I note that concern for the animals in Chile is now taking place. Having seen the damage done by the earthquake to my friend Nicole's house I just begin to get an inkling of the damage elsewhere in the country.
Thank you for the three donations to the Digest this week. Very much appreciated.
Several Zoo Vacancies posted in the past few days. Click HERE
Boy dies after a puma bites his hand off
A boy of seven has died after being attacked by a puma at a zoo in Peru.
It happened when Joseph Obregon Balbin stuck his hand in the animal's cage at the wildlife park in the city of Abancay.
The puma bit down on the boy's hand, tearing off his arm.
Joseph's older sister was also injured as she tried to help her brother.
The children were taken to a nearby hospital where Joseph later died.
The authorities have ordered an inspection of the zoo's safety measures but its manager insists the boy's parents were negligent because they should have
Iran agrees to give Russia wild leopards
Iran has promised to donate two wild leopards to Russia, officials said Sunday, bringing closer the aim of settling the rare animals near the 2014 Winter Olympics host city of Sochi.
The reintroduction of the Persian leopard -- extinct in Russia's Caucasus region since the start of the last century -- is being championed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ahead of the games.
"There is an agreement with the government of Iran... Initially two female (leopards) will be given. They will be delivered in the spring," the head of the Sochi National Park, Nikolai Penkovsky, told the Interfax news agency
The inititaive to reintroduce the leopard is part of a drive to promote the mountainous region around Sochi, marking the western edge of the Caucasus mountains, as an area of natural beauty and diversity.
The agreement with Iran follows a visit to Tehran by
The only man who could tame hippo horror Harry
THE ONLY person able to tame Coventry Zoo’s infamous Harry the hippo died in Spain last year.
But efforts to trace John Vose have shed a fascinating light onto the life of an eccentric man who loved animals.
The former head keeper saved the lives of two young keepers nearly killed by the two tonne hippopotamus in attacks at the former zoo in Whitley.
John was known to be the only person able to control the volatile beast after working with him from a young age at Chipperfield’s touring circus.
Now friends and former colleagues of John have paid tribute to the animal lover who retired to Spain before his death last year.
The hippo first mauled 17-year-old keeper Richard McCormick, who was dragged into Harry’s pool in 1966 and thought to be the only known survivor of such an attack.
Richard, now 61, contacted the Telegraph desperate to track John down after he freed him from Harry’s huge jaws using an iron bar.
In 1967, 15-year-old Paul Blatch was crushed
Dogs killed 17 flamingos Sunday night at Baton Rouge Zoo
Baton Rouge Zoo officials are investigating the death of 17 flamingos that were killed Sunday night by dogs that found their way into the zoo.
Zoo Director Phil Frost, in a statement Monday, says their staff is deeply saddened by the loss. He says the collection of flamingos took years to develop
Ex-employee says Six Flags has let crisis team founder
Six Flags Discovery Kingdom may be courting disaster by allowing its trained animal escape team to dwindle to nearly nothing, says former employee Dale Udell.
The rifle team is meant as a last resort in case a potentially dangerous animal gets loose and/or attacks someone, as happened on Christmas Day in 2007 at the San Francisco Zoo, where an escaped tiger killed a man, said Udell, the team's former leader.
He also noted the death last week of a trainer who was attacked by a killer whale at Orlando's SeaWorld.
Discovery Kingdom, which also has orcas, maintains whale safety protocols, spokeswoman Nancy Chan said.
The rifle team is something most people are unaware of, Udell said.
"No one wants anyone to misconstrue the reason for the team, and we weren't supposed to go out and talk about the team, though they didn't say we couldn't talk about it," Udell said.
In 2008, the park's rifle team had 14 members and engaged in regular training and drills, Udell said. It is down to two members now, and there have been no drills or training sessions in more than a year, he said.
Udell said he was fired in 2008 in retaliation for pulling his dive team from water that was too cold.
Chan strongly denied suggestions that park safety procedures may be sub-par. She said the park's had an animal escape team since it opened.
"The safety of our guests, staff and animals is our top priority," she said. "As part of our standard
Giant Panda Cub Leaves Mom for Good
After 18 months together, giant panda cub Xi Lan will gain his independence and become permanently separated from his mother on Monday morning at Zoo Atlanta.
"From a mom's standpoint, it's kind of sad," said zoo visitor Renee Blackmar of Cumming. "It's so different. We get our children for 18 years before we get this, right?"
But giant pandas are considered solitary animals.
Weaning for a cub at Xi Lan's age of 18 months is considered completely natural.
"It's like 18 months, that's too little," said visitor Ursula Spackman of West Cobb. "But I guess that's the way it works in nature."
Sunday was the last day of a gradual separation process that started a few weeks ago.
Each day Lun Lun and Xi Lan have spent more time apart.
It's the same process successfully used to wean Mei Lan from Lun Lun. The process was developed by the San Diego Zoological Society.
"Eventually, he won't be with
White Tigers on show from today
The new tenants at the Dehiwela National Zoological Gardens – a pair of White Tigers from China’s Ziang Jiang Safari Park – will be on display from today, March 2.
The Zoo’s Education Officer, Nihal de Silva Senerath, told The Island yesterday that the two white tigers had been tamed and anybody could stroke them. "Though they are less than two years old, they are well grown and certainly would be a special addition to the zoo because, we never had white tigers before," he said
The two animals arrived in Sri Lanka on February 24 under an Animal Exchange Programme. "We gave a male chimpanzee, a pair of Silver Leaf monkeys and two pairs of Toque Monkeys. Certainly it was a favourable deal our part," he said.
According to Nihal, Tigers are the biggest
Perth Zoo must be privatised
With the Barnett government set to privatise everything but the kitchen sink, late crocodile hunter Steve Irwin shows why Perth Zoo must be on the hit-list.
In December, the government's Economic Audit Committee razor gang made 43 recommendations aimed at streamlining WA's public sector.
Many of the recommendations were about getting community groups to step up to the plate and make the state less dependant on the government.
Zoos elsewhere, and Perth Zoo's failure to address any real market failure, indicate it should be shifted from the government to the private, or at least community, sector.
Queensland's Australia Zoo - founded in 1970 by Irwin's mum and dad - is privately owned.
It may be a tad Hollywood, but the zoo's "give 'em what they want" approach has proved a winner in convincing tourists to pour money into the Queensland economy.
Australia Zoo has bagged a swag of national tourism awards, and is continuing Irwin's conservation legacy.
Likewise, the National Zoo & Aquarium in Canberra is privately owned and ranks with Federal Parliament House as one of the capital's most popular attractions.
Its combination of major zoo and aquarium is unique in Australia and the facility participates in many breeding programs for endangered species.
And, importantly, it does not drain the nation's coffers.
I'm sure Perth Zoo is doing an equally good conservation job.
But its public ownership contributes not one iota to its tourism potential - because there
The elephant and india: Tusker tales
Halid haathivala is used to curious onlookers, as are his wards. Basking in the winter sunshine by the Yamuna, recovering from a long night of ceremonial work at Delhi weddings, his three elephants are being gawked at by children from a nearby school. Minders warn them to behave, as Khalid and his colleagues go about feeding the beasts.
A special sight for most Indians still, these majestic animals appear to have fallen out of favour in more elite circles. Many critics now routinely carp at India being commonly characterized as a 'lumbering elephant'.
This label may be traced to media reports from the late 1970s, when several South East Asian nations began rapidly industrializing, and China began its ascent to economic superstardom. Experts soon began conjuring up an entire menagerie of beast metaphors.
Booming East Asian 'tiger economies' were contrasted with a 'slow' Indian 'elephant', hobbled by its infamous 'Hindu rate of growth'. Thirty years later, much is now made of competition between a roaring Indian economy and the mighty Chinese 'dragon'. Many feel a tiger would now be a better symbol for a new India.
Such angst is misplaced. For a nation vast in every way, the elephant metaphor is apt. Besides, while the elephant is a substantial reality, the dragon is a mythical creature — an appropriate comment on some of China's economic statistics?
Unlike the larger African elephant, fiercer and notoriously untamable, the Indian elephant (elephas maximus indicus) — distinguished by its smaller ears and prominent forehead — has always been easier to domesticate. That's largely why it has had a special hold on the subcontinent's collective imagination. Mythology, religious tradition and history here positively abound with distinctive elephant motifs — usually representing divinity, strength and fortitude.
One strain of divinity leads to Ganesha, elephant-headed destroyer of obstacles and lord of good beginnings. Pot-bellied with a taste for sweets, and granted a rat as vahana, Ganesha's symbolism is as diverse as his many depictions. The elephant and the rat denote the overcoming of opposites — a richly meaningful theme in Hindu tradition. Not surprisingly, Ganapati is one of India's most popular deities.
Elephants are everywhere in other Hindu myths too. Lakshmi is often depicted with elephants, hence Gajalakshmi. Airavat, Indra's winged white, four-tusked vahana, was one of eight ashtadikpalakas created by Brahma from a ball of mud to guard various celestial realms. In one account, crimes of passion — involving the usual mix of comely apsaras, angry sages and guilty gods — led to a fall and the elephant's arrival on earthly planes.
The Mahabharata, greatest of Indian epics, is stuffed with the elephant motif. Ganesha, legend holds, played scribe to Vyasa — using a pen fashioned from his tusk. Mighty Bheema's strength is often compared to many elephants. And, in Indian literature's most infamous instance of distortion of fact, it is the death of an elephant named Ashvathama that enables the slaying of Dronacharya, leaving an indelible blot on Yudhishtira's legendary truthfulness.
Buddhism greatly reveres the elephant too. Tradition has it that the Buddha was conceived in a dream in which his mother was pierced by a white elephant with six tusks. Previous incarnations of the Bodhisattva were also born as elephants — a major reason Buddhist literature and art frequently depict elephants as symbolizing wisdom, steadfastness and strength. Grey elephants are said to symbolize an aspect of
Where have all the sparrows gone? Experts call on public’s help to search for ‘cheeky’ birds
An event hosted by Bristol Zoo Gardens aims to investigate the rapid decline in the numbers of sparrows – once one of Britain’s most common birds.
Steve Micklewright from Avon Wildlife Trust will talk about the ecology of the birds, and spell out how the decline has been so fast that the “cheeky” birds are now a species of “conservation concern”.
House sparrows have been identified as a species requiring special attention in the Bristol Biodiversity Action Plan. The wild sparrow survey has been organised by Avon Wildlife
Video: Zoo tops Google contest
More people would enjoy a virtual tour of the Detroit Zoo than any other theme park or zoo in the United States, according to results released Monday from the Google Street View “Trike” contest.
With more than 15,000 votes, the Detroit Zoo was the national winner in the theme park/zoo category.
Last fall, Google asked its users to submit nominations for pedestrian-only locations they'd most like to see on its popular map feature in the categories of theme parks and zoos, parks and trails, university campuses, pedestrian malls, landmarks and sports venues. From more than 25,000 submissions
Chagos - A very Special Place
Popular zoo has tame front but may hide 'wild' activities
IT brands itself as a zoo and brags about the conservation works it does. It also proudly talks of its educational role in highlighting the plight of endangered species.
But behind its animal-loving front, this popular private establishment in the southern part of Peninsula Malaysia could be one of the worst examples of a successful commercial enterprise riding on the back of exploiting, breeding and trading in endangered animals.
This zoo, like several others, has earned a name for itself by announcing the birth of new tiger cubs to coincide with major events like the Lunar New Year, or even to commemorate the death of celebrities like Michael Jackson.
To many, it’s the perfect zoo. The beautiful cubs hog airtime and newsprint space, and the tills get filled by the long lines of visitors.
The Year of the Tiger promises to be a boon for the zoo.
A visit before Chinese New Year revealed that one of its tigresses is pregnant. The zoo also allows tiger cub to be hired and this has been a hit with many companies in the Tiger Year.
“We’re fully booked until year-end,” says the zoo keeper proudly. “People are willing to pay between RM1,000 and RM5,000 to ‘borrow’ a tiger cub for a day.”
He says the zoo has two cubs but only the eight-month-old is used for roadshows. Such activities have conservationists up in arms.
To have perfectly timed cubs require the adult tigers to be subjected to “controlled mating”. This as well as the “tiger cubs for hire” schemes are considered heinous and hardly in line with conservation.
The legality of the “rent a tiger cubs” schemes are also questionable. The zoo claims to have the requisite permits from the Wildlife and National Park Department (Perhilitan) for everything it does but are these possible.
Perhilitan had to step in following a spate of pre-Chinese New Year publicity from establishments with tigers promoting photo sessions.
The zoo keeper confirms department’s order for such sessions to stop: “We have been told to hold on until further notice.”
The zoo’s justification is of course pure economics. “The money is needed to feed the animals,” the keeper says. He says the zoo’s Year of the Tiger roadshow could bring in enough revenue to cover expenses for six months.
“Photography sessions in the zoo would further contribute to 50% of the tigers’ maintenance costs,” he adds.
Another worrying result from the zoo’s breeding programme is the creation of mixed-breed tigers which Perhilitan has acknowledged as “worthless” in terms of conservation.
The Guidelines for Zoological Gardens prohibits the cross-breeding of species but this does not seem to concern the zoo keeper.
He says the zoo is allowed to carry out tiger breeding programme, again under a special permit issued to it by Perhilitan.
He says the zoo currently has 24 tigers and reproduction is controlled by having four pairs of breeding animals. As each pair is allowed to mate twice a year, the average newborns will be 32 cubs annually.
“Over the years, we have been cross-breeding them,” says the keeper. “Yeah, there’s a lot of new sub-species created in this way.” He nevertheless admits that the hybrid specimens produced by the zoo can never be released into the wild, dashing any claims to the zoo playing a conservation role.
Questions to Perhilitan such as if the special permit covered the offsprings and if the breeders are obliged to keep a record of its breeding programme were left unanswered.
Neither was the issue of why a zoo which talks of the need to raise money be allowed to operate a breeding facility.
There are also concerns of whether the zoo is involved in the trading of endangered species.
Asked if the zoo has ever sold cubs to anyone, the keeper merely answers that there is a market for tiger cubs and they could easily fetch between RM15,000 and RM30,000 per animal.
He acknowledges that the zoo has supplied three young tigers to another facility before.
Asked if money crossed hands, the keeper says: “That’s between my boss and them.” A spokesman
Seven cases against popular zoo, says Perhilitan
The zoo that came under the spotlight over breeding and trading in endangered animals has had at least seven run-ins with the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) since 2003.
These have resulted in two court cases and one compound notice being issued. The rest are currently at various stages of the legal process, the department said.
The department, however, did not provide details on the nature of the offences, or the outcome of the court cases.
Media reports of some of the seven cases relate to the zoo being in possession of animals without the requisite permits.
As a result of these cases, animals have been seized from the zoo, among them a baby elephant, two slow lorises, a baby wild boar and an unspecified number of pythons and storks.
The most shocking case was a raid on June 11, 2008, that unearthed 19 tiger cub carcasses in a freezer in the zoo.
Perhilitan, in a statement, said genetic sampling of 10 of the 19 carcasses showed that they were hybrid species, attesting that they were cubs bred in the zoo and not from the wild.
The zoo keeper explained that the carcasses were accumulated over a period of at least three years.
“We inform Perhilitan of every tiger birth and death. The carcasses are kept until Perhilitan comes to check.”
On the high mortality of tiger cubs, the keeper said: “They died from the cold during the rainy season or because their mothers were not good at taking care of them. But we have improved now. There are fewer cubs dying.”
As to the raids, he said that there had been 11 since 2003.
“I am not sure about the progress of the court cases.”
The zoo is one of three facilities that caught the attention of NatureAlert, an organisation based in Britain that fights for the welfare and protection of orang utan.
It sent its observation report on the facilities to Perhilitan last month, and is awaiting a response on action to be taken by the department.
In its report, a copy of which was made available to The Star, NatureAlert director Sean Whyte questioned the inhumane and filthy living conditions of the pair of orang utan at the facility, which he believed contravened at least two provisions of wildlife law.
The report cautioned that the zoo was a potential breeding ground for zoonotic diseases that not only threatened the animals but also zoo visitors.
It further queried the perceived immunity enjoyed by the zoo management despite the string of offences.
It pointed to Section 44 (1) of the Wildlife
NGOs: Review issuance of permits for keeping endangered species
Several non-governmental organisations have urged the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry to be stricter in issuing special permits for keeping endangered species in zoos and animal parks.
Various organisations have stepped forward to draw attention to the issue, following a Starprobe report yesterday.
Regional director Bill Schaedla of Traffic Southeast Asia, which monitors the wildlife trade, said zoos with special permits could be conducting questionable activities.
“Zoos with bad track records receiving permits are obviously a thing we find worrisome.
“We hope the Government will carefully evaluate these practices,” he said, urging the authorities to investigate the acquisition of all protected species by zoos and animal collections.
Schaedla also called for better monitoring of existing holders of permits and licences for protected wildlife.
“A special permit should not imply special treatment under the law,” he told The Star.
He said several zoos had cases pending against them for illegal wildlife trade.
“It is difficult to understand why licences continue to be issued to those who are under investigation by the authorities for involvement in this trade,” he said.
“Zoos which claim to work towards conservation on one hand and then become involved in the illegal trading of animals on the other are damaging the very biodiversity that they purport to protect and are deceiving their visitors.”
The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) has also pushed for more action to be taken against errant zoos.
It urged the authorities to terminate their permits and licences to prevent further violations, adding that some had committed repeat offences over the years.
“If effectively policing the activities of zoos is a task too great for the authorities to handle, considering that their primary responsibility is to safeguard wildlife in the wild, perhaps only internationally accredited zoos which do not commit wildlife crimes should be allowed to operate,” it added.
It is learnt that the ministry has extended the purview of the existing taskforce set up by Perhilitan to include the issuance of special permits to private facilities breeding tigers.
The taskforce was set up following a Starprobe report last August on convicted Malaysian wildlife trader Anson Wong.
Several Malaysian zoos have been linked to the illegal wildlife trade in the past.
They include Perak Zoo for its involvement in
Lions and tigers and ... caterpillars?
Cincinnati Zoo began with birds brought in for pest control
Say what? The Cincinnati Zoo got its start because of caterpillars? And people once worried that the park's location was too remote?
Yes on both counts, says Joy W. Kraft, author of "The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden" (Arcadia Publishing; $21.99), a 128-page paperback packed with more than 170 historical photos. It's out this week.
The book, the latest in Arcadia's Images of America series, traces the nation's second-oldest zoological park (after Philadelphia) from its beginnings in the 1870s to modern day.
Dr. Mel Richardson: No good reasons for elephant trainers to use bull hooks
A tool of elephant trainers has been around for centuries. It essentially is a fireplace poker with a sharp point to push and a sharp hook to pull. And whether you call it an ankus, a bull hook or a guide (the favored politically correct term currently in use by zoos and circuses), it is in my experience all too often just a cruel weapon.
Zoo spokesmen, like Jack Hanna, claim the hook is meant merely to tell the elephant to come along, no different than me taking you behind the elbow and leading you. I asked a friend and longtime elephant handler: If this were the case, then why wouldn’t a wooden cane work? His reply was simple:
“Mel, if it doesn’t hurt, the elephant will not respond to it.”
At one point in my career, I was veterinarian for an animal dealer in Texas with 52 elephants under my care. The majority were 2- to 5-year-old African orphans from the elephant culls in Zimbabwe, where adults were slaughter
Call to castrate Knut the polar bear
AN animal rights group has called for Knut the polar bear, who shot to global stardom as a cub in 2007, to be castrated to avert incest with his cousin.
The three-year-old darling of Berlin Zoo was given a female companion, Giovanna, last year but the German chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) warned against their mating.
The group's zoo expert, Frank Albrecht, noted that Knut and Giovanna, known as Gianna for short, had the same grandfather.
Any offspring would threaten the genetic diversity of the polar bear population in Germany and risk susceptibility to a condition known as "incest depression", he said.
"Knut fans need to know that only Knut's castration would allow a long life together with Giovanna," Mr Albrecht said today.
Baby monkeys receive environment cues from mother's milk
A new American study suggests that baby rhesus macaque monkeys receive signals about their environment through their mother's breast milk.
The research, conducted by scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of California, Davis, points out that this signal may program the infant's behaviour and temperament according to expectations of available resources and discourages temperaments that prove risky when food is scarce.
For the study, researchers used large groups of rhesus macaques living in an outdoor enclosure at the California National Primate Research Center at UC Davis. Researchers collected milk two different times from 59 mothers: once when their infants were 1 month old and again when the infants were 3 1/2 months old. They recorded the quantity of milk produced by each mother, and the energy value of each one's milk was analysed for its sugar, protein and fat content. These figures were combined to calculate the available milk energy generated by each mother.
While all the monkeys were fed the same diet, the scientists discovered natural variation in the quantity and richness of the milk produced by the 59 mothers. Milk from mothers who weighed more and had had previous pregnancies contained higher available energy when their infants were 1 month old than the milk of lighter, less experienced mothers.
Katie Hinde, the study's lead author and anthropologist at the California National Primate Research Center and the nutrition laboratory at the Smithsonian's National Zoo, said: "This is the first study for any mammal that presents evidence that natural variation in available milk energy from the mother is associated with later variation in infant behavior and temperament.
"Our results suggest that the milk energy available
No signs of cruelty at PATA zoo
Online social networks have joined forces to call for Bangkok's Pata Pinklao Shopping Mall to provide better living conditions for Bua Noi, a 25-year-old female gorilla.
The mall has been defending itself by inviting these Internet surfers to come and see things for themselves, and has also revealed that Dusit Zoo is planning to bring more gorillas over from Belgium.
After observing the comments on websites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as forwarded e-mails, The Nation decided to visit Pata Zoo.
This writer saw parents and children being allowed to take pictures with Bua Noi, provided they kept the flash off.
The cage was kept clean, with carers hosing it down regularly - contrary to the allegations on the Net.
Bua Noi lives in a 10-by-10-metre air-conditioned cage, with the sunroof sometimes being opened when the weather is nice.
During the three-hour-long observation, Bua Noi was mostly seen sitting still, dozing off or sometimes snacking from the food tray.
Every time she saw a carer walk past, the gorilla looked excited as if she had caught sight of a parent, though she banged her chest to mark her territory when a stranger was sighted.
Every time the television in the hallway was turned on, the gorilla looked closely with great interest.
Pata Zoo director Khanit Sermsirimongkol said the veterinarians and carers were always at hand, and that the zoo's other gorilla, Bua Na, had been well taken care of. Bua Na died of old age when he turned 50.
These calls for giving Bua Noi a better life are nothing new.
The protests began two or three years ago but things went quiet after Pata Zoo proved that no animals were being tortured.
Khanit said a former employee, who wanted to get back at Pata after being fired over embezzlement charges, had released the false allegations and doctored photographs.
He said allegations that Bua Noi was tortured so much that she cried were not credible because monkeys and gorillas cannot cry.
In addition, he said, people making these allegations had never actually visited the zoo.
Khanit added that Dusit Zoo was planning to bring over more gorillas from Belgium to breed and therefore Pata Zoo would be given a chance to learn more about proper care for the animals.
However, a 37-year-old visitor, who visits the zoo often and wanted to only be identified as Kae, said though the cages were clean, they were rather small.
She also said Bua Noi was not as big and cheerful as she used to be, and that other animals were also confined in small cages.
She advised they be housed in a greener and bigger area.
Veterinarian Panthep Rattanakorn from Mahidol University said more disease-prevention measures should be adopted for
This is my report on my last visit to Pata Zoo: Pata Zoo in Bangkok Thailand
Includes some video footage.
Bengal tigers in India conserved by Bournemouth family
Geoff Whittle, his wife Cherrie, and sons, Olly and Jamie, had fallen on hard times.
During the recession, their business was experiencing a "trough", and their property was in negative equity.
They decided to reassess their lives and opted for an adventure that suited their "love of the outdoors", and enabled them to "give something back".
Geoff said: "Jamie was nine and Olly was 11 at the time.
"Jamie was quite happy to stay with me and Cherrie and do what we thought was best - not that we really knew what that was - but, Olly was miffed by whole idea.
"He had just got a paper round and was thinking about girlfriends. His initial reaction was 'what have I done wrong?'
"Reluctantly, he packed up his things like
First Siberian Tiger cub found in the wild dies two days later
In much sadder conservation news, the first Siberian tiger cub to be found in the wild in two decades died just two days after being discovered.
According to the Guardian:
Early on the morning of 25 February, Han Deyou, a forester in the Wanda mountains in the northern province of Heilongjiang claimed to have discovered a wild tiger cub trapped in a pile of firewood in his yard.
Afraid of its roars and aggression, he called local police and forestry officials, who fed the captive animal beef and chicken as they waited for wildlife experts from a tiger breeding centre to arrive in the remote area the following morning.
The tiger was anaesthetised with a dart, taken away and detained in the jail of the local public security bureau. Experts confirmed it was a Siberian tiger, weighing 28.5kg and thought to be about around nine months old.
It was supposed to be one of the best conservation stories of the year - there are an estimated 300 Siberian tigers in the wild, of which 40 to 50 perhaps remain in the country. As we reported earlier, wild tigers are so endangered, there's the chance they won't make it to see the next Year of the Tiger. While breeding programs for the beasts have been relatively successful, up until this discovery, nobody
British Couple Faces Jail for Selling Endangered Animals on eBay
A British couple were warned they could face jail after pleading guilty to selling dead endangered animals, The Sun reported Tuesday.
Former animal care professor Graham Pitchforth, 61, and his wife Norah, 65, used auction website eBay to trade exotic species, including monkeys, a baboon and a lion cub, in a $44,700 operation.
The pair, from northern England, admitted 24 charges of importing and exporting animals.
Other animals sold by the couple included a Yellow-Billed Kite bird, a Crab-Eating Macaque monkeys and 59 Malayan flying foxes.
They also brought and sold a Crocodile Monitor lizard, a North American otter, 14 Javan Black Langur monkeys and four Pig Tailed Macaque monkeys.
The illegal trade was finally uncovered after
BLACKPOOL ZOO TO ADD BOOKWORMS TO ITS COLLECTION
Blackpool Zoo is on the hunt for a new species of animal to add to its collection – a group of intrepid bookworms!
The award winning attraction launched a new competition on World Book Day that will offer its younger fans the chance to win animal related books every month.
In addition, at the end of this year the zoo will choose from all the correct entries and present an overall winner with a collection of books and an annual membership for 2011.
Each month a question is being posted on the zoo’s website, Facebook and Twitter accounts and handed out to all visitors as well as children who attend the education department’s workshops.
Budding bookworms can then research the answer and either hand it into reception or the education department as they leave or email it to Judith.email@example.com to be in with the chance to win that month’s must read book.
Jude Rothwell, Marketing and PR Coordinator at Blackpool Zoo said: “More than 45,000 people passed through our education department last year and this competition is another way that we can
Claws out over zoo’s stamp on Mardi Gras
THE inclusion of a Taronga Zoo float in the Mardi Gras parade has been branded a “slap in the face” to Animal Liberation.
Sumatran tigers won out against a protest over battery hens when it came to the parade held on Saturday.
Animal Liberation spokeswoman and Mosman resident Lynda Stoner accused Mardi Gras organisers of hypocrisy in refusing the Animal Liberation float in the parade but giving the green light to the float organised by Taronga Zoo staff.
Ms Stoner also accused organisers of a conflict of interest because she said the zoo was an official supporter of the event.
“The Mardi Gras organisers have shown hypocrisy in telling Animal Liberation we weren’t gay enough, bisexual enough or lesbian enough to be in the parade. It’s bunkum,” Ms Stoner said.
“It’s a slap in the face for us to allow the zoo float and not ours. Our floats are designed to protect all species of animals not just one exotic animal designed to make money for the zoo.”
Should Animal Liberation have been allowed to be part of the parade? Comment below.
Animal Liberation has taken part in the parade for the last 14 years. This
Elephant dies at Fla. zoo from age-related illness
A 63-year-old elephant has died at the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens in Orlando.
Zoo officials say the elephant named Mary died Tuesday of age-related illness. A necropsy is being conducted to determine the exact cause of death.
The zoo's director of animal collections, Bonnie Breitbeil, says that Maude, the zoo's other elephant, was able to say goodbye to Mary. Like people, elephants also mourn.
Mary was born in 1946 and joined a circus in the United States in 1952. She came to zoo in 1983.
Mary liked when zookeepers rubbed her stomach and was known for sneaking up on new keepers.
The Orlando Sentinel reports that according to
Topeka Zoo's accreditation delayed one year
A national group has delayed accreditation for the troubled Topeka Zoo for at least a year.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums on Wednesday said zoo officials must deliver a progress report in six months. After that, the association will conduct an inspection and decide in one year whether to reinstate the zoo's accreditation.
The Topeka Capital-Journal reports that during the group's meeting in Virginia Beach, Va., Wednesday, four Topeka and zoo officials argued that the zoo should be reaccredited. They pointed
Rare turtle rescue station set up in central Vietnam
This station will rescue and preserve the endemic turtle species in central Vietnam - Mauremys anammensis.
This species of turtle was discovered in the wetlands of Da Nang, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Binh Dinh and Phu Yen. The turtle is seriously endangered because of its narrowed living environment, caused by rapid urbanization.
ATP made a field trip to the central region and found out that Binh Son district in Quang Ngai province will be the best environs
Zoo's nocturnal animals receive grant
Though the Woodland Park Zoo's energy-inefficient Night Exhibit closed March 1 as a cost-savings measure, the has committed to continue caring for seven of the exhibit’s 15 species. Now, BNSF Foundation has stepped forward with a $20,000 challenge grant to help toward the long-term care of these animals.
“BNSF is issuing a challenge to the community to match our gift and help the zoo raise $50,000 for the nocturnal animal fund by May 1,” Gus Melonas, regional director of public affairs with BNSF Railway, said in a press release.
The fund will help make modifications to existing areas at the zoo for the Night Exhibit animals that will remain, support their long-term care, and help toward an assessment process to determine the future of the Night Exhibit building.
Since the Night Exhibit closure date was announced in January, the community has already contributed $5,500 to the
Where captives put on a show
The whale and dolphin shows I saw at SeaWorld in San Diego a couple of years ago with my wife and daughter weren't just good, they were spectacular. I think that's one reason they gave me the creeps.
The more amazing the stunts were, with super-intelligent mammals performing circus tricks for us humans, the dumber I felt.
I had subjected my daughter to a contrived spectacle, just a mile from the natural wonders of the open sea. Did I really want her to think that wild animals exist for our amusement, or that it's OK to ride a killer whale as if it were a pony?
Soon after, I talked about it with my cousin, a marine biologist.
The general rationalization by marine parks, he said, is that the shows raise public interest in the mammals and enhance conservation efforts.
But those claims strike me as dubious after the death last week of an Orlando SeaWorld trainer who was grabbed by the ponytail and killed by a killer whale before an audience.
The same killer whale had been involved in two other deaths, and orca shows were temporarily halted in Orlando and San Diego. Now officials are investigating the death and prior incidents in Orlando, even as the shows have resumed and crowds have returned.
"We stand very strongly behind the fact, and our surveys bear this out, that people are coming here and gaining a greater appreciation for these animals and the ocean environments they live in," said Dave Koontz, a San Diego SeaWorld spokesman.
"The fact that they have an opportunity to see these animals in person makes a huge difference," he says.
But aren't they seeing something artificial?
"We don't feel that there's anything about it that's artificial at all," Koontz told me.
I don't think he was kidding.
Look, I'd agree that many of the exhibits at the San Diego marine park are legitimate educational tools -- although if you want to really learn something about sea creatures, you're far better off going to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach or the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
But the big draws at parks like those in the SeaWorld chain, which was just bought for $2.7 billion, are the killer whale and dolphin shows.
It's not about education, it's about big business, says Ric O'Barry, who you may have seen in "The Cove," the Oscar-nominated documentary that exposed the secret slaughter of thousands of dolphins in Japan -- and how a few of the most beautiful mammals are spared and sold to marine parks.
"It's a form of bad education," O'Barry says of theme park shows. "There's no connection between conservation and stupid dolphin tricks."
O'Barry traveled a long way to get to that point of view. He caught and trained the dolphins used on the TV show "Flipper," and he has been credited with training one of the first killer whales used in a show.
"I was as ignorant as I could be for as long as could be, and I was making a lot of money," says O'Barry, who told me he used to lug a television down to the docks "so Flipper could watch himself on TV on Friday nights at 7:30."
O'Barry says he eventually learned enough about the mammals, which depend on sound waves to navigate, to know they were suffering in captivity, subjected to unnatural confines and bombarded by noise for the sake of human entertainment.
He believes that one of the dolphins used in "Flipper" committed suicide by refusing to come up for air.
The case for captive animals
The tragic death of a trainer at Sea World last week revived a number of long simmering questions. While we still grapple with "how did this happen?" the central question for many revolves around the role of large mammals -- like Tilikum the killer whale -- in zoos and aquariums: Should they be there or not?
Animals in zoos, aquariums and museums play an important and powerful part in our cultural and formal educational processes. Humans are inherently interested in nature. We are not very far removed from a time when being knowledgeable about nature was vital to life; you either knew how to find your dinner or you were dinner.
Today, with well over 50 percent of our populations living in cities, we are rapidly becoming divorced from the realities of the animal world. The dialogue we see in the media, read on blogs and hear in conversation makes it clear that many people have lots of ideas about what's happening in our natural world, much of it not correct.
This lack of knowledge is concerning in a world beset by environmental problems, where species are disappearing at an alarming rate. We need people to understand the changes taking place in our natural systems and appreciate that each of our actions has an impact. More interest and knowledge, not less, is essential.
Zoos and aquariums provide access and a vital connection to the world of wildlife and our environment, helping to foster an understanding of nature and how it works, and an appreciation for why it matters.
Most professionally operated zoos and aquariums, such as those accredited by the Canadian or American Associations of Zoos and Aquariums, are dedicated to increasing engagement and raising awareness and participation in conservation issues. They conduct active programs that aid species survival, research and conservation, both at their public display facilities and in the field.
The Vancouver Aquarium has operated our Marine Mammal Rescue (MMR) program since the mid 1960s. Each year, hundreds of marine mammals are rescued from situations of distress and rehabilitated by our dedicated team of staff and volunteers, led by our veterinarian. Their goal is to return marine mammals to good health so they can be released back to the ocean.
The Vancouver Aquarium has not had killer whales on exhibit since 2001. However, our orca research continues in the field with experts working off the British Columbia coast to observe and study social interaction, behaviors, migrations, and feeding patterns.
We do have beluga whales, including two calves born recently. Belugas are ideally suited to an aquarium environment. The calves' births have allowed researchers to study the social structure of a beluga family, and in collaboration with the University of British Columbia we have conducted beluga vocalization studies since 2002 to understand contact calls and other forms of communication between these beautiful and communicative animals.
As our visitors see beluga whales and learn about their communication, natural history and the challenges they face due to climate change in the Arctic, a unique chain is created, moving from initial amazement of observing these creatures to the inspiration to care about them and finally to take action, in large or small ways, to protect their future by conserving their natural environment.
We see our role as more important now than ever before. The time of simply displaying animals merely as curiosities is, thankfully, over.
Our aquarium, and many others like it, represents often the only -- and the best -- opportunity for urbanites (particularly youth) to establish a connection with the natural world of animals. Sadly, many of us will never experience the joy and wonder of encountering animals in their natural habitat. But can get learn about them up close and personal in a modern and reputable aquarium or zoo.
If you have had the good fortune to spend time in such an institution, and have seen the sense of awe and wonder on the faces of youngsters meeting a sea otter, for example, for the first time, you'll know what this is all about.
What's more, having access to, and learning about, Tilikum and other whales in aquariums and marine parks since such amazing creatures were first displayed in the mid-1960s, has totally changed people's perceptions about them.
Before then, killer whales were feared, termed "wolves of the sea", and even had a bounty on their heads in some places; being able to see them personally helped spark people's curiosity and interest. The resulting change in public perception was dramatic and swift, leading to their protection by the U.S. government in the 1970s under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
Today, most people revere killer whales and understand a great deal more about the challenges this species faces around the world -- with overfishing depleting their food supply, the impacts of climate change and pollution threatening their environment and their ultimate survival.
With so many changes confronting nature and the animals that make it their home, human
In Light of Sea World Tragedy, We Should Honor Animals By Freeing Them
I’m in good company blogging this week about the recent death of veteran orca trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was killed when Tilikum, a 12,300 pound “killer whale,” grabbed her in front of an audience at Orlando’s Sea World. In addition to the obvious second-guessing that happens when wild predators kept in unnatural environments exhibit what might reasonably be viewed as natural behaviors, last week’s tragic attack has prompted much important public discussion of the detrimental effects of lifelong captivity in a glorified pool on a massive, highly intelligent animal.
Similar questions were raised two years ago on Christmas Day when Tatiana, a Siberian tiger at the San Francisco Zoo, escaped over the wall of her enclosure and killed a man who had been drinking and smoking marijuana and who, according to witness accounts and the city’s lead investigator, had been with a group of men who were taunting her and other zoo animals immediately preceding the attack. Tatiana was fatally shot by responding police officers. I’ve always had a special fondness for tigers, and I know I was one of many who cried at the tragedy and the indignity of her death.
Ultimately, even though we like to think of the Sea World orcas and dolphins as playful characters happy to perform, and of zoo animals as regal ambassadors of their swiftly disappearing natural habitats, I don’t think any of us is truly shocked when wild animals do attack. Rather, many supporters of zoos and aquariums, whether they’re corporate suits profiting from the captivity of these animals or conservationists who have dedicated their lives to the survival of their species, argue that it is a risk that is worth our continuing to accept. And as a society, we do continue to accept it. Not because, by and large, we have no regard for the welfare of these animals, but rather, because we do care, and because we want so much to know and love them.
I mean, I get it. I don’t dismiss outright the argument by many conservationists that the best hope of disappearing species is to foster empathy for them by allowing people, especially children, to have an in-person experience that captivity makes possible. I do believe that captivity degrades animals removed from their natural environments and, in a very real way, also degrades us humans in our objectifying them. And yet we love these strange and relatable and fascinating beings so much that we squelch that discomfort for the opportunity to be with them, to look into their eyes and to have them look back at us.
As a child born with a fascination for animals, I didn’t just want to read about animals or watch Wild Kingdom—I wanted to see them in person, even though viewing them behind bars often left me in tears for reasons I did not fully comprehend. I believe many people become orca trainers or zookeepers not out of a wish to dominate animals or exploit them for profit, but because they sincerely love and care about animals. One of my best friends, a long-time ethical vegetarian, was a zookeeper before we met as colleagues at an animal rights organization. I would never judge or question her genuine commitment to the protection of animals. I mean, wouldn’t it be nice having as my “co-workers” the very beings I have in some ways dedicated my life to, rather than sitting at a desk talking on the phone and staring at my computer all day?
Viewed through a sentimental lens, it’s an understandable conundrum. And it’s a conundrum that highlights why, despite attacks suggesting the contrary, the work of animal rights is a highly unsentimental enterprise. To argue that we must consider the rights of animals like Tilikum and Tatiana is to accept that we must put a
Matt Damon on Sea World - "Shut Them All Down"
"I think they should just shut them all down. I've never been a fan of places like that."
—Matt Damon on SeaWorld
This weekend, Damon joined Bob Barker and tons of other stars who are speaking out against SeaWorld ......... Add your voice to the thousands who have already told SeaWorld to release its animals to sanctuaries
WILD ANIMALS ARE NOT ENTERTAINMENT
It's time to end stupid pet tricks at zoos, aquariums and circuses across America. Tilikum, the O.G. killer whale with three deaths now on his fins, saw to that this past week when he drowned his veteran trainer, Dawn Brancheau, by dragging her to the bottom of a tank at SeaWorld in Orlando.
Park officials were quick to announce that Tilikum, who has fathered a baker's dozen of profitable calves for the corporation, would not only be spared (good), but would resume his role of providing huge water splashes, which are the highlight of SeaWorld's daily aquatic shows (not surprising, but still sad).
If you'll pardon the pun, it's a decision that's all wet.
The argument is not against zoos and aquariums per se, if they have the funding to put together proper exhibits that showcase animals in the closest proximity to their natural habitats. It is understood that for a lot of families with limited resources, the closest look they may ever have at African wilderness is at the local zoo.
The problem arises when man's arrogance pushes our foibles onto nature's innocence. I've long grown tired of the annual Super Bowl tradition of a bevy of commercials featuring too-far-gone-for-12-step alcoholic wild animals shamelessly scheming how to get their paws on a case of Bud. One year even had a menagerie stealing an entire beer delivery truck, which elicited a host of comments like "Aw, that is so cute" from the women at the party I attended. I thought, substitute your teenage son for that zebra and see what happens to the cuteness factor, because Budweiser isn't looking to the inhabitants of the Serengeti to push the bottom line.
Wild animals are just that -- wild. Taking a 12,000-pound killer whale out of the Pacific and slapping it into a tank at SeaWorld isn't quite as benign as rescuing a retiring greyhound from the track.
It's arrogance to presume that after a period of training animals like Tilikum have been "deprogrammed" of their feral tendencies. The big
Making a whale into a killer
In the wake of the SeaWorld attack, an expert explains how captivity drives orcas crazy -- and can turn them deadly
On Wednesday, a female trainer at SeaWorld was killed when a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum ("Tilly") grabbed her by the ponytail, dragged her under water, and thrashed her about in his jaws. Twenty audience members, lingering after a production of "Dine With Shamu," witnessed the act. It was the third human death Tilly has been involved in, and yet the park has no intention of euthanizing him, partly because his motives were unclear. Was his intent to kill, or was it an accident, the result of roughhousing with a mammal 1/100th his own size?
No one knows. But the stresses of captivity seem responsible. Captive orcas often decline to eat, and are force-fed until they do. And while there are no known cases of an orca killing a human in the wild, around two dozen cases exist of captive orcas attacking humans.
In response, SeaWorld, whose brand-image depends on friendly-looking killer whales, has found itself in a public-relations quandary akin to what Accenture experienced with its “Go on. Be a Tiger” ads. And yet it’s been suggested that Wednesday’s death may generate a new audience for the park -- that of teens and young adults, enlivened by the possibility of violence.
Salon recently caught up with Philip Hoare, author of the nonfiction book "The Whale," to
Is a killer whale a moral being?
Philip Hoare, author of "The Whale," has spent years studying these mysterious creatures and what surprises him most is how little we actually know.
There are so many reasons, Philip Hoare points out, to grieve over the tragedy last week at SeaWorld Orlando, when a killer whale named Tilikum dragged his trainer underwater to her death. Hoare, who spent years following whales while researching his new book, "The Whale," has long been troubled by the practice of keeping the giant creatures in captivity.
"The fact that 200 killer whales have died in captivity since oceanaria shows opened in the 1960s points out the glaringly obvious fact – whales and dolphins should not be kept in captivity," Hoare writes from Australia, where he is currently touring to promote his book.
"The Whale," which was reviewed in the Monitor last week, is "an intricate exploration of history, literature, and science.... a spiritual voyage to understand the whale’s place ... in the world."
Hoare recalls the first time he ever saw a whale in captivity, in Windsor Safari Park, near London, in the 1960s.
"The massive predator entered the pool – basically an overgrown swimming pool – from a gated compound," he writes. "It was like seeing Jaws let loose in the municipal baths. Yet its magnificence was bowed by its state – a fact vividly symbolized by its enormous, six foot high dorsal fin, which had keeled over into an emasculated flop through the stress of captivity. (Newly captive orca often decline to eat, and have to be force-fed)."
Hoare also worries about the whales in the wild, wondering what impact noise and water pollution have on them.
"We anthropomorphize animals at our peril," he points out. "The terrible events at SeaWorld only underline that queasy state. When we take animals into our world, we contaminate their lives, and perhaps endanger our own."
But perhaps what is most troublesome, he says, is how very much we
From The Blog -
Australian Frog Back From The Dead
Mystic Aquarium's Live Web Cam
Plus there is even more on the Blog. Scroll down...added to daily. Just the zoo interest stuff
Please note that if you wish to download the full magazine all at once click on Complete Magazine. If you want to select articles see below and you can click on any article and download it.
Sanjay Molur, Editor and Sally Walker, Editor Emeritus
List of Individual Articles
Complete Magazine Pp. 1-28
ZOO‘s 25th Year - shared with IYOB, an auspicious sign for future directions Pp. 1-9
World Association of Zoos and Aquariums and IYOB Pp. 10-13
IUCN SSC and International Year of Biodiversity Pp. 14-20
Technical articles Pp. 21-24
Conservation Education Pp. 25-28
The ZOOS' PRINT Journal has been closed and a new Journal called Journal of Threatened Taxa is being published and has its own website which can be accessed from this link http://www.threatenedtaxa.org/
As you may recall, the upcoming Annual Symposium of the European Association for Aquatic Mammals
(EAAM - http://www.eaam.org/ ) will be held in Lisbon, next week, between March 12 and 15.
The conference will be hosted by Lisbon Zoo (http://www.zoo.pt/) and will be dedicated to all disciplines of marine mammal husbandry, veterinary medicine, training, conservation, research, environmental education, display, et cetera.
This will be the first Green Conference of the EAAM and, as such, considerable changes will be implemented in the structure and dynamics of the event.
All relevant information can be obtained through the conference's website
(www.eaam2010.net/Default.htm ) and the Symposium's Committee (firstname.lastname@example.org ).
We do look forward to see you in Portugal!
On behalf of Claudia Gili, President-elect of the EAAM,
In This Issue:
Colombia Supports Jaguar Corridor
Leopard Research in the Spotlight...Again!
Unraveling Mysteries in Mongolia
Expanding Biodiversity in Sumatra
Partners Unite for Jaguars in Belize
Breaking Ground in Science
Huffington Post's Cat Tales
To join the Panthera mailing list please click HERE
Take a look. There are some excellent speakers and interesting talks arranged. Well worth making the effort to attend.