Monday, November 15, 2010

Zoo News Digest 12th - 15th November 2010 (Zoo News 703)

Zoo News Digest 12th - 15th November 2010 (Zoo News 703)

Wild Steller's Sea Eagle
Hokkaido, Northern Japan (2008)
Photo by Gary Dyer

Dear Colleagues,

So now we have the Hainan Tropical Wildlife and Botanical Garden producing a 'Pride' of Ligers! (I'll bet Doc Antle is both jealous and proud at the same time). Here we have yet another crime committed against the animal kingdom. A pointless breeding which is only done to line the pockets of the greedy.

Another minor correction. The Chimpanzee from the Lebanon did not go to the Varzea Grande Paulista as was reported in the European press but to an allied GAP sanctuary at Parana which, I am reliably informed is a far better place for him.

Again we have more nonsense in the tabloid press about White Lions. True enough the photographs are wonderful and there is enough truth in the text to make the reading of the article convincing. No doubt it will too. Never believe everything you read in the papers.

Whereas I would not dispute the important role that Phoenix Zoo has played in saving the Arabian Oryx it should be pointed out that the animals never became extinct on the Arabian Peninsula. They were always there in the private collections and zoos belonging to various Shaikhs. Large herds of them. Numbers rose and fell due to disease outbreaks but the population was never in any real danger of disappearing. The various collections were well spread out and numbered in the hundreds. Oddly one of the biggest threats they faced were Arabian Oryx from the USA. I saw these animals, dead in about 1977. They had been flown in, live, by some American businessman as a gift to various Shaikhs in the hope that he could win contract favours. The stress of the flight caused unknown conditions to flare up. I recollect Bluetongue being one which was mentioned. It was interesting to note that the American Oryx were a little bigger and of rougher pelage than the resident Arabians. All water under the bridge now. Many introduced into the 'wild' albeit monitored in several locations.

The Redhead promotion in Dublin Zoo is causing as much interest as it did in Adelaide. Great! If it draws attention to the plight of Orangutans then it cannot be a bad thing. We really need to get people to think about the important things in life.


Just before I pressed the 'Publish Post' button I recieved the following link and the suggestion that it may be of interest to readers. No doubt it will be.

I have not had time to read through all the 'Blogs' and in fact have read a good few of them before. All sadly very biased against zoos.

The opening text states: "Why are zoos so behind the times? Because they cater to the public. Unlike animal sanctuaries, who put the animal’s welfare first, most zoos place the public and displays in which the animals entertain over the animal’s needs. Learn about zoo reform from articles on these blogs and websites."

It really says it all. Some zoos ARE behind the times. Other zoos are NOT. Sanctuaries and Zoos are one and the same. It is all in the name and one is no better than the other. There are bad 'Sanctuaries' too.

Do you have an animal/zoo/wildlife photo that you would like to see included at the start of Zoo News Digest? Sorry I can't afford to pay for it but I will credit you and link back to a website if you wish. Sadly I cannot guarantee when I will get round to including as this will depend on the level of response. If you are interested please email the photo to me. Use 'Photo' as your subject heading. Please give your full name, the name of the species and where the photo was taken. I look forward to hearing from you.

Some Stories You May Have Missed:

The Craig Busch Circus Comes To Town

Animals Die In Zoo Fire

Javan Leopards Flee Volcano

Polar Bear Shot In Zoo

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Controversial pride of man-made ligers
Made-in-China, with a little controversial human help, a zoo in China's tropical Hainan province claims to have bred a pride of ligers.
The offspring of a female tiger and a male lion, and larger than both parents, ligers are the product of human intervention as the two animals never meet in the wild.
But Hainan Tropical Wildlife and Botanical Garden in the island province's capital of Haikou says it has successfully bred 13 of the animals. Ligers are believed to be the largest of the cat family.
Reports of liger breeding date back to the 1800s, but the practice is frowned upon in some countries - especially in Taiwan where the crossbreeding of protected species is illegal.
There are barely 3,500 tigers left in the wild, according to a World Bank report released earlier this year. It has urged international action to help protect the animal in 2010, the Chinese Zodiac year of the tiger.
Some animal rights activists argue that ligers suffer from defects as a result of the cross-breeding and are little help in preserving an already endangered species.
"Cross-bred animals can't usually reproduce and they can have many kinds of disease. Since they are the combination of different species, their genes can oppress the development of normal genes, this is very bad for the animals and definitely not the right approach towards conserving a species," said the Director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, Wu Hung.
The last case of liger cubs in Taiwan earlier this year earned the breeder a hefty US$1500 fine.
But Hainan's breeders are undeterred and the six-month-old male liger cub is the pride of the zoo.
Hand reared from birth, zoo manager, He Zailin, said the cub is given free range in the staff quarters.
The zoo claims to hold the world record in the number of ligers born to one mother, twelve altogether, according to state news agency Xinhua.
Haikou's zoo is not alone, several other mainland Chinese zoo's have also tried to breed ligers but with less success, according to Chinese media reports.
"A lot of zoos are trying to breed, but the success rate is very low. A lot are not successful - only one liger in every hundred thousand fertilisations will survive," he said.
The zoo says it has also managed to breed tiglons

Same-sex vulture couple to be split up by German zoo
A same-sex vulture couple at a German zoo are to be split up this week after spending several months building a nest together, officials said Thursday.
One of the two males is to be mated with a female vulture at a Czech zoo, said Dirk Wewers, curator at the Allwetter Zoo in Muenster. The zoo needs a few baby vultures.
The male couple, both 14, proved to be poor homemakers. "The other vultures kept stealing the material they used

Billy the LA Zoo elephant welcomes new company
Zookeepers say the only elephant at the Los Angeles Zoo was grunting, squeaking and chirping in the hours after two female elephants from the San Diego Zoo moved in.
Tina and Jewel arrived at the $42 million Elephants of Asia exhibit Wednesday night.
Keepers told City News Service that 25-year-old Billy, alone since 2006, answered noises coming from the females, who have lived together for 25 years.
Animal rights activists have criticized the zoo's care of

Okay the public love it but Orangutans should stay with their mothers

Betty White Fund to help rare saiga antelope in Kazakhstan
Having already funded research on the health of dolphins affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund will now help the rare saiga antelope in Kazakhstan. More than 12,000 critically endangered saiga antelopes were found dead in western Kazakhstan in May of this year.
“Everyone knows how much I love dogs and cats, but wildlife species have a special place in my heart, too,” said Betty White. “It is such an honor to contribute to a fund that can rapidly address wildlife health needs in times of crisis.”
The rapid response fund, established by Morris Animal Foundation in honor of longtime trustee Betty White, will begin supporting Fauna & Flora International’s efforts to study this rare and beautifully unique antelope in Kazakhstan. Saigas have experienced one of the fastest declines recorded for mammals in recent decades: a 95 percent decrease in population over the past 20 years. This distinctive-looking antelope, which has a large, trunk-like nose that hangs over its mouth, once numbered in the millions and migrated in herds up to 100,000 strong across the plains of Central Asia and Russia. Sadly, the species has dwindled to about 80,000 globally since the early 1990s.
Morris Animal Foundation established the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund to give wildlife researchers timely monetary aid to respond to unexpected events

Phoenix Zoo helped saved oryx
A team of Phoenix Zoo veterinarians made its first trans-Atlantic house call last month to evaluate a herd of Arabian oryx whose species owes its survival to the Arizona zoo.
The oryx, a type of antelope, were not only healthy in their native surroundings - a wildlife preserve in Jordan - they were ripped, more muscular than their coddled cousins at the Phoenix Zoo.
"They have to forage to find food, and there is territorial fighting among the males," said zoo veterinarian Julie Swenson, who examined about 30 oryx during a two-week field trip to the nature preserve. "The ones here (in Phoenix) are in good health, but we can't give them the same kind of exercise."
Finding the oryx in such buff condition was a bonus for Swenson and two other zoo vets, who were crossing a bridge built more than 45 years ago when the Phoenix Zoo was at the center of an international rescue mission to keep the oryx from extinction.
Zoo officials hope their work with the Jordanian government will help further the survival of the oryx and burnish the zoo's wildlife-conservation credentials.
"I don't know of many other species that have been saved single-handedly by one institution," said Gary West, the zoo's executive vice president for animal care and management. "It's really an incredible story."
The story of how the Phoenix Zoo helped save the oryx, an animal that could have been the origin of the unicorn legend, is not as unlikely as it might sound. The climate (hot) and the landscape (dry) of the Arabian Peninsula, the oryx's native range, is not so different from the Sonoran Desert, a conclusion biologists reached in 1962 when they were looking for a place to raise a captive oryx herd.
The oryx once roamed the peninsula in great numbers. They are a smaller antelope, about 40 inches high at the shoulder with striking white coats and long, slightly curved horns that grow so symmetrically that, in profile, they can appear as a single horn.
Centuries of hunting and the destruction of habitat had pushed the species toward oblivion in the wild, a threat that caught the attention of the world after the British press raised the alarm. Operation Oryx brought the first nine animals to Phoenix in 1963; by mid-1964, what was named "the World Herd" had grown to 11.
It was one of the first times a zoo had helped with the recovery of an imperiled species and was the start of a series of similar efforts at the Phoenix Zoo, which has established captive-breeding programs for the Chiricahua leopard frog, the Mexican gray wolf and several native fish.
By 1980, the first captive-bred oryx were reintroduced in their native habitat, and today the wild population has grown to about 1,100, with as many as 6,000 more living in zoos and wildlife reserves. A herd of 13 oryx is on exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo.
It was to one of those wildlife reserves, the Shaumari in Jordan, that the zoo's veterinarians were summoned by the U.S. Forest Service International, which works on biodiversity programs worldwide.
Jordan has worked for several years to improve conditions at the reserve, both for the animals and for future tourism. The zoo staff was called over to perform veterinary exams and to help train the reserve's

Introducing Bianca, the cute new addition to the pride of white lions being saved from extinction in a South African safari park
It is one of the most endangered species in the world but one unique conservation project is taking giant strides in saving the mysterious white lion.
Based just outside Johannesburg the Ukutula Lion Park and Lodge is home to 15 white lions which are being used for invaluable research into the survival of the phenomenal breed.
Pictured here playing with project leader Willie Jacobs, three-month-old Bianca is the latest addition to the growing white lion pride at the park.
Her stunning fur is the result of a mysterious gene that produces a pure white coat, which occur only when two brown lion carriers of the white lion gene mate and produce offspring.
The 260-hectare park, where Bianca was born, is extraordinary in that it hosts a pride of brown lions capable of producing white lion cubs.
Of the 86 lions living at the park, Willie currently looks after 15 white lions, which are being used for invaluable research into the survival of the phenomenal breed.
Willie bought the site, which was used for breeding lions, five years ago and was quickly astounded by the secrets revealed by the resident pride.
'The pride male Felix was bought by the previous owner without any knowledge that he carried the white lion gene,' said Willie, 52.
'Very soon after we took over white cubs st

Indians have harmed tigers more than the colonialists: Goa governor
Indians, not the colonialists, have let down the tiger, Goa's governor S.S. Sidhu said Saturday, adding that contrary to forest department's claims, there was evidence to suggest that tigers exist in Goa's forests.
'Even the Royal Bengal tiger is endangered because of indiscriminate poaching. In India, it seems, we have done more harm to tigers since Independence, compared to what the colonialists did during their long stay here,' Sidhu said.
Speaking at a function 'Save tigers of Sahyadri', Sidhu said that a collective inter-state mechanism was needed to save the national animal from extinction.
'Evidence of tigers straying into Goa from Karnataka side of the Sahyadri mountains has been collected by the authorities. It only means there has to collective efforts on the part of Goa, Karnataka and possibly Maharashtra to save tigers,' he said.
Sidhu also said that India's extensive tiger conservation programmes like the setting up of national parks, tiger reserves and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) had failed.
'All these initiatives were essentially directed towards protection of tigers and ensuring their unhindered growth, considering the important role they play in preserving the balance in the eco-system. However, all these efforts have not succeeded in preventing poaching,' Sidhu said.
Sidhu's admission of the presence of tigers in Goa comes at a time when the state's forest department has been repeatedly

Special Skin Keeps Fish Species Alive on Land
New study shows how an amphibious fish stays alive for up to two months on land
A new study shows how an amphibious fish stays alive for up to two months on land. It's all in the skin.
Mangrove killifish are small fish—only about an inch or two long—that live in temporary pools in the coastal mangrove forests of Central and South America and Florida. During dry seasons when their pools disappear, the fish hole up in leaf litter or hollow logs. As long as they stay moist, they can survive for extended periods out of water by breathing air through their skin. But oxygen isn't the only thing a fish out of water needs to worry about, according to Professor Patricia Wright, a biologist from the University of Guelph, Ontario, who has studied these fish for years.
"All cells in the body need the right combination of ions and water for an animal to stay alive," Wright explains. "Normally, the gills are responsible for these processes in fish. We knew that in mangrove killifish the gills

Banham Zoo boosts red squirrel numbers
A Norfolk zoo has joined the fight to save an iconic British animal after three young red squirrels were sent to a reintroduction programme in Wales.
The population of the red squirrel across the country has been decimated by competition from the colonisation of its American cousin - the grey squirrel.
But keepers at Banham Zoo are doing their bit to help the conservation of the red after three of its offspring became new additions to the Anglesey Red Squirrel Project.
The attraction, near Attleborough, which has a resident red squirrel couple, witnessed the birth of four squirrel babies earlier this year.
Three of the youngsters have gone to Anglesey to be reintroduced into the wild and the other has been sent to another wildlife collection as part of the captive breeding programme.
The National Trust-led red squirrel project at Plas Newydd began in 1998 following a cull of grey squirrels on the welsh island, which is helping to boost numbers of the UK’s only native squirrel.
Craig Shuttleworth, national operations dire

Zookeeper defends policy to let redheads in for free
A SENIOR zookeeper has defended Dublin Zoo's decision to offer free entry to all red-haired children this weekend -- since he is a redhead himself.
Gerry Creighton, operations manager at Dublin Zoo, said there was never an attempt by the zoo to discriminate against red-haired children and its only purpose is to raise awareness about orangutans as an endangered species.
He told the Herald that the free entry deal is not exclusive to redheads, but any child who wears red this weekend will be admitted to the zoo for free.
"One or two people have rang in [to complain] and once it's been explained to them, that the very core of it is educating children and protecting orangutan communities in the wild, then they see the reason behind it.
"The real story is about the orangutans. It's tough economic times and if children turn up with red on them they get in for free, and the money given by the adults goes towards saving a bit of forest for the orangutans," he stressed.
Parents groups had feared that red-haired children would be open to taunting at Dublin zoo this weekend because of their natural hair colour.
In 2008, Adelaide Zoo in Australia was forced to revoke a similar ad campaign which

Mongolian success for Dubbo's Przewalski horses
It's 16 years since Dubbo first sent Przewalski horses to Mongolia, and one of our keepers has recently spent a month checking their progress.
Earlier this year, Dubbo zoo keeper Todd Jenkinson spent a month waking up at 5am, climbing on board an old four-wheel drive and going in search of harems of wild Mongolian horses.
Among the mountainous landscape of the Hustai National Park in Mongolia are 664 species of fish, birds, insects and mammals including his favourite animal, the Przewalski horse.
Back in 1994, Taronga Western Plains Zoo first introduced some of their Przewalski horses to Hustai National Park, and since then 10 groups have been released into the area

Paddlefish partners restoring prehistoric fish to rivers
Wildlife management and conservation agencies routinely partner to save money and other resources, and to make things happen in a sometimes complicated bureaucratic environment.
But in its ongoing effort to restore a non-game prehistoric fish to the Ohio River watershed, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission is partnering with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.
Prior small-scale interactions have linked the zoo and PFBC, but Mike Stephan, a native species

Palm-oil harvesting a danger to orang-utans
IF you’re chomping into a bikkie or doing a load of washing you’re not thinking of endangered animals.
But you should be.
Zoos Victoria community conservation manager Rachel Lowry said we are unwittingly pushing orang-utans to extinction because of our purchases.
“At the moment you just don’t know if the product you are buying contains palm oil,” Ms Lowry said. “Without legislation changes, palm oil will remain unlabelled.”
An estimated 40 per cent of food on the supermarket shelves contains palm oil, harvested from rainforest that is typically orang-utan habitat.
Palm oil can be found in ice-cream, chocolate, biscuits, chips, popcorn, margarine, crackers, cooking oil, frozen dinners, toothpaste, soap, detergents and cosmetics but under food labelling laws can be listed in ingredients only as ‘vegetable oil’.
Melbourne Zoo’s Don’t Palm Us Off campaign collected 130,000 signatures that have helped get a Bill introduced to Parliament to require manufacturers to accurately label palm oil products.
The Bill is being considered now and also provides for manufacturers to label use of palm oil as “certified sustainable”, so that consumers can be advised that

CMC plan to spruce up zoo

The Central Municipal Council (CMC) has suggested a number of measures to elevate Doha Zoo to international standards, sister Arabic daily Arrayah reported yesterday.
Periodical maintenance, increasing the number of animals and birds and entertainment options, modernisation and improvement of safety and security measures has been recommended.
There should be co-operation with schools to conduct awareness visits to the zoo.
An environment awareness centre ought to be established for visitors.
Guides should be deployed to guide visitors. Pamphlets and bulletins with zoo timings and information about activities are needed.
The Central Municipal Council called for the establishment of a facility where children could interact with suitable animals, a photo studio, and a small museum of stuffed animals and birds from the Arab region.
There should be weekly and seasonal programmes and entertainment and cultural events

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Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute - Summer Apprentice Program

The Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI) is currently taking applications for our Summer Apprentice Program. Graduates, undergraduates, and post-graduates from various academic backgrounds (e.g. Anthropology, Biology, Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, etc.) and all nationalities are encouraged to apply. The dates of the program are June 26 to August 19, 2011.

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Wildlife Middle East News Vol 5 Issue 2
September 2010
PDFs can be downloaded from:
Request for articles for future issues:
We are looking for contributions of articles from colleagues within the Middle East region for the next issue. Please contact the editors with any ideas that you may have.

Vol 5 Issue 2 Contents
Preliminary studies of diurnal time activity of captive Arabian oryx
2010: A year for the endangered Persian leopard
First hawksbill turtles satellite tagged in Kuwait
Mugger crocodile in Iran
Mortality patterns and husbandry management in Idmi (Gazella gazella) and Yemeni (Gazella gazella cora) gazelles at AWWP
News and reviews


Presented by: Active Evironments and Shape of Enrichment
Hosted by: Oakland California.
Dates: December 6-10, 2010
Instructors: Gail Laule, Margaret Whittaker, and Val Hare


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