoo are brushing up their language skills for a trip to the Czech Republic. Education presenter Caroline Parsons and primate keeper Kirsty Thornton have recently returned from the first visit to Zoo Dvur Kralove to recall tales before another four pairs get set to jet off. The Czech visits were organised as part of an ideas-swapping venture as the Castle Hill zoo looks for examples of good practice to bring back and try out over here. Funded by the European Leonardo da Vinci education exchange

Ohio zoo python may be largest in captivity
A python sold to an Ohio zoo in 2008 by an Oklahoma City man is being checked to determine if it's now the longest snake in captivity. Fluffy is a more than 24-foot long reticulated python that raised from a hatchling by snake breeder and herpetologist Bob Clark. He sold the python to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio in January 2008 after first loaning it to the zoo in January 2007. The record-holding longest snake

Love for Animals Makes Emirati Man Set Up Zoo
An Emirati man’s passion for collecting exotic animals and birds has led him to opening the first private zoo in the UAE.Speaking to Khaleej Times, 35-year old Nasir Khalifa Al Shamsy who started his hobby six years ago, now has hundreds of rare animals, including crocodiles and baboons.The zoo he has opened is at a farm in the Bidaa Bint Saud area in Al Ain.“I received some animals as gifts from my relatives as well as my friends, however, I have bought the majority of the farm animals, reptiles, and birds,” he said. The private zoo contains 15 pelicans, 30 ostriches, 10 crocodiles, 10 deers, 20 kangaroos, 10 saluki dogs

Algae-dyed polar bears puzzle Japan zoo visitors
Green polar bears are drawing questions from puzzled visitors at a Japanese zoo. Three normally white polar bears at Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens in central Japan changed their color in July after swimming in a pond with an overgrowth of algae. The sight of green polar bears has prompted many questions from visitors concerned about whether the animals are sick or carrying mold, zoo official Masami Kurobe said. "Visitors seem to be shocked by the color, and we are asked every day why they are so green," he said. High temperatures in July and August and less-frequent water changes because of the zoo's conservation efforts caused an algae growth in the bear pond and safety moat, Kurobe said. Algae that enters hollow spaces



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


Advancing Bear Care '09 - Sold Out





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Visit this link for more information


6th European Zoo Nutrition ConferenceBarcelona : 28-31st January 2010

A gentle reminder about this meeting, and in particular the deadlines for submission of scientific abstracts and diet change experiences. This has been extended to Friday 16 October, due to conference information being circulated later than expected. Please visit the website below to download the submission forms and once complete, they should be sent to me.

For more detailed information about the event, accommodation arrangements, registration and paper submission forms, please visit the dedicated page on the EAZA website:


Kind regards,

Dr. Andrea Fidgett
Chair, EAZA Nutrition Group




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Kind Regards,

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Peter Dickinson

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