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To save a species
Performing IVF on a giant - and dangerous - mammal is a tricky but exciting business, writes Deborah Smith.
"She has eggs.'' The animal reproduction expert Dr Thomas Hildebrandt is carrying out an ultrasound on an 800-kilogram black rhinoceros and tells everyone around him the good news visible on his computer screen.
It is early morning in a dusty enclosure at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and an Australian and German team of more than 25 has gathered to attempt rhino IVF.
Each part of the procedure has been specially adapted for the giants, from the harness attached to a bulldozer that lifts the anaesthetised rhino, Rocket, onto an operating table, to the long thin needle used to flush out her precious eggs.
It is more than 30 years since the first human IVF baby was born but rhinos present big challenges, says Hildebrandt, of the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.
Rather than the 15-centimetre distance to an ovary in a woman, the team must collect the eggs from 1.5 metres inside the animal. ''We had to develop new equipment and concepts,'' he says.
The same applies to the electrical stimulator he uses the next day to obtain sperm from a male rhino, Kwanzaa.
In the neighbouring yard, a little black rhino - the latest arrival in the zoo's natural breeding program for the critically endangered species - is leaping about beside her mother. Now six weeks old, she is the 11th black rhino calf born at the zoo.
But Rocket is unable to conceive naturally because of uterine problems, making the creation of an IVF embryo the only option if she is to contribute to the genetic diversity of the breeding stock, says the zoo's reproductive biologist, Tamara Keeley. ''And we don't want to lose her genes.''
The day starts at 7.15 with a warning from senior veterinarian Dr Benn Bryant. Humans are particularly sensitive to the anaesthetic he will shoot into Rocket, so great care must be taken. ''A very small exposure could be very dangerous to you,'' he tells the team.
There is also the possibility the rhino could rouse at any point. ''You always need a clear route of escape.''
Two keepers have been assigned to Rocket for three months - one playing the ''good cop'' and doling out affection and treats, such as banana and sweet potato, the other the ''bad cop'' who gives the injections.
In the previous week she has received three big doses of hormones to make her super ovulate, and since 6am the good cop, Karen Ellis, has been talking to her to keep her calm.
Rocket, who was born in the wild, is the favourite of Jennifer Conaghan, the zoo's black rhino supervisor. ''She's not difficult but she keeps that raw quality,'' she says. ''Sometimes she's not very trusting.''
The savvy rhino instantly twigs that her routine has changed when Bryant arrives with the dart gun, and she trots up and down the yard. But within 20 minutes she is flat out on a ground sheet and the team moves in.
Once it has been established she has a good supply of eggs, she is lifted onto the operating table. At the front end, Bryant gives her an anaesthetic gas, and vital statistics such as her heart rate, temperature and the amount of carbon dioxide she breathes out is monitored. A shade cloth protects her from the heat and ice packs are placed on her back. The risk is that her huge body weight will affect her ability to breathe, Bryant says.
At the back end, the three German researchers are preparing the equipment to reach the rhino's ovaries. The ultrasound device, which is inserted into her anus, has a long thin tube attached, which will direct the tip of the egg collection needle to just in front of the ultrasound, so it can be seen on the laptop.
Dr Robert Hermes must reach far in with his arm and hold the ultrasound device in place for more than half an hour at a time, while Hildebrandt inserts the collection needle and jabs it into a follicle. Next to him, Dr Frank Goeritz controls the flow of fluid to suck out the eggs.
It's risky. Hildebrandt could hit a big blood vessel which is only two centimetres away from the ovary, near the spine. ''We are very tense when we do this procedure. If we make a mistake it has a severe consequence,'' he says.
This is the fifth year the team has tried rhino IVF at the zoo and everyone's contribution is vital, he says. ''It is a joint effort. And we found the best collaborators in the world in Dubbo.''
In 2006, they obtained rhino eggs for the first time. In 2008, their last attempt, they achieved another world first, producing a rhino IVF embryo, but it survived for less than 24 hours.
By 10am both of Rocket's ovaries have been flushed. It is important the rhino is not kept unconscious longer than necessary and there is a sudden, adrenalin-pumping rush to pack up and get everyone out of the yard and out of view before she wakes up.
Hildebrandt spends about six months a year travelling the world with his colleagues, assisting institutions with animal reproduction. In the early 1990s he developed ultrasound for elephants, followed by a non-surgical method of artificial insemination, which involves threading a two millimetre thick tube about three metres into the uterus of an unsedated female.
Elephants are much more intelligent than rhinoceros and can be readily taught to accept the procedure, but rhinos must be sedated.
The main challenge, says Hilde brandt, whose team has produced five rhino calves around the world by artificial insemination, was to develop a special catheter to pass through the convoluted passage in the female's cervix to deliver the sperm to the uterus.
This twisty route is the reason male rhinos spend about an hour and half having sex, compared with the minute or less it takes an elephant, because they must try to fill up the cervix with sperm.
An advantage for the males is that they can reach new tree branches while mounted and they have plenty of time to snack, he says. ''They start to eat between orgasmic waves.''
The scientists, on the other hand, like to complete the rhino artificial insemination in about 20 minutes. While at Dubbo last week, the team used frozen sperm from a white rhino, Thomas, who died six years ago, to inseminate a wild-born female white rhino, Intombi. Hildebrandt also works with other animals such as Asian lions, bears, and European hares, which can become pregnant again when they are already pregnant.
His favourite animal is the naked mole rat of Kenya, which lives in a colony with only one female queen, a few males and lots of sexually repressed workers who dig tunnels and fight predators. ''No other rodent can reach the age of up to 28 years,'' he says while three other team members are in a neighbouring laboratory, scrutinising Rocket's fluid for precious eggs.
When an egg is spotted under the microscope, an enthusiastic cry rings out from the lab where Keeley, and vets Dr Lisa Maclellan, of Seven Creeks Equine Vet Clinic in Victoria, and Dr Jenny Kelly, of the South Australian Research and Development Institute, are working. The tally of eggs is eight. They are safely stored in a warm incubator to await the arrival of sperm the next morning.
The team hopes the black rhino IVF research will eventually be applicable to the northern white rhino. They are extinct in the wild and only eight remain in captivity. ''A technology like IVF would potentially save the species,'' Bryant says.
Apart from conservation, Hildebrandt says they are driven by a competitive desire to improve on technology that can sometimes do more harm than good.
For the collection of sperm the team has developed a large, 15-volt electrical probe that is inserted in the bull's rectum and used to stimulate nerves that control muscles in the reproductive tract so sperm is squeezed out. ''It is not like a normal orgasm,'' he says.
Previously researchers have used probes that burnt or even killed the animals. But his team's device is very safe, he says. ''If you hold it in your hand you don't feel anything.''
As we observe early the next morning on an anaesthetised Kwanzaa, ultrasound is also used to find the best spot to apply the stimulator, a process
Autopsy Report Reveals SeaWorld Trainer Dawn Brancheau Was Brutally Attacked by Killer Whale
Last night Florida's Orange County medical examiner released the autopsy report on the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau. The report cites "multiple traumatic injuries and drowning" as the cause of death. The excessive injuries she suffered are contradictory to earlier reports that her death, on February 24th, 2010, was accidental, the result of over-zealous horseplay on the part of a killer whale she had been working with. It is clear from her injuries—and subsequent witness accounts that her body had to be pried from the orca's mouth, that this was a brutally violent attack.
Initial reports indicated that Brancheau had fallen into the tank, but these reports were amended after investigators examined witness statements and concluded that Brancheau had been grabbed by her ponytail and pulled into the tank by the 12,000-pound killer whale named Tilikum. There was also speculation that Brancheau may have inadvertently provoked Tilikum into the playful frenzy that resulted in his holding her underwater until she drowned.
A seven-minute home video shot by a SeaWorld tourist just seconds before the attack, and released by Florida television station WESH, clearly shows Brancheau laughing and playing with Tilikum in the water literally seconds before her death. This video does not show the attack, and it also does not show how, or where, Brancheau entered the tank. But the video does show that she didn't seem to be panicked or in fear of Tilikum. Nor were her fellow trainers panicked in their calls to 911.
Perhaps Brancheau, and her co-trainers, should have been more concerned on that day. Dawn Brancheau was not Tilikum's first victim. He had already been blamed in the deaths of two other people. In 1991 he and two other orcas sharing his tank were blamed in the death of a marine trainer in British Columbia, Canada. Tilikum's horseplay was also blamed in the 1999 death of a 27-year-old man whose body was found mysteriously floating in the killer whale's holding tank.
Brancheau's family has requested that autopsy photos, as well as video from SeaWorld's surveillance cameras, not be released to the public, but the medical examiner has released his findings. According to a news video released this morning on The Today Show, the medical examiner found blunt force injuries, broken ribs, broken sternum, dislocated elbow/knee, abrasions and contusions. Parts of the autopsy report are extremely graphic, saying that Brancheau's arm had been ripped from her body, her scalp torn from her skull...
Big cats don't exist - official
BRITAIN'S environment watchdog has ruled out the existence of big cats in the wilds of the Westcountry, despite countless sighting claims by members of the public.
Natural England said it was "confident that there is no breeding population of big cats" in the UK after releasing a list of the exotic species reported to it by the public.
But WMN wildlife expert Trevor Beer, who has been researching the animals since the 1980s, said the agency was wrong to write off thousands of genuine sightings.
"The big cats are out there," Mr Beer said last night. "I don't know why Natural England is going down this line – they are just making fools of themselves."
The agency's list contained several reports from Devon and Cornwall over the past five years, ranging from big cats to wild boar and even a wallaroo – a kind of kangaroo.
Photograph of an alleged big cat taken near St Austell. Do you think big cats exist? Fill in the comment field below and share your views.
The document, released under the
Building a future for wildlife is the slogan of the World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy. Modern zoos and aquariums are indeed playing an increasingly active and important role in conserving species in their natural habitat. This richly illustrated book provides an overview of the partners, approaches and achievements of the world zoo and aquarium community in wildlife conservation. The book's main focus is on 25 conservation success stories from around the globe, portraying the many ways in which zoos and aquariums are committed to biodiversity conservation. This book was edited by Gerald Dick and Markus Gusset from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), who are both conservation biologists themselves.
This book gives an excellent overview of important topics such as animal identification and record keeping, animal behaviour, health, feeding and nutrition, housing and husbandry, enrichment as well as breeding and how they affect the welfare of different zoo animal species. In addition, the chapter about human and animal interaction in a zoo shows what impact visitors can have on zoo animals and their behaviour and welfare. Animal Welfare, February 2010 For students who are studying zoos as part of a college or university course this should be considered an essential read. The authors have an imposing zoo pedigree and this gives the reader tremendous confidence in the content. The book conveys a a great sense of enthusiasm for zoo based research and closes by clearly identifying current gaps in our knowledge and thus will hopefully inspire a whole new generation to seek answers to some of these important questions. May this book never go out of print. RATEL, Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers, 2009 It has opened my eyes to a whole host of fields and career opportunities I'd never previously heard of let alone considered Nicola Yvonne Edwards, Student, St. Andrews University This text provides the first comprehensive account of the essential knowledge and the various activities that underpin a successful modern zoo or aquarium. The authors have addressed the challenges, philosophical and practical, that zoo professionals face as well as providing a detailed introduction to the science and management of zoological collections. The engaging style, clear diagrams and wellchosen examples ensure that this text will provide an extremely valuable resource for students and zoo professionals alike. Dr John Eddison, University of Plymouth
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.
Drawing on their extensive experience of zoo research, practice, and teaching, the authors blend together theory with a broad range of both mammalian and non-mammalian examples to give a highly-readable overview of this burgeoning field. Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management and Welfare is the ideal resource for anyone needing a thorough grounding in this subject, whether as a student or as a zoo professional.
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Dolphin trader has a change of heart, decides to set them free
Chris Porter, a controversial dolphin trader with a lucrative business capturing the animals in the Solomon Islands and selling them to aquariums, says he has had a change of heart and is planning to release his last 17 dolphins.
Porter, a marine mammal trainer, trained Tillikum the killer whale when he was at Sealand in Victoria and then became Vancouver Aquarium's head trainer. In his latest career, Porter has sold 83 dolphins around the world in the past nine years, drawing the fury of animal-rights groups.
"To be sure, I have a bad name. I have been deemed the Darth Vader of dolphins," said Porter in an interview.
"But I have decided to release the remaining animals back to the wild. It's driven by the incident with Tillikum and I'm disillusioned with the industry," said Porter, who splits his time between Victoria and the Solomon Islands.
Late last month, Tillikum pulled SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheur by her ponytail off her poolside platform, drowning her. Porter said the news shook him, and proved trainers have been unable to provide for the needs of such an intelligent animal.
Another catalyst for his decision to quit was the Oscar-winning documentary The Cove, which shows the bloody capture and slaughter of dolphins in Japan.
Porter, who used to believe some animals must be captive educational ambassadors for their species, is beginning to doubt the value of shows, where animals are forced to perform tricks.
"Are we really educating and providing the best representation of wild animals in an aquarium?" he asked.
The artificial, sterile environment in which most marine mammals are kept bears little resemblance to their habitat. Killer whales are likely to become frustrated, increasing the chance they will lash out, he said.
But from the start of the Solomons project, Porter said he saw himself as saving dolphins, which were being slaughtered by the thousands by islanders there, who used their teeth as currency.
Hunters have now been educated to realize there can be a much larger value in dolphins, Porter said.
"When I got there a dolphin was worth $20, and last year dolphins were worth $140,000," he said.
Porter's Free-the-Pod venture is likely to
Claws out over Lion Man's lost kingdom
DEATH threats have been made to Craig "Lion Man" Busch and his replacement at the big cat park as tensions between the two camps threaten to boil over.
The threats against Craig and Tim Husband come ahead of Wednesday's court case over the fatal mauling of handler Dalu Mncube last May.
Sunday News this week received a copy of a threat to Craig's official website from an email address entitled "CraigBuschMustDie". It claimed to be written in response to his treatment of the park's cats including declawing them.
This newspaper has also been sent photos showing big cats lured to almost the top of their enclosure's wire fences by keepers, as tourists watch nearby.
The images, which also appear on Craig's official Facebook page, have sparked outrage among his fans who have raised both public safety and welfare concerns.
Management from the Zion Wildlife Gardens, near Whangarei, were unavailable for comment.
Craig's spokeswoman would not comment on the specific nature of the photos, but speaking
Steve Irwin's Six-Year-Old Son Training to Feed Crocodiles
For now he's feeding the new giraffes at Australia Zoo but by the end of the year six-year-old Robert Irwin hopes to be feeding crocodiles, The (Brisbane) Sunday Mail reported.
The son of the late Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin wants to take after his father and has been undergoing written lessons on croc feeding.
His mother Terri expects he could be in the Crocoseum at the Australia Zoo with sister Bindi, 11, by the end of the year.
Robert was only one month old when his father famously dangled him a few feet from the jaws of a crocodile while feeding it.
The spitting image of Steve, Robert has taken a shine to reptiles. He told journalists Saturday about his favorite feature of the planned expansion of Australia Zoo to include a resort which will overlook
Jackson Zoo's Sumatran tigers get $1.2M yard
Instead of small dirt and concrete runs, the Jackson Zoo's three Sumatran tigers now have an 6,500-square-foot grass yard with a pool, waterfall, and lots of trees.
The three tigers - Emerson, Kipling and Taymor - are brothers. Director Beth Poff tells The Clarion-Ledger that the new enclosure has enough space for five tigers. She says any decision about whether to bring in a female is at least a year in the future.
Construction contractor Donald Hammons
Cincinnati Zoo Rhino Will Not Be A Dad
"Ratu", the mate of “Andalas,” the Cincinnati Zoo’s first Sumatran rhino calf , has lost her pregnancy.
Andalas and Ratu, both eight-years-old, were expecting a calf in May of 2011. Both are living at the Sumatran Rhine Sanctuary in Indonesia.
An ultrasound revealed Ratu was pregnant in early February. However, recent examinations indicate that the embryo is no longer present. Officials say this is not unusual for a rhino's first pregnancy and they continue to hope that the two will mate and produce an offspring.
Andalas was borng in 2001, the first Sumatran rhino born in captivity in 112 years. Ratu, a native Indonesian, wandered into a village just outside the Way Kambas Park and was brought to the Sanctuary to keep her safe. The two rhinos will remain at the 250-acre complex built and supported by the International Rhino Foundation.
Considered the most endangered of all rhino species and perhaps the most endangered mammal species on earth, it is estimated that 50 percent of the Sumatran rhino population has been lost in the past 15 years. The primary cause is conversion of rhino habitat for agriculture, even
FDLE clears zoo president
Lex Salisbury might have had a conflict of interest when he was Lowry Park Zoo president and CEO at the same time he was setting up a for-profit exotic animal park, but he didn't break any laws, according to the results of a yearlong investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The FDLE report, released Wednesday, came on the heels of a city inquiry into Salisbury's dealings with the Tampa zoo. The city's inquiry was spurred by a News Channel 8 and Tampa Tribune investigation showing that zoo money, staff and supplies were used in Salisbury's efforts to start a for-profit exotic animal park in Polk County called Safari Wild.
Tampa's audit, initiated by Mayor Pam Iorio, flagged more than $200,000 in specific expenses. Auditors found that Salisbury gave himself an unauthorized bonus, took a zoo-paid side trip to Paris after an international conference, and traded a lawnmower to the zoo for an antique Mercedes safari vehicle.
But in the 13-page FDLE report issued Wednesday, assistant statewide prosecutor Harold Bennett concluded there was "no evidence to support allegations that Salisbury intended to use the structures built at Safari Wild for
Can Animals Be Gay?
The Laysan albatross is a downy seabird with a seven-foot wingspan and a notched, pale yellow beak. Every November, a small colony of albatrosses assembles at a place called Kaena Point, overlooking the Pacific at the foot of a volcanic range, on the northwestern tip of Oahu, Hawaii. Each bird has spent the past six months in solitude, ranging over open water as far north as Alaska, and has come back to the breeding ground to reunite with its mate. Albatrosses can live to be 60 or 70 years old and typically mate with the same bird every year, for life. Their “divorce rate,” as biologists term it, is among the lowest of any bird.
When I visited Kaena Point in November, the first birds were just returning, and they spent a lot of their time gliding and jackknifing in the wind a few feet overhead or plopped like cushions in the sand. There are about 120 breeding albatrosses in the colony, and gradually, each will arrive and feel out the crowd for the one other particular albatross it has been waiting to have sex with again. At any given moment in the days before Thanksgiving, some birds may be just turning up while others sit there killing time. It feels like an airport baggage-claim area.
Once together, pairs will copulate and collaboratively incubate a single egg for 65 days. They take shifts: one bird has to sit at the nest while the other flaps off to fish and eat for weeks at a time. Couples preen each other’s feathers and engage in elaborate mating behaviors and displays. “Like when you’re in a couple,” Marlene Zuk, a biologist who has visited the colony, explained to me. “All those sickening things that couples do that gross out everyone else but the two people in the couple? . . . Birds have the same thing.” I often saw pairs sitting belly to belly, arching their necks and nuzzling together their heads to form a kind of heart shape. Speaking on Oahu a few years ago as first lady, Laura Bush praised Laysan albatross couples for making lifelong commitments to one another. Lindsay C. Young, a biologist who studies the Kaena Point colony, told me: “They were supposed to be icons of monogamy: one male and one female. But I wouldn’t assume that what you’re looking at is a male and a female.”
Young has been researching the albatrosses on Oahu since 2003; the colony was the focus of her doctoral dissertation at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, which she completed last spring. (She now works on conservation projects as a biologist for hire.) In the course of her doctoral work, Young and a colleague discovered, almost incidentally, that a third of the pairs at Kaena Point actually consisted of two female birds, not one male and one female. Laysan albatrosses are one of countless species in which the two sexes look basically identical. It turned out that many of the female-female pairs, at Kaena Point and at a colony that Young’s colleague studied on Kauai, had been together for 4, 8 or even 19 years — as far back as the biologists’ data went, in some cases. The female-female pairs had been incubating eggs together, rearing chicks and just generally passing under everybody’s nose for what you might call “straight” couples.
Young would never use the phrase “straight couples.” And she is adamantly against calling the other birds “lesbians” too. For one thing, the same-sex pairs appear to do everything male-female pairs do except have sex, and Young isn’t really sure, or comfortable judging, whether that technically qualifies them as lesbians or not. But moreover, the whole question is meaningless to her; it has nothing to do with her research. “ ‘Lesbian,’ ” she told me, “is a human term,” and Young — a diligent and cautious scientist, just beginning to make a name in her field — is devoted to using the most aseptic language possible and resisting any tinge of anthropomorphism. “The study is about albatross,” she told me firmly. “The study is not about humans.” Often, she seemed to be mentally peer-reviewing her words before speaking.
A discovery like Young’s can disorient a wildlife biologist in the most thrilling way — if he or she takes it seriously, which has traditionally not been the case. Various forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs. A female koala might force another female against a tree and mount her, while throwing back her head and releasing what one scientist described as “exhalated belchlike sounds.” Male Amazon River dolphins have been known to penetrate each other in the blowhole. Within most species, homosexual sex has been documented only sporadically, and there appear to be few cases of individual animals who engage in it exclusively. For more than a century, this kind of observation was usually tacked onto scientific papers as a curiosity, if it was reported at all, and not pursued as a legitimate research subject. Biologists tried to explain away what they’d seen, or dismissed it as theoretically meaningless — an isolated glitch in an otherwise elegant Darwinian universe where every facet of an animal’s behavior is geared toward reproducing. One primatologist speculated that the real reason two male orangutans were fellating each other was
Lions seized from B.C. man whose fiancee was killed by tiger
An animal trainer whose fiancee was killed by a tiger at a B.C. zoo three years ago could face charges of violating the very laws that were spurred by her death.
Kim Carlton's fiancee, Tania Dumstrey-Soos, 32, was killed by a tiger at Siberian Magic, his exotic-animal zoo near 100 Mile House, B.C., in 2007.
She had been standing outside the tiger's cage saying good night when the big cat inexplicably lashed out, apparently killing her with a single paw swipe, according to reports at the time.
The tragedy spurred the provincial government to regulate dangerous-animal ownership.
Carlton is now back in the exotic-pet business with a film agency called the Vanishing Kingdom.
Environment Minister Barry Penner confirmed that two African lion cubs have been seized from Carlton in connection with allegations of "the unlawful breeding of controlled alien species contrary to the B.C. Wildlife Act."
The new breeding laws were phased into effect last spring, Penner said. The cubs, seized about three weeks ago, are being kept in a safe, undisclosed location, he added.
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said charges are being reviewed.
Carlton, a former pro fighter-turned-animal trainer, recently said he was tricked into the seizure. Agents invited him to bring the cubs to a fake children's birthday party near 100 Mile House.
"They set me up. They called me for a birthday
Tough Start For Zoo-Born Rhino
A baby white rhinoceros recently born at Hamilton Zoo had a rough start to life but is now making good progress.
The male calf was born at the zoo in the early hours of Friday, 12 March to first-time mum Kito (9-years-old) and father Kruger (21-years-old).
Born with blood blisters in his eyes, the calf had almost zero vision at birth.
Hamilton Zoo acting director Samantha Kudeweh said the calf's eye problem caused further difficulties when it came to feeding.
"In the end staff had to milk Kito in order to bottle-feed the calf, as his lack of vision and Kito's inexperience as a mother meant they weren't having any success with suckling," said Mrs Kudeweh.
"However since then the calf's eyesight has gradually improved and with support from staff a breakthrough came five days after the birth when the calf found the right spot
A zoo-per kind of love
As a young man, Manny Tangco, owner and manager of Malabon Zoo, often wondered why a man would build something as beautiful as Taj Mahal in the name of the woman he loves. Until Bubut Obusan came strutting her way to his life.
Manny remembers the day so vividly, like it was only yesterday. He arrived in his office and found his desk, drawers, and cabinets completely empty. Then, in came a lady who looked him straight in the eye without saying a word. It was like a scene in a romantic movie. Well, not exactly. But it was close to that.
“I was caught off guard. It was as if the clouds outside stirred in rapid movements and there was a sudden haze inside the room,” Manny said. “I learned later that she was a new employee in our company and one of her first tasks was to bring all my stuff to my new office because of my promotion. I was smitten the first time I laid eyes on her.”
It went on from there. They became friends, worked together, and got to know each other more. Then one Sunday, Manny mustered the guts to ask her out. They shunned the typical candlelight dinner and spent their first date shopping for plants.
“I asked her if she wanted to shop for plants and she said yes. So we drove to Puerto Azul in Cavite to buy all sorts of plants and took a walk on the beach after that,” he shared.
As their relationship flourished, so did the number of horses, lions, tigers, grizzly bears, monkeys, birds, fishes and various plants in Manny’s collection. And when he decided to resign from the corporate world to work full time on his animals, he finally proposed to Bubut.
“It was funny because we were plant shopping in Tagaytay that time. He bought this huge palm tree he’s been saving up for and asked me to marry him. I didn’t notice the ring he was holding so I thought, ‘Is this an engagement tree?’” Bubut recalled laughing.
They got married in 1989 and together they developed and improved a small garden and turned it into one of Malabon’s main attractions, the Malabon Zoo. Manny’s personal
Chimpanzee Love In The Air At Zoo Negara
Love is in the air at Zoo Negara, with the chimpanzees having a swinging time with their new-found mates.
The zoo is playing matchmaker to breed more chimpanzees, with help from New Zealand's Hamilton Zoo and social organisation Way Out Experiences (WOX).
'Black', one of the four chimpanzees selected to take part in the breeding programme, has been given a new partner. His father, 'Raja', will soon be united with another mate.
Zoo director Dr Mohamad Ngah hoped this would be a start to a new generation of chimpanzees at the zoo which had been without baby chimps for some time.
"If this programme is successful, it will become a milestone in Zoo Negara's conservation efforts," he told a news conference Friday.
Reporters were taken to the zoo's Mawas Centre to view the four chimpanzees and 'Tina', a seven-year-old female chimpanzee from the Taiping Zoo.
Fourteen-year-old 'Black' and 'Tina' were united a week ago, and it was love at first sight.
"We hope 'Black' and 'Tina' will soon breed baby chimps to motivate 'Raja' and 'Cumbi' to do the same," said the centre's supervisor, Ishak Bakar.
The breeding programme is considered a challenge because uniting a group of chimpanzees is not as easy as it looks. Their suitability is of primary importance.
"Understanding chimps is complex, but rewarding. Some of them are very dominant and some feel inferior. The first few days are usually spent to get to know their personalities
Brookfield Zoo's new CT scanner saves animals a trip
The days of hauling dolphins, gorillas and tigers from Brookfield Zoo to Loyola University Medical Center for checkups are over.
The Maywood hospital donated a CT scanner able to handle weights of up to 400 pounds to the zoo, which joins the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo as the only zoos in the country with on-site scanners.
"It makes it much easier and safer for the animals," said Michael Adkesson, a zoo veterinarian who scanned an aardvark named Jessi for possible dental problems Thursday. "When we take an animal to Loyola, it has to be under anesthesia for the move."
Most of the animals are still anesthetized for the quick scans. Slow-moving turtles and small amphibians that are unlikely to move in the seconds needed are the exceptions, he said.
The CT scanner will be used as part of the zoo's routine wellness checks, Adkesson said. For 6-year-old Jessi, that means a check of the teeth, which are hard to examine because of her distinctive snout.
"Her mouth doesn't open very wide, and she has a long tongue, which makes it very difficult," he said. The scan gave
Gorillas in the midst of grieving: London Zoo's three lonely 'wives' mourn the loss of their mate Yeboah
The reaction was a very human one. The three females sat apart, making no eye contact, sometimes staring at the ground for minutes on end.
During breaks in the rain, they got up and mooched around forlornly, mourning their lost mate.
They had known Yeboah for only a few weeks. But the sudden death of the western lowland gorilla has clearly had a great impact on his 'wives'.
It is also a tragedy for London Zoo. Yeboah was 12 and this is the second time in less than two years that it has lost a young male gorilla to unexpected illness.
In December 2008, Bobby - a 25-year-old silverback - was found dead in his nest after a heart attack.
The average lifespan of a gorilla in captivity is between 35 and 45 years.
Yeboah, who weighed 20 stone, had been brought over from France in November to breed with the zoo's three females.
After months of gradual in
White Bengal tiger cub makes debut at zoo
It was a big day for little Zusha.
The 11-week-old white Bengal tiger cub made her debut as Washington Park Zoo’s newest resident Thursday, trotting across the zoo’s courtyard with Mayor Chuck Oberlie in tow. Like any toddler, Zusha (pronounced Zoosha) was curious about those who were allowed to pet her, and got a little grumpy when zoo workers tried to hold her.
She had little patience for photographers, pausing just long enough to gulp down the last bottle of formula she’ll ever drink.
She’s growing up fast, said the zoo’s general curator Elizabeth Emerick. As one of only two white tigers at zoos across the state, Zusha’s a very special baby.
“It’s definitely been an interesting experience getting to raise her,” Emerick said. “It’s neat to watch her develop.”
Zusha was born Jan. 14 at Wildwood Wildlife Park in Minocqua, Wis., and was brought to Michigan City just 12 days later, weighing only 5 pounds. Emerick bottle fed her every three hours, up to seven feedings a day. And she took the cub home with her every night for three months, letting her sleep in a spare bedroom.
“My cat pretty much hid from her. She wanted to play a lot and tried to pounce on him a few times, but he would just run away really fast,” Emerick joked. “She required lots of attention.”
Zusha moved into the zoo full time last week, Emerick said. She’ll live in the nursery, which now has a glass front so visitors can see what she’s up to. She won’t move in with the rest
Inseparable for 15 years, zoo's otters die together
They were inseparable in life, so it is perhaps not surprising that they went together in death.
When one of Natureland Zoo's two male otter old-timers died last week, his longtime companion was unable to carry on life alone.
It is believed Daz, 19, and Chip, 16 - both having lived to ripe old ages for otters - died of heart attacks within an hour of each other.
"The biggest consolation for us was that we weren't left with one lonely otter. As much as we hated what had happened," said zoo operations manager Gail Sutton.
The pair had been residents of the Nelson zoo for 15 years and had lived largely healthy lives until they recently fell ill, she said.
"About two weeks ago they were a bit off-colour. And so we ran tests on them, and with the vets we decided to give them
'Killer elephant' Laxmi still in chains
Mahouts keep elephant chained for several hours during the day as a precautionary measure; activists feel it's unfair on the animal
Four days after Laxmi killed an intruder in her enclosure at Byculla zoo, the 55-year-old elephant has been kept bound to chains for the most part of the day. While Anarkali, the other elephant in the zoo, is set free in the enclosure, the mahouts are cautious with Laxmi.
One of the mahouts said, "From the time Laxmi killed the man, we have to constantly keep a watch on her. She is kept chained as a precaution, otherwise it may be difficult to control her if an incident occurs again."
However, J C Khanna, secretary of Bombay Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, believes animals
National Zoo continues to check for signs of panda pregnancy
The National Zoo said Thursday that the crucial period in Washington's annual giant panda pregnancy watch began last month, when experts detected the start of a rise in hormone levels in its adult female, Mei Xiang.
Once these levels start to rise, it is usually 40 to 60 days to the time when the panda gives birth or concludes what scientists call a false or pseudopregnancy, which is common in pandas and other bears.
Zoo reproduction expert Janine Brown said a panda's level of the hormone progesterone goes up when the bear first goes into heat, and then starts to go up a second time 70 to 100 days later. It is during the second rise that experts believe, if the panda is pregnant, the embryo implants in the uterus. Mei Xiang's secondary rise began around the middle of last month, Brown said.
"We're guessing the end of her breeding season is going to be around early May," she said.
At the end of that time, the panda's hormone level will drop back to baseline. "If we don't see a cub at that point, we just assume she was pseudopregnant," Brown said.
Mei Xiang, 11, was artificially inseminated Jan. 9 and 10 with semen from the zoo's male panda, Tian Tian, 12. The two adults are the parents of Tai Shan,
Rescued Lions Are The Pride Of Yorkshire
Thirteen lions rescued from Romania have "vastly improved" since arriving in South Yorkshire five weeks ago, according to the vet who is caring for them.
The pride of African lions was saved from an uncertain future when Oradea Zoo admitted it could not look after the animals properly.
A £150,000 fundraising campaign paid for them to be flown to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, near Doncaster, where they will stay for the rest of their lives.
Vet Alan Tevendale says they arrived from Romania suffering from open sores caused by living in cramped, wet pens.
Standing outside their new quarantine accommodation, also paid for with donations from the public, he said the beasts have put on weight and look much healthier.
"There were plenty of wounds and sores on them before, that have healed up beautifully," Mr Tevendale said.
"Their general condition now is a vast improvement."
The lions will go on display this summer in a nine-acre lion enclosure which is currently under construction.
It is thought they have never been
Steve Irwin's dream lives on
AUSTRALIA Zoo hopes to employ “hundreds of Aussies” as part of its ambitious plan to create a wildlife showcase in Las Vegas.
Terri Irwin said the US zoo would employ almost 900 people and would be followed by an African themed resort at Beerwah which would employ another 1000.
Ms Irwin said the Las Vegas facility would not only promote her late husband’s animal conservation message to some of the 37 million visiting Las Vegas each year – but also Australia’s tourism.
The wife of the late Crocodile Hunter said he had signed off on a 10-year business plan which included the Las Vegas venture two months before he died.
He would be so excited. You know what he would be saying… ‘Go quicker because you are not doing it quick enough’,” she said.
“Steve’s dreams are exactly what we are following.
“Las Vegas was very much part of the plan.”
Ms Irwin told a VIP breakfast on Thursday, celebrating the Zoo’s 40th birthday, that tourism had the potential to replace mining as the nation’s biggest employer.
“Australia is the most incredible tourism destination on the planet,” she said.
She said the Las Vegas facility would go a long way to promote everything about Australia, including Steve Irwin himself.
“I think our new slogan should be: Australia…it’s closer than you think,” she said.
Ms Irwin said she hoped to see a turning of the sod for the US facility next year and completing construction two years after that.
Work could start on the Coast resort about 18 months later, once the Las Vegas facility was operating.
She said the US project would be a ‘stabiliser’ for the Coast resort which would have 300-350 rooms.
Ms Irwin paid tribute to Steve’s father Bob and mother Lyn for their 22 years of work in running Australia Zoo after first opening it out of a caravan in 1970.
Bob Irwin, who suffered a heart attack on the weekend, was not at the celebration but Ms Irwin said they had been in contact.
“I know that Bob is the
Chimps go bananas for island bridge
Chimpanzees at a wildlife park saw their horizons expand with the opening of a new bridge linking different parts of their enclosure.
The £80,000 six-tonne steel structure spans 40 metres of water to link the chimp house on the mainland with their island.
It is thought the bridge at Blair Drummond Safari Park near Stirling is the first in the world to take chimps across
Turkish zoo expects 1.5 million visitors in 2010
The Gaziantep Zoo is located on a land of 1,000,000 square meters and has around 4,000 animals from 250 species.
Authorities of the Gaziantep Zoo are expecting 1.5 million visitors in 2010.
The Gaziantep Zoo is located on a land of 1,000,000 square meters and has around 4,000 animals from 250 species.
The Gaziantep Zoo happens to be Turkey's biggest zoo and is among the most popular zoos in Europe.
Aside from receiving visitors from all corners of Turkey, the Zoo also attracts visitors from Aleppo, Syria.
Speaking to the AA, Director General of the Gaziantep Zoo, Celal Ozsoyler, said that "Syrians love the Gaziantep Zoo".
After the mutual visa requirement was lifted by Turkey and Syria recently, we are receiving dozens of Syrians on a daily basis. We expect more visitors as the temperatures in Gaziantep are getting warmer with the arrival of spring, Ozsoyler said.
The construction of the Gaziantep Zoo began in 1998 and ended in 2001.
Gaziantep is amongst the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world. The city has two central districts under its administration, Sahinbey and Sehitkamil, and the metropolitan area has a total population of 1,252,329 (2007) and an area of 7,642 square kilometers (2,950 sq mi). Gaziantep
Bronx Zoo sponsors race to save lions
Bronxites need to get their running shoes ready and prepare to unleash their wild side in preparation for the 2nd Annual Wildlife Conservation Society Bronx Zoo’s “Run for the Wild.”
In its second year, the “Run for the Wild” was started to raise funding for the benefit one of the many animals in need of assistance, and possibly even facing extinction.This year funds raised will help the endangered tigers.
According to the WCS, their estimates indicate that there may be as few as 3,000 tigers left in the wild today, with roughly half of those living in India, and possibly only about 1,000 breeding females.
The 5K run/walk, held on Saturday, April 24, begins at the Bronx River parking lot entrance and finishes at the Fountain Circle.The runners will get a chance to enjoy the scenery as they stride by nearly all of the zoo’s areas and attractions.
Competitive runners can choose to enter the race as an individual runner, which will begin at 8:30 a.m.More casual runners, walkers or families can participate in the Family Fun Run/Walk, which will begin at 9 a.m.
Prizes will be awarded to those who raise the most money for the cause.The top individual fundraiser will receive the “Tiger Breakfast,” a chance to bring a party of 10 on a personalized tour of Tiger Mountain
Zoo Holds Easter Egg Hunt For Orangutans
Every year, Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa hosts an Easter egg hunt.
Like any similar event, the goodies are hidden bright and early.
But this egg hunt isn't for zoo visitors. It's for the residents -- five Bornean orangutans.
Zookeepers say the event has a stimulating effect for the primates.
"They get real excited," said primate
Layoffs won't hurt public's zoo experience, director says
Proposed layoffs and budget cuts at Springfield’s Henson Robinson Zoo won’t be noticed by the public and won’t hurt the quality of care given to animals, the zoo’s director said Friday.
“It is very unfortunate that it’s come to this with our budget,” said Talon Thornton. “But we’re going to still provide the same exact services to the public and provide the same level of care for the animal collection. That’s not going to change.”
The Springfield Park District has announced plans to lay off 27 full-time employees, including four of seven zookeepers and two of three maintenance workers at the zoo. The layoffs, which take effect at the end of the month, are expected to save about $400,000.
The four laid-off zookeepers, who are represented by a union, will be offered seasonal positions, but the seasonal jobs will come with a pay cut and without benefits. Thornton said the zoo plans to hire a fifth seasonal zookeeper to ensure there’s enough staff.
The seasonal positions will last eight to nine months, but employees will be rotated so that there are six zookeepers working every month. Five will be on duty most days, he said.
Thornton said he doesn’t foresee the cuts causing any problems with the zoo’s accreditation.
Henson Robinson is one of 221 zoos and aquariums nationwide that have received accreditation
Fishing banned on the Sea of Galilee
Fishing in the Sea of Galilee has been banned, Israel's Ministry of Agriculture has announced, amid claims stocks have fallen to a dangerous low.
It is the site where Jesus told his disciples: "I will make you fishers of men." As the Bible tells us, four of the Apostles - James, Andrew, John and Peter - worked as fishermen on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
Were they to ply their trade now, however, the Apostles would find themselves in court. Officials at the Ministry announced the fishing ban, claiming that stocks have fallen to a dangerously
African Wild Cat Escapes from Leesburg Animal Park
The missing feline looks like a large spotted cat and is wearing a harness. This particular animal was hand raised and is not considered to be a threat to residents. Residents are urged not to approach the Serval as it is extremely skittish and will likely run away.
Since it escaped the Leesburg Animal Park—on Route 15 south of Leesburg—the animal has been spotted in the area of Gleedsville Rd. There have been several sightings, but the animal has not yet been confined.
A Serval is a medium-sized African wild cat, related to the lion although it appears
Normally quiet zoo commission gets hot over issue of whether to charge a fee for the St. Louis Zoo
ZOO KNEW?: Insiders on the Metropolitan Zoological Park and Museum District commission say the fur nearly flew at the group’s meeting on Monday when Ben Uchitelle and David Weber again talked about support for charging a fee to get into the St. Louis Zoo.
They are the only two commissioners on the eight-member board who support the idea. Weber and Uchitelle, a former mayor of Clayton, support a measure introduced in the Legislature by Sen. Joan Bray, D-University City, that could set the stage for a vote to expand the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District and its property tax to other area counties.
Donna Knight, who was chairman of the commission last year, was opposed to the idea of charging to get into the zoo and it never
Dusit Zoo's wildlife suffer from rallies
Street rallies in Bangkok are affecting the wildlife at Dusit Zoo, which houses more than 2,000 animals.
The zoo, which is close to the Royal Plaza and parliament where protesters have been gathering, recently relocated 14 animals to provincial zoos.
Three elephants, two cranes, six red kangaroos and three wallabies were moved last month.
The elephants were moved to Songkhla Zoo, while the other animals were sent to Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo.
"We normally relocate animals whose cages are close to Uthong Noi Road, which is close to the gathering site of various protest groups," said Karnchai Saenwong, director of Dusit Zoo.
"Animals that are in other zones will not be moved as they are not much affected by the rallies. We moved them for their own safety. They also may be affected by tear gas if it is used to disperse the protesters." When the situation returned to normal, the animals would be moved back to Dusit Zoo.
Protests by the anti-government United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship have caused the number of zoo visitors to drop by almost 90%, said Mr Karnchai.
In March last year, 2,000 to 6,000 people visited the zoo a day. Last month, there were only 1,000 visitors a day.
"We are not worried about losing money, but we are worried about
At the zoo: In the pink
The hope is that a new island and pool will encourage the zoo’s flamingos to mate.
Although the flock of pink flamingos that resides on the banks of the lake in the Jerusalem Zoo may seem quite large, its numbers are a cause for concern. Keepers are perplexed because the flamingos aren’t breeding, and never have done so. Now a new island in the sun may provide the solution.
Flamingos are found all across Africa, America and southern Europe and can live for well over 50 years. There are several different species, and the zoo has three, the greater flamingo, the lesser flamingo, and the Caribbean flamingo. They get their beautiful pink color from their food. The birds feed on animal and plant plankton that they forage using their specially adapted beaks. Their natural food contains carotenoids, organic pigments that give them their distinctive color.
At the zoo the birds are given beetroot to eat, along with minced meat and fish to provide the natural coloring they need. Aside from their bright color flamingos are notable also in that they stand on one leg. Exactly why the birds do this is unclear, although one theory is that they are resting.
The first flamingos arrived at the zoo 15 years ago. At the time it was hoped that the community would gradually increase in size as chicks were hatched. Flamingos can be reluctant to breed in captivity, but although other
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We invite researchers from around the world to present conservation projects and research results on population management, health, nutrition, reproduction and behavior. On behalf of the EU-Asia Link Elephant Project and the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Chiang Mai University we would like to invite you to participate in the International Symposium on “Health and Reproductive of Elephant Population in Asia” between 31st May 2010 to 2nd June 2010 at The Imperial Maeping Hotel, Chiang Mai. The symposium will organize in full three days long and composed seven main sessions, which are......Learn more HERE