Friday, February 19, 2010

Zoo News Digest 16th - 19th February 2010 (Zoo News 651)

Zoo News Digest 16th - 19th  February 2010 (Zoo News 651)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

Stories about Tigers are tending to dominate the news right now and rightfully so as it is, in theory, the year of the tiger. As I trawl the animal and zoo related news items all day I am interested to see how long it is before interest drops away. Press interest always drops away eventually. Mentions of the earthquake in Haiti now scarcely get a mention. I am delighted then that the South Lakes Wild Animal Park has brought the situation to the fore again. That really is a tidy sum they have collected. I hope it reaches the people who count, those in dire need. This returns me once again to the subject of tigers. No doubt mega dollars are being raised this year for 'tiger conservation'. Probably more this year than ever before. I hope and pray that this actually goes to where it will count and not to lining somebody's pocket. After all we have not done particularily well this past ten or twenty years regardless of the cash thrown at protection. It is frightening however to think that there are now more wild tigers than there are wild Great White Sharks and wild African Lions.

I am not familiar with Australian law but seeing the story about the lawyer demanding the return of the Koalas to Waterways Wildlife Park surprised me. I am relatively sure that as a native protected species that they don't belong to the park, or for that matter the RSPCA. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

The Bali Elephant saga continues. It seems that the seal of approval has been given by one department. They need to get a few more yet.

Most will be familiar with my apparent dislike of White Tigers and White Lions. Actually I do not dislike either. They are beautiful animals and when naturally occurring in the wild are, or would be spectacular. What I don't like (and actually hate) is when they are deliberately and purposely bred in captivity and promoted as a 'rare endangered species'. This is a lie in the first instance and is anti conservation in the second. Okay, having said that I read two stories today about the arrival of white lions at the Darling Downs Zoo. Normally I would be pissed off about it BUT nowhere in either of the stories does it say rare or endangered. This is a step in the right direction. As a result I give a thumbs up to the Darling Downs Zoo. I hope that it stays that way. I also hope that when it comes to breeding from these animals that it is with normal coloured lions.

Wow! Cotswold Wildlife Park is forty years old. It makes me feel my age a bit. I remember the place opening. The first manager was Brian Sinfield, ex Flamingo Park Zoo (head keeper there) and I believe Taronga before that. Last I heard of Brian he was selling antiques somewhere close by. Gosh though...forty years. I can remember Marwell starting up as well. I had a chance of a job there at the time but was happy where I was. I wonder though how different my life may have been if I had taken that route. Then there was Windsor Safari Park. I recollect taking the first Lions down there before it opened. Windsor long gone now of course. Oh and I I will keep my thoughts to myself.

So Dallas has suspended a member of staff over the Gorilla escape. I don't know anymore than anyone else but it suggests then that human error was to blame. It usually is at the end of the day, even if it is equipment or caging or or comes down to a person in the end. I do believe that people do learn big time from big mistakes and if allowed to live it down become some of the very best of keepers. Doesn't work for all of course. I am glad that I do not have to make the choice.

I note that the Born Free Foundation have now come out and had their say about the Three Owls Bird Sanctuary.

I see that the Timbavati Wildlife Park has some concerns over the  "uneducated" people complained about the tigers treatment" when they are transported to a magic show. Well I am one of those. I don't know anything about this collection or the magic show so I am definitely uneducated. One thing I do know is that this collection needs to make up its mind whether it is a Wildlife Park or a circus. Tiger cubs, Lion cubs need to stay with their parents. They need to be reared by them and not hand reared. They do not need humanising or transported from pillar to post.

Please post in comments below if you feel so inclined.

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On with links:

Dalton zoo raises £10,000 for Haiti appeal

ZOO-GOERS have raised over £10,000 for the Haiti disaster fund.

South Lakes Wild Animal Park allowed free entry into the park for one weekend to all those who donated £2 to the Haiti Emergency Earthquake Appeal.

The public turned out in droves to support the event over the weekend of January 23 and 24.

Over 4,500 visitors passed through the gates, donating £10,399.78 to the cause.

The cheque for the money was sent to the Disaster Emergency Committee Haiti Earthquake

Porpoise captured in river running through Nagoya

A finless porpoise was captured and taken to an aquarium on Thursday after a resident spotted it swimming 20 kilometers from the mouth of a river in Nagoya.

Police received an emergency call at about 7:55 a.m. on Thursday, reporting a black finless porpoise swimming in the Shinkawa River in Nagoya's Nishi Ward. Officials from Nagoya Port aquarium arrived at the scene after being contacted by police and captured the porpoise shortly after 12:15 p.m. The porpoise was taken to the aquarium. It had reportedly

CHINESE NEW YEAR: Wildlife Charity says tiger conservation has been hit by demand for the trade in animal parts

A TIGER charity launched 10 years ago at London’s Chinese Embassy, is celebrating the animals’ year in the spotlight by announcing an increase in numbers of the seriously endangered South China Tigers.

Save China’s Tigers, set up by Beijing-born Ms Li Quan, initially took five tigers from China to South Africa in an attempt to boost numbers.

Happily, they now not only have nine tigers in South Africa, but five of them can fend for themselves and are ready for “re-wilding”, or releasing into the wild.

Save China’s Tigers have launched an awareness campaign, The Last South China Tiger, for which New Orleans body artist Craig Tracy has created a wonderful bespoke piece. And taking to the streets of Hong Kong is a “Tiger Tram”, a double-decker tram

Endangered frogs find a new home at San Diego Zoo

One of the world's biggest conservation zoos has turned its attention to a problem facing a highly endangered species, within a few miles of its back door.

San Diego Zoo has taken in a group of 60 mountain yellow-legged frogs - nearly a third of the entire population - to protect them from wildfires, drought and the chytrid fungus that has been wiping out frogs all over the world.

The zoo's Herpetological Research Co-ordinator Jeff Lemm explains more, including why, sometimes, it's best to keep frogs

Paignton Zoo’s Living Coasts is looking for older or retired volunteers

Age is no barrier to volunteering at one of Torbay's wildlife attractions - in fact, it's a positive advantage.

Living Coasts volunteer co-ordinator Stephanie Robey said: "Young people have lots to offer, but we know that mature people make great volunteers. Not only do they tend to have more time, but they often have a huge sense of commitment and a lifetime of skills to draw on. We are looking for people who are reliable, confident, out-going and who have an interest in conservation, the environment and animals."

The charity has a range of volunteer tasks available, from helping visitors and making badges to admin, answering

Baby elephant birth surprises San Diego Zoo

Zookeepers at the San Diego Zoo were awakened last Sunday morning by the sound of elephants trumpeting.

They knew it could only mean one thing: a baby elephant was being born.

The birth was one week earlier than expected, thus catching the zookeepers off guard.

The baby elephant is able to walk and was


Cartographic slip-ups are usually rare. So when one happens, it creates confusion and anger. This cartographic bungling seems to have occurred at the Mysore Zoo.

SOM reader Bharath Raj has e-mailed a note saying that the information board outside the tiger enclosure about the distribution of Panthera tigris tigris depicts that a portion of Kashmir occupied by Pakistan, that is Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK — Pakistan calls it Azad Kashmir), to be in Pakistan.

Bharath Raj says in his e-mail, "... it indicates PoK as being part of Pakistan. With ignorant admini-strators within our ranks, we don't need any Pakistanis in our midst."

Geopolitics is not the forte of Zoo authorities but the least they could have done is have the map checked for accuracy. Since these information boards that are found before the enclosures of all animals and birds had been contracted

Lawyer demands return of seized koalas

Law firm Slater & Gordon has weighed in to represent the owner of the Waterways Wildlife Park in Gunnedah, in north-west New South Wales, after the RSPCA seized eight koalas from the premises two weeks ago.

The RSPCA removed the koalas on February 3, under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Solicitor Peter Long says if his client is charged over the alleged maltreatment of the koalas, his firm will seek detailed information about the RSPCA's communications with third parties before the animals' seizure.

He says, if charges are laid, it will be necessary to secure additional evidence from the RSPCA, especially in relation to a film crew who accompanied inspectors.

Mr Long says he is yet to be advised of the specific allegations against his client.

He says he wants the koalas returned to his client immediately

Harbour Seals at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo relocate to Indonesian zoological park

The Harbour Seals at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo in The Dubai Mall will now have a new home – in Indonesia.

The four Seals, one of the most popular visitor attractions at Underwater Zoo, have been relocated to Taman Safari Indonesia, one of the country’s renowned zoological parks, as they have reached maturity, and as the part of a zoo relocation programme.

The two sets of captive bred brother Seals, named by Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo educators as Tag, Uno, Kali and Datu, arrived in Dubai as sub-adults from Europe. Now as mature two-and-a-half year olds, they have been transported to Taman Safari.

Mr Damian Prendergast, General Manager, Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, said the relocation of the four mature seals underscore the adherence of Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo to international standards and practices in animal care and management, including IATA for the movement of the animals to their new home.

“Arriving here as young Seals, they have delighted more than 1.5 million visitors in just over a year. Now, as adults, they have moved to larger outdoor facilities where they will live and interact with other adult Seals,” he added.

Such relocation programmes are a normal practice encouraged globally in order to mix the genetics of captive animal populations. Taman Safari Indonesia was selected for their reputation in animal care and their special focus in the management of endangered species.

Taman Safari Indonesia is a South East Asian Zoos Association (SEAZA) and World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) approved facility and is home to Sumatran elephants and tigers. The ambient temperature of the high altitude park is conducive for Harbour Seals.

Members from the Indonesian facility had

Animals Asia Investigation - Shenzhen Safari Park


Wonderland for Communist Autocrats

...A new pavilion for the president was built. A private zoo was founded. Even a safari park and the private hunting grounds were created. Hunting was one of the favorite pass-times of both Marshal Tito personally and communist elite in general.

An apocryphal story claims that heating was installed in caves which served as winter shelters for exotic animals, even in early 1950s the time when luxury of central heating was still unknown even to the inhabitants of capital cities of Belgrade and Zagreb, and most of countryside was still struggling with hunger.

The zoo and safari park were populated with animals esp...

A New Strategy for Saving - The World’s Wild Big Cats

Populations of many of the world’s wild cats are plummeting, with the number of tigers falling to roughly 3,200. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Alan Rabinowitz, a leading wild cat biologist, lays out a vision of how populations of these magnificent creatures can be brought back from the brink.

For more than three decades, Alan Rabinowitz has studied tigers, jaguars, and other wild cats in some of the world’s most remote regions. But working for years at the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, Rabinowitz did far more than research these great animals — he helped create parks and preserves to protect wild cats, including the world’s first jaguar sanctuary in Belize and a network of protected areas for tigers in the authoritarian nation of Myanmar.

For the past two years, Rabinowitz has been the CEO and president of the conservation group, Panthera, which has the lofty goal of saving wild cat species across all their ranges worldwide. Hiring some of the world’s most respected wildlife biologists and wild cat specialists, Panthera is working with other conservation groups and with governments to develop and implement tiger-recovery strategies and to create a jaguar corridor across much of South and Central America, protected areas for snow leopards in the Himalayas, and a network of linked refuges and corridors for lions across parts of Africa.

Rabinowitz — in an interview with Yale Environment 360 senior editor

‘Kidnap’ a joey to save a species

They fly the tiny, helpless wallaby babies out of their remote mountainous homeland by light aircraft and transfer them into the pouches of surrogate mothers of another common species, held in captivity. Here the poached young are raised to adulthood in safety.

The dramatic technique has been developed by scientists working at Adelaide Zoo and the University of Adelaide, who say it can boost the reproduction rate of endangered marsupials by as much as nine times.

The method exploits unusual aspects of marsupial reproductive biology.

The researchers have begun to re-introduce highly threatened wallabies bred this way into the wild and are optimistic that they can bring the animals back from the brink of extinction.

According to lead researcher David Taggart, the state of Australia’s fauna demands drastic measures. He says that 40% of the country’s animal species are deemed to be endangered or vulnerable to extinction.

Australia’s tally of extinctions over the last 200 years is the worst of all the world’s developed countries. Habitat destruction and the impact of introduced foreign creatures

Riga zoo’s tiger sculptures in ice (Nice Video)

Riga Zoo captures the plight of endangered tigers -- in ice.

China’s Tiger Farms

One of the most intractable problems in species protection is the Chinese appetite for traditional medicines. That appetite has only grown as China has grown more prosperous. Despite bans — by China’s government and international agreements — on the sales of some materials and the near extinction of many of the animals used in traditional medicine, prices for animal parts continue to rise, and so do the incentives for poachers and sellers.

As The Times reported recently, one particularly horrifying practice is Chinese tiger farms, which supply pelts, worth up to $20,000 apiece, and tiger bones used in medicines

Botanical garden, zoo bosses face contempt rule

The High Court on Thursday issued a contempt of court rule against the director of the National Botanical Garden and the curator of Dhaka Zoo on their refusal to receive an HC order.

The court had earlier directed botanical garden Director Zayed Hossain Bhuiyan and Dhaka Zoo Curator Mosaddek Hossain to maintain status quo on setting up a dredge pipe by a land developer.

Issuing the rule, the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Borhan Uddin asked Zayed and Mosaddek to explain within two weeks why they would not be charged with contempt of court.

The court also directed them to appear before it on March 2.

The HC bench came up with the order following a contempt of court petition filed

Conservation body backs plan to bring in elephants

The Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) has approved of Bali tourism parks’ plan to truck in more elephants as part of efforts to draw more visitors, following the provincial administration’s rejection of the idea.

BKSDA Bali head Istanto said the request by the parks to bring over Sumatran elephants would need initial approval from the Forestry Ministry and the Indonesian Institute of the Sciences (LIPI).

He added the final approval would come from the local BKSDA.

Approval will depend heavily on the number of animals requested, as the move is subject to prevailing restrictions from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.

The restrictions, reviewed regularly, are aimed at ensuring the trade

Animals take pride of place at park - VIDEO

FEEDING cows at the local farm and riding donkeys on the beach is officially last season.

This year it's all about the wild and wonderful animals at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

It's been almost a year since Yorkshire Wildlife Park opened its doors to the public - and what a year it's been! The park made international headlines recently with the addition of its latest residents - a pride of lions from Romania. Star digital reporter Nik Brear paid a visit to the 45 acre park

Going Ape

HE might be a funky-looking monkey, but being cute is no protection for this little fella.

Only discovered in 2007, the Siau island tarsier this week joined a list of 25 of man's closest relatives facing EXTINCTION

A step forward in Laos

WWT’s work in Laos has been a resounding success, with the threat of building development around the sensitive and vulnerable That Luang Marsh averted, at least for the time being.

Planting a wetland at a school in LaosWWT’s chief executive was able to report on the latest work at the marsh at WWT’s WATER project

Rare Indian wild cats are caught on film

India's Eastern Himalayan rainforest could have one of the world's largest number of wild cat species, after seven species were recorded in two years.

The wild cats, including the rare clouded leopard, were photographed by remote cameras with motion sensors.

Wildlife experts say the discovery is encouraging considering the ongoing threat to animal life in the area.

The study was conducted over two years in 500 sq km (5,380 sq ft) of forest by wildlife biologist Kashmira Kakati.

All the cats were photographed in the Jeypore-Dehing lowland forests in Assam state north-east

Wildwood's wild horses can save endangered species

Wild horses will help save endangered butterflies and birds after being released into one of Kent's most important nature reserves.

The three Konik-cross ponies - descendants of the Tarpan breed captured by Nazi geneticists in the 1930s - will graze at South Foreland Valley in Dover as part of a project organized by Wildwood based near Herne to help rare breeds prosper.

Staff at the White Cliffs Countryside Project hope the natural management of the site, coupled with other areas of grassland left to grow, will encourage as diverse a range of plant and animal life as possible.

Project officer Josie Newman said: _We_ve been grazing the site for some years now with cattle, but the advantage you get with horses is that they eat the wooden re-growth like brambles and shrubs. They’re

WWF: Orang asli being used

Many middlemen are using orang asli to hunt for wildlife, including tigers, for their parts, said World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia.

Its chief executive Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said the authorities needed to step up their enforcement to protect the wildlife and to prevent orang asli from being exploited by these middlemen.

“The middlemen or syndicates find people to trap and kill for them because there is a demand for wildlife parts,” he said in response to an incident where a tiger was shot and left to die in a snare in Perak last week.

“We need to invest in more equipment and people. Our forests and reserve areas are very large and they are easily accessible due to logging roads and porous borders.

“If we don’t protect our tigers, who will?” he said.

In last week’s incident, an orang asli, Yok Meneh had claimed that he was attacked by the tiger while on his way

Sea secrets - over 5,000 new marine species found

They were the sea's best kept secrets - until now. As work on the world's first ocean census inches closer to completion, scientists working on the decade-long project claim to have found over 5,000 new marine organisms that were not known to mankind all this while.

A network of 2,000 scientists from 82 nations have been working since the year 2000 to prepare an inventory of marine organisms in the world, which will be released in London in October this year. The

Maybank Contributes RM1 Million For Tiger Conservation

Maybank, which has the face of the Malayan Tiger as its iconic emblem, is to contribute RM1 million for the conservation of the tiger over the next two years.

The bank will donate the money to the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) in an effort to highlight the plight of the Malayan tiger, said Maybank chairman Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor.

The continuous decline in the wild tiger population worldwide, which has an adverse impact on both the biodiversity system and national heritage, has led to governments, corporations, non-governmental organisations and individuals heightening tiger conservation efforts globally, he said.

The money would be used in three areas -- scientific and research studies, outreach programmes and enforcement support, he said at the launch of the Maybank-MYCAT partnership

Nawaz Sharif hunts protected deer in Sindh?

Rumours have spread throughout Sindh that former prime minister and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif killed a protected deer during his visit to the northern parts of the province on Wednesday. But Sindh wildlife officials have dispelled the rumours and said the media personnel of Ghotki district came up with this gossip after they were refused to conduct an interview of the PML-N chief.

Sharif visited Ghotki district on Wednesday on the invitation of Maher Sardars, the family of former chief minister Sardar Ali Mohammad Mahar.

Sharif held meetings with leaders of different political parties, powerful landlords and political figures of different districts of Sindh including Shirazis of Thatta district, Jatois of Dadu district, and Mahers

Great white shark outnumbered by the tiger, marine scientists warn

The great white shark has become so threatened that it is now outnumbered by the tiger, a leading marine scientist claimed yesterday.

New research has suggested that population numbers for the ocean’s most feared predator have been overestimated because many great whites have been double-counted, according to Ronald O’Dor, of Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Canada, the senior scientist at the Census of Marine Life project.

He told the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego that electronic tagging of great white sharks had made researchers more pessimistic about its survival.

“I recently heard a report from the team that’s been tagging great white sharks,” he said. “The estimated total population of great white sharks in the world’s oceans is actually less than the number

Kenya Unveils Plan to Save Lions, Cheetahs From Extinction

Kenya is scaling up conservation efforts to restore dwindling numbers of large carnivores lost to shrinking habitats and conflicts with humans, the country’s wildlife agency said.

The National Large Carnivore Strategy unveiled today aims to protect depleted populations of lions, cheetahs spotted and striped hyenas, and wild dogs, Charles Musyoki, an officer with the Kenya Wildlife Service, said at a ceremony in the capital, Nairobi.

The number of lions in the East African country has dropped to 2,000, from 20,000 about 50 years ago, and studies show they may become extinct in Kenya within 20 years, Minister for Forestry and Wildlife Noah Wekesa said at the same event. The cheetah population has plunged

Tiger beer worth more than real tigers

We have entered the Year of the Tiger, the year of hope for wild Malayan tigers.

While news of heightened awareness for tigers floods the media, articles about a tiger brutally killed in the Bukit Tapah Forest Reserve in Perak, Malaysia, speaks of the harsh reality faced by our Malayan tigers.

Responding to reports that a tiger had attacked an Orang Asli, the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks made the gruesome find of a dead tiger with a wire snare still entwined around its severed left forelimb. The tiger was trapped in the snare for a few days, shot in the eyes and other parts of its body and attacked with spears fashioned out of hard palm stalks. It is also believed to have been poisoned.

Seven Orang Asli, including the man who was attacked by the tiger, are now under investigation in connection with this case.

So what will it be for these seven if they are found guilty under the due process of the law? Will they each receive the maximum sentence of a five-year jail term and RM15,000 fine for killing a tigeras provided by the Protection of

Save the Vampire Squid From Hell

I was appalled when I read this entry at Huffington Post, which seemed to say that the vampire squid might be endangered from human activity. Then I clicked on the original press release put out by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and found only that the science guys believe that there are changes going on in the depths of the ocean due to human activity (very plausible), but that they don’t know what’s being affected because there’s so little data. So this animal might be in danger of disappearing, but might not be.

Still, it’s nice to see the vampire squid (vampyroteuthis infernalis, which literally means “vampire squid from hell”) get some press. This bizarre creature is one of my favorite reminders

Two little big cats

After two years of planning, and thirty days in quarantine, the two newest southern Queenslanders have made it to their new home. "They have a way of looking through you. They are just wonderful, you can't help but love them."

After two years of planning, and thirty days in quarantine, two new southern Queenslanders have made it to their new home.

Stephanie Robinson, co-director at the Darling Downs Zoo says two African white lions are "Queenslanders now!"

The cubs arrived home last night, and spent the day familiarising themselves at

Zoo welcomes star attractions

THEY’VE got sharp teeth, deadly claws, a killer instinct and they’re snow white.

They’re also undeniably adorable.

Darling Downs Zoo last night took delivery of its new star attractions — two white lion cubs.

The six-month-old cubs travelled from South Africa and have already settled in well to their new home on the Downs.

"So far they’ve been quite calm and curious about everything around them," zookeeper Stephanie Robinson said

Cold Weather Tough on Florida's Manatees

After Successful Rehabilitation, Seven Young Manatees Return to the Wild

Bulbous, gray masses floated in the clear water, skimmed the surface and snorted for fresh air as volunteers, doctors and researchers watched from the shore.

Two manatees, CC and Captain, were released back into the wild today, and yesterday five more were brought to the warm springs in Florida's Crystal River, about 70 miles north of Tampa. It's a second chance at life after their much-needed rehabilitation.

Tanya Ward was one of the team members who released the manatees into the wild yesterday. She and several others transported them from trucks to the water, one by one, carrying each in a bulging stretcher. After a few

NGO helps reveal illegal trade of endangered animals

The NGO ProFauna Indonesia is working with law enforcement authorities to uncover the illegal trade of rare animals, which has sent two perpetrators to prison in the past two months.

An unnamed rare animal trader was sentenced to 10 months’ imprisonment for illegally selling six kukang, or Sunda Loris (Nycticebus coucang), in East Java, ProFauna announced in a press statement recently.

However, police have yet to arrest another trader, found in possession of 15 kukangs, 15 Javan langurs (Trachypithecus auratus), a white-bellied sea-eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and a leopard cat (Felis bengalensis) seized during a raid recently.

On Jan. 11, Jambi District Court sentenced a man to 3 years and 10 months

Kenya lions may be wiped out by 2060

Kenya’s carnivores—one of the east African country’s big tourist attractions—could all be extinct in the next 50 years unless action is taken, a minister warned on Thursday. Fifty years ago Kenya had around 30,000 lions, 10,000 leopards, 10,000 cheetahs, 20,000 wild dogs and 50,000 hyenas, wildlife minister Noah Wekesa told reporters. Experts say the country now has just 2,000 lions, between 800 and 1,160 cheetahs and just over 800 wild dogs. “If we don’t do anything ... looking at these figures in another 50 years’ time we will not have any wildlife in Kenya,” Wekesa warned as he unveiled

A home from home: saving species from climate change

How can we save some of our most charismatic animals from extinction due to climate change? One US biologist, Camille Parmesan, has a radical suggestion: just pick them up and move them

Picture an elephant in the wild, making its stately progress across the ­savannah, tall grass bending ­beneath its feet. Now ­transplant that image to the American prairie. In one of the most startling new ideas to emerge about ­climate change, a leading conservation biologist is calling for plants and wildlife facing extinction to be saved simply by picking them up and moving them.

Camille Parmesan, a butterfly ­biologist at the University of Texas at Austin, has been monitoring the effects of rapid climate change on ­species – particularly those threatened because they cannot adapt to or ­escape from rising temperatures – for more than a decade now. But her idea for a modern day's Noah's ark remains hugely controversial.

"The idea is that, for certain ­species at very high risk of extinction due to climate change, we should actively pick them up and move them to ­suitable locations that are outside their historic range," she tells me in her ­office at the university campus, near the biology laboratory in which she and her ­husband keep myriad caterpillar samples in the cold store.

Her proposals, once confined to a handful of scientists, are now getting a broader airing as governments begin to grapple with the enormous problem of how to insulate animal and plant life from a warming climate. Shortly after appearing in the Atlantic magazine's

At Sangam, WWF plans to come up with dolphin sanctuary

After its ‘Save Tiger’ campaign for protecting the Big Cat in India, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is now channeling its resources to protect the Gangetic Dolphin — another endangered species in the country.

The Sangam in Allahabad would soon be declared as an international tourist spot as the WWF, the world’s leading organisation for wild conservation, plans to assist the Indian government in developing a world-class Dolphin sanctuary at Sangam.

“A team of six WWF members headed by Sandeep Behna, in-charge of Indian Dolphin, surveyed the entire Ganga stretch in this region up to Mirzapur. The survey found an abundance of Indian dolphins in the region with their number being around 300,” said District Forest Officer S N Mishra.

The WWF team stayed in Allahabad for five days and surveyed stretches across river Ganga, Yamuna and other tributaries in Fatehpur, Kaushambi, Allahabad, Pratapgarh and Mirzapur areas

Calgary Zoo review panel says it wants to 'do it right'

Animal deaths fuel inquiry

Canada's second-largest zoo -- home to more than 2,000 animals on more than 40 hectares of land -- will be scrutinized with a fine-toothed comb over the next two days, says a team of experts from all over North America.

After a series of controversial animal deaths and accidents, the Calgary Zoo has invited five representatives from institutions accredited by the Canadian and U.S. associations of zoos and aquariums to conduct a review and come back with a series of recommendations.

Experts confirmed Tuesday they will spend two and a half days on site this week, including a meeting Tuesday with staff, without management present, where they were invited to speak with experts confidentially.

The scope of the review will include the examination of all animal care policies and procedures, veterinary care, staff training and experience, animal transportation procedures and the inspection of all animal facilities, exhibits and holding areas.

"When we complete our work here, we will compile a report. But we can't say what the timeline will be for that, because we want to do it right," said review team chairwoman Nancy McToldridge, director and chief operating officer at the Santa Barbara Zoo

Strategy to save big cats teaches old dogs new tricks

In a vast wilderness of thorn trees and grasslands on the edge of the Kalahari desert, Peter Knipe farms a menagerie of thousands of animals, from goats and cattle to impalas and giraffes. His most exotic import, however, is a friendly looking dog named Neeake.

Raised with a herd of goats since he was a puppy, Neeake has bonded with the goats so loyally that he guards them with his life. He scans the horizon constantly, searching for predators, keeping the cheetahs and leopards at bay.

Neeake, a Turkish breed known as an Anatolian shepherd, is the latest experiment by Africa's conservationists as they search for new ways to halt the dramatic decline of African wildlife. Because of Neeake, and other dogs like him, the farmers of Molopo River don't need to shoot or trap the cheetahs. The dogs protect the

Cotswold Wildlife Park still going strong at 40

BULL the rhino found out the hard way who was boss when he tangled with one of the Cotswold Wildlife Park’s zebras – and despite his horns and fearsome appearance, he was sent packing.

The dramatic image of one of the former stars of the Burford park’s collection – Bull died aged 41, on January 5 this year – is just one that has been gathered in its archives since the attraction opened almost 40 years ago.

The anniversary of the opening is Good Friday and as part of the celebrations, curator Jamie Craig is appealing for help from visitors to gather old pictures and memories, to create a more detailed record of the park’s

Dallas Zoo investigating second gorilla escape

It's beginning to sound like a joke: Did you hear that another gorilla got loose at the Dallas Zoo?

But nobody was laughing Monday as zoo officials began investigating how a 180-pound, 19-year-old female gorilla managed to escape her locked enclosure Saturday.

Dallas zookeeper suspended after gorilla escape

Officials have suspended a zookeeper who left open a door that allowed a 180-pound gorilla to briefly escape her locked living quarters at the Dallas Zoo over the weekend.

Dallas Zoo Executive Director Gregg Hudson said in a statement Tuesday that the zookeeper failed to verify the area was empty before stepping away to gather cleaning equipment for the enclosure.

Tufani, a 19-year-old gorilla, remained in the gorilla research center Saturday and never reached public areas

Dazzling images, with irony to match

That mesmerizing Olympic opening ceremony last Friday presented to the world the icons that mark British Columbia as a special place.

There was the illuminated spirit bear, evocative of a magical benevolent wilderness presence, important to first nations from the coast to the Interior.

But despite repeated public opinion polls showing citizens want the practice stopped, B.C. continues to slaughter grizzly bears for fun and profit.

An Ipsos Reid poll in 2009 reported 78 per cent of British Columbians oppose the trophy hunting of grizzlies. Bear biologists denounce it because B.C.'s grizzly population is listed as being "of special concern." First nations chiefs from Haida Gwaii to the Great Bear Rainforest of the mid-coast object to the trophy hunt as sacrilegious.

The hunt is hardly sporting. Hunters kill bears feeding at salmon rivers. It's like shooting steers in the feedlot. Last year, 87 per cent of the 430 grizzlies killed were shot by trophy "hunters."

Some estimate that close to 11,000 of


The future survival of Indonesian rainforest species, including the critically endangered tiger and orangutan, is threatened by a European Commission (EC) Directive that will increase the amount of palm oil used in cars and power stations.

A leaked report reveals that a loophole in the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), intended to reduce greenhouse gases, would allow the vast majority of palm oil currently produced to be used in vehicles on UK roads.

Although the aim of RED is to protect wildlife areas by banning the sourcing of fuel from greenhouse gas-sequestering grasslands, wetlands and forests, an exemption means the protection does not apply to habitats changed before January 2008.

Much palm oil comes from plantations that have replaced forests in the past 15 years.

“This leaked document shows the disgraceful attempts to push palm oil through European laws designed to prevent destruction of the world’s forests,” said Adrian Bebb, agrofuels campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth Europe.

“Allowing the expansion of palm plantations to fuel cars and lorries in Europe

Government inspection at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm, which is being investigated for animal cruelty, has been inspected by Government animal health officials.

A team of two animal health inspectors from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) visited the farm, at Wraxall, last week.

The inspectors were at the farm as part of a regular inspection to check documentation relating to endangered species at the zoo farm.

The documents must show where the animals have come from and whether the farm has permission to exhibit them. The visit was not related to any welfare issues regarding the animals.

DEFRA bosses said they could not reveal

Crouching tiger, hidden species? Siberian creatures welcome in the Year of the Tiger as China worries about their extinction

The sight of tigers in the wild in China is becoming increasingly rare, but there are hundreds in zoos around the country.

So as the country came to a standstill this weekend to celebrate Chinese New Year, and see in the Year of the Tiger, it seemed only natural to use several Siberian tigers to welcome visitors to a zoo in Fuzhou in southeast China's Fujian province.

However, the tigers' poses were far from natural, as they were cruelly forced into a series of poses as they made their greeting.

Sitting on their hind legs with their paws in the air, the tigers were made to hold the poses for a lengthy period of time as visitors entered the zoo.

The sight was made even more poignant by news that these majestic creatures are likely to soon be extinct in the country.

Many wildlife species are endangered, but it is now thought that the Wild Tiger is one of the most critically endangered of all.

In the 20th century three of the eight sub-species of tiger became extinct - the Balinese in 1937, the Caspian in the 1950s and most recently the Javan in the 1980s.

The five remaining sub-species, the Siberian, the Bengal, the Sumatran, the Indo-Chinese and the South China tiger, are all critically

Inbreeding threatens survival of 2010's namesake creature

AS Chinese people are embracing the arrival of the Year of the Tiger tonight, zoologists are worried about the survival of South China tigers.

They say the endangered species is facing a serious problem of inbreeding.

The number of captive South China tigers rose to 92 in 2009 from 60 in 2007, but all the tigers were the offspring of six wild South China tigers that were caught more than 40 years ago, said Deng Xuejian, a professor with the Department of Biology of Hunan Normal University in southern China.

"The inbreeding may lead to genetic freaks, low survival rates and poor physical makeup," Deng said.

All the genes have come from two male and four female tigers, which has led to highly identical genes in the offspring, Deng said.

"The situation may reduce the genetic diversity and cause degradation or even the extinction of the species," he said.

The tigers will lose genetic diversity if their genes are too similar, said Ma Zaiyu, president of the veterinary hospital of Changsha Zoo.

"The number of the members of a species should be at least 1,000 to maintain the stability of the species

Lion cubs entertain

THE three African lion cubs that moved into Noah's Ark Zoo Farm two weeks ago have been entertaining visitors with their playful antics.

The youngsters, called Zulu, Masai and Louisa, have been seen playing and climbing in their outdoor enclosure.

To keep them occupied and as part of a special Valentine's activity they were given meat treats hidden inside cardboard gift boxes, which were prepared by visitors.

They have also been given new toys to keep their busy brains occupied.

Big cat keeper Emma Godsell said: "Lion cubs are naturally active and need stimulation to help them develop into strong, happy, healthy adults.

"On hearing how keepers at Linton Zoo used different toys as enrichment for the cubs we decided to buy a selection of exciting balls and rope toys to go alongside their climbing

Three Owls birds being re-homed

A third of the birds at Three Owls bird sanctuary have now found new homes.

Manager Nigel Fowler has contacted all sanctuaries across the UK to try to ensure every one of its 156 birds are re-housed.

On Monday four hens and two cockerels were taken to Rainbow Valley Bird Rescue in Skipton.

Sixty pigeons have been moved to another sanctuary in Skipton and Mr Fowler is in negotiations with an owl sanctuary in the hope that it can take all 47 owls at Three Owls.

Born Free defends Three Owls action

Mr Fowler, who made the decision to close the sanctuary because legislation required it to have a zoo licence or to make costly changes to its operation, is preparing to drive as far as Surrey and Cornwall to rehouse the birds.

He said: "We have had pledges of support from sanctuaries as far away as Scotland.

"It turns out that there are more places for birds than we have got birds and it is expected that they will all be rehoused."

The charity Born Free has issued a statement to the Observer after the controversy - click on the 'Related link' on the right to read it

Mr Fowler is keeping 'social

Born Free defends Three Owls action

The charity whose intervention led to the closure of Three Owls bird sanctuary has defended its actions.

In a statement Born Free said it found it 'distressing' it was being held responsible for the closure after making an 'innocent' enquiry about the sanctuary's legal position.

The charity also insisted the onus was on the council to work with the sanctuary to allow it to stay open.

As the Observer reported Three Owls trustees closed the Norden sanctuary after council officials found it didn't meet zoo licensing requirements.

The charity's statement said: "Born Free strongly sympathises with the situation faced by Three Owls Bird Sanctuary following a routine enquiry regarding licensing made last summer to Rochdale Council. Born Free can confirm that the enquiry was not a complaint and did not mention closure or any other measures nor did it comment on the living conditions for the birds, nor any other aspect of the operation of the sanctuary. It simply enquired about the status of the sanctuary's license under the relevant legislation.

"Born Free recognises the important role that true sanctuaries play in providing rescue and respite for wild animals in need and, under certain circumstances, sanctuaries have been offered exemption or partial exemption from zoo licensing requirements. We would have hoped that the council which, after all, was responsible for not having regularised the situation previously, would have been able to come

Wild tigers on brink but show signs of creeping back

Stalked by extinction, wild tigers show hopeful signs of recovery worldwide, conservation biologists report.

In its new survey, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) looks at eight monitored tiger regions, from Russia to Indonesia. About 3,000 wild tigers roam free worldwide, threatened by hunting and deforestation, the society says. That's down from about 100,000 a century ago.

"There is no place where we don't have cause for concern," WCS CEO Steven Sanderson says. "I do see hope in certain places."

The report grades sites good, fair or poor for tigers, based on field reports. Among findings:

•India. Rated "good." The Western Ghats region holds 400 tigers. "Tigers are benefiting from increased support" by India to halt poaching, the report says.

•Siberia. Rated "fair." The Russia-China border is home to 450 Siberian tigers. "Numbers are declining and, in some places, potentially sharply" because of more poaching, the report says.

•Cambodia. Rated "poor." The Seima Protection Forest, in the Eastern Plains Landscape, holds about 10 tigers. "If breeding tigers still exist, a long-term recovery for the population may still be possible," the report says.

Of the eight sites where the conservation society

Can tigers be moved safely?

The Wisconsin Dells Council approved a permit for an enclosure for Siberian tigers at Chula Vista Resort but raised concerns about safety in transporting the tiger cubs for the magic show at the resort.

The cubs used in Jeremy Allen’s show at the resort are transported daily from the Timbavati Wildlife Park in Lake Delton. Questions about the safety of transporting tigers through the city in the summer were referred to the council’s public safety committee.

The enclosure will have two juvenile tigers in it, who will be there for months at a time, and their enclosure will be by the lobby of the resort.

Mayor Eric Helland referred the question of transporting the animals safety to the committee.

Alderperson Debbie Kinder, who raised the question about transporting the tigers, said they will be transported during the busiest time of the year and asked what would happen if the transport vehicle was in an accident.

Chula Vista CEO Mike Kaminski said he had received an e-mail from Kinder asking the questions before the meeting and had referred it to Mark Schoebel, president of Animal Entertainments Inc., of Neshkoro, who will provide and care for the animals. Kaminski said the cages are approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture which also regulates the care of wild and exotic animals. He also said the cages are approved for international flights.

Kaminski first played a voice mail message for the council from Schoebel answering the questions and then called him on his cell phone to answer the council’s questions.

Schoebel said the crates are a heavy mesh and the same procedure used to transport animals to a zoo are followed in transporting the tigers to Chula Vista. Schoebel was asked if the vehicle had one driver and another person in it and he said one. He was also asked if the cages were crash proof, but did not specifically answer that.

In approving the permit for the enclosure, the city retained the authority to review and revoke it if regulations are not followed.

Kaminski asked what would happen if "uneducated" people complained about the tigers treatment and who the city would use as expert to determine

Zoo responds to AZA report

24-page document calls for new position of registrar to foster communication

In an effort to address its systemic problems, the Topeka Zoo on Monday released an extensive plan of action including the creation of a new position aimed at reducing staff intimidation and timelines for hiring a new director and veterinarian.

The 24-page document, accompanied by more than 50 attachments, was sent to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in response to a recent critical report by the group.

The documents represent a blueprint of the zoo's upcoming presentation to an AZA panel that will decide March 3 whether the zoo retains its accreditation.

The city has moved quickly in the past week to address concerns. Late last week, the city laid off four zoo employees, three of them top management positions. With those moves, the zoo now operates without five of its top six positions.

Shifting the management structure appeared to be a theme of the zoo's response.

"Personnel changes have established a solid foundation for a new leadership team at the Topeka Zoo to restore the trust and confidence

Zoo staff 'looking forward' to independent review

Expert scrutiny follows deaths of animals

A team of experts is expected to arrive at the Calgary Zoo today to launch the second phase of a review examining its animal care practices in the wake of a number of controversial deaths.

"They will be reviewing and looking and inspecting all areas of the zoo and talking to staff," zoo spokeswoman Laurie Herron said Monday.

She said staff generally aren't feeling anxious about the review, rather looking forward to the visit, expected to last at least several days.

"I have spoken with a lot of them and many said they are looking forward to it," said Herron. "It's always good to have an outside person look at things. Sometimes, when we look at things so much we might miss something. We are feeling positive about this."

The scrutiny is self-imposed -- the zoo invited experts from institutions accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which is

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


Here is an interesting snippet from the 2010 International Elephant Conservation and Research Symposium (January 25-29, 2010) which was Co-hosted by the International Elephant Foundation and the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa.

"One very interesting talk on the habitat use by African elephants was presented by well-known South African Dr. Rudi Van Aarde*. Dr. Van Aarde and his colleagues monitored 73 elephants spanning 7 countries over six years using GPS collars. His data shows that elephants “move approximately 6km/day in dry landscapes, down to approximately 3 km/day in the wettest ones”."

Kind of turns some other 'authorities' findings around.


Save The Wild Chinchillas

Save the wild Chinchillas

Planète.D | MySpace Video



On the Taxonomy of the Burmese Python, Python molurus bivittatus KUHL, 1820, specifically on the Sulawesi Population The Indian python, Python m. molurus (Linnaeus, 1758) and the Burmese Python, P. m. bivittatus Kuhl, 1820 are constantly
distinguished by two morphological characters, viz. “supralabials touching eye” versus “complete circumocular ring” and “lanceolate dorsal head pattern indistinct in front of eyes” versus “lanceolate dorsal pattern distinct to tip of snout”. Despite their subspecific status (which requires allopatry or parapatry at least), the latter co-occur as several relict populations within the distribution range of the former (viz. at some sites in North India along the Nepalese border, and in East India in the Bengal region: Barker
and Barker 2008), and, despite their close relationship and their ability to crossbreed in captivity (O’Shea 2007), both maintain their phenotypic identities without interbreeding in nature. This argues strongly for selective pressures against hybridization, which is what we regard as typical for incipient speciation. We therefore once more raise the Burmese Python to specific rank.

Python bivittatus occupies a large distribution area, ranging from Bangladesh and Myanmar through Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and southern China including Hainan Island, to Vietnam. Peninsular Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra are largely free of P. bivittatus, with this area being occupied by the three species of the P. curtus complex. Whether the absence of the former is influenced by the presence of the latter is difficult to say, and to-date, there is no plausible hypothesis to explain this strikingly allopatric pattern between the two species. However, P. bivittatus is found again on some Sunda Islands, viz. Java and its offshore island Nusa Baring, Bali and Sumbawa, perhaps also Lombok. While it would appear clear that the occurrence on Java and Bali is authochthonous, it has still to be demonstrated whether records from Sumbawa (Mertens 1930; M. Auliya, unpubl. data) might be due to human transportation,
ecause Sumbawa and Lombok are situated east of Wallace’s line. The designation of the type locality “Java” by Mertens (1930) is invalid due to the Code (ICZN 1999) because it was fixed without designating a neotype. We stress that in view of the taxonomic problems of this giant snake; designation of a neotype is indispensible
and will be addressed in the course of our ongoing research. However, the records from Sulawesi, known as long ago as in the 1890’s and being restricted only to the southwestern tip of this island, refer to a distinct dwarf form of P. bivittatus which
is described here as a new subspecies: Python bivittatus progschai ssp. n. It is clearly referable to P. bivittatus (rather than to P. molurus) by constantly having a complete circumocular ring (the supralabials thus being separated from the lower orbit) and a lanceolate, dark dorsal head pattern, which remains distinct to the tip of snout. But while P. b. bivittatus on the mainland and on Java and Bali is an extremely large-growing and heavy snake (belonging to the so-called “big four”), specimens from Sulawesi represent a dwarf form not exceeding 2.40 m in total length. Related to this minor size is that the number of eggs per clutch is only about one third or less and the hatchling size only about 50% of those known from P. b. bivttatus. We regard these natural history
data also as diagnostic for P. b. progschai ssp. n. Moreover, we discuss some differences in colour pattern which have, however, still to be verified on the basis of more specimens with reliable locality data. Molecular data will finally reveal the degree of its genetic distinctness in our ongoing studies of these pythons. Finally, the distinct, endemic form of Python bivittatus in SW Sulawesi also poses a conservation problem, and surveys of its population status should be given high priority.



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

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