Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Zoo News Digest 16th - 17th November 2010 (Zoo News 704)

Zoo News Digest 16th - 17th November 2010 (Zoo News 704)

Photo by: Jonas Livet
Taiping Zoo - Bos Taurus

Dear Colleagues,

I am delighted to see that action has been taken to ensure the safety of the Sloth Bears from West Bengal. It is such a pity that animals get caught up in politics when they themselves know no borders, have no ideology or religion. The article states that they were moved to Bannerghata National Park. Now please correct me if I am wrong but is that not the very large and spacious drive through enclosure attached to the zoo? Or have they truly been released into the wild proper to support themselves? If it is as I suspect then it was from the wild to a zoo (regardless of what name you give it). So who is knocking zoos? On reflection rounding up such a number of bears is no mean feat so I greatly suspect that these animals were captive too even though they were housed in a 'forest'. Some people really love to play with names and will do anything to avoid using words like 'captive' and 'zoos'. It reminds me of the plan to 'free' all elephants from Indian zoos instead of tackling the problem at source.

And problems there are. Take a read of the article 'Leopard eats one of her cubs in zoo'. Okay, it was not written by the zoo and no doubt it is full of misquoted information and fact but I am going to pick at it anyway.

"Though cannibalism is recorded among leopards and lions, it is still a rare occurrence"
It is likely to happen at every birth if the right facilities are not provided.

"Though the zoo has permission to house only four leopards, it now has eight after another new-born cub died too. Had all the four cubs survived, the count would have been an unmanageable 10."
Who dreams up these crazy rules?

"the officials are clueless as to how the female leopard could have conceived when the zoo had no permission for breeding"
Sex and biology lessons are the order of the day.

"They should have kept the two leopards in separate enclosures. Rules have been contravened"
No! They should have placed a contraceptive implant in back of the females neck so that the two animals could live happily together. This is a common enough zoo practice.

"I am surprised how the authorities did not know that the leopard was pregnant"
I am surprised too. It all comes down to proper staff training and record keeping. It is down to the zoo to see their zoo keepers are properly trained.

"The vet Dr Abhijit Modghare has no experience of treating wild cubs. With no experts at hand, the future of the two surviving ones too remains bleak."
The keepers should be the experts. They need support and training. It is no use trying to load it on the vets shoulders.

"Though the birth of the cubs may sound like good news, this is not good from a conservation point of view."
Too true and if there is nowhere for these accidental cubs to go to then there is real sense in removing them now and putting them peacefully to sleep rather than having them suffer in cramped inadequate quarters in the future.

So was the Polar Bear in Moscow Zoo shot or not? Will we ever know? I do think it was a bit of mistake issuing the statement saying it had being in the first place... or was it a leak? The latest story says they cannot immobilise the bear because of age. Well I am not a vet so I don't know. What I do know is that when we immobilised our 30+ year old Brown Bear and descaled her teeth and removed a few bad ones that it gave her a whole new lease of life once she came round.

Using sustainable sourced foods in zoos really has got to be the way forward and I am delighted to see that Edinburgh Zoo is taking a lead in that direction. I do recollect some years ago somebody coming up with the idea of 'fish sausages' made up of the minced bits and pieces of 'waste' fish for feeding to zoo animals. Whereas it is a nice idea I am only too aware how fussy marine mammals and birds can be over their food. I have lost sleep over such matters. I don't know if the idea ever took off anywhere. I believe a similar type of product is available for snakes which you rub with a defrosted rat or frog according to species. Never tried it personally but again a good idea.

Come on, Roll up, Roll up see the bearded lady, the world's fattest man, the two headed crocodile! Just what is going on in the zoo world with their Ligers, Tigons, White Lions, White Tigers, White Wallabies and now the latest to join the freak show (and 'freak' is the right word...look in the dictionary) the two headed crocodile, a fitting companion for the two headed turtle. Be sensible. Don't let the egg go to full term. Stop the incubation now.

I like the idea of hunters donating deer carcases to the zoo. I do think it is a huge pity that they should be skinned first. Skin and bone are such great enrichment.

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:

Zooquaria - Autumn 2010 - Ape Special - Issue 71

Tiger Temple Update - November 2010

Remember that the festive season and the new year are just around the corner. You are never stuck for a gift by giving a Calendar or a book. Check out:

2011 Wildlife Calendars

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22 Sloth Bears Shift Base from West Bengal to Karnataka due to Maoist Threats
It’s not only human beings who are under threat form Maoist. Even the daily life of the wildlife is disturbed by the terror activities of the Maoists.
Purulia is a small town in West Bengal, the residents here living in fear due to Maoist attacks. This threat is not only for humans but for animals as well who would happen to be unfortunately in the wrong place. The Maoists have put up a poster here saying: 'Leave the forest if you want to remain safe."
Hence sensing the threat to the wild animals, forest officials shifted 12 male and 10 female sloth bears from the forest near Purulia to Bannerghata National Park, near Bangalore in Karnataka.
Accompanied by professional staff equipped with all facilities and with the support of animal conservationist, under the protection of the West Bengal state government, the sloth bears were shifted from their home to Bannerghata National Park, almost 2000 kms away. This move from east to south took almost four days.
"They (sloth bears) were evacuated with the help of three large trucks. A team of about 12 trained

Saving a species very well could mean saving ourselves
We've heard it all many times: More people are alive today than ever before.
Indeed, we're nearing 7 billion people now. Especially in developing nations, growing populations are running out of space and resources.
Though we'd hoped these problems would stay overseas, it's already started here in the United States. In Arizona, this manifests itself in conflicts over land use, air pollution and, especially, water.
Ever consider how much time, energy and water go into keeping a desert golf course - or for that matter, a front lawn - lush and green?
Water problems aren't only for desert dwellers, though. Where I'm from in the Great Plains, Nebraska and Kansas have taken each other all the way to the Supreme Court, waging a multiyear, multimillion-dollar battle over who owns the rights to the contents of our rivers and streams.
As conflicts like this continue, conservationists are working harder than ever to save wildernesses and with them biodiversity. Arizona and the desert Southwest are home to a stunning and unique array of species, from
Mexican gray wolves

Zoo Says Bear Wasn't Shot, Maybe
The Moscow Zoo on Monday distanced itself from an earlier statement that a sniper had shot at one of its polar bears.
"At this stage we can neither confirm nor deny that the animal was hit by bullets," zoo spokeswoman Yelena Mendosa told The Moscow Times.
The zoo said in a statement on its web site late last week that a 20-year-old polar bear named Wrangel had some 11 wounds that must have been inflicted by bullets from a small-caliber gun.
The statement, along with photos of the bleeding wounds, was still on the zoo's site Monday.
But Mendosa said no bullets had been found and the wounds might stem from a skin infection. She added that the bleeding had stopped and the bear

Recycling program benefits zoo
Topekan Barbara Lundquist lugged a green container filled with Pepsi cans Monday to a brightly painted Shawnee County Recycling bin in the parking lot of the Topeka Zoo.
"I'm here to recycle," Lundquist said with a smile as she placed the aluminum cans into the bin with the help of zoo director Brendan Wiley and Philicia McKee, with Keep America Beautiful-Topeka/Shawnee County.
Keep America Beautiful-Topeka/Shawnee County, Shawnee County Recycling and the Topeka Zoo kicked off a new program Wednesday in which citizens can save aluminum cans to help earn money for the zoo.
"We are celebrating America Recycles Day," McKee told a small crowd gathered near the new recycling bin. "I was very excited to get this in place. I want to thank all of you so much. Hopefully

Sea lions switch to sustainably sourced herrings at Edinburgh Zoo
SEA LIONS at the Edinburgh Zoo are now enjoying a full diet of MSC certified sustainable herring.
The move comes after the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) made it their goal to source all of its marine animal food from sustainable sources.
Darren McGarry, Animal Collection Manager for the zoo, said: “We’re really pleased that the Patagonian sea lions have taken to their new feed. Zoo animals can be very picky about what they eat but they’ve taken to the MSC certified feeds straight away”.
The zoo also houses one of the world’s most successful penguin-breeding programmes with over 200 penguins on site, and RZSS is currently in the process of incorporating MSC fish into their diet too.
“Gentoo penguins are particularly picky about their food and we need to ensure that the MSC certified South Africa hake will suit them – both in terms of taste and nutritionally,” adds Darren. “It’s important as well, that the South Africa hake fishery has radically reduced its seabird bycatch as part of its MSC certification – a cut that means thousands of seabirds will saved. We’re really pleased to support that work and will be working towards adding a recommendation for MSC certified feed with any penguin we export to another zoo.”
Claire Pescod, from the MSC says: “This is fantastic news. The RZSS has already helped the MSC by providing the technical expertise and laboratory work needed for our DNA tracing programme and this is further evidence of the Zoo’s commitment to sustainability. I’m delighted that sea lions are being fed Scottish MSC certified herring. This move supports the Scottish fishing com

You Really Do Have To Watch Zoo Visitors Like A Hawk

Leopard eats one of her cubs in zoo
Though cannibalism is recorded among leopards and lions, it is still a rare occurrence. Shockingly, it has happened at the city's Maharajbagh Zoo, that too right under the noses of the authorities. Rani, a leopard who delivered four cubs last Friday, is alleged to have eaten one of them.
Though the zoo has permission to house only four leopards, it now has eight after another new-born cub died too. Had all the four cubs survived, the count would have been an unmanageable 10.
What is worse, the officials are clueless as to how the female leopard could have conceived when the zoo had no permission for breeding. The male-female pair of leopards - Raja and Rani - were caught in Chandrapur and brought to the zoo for treatment a year and half back after they killed a few people.
Neither did the zoo authorities make any attempt to keep Raja and Rani separately nor did the forest officials take "possession" of them after their treatment was complete. "It made no sense to release the animals in the wild as they had come in touch with humans," said DC Pant, the principal chief conservator of forests. He squarely blamed the zoo autorities. "They should have kept the two leopards in separate enclosures. Rules have been contravened."
Ideally, they should have been released in the wild. Some conservationists feel that it's too late now to release these leopards now but, at the same time, "these animals certainly don't deserve the crumbling space in which they are being kept".
According to forest activist Kundan Hate, "I am surprised how the authorities did not know that the leopard was pregnant. It just goes to show how the zoo is run by the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV)."
A perplexed zoo in-charge Dr SS Bawaskar said, "The female leopard was very aggressive and did not allow the staff to go near her. She was sitting alone in a corner and not ready to leave the cubs. This particular cub was the last of the four and a weak one. Even its umbilical cord was not clean. The position of the cub was such that we are assuming that it may have died from the mother's weight. It may not have been fed."
Bawaskar was not certain if it was Rani that littered. "I am not sure. I have so many leopards here. It's okay if you mention it as Rani," he said, admitting that breeding was not allowed among the wildcats at the zoo. "Rani may have conceived before I took charge of the zoo in August," he added. Leopards have a gestation period of 104 days. "This will only complicate things further," said Bawaskar.
The zoo is ill-equipped to handle such delicate cubs and lacks proper system to take care of wild animals. The vet Dr Abhijit Modghare has no experience of treating wild cubs. With no experts at hand, the future of the two surviving ones too remains bleak.
The incident has once again exposed the apathy of the Akola-headquartered PDKV which manages the historic 100-year-old zoo. The deer population in the zoo has increased manifold due to inbreeding but the zoo has simply turned a blind eye. Though the birth of the cubs may sound like good news, this is not good from a conservation point of view.
In the past, efforts to encourage mating among male leopard Ajay and his partners Riddhi and Samruddhi, brought from Navegaon National Park in 2007, had failed. According to sources, mating between Raja and Rani may have taken place because they are wild-bred.
Sources added that the cats are being served substandard meat. In the recent past, deer are suspected to have died due to haemorrhagic septicaemia, a highly fatal disease caused by bacteria due to multiple reasons. The image of the zoo, which has taken a blow recently due to many reasons, will only be further tarnished

Minister takes stock of Delhi zoo's condition
"If I cannot manage my zoo properly, how can I expect other states to keep their zoos in order?" said Jairam Ramesh, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests after a visit to the National Zoological Park on Monday. The zoological park, also known as the Delhi Zoo, situated on the Mathura Road is the only zoo in the country that comes directly under the environment ministry. Ramesh was at the zoo to take stock of the measures taken after over two-dozen black bucks died in September due to contaminated water.
The contamination occurred after a blocked drain towards Yamuna led to backflow of storm water that mixed with overflowing faulty sewage. This was the minister's second visit to the zoo since the incident.
During his visit, the minister inspected the progress of the repairs that various agencies promised at a meeting held soon after the black bucks' death. At Monday's meeting Ramesh met Central Zoo Authority member-secretary, BS Bonal, zoo director

Alpine Ibex - Great footage

Two headed croc on the cards for Aussie zoo
A two-headed crocodile could be on the cards for a Cairns crocodile farm after a wildlife keeper found a conjoined egg in one of their croc's nests.
Wildlife keeper Clay Mitchell from Hartley's Crocodiles Adventures said there was a good possibility the egg could hold conjoined twins, he told the Cairns Post.
But he said he was hoping that would not be the case.
The egg is now in an incubator until it hatches, probably in

Meerkat mystery: Stolen zoo animal found at pet store
A stolen meerkat is back home at the Kansas City Zoo Tuesday after it vanished several days ago.
Zookeepers noticed the male meerkt was missing, but believed that he may have been picked up by a hawk for a meal.
A few days later, the wild animal was dropped off in front

'Significant' birth of rare frogs at Devon zoo
A Devon zoo has been faced with an unusual challenge - to try to recreate tropical weather conditions including the rainy season.
Staff at Paignton Zoo have been working hard to provide a familiar habitat so two rare species of frog could breed.
The yellow mantella is listed as endangered and the splendid or Parker's mantella is classified as vulnerable.
The zoo said the births of the frogs -which are native to Madagascar - are "extremely significant".
They were born at the Amphibian Ark, the zoo's species rescue and reintroduction

Zoo members looking for answers after board resignations
Barry Mano was away on business last week when he learned that eight members of the Racine Zoological Society board of directors had resigned. It left him wondering why.
It was also an indication, he said, that something had happened between the board members, which he thought deserved further explanation.
Mano and his wife, Jean, were among about 20 zoo members who attended Monday night's annual membership meeting at the zoo, 2131 N. Main St. The couple felt the board should explain what caused the members to resign. Barry Mano thought it was an "indication of a chasm."
"Just tell us. Boards change, but when eight people walk away en masse, we (as members) should understand what the core issue is," Barry Mano said.
But they didn't get the explanation they were looking for Monday.
The Manos, like other zoo members in attendance, are happy with the direction of the zoo and they like the improvements that have been made in recent years. However, they thought the board's lack of an explanation about the resignations

Tiny trunk shows new elephant life
WITH a tiny trunk already visible, this amazing picture shows ZSL Whipsnade Zoo’s latest pachyderm arrival, George, in the womb.
The image, created with a 3D ultrasound scanner, shows the elephant embryo at three months - 19 months before he was born.
Ultrasound scans are carried out throughout the 22-month pregnancy, much like with humans, to monitor the health and well-being of mum and baby.
George’s amazing birth was captured by cameras and viewers can witness the incredible moment

PM backs zoo's bid to bring pandas to the Capital
PRIME Minister David Cameron has moved a long-awaited agreement to bring two pandas to Edinburgh Zoo a step closer by lobbying for the deal on his recent trip to China.
Zoo bosses said Mr Cameron had raised the issue during his official visit to Beijing earlier this month.
It comes as documents obtained by the Evening News show that First Minister Alex Salmond wrote to China's foreign minister in

Western Neb. zoo seeks deer meat for big cats
A western Nebraska zoo is accepting donations of deer meat from hunters this season that will go to the zoo's big cats.
Hunters will need to check their deer in at check stations at the Riverside Discovery Center zoo in Scottsbluff prior to donating the meat. Hunters wishing to donate meat will also need to complete a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Big Game Transfer/Storage Tag, which will be made available.
Zoo staff would prefer the deer be skinned before being donated, but doing so is not mandatory.
Zoo director Kelly Jensen says the deer provide

A Sad Little Video Which Shows Something Of the Value of Enrichment

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Audience research in an age of austerity: Ensuring continued support for the visitor voice

Visitor Studies Group AGM 2011 and Conference
Weston Theatre, Museum of London
Friday the 4th of February
10.10 am - 4.30pm

Is Audience Research a legitimate cut? In the face of severe cuts for the cultural sector difficult decisions have to be made about funding priorities, including core collections, opening hours and front-line staff. However, if the burden of the financial shrinkage falls too heavily on learning and research, is the quality of the visiting experience itself at risk? What does this mean for funding bids which increasingly demand evidence of impact, demonstrations of lessons learnt from previous projects and audience consultations? If insight into visitor expectations and experiences is cut, how can we effectively engage people with our collections and stories?

This one day conference will provide examples of how major projects have been turned around on small budgets, how audience research can be strategically embedded in the aims of an organisation and how smaller organisations keep audience research alive. We will hear first hand from DCMS about some of the issues facing us.

Keynote speaker from the USA
Following the success of John Falk’s visit last year, VSG is bringing in another leader in the field of audience research from the United States . Alan Friedman is the former Executive Director of the New York Hall of Science. Alan’s dynamism and tenacity in building an organisation from something very small into one of the world’s top institutions for informal learning during some difficult times will provide us with inspiration and valuable insight into how to cope with our own age of austerity.

Other speakers include David Fleming, Director - National Museums Liverpool, Adam Cooper, Head of Research - DCMS, Liz Neathy, Curator - Havering Museum and Jean Franczyk, Director of Learning - Science Museum .

Whether an experienced evaluator or new to the field, the discussion of some of these topical issues, and examples of how they are being addressed, should help you cope with the challenges you and your organisation are now facing.

Book now: price held from 2010!

Registration costs
VSG Members - £70
VSG Members' Concession* - £40
Non-members - £90
Non-members' Concession* - £50

Registration fee includes lunch and tea/coffee

*The concessionary rate is available to individuals who are Full-time Students, Unwaged or Retired.

How to book
To book online go to:

Or complete the attached registration form below and return your completed form with a cheque made payable to 'Visitor Studies Group' to:

Mary Phelps, VSG Administration, 22 Church Avenue , London , SW14 8NN .

You can also pay by BACS transfer. Please see registration form for details.

I hope to see you there.

Best wishes,

Melissa Bentley
Museum Development Officer-Networks and Training
London Museums Hub
Museum of London Docklands
No 1 Warehouse
West India Quay
London E14 4AL


Mobile: 07947 296522


Nominations are now open for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize


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