Monday, February 15, 2010

Zoo News Digest 14th - 15th February 2010 (Zoo News 650)

Zoo News Digest 14th - 15th February 2010 (Zoo News 650)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

In the UK today I don't think that there is a single zoo, private or public where you could go and have your photograph taken with a tiger or other large cat. It was not always the case and it was a very popular activity for some. Popular or not I am delighted that the activity has now ceased. Apart from the health and safety aspects there is the common sense consideration that large cats should be just that, large cats...wild animals. They should be reared wherever possible, as nature intended, by their dams and if pulled for reason of health placed back into their zoo environment as soon as it is practically possible. To continue to rear them to adulthood so that they can be used as photographic stooges for the public is, to me, unnecessary at best and  criminal at worst.
Okay I know there are zoos that will argue that they allow the activity to take place in a 'knowledgeable, caring and professional manner' to raise money for 'conservation in the wild'. Sorry but this cuts no ice with me. Why am I saying sorry? I take it back. I believe that tiger posing (or any big cat) is wrong, very wrong. It sends out the message that such an activity is okay. The more famous the zoo is participating in such an activity the more people are inclined to believe it is acceptable... and it is not. It is wrong to hand rear if it can possibly be avoided. If it can't be avoided then integration with its kin should be the foremost aim and not rearing for photographic sessions. I am all for ambassador animals in an educational role but tigers and big cats are more of a 'macho trip' for big bucks. There is nothing clever about it.
Zoos, good zoos, need to let people know that tigers and other big cats are in trouble. They should also let the bad zoos, the incompetent zoos, know that tiger posing is not  acceptable. Sadly there are numerous collections in Asia which rear tigers especially for photographic sessions. They are pulled from their mothers and reared on the bottle. The animals are often beaten, drugged, chained and forced to endure countless posing sessions for cash that ends up in someones back pocket. Not all tigers are suited to such an activity. Where do they end up? You tell me. I don't know and the zoos are not telling anybody.
We are now in the year of the tiger. I am concerned about the situation in the wild as I am sure we all are, or should be. I am though concerned about the way they are treated in captivity. Tiger posing must be stopped. It is wrong. We need to send out the message. Zoos that really care...will.

Sorry to learn about the latest escape in Dallas. I hope that we will all be given details after investigation. It is so important that all of us in the zoo world learn from the mistakes which are made. Happily the incident ended without tragedy but it is not always the case.

We have a possible H5N1 outbreak in Cikembulan zoo. I hope that it isn't but it is best to err on the side of caution. Again something which I will watch to learn more. It is surprising though how quickly some news items just disappear and we learn no more about them. Then there are those we never hear about. I admit to hearing more of zoo happenings than ever appear here. This gives me a feeling of a sort of personal involvement. So many zoos have staff who are subscribers (who are now friends) that I often have inside knowledge and I feel I am almost a part of the staff of some collections. I cannot though repeat any information that is not in the public domain...well mostly. I don't want to get anyone into trouble.

The Bali elephant saga rumbles on. I still cannot see permission being granted. The big boys making the money with rides don't want any more competition on their patch.

Thank you to the three people who sent donations this last week. Greatly appreciated.

Please post in comments below if you feel so inclined.

This blog has readers from 132 countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eire, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lapland, Lao, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Montenegro, Montserrat, Myanmar, Nepal, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Wales, Zambia.

The ZooNews Digest continues to be read more often by more staff in more zoos than any other publication.

Please consider advertising on this blog as I need the money but understand.... I am of stubborn principle and will not advertise products or services that I disagree with no matter how much you pay me.

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

Is your meeting/conference/symposium listed here?

If not why not? ZooNews Digest is read by more zoo people than any other similar publication. I will advertise up till the event.

Please visit the Zoo Professionals Book Store for more if you are looking for books for yourself or as gifts.


On with links:

Second victim of Coventry Zoo's Harry the hippo tells of ordeal

A SECOND victim of Harry the hippo has told how Coventry Zoo’s former head keeper saved him from being crushed to death by the angry beast.

Paul Blatch was a 15-year-old zoo-keeper when he was trapped by the hippo behind a metal door.

The attack left him with a broken collarbone, leg and ankle as well as broken arms and wrists.

His remarkable escape has come to light after the Telegraph’s story last week about another ex-keeper at the former Whitley zoo, Richard McCormick, who was mauled and dragged under water by two-tonne Harry in September 1966.

He was also saved by head keeper John Vose, who came to his rescue armed with a metal bar.

Richard, who was thought to be the only known person to have survived a hippo attack, now wants to track down John to thank him for saving his life.

But Paul, now 59, has revealed that just a year later he too was nearly killed by the “bad-tempered” hippo before John Vose heard his screams and ordered Harry back into his enclosure.

The former Cardinal Wiseman School pupil described how Harry forced open a metal slide-door to his feeding quarters while Paul was still in his outdoor enclosure – pinning him behind the door.

“All of a sudden I heard a thud and he had slid the door back across,” he said. “I was sandwiched between the wall and the door and he had his head on the door and kept hitting it.

"I couldn’t do anything, I just kept screaming

Indonesia considers adopt-a-tiger scheme

SEE Video

A male Sumatran tiger rears up against the bars of his cage, roaring. Even in captivity these creatures still remind us of their awesome power.

If you've ever dreamt of owning one of these ferocious creatures, now it just might be possible.

The Indonesian government is considering a conservation initiative that could see the general public legally keeping tigers as pets.

For a $100,000 deposit ordinary citizens would be allowed to care for a pair of critically endangered Sumatran tigers in their own backyard. That is as long as it's at least one tenth the size of a baseball field.

The government says that it is basing this initiative on a similar one that they launched for the Balinese mynah bird -- about the size of a pigeon -- that was on the brink of extinction

USDA confiscates circus animals

Owner says he didn't have warning

Thursday morning the U. S. Department of Agriculture took an African elephant from a home in Miami County, Indiana . The USDA took tigers and lions from the same residence a few days ago. The USDA claims the animals' living conditions weren't following the law, but the animals' owner, Julius von Uhl, 72, said he wasn't given proper notice of the violations.

von Uhl grew up with the circus in Hungary. When he was 12, von Uhl started learning how to work with circus animals, and by age 15, he was a trainer.

In 1956, von Uhl moved to the United States. After several years of working as a horse trainer and serving in the Vietnam War, he moved to Indiana.

"I bought my own animals and had my own circus. We went from town to town like a gypsy," von Uhl said.

von Uhl owned an African elephant named Twiggy, six tigers and four lions. Melisa Culbertson's been to one of von Uhl's circus performances.

"There were mostly Amish children there. They loved it. They smiled and clapped," she said.

After years of taking his circus on the road, von Uhl decided to retire this year. He made arrangements

Mysore zoo to breed sparrow in captivity

The century-old Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens of Mysore, which has the rare distinction of successfully breeding a number of birds and animals in captivity, is ready for the next challenge –– breeding the sparrow.

Rapid urbanisation and concretisation of the heritage city has resulted in the disappearance of sparrow.

The cute little birds were once found in abundance in houses and on trees. Today, sighting a sparrow is quite rare.

In the absence of trees and ‘suitable houses’, the birds have migrated to rural areas. As a result most of the city-bred children have only seen pictures of a sparrow.

In-charge Executive Director of Mysore Zoo, Vijay Ranjan Singh told Deccan Herald that the zoo did not have any problems in reserving a portion in one of the enclosures exclusively for the sparrow.

Habitat improvement

The zoo has never lagged when it comes to habitat improvement of any bird or animal. Besides, the zoo has got expertise in breeding rare species of animals and birds.

The Mysore Zoo has the record of breeding the Asian elephant

Toledo Zoo takes in confiscated elephant

The Toledo Zoo has taken possession of an elephant that was confiscated by federal agents from a former circus owner in Indiana.

Zoo director Anne Baker said the female elephant named “Twiggy” is very thin and has pitted feet, indicating she didn’t have proper foot care. The elephant is in quarantine and not ready to be exhibited.

Nolan Lemon, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said agents were concerned about the elephant’s health and issued warnings about violations of the Animal Welfare Act. He said the owner, Julius von Uhl of Peru, Ind., was given ample time to improve living conditions for the animal.

Von Uhl said he wasn’t given proper notice of any law violations. He said the government robbed him of money he would have been paid for selling

70-year-old tortoise entertains zoo visitors with sexual behaviour

An amorous tortoise aged 70 has been entertaining visitors at a zoo thanks to his public displays of affection

'Dirty Dirk', the Galapagos tortoise, who weighs 31 stone, has been paying particular attention to Dolly, 14, and Dolores, 10.

Sebastian Grant, Giant Tortoise keeper at London Zoo, said: "He's called Dirk because he was so amorous from the moment he got here - literally minutes.

"We named him after Dirk Diggler of Boogie Nights. He's earned his name, and he's quite willing to go as long as the girls will let him."

Zookeepers were initially shocked by Dirk's carnal acts outside of the traditional breeding season.

Mr Grant added: "We thought it would be more seasonal, but Dirk was kept away from females in his last enclosure because there was another dominant male.

"Now he's here and he's the top male so he's making the most of it."

Dirk was caught from the wild Galapagos

Darjeeling zoo plans to exchange red pandas with foreign zoos

An exchange of red pandas between the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park at Darjeeling and zoos in Australia and New Zealand is on the cards, to improve the bloodline of the arboreal animals in the Darjeeling zoo’s captive breeding programme.

“The plans are still in the proposal stage, but we want to exchange two male red pandas with an animal each from the Auckland zoo in New Zealand and the Adelaide zoo in Australia,” zoo director A.K. Jha told The Hindu over telephone from Darjeeling.

Started in 1990, the captive breeding programme for red pandas, described as vulnerable by the International Union for

Sydney Snipers P-P-Pick Off Penguin Killers

Snipers have been deployed to protect a colony of endangered penguins after nine of the birds were mauled to death on a beach in Australia

Marksmen hired by the National Parks and Wildlife Service are patrolling the North Head park in Sydney at night following the attacks by dogs or foxes.

Infrared cameras and traps have also been set up to catch the killer - or killers - of the nine little penguins.

A spokeswoman for the parks service said: "Our focus is on protecting the penguins.

"We're pulling out all the stops to keep them safe.

"They're very endangered and very much loved by Sydneysiders."

Four dead penguins, from the colony of just 60 pairs, were found last Friday and a further four were discovered

180-pound gorilla briefly escapes Dallas Zoo enclosure

A 180-pound gorilla at the Dallas Zoo briefly escaped from her living quarters Saturday but was returned to her enclosure before she could venture far. The zoo was closed at the time.

Zoo officials said the 19-year-old female, named Tufani, somehow got out of her 40-foot-by-50-foot living area, described as an apartmentlike facility with living and sleeping areas, and was discovered when an employee saw her through a window. She was atop the enclosure and would have had to get through at least two additional spaces to reach a public area, zoo spokeswoman Susan Eckert said.A Dallas police SWAT team responded, although zoo personnel tranquilized Tufani and had her back in place within

Animals Cope With Climate Change at the Dinner Table: Birds, Foxes and Small Mammals Adapt Their Diets to Global Warming

Some animals, it seems, are going on a diet, while others have expanding waistlines.

It's likely these are reactions to rapidly rising temperatures due to global climate change, speculates Prof. Yoram Yom-Tov of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology, who has been measuring the evolving body sizes of birds and animals in areas where climate change is most extreme.

Changes are happening primarily in higher latitudes, where Prof. Yom-Tov has identified a pattern of birds getting smaller and mammals getting bigger, according to

Leave Your Elephant at Bali's Door

Bali's Governor and Law Makers Refuse Importation of 59 More Elephants to Bali.

Requests from various groups for permission to import 59 elephants to Bali are being steadfastly resisted by Bali's governor who claims the island's current elephant population of 93 is more than sufficient to meet the needs of a small island.

Seeking permission to import 59 more elephants to Bali are the Bali Elephant Safari Park in Taro (10), Bali Zoo Park (14), Kasiana (15) and Bakas (20).

The current population of 93 elephants are distributed among the Bali Elephant Safari Park (32), Taman Safari Bali (33), Kasiana (18) and Bakas (10).

Joining the governor in his refusal to

Clint Eastwood ape sidekick rescues Great Ape Trust caretaker

An orangutan bit a caretaker’s hand at Great Ape Trust Saturday morning, leaving only bruises, before a second ape with ties to actor Clint Eastwood came to the rescue.

Stephanie Perkins was standing outside the orangutan enclosure about 10:30 a.m. and reached in to collect a urine sample from orangutan Popi as part of standard procedures for the apes’ medical monitoring.

Another orangutan, Katy, grabbed the caretaker’s right hand and bit the fleshy part of the palm.

Popi − who starred with Eastwood in “Any Which Way You Can” in the 1980s − then smacked Katy, who let go of Perkins’ hand.

Ape trust spokesman Al Setka said Perkins’ wound appeared

Indonesia: Possible B2B H5N1 outbreak in zoo

Birds in Cikembulan zoo, Kecamatan Kadungora, Kabupaten Garut possibly died of bird flu H5N1 infection. Climate factor and inappropriate vaccination schedule were suggested as contributing factors of bird deaths. First bird death was observed on Thursday (11/2), said Cikembulan zoo manager, Rudi Arifin.

Cikembulan zoo was opened on September 2009, in an area of 25 hectares. The zoo has animal collection over 216 consists of 74 species which are dominated with

Illicit Wildlife Trade Third Largest After Arms, Drugs

With an estimated value of up to 20 billion dollars a year, the booming illegal trade in wildlife, which is vital to the whole system of life including human life, is reported to be the world’s third largest illicit business after arms and drugs.

This shocking data comes from international bodies such as Interpol, the Nairobi-based UN Environment Program (UNEP) and the Geneva-based Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Examples of this trade are that some 40,000 monkeys and other primates are shipped across international borders each year, as are 2 to 5 million live birds, 2 to 3 million live reptiles, and 10 to 25 million reptile skins, according to CITES.

The wildlife trade also includes 500 to 600 million ornamental fish, 1,000 to 2,000 tonnes of corals, 7 to 8 million cacti and 9 to10 million orchids, and many other products.

What is all such a gigantic volume of wildlife sales for?

The answer comes from CITES, which reports that all the above species and others are bought for a great variety of uses from pets to medicine, from food to fashion, from ornaments to scientific research.

Much of this trade is from developing countries, which contain most of the world’s biodiversity, to developed ones, which provide the demand. The United States is even the biggest market for traditional Chinese medicines made from wild

Leopard's root canal highlights spacious new Hogle hospital

A male Amur leopard was among the first animals to receive surgery at a new veterinary hospital Saturday at Utah's Hogle Zoo. The rare feline, named Vladamere, received a root canal to treat a broken canine tooth.

The surgical room was busy with an exotic animal dentist, several Hogle vets, a team of medical assistants, the zoo's photo-snapping director and a shotgun-toting zookeeper -- the latter a just-in-case precaution against the dangerous cat. But in the spacious new operating room, there was plenty of room to spare.

"It's wonderful," said Hogle's chief veterinarian, Nancy Carpenter. "With that many people in there, we'd all be bumping into each other in the old room."

The operating room at the zoo's old hospital was so cramped that veterinarians sometimes had to crawl over and under bulky pieces of surgical equipment to get from one side of the operating table to the other. That made providing surgical care to larger animals very difficult. Now they expect to be able to perform surgery on beasts up to 2,000 pounds.

The new hospital -- part of a slew of improvements aimed at improving animal care at the state's largest animal park --was funded in part by the ALSAM Foundation, a charitable organization sponsored by the clinic's namesake, drugstore magnate L.S. Skaggs.

Zoo officials say the clinic has the space to

The Origins of Tigers Revealed

New genetic study clears the mystery

According to an investigation that surveyed the genetic information in the tiger genome, it would appear that his big cat began evolving more than 3.2 million years ago. The comprehensive analysis also reveals that the feline is more tightly related to lions, leopards and jaguars than all of these cats are to each other. The finding clears some of the mysteries associated with how these wonderful and powerful creatures appeared and developed over the millennia. According to the paper, the closest living relative that the tiger has is the snow leopard, which is also severely endangered, the BBC News reports.

Tigers have a very weird situation right now, in the sense that they are some of the most popular and widely known animals in the world, while at the same time being severely endangered. Although many researchers have devoted years of their lives to studying these magnificent creatures, a lot of data about them still remains obscured. These missing pieces of information also include more details as to how the animals evolved.

Up until now, experts investigating big cats thought that tigers, lions, leopards, jaguars, snow leopards and two species of clouded leopards were more closely linked to

Wildwood Trust animal park receives £18,500 cash boost

A Kent animal park is to receive £18,500 from a waste management company to create a conservation centre.

The Wildwood Trust, near Canterbury, said it would use the money to help protect endangered British species.

The funding comes from money Viridor Waste Management would have to pay as landfill tax to the government, on rubbish it disposes at landfill sites.

The Landfill Communities Fund allows it to use the money to benefit specially chosen projects in

From The Blog -

Big Trouble for African Painted Dogs

Plus there is even more on the Blog. Scroll down...added to daily. Just the zoo interest stuff


John Thorbjarnarson

Photo by: Payal Narain

I am very sad to have to report the death of John Thorbjarnarson late yesterday. He was in India giving a talk to the Wildlife Insitute when he was suddenly taken ill. In spite of being rushed to the best available hospital he sadly passed away. The initial diagnosis is that he was suffering from advanced falciparum malaria. John will be sadly missed by family friends and colleagues. If you are unfamiliar with John and his work I suggest that you read about him by clicking HERE


Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

Sometimes Nature and biology stories cross from "how interesting" straight to "Ripley's Believe It or Not." This month's links at  (NEWS/Botanical News), cross the line:

· When does an animal become a plant? When it ingests chloroplasts and incorporates them into its own biochemistry, producing animal chlorophyll.

· Next question: how can a plant pest become a plant pollinator? Hint: this is the latest installment in the endlessly fascinating saga of Darwin's orchid. The bio-tale that keeps on giving.

· How does a wasp that is a poor flyer, pollinate desert fig trees separated by 160 km in a single night?

· Mutualism depends on each side playing fair and working with some integrity. But when nitrogen-fixing bacteria neglect to share their produce with their plant host, the plant will punish them.

. The same is true with figs and their pollinating wasps. Cheater wasps will not prosper.

We've all seen labels and signs at other institutions (nothing that WE were involved with) that make us scratch our heads. Check out zoo signs that are witty and bizarre: 35-most-bizarre-zoo-signs

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




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

Stop the EU Commission from forcing biodiesel from palm oil on EU countries



Join Zoo News Digest Facebook Page
updated daily


For Zoo Jobs and Related Vacancies please visit:

For notification of Zoo related Meetings, Conferences, Courses and Symposia go to:


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


UK: ++ 44 (0)753 474 3377
Thailand: ++ 66 (0)861 382 450

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address:
Suite 201,
Gateway House,
78 Northgate Street,
United Kingdom

"These are the best days of my life"

Please Donate to Zoo News Digest in order to keep it going

No comments:

Post a Comment