Sunday, May 16, 2010

Zoo News Digest 9th - 16th May 2010 (Zoo News 669)

Zoo News Digest 9th - 16th May 2010 (Zoo News 669)

Hand Rearing of La Plata Dolphin Pontoporia blainvillei
Photo by: Cleber Machado

Dear Colleagues, 

Lots of mixed news items over the past week. You won't find all of them here. Some have been put out directly onto Facebook and or linking back to this blog. Check out the index of blog entries at the right as you may find something of interest there.

Now we have had an attempt at poisoning the Yaks in Kyiv zoo. Just what goes through these peoples heads? So easy to slip into despair. I hope they catch those responsible, and if the Yaks are like the one I once worked with, lock them in the enclosure with them for an hour or two.

The PETA attack on Fort Worth Zoo is interesting. I really don't know the full in's and out's of the case and have not looked at any secret video footage. Within the UK if a person is convicted over cruelty to animals they are not allowed to work in a zoo. In fact the zoo risks losing its licence to operate if it employs such a person. Now I really don't know how things would stand if it was a collection that was prosecuted for animal abuse. Does that really mean that none of the staff could be employed in another zoo? Returning to the PETA attack. They seem to have it in for a guy named Ari Flagle. I hope that whatever investigation is a fair one. I note that one of his reputed crimes was to call animals "garbage". This is where I share a certain affinity with Mr Flagle. I have on occasion referred to some animals as "junk". It really is a case though of knowing the context in which I used the word because anybody who knows me cannot be any doubt of my respect and love for all animals.

When I wrote the article Reindeer Attacks Zoo Keeper Attacks Reindeer it was because I was appalled at what I witnessed. They say the camera (and in this case the YouTube video) does not lie. Only you, I and everybody knows that film clips can be edited to suit. Part of the explanations which appeared on the Zoo Biology group and elsewhere said that this was the case...the whole story was not shown. At the time I stated that the video, as it stood, was an important example of what not to do and could be used for staff training. Only it can't now because it has been removed from YouTube. Okay, I can understand the embarrassment involved but I also believe this sort of censorship is wrong. What was depicted actually did happen. Such censorship is in the same league as the 60 minutes video showing the real Craig Busch. This has been posted up on YouTube now three times and removed each time. There are people out there who really don't want you to know the other side to the story.

Animal Planet made a famous video a few years ago giving a very glowing representation of the Tiger Temple in Thailand. In fact that one programme of theirs is one of the main reasons as to why the Temple became famous and has as many visitors as it does today. Last Tuesday they made another programme showing the other side of the story, or at least a part of it. This was quite horrific in itself though. What bothers me now is that people will still visit but now be 'abuse spotting'. Not good but perhaps, just perhaps a step in the right direction. In spite of a couple of suggestions I am still unaware of any zoo anywhere in the world that is warning people away from visiting the Tiger Temple.

So NOAH'S Ark Zoo Farm have been given approval for the building of their elephant house and approved by an appointed DEFRA inspector. All well and good. They will then need the elephants of course and the experienced keepers to care for them. Experienced elephant keepers are hard to come by and zoos that have them try their best to hang on to them. My real interest in the current story is that the Weston Mercury reports "the Born Free Foundation also denied that the planning application had been formulated in consultation with the charity". Why on earth should they have been consulted? What sort of stupid idea would that be? CAPS too jumping up and down making a fuss because they have their own set of guidelines. If a DEFRA zoo inspector has given approval then that is good enough for me. Mind you I would undoubtedly have a personal opinion should I ever visit. Wouldn't we all?

Another story of interest was 'Dyslexic wildlife boss slams 'prejudiced' teachers'. And so he should. I am not dyslexic but I do know many people who are. In conversation with an ex zoo colleague the other day she stated that a quarter of zoo staff are dyslexic. I don't know how close she is to the truth with the statement but from personal observation I don't think she was far off. It certainly does not make for poor keepers. It is rather like university degrees. The worst zoo keeper I ever knew had a university degree....but then again so did the best!

The story of the sunglasses in the Tiger enclosure does not surprise me at all. I have long since lost count of the pairs I have dredged from moats...along with cameras and other odd objects. I always found it amusing when a primate got hold of a pair, especially if pricey. As the money tried them on there was amusement which quickly ran to despair as dismantling began. Car keys were another thing. 'Could we retrieve them?'...yes but not till tomorrow morning.

White, in this case leucistic otters. Wow, what a great draw for the Blue Planet Aquarium. I hope that they thrive. Such naturally occurring oddities of nature are truly a wonderful thing. Because I have a special interest in otters I would actually like to see them myself. The only aspect of their arrival that worries me is that if they should fall into the hands of some irresponsible breeder or zoo who would then try to propagate such a line.  There already exists a ready market in many Asian countries but it is not there alone. Look around you in Europe at the collections with groups of White Wallabies, White Rheas, White Lions and of course White Tigers. All deliberately produced by man and contributing nothing at all to conservation.

I found the link 'All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds' of more than average interest though I doubt the creationists will. Darwin's theory of evolution is a concrete and inarguable fact.

Friday evening saw the arrival of the latest threatening email. The second this week. This one was especially nasty and written in vitriol. I have to watch my back. I appear to make more enemies than friends with the things I write about. It is at times like these that I am glad I am no longer married and that my kids have long since left home. The kind of people who write such abuse are just a fine line away from the physical. I don't like the idea of people close to me being hurt or abused.

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Yaks poisoned in Kyiv zoo receive emergency care
Representatives of Kyiv zoo state that unknown people threw food to an open-air cage with two yaks last night. As a result of this the animals needed urgent resuscitation aid.
According to the press service of Kyiv zoo, the yaks were rescued thanks to emergency medical aid given by specialists of veterinary medical

Asian ivory trade poses danger to African elephant
Carefully, the Chinese ivory dealer pulled out an elephant tusk cloaked in bubble wrap and hidden in a bag of flour. Its price: $17,000.
"Do you have any idea how many years I could get locked away in prison for having this?" said the dealer, a short man in his 40s, who gave his name as Chen.
A surge in demand for ivory in Asia is fuelling an illicit trade in elephant tusks, especially from Africa. Over the past eight years, the price of ivory has gone up from about $100 per kilogram ($100 per 2.2 pounds) to $1,800, creating a lucrative black market.
Experts warn that if the trade is not stopped, elephant populations could dramatically plummet. The elephants could be nearly extinct by 2020, some activists say. Sierra Leone lost its last elephants in December, and Senegal has fewer than 10 left.
"If we don't get the illegal trade under control soon, elephants could be wiped out over much of Africa, making recovery next to impossible," said Samuel K. Wasser, director of the Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington. "The impact that loss of this keystone species would have on African ecosystems is difficult to even imagine."
Wasser estimated that the illegal trade is about 100 times the legal trade, with a value of $264 million over the past decade.
Demand for ivory runs strong in the Chinese city of Putian, which sits directly across from Taiwan, its outskirts crowded with factories owned by Taiwanese businessmen. These businessmen have

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Elephant polo the sport of kings
IT makes you want to say “jolly hockey sticks” or something just as old-fashioned and heartily British.
Except we're not in England and it's not hockey sticks that are involved. It's polo sticks. Being wielded by pucker-looking riders on elephants rather than horses. However, even though we are in Chiang Rai in the Golden Triangle in the north of Thailand, it's still all terribly British.
That's mostly due to the glorious toffee-nosed accent of the commentator and the spiffy polo gear of the players. The field is crowded with leather boots and tight cream pants. It's all very good looking.
The spectators sitting on lounge chairs sipping gin and tonics might be few, but they add to the exclusivity of the event. There is no doubt this is especially for the privileged.
Indeed, our commentator has advised us over the blaring microphone that a Texan billionaire has just landed her private jet nearby and will be joining us other non-billionaires shortly.
This is the annual King's Cup Elephant Polo Tournament, an elite event held each year in the grounds of the Anantara Golden Triangle Resort, presenting a series of matches that have devotees in a lather, and others (us) having

Shark Exhibited At Monterey Aquarium Dies
Great White Shark Caught In Baja California
A great white shark that was returned to the wild by the Monterey Bay Aquarium last year died after it was caught in a fishing net off Baja California.
The shark was on exhibit at the aquarium for 69 days prior to being released last November.
Aquarium officials said the female shark traveled about 500 miles south before being caught in early March in a gill net set by a fisherman in the waters off of Ensenada, Mexico.
“This just underscores the threats that these young sharks face in the wild,” said Randy Hamilton, vice president of husbandry for the aquarium. “Though they’re legally protected in both California and Mexico, they are still caught accidentally by commercial fishermen on both sides of the border. Not all of them survive.”
The shark is only one of five exhibited at the

Animal-rights groups, city spar over Edmonton elephant
A lawyer fighting to release Lucy the elephant from Edmonton's Valley Zoo said this week authorities are not looking out for her well-being, while the city said animal-rights groups have no standing in the court application to have the elephant sent to a sanctuary.
Onlookers packed a room in Court of Queen's Bench on Tuesday while lawyers sparred over the 34-year-old Asian elephant that resides at the city zoo.
Animal-rights groups want the judge to issue a declaratory judgment that Lucy is in distress, deprived of adequate shelter and space, or that she is in pain and suffering — all conditions not permitted

Venezuela Protects Jaguar Population
Venezuelan specialists began a research to determine the amount and location of jaguars, included in 2008 in the category of Near Threatened of the Red List of Threatened Species.
The Ministry of Science and Technology indicated that the data will permit to structure a network of ecological paths that allow the free movement of animals affected by the fragmentation of their habitats by human activity.
Displacement is indispensable for the survival and evolution of the species because allows the flow of genes through reproduction.
Among the field methods to collect information about jaguars and their prey includes photographs and recordings with cameras with infrared sensors, record of marks (tracks and droppings), and direct observations.
They will also collect skulls, bones and furs to be analyzed by means of isolation techniques and sequencing of mitochondrial DNA to identify groups of individuals along with evidences of other kind and to establish comparisons.
The Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Investigations ((IVIC), the National Experimental University Simon Rodriguez and the Mammals Research Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences among others are taking part of this research.
Jaguar, also known as otorongo, tiger, yaguar and yaguarete is identified scientifically as Panthera onca, belonging to the class of mammals

Hand-raised clouded leopard cubs radio-collared
Two hand-raised clouded leopard cubs have been radio-collared as a step towards their return to the wild under an initiative of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), and its partner the Wildlife Trust of India (WTI).
The radio-collars will help rehabilitators track the movement of the cubs as they leave human care and begin exploring on their own.
According to WTI, the tree-dwelling species found in India’s northeast region, the clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) is in peril today with only about 10,000 remaining in the wild. The clouded leopard is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and is classified ‘vulnerable’ in IUCN Red List of threatened species.
A WTI press release stated “BTC has been supporting this effort to rehabilitate these clouded leopards in Ripu Reserve Forest - a part of Manas Tiger Reserve - and we are eagerly waiting

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Czech gorilla-mania helps animals in Cameroon
Gorillas in Cameroon are finding an unlikely source of help -- a wave of interest in the Czech Republic fed by a primate reality show and a zoo's fundraising drive using recycled mobile phones.
The birth of a baby gorilla at Prague Zoo was broadcast live in April on an Internet radio show starring the animals, which has proved a huge hit among the Czech public since it was launched in 2007.
The tiny ape's arrival coincided with the launch of the zoo's new project to raise money for a UNESCO-listed gorilla-breeding reserve in the western African nation of Cameroon with cash raised from used mobiles.
"Our class has brought 30 phones altogether. I had old phones at home so I brought five," said Maximilian Kovacs, 11, a school pupil who was among several hundred invited to visit the zoo for just one koruna (four euro cents) each, on condition that every class brings at least 20 cell phones.
"I asked my mum to ask her colleagues at work if they had old cell phones. She brought me two," his classmate Tereza

Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort Hosts Reintroduction Specialist Group
The Al Ain Wildlife Park & Resort (AWPR) is hosting a two-day workshop which will gather some of the world’s leading conservation and re-introduction experts to start drafting a set of guidelines for conservation that take into account the effects of climate change on the re-introduction of species back to their natural habitats.
Reintroduction has been successfully used to conserve a number of threatened plant and animal species-examples include the Arabian oryx and Houbara bustard in the Middle East.
The two-day workshop welcomes experts from countries around the world working together to develop and revise guidelines on reintroduction processes in light of the effects of climate change. Major institutions such as University of Oxford, Massey University (New Zealand), Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (Rome), Aberdeen University, Endangered Wildlife Trust (South Africa) and the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi will be represented at the workshop. The workshop will be chaired by Dr. Mark Stanley Price of the University of Oxford, a field biologist who worked on the initial oryx releases in Oman.
The Reintroduction Specialist Group (RSG), whose Secretariat is based at EAD Abu Dhabi, was formed to promote the reintroduction of endangered populations of animals and plants back to the wild and plays a significant role in conservation efforts worldwide. The group manages a global network of volunteers and aims to provide reintroduction practitioners with tools such as reintroduction guidelines, networking resources and publications. It is one of over 100 specialist groups that are part of the Species Survival Commission (SSC) under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), an organization dedicated to developing and practicing

Ban on live turtle, frog sales assailed
Asian American politicians and merchants are seething over a new state ban on the importation of live turtles and frogs for sale as food, saying the policy unfairly targets Chinese businesses while ignoring the pet shop industry.
The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the ban last month to prevent people from releasing nonnative species into the state's sensitive habitats. But opponents point out that merchants - who hawk fish and other seafood as well as turtles and frogs for people to eat - are already barred from selling the animals alive.
On Tuesday, six Asian American state legislators, including Assemblywoman Fiona Ma and Sen. Leland Yee, both Democrats from San Francisco, sent a letter to the commission asking it to reconsider the policy.
A "disturbing" part of the policy, they wrote, is that it "appears to disproportionately target Asian American owned businesses," - businesses, they note, that are largely owned and managed

Captive Breeding
Captive breeding provides a means for conserving species that may not survive in the wild. While captive populations are established for many reasons—such as conservation education, exhibit of interesting species, and research—establishing captive populations for saving species from extinction is an important contribution of zoos to conservation.
Many species have been saved from extinction by captive breeding. Examples include

To Help Jaguars Survive, Ease Their Commute
Héctor Porras-Valverdo tried to adopt a Zen attitude when he discovered recently that jaguars had turned two of his cows into carcasses.
The jaguars’ numbers may have dwindled, but they still roam the forests here in eastern Costa Rica, making their presence known by devouring the occasional chicken, pig or cow.
“I understand cats do this because they need to survive,” said Mr. Porras-Valverdo, 41, a burly dairy farmer.
A few years ago, he acknowledged, his first reaction might have been to reach for a gun. But his farm now sits in the middle of land that Costa Rica has designated a “jaguar corridor” — a protected pathway that allows the stealthy, nocturnal

Last South China Tiger - Craig Tracy for Save China's Tigers
"The Last South China Tiger" was created by artist Craig Tracy, in aid of Save China's Tigers' South China Tiger Rewilding project, and in commemoration of SCT's ten year establishment, as well as the Chinese Year of the Tiger (2010). Glycee Prints of the "Last South China Tiger" is available through Save China's Tigers online store:

Employee from raided Arlington animal company now working at Fort Worth Zoo
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called for an independent evaluation of how animals in the Fort Worth Zoo's new herpetarium are cared for since an employee there once worked for an Arlington exotic pet wholesaler shut down after being accused of animal cruelty.
PETA sent a letter Tuesday to Michael Fouraker, the zoo's director, calling for comprehensive evaluation of the care and living conditions of the 177 species of reptiles and amphibians in the Museum of Living Art. A zoo employee who helps care for those animals, Ari Flagle, once worked for U.S. Global Exotics, which made international news last year when Arlington seized 27,000-plus animals because of inhumane conditions.
Arlington's animal cruelty case before a municipal judge relied heavily on testimony, photos and videos taken by undercover PETA investigator Howard Goldman, who worked at U.S. Global Exotics for seven months last year. In some footage, Flagle is shown violently shaking tree frogs out of the narrow opening of a plastic soft drink

PETA Calls for Review of Fort Worth Zoo's Connection to Animal Dealer That Was Raided by Authorities for Cruelty
PETA has fired off a letter to Michael Fouraker, director of the Fort Worth Zoo, urging him to order a comprehensive third-party evaluation of the care and living conditions of the 177 species of animals in the zoo's herpetarium--a facility that houses various species of reptiles and amphibians. Former U.S. Global Exotics (USGE) employee Ari Flagle currently works at the zoo's herpetarium under supervisor Mike Doss.
At the civil seizure hearing to determine the fate of the more than 26,000 animals who were confiscated from USGE, PETA provided the court with video footage from the group's undercover investigation of USGE. The footage shows Flagle violently shaking delicate frogs out of a plastic soda bottle, referring to animals as "garbage," and recommending that the undercover investigator "let [animals] die." Flagle also routinely denied animals food and veterinary care and placed snakes in a freezer to die slowly and painfully. Doss testified that he regularly visited USGE to do business with its owner

'Extreme Makeover: HOG Edition' at Binder Park Zoo
Binder Park Zoo is excited to release a video clip based on the popular television show Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to help promote a campaign to exhibit Red River Hogs at the zoo this summer. Harley and Squeaky, two Red River Hogs currently residing at the Zoo, need your help to renovate their exhibit and become animal ambassadors for the bushmeat crisis in Africa. More information about the campaign and the video can be seen by visiting
“When we were brainstorming ideas about how to get people excited about Harley and Squeaky and this campaign, we decided the best way would be to get them on camera and show their pretty faces to the world,” says Michelle Walbeck, Director of Graphics, Construction, and Facilities. “We had a lot of fun shooting the video and are excited to get the word out about this campaign.”
The video is about three minutes long and is set up as a spoof of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Energetic host Sty Piggington introduces his crew to Harley and Squeaky and gets down to the business of building a new dream home for the Hog family while at the same time telling their story.
“We've been working hard to find a way to get these unique animals out

Nearly extinct Javan rhino found shot, horn chopped off in Vietnam national park
A Javan rhino, one of the world's rarest large mammals, has been found shot dead with its horn chopped off in a national park in southern Vietnam, a suspected victim of poachers, conservationists said Monday.
A team of rangers found the rhino's carcass April 29 inside Cat Tien National Park in Dong Nai province, said park official Bach Thanh Hai. It had already fully decayed, and authorities believe it could have died more than three months ago, he said.
Hai said the animal had been shot one time through the front leg and its horn —considered a valuable ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine — had been removed.
"It's very sad news for our rhino conservation," Hai said.
Authorities suspect that there are only three to five Javan rhinos left in Vietnam, Hai said. The animal was

Dyslexic wildlife boss slams 'prejudiced' teachers
The dyslexic founder of a popular wild animal park has hit back at those who branded him “thick and lazy” at school.
Peter Smith, chief executive of the Canterbury-based Wildwood Trust, says he is living proof that children who suffer from the condition are more than capable of going on to have successful careers.
The 39-year-old will talk to members of the East Kent Dyslexia Support Group later this month, and told KOS Media he hopes his story will inspire youngsters to work hard and “discover their inner strengths”.
Mr Smith, who went to school in Blyth, Northumberland, said: “Dyslexia is not an illness but a gift – a gift that lets you understand the world in amazing ways.
“I was a bright boy at school but one teacher just couldn’t understand why I wasn’t very good at reading or writing. She told

Every month we feature an example of people and animals living together that illustrates “trans-species living”. Much of the transition, from a culture that objectifies and excludes other species from their own self-determination to one that embraces mutual respect, is discussed in words and ideas.
“Trans-species Living” celebrates in images what living well with animals looks like. Through video clips and interviews, we examine ethical and practical terra incognita to explore concretely how animals and humans are learning to share knowledge, culture, and their lives.
Many topics are controversial and challenging. “Trans-species Living” and Kerulos are designed to create a space for mutual respectful “listening, reflecting, and learning” so that

Little Rock Zoo's ban on smoking fails
Despite being housed in a city park, visitors of the Little Rock Zoo can still light up. Smoking is allowed in sections of the popular attraction.
However, there have been unsuccessful attempts by members of the Zoo Board to stop people from smoking on zoo grounds.
There are nine members on the board. Last month, three of them voted to ban smoking at the zoo. The problem with that is that three other board members voted against it. Another member was absent, and there is a vacancy on the board. Without a majority vote for the ban, people can continue to light-up.
At the Zoo, though there are rules in place to protect chimpanzees from second-hand smoke. "Our primates can actually pick-up smoking habits if someone where to fling a cigarette into their exhibit or if they were to see someone smoking that could be very dangerous for them," says Zoo Spokesperson Susan Altrui.
When teacher Karen Bradley Fulton entered the park passing smokers she found out the same rules don't apply to protect her second graders.
"I just thought that was very inappropriate for them to be able to smoke at the zoo," says Fulton.
Inappropriate or not, it's not against the rules. In fact, there are accommodations

Marten found in ibis cage to get new home
A marten caught in a cage for breeding Japanese crested ibises on Sado Island, Niigata Prefecture, will be given a new home at a zoo in Toyama.
The male marten was captured in a cage at the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center, where nine ibises were killed in March. However, it is unclear whether the marten had attacked the rare birds.
The Environment Ministry considered putting the marten down, but eventually decided to give the weasellike creature to Toyama Municipal Family Park Zoo, which already

Police protecting the zoo
Every year hundreds of thousands of people take in the sights and sounds at Columbia's Riverbanks Zoo.
The effort to preserve the 41-year-old zoo is in motion. The goal is to improve security measures that will keep the environment, family friendly.
In the past, visitors enjoying the nearly river have harassed zoo patrons in the parking lot.
"When the zoo was formed back in 1969, there were rules that were established to actually help us inside the zoo," said Riverbanks Zoo Executive Director Satch Krantz. "But there was very little attention paid to the parking lot."
Krantz says the animals aren't the only ones protecting its territory at the zoo; the police may soon beef-up its efforts as well.
"This is not aimed at the regular zoo visitor," said Krantz. "This is aimed at the activities that occur in our parking lot, usually

Pregnant elephant compelled to work for West Bengal's Mandabari Forest Department
In a shocking incident, a 16-month pregnant elephant is being forced to work by the Mandabari Forest Department in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district here in contravention of existing legal directions forbidding it.
According to law, an elephant cannot be used for work after 15 months of pregnancy.
In 2002, Rangini, the female-elephant, had suffered miscarriage when she was forced to work by the department after 15 months of pregnancy.
Animal protection organizations here are livid and allege that Rangini's life is endangered.
"If it (elephant) continues to be deployed for work, it is likely to suffer a miscarriage again like before. If the Forest Department doesn't provide rest to her, all the organizations and institutions have decided to protest," said Sujit Das, member of the Nature and Adventure Society, a non-government organisation working for wildlife.
According to Rangini's mahout, his repeated pleas to the concerned officials to not use the elephant for work were allegedly ignored.
"I was sent back from here to accompany her to Doctor Madam (female veterinarian) and I informed the DFO (Divisional Forest officer) that my elephant's condition is not good, and I am facing

Pub Charity wants $500,000 zoo grant back
A charity which provided $500,000 towards a major new exhibit at Auckland Zoo has asked that the money be paid back following concerns the zoo and its charitable trust misrepresented what was done with the money.
The decision by Pub Charity to seek the return of the grant from the Auckland Zoo Charitable Trust will be a blow to the $16m native exhibit, Te Wao Nui, which is billed as the largest initiative in the zoo's 85-year history but has been plagued by delays and funding shortfalls.
Pub Charity's decision follows a Sunday Star-Times investigation in February which revealed the zoo trust had allegedly provided invoices from previous, unrelated projects - already funded by ratepayers through the capital works budget - to give the impression the money was spent on the purposes it was applied for.
This included $129,488 spent on a water filtration system for Hippo River and $126,676 on strengthening the zoo's aviary - projects senior sources allege were completely unrelated to Te Wao Nui.
There is no suggestion of anyone gaining personally from the alleged deception, rather sources say the money was held in trust to bolster Te Wao Nui's bottom line at a time when the project's future was in doubt because of the economic crisis. Sources say the money should have gone to other community organisations.
It is understood a private investigator brought in by Pub Charity after the Star-Times article provided a report which backed up the newspaper's findings of discrepancies with invoices.
The zoo and the zoo trust deny any wrongdoing and it is understood if they continue to maintain that stance, the matter could end up before the courts.
Penny Whiting, chair of the zoo charitable trust, disputed

Rebirth of a wildlife park?
Son of game preserve's founder envisions resort for nature lovers on same lands
Tigers, rhinos and gorillas no longer ramble around this rolling 360-hectare spread at the corner of Highway 14 and Range Road 223 in Strathcona County.
But for tens of thousands of Edmonton-area schoolkids who ogled their first lion or camel at the Alberta Game Farm in the 1960s or '70s, the memories are fresh.
"One fellow I talked to said, 'You know, your damn emu plucked the popcorn right out of my hand when I was eight,' " chuckles Todd Oeming, whose father Al started the game preserve, once among the world's largest, in 1959.
Al Oeming, a renowned wildlife conservationist, worked in his early years as a pro wrestler, made nature films with Marlin Perkins -- host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom TV show -- and toured

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Elephant plans approved
NOAH'S Ark Zoo Farm has taken a big step forward in its plans to move four elephants to the site.
The owners of the Wraxall attraction hope to build an elephant house and enclosure to house four females and the plans were given the go ahead by North Somerset councillors this afternoon (Thurs).
Members of the central area planning committee voted in favour of approving the planning application but it will now have to be approved by the Secretary of State due to the fact some development falls on green belt land.
The plans show the large elephant house would be built alongside an enclosure measuring two hectares, which would include an outdoor sand yard and pond.
A fence of 4m high would be installed with electric cables running through it with an additional fence to ensure members of the public are not too close.
At today's meeting, Noah's Ark employee Jon Woodward said: "We are not undertaking this project lightly at any stretch of the imagination.
"If we plan this project well we can bring four magnificent animals to Noah's Ark and care for them really well."
Support for the attraction was also offered by Councillor Howard Roberts, who praised its work with animals.
However, Cllr Tom Collinson

Tiger urine deters cats from straying near city
This could just turn out to be a master stroke to ease if not solve man-animal conflict. In a novel experiment, the Nagpur forest division officials used urine of captive tigers in the city's Maharajbagh zoo and sprinkled it near the spots frequented by tigers in Ranmangli village, as close as 60km from Nagpur. The result: tigers have now stopped encroaching from the Bhiwapur forest range to the village.
It was the idea of Dr S S Bawaskar, a young veterinarian who has been with the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth-owned city zoo for last eight years. Harried forest officials, who were ready to take any step to ensure that the conflict doesn't flare up, agreed to work on the suggestion.
The Ranmangli tigress, bearing two sub-adult cubs, had killed a woman last month. This was the first case of a human killed in the area. The thirsty wild cats were coming

Tiger's got my girlfriend's…sunglasses
Attempting to retrieve his girlfriend's dropped sunglasses, a man jumped into the pool of the Northeast Tiger Area at the Shanghai Zoo last month.
After his girlfriend's 3,000 yuan ($429) sunglasses accidentally fell into the pool, the man immediately ordered zoo staff to cage the tigers so he could fish out the sunglasses himself.
Seeing they were hesitant, the man then claimed that he would jump in regardless, which forced the workers to comply to ensure his safety.
Stripping down to his white briefs, the man jumped into the

Vientiane zoo cuts costs to breed Lao crocodile
Vientiane's Ban Keu Zoo has opted for a "natural incubation" technique this year to hatch the eggs of endangered Lao crocodiles to cut costs, a media report said Monday.
Last year the zoo used artificial incubation - keeping the eggs wet and warm in lighted tanks, resulting in successful hatching rate of 70 per cent, the Vientiane Times reported. But the zoo has now opted for the natural method, or putting the eggs in a sawdust-filled box where they stay for a couple months.
"Zookeepers will compare the two methods of incubation and select the most suitable to use next year. The testing is part of efforts to conserve the indigenous Lao crocodile," the state-run newspaper reported.
The zoo is home to more than 300 crocodiles from Southeast Asia - a small number of them Lao specimens also,vientiane-zoo-cuts-costs-to-breed-lao-crocodile.html

A rare pair of white otters are born at Blue Planet Aquarium
A PAIR of extremely rare white otter cubs have been born at the Blue Planet Aquarium.
The duo are part of a litter of three baby Asian short claw otters born at the aquarium at the end of March.
It’s the first time otters have been born at the attraction and it was only when the cubs started appearing outside of their holt that keepers noticed their unusual colourings.
Exhibits manager Tom Cornwell said: “Otter cubs can remain inside the holt for anything up to the first six or seven weeks of their lives. They’re born blind and are completely reliant on their parents to look after them.
“Normally the cubs – like their parents – are dark brown in colour so it came as a major surprise to see

Zoo workers reject tentative deal
Zoo workers have unexpectedly voted down a deal that would have given them a 6% raise over three years, plus a healthy hike in their mileage rates and other benefits.
“It’s kind of surprising,” John Tracogna, the Toronto Zoo’s chief executive officer said Wednesday.
“We negotiated a tentative agreement but in a vote last night the members rejected it.”
Tracogna would not disclose the terms of the tentative deal but sources say it gave the more than 400 full-time workers a 2% raise in each of the next three years. Workboot allowance was to increase to $400 from $350 and the mileage rate to 52 cents a kilometre from 40. There were also improvements to the eye care package.
The two sides are not now in talks but Tracogna said he’s not aware of any immediate plans for job action. The union has been in a position to strike since May 6.
No talks are scheduled. Tracogna said management is trying to get some “clarification” from the union on what might come next.
“We’re hopeful,” he said.
Grant Ankeman, president of CUPE 1600, said he couldn’t comment on the vote or the proposed deal. He said the union is hoping to hear from the zoo over the next couple of days to determine

Community, Zoo Staff Mourn the Loss of Scotty
Life goes on at the Louisville Zoo, though director John Walczak says the loss of three-year-old elephant Scotty has been hard on employees there. Scotty was euthanized last night after a week-long gastrointestinal illness.
Walczak says Scotty was beloved by the community and by his keepers, and his loss has been difficult to deal with.
“It’s a very sad time,” says Walczak. “They’re professionals, but this is a devastating setback, but they’re all in there right now, doing their jobs, and doing it very professionally, but it’s been very hard. We’re concerned and we’re taking care of each other to get through this.”
Walczak says they’re setting up a memorial outside the zoo’s offices where

All Species Evolved From Single Cell, Study Finds
All life on Earth evolved from a single-celled organism that lived roughly 3.5 billion years ago, a new study seems to confirm.
The study supports the widely held "universal common ancestor" theory first proposed by Charles Darwin more than 150 years ago.
Using computer models and statistical methods, biochemist Douglas Theobald calculated the odds that all species from the three main groups, or "domains," of life evolved from a common ancestor—versus, say, descending from several different life-forms or arising in their present form, Adam and Eve style.
The domains are bacteria, bacteria-like microbes called Archaea, and eukaryotes, the group that includes plants and other multicellular species, such as humans.
The "best competing multiple ancestry hypothesis" has one species giving rise to bacteria and one giving rise to Archaea and eukaryotes, said Theobald, a biochemist at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts.
But, based on the new analysis, the odds of that are "just astronomically enormous," he said. "The number's so big, it's kind of silly to say it"—1 in 10 to the 2,680th power, or 1 followed by 2,680 zeros.
Theobald also tested the creationist idea that humans arose in their current form and have no evolutionary ancestors.
The statistical analysis showed that the independent origin of humans is "an absolutely horrible hypothesis," Theobald said, adding that the probability that humans were created separately from everything else is 1 in 10 to the 6,000th power.
(As of publication time, requests for interviews with several creationist scientists had been either declined or unanswered.)
Putting Darwin to the Test
All species in all three domains share 23 universal proteins, though the proteins' DNA sequences—instruc

Survey discovers Eastern Hoolock gibbon in Assam
Assam has been found to be the state with the highest diversity of non-human primate species in India the after a survey team lead by Aaranyak’s primatologist Dr Dilip Chetry has stumbled upon Eastern Hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leucondys) in three reserved forests of Sadiya sub-division in Tinsukia district of the state.
Before the Hoolock gibbon survey was undertaken, the North East India was known to harbour 11 species of non-human primate out of the total 25 species present in India. Out of those, nine species were confirmed to be present in Assam.
However, the present study reports that the Assam actually has 10 species. The extensive Hoolock gibbon survey was carried out in the month of March-May, 2010, in the reserve forests of Sadiya subdivision in Tinsukia district of eastern Assam. The survey was jointly carried out by the Zoology department of J.N.College, Boko and the Gibbon Conservation Centre, Marinai under the leadership of Dr Dilip Chetry, primatologist of Aaranyak, in collaboration with Assam Forest Department, especially Sadiya Range. The Primate Conservation Inc., USA supported the programme.
The survey team not only sighted Hoolock gibbons but also subsequently identified the same as the Eastern Hoolock gibbon (Hoolock leuconedys) on the basis of scientific observations and research. The pelage colour differences which distinguish it from the Western hoolock gibbon were confirmed through binoculars and photographs. Their identity was further authenticated

Folk medicine poses global threat to wild dog species
Half of all wild canine species such as dogs, foxes and wolves are harvested for traditional folk medicines, conservationists warn.
According to a scientific survey, 19 out of 35 known species of wild canid are still used in traditional medicine worldwide.
For example, wolf parts are eaten to treat chicken pox, while jackals are used to treat epilepsy and asthma.
Such trade may place added pressure on some dwindling canid populations.
Details of the survey are published in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation.
The report is produced by the same researchers who earlier this year published a review showing that more than 100 species of primate are still used in traditional medicines and religious rituals.
To conduct the latest review, Professor Romulo Alves of the State University of Paraiba in Brazil and colleagues searched the scientific literature and other sources for references to folk remedies using canine parts.
Using only those sources they considered authoritative, they then created a database containing the details of which species are used to treat certain conditions in different countries.
A fox for flu
Of 35 known canine species, the evidence suggests that 19 are still used in traditional medicines, the researchers report.
Of those, five species belong to the genus Canis, including the wolf Canis lupus, the side-striped jackal (C. adustus), golden jackal (C. aureus), coyote (C. latrans) and the black or silver-backed jackal

Call to cull 10,000 starving kangaroos
AROUND 10,000 kangaroos have invaded a small national park near Loxton and may have to be shot or starved out.
The Department of Environment and Heritage has warned locals a culling campaign could soon begin after surveys showed numbers at the Murray River National Park near Loxton had tripled to 80 animals per square kilometre.
The current population would mean the equivalent of 200 animals in an area the size of the Adelaide CBD.
The decision has been welcomed by locals who told The Advertiser that despite being listed as a tourist attraction in the park, the grey and red kangaroos are starving and destroying plant life.
Former chairman of the Katarapko Community Action Group Sandy Loffler said the organisation had lobbied the department for eight years between 1996 and 2004 for a cull to save bettongs which had been reintroduced to the Katarapko Island within

Conservationists protest as Robert Mugabe sends 'ark' of animals to North Korea
Zimbabwean president sending giraffes, zebras, baby elephants and other wild animals taken from a national park to zoo in communist state, conservation groups say
Two by two, they were caught and lined up as an extravagant gift from one despotic regime to another.
According to conservationists, the Zimbabwean president, Robert Mugabe, will send a modern-day ark – containing pairs of giraffes, zebras, baby elephants and other wild animals taken from a national park – to a zoo in North Korea.
The experts warned that not every creature would survive the journey to be greeted by Mugabe's ally Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader.
There are particular fears that a pair of 18-month-old elephants could die during the long airlift.
Johnny Rodrigues, the head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, said elephant experts did not believe the calves would survive the journey separated from their mothers.
Rodrigues, whose task force is an alliance of conservation groups, said all the animals were captured on Mugabe's orders to be given to North Korea. He cited witnesses and officials in the western Hwange National Park. Witnesses reported seeing capture and spotting teams, government vehicles towing cages, and armed men at key watering holes with radios to call in the capture teams.
The animals were being kept in quarantine in holding pens at Umtshibi camp in the park, he said.
Rodrigues added that officials opposed to the captures had leaked details to conservationists.
They reported that some areas of the 5,500 square mile park, the biggest in Zimbabwe, were being closed to tourists and photographic safari groups.
"We fear a pair of endangered rhino in Hwange

Four Tassie devils arrive in WA to combat facial tumour cancer
FOUR Tasmanian devils have arrived in Perth in a desperate bid to save the species from a gruesome virus ravaging wild populations.
They are the first breeding pairs transported to mainland Australia in eight years, following the discovery of devil facial tumour disease in 1996 and a subsequent exportation ban.
The world's largest carnivorous marsupials are literally wiping themselves out by biting each other in the face and spreading the deadly tumours.
The new arrivals will be housed at Peel Zoo in Pinjarra. Two other devils are being shipped to Hunter Valley Zoo in New South Wales and three to Phillip Island Zoo in Victoria.
Peel Zoo director

Medicinal Use of Threatened Animal Species and the Search for Botanical Alternatives
The Chinese calendar considers 2010 the “Year of the Tiger.” As such, it may be an appropriate time to pay homage to the majestic animal’s strength and beauty, while also lamenting its endangered status. Although long revered by many cultures, the tiger has also experienced a sad history of exploitation by humankind. Among other uses, various components of the tiger’s body have served as ingredients within traditional medicine systems—and like many other animal species, the tiger continues to be a victim of medicinal demand.
Zootherapy, the use of animals and products derived from them in healing, has been practiced by most ancient cultures throughout the world, and it continues to be prevalent within many contemporary societies.1,2 Within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), more than 1,500 animal species have been identified as having therapeutic use.3 At least 109 animals have reportedly been used for traditional medicine by India’s different ethnic communities. In Northeast Brazil, at least 250 animal species are used medicinally.1
Animal-based remedies are important therapeutic resources within many cultures, and in some instances, the medicinal use of animal species has led to the development of pharmaceuticals for global markets. A component of snake venom, for example, served as the basis for angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, which help relax blood vessels and are used to treat high blood pressure and other conditions.4 Several compounds of fish and amphibians have also served as important leads for biochemical research and drug development.
Not all animals are harmed when used as sources of medicinal ingredients. Remedies consisting of animals’ fur, feathers, urine, excrement, or by-products are used within some cultures, and such medicinal ingredients can be collected without injuring or killing the animal.3,5 The antler of the European red deer (Cervus elaphus, Cervidae), which has been widely traded and researched, can be harvested without any apparent adverse effects on the animal.6
More frequently, however, animal parts used in traditional medicines require the animal’s death.3,5 The killing of animals for medicinal use has significantly contributed to the rarity of certain animal species, and some societies continue to use endangered or threatened animals for medicinal purposes.2,3,5,7,8 Although international trade of many rare species is regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and use and trade of such species is often banned nationally through laws of individual countries, trafficking frequently continues through illegal channels.8
"Increasingly, animal parts are traded internationally—often because of local depletions but also because globalization means distance is no barrier,” said Richard Thomas, PhD, communications coordinator for the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC (e-mail, December 4, 2009). “Some powerful national and international regulations certainly exist—CITES is potentially a very powerful Convention. However, the Convention rarely seems to impose the punitive measures at its disposal against those countries that fail to comply to its regulations.” He added that, likewise, other laws meant to prevent wildlife trade are not sufficiently enforced. “Sometimes

Alpacas to Help Fight Gulf Spill?
Unedited Transcript
Can an Alpaca help protect the shores of the Gulf of Mexico from a massive oil slick?
SOUNDBITE (off camera): Patti Hall, Director, Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo
“They’re not having a great time, but by the time they’re finished, they’re going to feel a lot cooler. “
Some Gulf Coast residents are pinning hopes on what may be a unique defense against millions of gallons of oil that has spewed from a ruptured deep sea drill site.
Soak it up with hair.
Skip a few days of shampooing and human hair can get oily. The link between hair and oil has led salons and pet groomers to save hair to make what is hoped will essentially be giant oil adsorbers.
Hair can be hard to get in high volumes quickly. That’s where these four alpacas at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo and several other animal species can lend a hand, or… hoof.

Indian zoo to put its stuffed dead animals on display
The only zoo in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) plans to stuff its animals after their deaths and put them on show in a museum, officials say.
The move follows a ban by India's central zoo authority on new animals being kept in confined spaces.
Mumbai zoo says it is unable to replace animals as they die because existing enclosures for some animals do not conform with anti-cruelty guidelines.
Stuffing the animals will at least allow people to see them, the zoo says.
Officials plan to set up a taxidermy museum as part of a $100m makeover at the zoo, which

Edinburgh Zoo to hold walk on smashed glass in bid to raise money
YOU might be prepared to walk across hot coals in support of a cause you really believe in – but how about going barefoot across the smashed remains of 2,000 wine bottles?
After two years of organising a fundraising firewalk, Edinburgh Zoo is this summer to bring in a charity glasswalk.
Organisers hope that around 60 people will volunteer to walk barefoot over a 20ft path of glass shards to raise money for conservation and education work.

New botanical and zoo park to be founded in Yerevan
A new, modern botanical and zoo park will be founded in the canyon of Hrazdan, Yerevan. The representatives and directors of Amsterdam’s and Singapore’s zoo parks and “Wild nature and cultural values protection” organization have had discussion in the Municipality of Yerevan.
The sketches are ready and they’ve been introduced to the Mayor, Municipality’s information and PR department told The Mayor liked the sketches and promised to support the project.
According to the project the local residents and foreign guests may enjoy different plants, animals, birds common to our climatic conditions. Several types of animals recorded in the Red Book are supposed to be taken to the park for permanent residence, which could contribute to reducing the danger level.
A scientific-research center and college should also

Woman smuggles tiger penis into New Zealand
Ding dong travels with endangered schlong
A woman travelling from Singapore to Auckland was discovered by an airport sniffer dog yesterday to be carrying a tiger penis and gallbladder, according to New Zealand biosecurity authorities.
The Cambodian woman, travelling with her husband and daughter, had the endangered animal's parts in a stocking tied around her waist and in a plastic bag attached to her leg.
"Our dogs consistently find items that would otherwise prove difficult for our inspectors to locate," said Craig Hughes, of the MAF (government biosecurity division)."
All species of tiger are endangered, and tiger populations

SunTrust executive named CEO at Zoo Atlanta
Zoo Atlanta’s new president and chief executive has decades of business and philanthropy experience and an even longer memory of the Grant Park attraction.
Raymond King, 44, will start at Zoo Atlanta June 1 after a 22-year career at SunTrust, where he worked most recently as the senior vice president of community affairs. The lifelong Atlanta resident remembers visiting the zoo as a child and has become even more of a regular with his wife and 8-year-old daughter.
King said he'll try to keep the visitor and research momentum at the zoo while increasing attendance and raising more money locally for the nonprofit institution.
"There’s always going to be something new," King said. "That can be the simple birth of another animal or a new exhibit. People in this town, rightfully so, expect new things."
Former zoo president and CEO Dennis Kelly left earlier this year for the top job at the Smithsonian's National Zoo in Washington. Kelly's years at Zoo Atlanta built on the work of his predecessor, Terry Maple, who helped reshape what was thought to be among one of the worst zoos in the country. Kelly brought the zoo to international prominence, erased its debt and began to implement a

Wanted: Zoo and aquarium leaders, no animal experience necessary
Two new executives at the city’s largest animal attractions are expected to manage the nonprofits, bring in more donations and keep audiences coming back again and again — but neither necessarily needs to know much about whale sharks or pandas.
The long-held axiom that veterinarians or biologists should lead zoos and aquariums is long-gone in Atlanta, and industry watchers say that speaks to attractions' development and stability.
“In Atlanta, you’ve seen a lot of success keeping the public engaged through new exhibits, new programs,” said Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, the accrediting organization for animal institutions. “Whether it’s setting up a dolphin care and education program or the intricacies of panda breeding, zoo directors have a lot to learn. Fortunately, there are a lot of pros they’ll have at their disposal.”
Raymond King, a former banker who worked half his 44 years for SunTrust, will take over Zoo Atlanta on June 1. Zoo Atlanta board chairman Brad Benton said they had the luxury of hiring someone with business and philanthropy experience and deep ties to Atlanta because of their confidence in the zoo’s existing research and animal care teams.
Georgia Aquarium is looking for a new leader after former president Anthony Godfrey, an accountant, unexpectedly resigned this month. CEO Bernie Marcus said Godfrey's resignation was a surprise, and that he left for personal reasons. Phone calls to Godfrey have not been answered. Marcus said he expected to hire a new president within two weeks of Godfrey’s

NSW Govt supports inquiry into seized koalas
The New South Wales Government has finally backed an inquiry into the seizure of koalas from Gunnedah's Waterways Wildlife Park.
The inquiry, which will report back on September 9, was mentioned in the Upper House this week and supported yesterday without going to a vote.
The animals were removed by the RSPCA in February under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, although the park's owners have never been charged.
The Nationals' Duty MLC for Tamworth, Trevor Khan, says the§ion=news

Report on cheetah sanctuary soon
The Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) will submit its survey report on the probable places where the African cheetah, if brought to India, can be housed by the end of this month.
According to M K Ranjit Singh, chairman WTI, "I, along with my colleague, had been to a few places earmarked for housing the cheetah if brought to India. However, certain places in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are still left. We would complete the survey by the end of the month and hopefully give the report to the Centre."
The proposal to bring the cheetah into India, decades after it was declared extinct from the country, was first mooted by the ministry of forest and environment. Thereafter, an experts meeting took place in Gajner to study the nitty-gritty of the project.
The meeting identified Gujarat, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh as the probable places. While in Rajasthan areas near the border along the Desert National Park, the Chandhan grassland and the Shahgarh bulge were identified, the 200-sq km Banni in

Drama King chimpanzees on stage (Translated link)

Funding row puts zoo project in jeopardy
The Lottery Grants Board is withholding a $2.69m grant to a native exhibit at Auckland Zoo in the wake of a funding scandal that has thrown the future of the $16m project - the biggest in the zoo's history - into doubt.
Last weekend the Sunday Star- Times revealed that Pub Charity had asked that a $500,000 grant it gave to the Te Wao Nui project be returned, because of concerns that the Auckland Zoo Charitable Trust misled Pub Charity over how the money was spent.
Now, the Lottery Grants Board, whose $2.69m pledge last month meant the project had reached its fundraising threshold and work could begin, says it will not release the money until it is satisfied with the "integrity" of the zoo trust's processes.
The Auckland City Council, which owns the zoo, was told of alleged discrepancies last year, well before the Star-Times first broke the story, but an internal inquiry found no wrongdoing and no action was taken. Pub Charity was not told of the concerns until contacted by the Star-Times.
The dispute focuses around what was done with the Pub Charity money, which had to be spent within a year of being granted for Te Wao Nui-related projects.
Senior sources have told the Star-Times that the zoo trust provided invoices for work carried out at the zoo which were general maintenance or resource consent works, unrelated to Te Wao

Toronto Zoo staff reject settlement offer
The union representing more than 400 Toronto Zoo staff is in a legal strike position after voting “no” on Tuesday night to an offer tentatively agreed upon by union and management representatives on May 5.
But Grant Ankeman, president of CUPE Local 1600, said the union currently has no plans to strike.
“What we’re trying to do is get back to the bargaining table so we can get a fair and equitable agreement,” said Ankeman, who was unable to discuss the union’s demands or the contents of the settlement offer.
In fact, both sides were equally tight-lipped about the main issues that have been discussed during the bargaining process that has been ongoing since March, but Toronto Zoo CEO John Tracogna said finances are one of the issues on the table.
“Obviously there’s an element of a financial package and some other elements of concessions from previous agreements,” said T

Blog Posts:

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



Animals of Arabia, John Martin Gallery

 24 June - 24 July 2010

for details please click



Slipping Through The Cracks?
The Fate of Focal Species in the Great Bear Rainforest


Elephant in Edmonton

In the links there was a discussion about the Elephant in Edmonton (Animal-rights groups, city spar over Edmonton elephant) and Zoocheck Canada's involvement. This is an entirely separate organisation to the Born Free people. In order to learn more about Zoocheck Canada you would do well to read these two links:

Interview with Rob Laidlaw, Director of Zoocheck


Reintroduction of captive-bred animals to the wild: Is the modern ark afloat?


Animals Asia says trade portal's ban benefits bears, cats and dogs

Animals Asia Foundation has welcomed a decision by Limited, which runs the world's largest online business-to-business e-commerce site, to ban subscribers from listing bear bile products, as well as the fur and meat of cats and dogs.

The ban applies to users of (which has an international site in English and a Chinese site in Putonghua) and its separate sister operation, (a Chinese-language consumer e-commerce site that operates almost exclusively within China).

Animals Asia Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson, who has campaigned against the cruel bear bile industry since visiting a bear farm in China in 1993, said's decision could have profound implications, not only for bears, dogs and cats, but for the welfare of all animals. "We cannot thank enough for taking this step, particularly as it was they who came to us with their decision to ban bear bile, after we'd approached them about cat and dog products."

"In fact, we've named one of our newly rescued bears 'Alibaba' in appreciation of all they're doing to end this terrible industry and to mark the significance of the ban. We now hope that other online traders will follow's lead."

Ms Robinson said Animals Asia would be asking its supporters to help monitor and as she realised it was impossible for the online portal's staff to catch every new listing. "The people at Alibaba have been wonderful. They took the initiative in this and invited us to their AGM in Shenzhen today (14 May) where they announced the bear bile ban. "This is a major international group that was founded in China - that's what makes this so exciting."

Animals Asia rescued "Alibaba", along with nine other bears, from a bile farm in Shandong Province last month, driving 2,400 kilometres west across China to bring the bears to our sanctuary in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. "Alibaba", estimated to be around five years' old, was kept in a small cage for years and regularly milked for his bile for the traditional medicine trade. He has chronic dental problems, scarring on his forehead from frustrated bar-rubbing, and his damaged gall bladder (from which his bile
was milked through a filthy catheter that exited from his belly) will be removed by Animals Asia's vet team next week.

Ms Robinson said during the AGM that the company's decision to ban not only bear bile, but dog and cat meat and fur, too was inspirational and Animals Asia was truly grateful on behalf of millions of people in China and across the world. She said the room broke into applause when she told the audience that Alibaba had taken made the additional decision to ban dog and cat products too.

Ms Robinson said Alibaba Limited CEO David Wei, had been inspirational at the meeting. "He told hundreds of shareholders that he felt he had a corporate duty to help save the bears, otherwise his son may see moon bears, but his grandson might only see them in pictures and documentaries," Ms Robinson said.

*More from David Wei's speech at the 14 May AGM (translated from

"Last year, we felt we should help the sharks. Even though legally, this is in a grey area, once we learned how the fins were obtained and how the sharks were treated, we knew this went beyond legality. It is with the same view that we want to help the bears. Just as the diversity of the oceans is being lost, so too are the bears disappearing; they are being 'milked' away.
Bears are considered unlucky in the financial markets, but we don't think they are. For every bear that's rescued from a farm, a negative is turned into a positive."

Animals Asia's Moon Bear Rescue:

Officially, there are just over 7,000 bears on bile farms in China, but Animals Asia fears the figure could be higher than 10,000. Bear farming is still legal in China, however no new licences are issued when farms close.

In 2000, Animals Asia signed an agreement with the China Wildlife Conservation Association and Sichuan Forestry to rescue 500 bears from the worst farms and to work towards ending the industry. To date, Animals Asia has rescued 276 bears from farms in China and 54 bears in Vietnam, where we have a similar agreement with the government. The bears that survive are rehabilitated and live out their lives at our sanctuaries.

For more information, please contact Animals Asia's:

Founder and CEO, Jill Robinson: + (852) 9095 8405;

Media Manager, Angela Leary: + (852) 2791 2225; + (852) 9042 7740;

Jill Robinson MBE *
Founder & CEO
Animals Asia Foundation

Find out about our latest moon bear rescue, and Friends....or Food:


Video of Five Freedoms in Zoos

Can YOU Help?

Hello Peter

We have not corresponded previously but I am a regular reader of Zoo News Digest which I find invaluable.

I work mainly in China and in June I am organising an enrichment workshop for the staff of Chengdu Zoo to encourage enrichment for their bears and primates. As you know we have a bear rescue centre in Chengdu and a wealth of expertise in caring for bears which we would like to share with other zoos through such workshops.

Ideally I would like to show the zoo staff a video which highlights the issue of the five freedoms or more importantly the lack of the five freedoms. I have lots of video footage showing animals expressing 'abnormal behaviour' and some to show 'discomfort' but ideally I would like one video which shows all five of these to allow us to discuss these issues with the zoo staff. I was wondering if you have heard of any video which has been produced to show just this as I am finding it difficult to source one from other organisations.

Any help you can be provide would be appreciated.


-- David Neale
Animal Welfare Director

Animals Asia Foundation

Tel: +44 (0) 1579 347148

Mob: +44 (0) 7764 161981


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