Monday, March 22, 2010

Zoo News Digest 19th - 22nd March 2010 (Zoo News 658)

Zoo News Digest 19th - 22nd March 2010 (Zoo News 658)

Dear Colleagues,

Harry Schram kindly posted an explanation in Zoo Biology from Antwerp Zoo with regards to the Unfortunate Incident with the Reindeer. As the video had been posted in a number of locations I have re-posted the explanation below.

Also with regards to my comments in the last Zoo News Digest on the story about Dubai Zoo there was a letter from Dr Reza Ali Khan. This is also posted below.

The story below about the poachers removing the rhino horn without killing the animal I found very sad especially as it still ended in tragedy. One wonders why the poachers did not kill the animal as is the general rule. Was it just to avoid the sound of gunshot? Or because they planned to return in a few years and re-harvest? Or did one amongst them actually care? I don't suppose we will ever know.

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Singapore Zoo Goes African this March Holidays with ‘Africa Hooves and Horns’ Tour
An African getaway is set to become reality as Singapore Zoo introduces Africa Hooves and Horns, a guided tour for participants to explore the world of the white rhino along ‘Wild Africa’. The special Behind the Scenes feature will allow participants to come up close with this magnificent species and discover more about the treatment they receive. The tour will commence on 13 March 2010.
The two-hour Africa Hooves and Horns tour will transport visitors via buggy to the Wild Africa trail where they will get to experience the first ever in Asia white rhino feeding session. In addition, visitors will learn more about other animals from the African continent such as the giraffes, lions, zebras, and cheetahs.
“The white rhinoceros is an animal which has survived millions of years. Today, it is considered a threatened species. Vigilance is needed to ensure that it does not go on the brink of extinction. We hope with the new Africa Hooves and Horn programme at Singapore Zoo, more can be gleaned on conservation through the guided tour,” said Ms Isabel Cheng, Director, Sales, Marketing and Communications, Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
The guided tour, which begins at 12.45pm, will also introduce visitors to various specimens such as a rhino horn and ostrich egg.
Registration fee for adult and child (7 years and above) is at S$100 per person and registration is required one week in advance. All participants of the guided tour will walk away with exclusive tour mementos.
At the same time, those who are up for more feeding action will be delighted

Rhino poaching surge in S.Africa linked to organised crime
The rhinoceros walking down the road at South Africa's largest game reserve had no horns, one of the few to survive a surge in poaching that has sent killings to a 15-year high.
A startled tourist alerted game rangers to the animal, the first time a poached rhino had been found still alive at Kruger National Park.
"That was really the first case that I know of where we found a rhino which the horn was removed and it was struggling on the road," said Kruger spokesman William Mabasa.
His theory is that poachers used a tranquiliser to let them remove the rhino's horns silently.
Although the animal survived the amputation, veterinarians were unable to save its life.
"They eventually had to destroy it because the wound was rather too big," Mabasa said.
Two rhinos at a nature reserve near Pretoria suffered a similar fate earlier this month after poachers overdosed them with tranquilisers.
Their fate is emblematic of an insidious turn in the poaching trade, a top agenda item at the general assembly of the 175-nation wildlife treaty CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) underway in Doha.
Black-market demand for rhino horn has soared in the past several years, largely due to the economic boom in east and southeast Asia, where the horn is used for medicinal purposes.
That surge in demand has combined with endemic poverty in many rhino habitats to push rhino poaching worldwide to the highest levels seen in 15 years, according to the wildlife monitoring group Traffic.
South Africa and neighbouring Zimbabwe are responsible for 95 percent of the poaching, Traffic said.
Now conservation experts and South African parks officials say international crime syndicates have entered the trade.
The syndicates sponsor organised hunts and, increasingly

Fungus affecting frogs, salamanders found in R.I.
A fungus that has decimated frog and salamander populations around the world was found in some Rhode Island amphibians last summer. Since then, local ecologists have invited a scientist working on saving amphibians in Panama to speak at their annual conference April 8 at the Quonset O Club.
Edgardo Griffith, director of the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center in Panama, will be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the 2010 Rhode Island Natural History Survey Ecology in Rhode Island Conference.
He wrote in one recent paper that “massive amphibian die-offs” have been well documented, prompting new conservation programs and radical alternatives in Panama and other parts of the world “to give some of the most amazing creatures on earth an opportunity to survive.”
Co-sponsors are Roger Williams Park Zoo, the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Natural Resources Science and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Other speakers will be Tim Georoff of Roger Williams Park Zoo; Carlos Rodriguez of the Wildlife Conservation Society; and Eric Baitchman of Zoo New England in Boston. Moderator will be David Skelly of Yale University.
The conference will focus on the chytrid fungus and ranavirus, another pathogen that has been detected in Rhode Island frogs.
There will be a discussion of the chytrid study done in Rhode Island last year, ranavirus in wetlands in Rhode Island and New York state, the historical presence of the pathogens, as well as posters and displays.
The conference is titled “Emerging Threats to Amphibian Conservation in New England with Attention to Chytrid & Ranavirus.”
Also, the 2010 Distinguished Naturalist Award presentations will be made.
Based on an assessment in 2004 by the World Conservation Union, one-third to one-half of the 6,000 species

Farming the tiger to extinction?
With captive tigers in China’s breeding units now outnumbering those in the wild throughout Asia, the Chinese government’s attitude to the trade in tiger parts could be crucial to the survival of the species
THE DISCLOSURE that, so far this year, 11 Siberian tigers have died of starvation or been shot at a zoo in China has placed under further scrutiny the controversial breeding facilities, or tiger farms, first established in China back in the 1980s. There are approximately 6,000 captive tigers held in 200 breeding units around China, almost double the number of wild tigers that now remain across the whole of Asia.
The deaths of captive animals at the mainly privately owned Shenyang Zoo raised suspicion that the tigers had been slaughtered for their body parts and bones, an accusation denied by management. Nevertheless, the controversy about how these tigers died brings their fate into timely focus in a week when members of the Convention of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) are attending a special conference in Doha, Qatar.
One of the issues up for discussion there is the illegal trade in tiger parts and the controversial existence of tiger-breeding facilities. “The general public do not appreciate just how close we are to losing the tiger,” says John Sellar, chief of enforcement at CITES. “It’s got to the point where it’s very questionable whether it’s now a genetically viable species.”
Tiger farms started appearing when China’s native tiger vanished in the wild. The extermination of the south China sub-species had provided an endless supply of tiger parts for use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). When the reserve of tiger carcasses finally dried up in the late 1980s, TCM practitioners were forced to look elsewhere for their supplies, which led to an increase in the poaching of tiger populations in India and Sumatra.
Counsellor Lan Heping, at the Chinese embassy in Dublin, explains: “In the development of TCM, people found the medicine values of the tiger bone could invigorate the circulation of blood . . . drive away stroke and strengthen bones. Tiger-bone plaster and tiger-bone wine used to be an important part of TCM and were used for almost 1,000 years. Since 1993, China has never approved any use of tiger bone for medical purpose and

Baby elephant born at Berlin Zoo
Baby Asian elephant calf Bimas made his first public appearance today at the Tierpark in Berlin, Germany.

The four-day old elephant was born on 15 March to mother elephant, Cynthia.
He weights 194 kilograms and stands 94cm tall.
Bimas is the 16th elephant to be born at the zoo, Europe's largest landscaped zoo, since 1998 as part of its successful Asian elephant breeding and

Alligator found 20 miles out to sea swimming with whales
If you were a shipwrecked sailor lost 20 miles out to sea, you'd probably imagine having a lot more dire things to worry about than getting chomped by a 5-foot freshwater alligator-- but think again.
In a bizarre discovery, researchers with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources were out conducting a study on North Atlantic right whales when they came across something they'd never expect to find so far out at sea: a Georgia alligator.
According to the report, the first to spot the wayward gator were whale observers Monica Zani and Heather Foley, who at first thought they were looking at a partially submerged tire or perhaps a dead alligator carcass washed out to sea. When the boat was pulled in closer, however, the researchers were surprised to see that the animal was still alive and able to swim.
"Heavy rains that washed marsh wrack and other debris miles into the sea from the mouth

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Xiamen Haicang Safari Park to relocate to Xiang'an
Haicang Safari Park, or Haicang Wildlife Zoo will be relocated to Xiamen’s Xiang’an District this year, Mr. Ke Zhimin, governor of Xiang’an District told a conference Tuesday.
Covering an area of 180,000 square meters, Haicang Safari Park currently has more than 1000 wild animals of over 70 kinds.
The new site will be located at Neicuo Town of Xiang’an, with an estimated area of 860,000 square meters, more than 3 times larger than the current one.
The whole project involves a total investment of 700 million yuan, integrating wildlife displays, scientific research, popular science, catering, leisure and entertainment into one park.
Upon completion, it will be the largest of its

Tiger Deaths Raise Alarms About Chinese Zoos
The local authorities in northeastern China recently took control of a 10-year-old zoo where 11 rare Siberian tigers starved to death, and they are sending experts to try to save the remaining 20 or so tigers, three of which are in critical condition.
The zoo, which is in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province, is fast becoming a symbol of the mistreatment of animals in China, with allegations of misspent subsidies, bribes, and the deaths of at least dozens of animals.
The plight of tigers in China is a central concern of international conservation groups, and recently delegates at a meeting in Doha of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or Cites, approved a voluntary conservation plan for endangered tigers. It calls for tougher legislation in countries

In December 2009, four of the last eight northern white rhinos left on earth were moved from captivity at Dvur Kralove Zoo in the Czech Republic to a new breeding project in Kenya.
Although it is yet to be officially announced, northern white rhinos are now effectively extinct in the wild and the breeding project, based at Ol Pejeta in northern Kenya, represents the last chance to save the species from extinction.
Berry White, formerly Head Rhino Keeper at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent, UK, prepared the rhinos for their journey back to Africa and has been looking after them on a day-to-day basis ever since.
Neil Bridgland spoke to her recently to find out the project is progressing…
NB – So how are the rhinos acclimatising to Kenya after so long in Europe?
BW – The rhinos have acclimatised brilliantly in Kenya since their arrival here in Africa from the Czech Republic on 20th December 2009. It was a pretty big transition for them. The week we left their old home at Dvur Kralove Zoo the temperature was minus 9 degrees. They were only going out from their lovely warm heated

China's Shenyang Zoo closed after tigers starve to death
Employee accuses bosses of making drink from bones of endangered animal
It is the Chinese Year of the Tiger but it has been far from auspicious. China's Shenyang Zoo has closed after 11 Siberian tigers died of starvation or were shot this year amid murky tales of body parts being used for traditional medicinal remedies.
The government has ordered an inquiry into the deaths of the rare Siberian tigers, of which there are only an estimated 300 left in the wild, 50 of them in China. But what has already played out before an enraged Chinese audience is a story of terrible neglect and poorly financed zoos.
The 11 tigers died after they were fed nothing but chicken bones at Shenyang Forest Wild Animal Zoo, according to Chinese media reports this week. Another three listless big cats are shedding fur and have lost their appetites, the Xinhua news agency reported. A further two were shot dead after mauling a zoo worker in November 2009. The tigers are not the only victims of a cash crisis at the mainly privately owned zoological park. Twenty-six animals from 15 species have died this year, including four camels, a lion, a brown bear and a Mongolian horse. In all, the number of animals in the zoo has dropped by half in a decade, according to Xinhua.
Rumours swirled immediately that the tigers had been killed for their bones, which are prized in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Every year there are widespread illegal sales of tiger bones, penises and other parts because many believe that tiger parts can increase potency or cure diseases. A zoo worker, quoted by Xinhua, said the remains of the dead animal were used to make

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This book describes the welfare implications of keeping wild and domesticated birds in captivity. The environmental and social requirements of various avian species are discussed and suggestions made for appropriate housing and management techniques. Particular attention is paid to human-bird interactions and their impact on the behaviour and welfare of the birds involved. Training methods for companion birds are also described. Possible future trends in keeping birds in captivity are discussed in relation to evolving laws and codes for both wild and domesticated birds and in the light of developing ethical attitudes to animals. The book will be invaluable to all those who keep birds including poultry farmers, pet owners, and managers and caretakers of birds kept in laboratories, zoos, wildlife aviaries, and rehabilitation centres. It will also be of great interest to poultry production, zoology, wildlife and veterinary students.

Flat-headed cat of southeast Asia is now endangered
One of the smallest and most enigmatic species of cat is now threatened with extinction.
According to a new study, habitat loss and deforestation are endangering the survival of Asia's flat-headed cat, a diminutive and little studied species.
Over 70% of the cat's habitat has been converted to plantations, and just 16% of its range is now protected.
The cat, which has webbed feet to help hunt crabs and fish, lives among wetland habitats in southeast Asia.
Details on the decline of the cat's range are published in the journal PLoS ONE.
The flat-headed cat is among the least known of all wild cat species, having never been intensively

Nunavut lawmakers vote to ban European booze in seal row
Nunavut lawmakers voted to ban European alcohol in the northern Canadian territory in symbolic retaliation for an EU ban on seal products, a government official told AFP on Wednesday.
However, the motion is unlikely to become law, said Emily Woods, spokeswoman for Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak.
The members of the legislative assembly voted 9-0 in favor of the ban. Aariak and her cabinet abstained over concerns it breaches international trade rules.
"It may also be unhelpful to Canada's WTO (World Trade Organization) complaint with respect to the European ban on seal products," Aariak said in a speech to the legislature.
Figures on how much French wine or British beer are sold annually in Nunavut were not immediately available. But government-run liquor stores sell an estimated total of 1.4 million dollars worth of booze annually, said

Tigers in Africa
Tigers in Africa seems a fanciful thought…but they are there! Though they do not roam completely free in the wilderness, the South China Tiger can be found in carefully managed, large wildland areas in South Africa, the subject of an ambitious effort to rescue it from extinction. The 33,000ha (82,000 acre) LaohuValley Reserve is the centerpiece of Save China’s Tigers experimental bid to breed the South China Tiger and eventually return it to its natural habitat.
This effort has generated significant controversy, so I went there in January to better understand what it is doing and to determine its role in the broad spectrum of conservation work occurring around the globe. I found a valid initiative, doing good work, and fighting two battles simultaneously: one to save a tiger (arguably a sub-species), and (as if that were not enough) another to defend itself against the (sometimes) seemingly endless internal sniping of the nature conservation world. Who needs enemies when fellow conservationists often serve that function?!

I encourage you to go to the SCT website to see details. They’re making progress. I’ll just briefly give my response to some of the “sniping” I’ve heard from

The rare Albino wallaby putting rivals in the shade at wildlife park
A rare albino wallaby has been born at a British wildlife park — despite the owners having no adults with the skin-altering condition.
The tiny joey is still tucked away in its mother Erin’s pouch but will start to venture out on its own when it reaches six months old.
Staff at Seaview Wildlife Encounter say the joey is a ’genetic throwback’ because albinism is most commonly passed from parents to their offspring.
And they hope the young marsupial will prove a huge attraction when the park, which is

Wildlife Reserves appoints Icon for Bird Park, Zoo and Night Safari
Wildlife Reserves Singapore has appointed Icon International Communications as its public relations agency-of-record.
Icon is charged with overseeing the communications business for Wildlife Reserves Singapore’s entities including the Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari and Singapore Zoo, and managing the launch of the river-themed park, River Safari, which is scheduled to open in 2012.
The independent agency is charged with promoting Wildlife Reserves’ attractions both locally and regionally, and highlighting the company’s mission to raise conservation

Zoo admits mix-up in sexes of animals -- again
Sapporo Maruyama Zoo here has announced it failed to identify the correct gender of animals -- again.
The city-run zoo said Thursday it had wrongly determined the genders of 2-year-old lion "Genki" and 1-year-old Yezo deer "Ayumi." This is the second time the zoo has admitted to animal gender mix-ups, following the discovery in November 2008 that two polar bears had been mistakenly identified as male.
"We want to be extremely careful from now on," a zoo official remarked.
Genki, one of a pair of twins born in November 2007, was identified as male by a zoo employee shortly after birth on the ground that the distance between his external genitals and anus was longer than that of his, or rather her, sibling.
However, the zoo conducted a DNA test on Genki because the lion had not developed a mane -- a distinctive characteristics of males of the species -- and no scrotum was visible. The test

Zoo director quits after 25 years
A top Calgary Zoo director who helped the facility mop up after several recent blunders and animal deaths -- including a gorilla that got hold of a knife and a capybara that was crushed by a door -- has stepped down.
Cathy Gaviller, the zoo's director of conservation and research, resigned Wednesday after more than two decades at the facility, saying she wanted to "pursue other opportunities."
The move comes just weeks before the results of a probe into the zoo's operations are expected to be released.
Zoo officials said the decision was a personal one for Gaviller.
"She cares so much about the zoo, she decided moving on was for the best right now," said Simon Scott, director of communications.
Gaviller, who earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Waterloo, joined the zoo in animal care in 1985. Three years later, she joined the apprentice zookeeper program. Over the next 20 years, she worked her way to the senior director's position.
In recent months, as the zoo weathered sharp criticism over a series of bizarre and fatal incidents, Gaviller often spoke to reporters to clarify what happened and reassure the public of the facility's dedication to animal care.
Three days before she resigned, Gaviller spoke on behalf of the zoo after a gorilla nearly escaped from its pen.

Will Mountain View Conservation Centre animals get justice?
There appears to possibly be an attempt to brush all the decision-making about the animal abuse at the Mountain View Conservation Centre in Langley under the rug so that when the permits to keep exotic animals are given out later this month, the Mountain View Conservation Centre (multi-millionaire Gordon Blankstein's private zoo) will be able to get one, since CAZA refuses to decide whether to pull their accreditation even though this has been going on since last November and there is a ridiculous amount of proof of the abuse going on there that is freely available over the internet from the media, and since the Ministry of Environment refuses to take responsibility for giving out the permits themselves like they should and originally had said they would. Please do the following 2 things to help protect animals in BC. Email the Minister of Environment, Barry Penner (  ) & tell him that the Ministry, not a zoo association looking to protect its own like they are doing with the Mountain View Conservation Centre, should be deciding whether someone

Crikeys from beyond the grave
BETWEEN the gates of this world and the next, one might have overheard the odd “crikey!” and “s’truth!” with the late Steve Irwin’s dad Bob telling Woman’s Day he made contact with his son through the magazine’s psychic Deb Webber.
Bob is reported to have felt “goose bumps” after the psychic relayed things that only he and the late great crocodile hunter would have known.
Steve even wanted to know what his dad had done with all the old socks he’d taken.
“We talked about so many things, some too personal to talk about,” Mr Irwin said.
“He told me everything is OK, not to be sad and to keep up the fight, to continue looking after the animals.”
It was not the first time the crocodile hunter and face of Australia Zoo in Beerwah had contacted his family from

PETA: Shelve plans to build dolphinarium
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), an animal rights group, has asked Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to shelve plans to build a dolphinarium in New Delhi, terming it an "unviable idea".
"Dolphins cannot cope with life in captivity. Torn apart from their families, dolphins kept in captivity are confined to small tanks and left to swim continuously in circles in their own diluted urine as their sonar bounces off cement walls," PETA activist Dharmesh Solanki said.
In a letter to the Environment Minister, he said that most captive dolphins live to only half the age of wild dolphins

Zookeeper shares almost similar fate as animals
Clean, feed, clean – this is the routine of Georgetown zookeepers. Risk, minimum wages, and poor facilities are their rewards.
Like the animals imprisoned at this crumbling place, the zookeepers are also being denied their rights. For more than a decade, love for these animals has helped Chip (not the zookeeper’s real name) to endure these harsh conditions.
“The animals,” Chip says while sweeping a cage. “I have a soft spot for the animals. Sometimes I get angry but I feel sorry for the animals, because they’re my friends. I stay here to take care of them and it prevents me from doing something better to make more money.”
Chip is wearing black pants, a t-shirt, long boots and is working with a broom made from the stems of coconut branches. Gloves or even a mask for the dust are not luxuries the Zoological Park offers Chip and other zookeepers.
Shortly after 7am every day Chip, a naturally friendly person, greets everyone while walking to the zoo. Chip is expected at work by 7.30 am. The first thing Chip does is change into the limited gear provided by the zoo.
There is an old building in the compound – it’s made of clay bricks and once housed a medical facility –where the male zookeepers change. The zoo has two female keepers, Chip says, and they have no changing room either. These women change into their shirt, pants and long boots behind some cage or the other in the compound.
“Anyone passing can see the women changing,” Chip explains while taking a break from sweeping the cage, “and it isn’t fair that the women can’t be allowed even that amount of privacy.”
As soon as Chip slips the long boots on it’s time to get into the cages. Every keeper

Building a Future for Wildlife: Zoos and Aquariums Committed to Biodiversity Conservation
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The keeping of zoo animals has become a central tool in the conservation of some of the world's most fascinating, yet threatened, species. But how do zoos operate on a day-to-day basis? What are the key problems zoos face in trying to feed, breed and keep healthy the animals in their care? How do they play their part in conserving biodiversity?

Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management and Welfare addresses the key questions surrounding the keeping of zoo animals, and reveals how we can apply our ever-growing understanding of animal behaviour to ensure zoo animals are managed as effectively as possible.

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From The Blog -

Look to the right and see blog postings. Some of these have not been mailed out by email. Most will have been posted on the Facebook Page however.


2011 Rhino Keeper Workshop

May 15th-18th, 2011

Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

1st Call for papers, Posters and Presentations

Deadline for abstracts: June 1, 2010

Abstracts must include:

-name, address, institution, title of presenter

-Title, topic, objective, methods, results, and conclusion

-Medium (paper, poster, video)

-A/V requirements

-Limit 300 words

-Submit electronically in Word Format

Submit abstracts to

Adam Felts
9990 Riverside Drive
Powell, Ohio 43065


I am including this as it might amuse some - It does nothing for me though


My Comments on Dubai Zoo in the Last Zoo News Digest occasioned a reply from mu colleague Dr Ali Reza Khan which is reproduced in full below:

Dear Peter


1. Dubai Zoo news is absolutely a wrong one because the Xpress newspaper did not cross check the information with the zoo administration before publishing the news.

2. We had additional budget in the 2009 to supplement the cost of the food price that went up exorbitantly in 2008 and the trend started going down by the end of 2009. e.g. chicken was 10 to 11 dirham a kilo that we buy for 6.5 to 7.1 dirham a kilo now; price of 2.5kg Nido powder milk was 65 dirham and now it is 52 dirham when other brands sell for much cheaper price, price of rice was over 6 dirham per kg now it has stabilized at 4 dirham or less, depending upon country of origin. Similarly prices of most animal food have gone down towards the end of 2009 and that is the reason we have reduced the budget.

3. In addition we have started breeding rabbits, Guineapigs, Mealworms, pigeons in the zoo to supplement carnivore food such as beef, chicken and minced meat.

4. We had almost the same budget amount in 2008.

5. Also we are not receiving too many confiscated animals that would consume additional food. During 2009 we have just received a few baby Hamadrays Baboon and 4 ball Python and no large carnivore or primates like lions or tigers, chimp or gorilla that used to consume lots of food costly food. Half of these animals were donated by people and the rest confiscated by law enforcing authorities from pet shops and not from the air- and other ports in the country. This is because Dubai Govt has a stringent policy of not allowing people to bring in wild animals as pet.

Dubai zoo has never compromised its quality of food and med-care facilities nor would it do it in the future.

Best wishes

د. رضا خان
[محمد علي رضا خان ]
إدارة الحدائق العامة والزراعة
بلدية دبي ص. ب 67
الإمارات العربية المتحدة

(: +9714-3027774; 3497280

6: +9714-3358843; 3499437* :

Dr Reza Khan
[Mohammad Ali Reza Khan M.Sc., Ph.D.]
Public Parks & Horticulture Department
Dubai Municipality , P.O.Box-67 Dubai
United Arab Emirates

(: +9714-3027774; 3497280

6: +9714-3358843; 3499437

* :


The Incident with the Reindeer

Dear Peter, Kit, Benay, Doug, Theodore and others,

As a response to all your messages and concerns about the unfortunate reindeer incident at Antwerp Zoo last September, the official statement by the RZSA (Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp) will also be posted on our website in English.

Below you can find the full English text.

Some additional remarks in response to your questions and observations :

* The 3 minute video does not show how the keepers eventually managed to bring both the reindeer and themselves into safety.

* These staff members were indeed experienced keepers, one of them even working 20 years for Antwerp Zoo without a single accident. Probably this incident demonstrates that even many years of experience, training and strict safety protocols cannot always prevent that a combination of panic and self preservation takes over in the event of an
accident. Never before has there been the slightest incident with our reindeer, perhaps this explains that when it did happen it really came as such a surprise.

* Other keepers did come immediately to assist, which is not visible in the 3 minute video.

* All the necessary measures and precautions have been taken to prevent such an incident from happening again.

* All those involved have taken the opportunity to learn from what has happened.

Jolf the reindeer buck is doing fine and so are our keepers Sabine and Bart who would like to thank their colleagues for all the sympathy, understanding, advice and constructive criticism.

Kind regards,

Harry Schram
Antwerp, Belgium

Official statement by RZSA :

Unfortunate encounter between human and animal at Antwerp Zoo

On September 21st of last year, a male reindeer and its keepers had an unfortunate encounter. The event was recorded on video and posted on YouTube by one of our visitors. The incident fortunately left both the male reindeer (the ‘bull’) and the caretaker without permanent injuries.

Until this incident, our keepers had not experienced any problems with this bull reindeer. However, a rutting reindeer can be dangerous. It is likely that the bull reindeer was defending its females and saw the animal keeper as competition and attacked her. In an attempt to fight off the animal, the zoo keeper injured her neck. Using their antlers to attack, reindeer can be hugely powerful. Reindeer antlers consist of bony material with an edgy, hard structure and – after shedding the velvet - do not contain nerves or
blood vessels.

The animal keeper panicked and tried everything to fight off the animal to avoid getting more injuries. Her colleagues jumped in to help. In their attempts to ward off the reindeer they were led by emotion and self-preservation. However, after a few minutes the keepers were able to isolate the male reindeer in a holding area. Fortunately, the incident left both the keeper and the animal without permanent injuries.

The RZSA (Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp) regrets this incident of September 2009 and immediately took measures to avoid this happening again. The reindeer enclosure, holding area and gate system have been adjusted as such, allowing the keepers to service the enclosure without coming into direct contact with a bull reindeer in rut. The safety protocol has been reinforced.

17 March 2010

Harry Schram

Schijfwerpersstraat 107
B-2020 Antwerpen 2 - België
telefoon +32 476 43 26 62


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