Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Zoo News Digest 13th - 18th November 2009 (Zoo News 630)

Zoo News Digest 13th - 18th November 2009 (Zoo News 630)


Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

When I started in zoos back in 1968 there was a mixed bag amongst the keeping staff. Funnily enough it was almost a 'middle class' occupation with many of the keepers being the sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers and similar professions. The main exceptions were the ex circus employees. They were a class of their own, both good and bad. I learned from both and becoming aware of the sometimes cruel practices carried out in circuses I developed a dislike and distrust of them from that point. I still feel that way today. I don't doubt that there are wonderful circus animal handlers and trainers because I knew a few but, in general, circus is not something I care for. I mention circuses here really because of the current situation with Indian zoo elephants. The press incorrectly reported that elephants would be removed from circuses. They will not.

It would seem that my comments on the PETA/Central Zoo Authority has made me a completely new set of enemies. Just a few months ago I had none (that I knew about) and now they number in the thousands. One email today described myself and the zoo community as "semi-literate, illiterate, abusive, immoral, obnoxious and dishonest." All this for voicing an opinion.
I would like to reiterate and clarify. I have devoted my life to animals in zoos. I abhor cruelty to animals of all kinds. If elephants in some Indian Zoos were being badly treated or held in less than satisfactory conditions then it was up to the CZA to rectify the situation by setting goals, re-training and re-education, reprimanding AND removing if necessary. The wrong way to go about it, the cowardly way, was to pass the buck and sweep the problem under the carpet. Of course every anti-zoo groupie and allied blinkered group are jumping up and down in their bewildered ignorance and saying it is wonderful. Of course they are because they really do not understand. They fail to understand because they don't want to. This badly thought out move is just the thin end of the wedge. The anti-zoo brigade have tasted blood and found they like it. They will now flush the celery juice down the toilet. They are not going to stop now.

Some of the elephants that are moved will undoubtedly be better off. Some will be worse off. Dumping an animal in a sanctuary (which is just a zoo by another name in the same way that a conservation centre is too). Whereas I am primarily concerned about the welfare of the animals I am worried about the mahouts as well. A good mahout who has lavished love, care and attention on his animal(s) for years is suddenly uprooted and moved along with his family hundreds of miles away. This move through no fault of his own but to satisfy an ill thought out plan.

It really does not matter a whit what I say. The decision has been made, but because it has been made does not make it right. I may change a mind or two if they take the blinkers off for a few minutes but I don't hold out much hope.

So why do I say anything? Like I said a few weeks ago. I can say it, many others cannot out of politeness or employment policies. Believe me though...a good portion of the zoo world is shaking its head in disbelief.

So wonderfully descriptive "Indian deer fights off tigers and crocodiles in 24 hour battle". Just like a wildlife movie. It happens every day of course in the wild. What this article does not portray is the fear, the stress, the pain. That is the wild. This was Bambi's mother all over again.

"Tiger, tiger, small and white". An amusing story making claims to the first White Tiger being born in the wild since 1951. Conservation? That's a joke.

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**************************************************************************** The CZA Letter:


On with links:

The jumbo brigade packs its trunk
It happened almost as soon as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) first launched in India in 2000. We turned our attention to the four elephants in the Mumbai zoo and then to those in other zoos and circuses.
Everywhere we went, we found that these gentle giants-who in the wild live in herds, who care for their babies till they are almost nine years old and who mourn for their lost babies for almost 19 years-were in horrifying condition.
They were in captivity, kept constantly chained, never exercised, made to stand in their own excreta, fed substandard food, beaten regularly and not given adequate food or water. The Ahmedabad zoo elephants were shackled with chains which had spikes on the inside, so that even the slightest movement resulted in their skin being pierced.
The circuses were as bad, if not worse. Elephants, who for years have been revered, had been turned into a parody of their magnificent cousins in the wild by insensitive circus owners who made them play cricket, stand on one leg whilst balancing on a stool, balance humans on their trunk and other asinine tricks. Their handlers thought nothing of poking them with an ankus to force them to obey. And when they were not entertaining circus goers, these poor animals were kept fettered by chains on three legs (on occasion even four) outside the circus tents, with inadequate food, no constant source of water, no mud to have mud baths, and being gawked at by all and sundry.
Saddened and angered at the cruelty inflicted on them, my staffers and I prepared report after report on how these creatures suffered in different zoos and circuses and sent them over eight years to the government, which remained totally indifferent. We used film stars-Rahul Khanna and Celina Jaitley-to create awareness about the torture inflicted upon elephants in captivity, but to no avail.
Then in 2008, I read a news report which gave me a shock. It said the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), the only authority who could do something for elephants in captivity, had decided to turn the responsibility over to the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which has no authority under the Wildlife Protection Act, under which Elephants are supposedly protected. CZA undoubtedly saw this as the easiest way out. Alarmed, I immediately wrote an impassioned letter not just to CZA but to the Chairman of AWBI as well as to the Ministry of Environments and Forests, telling them how the provisions of the Wild Protection Act were being violated by the zoos and circuses and how it was imperative that the ministry immediately ban the keeping of elephants by zoos and circuses. I even got an opinion from an advocate, Raj Panjwani, as to how CZA, which has been formulated under the Wildlife Protection Act, could not wash its hands of the issue. PETA got ready to go to court if the need arose.
Late last year, after our letter, a news report appeared which said that MOEF could be considering a ban on elephants working in circuses and zoos. Despite much effort, we were unable to get more information, and so decided to send more reports on the suffering of elephants to MOEF and CZA, stressing why a ban was imperative. And then we prayed.
Well, God evidently heard us. After eight long years, CZA confirmed vide its circular of November 7, 2009, that all captive elephants in zoos and circuses needed to be rehabilitated in elephant camps/rehabilitation camps/facilities available with the forest department under the supervision of the chief wildlife wardens of the state. Our long struggle has ended-and with it the misery of hundreds of captive elephants.
(The writer is ex-head of PETA and co-opted member of AWBI)

Elephants don’t belong in zoos: Central Zoo Authority
As per an order from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India, “elephants have been banned from zoo collection throughout the country with immediate effect”. The order stipulates that all elephants kept at zoos should be immediately relocated to elephant camps and rehabilitation centres of the Forest Department or inside forest areas.
The order has been sent to all in charges of the zoos in the country and the Chief Wildlife Warden of the States. K.P. Ouseph, Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife and Chief Wildlife Warden) of Kerala confirmed receiving the order from Rajesh Gopal, Member Secretary of CZA on Tuesday.
The order states that upkeep of large animals like elephants are not only costly but create problems at zoos. When elephants come into musth the problems get aggravated. Moreover the zoo environment confines the animal to a very small area. The order directs the zoo authorities to carry out the same in consultation with the respective Chief Wildlife Wardens.
Relocating the elephants from the Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur zoos will take time, it has been reliably understood. This because the controlling authority of these two zoos is the Department of Culture, but in all other States the zoos are under the control of the respective Forest Department.
So the Forest Department will have to first obtain the green signal from the Department of Culture for relocating the elephants. According to sources, the elephants at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo will be relocated to the Kappukad Elephant Rehabilitation Centre at Neyyar and the elephants are Thrissur to Kodanad.
As per CZA estimates, there are about 140 elephants kept at zoos in various parts of the country. All of them will have to be relocated. Sources said that the order comes in the wake of complaints from animal rights activists about the plight of captive elephants both zoos and under private ownership.
The order however does not talk about captive elephants owned by private individuals. However, the move has been welcomed by animal rights activists.

Zoo body gets Peta prize for elephant move
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) has announced that it will give the 2009 Proggy Award for International Leadership in the Field of Animal Rights to India's Central Zoo Authority (CZA) in recognition of the government organisation's decision to ban the use of elephants in zoos and circuses. "Proggy'' is short for "progressive''.
India, which is home to an estimated 23,900 to 32,900 wild elephants, will no longer permit its most prominent national symbol-the elephant-to be imprisoned in zoos and circuses. The move comes after years of campaigning by PETA India to liberate or at the very least, vastly improve the conditions of captive elephants. PETA India has repeatedly complained to the CZA about the hardships of elephants, which are forced to stand for long periods on hard concrete

Forest officials unhappy with elephant order
The recent directive from the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to shift all the elephants from zoos and circus to national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and Project Tiger, has sparked a heated debate among forest department officials across the state. "All the elephants in zoos and circus have to be sent to elephant camps of forest department," said BK Gupta, CZA.
However, the directive is likely to prove to be a huge problem for the forest department. "First of all we do not need any elephants. There is nothing that we can do with them. If sent to us, it would be a huge financial burden on the department," said a senior forest department official. At present, there are around 15 elephants in the service of state forest department at Alapalli, Sironcha in Gadchiroli district, Melghat Tiger Reserve (MTR) in Amravati district and Tadoba Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Chandrapur district.
"All these elephants, except for those in MTR and TATR, are used to move logs. Now, even the tree felling activities are reduced. The department is already facing financial problems and the elephants would only add to it," said the official.

While the Western Zoos Dither, India Condemns Captivity in Zoos as Causing Unacceptable ‘Trauma’.
The Born Free Foundation joins the global animal welfare and conservation community in welcoming plans by the Government of India to end the keeping of elephants in zoos and circuses
The following statement has been endorsed by groups as diverse as the Born Free Foundation (UK), PETA (USA) and the RSPCA (UK), united in their concern for elephants in captivity and their praise for the Indian Government:
It has been confirmed that the Central Zoo Authority, the Government agency responsible for India's zoos, has recognised that zoos cannot provide a suitable environment for elephants and has taken the momentous step to order, through a CZA Directive, the relocation of all elephants in zoos and circuses in India to sanctuaries, national parks and reserves. The decision of the CZA reflects the growing concern expressed by many citizens, animal welfare groups and elephant experts* about the inadequacy of the zoo and circus environment for elephants.
The Directive will have a significant and potentially positive impact on up to 150 elephants currently in Indian zoos and circuses.
Provided that certain safeguards and animal welfare measures can be guaranteed, we* welcome the decision of the CZA and call upon governments in other countries to follow India’s example and

Zoo Elephants Will Be Free, But Will They Adjust?
The Central Zoo Authority may have decided to relocate elephants in all zoos across the country to give them more space in the wilderness. But forest officials have an interesting problem on hand -- how will these animals adjust to the new lifestyle in the wild? "There are close to 20 elephants in two zoos -- Mysore zoo and Bannerghatta. We will shift them as soon as we get orders from Delhi. The animals are used to a certain lifestyle in the zoos. I am not sure how quickly they will adapt to their new life in the open. They have to be fed regularly because they are used to eating at regular hours in the zoo," said additional principal chief conservator of forests B K Singh. The Central Zoo Authority has directed that they be shifted to forest department camps.
Local authorities will start preparing to relocate the elephants currently in Mysore zoo and Bannerghatta Biological Park.
Last week, the Authority decided to shift all jumbos in the zoo to the wild, and banned the use of elephants in circuses, following a public outcry over the way the animals were treated. The elephants were bearing huge loads, made to stand all day, are chained in temples and given very little space.
The picture in Bannerghatta Biological Park is a little better, though. "Most of the time, our nine elephants are left open in 500 hectares of land that we have. In the morning, they come around 10 am and stay in the enclosure in the zoo till 3 pm or 4 pm. We give them a bath and food during that time," said director of Bannerghatta Biological Park, Milo Tago.
There are 160 elephants in captivity in Karnataka, one of the leading states in elephant population. "We released a study on captive elephants here, and the kind of problems they suffer. In fact, there was a comparison of captive elephants with wild elephants, which showed their suffering. However

Zoo reaches funding accord with state
The Patrick administration, teaming with a task force of zoo officials and supporters, unveiled a plan yesterday aimed at keeping open Greater Boston’s two financially troubled zoos. Under the plan, Zoo New England, which runs the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, has agreed to $5 million in state funding. It will also reorganize its board and develop a road map by Jan. 15 for long-term self-sufficiency. State funding will allow the zoos to remain open while changes are implemented, but funding is contingent on Zoo New England delivering on its plan, state officials said. “I’m hoping it’s the beginning of a new day,’’ zoo chief John Linehan said in a phone interview last night. “Certainly in many ways it’s long

Des Moines Botanical Center, zoo may be sold or leased
Local leaders will look to sell or lease city-owned properties such as the Des Moines Botanical Center and the Blank Park Zoo in response to continuing budget struggles.
Such action should be pursued whenever possible to help ease taxpayer burdens in a time of historic budget problems, City Manager Rick Clark said Monday.
"We simply can't afford all of these, and if we can figure out some way to sell them or get them in the hands of, in a lot of these cases, nonprofit entities that can operate them for the public good, that's a very good thing and to our taxpayers' advantage," Clark

Indian deer fights off tigers and crocodiles in 24 hour battle
Tourists to an Indian wildlife park witnessed two tigers eventually bring down the deer, known as a sambar, but not before it had managed to escape from their clutches at least three times.
The stunning natural drama has been compared to the "Battle at Kruger" in Johannesburg in between a herd of Cape Buffalo, a small pride of lions, and two crocodiles.
Tourists at the Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR) in Maharashtra saw the battle unfold on Friday morning when they stopped at a lake at 6.45am.
A tigress was hiding in tall grass waiting for the adult male sambar to come close.
Sensing trouble, the sambar turned around as the tigress crept up and darted away in the nick of time, with the tigress giving chase. With no other option, the sambar chose to enter the lake's shallow waters.
Having managed to outwit the tigress, there was now the problem of two crocodiles stalking the unfortunate sambar.
The beast ran around for over half an hour in the shallow waters as it tried to dodge the crocodiles.
Unfortunately for the deer, a second tigress had heard the sambar's distress calls and came rushing to the

Summit strives to save oryx
A rescue plan to save a rare breed of oryx from extinction is being forged by international experts at a conservation summit in Al Ain.
Ecologists and experts in wildlife from 15 of the world’s leading conservation organisations are gathering at Al Ain Wildlife Park and Reserve (AWPR) to devise a long-term strategy to prevent the Scimitar-horned oryx from being wiped off the face of the earth.
Once common in the grasslands of North

Plans for wildlife park in Almondsbury are backed by conservation groups
PLANS for the country’s first National Wildlife Conservation Park, to be built in Almondsbury, have been backed by two top conservation groups.
The £70 million park, which would be created in the Hollywood Tower Estate off Blackhorse Hill by Bristol Zoo, has now gained the support of Natural England and Avon Wildife Trust.
The two groups initially objected to the proposals for a 55-acre nature park, which would see bears, giraffes and zebras roaming the Almondsbury estate.
There were concerns about damage to ancient woodland and existing wildlife such as bats, badgers, water voles, great crested newts and

Hogle Zoo to open new animal care center
Utah's Hogle Zoo is opening a new, multimillion dollar health center to treat its animals.
Construction began last year on the animal health center, a high-tech facility intended to provide care for the nearly 900 animals at the zoo.
A dedication ceremony for the facility was planned for Tuesday.
The center was funded in part

Big Changes Ahead For Lake Superior Zoo?
For the last twenty years the Lake Superior Zoo has operated under a master plan that with every passing year continued to grow out of date.
While Zoo officials aren't discarding the plan in its entirety they are looking at new options.
Lake Superior Zoological Society C.E.O Sam Maida says you have to find a balance.
"you can dream all you want, you can build all you want, it's not like it's build it and they'll come you better build it so they WILL come, but then you have to find a way so it makes sense both from an expensive side and a revenue side."
On Monday Architects and Zoo officials met to

Lion opens family's car door with his teeth
In the comfort and security of their car, a family thought there was nothing to worry about as they drove through a South African safari park - until a lion calmly opened their back door with his teeth.
The lion may have appeared wild, but it had clearly learnt one or two things about cars after years of watching curious visitors drive past.
As the white Toyota came to a halt in the Lion Safari Park in Johannesburg, it slowly padded over while the family inside watched in excitement, unaware of what was about to

Rhinoceros Fights Cancer at LA Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo, which normally fills our site with zoo babies and their cuteness, is changing it up and bringing us a story a little more on the serious side.
Randa, a 40-year-old Indian rhinoceros, was recently diagnosed with recurrent squamous cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, under her horn.
She is now recovering after undergoing Electronic Brachytherapy, a cancer treatment designed to deliver x-ray-based therapy directly to cancer sites with minimal radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
Her handlers say the procedure was

Potawatomi Zoo receives accreditation honor
The Potawatomi Zoo continues to show that it's a great place for families. The zoo was accredited once again by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
It’s basically a big badge of honor, and means that the zoo is held to the highest standards.
It provides excellent quality care for animals, an amazing level of education for visitors, and takes part in top-notch conservation programs.
Now that the zoo has been accredited, it increases its eligibility for grants.
"We're looking at the possibility of some new exhibits, creating a 5 to 10 year master plan and, like Mayor Luecke spoke of, the Society is now at the helm of looking at how we can regionalize what is already a regional community asset. How can we broaden our base of support so that all of the burden

Lion eats girl's palm at Chhattisgarh zoo
A lion attacked a little girl, detached her right palm in the presence of dozens of visitors and ate it Sunday evening at the government-run Nandan Van zoo on the outskirts of state capital Raipur.
"Four-and-half-year-old Sapna Malik had visited the zoo with her uncle Asim Malik and was holding the enclosure wire fence in which a lion was kept. The lion attacked the girl in a flash and removed her right palm and ate it while the family cried for help," zoo in-charge R.S. Mishra said.
The girl cried for about 30 minutes

Tigers killed after mauling Chinese zookeeper: report
Police in northeast China shot dead two starving Siberian tigers after the animals severely mauled a zoo worker, state media said Monday.
The incident occurred on Friday at a wildlife park in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, the Global Times reported.
The two tigers attacked 51-year-old park worker Yang Jingwei as he was cleaning snow from a path in a staff-only area, the paper said.
"The attack is attributed to the tigers being starved," the paper said, citing financial difficulties at the zoo.
Zoo workers separated the tigers from Yang 15 minutes

Joint forces to prevent extinction of smallest rhino in the world
International scientists and zoo experts started together with Malaysian governmental and conservation organisations an extensive programme to protect the Sabah rhino.
A unique species is on the brink of extinction: the Sabah rhino population (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis harrisoni), a subspecies of the Sumatran rhino, is now represented by less than 50 individuals. In an attempt to save the species, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) in Berlin, Germany, in collaboration with Zoo Leipzig from Leipzig, Germany and Malaysian governmental and conservation organisations, represented by the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) and the Borneo Rhino Alliance (BORA) have started an extensive conservation programme to protect and breed these impressive mammals. The species is in need of urgent protection. 'The Sabah rhino is our local heritage, we need all the expertise we can get to safeguard the Sabah rhinos from extinction' said Datuk Masidi Manjun, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment from Sabah who met the German scientists from the IZW and Zoo Leipzig last week. The rhino is an indicator-species for an intact ecosystem - the 'lowland rain forest.' If this 'umbrella species' goes extinct, scores of other species living under the 'ecological protection' of the Sabah rhino will disappear as well.
'The IZW scientists will help us with their knowledge of the reproductive biology of rhinos to assess the health and fertility of captive animals' said Dr Laurentius Ambu, director of the Sabah Wildlife

Endangered frogs head back to native habitat at Fort Lewis
To help restore Washington state’s populations of endangered Oregon spotted frogs (Rana pretiosa), approximately 80 frogs - weighing up to two ounces - will be released back to nature on the Fort Lewis Military Reservation in Pierce County.
The nine-month-old, Washington state-endangered frogs were collected from the wild in March as fertilized eggs and head-started at Oregon Zoo and Cedar Creek Corrections Center to improve their chances of survival once they are released. They will join 424 frogs released at the site earlier this fall, which were head-started at Woodland

Endangered sea turtles released
The three Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata), listed in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as critically endangered, were released at sea off the coast of the south-central province of Ninh Thuan at 3p.m. Wednesday, said Wildlife at Risk, also known as WAR.
One of the turtles weighed 20 kilograms, one 14 kilos and the other 9 kg. They were found in the possession of Ho Chi Minh City traders by a WAR mobile unit and were then cared for by WAR during a quarantine period at the Cu Chi Wildlife Rescue Station.
The three turtles have been electronically

Lucy the elephant must lose 1,000 pounds, Edmonton zoo says
Lucy the elephant has too much junk in her trunk.
The Edmonton elephant whose health woes have drawn concern from such celebrities as Bob Barker and William Shatner is being put on a new diet and exercise regime in a bid to get her to shed 1,000 pounds, or 453 kilograms, over the next year.
Edmonton’s Valley Zoo announced the new treatment plan Friday.
The goal of the healthier lifestyle is to improve the elephant’s breathing problems and help control her arthritis, said veterinarian Dr. Milton Ness.
If I could join the Biggest Loser I would have her on my team,” Ness said, laughing. “In real terms, we’re going to have to cut back on the carbohydrates . . .” — such as fruit. “We’ve had

Japanese Government Funding Cuts Could End 'Research' Whaling
A review of Japanese government spending now underway could put an end to Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean Whale Sanctuary, according to Greenpeace, an environmental group that has campaigned against Japanese whaling for years.
The spending review committee established by Japan's new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, has recommended that funding for the Overseas Fishery Cooperation Foundation be cancelled after 2010.
The OFCF is the largest financer of the Tokyo-based Institute of Cetacean Research, which runs the Japanese whaling program. The whaling fleet

Vienna zoo's panda Fu Long heads for China
Fu Long the panda, Europe's first to be conceived naturally while in captivity, is to leave his home town of Vienna for China next week, the Schoenbrunn Zoo in the Austrian capital said Thursday.
The giant panda, whose name means "Happy Dragon" in Mandarin, is to be transferred to a conservation and research centre called Bifengxia Base in the Sichuan province, which is home to 60 other pandas and where it is hoped he will breed.
Fu Long is now just over two and his birth in August 2007 was a sensation because he was the first panda in Europe to be conceived naturally in captivity rather than by artificial insemination.
"We're sad that our little one is leaving us. But we're proud that we're returning a strong, healthy panda to China," said the zoo's

Aquatic Habitat Exhibit Opens at Jerusalem Biblical Zoo
A new $1.5 million exhibit called "Wet Side Story" opened at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo during the first week of November. The exhibit is the only one in Israeli zoos representing aquatic habitats in Israel and around the world.
The new complex of aquaria will deal with today's pressing issues of aquatic habitats, explaining the importance of preservation of water sources and their proper use, as well as the actions of wildlife conservation in these habitats

Toronto Zoo gorilla will choose his baby's name
For the past two months, the newest addition to the Toronto Zoo's gorilla family has been nameless, simply referred to by curious observers and visitors to the African pavilion as "the baby." But on Wednesday, Ngozi and Charles's offspring will finally have a name – and it will be one chosen by the proud daddy.
The shortlist, all starting with "N" to honour its mother, includes Nassir, Neo, Niko, Nigel and Nsambu.
The names were selected from an initial list of 5,000 submitted by visitors to the zoo in September. A panel of animal care staff narrowed the list down to 10. Over the past two weeks, 11,000 votes have been cast

Keeper at helm of zoo's revitalization
When Darde Long started working as a keeper at the Chattanooga Zoo in 1985, it was a far cry from the accredited institution she now oversees as executive director.
The 1.5-acre grounds were dotted with animals housed in wire-and-concrete cages so behind the times the Atlanta Journal Constitution referred to the facility as "Chattanooga's Animal Ghetto," Ms. Long said.
Now the zoo is eight times larger; the cages, with one exception, are new, and the facility is celebrating its 10th year of accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Q: How do you respond to people crediting you with the zoo's revitalization?
A: To be honest, I was really lucky because Friends of the Zoo formed simultaneously when I was hired. Back then, they provided volunteers who were critical. Suddenly, there were animals that were getting better care and having a little bit of extra time spent with

Tiger, tiger, small and white
John Varty, filmmaker, conservationist and co-owner of Londolozi Private Game Reserve, has a new white tiger in his family.
Varty, a maverick naturalist who set up his South African tiger conservation project amid much controversy more than 10 years ago, says he despaired after visiting India and China and seeing how little was being done to save the iconic big cats.
The latest additions to his big-cat family were born to Julie, an 11-year-old Bengal tigress at his Tiger Canyons conservation project in the heart of the Karoo. The litter saw his tiger population grow from 12 to 17 overnight. Among the new arrivals was one tiny white cub - the first white tiger born in the wild since 1951. The births have made Tiger Canyons possibly the only place in the world where wild tigers are increasing in number.
Its current population of 17 is also probably more than the number remaining in the flagship Indian tiger reserve of Ranthambhore, where attrition due to habitat loss, poaching and the

Driver admits to 5 wildlife offences
A lorry driver was charged in the magistrate's court yesterday with possessing clouded monitor lizards, which are a protected species, and body parts of wild owls and the sun bear.
M. Ravindran, 31, from Indera Mahkota, near here, was read five charges under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972 for possessing:
- 2,330 live clouded monitor lizards;
- 47 limbs of sun bears (Helarctos malayanus);
- 246 carcasses of skinned Barn Owls (Tyto alba);
- 72 carcasses of Barred eagle owls (Bubo sumatranus); and
- a skinned Brown Wood Owl (Strix leplogranunica).
The father of three was also charged with endangering the clouded monitor lizards by confining them in cages.
He pleaded guilty to committing the offences



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



PROGRAM UPDATE: Presentation descriptions for


are now available at www.orgs.unt.edu/orca




by Dr. Robert Epstein

Animal training usually consists of applying positive and negative
consequences to behavior, strengthening some behavior and weakening
other behavior until you get a desired performance. This is what
psychologists call operant conditioning. But rewards and punishments
only strengthen or weaken behavior that’s already occurring. You
can’t get NEW behavior unless you know how to wait strategically; in a
procedure called “shaping”, you wait for a bit of new behavior to
occur and then reinforce it, and then you wait again until you get
MORE new behavior, and so on. But here's a surprise: When you’re not
training—which is most of the time!—you’re really waiting, and while
you’re waiting, almost ALL behavior that occurs is new in some sense.
The new behavior that occurs most of the time in virtually all animals
(including people) is called “generative”, and laboratory experiments
show that this kind of behavior is both orderly and predictable. It
HAS to be orderly and predictable, or shaping couldn’t work! First
developed in the 1980s, the Generativity Theory is a predictive,
mathematical theory of generative behavior—in other words, of most of
the behavior that occurs in real organisms most of the time. It has
proved to be useful in both predicting and engineering complex
behaviors in animals that is so extraordinary that it appears to have
features of human “higher mental processes”. The theory can also be
applied to improve the way we train animals.

READ MORE about other lectures by:

-Bob Bailey
-Alexandra Kurland
-Kay Laurence
-Steve Martin
-Ken Ramirez

at the ORCA website: www.orgs.unt.edu/orca


Don't forget to register early, as seats are limited!


A great read and some fantastic photographs. You may not agree with all of the authors but this is essential reading for elephant keepers, elephant fans and elephant lovers everywhere. To purchase just click on the link below:

Product Description
From the back cover: There once were about 160 species of elephants, reaching back across 60 million years. Today, only three remain, and their survival is not certain. An Elephant In The Room: The Science and Well-Being of Elephants in Captivity, authored by experts from around the world and astride many disciplines, brings a new voice to assist their future. It examines the many and perplexing difficulties of elephants in captivity, looking for the best questions and trying to provide good answers, The book presents the biological, ecological, and social dimensions of elephant behavior in the wild as the basis for any sound understanding of what elephants want and need. It discusses the effects of trauma and stress upon elephants, with a close look at current captive management systems and beliefs. It also offers a scientific assessment of captive elephant welfare, and practical methods to improve fundamental aspects of the lives of elephants in captivity. Presentations of new and impressive initiatives in the form of orphanages and sanctuaries provide hope for the future, as do new visions that would transform the current management regimes in zoos.


Panthera News



Zookunft 2010
Crowne Plaza Hotel
Bleicher Ufer 23
19053 Schwerin
19, 20 & 21 February 2010

Environment and Climate Change - Challenges for the zoo of the future

Program and registration: http://www.zookunft.info/


6.00pm, 7 December 2009

THE SECRET WORLD OF 'NAKED SNAKES' - ZSL Communicating Science series.


1st Conservation Medicine Symposium - Chile

On November 30th and December 1st, we are organizing The first Conservation Medicine Simposium in Chile. This concept is a very new concept for Chile, but it is completely necesary since in Chile we have and extremely high endemism!

We also have 3 zoos, which are very good, but need to use some conservation medicine in their exhibits. For example, are zoos are plagued (sorry if it sounds harsh!) with cats! They go in and out of the other animals enclosures! I believe I don't have to mention how many diseases could be transmitted between cats and the rest of the animals!! We have very important guest speakers like: Andrew Cunningham, Alonso Aguirre and Marcela Uhart.

If you want to read more about it, and are interested in coming please go to: http://mdc.unab.cl/


Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals

The second annual Art and Science of Animal Training conference is in February

or email Katie Tucker at obie1204@gmail.com

Dear Colleagues,

We are please to announce 2 new workshops for 2010:

Environmental Enrichment Workshop with David Sheperdson and other speakers in collaboration with the Odense Zoo in Denmark.

April 22nd - 25th 2010

Advanced Animal Learning Seminar with Tim Sullivan and other speakers in collaboration with the Chester Zoo in the UK.

June 4th - 7th 2010

More information will be available soon on http://www.animalconcepts.eu/

Please email me if you are interested in the program(s).

Kind regards,


The Netherlands
mailto:Netherlandsanimalconcepts@me.com / sbrando@animalconcepts.eu


Howletts and Port Lympne Student Enrichment and Welfare Course in collaboration with AnimalConcepts.
27th – 29th January 2010

Instructors: Sabrina Brando and Mark Kingston Jones

Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks are pleased to announce a course on Enrichment and Welfare to be run by Sabrina Brando and Mark Kingston Jones.

Sabrina runs AnimalConcepts, an international consultancy company specialising in enrichment, behaviour and animal welfare. Sabrina has 17 years experience in the field and collaborates with many facilities, universities and research institutes.

Mark has been involved in the animal welfare field since 2004 and now works at Howletts and Port Lympne as the Enrichment and Research Officer for both parks organising workshops, talks and working with keepers to design and implement enrichment ideas. He has been involved in two ‘The Shape of Enrichment’ workshops, in the UK and Indonesia, and has presented 9 talks on topics relating to animal welfare at conferences, both nationally and internationally.

This course is designed specifically for college and university students (past or present) who do not currently work within a zoo setting but are looking to do so as a career. Over three days students will gain a background in animal welfare and working with different species, as well as providing practical skills in designing, building and testing enrichment within the settings of both Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, in Kent. Our aim is to provide valuable experience and the addition of useful skills to a would-be keeper’s CV. Please note you must be 18 or over to attend this course.

Lecture topics include: An overview of welfare and enrichment, animal husbandry and learning, choice and control, enclosure design and breaking into the zoo world. Additionally there will be talks and practicals with keepers involving working with carnivores, primates, ungulates, elephant management, getting involved in in-situ conservation, rope splicing and fire hose weaving.

The workshop registration fee of £150 includes:
All workshop materials
Practical sessions
Lunches during the 3 days, as well as drinks and snacks during the scheduled tea breaks.

Information on discounted accommodation is available on request and the number of available places is limited, so please book early.

For further information and to request a booking form please contact:
Kim Guillot at Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks
Email: intern@totallywild.net

Final deadline for registration is: 31.12.09


For Zoo Jobs and Related Vacancies please visit: http://zoowork.blogspot.com/

For notification of Zoo related Meetings, Conferences, Courses and Symposia go to: http://zoosymposia.blogspot.com/


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

Zoo News Digest Blog

ZooNews Digest Webpage

Zoo Vacancies Blog

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Twitter: http://twitter.com/PeterZoo


  1. I'm still reading through this very interesting post Peter. The issue of elephants in captivity has always an emotive one. Auckland Zoo recently lost one of its two Indian Elephants Kashin leaving Burma on her own. Unfortunately it will be two years before Auckland Zoo is able to find a replacement for Kashin. On the issue of the CZA's announcement. The only thing I find problematic is the fact that once released back into the wild will these former zoo elephants actually cope? Will their rewilding be enough for these great mammals to survive in a habitat that is rapidly shrinking and will continue to shrink due to human encroachment and other factors. I read some time ago that elephants in captivity should be kept in groups of 12 or more since they are a strongly social animal and maintain strong relationships within their groups. I think some careful thought and strategies by the CZA will need to be in place and maintained in order for the affected captive animals to truly have a chance - if not these animals will not stand a chance against the odds they face in the wild.

  2. Liz - If I thought for one moment that these animals were actually to be returned to the wild I would look at the situation differently. Re-introduction and rewilding though troublesome is a nice idea. They won't however. They will simply trade one location of being chained to another. Probably and likely those from zoos where they now have freedom to roam will be chained to some jungle tree.
    I agree with the social issues and recognise the problems with captive elephants. I do think they should have been addressed and not, as I said 'shoved under the carpet'. These 'freed' elephants will not be better off.
    If the CZA is at all caring they should take the three or thirty three worst affected captive elephants and return them to the wild. The 'experiment' should be open, recorded and videoed. They should prove it can be done. If all is okay in twelve months then lets start with the next thirty three.