Saturday, October 16, 2010

Zoo News Digest 12th - 16th October 2010 (Zoo News 695)

Zoo News Digest 12th - 16th October 2010 (Zoo News 695)

Dear Colleagues,  

I always find it sad that organisations which essentially have the same aims squabble over some issue. Surely they can 'agree to differ'? I know I do on so many issues. It doesn't mean I have to change my point of view. Here I am referring to the head to head with some of the elephant charities in Thailand. It is the same though with Tiger and Orangutan groups...others too. It is the animals which lose out in the end. We really don't need so many pursuing the same dollar as there will be less cents to go round.

Sad to learn of yet another person being killed by Tigers in China. Thinking on it though China, with its huge number of tigers is the most likely place for such an accident to occur. Accidents do happen of course, between animals too. I note that one of the Tigers in the Zion Wildlife Park was killed by another Tiger. Again an accident. Very sad. Without even looking I can imagine what the Craig groupies are babbling on about..."It would never happen if Craig was in charge". Yes it would. It was an accident.

The London Zoo inspection report makes an interesting read. I was surprised to see the mention of the Aesculapian snakes. I wondered if the zoo inspectors had actually seen these on their tour. In the Welsh Mountain Zoo they are an accepted part of the local fauna and have been for many years. Britains Rarest Snake.

I really don't know why we have to have Craig Redmond commenting as he is so very anti-zoo "we do question the £3million cost to build an enclosure that would still be 8,000 times smaller than the smallest home range for this species". I question whether he actually has an understanding of home ranges. And why on earth should the problems of one zoo, well known or not, be reflective on other British Zoos? I have used the example many times before but if you find something wrong in one hotel it is no good reason to then sling mud at all hotels.

London Zoo recognises the problems it has, not least the restrictions placed on it for one reason or another. It is slowly getting around these and is getting better. I was most pleasantly surprised on my visit the other week. I was not however wearing my zoo inspector hat that day.

The Leading article following the London Zoo report was also written by someone who has a little bit of knowledge...which we all know is a dangerous thing. With a little bit more their opinion may be very different.

The link 'Call to rethink 'zoo' decision for tortoise sanctuary' is an interesting one. I do think however that the licencing authority should stick to their guns. Make an exception for one collection and you have to start doing it for others. I don't dispute that this place is and has been doing invaluable work. Tortoises may be pets but they are not domesticated and, it is highly likely that over 50% of the tortoises held there were wild born. The place could just as easily be called a 'Tortoise Zoo' because that is exactly what it is, in the same way that good zoos are 'Wild Animal Sanctuaries'.

Take a look at some of the other links posted these past few days:

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First international meeting on sloth husbandry, rehabilitation and veterinary care

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On with links: 

Weighty issues cause divides
The "jumbo" problems affecting elephants need urgent help from the public and groups working to protect this living national symbol.
Stories about elephants maimed or killed by landmines along the Thai-Burmese border, hit by cars, falling into pits, or hunted for their tusks are common. Those familiar with the issue insist the problems affecting elephants are not being tackled at their root.
Organisations and foundations, some privately run, are the main driving forces protecting elephants.
They include the National Elephant Institute (NEI) under the Forest Industry Organisation (FIO) and the Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE) foundation.
They seldom work together to solve elephant problems.
Sometimes, they are locked in dispute over the way elephant issues are handled.
The FAE has accused the FIO of lacking a practical plan to improve living conditions of the animals. The FIO, in turn, accuses the FAE of exploiting the animals through its appeals for donations and assistance.
Observers say the organisations should overcome their differences to work for the betterment of the animals.
Veterinarian Preecha Puangkham, director of FAE's Elephant Hospital

Jumbos find a retreat
Elephant camp based at a Chiang Rai resort pays mahouts to keep their animals off the streets
Six years ago he joined an elephant camp run by the Golden Triangle Elephant Foundation in Chiang Rai, where he now lives and works.
Previously, he took his elephant to roam the streets of Bangkok begging for food and money. However, he gave that up when the elephant camp asked him to stop, and had his elephant work for tourists instead.
The foundation, in the compound of Anantara Resort Golden Triangle in Chiang Saen district of Chiang Rai, pays him 15,000 baht a month to "rent" his elephant.
He takes his six-year-old elephant "Pluem" to welcome guests at the resort.
Mr Lod said he makes much less than he did when he roamed the streets.
"But making a living that way is risky. It is now difficult to make money walking elephants in the city. People are unwilling to help and we are at risk of being arrested," he said.
City Hall has banned elephants from Bangkok's streets and says it will impose fines and jail terms on mahouts found with elephants begging for food.
Mr Lod now works for the foundation. He persuades mahouts roaming city streets with their elephants to join the foundation's elephant camp project.
The foundation provides them with shelter, food and pay.
At present, 20 elephants aged between two and 12 years are under the care of the foundation and 20 mahouts and their families, mostly from Ban Ta Klang in Surin's Tha Tum district, stay there.
The elephant camp is in a resort rich in wild plants and natural water sources, which makes it an ideal habitat for elephants.
The elephants are domesticated and

2 tigers escape Indiana wildlife preserve (Video)
It's unclear where they were trying to go but two tigers managed to get lose from a wildlife preserve in Northwest Indiana.,0,6534199.story

New mammal found in Madagascar 
British wildlife conservationists say they've identified a new carnivorous mammal species in Madagascar in the wetlands of the country's largest lake.
A team from the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust has named the mongoose-like creature Durrel's vonstira after Gerald Durrell, the trust's founder, the BBC reported.
With its marshy home under threat from invasive species and pollution, team members say the animal may be one of the world's most threatened mammals.
After a first sighting in 2004, one of the creatures was captured in 2005 for detailed measurements and blood and tissue samples, which were sent to the Natural History Museum in London along with one dead specimen.
Museum zoologists compared it to its closest relative, the forest-dwelling brown-tailed vontsira, and confirmed it was a new, separate species.
"It was indeed a distinct new species and the specimen we have in the museum is now recognized as the holotype (the specimen from which,f5627b/srt,0/?v=161&i=6681&SW=&PSW=&POS=0&CID=3

"Scruffy" New Carnivorous Mammal Found
Revealed Monday, the first new species of meat-eating mammal to be discovered in 24 years bears its teeth for the cameras in a recent picture.
First spotted swimming in Madagascar's Lac Alaotra in 2004, the cat-size creature resembles a "scruffy ferret" or mongoose, said John Fa, a director of conservation science at the U.K.'s Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, who was part of the discovery team.
"We biologists are a bit like children," Fa said. "We like new things. So a new species is something that really excites us."
Dubbed Durrell's vontsira in honor of the late conservationist Gerald Durrell, the new carnivore is an especially

Jairam Ramesh cancels Central Zoo Authority meeting in city
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has cancelled his visit to Pune to chair the meeting of Central Zoo Authority (CZA) at Rajiv Gandhi zoological park and research centre citing “shortage of time” for his failure to come here.
The CZA meeting was planned to discuss upgradation plans for different zoos of the country and the bottlenecks in the way of exchange of animals. The CZA meeting will be held in New Delhi for which date will be decided soon. The meeting was also to discuss recognition to zoo based on the stock of their animals and management practices.
Director of Rajiv Gandhi zoological park and research centre, Raj Kumar Jadhav, confirmed that the meeting of the CZA which

Rhinos caught in fire horror
Horrified tourists have accused Kruger National Park authorities of setting off a raging firestorm that burnt several rhino badly – and killed at least one.
The fires were so intense that Nasa’s observatory flagged it as their image of the day on September 25.
SANParks described the inferno as a controlled weather-related experiment in Afsaal, in the south of the park, to test the effectiveness of very fast and intense fire in controlling brush.
It said it had expected the animals to run away from the blaze.
But one tourist, who did not want to be named, told Independent Newspapers “fireballs were literally being fired from helicopters” on September 15, which resulted in at least three rhino being burnt.
“We came across a rhino that had severe burns, especially on its back legs and stomach, between Renosterpan. We were totally horrified by the sight of particularly the burnt rhino as it had no skin left on its tummy, the flesh literally falling off its leg, a burnt

Pachyderm pair headed to PAWS
The Performing Animal Welfare Society and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have announced that the circus has given two Asian bull elephants to PAWS.
The gift followed a request by PAWS to Ringling Bros. that Kenneth Feld, CEO and producer of Ringling Bros., described as “unprecedented,” according to a PAWS release.
“As such,” Feld said, “we wanted to ensure that by granting PAWS’ request, the structures and environment to house and manage these magnificent bull elephants were in place.”
One of the bulls, Sabu, arrived at the ARK 2000 sanctuary in San Andreas late last month. Ringling Bros. officials visited the Gold Country to review the facilities and meet with PAWS staff to ensure the safety and well-being of the elephants.
Following that visit in September, elephant management staff and a veterinarian from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation escorted Sabu from Florida to San Andreas.
“He’s responding

Call to rethink 'zoo' decision for tortoise sanctuary
An MP has called for a rethink after a tortoise sanctuary was reclassified as a zoo, leading to its closure.
The Tortoise Garden at Sticker, near St Austell, closed to the public when Cornwall Council said tortoises were "wild" animals, not domestic pets.
Owner Joy Bloor said she could not afford the cost of the licence and to pay for official vet inspections.
St Austell MP Stephen Gilbert has written to the council asking it to reverse the decision.
He said he had received a letter from Lord Henley, at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which "categorically" stated the council had the power to leave the sanctuary open.
Mrs Bloor set up the sanctuary about 11 years ago and most of the 400 animals were unwanted, abandoned, injured or illegally imported and brought to her by

Hike in Zoo's Water Rates Causing Friction in Brookfield
A dispute over water rates for the Brookfield Zoo is causing friction in the west suburban village.
The zoo's director says a proposed rate increase would cost the zoo an additional $700,000 a year. But village officials dispute that figure.
Dr. Stuart Strahl is director of the Brookfield Zoo.
STRAHL: It's not just the village saying we want you to pay the rates that everybody else does. It's the village ignoring the economic benefits and the services that we already provide them and the money that we already provide them. And that's just not fair and not right.
Brookfield Village Manager Riccardo Ginex says zoo officials are inflating the cost of the potential increase and exaggerating the zoo's economic impact.
Strahl says the zoo will try to work out a deal to buy water directly from the Brookfield-North Riverside Water

Former Elephant Sanctuary CEO Files Lawsuit
The former CEO and co-founder of the Elephant Sanctuary has filed a lawsuit seeking $500,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
Carol Buckley, who was fired earlier this year, claims she was forced out and filed a lawsuit against the safe haven and two of its Nashville board members.
According to a local newspaper, she is suing for retaliatory termination, breach of contract and visitation rights for her elephant, among other things.
The sanctuary operates on 2,700 acres in Hohenwald, about 85 miles

Concern Over Africa's Dolphin Tourism
In Mozambique, an explosion of "dolphin tourism" is alarming conservationists who believe the mammals are being harassed.
Researchers in the country's south have said the resident bottlenose dolphins are becoming increasingly stressed by the constant human interaction.
"They are being chased, grabbed and harassed by the tourists," claimed Angie Gullan, the founder of Dolphin Care Africa.
Ms Gullan has been monitoring a local pod of 200 dolphins in the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean for the past 16 years.
She said the explosion of "dolphin tourism" in the area over the past five years means the mammals' rest and breeding patterns are being interrupted.
"The problem is that the tourists are not given a proper code of conduct before they enter the water," she said.
"So even if the dolphins do n

Colour My World: Red parrot feathers resist bacterial degradation
Why do parrots have such brightly colored feathers? There are lots of evolutionary reasons, but now you can add one more to the list: bright pigments resist bacterial degradation
Have you ever noticed how many white bird species, such as most gulls and geese, have black wing feathers? This is because black and brown colours are the result of melanins that are incorporated into the feather structure while it is growing. Melanins strengthen feathers and reduce wear, especially in birds that fly long distances or that live in marine environments filled with abrasive sand and salt.
But birds use their feathers for a variety of purposes. Probably the most familiar function is visual communication. The sex and age of an individual is often revealed by the intensity, quality, hue and pattern of its plumage colours.
The brightest plumage colours are provided by carotenoid-based pigments, which are red, orange and yellow. But birds do not synthesize their own carotenoids; instead, these pigments are co-opted from their diet and are placed into growing feathers. Thus, carotenoid-based feather colours can provide visual information about the state of a particular individual's health and the quality of its diet.
This is the reason that many captive flamingos are white while wild flamingos are a brilliant pink: they obtain carotenoid-based pigments from their diet of algae and invertebrates and place these pigments into their skin, feathers and even into the keratin

Sumatran Tiger Kills Farmer in Indonesia
A rare Sumatran tiger attacked and killed an Indonesian farmer in Aceh province at the northern tip of the island of Sumatra, an official said on Tuesday.
The big cat mauled the 25-year-old man in South Aceh district, local sub-district chief Erwiandi said.
“The victim, Martunis, was working at a chili plantation at Mount Serindit on Monday. He failed to return home that day,” Erwiandi said.
“The bones of his body and arms were found this morning along with tiger’s body hair. The remaining parts are only the head, legs and feet,” he said.
Human-animal conflicts are a growing problem in the Indonesian archipelago, as forests are destroyed for timber or to make way for crops, forcing animals such as tigers and elephants into closer contact with people.
Tigers were blamed for the deaths of a palm oil worker in September and a rubber plantation worker in August, both attacks occurred in Sumatra island.
There are fewer than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, according to the environmental group WWF.
The attack came on the same day that new infra-red footage was released capturing a Sumatran tiger roaming in protected forests

Rare rhino born at the Great Plains Zoo
A rare Eastern Black Rhino calf was born at the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls.
Eastern Black Rhinos are critically endangered animals, with fewer than 4-thousand of them remaining in the wild.
The Great Plains Zoo holds

Boy donates pet turtle to zoo, watches it be eaten alive by alligator - report
A FLORIDA boy remained distraught after watching an alligator feast on his pet turtle when he donated it to a local aquarium park, the Pensacola News Journal reported overnight.
Crunches from the turtle’s shell were heard by Brenda Guthrie and her eight-year-old son Colton as the alligator devoured the family’s pet last Thursday.
A distraught Colton begged the alligator to release the turtle, called Tomalina, with no success.
"He was shouting, ‘Oh no alligator, let it go,’” Ms Guthrie told the paper.
The family donated the pet to the Gulfarium in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, when the turtle grew too large for her home aquarium,

Philips in trouble for Singapore bear hoax
Dutch electronics giant Philips is under investigation in Singapore after a marketing campaign for a new shaver triggered a search for a wild bear.
Philips issued a public apology after a fuzzy video of a bear-like creature was sent to a social-media website by a marketing firm on Wednesday, triggering a search by zoo officials -- armed with a tranquiliser gun -- and animal-welfare activists.
The "bear" was actually just a mascot pretending to rummage through a rubbish bin in Ulu Pandan, a residential and school district with pockets of thick foliage.
"When we found out about this yesterday afternoon, we worked very hard over the next few hours to clarify with all concerned parties that this was part of a social media marketing campaign," said an internal Philips staff memo made available to AFP.
"We were very sorry to have caused concern and inconvenience to the public." A police spokesman confirmed that "we are inve

China zoo gardener mauled to death by tigers
A gardener at a zoo in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen was mauled to death by five tigers after falling into their pen, Chinese media reported Friday.
Zookeepers drove a vehicle into the tigers' enclosure in Shenzhen Safari Park after spotting the attack on Sheng Jinhua, 54, on Thursday afternoon but were too late to save him, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Sheng died of severe bite wounds.
Zoo officials said they believed Sheng, who started working at the zoo in July, violated safety rules and climbed over the fence, Xinhua said, adding that police were investigating.
Zheng Chaolun, a zoo administrator, told

Tiger killed at Whangarei zoo
Whangarei's Zion Wildlife Gardens is mourning the death of a female Bengal tiger after it was attacked by a male tiger.
Sita died after an "uncharacteristic altercation" with Jahdu, a royal white tiger, the wildlife centre said in a statement.
"The team at Zion know that this is the way of the wild

Rhino poaching: How bad is it?
Cape Town - Rhino poaching has been a hot topic of late. In September, 11 people, including two veterinarians, a pilot and a game farmer, all allegedly part of a rhino poaching syndicate, were appeared in court where they were granted bail.
Dr Jacques Flamand of the WWF Black Rhino Expansion Programme answers some questions about rhino poaching in South Africa.
News24: Just how bad is the poaching problem in SA?
Jacques Flamand: It is huge - the figures of the past few years for South Africa speak for themselves.
7 in 2000
6 in 2001
25 in 2002
22 in 2003
10 in 2004
13 in 2005
24 in 2006
13 in 2007
83 in 2008
122 in 2009
230 in 2010 to date.
News24: Besides rhino, what other animals are in danger of being poached?
Jacques Flamand: Other animals are not as threatened in numerical terms, but elephant for ivory and the illegal meat hunting

Zoo Negara Going Private - NRE
The Ministry Of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) would like to clarify few issues with regards to an article entitled ‘Zoo Negara Going Private,’ (The Malay Mail, 25 May 2010).
Firstly, The Malay Mail had misquoted YB Deputy Minister of NRE by saying that ‘An enactment regarding the privatization of Zoo Negara is currently being tabled in the Parliament’. The actual statement suppose to be ‘A Bill Regarding Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 is currently being tabled in the Parliament.
Secondly, Zoo Negara has been managed by the Malaysian Zoological Society (MZS), a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) which is registered under the Registrar of Societies (ROS). In this case, the role of the Government is through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) whereby the Department is responsible to regulate the existing Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
The Ministry has initiated a study with regards to the management

Perdue presents first installment of $300,000 zoo grant
Perdue Inc., through the Arthur W. Perdue Foundation, has presented a $75,000 check as the first installment of its pledge to match up to $300,000 in donations from other contributors to the Salisbury Zoo’s new $3 million capital campaign.
“Renew the Zoo was launched in 2009 and will raise funds for both critical infrastructure and exciting new exhibits.
“By approving this grant to the Salisbury Zoo, the foundation’s Grants Committee members and its Board of Directors have acknowledged the zoo’s importance to this community,” Bill Hetherington, the foundation’s executive director, said in a news release. “We look forward to seeing the changes that will be

Witnesses turn hostile
Key witness Mustafa Thadvi and three others withdraw their statements under suspicious circumstances
After two days of intense drama over the Jalgaon tiger poaching case (Read: Did poachers get another tiger? Oct 13), its eyewitnesses have withdrawn their statements, nullifying the validity of the case.
However, sources allege that forest department officials silenced the witnesses to protect their own interests.
In his second statement to the Yawal forest department, chief witness Mustafa Thadvi, a local professor, denied any tiger poaching incident in the

Warring tigers, escaping birds, marauding snakes: it's chaos at London Zoo
Inspectors identify catalogue of problems as funding gap bites
Britain’s most famous zoo requires millions of pounds of investment to rebuild crumbling enclosures unfit for keeping animals, as well as better fencing to protect the public from the risk of dangerous escaping exhibits, according to a confidential inspection report.
Inspectors from the local authority that licenses the 182-year-old zoo, Westminster Council, found:

*Crumbling compounds requiring at least £5m investment;

*Enclosures inadequate for the long-term keeping of tigers;

*Low fencing that could allow animals to escape into Regent’s Park;

*Concerns about monkeys in a public walk-through display;

*Escape of birds from aviaries and snakes loose in public areas;

*Broken fences allowing wild foxes to creep in and slaughter exhibits, including one dawn attack that killed 11 penguins.

The report, carried out last year, has been obtained by The Independent under Freedom of Information legislation.
Although the inspectors praised the zoo, saying that it contributed to conservation and was operated “extremely well”, they expressed frustration that several issues identified in previous inspections had still not been addressed, particularly crumbling buildings which are no longer fit for keeping animals.
During the last inpsection three years ago, the council ordered that several enclosures be demolished and rebuilt. In the new report, the inspectors say that the tiger pound is still inadaquate because it lacks a “double paddock” necessary for separating feuding animals.
On their last visit, in November 2007, the vets noticed that a newly-introduced female tiger had wounds to her hind leg caused by the male, and made it a licence condition that within two years the zoo would lodge plans for the extra space. While the inspectors said the issue had disappeared because the tigress had been moved to another zoo, they added that the problem could occur again and the Zoological Society of London, which runs the zoo, should carry out a review of the requirement of a double paddock system.
Concern was expressed about the state of the North Bank Aviaries, where holes in the netting had allowed birds to escape, and about the dilapidated Parrot House, which no longer houses birds. A previous report insisted that the North Bank Aviaries be rebuilt or demolished within three years but the inspectors dropped the deadline, saying that the zoo would have difficulty finding funding to replace the building, which houses pheasants and other birds.
As a result of the criticism the London Zoological Society has since come forward with a £3m plan for a new Big Cat enclosure and a £2m plan to rebuild the Parrot House, for which it is seeking public donations.
Inspectors noticed that squirrel monkeys in the Walk Through Monkey Enclosure were staying away from the area visited by the public during the daytime and ordered a report. The zoo said the problem came from a male being treated for epilepsy, but agreed to provide more screening to hide the monkeys from the public.
Esaped non-venomous Aesculapian snakes were spotted moving about in public areas.
On escapes, the zoo’s procedures could be “enhanced” because of the low perimeter fence which runs alongside Regent’s Park and several roads. The 53-page report said: “At present the perimeter fence is made of ageing railings that are approximately 6 feet in height. The fencing is in no way capable of containing some of the animals that are part of London Zoo’s collections.”
London Zoo has held talks on upgrading them with the Royal Parks, but the park authorities are keen to keep them because they allow people to view the zoo from outside. The inspectors did not make the upgrading compulsory.
In the most serious incident involving poor security, a wild fox crept through holes in fencing and killed 11 penguins. The bodies were cleared up by zookeepers in the morning and the zoo opened as usual at 10am.
During the past three years, foxes have also killed a Flamingo chick, two South American mara, and a free-range chicken.
Craig Redmond of the Captive Animals’ Protection Society, which is opposed to zoos, said that the zoo using the current economic climate as a reason for further delaying improvements “needs questioning”. He said: “While we agree with the zoo inspectors who have recognised that the current enclosure for the tigers needs serious improvements, we do question the £3million cost to build an enclosure that would still be 8,000 times smaller than the smallest home range for this species.
“Serious concerns were raised by zoo inspectors in 2007 about the potential for animals such as tigers to escape the zoo because of inadequacies with the perimeter fence... We are shocked to see that this has still not been addressed, with cost being cited as a reason.
“We would ask the public to consider this: if these are the types of ongoing problems in Britain’s most well-known zoo, what is happening at the 400 other zoos across the nation?”
Ian Redmond, a primatologist who acts as envoy for the UN Great Apes Survival Partnership, said that London Zoo contributed more to conservation in the wild than most zoos. “We should give credit where credit is due and ZSL as an organisation is funding in-situ conservation, but only a tiny proportion of its annual budget” he said.
“The role of a captive collection is increasingly being brought into question and I hope the society will evolve and put more effort into field conservation rather than maintaining a collection for the entertainment of the people of London.”
London Zoo said it was doing its best within an ageing and restricted space. Zoological Director David Field said: “The inspectors had many positive things to say about London Zoo and... were impressed by the dedication of our keepers, our continual improvement plans, and the amount we contribute to conservation and science.”
He added that the zoo wanteds to be “honest”about the challenges it faced. “London Zoo is more than 180 years old, covers 36 acres, and contains 13 listed buildings. Unlike some other leading London visitor attractions, the zoo does not receive any government funding, s

Leading article: Distress and suffering at the zoo
It is now almost two decades since a surge in public support and visitors saw London Zoo escape the threat of closure.
But as this newspaper's investigation today reveals, the zoo is still grappling with problems. An inspection report last year found animal enclosures to be inadequate and buildings to be dilapidated. This may well be putting the animals at risk, as an incident last year in which 11 penguins were slaughtered by a fox suggests.
Investment is clearly urgently needed. The London Zoological Society's plans to redevelop the big cats' enclosure and the parrot house must, for this reason, be welcomed. Yet this shocking report should also prompt a public debate on whether zoos themselves are, any longer, appropriate.
Our knowledge of animal welfare has grown enormously since the heyday of the great Victorian menageries, when the urban public would gather to see exotic creatures from the far ends of the earth. We now know how much distress is caused to wild animals when they are confined to small cages or paddocks. Even the most well-appointed zoos with the most attentive keepers end up causing distress to animals such as gorillas, tigers

Simples: my day as a zoo keeper
I WAS able to fulfil a lifelong ambition to work with animals of all types when I was invited to experience being a zoo keeper for the day at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay.
My day started at 10am when I met Animal Collection Manager Peter Litherland as visitors and school children were excitedly filling the zoo car park.
Peter took me behind the scenes of the zoo to where he and the 13 other keepers, including three trainees, prepare the morning snacks for birds to tigers.
After my health and safety induction we began loading up buckets of fruit and veg as well as bagging live and frozen mealworms.
The zoo uses £3,000 to £4,000 worth of fruit and veg in a week feeding the animals and have a driver who collects donations from supermarkets getting rid of the goods that are past their sell by date.
“We still have to be quick to use it but we get it all for free,” said Peter who has been at the zoo for 11 years.
Our first task was to head to the African Aviary where there are eight species of birds totalling around 80 hungry feathered

Wallabies have run free on the Island for 50 years
Thousands of miles from their native Australia, Red-Necked Wallabies are roaming the Manx countryside in increasing numbers.
More than 100 are thought to be living in the north of the Island after escaping from the wildlife park half a century ago.
"A pair escaped the first year the park opened," said manager Nick Pinder.
Now, the wallabies are to feature in an episode of BBC Inside Out North West as presenter Jacey Normand goes in search of the Island's antipodean inhabitants.
Red necked wallabies are native to South East Australia and Tasmania in more remote, rugged areas but have adapted well to the Island's cooler climate.
Duncan Bridges, director of the Manx Wildlife Trust said: "They graze on our grasslands, forage willow and young shrubs and fill the niche that is filled in the UK by small deer."
"They seem to be becoming bolder and less afraid of humans. Just last year a group of wildlife

The most dominant male meerkat at Durrell has died
One of the most popular animals at Durrell has died at the age of 12.
Nelson was a slender-tailed meerkat at the wildlife park and was the dominant male in their discovery desert meerkat enclosure.
He was born on 8 November 1998 and first came to Durrell in 1999 with his parents, brothers and sisters.
He has been described by keepers as a real character and, with his partner Madison, fathered 48 offspring during his time at Durrell.
Nelson was always popular with visitors and supporters and was the most adopted animal at the wildlife park.
Keepers at Durrell were initially concerned at how the rest of the group would deal with the death of Nelson, the dominant male, but it appears they are

Doncaster lions due for a check-up
A London dentist with a list of high profile clients has been offered a change of scenery.
The lions from Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster are being treated by dentist Dr Peter Kertesz. Dr Kertesz spends most of his time treating patients in London but has previously worked with elephants.
The lions were rescued from a zoo in Romania last year and brought to the wildlife park. The pride, which includes Jonny Senior, Cesar and Frida, as well as ten other lions, is now undergoing dental treatment. Dr Kertesz has started with the three

Home Produced Honey Goes on Sale at Howletts!
Staff at Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent, are celebrating the arrival of their first ever crop of honey, which has now gone on sale at the park. Howletts, more commonly known for its work with endangered species such as gorillas and black rhino, has been keeping bees since the end of last year. Recent years have seen honey crops crash in the UK as bees succumb to environmental pressures and disease, making bees just as worthy of protection as their larger more exotic looking neighbours at Howletts.
The three hives produced a yield of 150 jars, half of which have now gone on sale in the farm shop at Howletts.
Head Gardener David Sutton, who is in charge of the exciting bee project at the park, commented:
‘The honey is absolutely delicious and is selling very quickly. Perhaps being harvested from flowers that tigers, elephant and anteaters roam among has added a touch of wilderness to the mix! It’s a great tasty and sustainable souvenir from a day out at the park.

New Zoo tour gives insider's look
We know, we know . . . the Asia Trail at the National Zoo hasn't been the same since Tai Shan left. (It has been 252 days - not that we're counting.) But a new tour can give you an insider's look and help you get to know the trail's other lovable residents.
The tour begins in the Giant Panda House, where guide Christine Kohl shares details about Mei Xiang and Tian Tian's bamboo diet. Then, from her bag of goodies, Kohl pulls out an instant kid-pleaser - dried out fiber-rich panda poop. The next prop is an empty milk crate, the panda version of a chew toy.
"They have some really serious teeth," Kohl says as she touches the perforated milk crate. "You can see the tremendous force. . . . We respect them as the wild animals they are."
Tours are capped at 10 people and are kid-friendly. Michael Foultner, 10, of Stafford hopes to be like "Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin when he grows up. He took advantage of the tour to pepper Kohl with questions.
"We've been here many times," said Keli Foultner, Michael's mom. "When he heard about this, he was all over it."
While the tour groups don't go anywhere that isn't open to the public, having a guide means you get to hear juicy gossip and details only insiders know. Like: Electra, the fishing cat, is getting a new boyfriend! Could fishing kittens be far off?
The goal of the tour, which began last month, is twofold: educate visitors about the Asia Trail animals and raise money for clouded leopard research. The number of the long-tailed cats

Have Breakfast with the Gibbons
Many Santa Clarita Valley residents have no idea that a sanctuary for endangered apes is right in their backyard.
The Gibbon Conservation Center maintains the largest group of gibbons (small apes) in the United States.
Its mission is conservation and propagation of these endangered primates, and is visited by scholars from around the world.
SCV residents will have the opportunity to enjoy Breakfast with the Gibbons 9 a.m. on Sunday.
“This is a great opportunity for people to see these remarkable animals,” said Alan R. Mootnick, director of the Gibbon Conservation Center.
Mootnick founded the center more than 30 years ago.
“We do a breakfast because gibbons are most active in the morning hours, when they display their amazing acrobatic and vocal abilities,” he said.
Guests will enjoy a light vegan breakfast, have free time to observe the gibbons, attend a tour with Mootnick and bid on silent-auction items.
All proceeds go to the care of the gibbons and the continuation of the center’s work.
The center houses more than 35 gibbons, which are native to Southeast Asia.
“Gibbons are endangered. Their native habitats are diminishing quickly, and they are poached for the pet trade — or worse,” said Mootnick, who is an internationally known expert on the care of gibbons. “We’ve had many births at GCC, and visitors to the breakfast will be able to see gibbons of all ages, including some of our newest infants.”
The gibbons at the center are fed small meals nine times each day. They become especially vocal before meals.
The gibbons’ food includes apples, bananas, romaine, kale, dandelion, beans, peas, nuts and seeds, red peppers steamed yams, long beans, celery, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, rice cakes, primate biscuits and vitamins.
Among the babies at the Center (2 years and younger) are: Violet, daughter of Tuk and Domino, pileated gibbons; Oula, daughter of Khusus and Shelby, javan gibbons; Zephyr, son of Chloe and Madena, javan gibbons; and Lucia, daughter of Sasha and Asteriks, northern white cheeked gibbons.
Zephyr, born on July 3 and Oula, born June 5, 2009, are particularly unique.
“Our Javan gibbon offspring represent the only breeding of this species in the United States,” said Mootnick. “Worldwide, there are five institutions that house breeding pairs.”
The center is expecting several more babies soon.
“We have several pregnant females, so we will be welcoming babies for the next several months,” said Chris Roderick, publicity coordinator for the center.
The Gibbon Conservation Center is a 501(c)(3) charity and exists only on donations, memberships, grants and retail sales of primate-related merchandise.
“Breakfast With the Gibbons is the only special event of the year where the public can visit the gibbons,” said Roderick. “Though groups and individuals can arrange educational tours at other times.”
Mootnick said fundraising is especially important this year, as the

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.


Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

It's not my fault. The plants make me do it. I have proof: this month's links at  (NEWS/Botanical News).

· Sure those pretty flowers look all innocent, but new research suggests that they are manipulating us to treat them well.

· If a pond has no fish, will neighboring flowers care? Yes they will, because they will suffer for it.

· A carnivorous pitcher plant reveals its secret guest: a new species of very tiny frog.

· Scientists developing solar technology learn from the master: plants.

· But will our relationship to plants last? New study shows 20% of the world's plant species are endangered. (Great interactive maps here.)

If biomimicry is the future of design, then some award must go to Sudan for proposing grand new cities in the shapes of native animals:

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and -- most importantly -- visitors! Follow on Twitter:  - a new story every day!


*******************************************************************************  in October 2010

~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~

Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The Yucatan Tropical Hall at Zoo Zlín is a themed environment that
immerses visitors into the ambiance of tropical forests in the Yucatan
peninsula and the culture of the Mayas. The majority of the plants in
the Yucatan Tropical Hall came from a nursery in Costa Rica which
supports the local population, fauna and flora with sustainable plant



Overlooked and undervalued, plants have certainly not been utilised in
zoos to their full capacity. Kevin Frediani, Curator Plants and Gardens
at Paignton Zoo, presented his ideas for plant based enrichment at the
2009 International Environmental Enrichment conference:

You can find the document at


We keep working on ZooLex ...

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization is a non-profit organization
registered in Austria (ZVR-Zahl 933849053). ZooLex runs a professional
zoo design website and distributes this newsletter. More information and


The Fifth Howletts and Port Lympne Student Environmental Enrichment Course
15th to 18th November 2010

Instructors: Mark Kingston Jones and Chris Hales

Due to the high demand for places and positive feedback, Howletts and Port
Lympne Wild Animal Parks are pleased to announce their fifth student course on
Environmental Enrichment to be run by Mark Kingston Jones and Chris Hales, in
collaboration with keepers from both institutions. Mark has been involved in
the animal welfare field since 2004. He now works at Howletts and Port Lympne as
‘Enrichment and Research Officer’, organisingworkshops, talks and working with
keepers to design and implement enrichment ideas. In addition to running the
previous Student Environmental Enrichment Courses, he has been involved in two
Shape workshops, in the UK and Indonesia and is now the Shape-UK & Ireland
events co-ordinator. As well as being an Honorary Research Fellow of the
School of Anthropology and Conservation, University of Kent, he received two
animal welfare awards for student research projects, and has presented 9 talks
on topics relating to animal welfare at conferences, both nationally and
internationally. Chris has been an instructor on three previous courses, having
been a Keeper at Port Lympne for 12yrs, with experience working on every section
with a multitude of taxa. He has a wide range of experience in the field of
husbandry and enrichmentspecializingin carnivores and developing long term
secondary enrichment to promote natural behaviourswhich he has presented at the
2010 REEC.

This course is designed specifically for college and university students (past
and present) who do not currently work within a zoo setting, but are looking to
do so as a career. Over 3½ days students will gain a background in animal
welfare and enrichment, dealing with welfare needs of different species, as well
as providing practical skills in designing, building and testing enrichment
within the settings of both Howletts and Port Lympne Wild Animal Parks, in Kent.
Our aim is to provide valuable experience and an overview of additional
useful skills to a would-be keeper’s CV. Please note you must be 18 or over to
attend this course.

This course is roughly split equally between lecture and practical components.
Lecture topics include: Animal welfare, the 5 categories of enrichment, the
enrichment framework, animal husbandry and learning, enclosure design and
breaking into the zoo world. Additionally there will be Keeper lead talks and
practicals involving working with carnivores, primates, ungulates, elephant
management, in-situ conservation, rope splicing and fire hose weaving. The
final day of the course will result in the application of all these principles
as delegates are split into groups allowing you the opportunity to design, build
and test enrichment with one of our animals from a selection of species.

Please note that delegates are required to provide their own lunches and can
either bring their own or purchase food from the canteen. Information on
discounted accommodation including dinner, bed and breakfast is available on
request and the number of available places is limited, so please book early.

The workshop registration fee of £150 includes:
~ All workshop materials over the 3½ days.
~ Practical sessions.
~ Drinks and biscuits during the scheduled tea breaks.

For further information and to request a booking form please contact: Christine
Dutfield on:
Deadline for registered is the 31st of October 2010.


Nominations are now open for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize


Zoo Conferences, Meetings, Courses and Symposia
click HERE 



The Zoo Biology Group is concerned with all disciplines involved in the running of a Zoological Garden. Captive breeding, husbandry,cage design and construction, diets, enrichment, man management,record keeping, etc etc


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Kind Regards,

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Peter Dickinson


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1 comment:

  1. G'day Peter,

    Given the increasing number of captive born male elephants, and the coming difficulty in finding suitable housing for all of them, are you aware of any zoo in the world that has established a stable, long-term herd of males?

    What alternatives to bachelor herds could the zoo world look at?


    Steve Robinson