Zoo News Digest 30th January - 1st February 2010 (Zoo News 644)
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I was delighted to see that the tiger escape in Guwahati Zoo did not end in tragedy in spite of the panic. It is often public and staff panic that can turn a relatively minor incident into a much more serious one. Not that I am suggesting that this was not serious because it most definitely was and one the whole zoo world can and should learn from. I hope that there is a thorough investigation from which the findings are made public. The fact that the zoo is exceptionally busy after the incident does not surprise me at all. These things have a way of drawing in visitors. They do say that there is no such thing as bad publicity in the zoo world and more often than not it proves to be true...especially in cases such as these.
The first link today makes a fascinating read. Conservation successes are always good but when mixed together with a bit of less than the usual excitement it makes them all the more enjoyable.
I note that Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo are now offering internships and I am hoping that this is a good thing. I hope that this internship will include teaching about conservation and captive breeding and maintenance rather than taking from the wild. Sadly this tends to be an extremely important aspect that many aquariums tend to ignore. Just one of my little gripes about aquariums but I am sure Dubai is not in that group. The Dubai Aquarium has only been up and running since November 2008 but is extremely popular and had its 1,111,111th paid visitor in the summer of 2009. The aquarium presently holds the Guinness record for the 'World's Largest Acrylic Panel'. I hope that I will get an opportunity to visit one day.
Sad to see that Jersey Zoo is having problems once again. I hope that they are able to sort everything out with the minimum impact on the professional caring staff and conservation programmes.
I was horrifed to read of the dog attacks in Sofia Zoo. Not surprised though and particularly in light of the phases of the moon. In the early days of Al Ain Zoo dogs could be a problem. Their attacks nearly always came when the moon was at its fullest. I scarcely slept at such times but rather slumbered fully dressed and with a rifle by my side. My brain tuned in to the sounds of the zoo I was usually up and out in time to prevent real damage. Not always though because the boundary fence stretched for some miles and even very hard rocky desert is no match for a determined dog. The damage a pack can do in just a few minutes is frightening.
I am sorry but in the right hands a 'bull hook' is simply an extension of the arm. Elephants are large animals and to manage them properly you really need an extra reach. Hooks are not so very different from a shepherds staff. Okay, they do look a bit fearsome but used properly they are harmless. Their design is as old as the semi domestication of elephants simply because they work. There really isn't a better designed tool for free contact work with elephants and they also play their part with protected contact. Sad how some people can be so taken in by others beliefs.
How Bambi Met James Bond to Save Israel's 'Extinct' Deer
It Took Cloak-and-Dagger Effort to Return Creatures From Iran to Biblical Home
On Nov. 28, 1978, as Iran was hurtling toward Islamic revolution, zoologist Mike Van Grevenbroek landed at Tehran's Mehrabad Airport, coming from Tel Aviv, carrying a blow-dart gun disguised as a cane and secret orders from an Israeli general.
His mission: to capture four Persian fallow deer and deliver them to Israel before the shah's government collapsed.
It marked the daring climax of a years-long cloak-and-dagger effort to reintroduce the animals of the Holy Scriptures of Judaism to Israel.
In December 2009, Israeli wildlife officials added another chapter to the endangered ruminant's unlikely comeback when they released four descendants of those original deer into the Jerusalem hills. The animals joined the nearly 500 fallow deer that now roam freely in Israel. The deer are the crowning achievement of a program that has also returned biblical onagers, oryxes and ostriches to the wild.
Wildlife preservation was a low priority during Israel's early years of statehood that changed with the passage of a conservation law in 1962. An active-duty general, Avraham Yoffe, a founding member of Israel's pre-statehood militia, the Hagana, and commander of the army division that captured Sharm al-Sheikh in 1956, was appointed head of the newly created Israeli Nature and Parks Authority.
Conservationists say the general, who died in 1983, waged war in defense of wildlife with the same zeal he had brought to the battlefield. The 1978 Iranian "deerlift" remains his most daring feat and his biggest success.
The Persian fallow deer stands about 3 feet tall at the shoulder, with a tawny coat, white spots and flattened antlers like those of a small moose. In the book of Deuteronomy, the deer was listed as one of the hoofed animals the Hebrews were allowed to eat. The Book of Kings says the animal was tithed to King Solomon by his subjects.
The last of the fallow deer in Israel were believed to have been hunted to extinction in the early 1900s. The species was thought to be extinct until the late 1950s, when the deer were rediscovered in Iran.
When Gen. Yoffe learned of the deer's existence, he began courting Iranian officials. He invited the shah's brother, Prince Abdol Reza Pahlavi, who was an avid hunter, to Israel's Negev Desert to hunt the rare Nubian ibex, a desert-dwelling mountain goat found in few places outside Israel. Months later, he arranged a second hunting trip for another senior Iranian wildlife official, Rashid Jamsheed, who bagged an ibex with more than 53-inch antlers, the Safari Club International world record to this day.
It was strictly forbidden to hunt the ibex, but then-Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon, agreed to make an exception for his fellow general's pet project, says Mr. Van Grevenbroek, the Dutch zoologist whom Gen. Yoffe asked to lead the reintroduction effort.
Gen. Yoffe's efforts paid off. In 1978, the prince agreed to give Gen. Yoffe's Nature Authority four fallow deer. Later that year, Gen. Yoffe visited Iran to pick up the deer but had a mild heart attack as soon as he arrived in Tehran, recalls Itzik Segev, Israel's last military attaché to Iran. "As the general was being rolled onto the airplane on his stretcher, he turned to me, clutched my hand, and said, 'Segev, you will get me those deer,' " said Mr. Segev, who is now retired and living in a suburb of Tel Aviv.
In the following months, the Islamic revolution picked up steam. Massive popular protests turned violent. The teetering government declared martial law. In Paris, the Ayatollah Khomeini was preparing for his triumphant return to Iran.
At the Israeli Embassy in Tehran, diplomats and intelligence agents were frantically shredding documents and trying to evacuate the 1,700 Israelis living in Iran, says Mr. Segev. For Gen. Yoffe, the clock was ticking since his deal for the deer would collapse with the shah's government. He dispatched Mr. Van Grevenbroek to help Mr. Segev capture fallow deer.
St. Lucie OKs elephant center project
County commissioners and zoo officials found a way around the elephant in the room to allow such large mammals into St. Lucie County.
Representatives from the National Elephant Center agreed Tuesday to forbid the presence of a criticized training tool on the proposed 326-acre property as one condition for approval of a $4 million project to house up to 10 elephants.
Representatives from national and local animal-rights groups asked commissioners to ban the use of the bullhook, which resembles a fireplace poker, as a condition for project approval. Though plenty of other issues from access roads to disease control were raised, none drew the amount of response as the possible use of the tool.
Although representatives from the National Elephant Center claimed the bullhook could be used in a safe way and would only be used on a small portion of elephants, the group agreed to prohibit the bullhook.
The step paved the way for a 5-0 vote in favor of a project publicly backed by several groups, including the St. Lucie County Chamber of Commerce, while satisfying the demands of the animal-rights groups and the authors of almost 1,000 e-mails sent to each commissioner. Some activists who spoke against the project even
Footfall high in Zoo despite tiger incident
A day after a tigress and her cub sneaked out of their enclosure in the Assam State Zoo cum Botanical garden creating panic, visitors were back thronging the zoo. Sources in the zoo said that visitors had not shied away and like other Sundays the footfall was high.
But if yesterday’s incident was an aberration another problem is being confronted by the zoo authority that has no easy solution. The number of some species is growing, and the zoo is running out of space to display or care for them.
Zoo DFO Narayan Mahanta told The Assam Tribune, “It is a challenge to care for increasing numbers of tigers, leopards, Himalayan black bear, and sambar. These animals require space, and that space is getting scarce”.
The numbers have increased because of breeding
Tiger meal: Decision to release deer in Sunderbans evokes criticism
The state government’s decision to release 63 deer in the Sunderbans to supplement the prey base for tigers has been questioned by an NGO, specialising in wildlife.
Expressing doubt whether the Sunderbans, which according to the last census in 2001 had 274 tigers, the NGO — Nature, Environment and Wildlife Society (NEWS) — in a letter to the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) said there should be a scientific study to ascertain the number of the big cats and to determine the prey base.
Claiming that the release of the deer was being done in an unscientific manner, NEWS secretary Biswajit Roy Chowdhury said, “Determination of the root cause for decline in prey base through a scientific basis is the need of the hour. How is such a step justified when looked at in the long-term?”
But the Field Director of Sunderbans Tiger Reserve (STR) Subrat Mukhjeree defended the government’s decision saying it was done
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo Offers Student Internship Programmes
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall, is now offering much-sought after Internship programmes to students from around the world.
The Internship is designed to provide students with practical working experience on all aspects of managing an aquarium. The programme can also cater to a student’s particular area of interest within the aquarium industry.
Kaltham Abdulla, 23 year-old UAE National, is the first intern at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo. Currently in her final year at the College of Education at Zayed University, Kaltham has undertaken a 12-week internship programme, which focuses on the aquarium’s Ocean School.
During her internship, Kaltham’s main project has been to research and contribute to the development of new programmes which will focus on teaching children about conservation and the environment.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo has also accepted another placement for an Australian student of Veterinary Science who will complete a two-week curatorial internship in January 2010.
Mr Damian Prendergast, General Manager, said the Internship is specially envisaged to share Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo’s wide breadth of expertise and experience in aquarium management with the student community, and thus share its extensive knowledge base.
He added: “Aquarium science is a specialised field, and as one of the world’s largest aquariums with over 33,000 aquatic animals, we have unmatched practical knowledge in managing them. With the Internship programme, we are offering a unique opportunity for students to gain hands-on knowledge about the various aspects of aquarium management and the diverse aquatic species.”
On her experience as intern, Kaltham, who has previous teaching experience, said: “I chose to intern at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo because of the new experience it provides, especially in teaching school children. The edutainment classroom at the Aquarium is a new experience and will greatly benefit students.”
Secondary or university students from around the world can apply for this Internship. Students must be 16 years of age and above, and preference will be given to those currently studying Marine Science, Teaching or Tourism subjects.
The programmes require a high level of commitment from students who will be requested to commit a minimum of two weeks, with a total of 40 hours per week. Participation is totally voluntary.
Interns must be prepared to participate in ‘hands on’ learning, which may involve animal food preparation, cleaning or even getting wet. Due to the health and safety of the animals, they will not have any direct contact with any animal during their internship.
On completion, students will walk away from the programme with practical working experience and a better understanding of what is involved in working in an Aquarium. Students can also request to continue working at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo on a voluntary basis, subject to management approval.
“We hope that Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo can contribute to the education of the next generation of teachers, aquarists and business professionals,” Mr Prendergast added.
Applications can be made at Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Short-listed candidates will be contacted for an interview.
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is one of several
Altruistic Chimpanzees Adopt Orphans
Chimpanzees can be altruistic just like humans, according to a new study that found 18 cases of orphaned chimps being adopted in the wild.
The kind-hearted chimp parents were discovered in the Taï forest in the West African country Ivory Coast. The adoptive caregivers, both male and female, devoted large amounts of time and effort to protecting their young charges, without any obvious gain to themselves.
"I don't know of any other cases of unrelated orphans being adopted," said research leader Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. He said the young chimps had lost their genetic parents to predation, injury
Endangered animals get new lease of life in Singapore
Sporting spiked hair and silver earrings, Samuel Tay hardly looks like a typical midwife.
The 25-year-old zookeeper beams with quiet pride as he watches over his "babies" -- row upon row of snakes bred for Singapore's popular zoo.
"These are my kids. Why do I need kids when I have so many already?" he told AFP, gesturing to tanks where newborn reptiles, including some from highly endangered species, receive tender loving care.
From jaguars and chimpanzees to Komodo dragons and manatees, heavily urbanised Singapore is gaining a reputation as a successful nursery for some of the world's rarest animals.
With a breeding programme for 315 species, around one in six of which are threatened, the Singapore Zoo is seeing a steady stream of locally born additions to its collection, currently numbering more than 2,500 animals.
Tay, a zoologist by training, is one of Singapore's frontline warriors in the
Cheetahs unwell in Junagadh, Singapore Zoo is being consulted
Four Cheetahs at Junagadh’s Sakkarbag zoo that were brought from Singapore zoo in March – 2009 in exchange of Gujarati Gir Lion are under medical treatment due to problem occured in Membranous tube and lever.
Junagadh’s Sakkarbag zoo is India’s only zoo that possesses Cheetahs presently. Earlier all efforts to keep Cheetahs in any India zoo invited failure in last several decades and Cheetahs
Tell her you love her with a penguin painting
Tired of giving roses, chocolates and lingerie on Valentine's Day?
Well, Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration may have the gift for you.
For $124.99 each the aquarium is selling 30 original paintings created by two of its mated African penguin pairs.
The framed and matted 16- by 20-inch paintings were created by Green-Blue and Green-Black, who have had three chicks over five years, and Gray-Silver and Yellow-Red, who have been a pair for 12 years. The penguins are named for the identification bands on their legs.
Each pair creates a painting by
Win-win as grandma bears down to save dancing animals
A shocking discovery prompted a suburban grandmother to act and rally others. Mary Hutton has rescued more than 600 Asian bears, saving them from cruel practices and ending up on menus, writes Julie Miller.
For Raju the sloth bear, it is just another working day as he walks obediently behind his master, rope taut through his nostrils and jaw bound by a leather muzzle. But little does he know that at the end of this dusty road near Bangalore, India, lies a very different future; no longer will he be forced to stand on his hind legs, jigging in parody of a Bollywood dance to earn a pittance for his owner. Instead, animal welfare history is about to be made.
Standing outside the gate of the Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Centre on this mid-December day is Mary Hutton, founder and chief executive of Free the Bears Fund, an Australian wildlife charity. Tears well in the Perth grandmother's eyes as a transaction is made and the four-year-old bear is led away
Animal park researcher decoding African elephants' 'secret language'
Study could help boost endangered species' successful breeding rate
They're huge, they walk on four legs, and they stuff food into their mouths with their trunks. Like humans, though, they like to hang out together and "talk."
Someone is watching and listening when they do.
And it didn't take that someone long to discover that female African elephants in a herd at the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park talk a heck of a lot more than anyone realized.
Dr. Matt Anderson, the park's acting director of behavioral biology, has been recording eight of the elephants' vocalizations for one 24-hour period per week for about 10 weeks, then overlaying the sounds with information about their movements and behavior.
He said last week that the project is already producing big surprises: Female elephants tend to be chatterboxes and their ranking in the herd plays a role in how vocal and active they
Food for thought at Chester Zoo
CHESTER Zoo is inviting all visitors to learn more about food plants everyday during half-term week as part of the Food For Thought event.
Families will have the opportunity to pot their own food plant such as curry, mint and strawberries and use a ‘food for thought’ food trail sheet as they walk around the zoo.
Visitors can also enjoy two presentations on elephants and an elephant ‘touch’ table so they can get to grips with elephant artefacts.
The event will highlight how food directly links to conservation and will discuss how the zoo uses chilli plants to ease human elephant conflict in its Assam Haathi project in Northern India. Human elephant conflict is a growing problem throughout Asia as elephants are forced to move into agricultural areas as their natural forest habitat is destroyed and human populations expand.
This project aims to educate villagers on how to live alongside elephants peacefully by developing techniques to reduce the existing conflict.
Mark Sparrow, curator of botany and horticulture
Jersey zoo redundancies 'will impact conservation'
Job losses at Durrell zoo will affect its conservation and fundraising efforts, the charity has said.
On Friday 10 staff members were handed official redundancy notices following the conclusion of a "consultation process" with employees.
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's chief executive officer said it had been a "tremendously difficult day".
Paul Masterton said the redundancies were essential to make sure the trust can go on into the future.
Durrell, orginally named Jersey Zoo, was founded by author and naturalist Gerald Durrell in 1959 with a mission to save species from extinction.
Earlier this month zoo bosses announced jobs would be cut because the centre faced a significant
Pack of Stray Dogs Tears to Pieces Rare Animals in Sofia Zoo
Rabid stray dogs have ripped up and eaten 13 rare animals in the largest Bulgarian zoo in Sofia.
A total of eight mouflons, four fallow deer, and one doe have been torn to pieces by several stray dogs, the Director of the Sofia Zoo, Ivan Ivanov, announced.
The incident happened last weekend but was not made public until Friday. At 7:30 on Sunday, January 24, 2010, several veterinarians discovered six rabid dogs in the moat of the fallow deer space in Sofia Zoo. The rabid stray dogs were picked up by the Sofia Municipality firm, Ekoravnovesie.
“Don’t ask me how I felt when we were removing the remains of the killed animals. I just cannot overcome what happened. I now come to sleep every night in my office here in the zoo in order to guard the animals,” Director Ivan Ivanov told the Monitor Daily.
In his words, the rabid dogs got in the zoo through a low part of the fence where the zoo borders on a privately-owned parking lot.
He has no explanation of why the guards from the private security
Wildlife Reserves and partners sign MOU to promote conservation message
Biodiversity conservation looks set to get a boost with an agreement signed on Friday by Wildlife Reserves Singapore and three partners – its Conservation Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society and its Singapore branch.
Wildlife Reserves Singapore manages the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and the Night Safari.
Among many projects under the partnership, endangered Giant River Terrapins – which are only a few months old – from the Singapore Zoo, along with their wild cousins in Cambodia, will be part of a Joint Turtle Initiative in Asia.
The Wildlife Conservation Society currently manages 500 conservation projects in more than 60 countries. It also manages five parks in New York City - the Bronx Zoo, New York Aquarium, Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Queens Zoo.
One other project the partnership will undertake is a turtle workshop for specialists in Asia, which will give them the opportunity to take stock of the current situation of endangered turtles in the region, as well as share their conservation strategies.
2010 has been designated by the United Nations as the International Year of Biodiversity, and in the spirit of that, all four organisations said they hope the collaboration will tap into the knowledge from all four sides, and will help enhance global conservation efforts.
The parties also committed to exchanging best practices and technical expertise, along with promoting public awareness about the importance of preserving global biodiversity.
Ward Wood, chairman of the Wildlife Conservation Society
Refurbishing Ragunan Zoo
The government's plan to invite wealthy citizens to take part in adopting Sumatran tigers has sparked controversy, with animal conservationists seething at the offer.
And while the tiger adoption program is still much debated, we therefore offer an alternative for wealthy Jakartans who are interested in animal conservation. They can play a part in improving the well-being of thousands of animals housed at the 30-hectare Ragunan Zoo in South Jakarta.
The animals' well-being currently relies much on taxpayer money, as revenue from ticket sales cannot cover the zoo's overhead. In fact, the zoo has great potential to independently cover all its daily expenses if serious efforts were taken to exploit its existing resources.
Rich animal-loving Jakartans do not need to directly donate their money to the zoo. Instead, they can help the zoo management dig up the site's great potentials so that it will no longer be a second-class tourist attraction, which it currently is.
Ragunan Zoo is the one place that people from all walks of life can afford to enjoy their leisure time in. It is always crowded with Jakartans and those living in neighboring areas, particularly on weekends and national holidays. Unfortunately, the trademark of Ragunan Zoo as a low-cost recreation site has had both negative and positive consequences.
Charging a relatively cheap entrance fee is good on the one hand because it makes it affordable for most Jakartans, including low-income families who surely also need a place to relax and escape from the daily grind. On the other hand, many high-income families are reluctant to come as they consider the zoo a less-prestigious hangout for them.
We believe that Ragunan Zoo, which opened in 1966, can become a prestigious tourist destination suitable for all visiting families. It not only displays animals inside their enclosures, but also has integrated education facilities that help visitors - mainly children - make direct contact with the animals or watch movies about them in the mini theater.
With financial assistance from rich Jakartans, the management can start the refurbishment program by converting the slum image of the zoo, including the dozens of poorly furnished food stalls situated near the parking lots and the main entrance, which have made the zoo a less prominent tourist attraction site.
Another area of concern is the poor state of sanitation inside the zoo, which contributes most to its slum image. Here, the management can add trashcans to prevent visitors disposing of their waste all over the place.
The last bit is an optional but important measure to attract more visitors. The management, with the donors' money, can initiate the construction of eco-friendly supporting facilities, such as open-air meeting facilities, meeting rooms, ample restaurants and other venues that will allow people to hold gatherings within the zoo compound.
All those efforts are aimed at lifting the image of Ragunan Zoo as a prestigious urban tourist attraction as well as optimizing its potential. Rather than getting involved in the heated debate over the Sumatran tigers adoption program, it would be better for rich animal-loving Jakartans to lend
Leopard victim of Moscow housing dispute
A pet leopard named Cleopatra has become the latest victim of a bitter housing dispute in Moscow where residents are fighting to save their riverside houses from demolition.
The leopard, which lives in a cage at a housing development in northwest Moscow, faces eviction and confiscation as its owner's house is due to be demolished by city authorities.
The big cat's plight prompted Russia's natural resources ministry to declare on Friday that Cleopatra, which grew up in captivity, should be removed from its owner and given to a zoo or rehabilitation centre.
"The Natural Resources Ministry expresses its concern at the fate of the leopard," the ministry said in a statement.
"The only answer is for the animal
Panel investigating animal deaths at Calgary zoo to begin work soon:official
A five-member panel that has been appointed to look into animal deaths at the Calgary Zoo could get down to work by the middle of next month.
Laurie Herron, a zoo spokeswoman, says the five members of the review panel have been chosen.
Their names haven't been released.
The panel members were chosen by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, based in Washington, D.C., and its Canadian affiliate.
The zoo has been the subject of controversy for several animal deaths in recent months.
One mule deer broke its neck last month after running into
Saigon, Australia's last living elephant, a relic of the past
AUSTRALIA'S last living circus elephant cuts a hulking, forlorn figure.
Saigon lives out of the back of a truck for 10 months of the year, traveling from town to town with Perry Bros Circus and Zoo.
The last of her four female friends died at Christmas and, at 55, she has never known a male, nor produced a calf.
Too old to perform tricks, Saigon still has to hit the road with the rest of the menagerie as the show must go on.
Bunkered down at Point Cook on the outskirts of Melbourne for a few days, she stood on the dustbowl of vacant land where the circus has pitched its big tent.
Surrounded by an electric fence with a few bales of hay, she shuffled from foot to foot, slowly swaying, and with no rain or nearby pool, idly blew dust over her broad back to filter out sun.
Two tigers escape from Guwahati zoo, tranquilised later
Two adult tigers Saturday escaped from an enclosure at the Assam State Zoo in Guwahati, triggering panic among nearly 10,000 visitors who were inside the zoo at that time, wildlife officials said.
A zoo spokesperson said the two big cats managed to sneak out of their iron enclosure when three animal keepers were disinfecting it by opening one of the cage doors.
'The two tigers came out of the enclosure and started walking lazily in the open leading to great amount of panic and fear,' zoo warden Narayan Mahanta told IANS.
The zoo, the only one in Assam, was teeming with people with an estimated 10,000 visitors inside the premises when the two tigers walked out of the enclosure.
'We immediately evacuated the visitors and tried to locate
Breeding birds of prey in Liberec ZOO
Return of the Tahr
The Sad and Sickening Story of Erbil Zoo
Young Lions To Noah's Ark Zoo Farm
Dogs Attack and Kill Zoo Animals
Panic in Zoo as Tigers Escape