Monday, October 11, 2010

Zoo News Digest 9th - 11th October 2010 (Zoo News 694)

Zoo News Digest 9th - 11th October 2010 (Zoo News 694)

Dear Colleagues,  

Links to some stories that were posted out on the blog which you may have missed:

So Mr Wong's private zoo has been raided. I'm delighted. It looks like that at long last this guy is going to get locked up. I just wish that some other countries would look a bit harder at some of their zoos. People in high office, intelligent people and journalists so often have the mistaken belief that the captive breeding of wild animals and conservation are the same thing. You and I know that this is simply not true and we should make it part of our mission to educate people wherever possible.

Sad news from Edinburgh but if needs must. Though some zoos appear to be doing relatively well others are having to tighten their belts. I am sure that wise and sensible decisions will be made.

Talking of tightening belts. I was mugged the other night. Although I have been robbed a time or three and fought off a couple of knife attacks I have never actually been mugged before. Lost all my cash. Having to watch it for a week or so.

I am none too sure what buffalo experts have to do with tigers but if it is to give advice on the management of studbooks then it is probably a good idea. As in the last zoo news digest, a breeding programme for white tigers is ridiculous. Ludhiana Zoo and so many other collections do not need 'experts' or more vets. They need trained Zoo Keepers. Breeding Tigers is not difficult.

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San Diego Zoo Releases Endangered Stephen's Kangaroo Rats
Thursday night, the San Diego Zoo released the last of 150 endangered Stephen's kangaroo rats at the Southwestern Riverside Multispecies Reserve as part of a conservation program aimed at saving a species endemic to San Diego and Riverside counties.
Since 2008, Debra Shier, Ph.D., San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research scientist, has been donning night vision goggles, carrying radio antennas, catching and moving the 4-inch-long Stephen's kangaroo rat to the reserve allowing her to develop a new method of translocating the 62-gram rodent from areas where development or non-native predators can kill it.
This year is different. Shier now understands the movements and behavior of the species. In 2010 she refined the program with the species' needs in mind. The kangaroo rats were released into six areas in which habitat was restored using various methods, including mowing, burning and grazing.
"We are looking for conditions that will make the species thrive," said Shier. "What is most important is moving towards restoration of native grasslands, and do so efficiently from the animal's perspective."
This diminutive rodent has been found in Southern California for thousands of years. Unfortunately, the species has been drastically affected by human development and has lost much of its habitat in the past two decades. Fortunately, translocating the kangaroo rat out of harms' way has been successful in recent years, and after developing new methods and tools, the sixth generation of translocated kangaroo rats is alive and well. The kangaroo rat project also includes efforts to restore

Zoo bid is abandoned
THE owners of a petting farm have withdrawn their application for a zoo licence.
Tweddle Children's Animal Farm, in Blackhall Colliery, has removed its exotic animals such as a monkey and kangaroos after deciding against becoming an official zoo.
An investigation by an animal rights charity earlier in the year found

Wildlife seized from Wong’s private ‘zoo’
The National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) has seized the two endangered Bengal tigers owned by convicted wildlife smuggler Anson Wong from a private fruit orchard in Teluk Bahang near here.
They also removed a 1.52m-long crocodile, four wildcats and six pythons from the 1.6ha orchard which is believed to be owned by Wong’s family.
Ten department officers and Malacca zoo officials were involved in the operation yesterday

Spotted tale: Royals bond with the beast
Thirteen years ago, the Wadiyar couple brought up two abandoned leopard cubs in Bandipur. But even after they were let out in the wild, the leopard that survived would regularly come visiting — once with its cubs

Auction provides £5k boost for leopard breeding project
THOUSANDS of pounds were raised at a fundraising event in Hertford to support a critically endangered big cat.
The Wildlife Heritage Foundation’s Amur Leopard Project, run by the directors of Broxbourne-based Paradise Wildlife Park, benefited from £5,000 raised at the charity dinner and dance at the Whistling Duck Restaurant, Lower Hatfield Road.
Paradise Park director Lynn Whitnall filled the role of auctioneer, with items up for grabs including a Chelsea Shirt and photos, all signed by the players.
The elusive Amur or Manchurian Leopard is native to the Koreas, China, and the Russian Far East.
The foundation has scored numerous achievements in their conservation work in recent

Getting a Tail Up on Conservation? New Method for Measuring Lizard Weight from Size
Lizards are an important indicator species for understanding the condition of specific ecosystems. Their body weight is a crucial index for evaluating species health, but lizards are seldom weighed, perhaps due in part to the recurring problem of spontaneous tail loss when lizards

Edinburgh Zoo may have to axe a quarter of staff
EDINBURGH Zoo, one of Scotland's leading tourist attracions, could be forced to axe a quarter of its staff because of a financial crisis caused by falling visitor numbers, it emerged last night.
Up to 50 of the 200 full-time staff are understood to be in line to lose their jobs because the economic downturn has raised fears about a £72 million expansion for the zoo.
A report by a think tank at Glasgow Caledonian University earlier this year said similar animal visitor attractions were expected to record a fall in paying customers this year.
The zoo attracted more than 630,000 visitors last year but officials say figures are expected tobe far

Campaign in Goa: Buy a cow, save the tiger
Grassroots wildlife activists who have been fighting for notification of Goa's rich, but mining-threatened, forests as a tiger reserve have found a unique way to compensate a 51-year-old widow whose cow was killed by a big cat in September.
The milk-yielding cow was a lifeline for Sai Pingle, 55, a dhangar tribal and a mother of two boys living in a thatched hut in the remote village of Ponsuli on the fringe of the Mhadei wildlife sanctuary.
'We decided to collect money and compensate her with another cow. The local population should not turn against the tiger. It is imperative that they realise how important the animal is for the sustenance of this forest in the long run,' renowned wildlife activist Rajendra Kerkar said.
His Vivekanand Environment Awareness Brigade (VEAB) has taken the lead for collecting donations for the

Zoo appoints cows and buffalo experts to oversee tiger-mating
While India is observing International Tiger Year keeping in view the falling number of tigers, the Ludhiana Zoo has not yet geared up for action. This point came to light at yesterday’s Wildlife Week concluding function at the Zoo where Dr Sandeep Jain, Member, Punjab State Board of Wildlife, said, “Experts in training cows and buffaloes have been appointed to look after the mating of tigers and in the past no record of breeding has been maintained in any of the zoos, ie with which family of tigers, mating is being done, when the partners were exchanged and so on which are very important points for the breeding.”
Jain added, “Experts in wildlife are needed because there is a lot of difference between cows and tigers. Gentists need to be appointed to maintain the genetic record of tigers, if we really want the numbers to grow in the state. Wildlife medicines also need to be provided for the wild animals.”
Jain made all these points to Gurbaaz Singh, chief wildlife warden who was the chief guest on the occasion. Punjab has 15 tigers and all of them are in captivity. Out of the 15, five are living in Ludhiana Zoo and the rest in Chatbir zoo.
In the recent past, a cub was born in chatbir but it died after a few days. Sources revealed that due to lack of experts, the Ludhiana Zoo staff does not take risk to allow mating of tigers. Ludhiana zoo has three tigresses and two tigers.
The last breeding in Ludhiana Zoo occured about four years ago and the cubs were shifted to Chatbir zoo. It was also stressed that zoos should be maintained on scientific lines so that the coming generations can learn about wildlife and their behaviour.
A congenial environment needs to be created for mating of tigers, rather than just leaving them in the open and only experts can handle such tasks, asserted Jain.
However, Divisional Forest Officer Daljit Singh Brar maintained that they

Rare monkeys stolen from zoo
Two endangered monkeys were stolen Saturday night from a zoo Brisbane, Australia, a zoo official said.
Someone cut their way into Alma Park Zoo and took the little cotton top tamarins -- an endangered monkey native to Central and South America.
Manager Gary Connell said the male and pregnant female were part of a wider international breeding program.
"They've got little needle sharp teeth but they're not wild in as far as if they were loose they wouldn't be a threat to the public," he said told the Australia Broadcasting Corp.
"They're only about 500 grams (1.1 pound) each so they're only tiny."
Connell told the ABC the monkeys require

Zoo suspects pregnant monkey still in local area
Managers of a zoo north of Brisbane say a rare and tiny primate that was targeted by thieves could still be in the zoo's vicinity.
It is believed thieves broke into the Alma Park Zoo overnight on Saturday and tried to steal a male and a female cotton-top tamarin.
The male animal's body was found nearby yesterday afternoon after it appears to have escaped capture.
Zoo manager Gary Connell says the female tamarin, Conchetta, who is heavily pregnant, could still be on the loose nearby.
"What we expect with the cold, wet weather, if they are in suburbia, they will go to somewhere fairly high and dry and try to find a secluded area," he said.
"They're only a little animal, much the size of a big rodent, and they will

Down to their last five rhinos
MIDLANDS BLACK Rhino Conservancy, in Zimbabwe, is a wildlife reserve under siege by poachers. Its most valuable resident, the black rhino, is on the verge of being wiped out by their illegal activity, with only five animals left from a stock of 34 that roamed the 660sq km area less than five years ago. From the wire snares set near watering holes to the scorched earth left by the bush fires started to cover their tracks, evidence of the poachers’ presence is everywhere, says conservator David Strydom, the man who has the task of protecting the conservancy’s wildlife.
“Times are hard in this country, so local people are willing to risk poaching even though they know my men” – he has nine rhino monitors – “are armed. In August we arrested 18 poachers and shut down a meat-selling ring in Kwekwe,” he says, referring to the nearest main town. “Throughout the conservancy in the same month we uplifted 536 snares, so there is still a lot of poaching going on of all the animals despite our efforts to protect them. Only recently two people came to our house to try and buy rhino horn,” Strydom says in exasperation.
Over the past few years poaching has increased rapidly here because of the political and economic crisis that has undermined law and order and left more than 80 per cent of the population unemployed and desperate.
To make matters worse, allegations that members of the security forces and senior political figures are behind some of the main poaching rings are increasingly being made by Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, an umbrella group for wildlife organisations.
The authorities are unwilling to put an exact figure on how many rhinos are left in Zimbabwe, in case the information aids the syndicates that sell the animals’ horns in southeast Asia for as much as €50,000 per kilo. All they are willing to say is that the number is well below 1,000 and that 20 years ago there were more than 3,000 rhino

Declawing Tigers And Lions

Kangaroo rats: barrier to development or species worth saving?
The Stephens' kangaroo rat, native to Riverside and San Diego counties, has been blamed for halting residential development and freeway construction and increasing the risk of fire because federal law makes it illegal to destroy its habitat.
The U.S. government considers kangaroo rats a protected species. And coyotes, as it happens, consider them delicious.
In rural Rivrside County last week, under a warm moon and a gentle wind, three dozen Stephens' kangaroo rats burrowed into new homes. There were no coyotes present--scared off perhaps by mountain lion urine that had been sprinkled around the Southwestern Riverside County Multi-Species Reserve, an expanse of shrubby hills between Diamond Valley Lake and Lake Skinner.
It doesn't do much good to relocate the tiny rodents with the twitchy noses to safer surroundings, only to see them gobbled up.
In 1995, the Riverside County Farm Bureau had challenged the idea that the rats merit such protection. In August, the U.S.

'Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives'
Journalist Thomas French asks the difficult question: Are zoos good for animals?
No doubt about it: Simon and Garfunkel got it exactly right when they sang "it's all happening at the zoo." As Thomas French shows in his new book "Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives," a lot more is happening than you might think — at least at Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.
This is a great story. It's got humor, drama, tragedy, page-turning suspense, and a compelling cast of appealing/appalling characters (both animal and human). I couldn't put it down (though I can’t help feeling sad that this book had to be written in the first place).
Here's the deal: Many species face extinction from habitat loss, poaching and other human-made problems. It’s a reality that can't be denied. One way to save them is by collecting them in zoos where they're presumably safe to live and breed — and perhaps inspire zoo visitors to save even more.
However, as French shows, it's not so cut-and-dried. Are wild animals really better off in zoo "sanctuaries"? Or should they remain free — even if their lives are cut short? Are zoos really just prisons, there for the amusement and entertainment of humans? Not happy questions. And ones that French, who maintains his newsman's objectivity, never really answers.
A former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the St. Petersburg Times and now a journalism professor, French spent six years investigating the inner workings of Lowry Park. We begin with 11 wild elephants from an overcrowded African wildlife refuge, bound for U.S. zoos in a 747. Four are slated for Lowry Park. Lex Salisbury, the zoo’s big-dreaming CEO and resident alpha male (known to employees as "El Diablo Blanco"), hopes these pachyderms will propel Lowry Park into a top-tier attraction. Along the way, we meet various characters — zookeepers, animals and others — who endure the triumphs and calamities of Salisbury’s increasingly dubious crusade for greatness.
There’s Herman, an alpha chimp raised by humans

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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.


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