Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zoo News Digest 6th - 12th November 2009 (Zoo News 629)

Zoo News Digest 6th - 12th November 2009 (Zoo News 629)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

Re the first link 'Elephants to be banished from all Zoos'. The thought that first shot into my mind was that the inmates have taken over the asylum. I read and re-read the story and based on the little information available to me I concluded that my first thought was the correct one. It is a daft idea. If you disagree with me or have some great argument you would like to put forward then use the comments in this blog. What is next I wonder? Tigers? No doubt that will be a bit of a gift for the poachers too. (and okay I have now upset the entire Indian zoo community but so be it).

Great to see that the Highland Wildlife Park will not be moving out Polar Bears once Mercedes passes on. It would be such a pity if UK residents did not have the opportunity to see these magnificent animals without having to actually travel abroad to do it.

I was interested to note that Singapore Zoo is joining the Giant Panda club and I am already excited to see the accommodation… and it hasn’t even been built yet. Singapore Zoo often gets criticism about its enclosures being too small. I daresay that is very much a personal thing as for me, providing flight distances and cage design have been given consideration, then it is largely down to quality of space and not quantity. In the world of zoos bigger is not necessarily better but there is always a ‘Too Small’.

The story about the little boy left behind at Dreher Park Zoo rang a few bells. It was not such an unusual event when I worked in Al Ain Zoo back in the 70’s. Large families of local Arabs would often drive up from Abu Dhabi in three or four cars. It may be one wealthy businessman, his four wives, their sisters and friends and 22 children. At the end of the day they would pile back into the cars and go home. There were no mobile phones in those days and so it could be a number of hours and ninety miles later before they realised that little ‘Abdul’ or ‘Mustafa’ was missing. Everyone thought he was in the other car!

Any animal death is a sad event and especially so if loved. I know the anti-zoo brigade think that zoo people don’t give a toss but they do. I have seen grown men weep whilst others keep it private or ‘cry inside’. I must have wept buckets during my zoo career. There is no time to mourn though because work has to carry on, post mortems done and decisions made on disposal or research. It can be very hard at times. There are several zoos which have lost such animals this week. Some deaths may be criticised by the likes of the green blooded PETA people who so like to kick people when they are down. Animals do die though. Nothing lives forever and zoo people care.

Another few memories were shaken when I read of the power loss in Adelaide Zoo. I recollect several instances where this happened either by accident or as a result of strikes. Today most zoos have back up generators for the really sensitive stuff but it wasn’t always like that. I recollect sleeping next to back up generators at Flamingo Park Dolphinarium back in the sixties just in case the power went off. And it did. Then there were times we were forewarned and so ready. Gas ovens full of house bricks on low constant heat. When the power went off, and it did, we wrapped the bricks in newspaper and placed these in terrariums and incubators. Other incubators or young sensitive animals were driven home. You have no idea how difficult it is to remove the smell of a couple of penguin chicks from your house after they have stopped by for a few hours

I liked learning of the coral repository in the National Zoo. I get a tremendous thrill at seeing living corals in aquaria and could literally watch them for hours. Strange when it is usually fish that people watch. I recall with wonder those corals around Kuba island off the coast of Kuwait. As a youth they were big and beautiful. As a teen they were all dead. The same around Koh Phagnan in the Gulf of Thailand. All the corals dead when I visited. Coral is important but also fascinating in so many ways. One of the finest books I have ever read is ‘Coral’ by Steve Jones. I would defy anybody, anybody at all with just a flickering of interest to read this book and not enjoy it. You would be brain dead not to. This is my book of the moment. The one you should buy for a Christmas or birthday present. Buy a copy for yourself too because once you dip into it you will start to learn in a wonderful and memorable way.

I am delighted to see that someone, in this case Jo Gregson of Paignton Zoo, is showing more than average interest in the Cassowary. I will await with interest to see what secrets unfold when the DNA work is done. I have seen a lot of these birds in my travels and whereas I appreciate there are three recognised species I have a strong feeling that there may actually be more. It gets a bit complicated though because of subspecies and juveniles. I wish now I had had a better camera and taken a lot more photos.

I was delighted to learn on Friday that my hubpages had clocked up their 100,000th visitor. I must be doing something right there. Putting things in perspective though it was taken me around 14 months to arrive at this number and some people can achieve that number of readers in a week. I write because I enjoy it and in part to answer questions I am so frequently asked. The zoo hubs do get a lot of visitors but far less than anything I have written which may have a slightly sexual slant to it. The hub on Craig Busch and the Zion Wildlife Gardens has received an enormous amount of visitors.

Unusually (and I apologise but please READ) I am appealing once again for donations to the Zoo News Digest. Please see the donate button to the right hand side of the blog page. My financial year starts in April and since the 1st there have been donations from only 3.040469% of regular readers! This figure is slightly incorrect because several readers have donated 3 or more times!! Others have left and others subscribed. I work at the Digest daily for you. Nobody pays me a wage, I have no pension and no savings. From writing I made £1.77 yesterday and that was a GOOD day. In short folks I have no money. I have looked into making the Digest a subscriber issue only but it is not practical. I am not looking for a fortune, just enough to live on. If you have never donated before please do not be embarrassed. I will be grateful. I have applied for several jobs since April, been interviewed for two, ignored by three and had the specifications changed twice on two others. It is not easy being over sixty. You are ready for the knackers yard as far as the job market is concerned. I will re-issue this appeal another couple of times and if I can't raise enough to live on for a few more months I am going to borrow some money to buy an air ticket to fly back to the UK. I have never once in my life taken a penny from social security or the dole or any other government hand out but that is what I am going to HAVE to do. Getting to the UK is one thing, figuring where to live is another. So please folks give it a little thought. £10 from you to me once a year. This gets you 52+ ZooNews Digests a year. True enough you could find most of the information yourself on the web. You could, but I make it easier by sifting through for you. I work for you.
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Elephants to be banished from all zoos
Delhi Zoo will soon be bidding farewell to its three elephants. In fact, elephants will no longer be seen in any zoo or circus in the
country after the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) issued a notice on Monday to the effect that all of these animals in zoos, numbering about 140, should be sent to national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves as soon as possible.
According to sources, the circular states that a zoo environment is not the best place for the large animals and they should be shifted to national parks with immediate effect. "CZA's order is binding on all zoos. Elephants are large animals and require a large area to move about freely. The environment of a zoo can be very restrictive. The animals have great use for departmental work, eco-tourism, patrolling etc and a decision has been taken to send them to national parks and tiger reserves where they can be under the supervision of mahauts," said A N Prasad, director, Project Elephant.
According to Dr B K Gupta, evaluation and monitoring officer of CZA, India had 140 elephants in 26 zoos and 16 circuses as on March 31 2009. "Of these, Mysore and Trivandrum have the largest number at 9 and 8 respectively.
Delhi and Mysore are the only two zoos that have African elephants. The decision was taken after evaluating conditions of elephants at various zoos and circuses. We found that circuses specially were not following standards set under the Recognition of Zoo Rules, 1992," he said.
Delhi Zoo director D N Singh confirmed that they had received the order though he restrained from elaborating on it. Sources said that Delhi Zoo's resident Asiatic pachyderms, Rajlakshmi and Hira, and its sole African member Shankar would be moved to Jim Corbett National Park sometime soon. Shankar had been gifted to former president Shankar Dayal Sharma by the Zimbabwian government.
Sources explained that the various zoos would carry out this order in consultation with the chief wildlife wardens of their specific states and the CZA.
Environmentalists saw this as a positive move though some had reservations on the shifting of all elephants as that would be contrary to the principal of ex-situ conservation."There is merit in this decision. It is best for them to be as close to their natural habitat as possible. Elephants needs a lot of space to exercise and move about in and they are being deprived that space in zoos and circuses," said Samir Sinha, head of traffic, WWF India.

Park in polar bear breeding plan
More polar bears are to be introduced to the Highland Wildlife Park, when the UK's only polar bear dies.
Mercedes, thought to be 27-years-old, was relocated from Edinburgh Zoo to the park near Kingussie last month. Polar bears can live into their early 30s.
The park's owners said two would be taken from other zoos when Mercedes dies in the hope they will reproduce.
But an animal welfare group denied the park's claim that bringing in more bears would contribute to conservation.
Mercedes was rescued from her native Canada and brought to Scotland in 1984, after she was scheduled to be shot because she was roaming into a nearby town in search of food.
She was kept in Edinburgh Zoo - which, along with the wildlife park is owned by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), but this was criticised because

China's Hu arrives in Singapore with panda offer
China will give Singapore two giant pandas to mark 20 years of friendly ties between the two countries, Chinese President Hu Jintao said on Wednesday.
Hu arrived in Singapore on Wednesday for an annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders, after visiting Malaysia where he made the first official visit of a Chinese leader in 15 years and signed several agreements on trade and investment.
After reviewing an honour guard upon arrival, Hu met Singapore President S.R. Nathan and the city-state's founding father, Minister Mentor Lee Kwan Yew.
Lee recently caused a ruffle among Chinese netizens when he called for the United States to remain engaged in Asia as a balance

Pandas separated to encourage procreation
Chinese panda experts charged with encouraging a pair of Taiwanese pandas to procreate are hoping that the adage that absence makes the heart grow fonder will ring as true for bears as it does for humans.
The two pandas, 'Tuan Tuan' and 'Yuan Yuan', were given to Taiwan late last year as a sign of warming ties between the Chinese mainland and Taipei. Somewhat embarrassingly, however, the two bears do not appear to have warmed to each other.
In an attempt to thaw relations, Taipei called in Zhang Hemin, the head of the Wolong Giant Panda Protection Research Centre in southwest China from where the bears originated, to provide expert advice.
His prescription was to lock the two bears in separate cages for several months to see if enforced abstinence could trigger the instinct to procreate, according to an official with the zoo.
"Separation is likely to make Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan more sexually attracted to each other," said the official.
The two bears are under mounting pressure

Topeka Zoo Gorilla Dead
The Topeka Zoo is responding to the recent death of a gorilla. This follows months of controversy after a report questioned the zoo's care-taking abilities.
The gorilla, M' bili, was 17-years-old when he died this

Letter: Zoo deserves support
The Topeka Capital-Journal's Sept. 2 story about animal deaths at the Topeka Zoo presents a misleading picture of the zoo and its director, Mike Coker.
All living things die. Not you, not me and not the animals at the zoo are immune to the natural circle of life. For the article to portray this most natural of occurrences as unusual does a disservice to readers.
The Topeka Zoo meets the stringent requirements for independent accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and maintains its federal USDA license in good standing.
The Topeka Zoo has provided the USDA more information on animal deaths than is required by law, regulation or policy. They have been candid with the USDA and the AZA on these issues.
All this means that the animals at the zoo receive great care f

Column: Recent letter spurs questions about zoo probe
City officials are confident they'll get an objective, independent and thorough report from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums when the AZA comes to town to conduct a review of the Topeka Zoo.
I wish I felt the same way. But based on a recent letter to the editor in The Capital-Journal from the AZA, I can't shake this sense that the review could go something like this:
Lead inspector -- "Well, I think we've seen all we need to see. Terrific operation you've got here, folks. Top-notch!"
Zoo administrator -- "Wait, aren't you guys even going to get out of the car? At least come in and have a doughnut."
OK, that's obviously not the way things will happen, but the letter did strike me as a strong endorsement of the zoo's operations and staff. In light of the recent announcement that the AZA had agreed to review the zoo for the city, it made me wonder about the organization's objectivity.
Kristin L. Vehrs, the AZA's executive director, submitted the letter ( in response to a Sept. 2 story raising questions about the quality of care in connection with the deaths of four animals at the zoo.
Vehrs wrote that "the animals at the zoo receive great care from

Necropsy Shows Topeka Zoo Gorilla Died Of Aneurysm
The Topeka Zoo says tests show a lowland gorilla died over the weekend of a ruptured aortic aneurysm.
Zoo director Mike Coker says zoo staff found M’Bili, a male Lowland gorilla, dead around 7:30 am Saturday in his night quarters. He was 17 years, 8 months old.
Coker says M'Bili had not been exhibiting any outward signs of illness or distress.
Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine conducted the necropsy. Coker says histopathology results are pending and will be provided when available with in the next few weeks.
M’Bili was born at the San Diego Wild Animal

Deer fatally injured after jumping into lion's den
A deer was fatally injured Sunday after jumping into a lion enclosure at the National Zoo, as visitors looked on.
The incident, which a zoo spokeswoman described as highly unusual, occurred about 2:50 p.m. as spectators lined a retaining wall of an enclosure that contained two female lions.
Spectators watched as the deer eluded the much larger lions, before it reached temporary safety in a moat at the edge of the outdoor enclosure.
The incident was captured on video and posted to YouTube.
However, after the animal was rescued

Black-faced spoonbills arrive in record numbers
The endangered black-faced spoonbills have migrated in record numbers to southern Taiwan to spend the winter this year. Tainan's west coast has recorded 1,219 black-faced spoonbills this year, the largest population in four years, according to a joint survey conducted by Tainan conservation groups.
The conservation groups in Tainan City and Tainan County work together to track the population of these migratory birds in local areas every year from October to April.
With sightings of 1,075 in Cigu Township and 144 in Sihcao Township, 68 more of these endangered birds have flown to Tainan this year than last year, according

China sends panda expert to Taiwan to aid breeding
Nothing like a little time apart to rekindle the affections that could lead to a baby panda.
So says a panda expert sent by China to Taiwan to advise on how to encourage mating by the pair given by Beijing last December to mark the two sides' growing friendship.
After inspecting the pandas at the Taipei Zoo on Sunday, Chinese panda expert Zhang Hemin suggested a separation of a month or two might boost the feeling of attraction needed to reproduce.
"They may have more interest toward each other after a brief separation," said Zhang, a researcher at the Wolong Natural Reserve in western Sichuan province where the pandas are from.
China presented Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, which together

Twitter and Penguins: How the San Francisco Zoo Uses Twitter [VIDEO]
We know there are a lot of interesting and unique uses for Twitter. We’ve seen Twitter used for customer service, tweets to monitor power usage, and even 140 character marriage proposals, but we never thought about it being used to quickly respond to incidents such as a kid being bit by an otter.
Earlier today, a group of Twitter() enthusiasts (including me) gathered at the San Francisco Zoo for a zoo tweetup. While in most respect it was your standard gathering of Twitter nerds with phones tweeting and Twitpics flying, the tweetup was unique because of the involvement of the zoo via Twitter.
After seeing initial tweets about the upcoming event, the zoo provided anybody who came to the tweetup with a discount, a penguin encounter (videos below), and even access to the normally off-limits Avian Conservation Center.
While this is a great example of using Twitter to reach out to and please customers, it isn’t the only way that the San Francisco Zoo (@SFZoo) utilizes Twitter. In the 3 minute clip embedded below, animal keeper Anthony Brown discusses some of the unique stories of how Twitter has helped improve the zoo, including how it has helped find lost

National Zoo Launches Series of Conservation Stamps
The National Zoo has launched a series of conservation postal stamps.
The stamps feature seven animals: the giant panda, clouded leopard Asian elephant, Panamanian golden frog, Kirtland's warbler, Scimitar-horned oryx and western lowland

Boy's daycare center left him behind at the zoo
A day care center left a little boy behind after a trip to the zoo.
Police said little Gotti Pierre went with this classmates from My First Steps on Westgate Avenue to Dreher Park at around 2 p.m. Thursday.
The class left the park two hours later and returned to the day care center -- without Pierre. Police said whoever was in charge of the class miscounted the students, and left the little boy behind. He was discovered missing when his mother came to the daycare center

Viewers protest on Facebook as broadcaster announces it is to drop wildlife show Monkey Life after three series
Channel Five's decision to axe Monkey Life, which follows the antics of more than 240 monkeys and apes at the Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset, has prompted a campaign to save the show.
The show has run for three series since 2007 and is now broadcast at 7.30pm on Tuesdays. A Facebook group calling on Five to reconsider its cancellation was set up after the news emerged in the Monkey World supporters' magazine, the Ape Rescue Chronicle.
A fourth series of Monkey Life has already been filmed by producers Primate Planet Productions, which has staff based at the Monkey World centre all year round.
The Primate Planet managing director, Louise McCance-Price, said the show was an educational force that had led to owners of primate pets re-homing their pets with Monkey World and viewers adopting monkeys at the park.
"This is not just a TV series to us and to

Animals ‘at risk’ from fireworks
ZOO owner David Gill claims unofficial firework displays have endangered his animals and staff.
A macaw and stork have already had to be put down at the South Lakes Wildlife Park in Dalton, while a giraffe panicked out of control.
Mr Gill told the Evening Mail he was not against organised displays on Bonfire Night – but wants tighter controls during the days around November 5.
He said: “It now seems with fireworks that the bigger the bang, the bigger the thrill.
“Other places in the world have more regulations, we have to change our laws, it is a complete nightmare. There were some large fireworks going off near our boundary at 1.15am on Halloween.
“This went on for around 15 minutes and I rang the police on 999. The birds were going berserk

Zoo's twin snow leopard cubs die
Brother and sister snow leopard cubs have died after becoming ill with feline cowpox, at their home in the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
The zoo said post-mortem checks point to pneumonia and a secondary infection.
The cubs arrived in May, and their mother Otilia, and mate Szechuan, are at the Colwyn Bay zoo as part of a European breeding programme.
It is estimated that there are as few

Zoo sells drawings by chimpanzees
The Liberec Zoological Garden will on December 1 sell the drawings by its chimpanzees to the persons who will offer the highest sums and the proceeds will go in support of the apes' further breeding, zoo director David Nejedlo told CTK yesterday.
The zoo now breeds eight chimpanzees, but only five of them draw and the apes' sense of arts is subsiding, Nejedlo said.
Liberec chimpanzees' drawings have already been displayed both at home and abroad.
Nejedlo said the apes bred by people are more talented. One female chimpanzee draws with both the left and right hands, sometimes with both of them at a time. She also uses a dish sponge or her tongue in drawing.
A male chimpanzee even spreads colours on paper

Power failure hits Adelaide Zoo
A POWER failure has closed the Adelaide Zoo, causing problems for some animals and staff as the city swelters through a heatwave.
Zoo chief executive Chris West said a power cable was accidentally cut by earthmoving equipment this morning.
He said maintenance crews were working on the problem and hoped to have power restored within a few hours.
Dr West said staff were working hard to

Roanoke zoo seeks new director
Mill Mountain Zoo announced Tuesday that Dave Orndorff -- who for two years has pulled double duty as general curator and executive director -- will step down as the facility's director once a replacement is hired. He will continue to serve as curator.
"At first it wasn't that hard, but the zoo became better known and the collection became more diverse," he said of his dual positions. "I didn't feel I could devote 100 percent of my time to both [positions] and give both the justice they deserved."
"This is something he's been talking about," zoo spokeswoman Lisa Uhl said. "In the past six months, working with the board and the community ... it's more than evident the curatorial position is going to demand more of his attention."
Orndorff, 53, managed the bird collection at the San Diego Zoo for 11 years before he was hired as Mill Mountain Zoo's curator in July 2007.
He began the job during a tumultuous period for Mill Mountain, when Sean Greene, then-executive director, was trying to reverse the zoo's sinking finances

NFEFI spearheads Wildlife Month in Negros Occ
Seventeen years ago, Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation Inc. (NFEFI) rescued an injured three year- old male Visayan spotted deer limping and severely wounded due to snare traps.
As a biodiversity and conservation center, NFEFI took care of the deer and provided it a safe haven along with other Negros Occ. threatened species.
Today, Luis, as they named him, enjoys “the good life” in captivity under the care of experts. He is now 20 years old.
NFEFI has no actual figures on the number of endangered animal species falling in the hands of hunters and poachers although they are sure that if it is not stopped soon, the province’ wildlife will face oblivion.
The tribe of Luis and the host of other Negros Occ. rich bio-diversity get the spot light this month as the

Koala numbers in free fall
KOALAS are rapidly vanishing from the Australian bush,and there may be as few as 43,000 left on the mainland, according to the biggest national survey of their populations attempted.
The Australian Koala Foundation said its research showed the furry icons were suffering from urban development and climate change, and that the Federal Government should list the species as vulnerable.
The group, which used data from more than 1000 forest surveys, said the mainland population had fallen to

National Zoo Creates Frozen Coral Repository
Scientists at the National Zoo have created of the world's first coral genome repository to help prevent endangered coral species from going extinct.
Zoo officials said Tuesday that research scientist Mary Hagedorn is pioneering the freezing and storing of coral sperm and eggs.
In collaboration the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology and SECORE project, scientists have frozen the sperm

Ten years ensuring their safety & their freedom
Lone Droscher-Nielsen is back in Europe and very much looking forward to meeting those of you who are coming to join us at the Royal Geographical Society next Thursday evening on 19th November. Those of you who have reserved a place will receive an official confirmation from us this week.
Another amazing woman, the legend that is Jane Goodall, who has done so much for Chimpanzees, also has a soft spot in her

Butterfly species may be splitting into two
Researchers have found a population of tropical butterflies in Ecuador that might be on its way to splitting into two different species.
Marcus Kronforst of Harvard University and his colleagues found that variations in wing colour within a species of Heliconius butterfly in Ecuador is also tied to mate preference and could lead to a split in the species.
The butterfly Heliconius cydno comes in two wing-colour varieties — yellow or white — but the two varieties coexist and mate with each other. The pattern of yellow or white markings on the wings is controlled by a single gene.
However, when the researchers studied the butterflies in captivity, they found that they didn't mate randomly. Yellow male butterflies showed

Editorial: Examining PETA's objections to sponge-wielding pachyderms
We admit to having mixed feelings about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals reading the riot act to Wildlife Safari for the park's elephant car wash.
On Oct. 22, PETA sent a letter to Dan Van Slyke, park executive director, urging him to immediately stop using elephants to “wash” visitors' cars at the Winston wild animal park. PETA's Lisa Wathne referred to Wildlife Safari's attraction as “a cheap thrill” for visitors, and a gimmick that does nothing to foster respect for an endangered species.
Also worrisome to PETA were the devices held by trainers supervising the elephants. PETA calls the spiked rods “bullhooks” and describes them as circus-style coercion. Wildlife Safari calls them “guides” and says they are not used in an abusive way.
PETA's letter cited concerns not only for the elephants faced with bullhooks, but also the humans within stomping range who could be harmed if the pachyderms were goaded into rebellion. The Winston park, Wathne wrote, should switch over to a so-called protected

Zoo group heading out to save frogs, save the world
A group from the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo leaves for the jungles of Panama on Friday, seeking to rescue tiny frogs from a giant threat.
The deadly chytrid fungus has decimated amphibian populations around the globe. The group of five will travel to a small section of Panamanian rainforest untouched by the fungus — though, like a well-coordinated military attack, the fungus is approaching the area from north and south.
Bob Chastain, zoo president and CEO, will lead the group on the weeklong expedition, which will also include representatives from other organizations in the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a founding member of the project, formed in spring and made

Zoo staff rocked by baby cheetah's death
STAFF at Colchester Zoo have been left devastated by the sudden death of a hand reared cheetah cub.
One-year-old Katavi was taken ill on Friday, October 30 after struggling to get up.
The sudden onset of her illness led vets to suspect a trauma to the spine or her hind legs had taken place.
Despite treating her with painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs, X-rays revealed no fractures and so an MRI scan was arranged.
The scan revealed an area of infection in the tissues surrounding the vertebrae in her neck.
Katavi was given round the clock care

Zoo leading battle to save one of world's largest birds
A SOUTH Devon bird expert is leading part of an international project to help save the world's third largest bird.
Paignton Zoo curator of birds Jo Gregson (pictured) is coordinating a DNA study to investigate the mysteries of the cassowary: a shy, tall, powerful, flightless forest bird of northern Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. It is believed only around 1,500 survive in the wild in Australia.
The zoo has been keeping cassowaries for more than 30 years and has bred 17. Currently there are five birds in the collection, one of the largest groups in Europe.
The zoo plays an important role in the conservation of the species and Jo Gregson is a founder member of the International Cassowary Recovery Team, which has been set up to coordinate conservation effort.
She said: "No one has done much work on cassowaries since Sir Walter Rothschild in the 1890s. Back

Homecoming at Hamilton Zoo for tuatara
It has been a homecoming of sorts for four juvenile Stanley Island tuatara who arrived back at Hamilton Zoo last week after leaving the facility nine months ago as eggs. The eggs were laid in January by one of Hamilton Zoo’s mature female tuatara, and were the first to be laid at the facility since 2001.
Hamilton Zoo director Stephen Standley said the arrival of the eggs earlier this year was exciting for staff who had just about given up hope of seeing any more tuatara

Gnawing problem for golf course: A very eager beaver leaves a trail of destruction after escaping from wildlife park
A beaver which escaped from a zoo has exasperated greenkeepers at a top golf club after wreaking havoc on the fairway.
The rogue rodent - called Mrs B - has gnawed through a centrepiece tree at the exclusive Hertfordshire Golf and Country Club in Broxbourne.
The huge birch has been left significantly damaged after the sustained attack, but will not need to be felled



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November 2009 Table of Contents

About the Cover/Information for Contributors
Scoops & Scuttlebutt
From the Executive Director
In Memorium ~ Gerald “Red” Thomas
AAZK, Inc. Thanks Its Chapters for Their Support
Coming Events
Call For Papers for Avian Husbandry Issue
Training Tales (Seeking Submissions)
AAZK Announces New Members
Letters to the Editor
Crisis Management CD Now Available
Enrichment Options (Humboldt Penguin Enrichment)
Professional Development Grant Report/Info on AAZK Grants Available
Assessing Immediate and Long-Term Effects of Environmental Enrichment: Implications for Welfare of African Clawless Otters (Aonyx capensis)
Care and Management of Geriatric Animals in Zoos (order info)
Book Reviews (Bats in Captivity, Vol. 1 - Biological and Medical Aspects; Handbook of Venoms and Toxins in Reptiles; and
Hey, Mister --Your Alligator’s Loose
ZOOTUBE on Display in 10 U.S. Zoos
Behavior-based Bear Husbandry for Winter Denning: A practical application at Fortress of the Bear, Sitka, Alaska
Conservation/Legislative Update

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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.


The following article was taken from - EDUCATION FOR NATURE-VIETNAM (Wildlife Crime)
To read more of the excellent illustrated articles please use the contact details at the end:

Tiger Conservation or Trade?

A recent newspaper article highlighted the concerns of a businessman in the south about the cost of managing his tigers in captivity. The businessman argued that his efforts to breed tigers was strictly for conservation purposes, and the public supported this idea, but nearly two years have passed and it remains unclear how captive tigers in the south will contribute to the conservation of the species.

What subspecies are in the farms? Are they being interbred between subspecies? How are tigers being paired to produce the best possible genetic offspring? Are tigers inbreeding on the farms diluting the genetic value of the offspring?

Recently, one of the businessmen noted that CITES banned commercial trade of tigers, but suggested that he should be allowed to give his tigers to others as gifts. Are we to think that this will not involve selling tigers beneath the table? In fact, the trader questions what will happen when there are more tigers produced on farms. The underlying suggestion is that tiger traders with captive tigers will eventually push for permission to sell their animals when numbers begin to reach capacity on the farms. How then will farms with hundreds of tigers that are inbred, mixed subspecies, and unfit to release in the wild contribute to conservation?

While the success in breeding tigers at some zoos and businesses in Vietnam can be commended, producing more captive tigers is unlikely to benefit conservation in any way. More likely, if tiger businesses are allowed to continue breeding their tigers without specific guidance and restrictions on how their tigers will specifically contribute to conservation of the species, we are likely to soon have the same impossible situation facing us with tigers that we do with bears, now nearly 4000 in captivity.

There is window of opportunity for the relevant authorities to deal with this issue while it is still small. We can act proactively, seeing the potential problems of the future, and eliminate the problem while we can. Or let the cancer grow until it is near fatal and react with a much more complex and costly solution.

This year, it is understood that permits expire for many of the businessmen keeping captive tigers. If some businessmen are permitted to keep their tigers when their permits expire at the end of this year, we must halt further breeding of tigers until a widely endorsed conservation breeding plan can be completed for each of the permitted owners, with clear objectives and demonstrating meaningful results for conservation. If tiger businessmen are whining now about how to pay for their captive tigers, we can expect the burden only to increase as more tigers are born, and more pressure from tiger businessmen to be allowed to sell their stock out the back door, as it is suspected some tiger businessmen are already doing.

It is therefore essential, now, to act decisively in dealing with this problem, or face the costly prospects of dealing with the issue at a later time when the problem has reached immense proportions, as it has in China with tigers, and here in Vietnam with bears

Tiger businessmen should stop all breeding on their farms until a management plan is approved for their breeding activities and their operations are open to regular and unannounced inspections by authorities

A statement and a plan should be prepared by each tiger owner specifying the exact purpose for keeping and breeding tigers, and a clear plan for how the tigers will be managed for conservation or education purposes.

If tiger farmers are operating legitimate educational and conservation breeding facilities, these facilities should be accessible to experts from both inside and outside the government that can assess conditions, monitor animals, and assist with recommendations for improving the operations.

Provincial governments must implement effective and regular monitoring programs to keep track of developments at the farms, while ensuring that all tigers, including deceased tigers and their parts are accounted for and that owners are not engaged in any commercial trade of any kind.

Farmers should sign legally binding contracts agreeing that their permits will be revoked, their tigers will be confiscated, and they will pay substantial fines or face criminal prosecution if tigers under their care are, sold, traded, transported, or disposed of in any way without the expressed written permission of the National FPD CITES office.

Let's assume that some tiger businessmen have good intentions, as they say. Some of them may indeed have such good intentions. But let's also recognize the potential for this problem to grow if unchecked. We must act now to strengthen controls, tighten management, and assist the good people while shutting the door tightly on others that may harbor a secret agenda aimed at generating personal wealth at the expense of our tigers, and our national interest in protecting them.

CITES Calls on Vietnam to Report on Progress in Ending Tiger Trade
Decision 14.69 adopted by CITES member states during the 14th Conference of Parties in 2007 calls on
all member states to restrict captive breeding to support conservation purposes only, and states that tigers should not be bred for trade in their parts or derivatives. Resolution 12.5 calls on member states to eliminate tiger product trade in domestic medicine markets.

In July 2009, CITES notified Vietnam and other tiger breeding states to produce a report on the progress of meeting obligations under the two resolutions.

CITES is the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species, an international treaty that Vietnam became a signatory of in 1994. The treaty regulates trade of endangered wildlife across international borders.

Contact us

ENV Wildlife Crime Unit
Ms. Nguyen Thi Van Anh
Education for Nature - Vietnam (ENV)

N5. IF1, lane 192 Thai Thinh Str, Dong Da Dist, Ha Noi
Tel/Fax: (84 4) 3514 8850

ENV Vietnamese website:
ENV English Website:
Wildlife Crime Gallery:
Facebook English:


The Golden Age Of Zoo Postcards

A great gift for the zoo enthusiast.



Gorilla Workshop 2010
12 - 15 May 2010
Oklahoma City Zoo
More details see:


Vulture Restaurant Diclofenac Free Feeding Palace at Nagarparkar
DDS has initiated a project titled Vulture Restaurant (Feeding Place) at Nagarparkar funded by the UNDP –GEF Small Grant Program. The project was developed after conducting a survey in October, 2008 throughout Sindh province to find the existence of Vulture, found in Nagarparkar. The supported project is started from February, 2009. The project is aimed at:
• To conserve a viable population of Gyps bengalensis in a safe and secure environment.
• To provide regular feeding to the Vulture population.
• Monitoring of wild populations
• Lobbying for the complete removal of diclofenac from the environment and.
To build staff capacity for the eventual release of captive-bred vultures.
It is expected at the end of project implementation that
• 50% reduction in the use of diclofenac in the animals in all U/Cs of taluka Nagarparkar in one year’s period and information enhanced to 5000 local community people in Taluka Nagarparkar.
The unprecedented decline of Gyps vultures in South Asia since the 1990s has seen the introduction of a range of conservation initiatives. Significant among these has been the establishment of conservation breeding


Jill's Blog - Witnessing the worst of humanity
Well worth a read:

The Chengdu Bear Rescue Facilty must be the best in the world and second to none for trying to keep the animals content. There are some excellent photos here. (Some pretty sad ones too)


Get Bear Smart eNews


One Woman. Ten Years. Hundreds of Lives Saved.


Misguided Palm Oil Campaigns Won’t Help Orang-Utan
“Misguided campaigns by the Melbourne and Auckland Zoos and activists lack understanding of why forest and orang-utans are being lost. It isn’t palm oil it’s poverty”, said Tim Wilson, Director of the Intellectual Property and Free Trade Unit at the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, Australia today.


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:


Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals

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

or email Katie Tucker at

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 deadline extended until 15 November 2009 for more details


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

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

Kind regards,


The Netherlands /


Dear All,

I have been asked to circulate information on the below two events which will take place at ZSL on Tuesday 24 November to mark Nepal Nature Conservation Year in collaboration with the Government of Nepal:

The Nepal Conservation in Crisis seminar (10.30am–3.00pm) will address key conservation issues affecting Nepal’s diverse and highly threatened ecosystems. A range of speakers will share their experiences and achievements in natural resources conservation and the seminar will be chaired by the Minister of Forests and Soil Conservation and Director of National Parks Nepal. Seminar places are free but must be booked in advance. Please see here for full information and please email if you would like to participate.

A separate evening event, Fragile Nepal (6.30–11.00pm), will raise funds for the vital conservation work needed to safeguard this remarkable region and its fragile ecosystems. Full information can be found here and the evening includes a drinks reception, buffet dinner, presentations, Nepali entertainment, and a silent auction. Please email to book your place.

I hope that these will be of interest; please contact Jane directly if you would like to participate in the Nepal Conservation in Crisis seminar or Pippa if you wish to book for the exclusive Fragile Nepal evening event.

Thanks and best wishes,

Joy :-)

Joy Hayward Scientific Meetings Co-ordinator,
NW1 4RY,
Tel: +44 (0)20 7449 6227.
Fax: +44 (0)20 7449 6411.


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

Final deadline for registration is: 31.12.09


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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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