Monday, November 22, 2010

Zoo News Digest 18th - 22nd November 2010 (Zoo News 705)

Zoo News Digest 18th - 22nd November 2010 (Zoo News 705)

Photo by: Jonas Livet
Bangkok Safari World - Odobenus rosmarus divergens

Dear Colleagues,

I really like the idea of the student project to make a tiger crate. Getting community involvement with the local zoo is all so important. Some years ago I did a number of evening courses at a local college. There were dozens of other courses going on at the same time. One of these was bricklaying and the other welding. I watched the novice bricklayers build excellent walls over a week only to have them knocked down again. It struck me at the time how zoos could really benefit from these skills by having new enclosures built 'on the cheap'. A two way win for students and zoo. Money is all so important. It is heartening then to read of the skilled assistance being given to Belize Zoo by British troops.

I was saddened to learn of the closure of Blackpool Tower Aquarium. Progress I suppose. If the people want dungeons, give them dungeons. There is no accounting for taste.

It was terrible to learn of the loss of life at the National Marine Aquarium. I only hope that zoos and aquariums will learn something of this tragic incident. Particularly sad was the loss of the 20 year old Stone Bass 'Caesar' who was very popular with visitors. Whereas I appreciate it is a world away but I thought how equally terrible it would be if it were the 80 year old Sawfish 'Buzz' who has just been moved from Six Flags to New Orleans.

I am pleased to note that Zoo News Digest has gained favour with Google. Google now indexes Zoo News Digest postings and stories in under a minute. The Digest remains the widest distributed publication within the zoo profession. It is read by more zoo staff, from Trainee up to Director and now more frequently by people outside the world of zoos.

Wonderful stuff, Elephant Dung. Gardeners love it, it is a possible 'cure' for psoriasis and now it is going to fuel furnaces. Some time ago I did my own experiment with the dung by coiling an ordinary garden hose in a big pile of it. I drip fed water in one end of the hose and measured the temperature of that coming out the other end. I forget exactly what the temperature was but it was certainly warm enough for bathing. I could see Reptile House applications but never followed it through.

The 'free entry' experiment at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park is doing well. In the first 16 days of November 21,400 people passed through the gates when they would normally expect around 1200. Whereas this is excellent news for the high number of voluntary donations to conservation programmes it has caused a bit of a headache with regards to insufficient car parking space and getting casual staff. Retail sales are high.
The arrival of the male Giant Otter may bring in more visitors still.

I hate 'freak accidents' wherever they occur and especially when they take place in zoos. The only consolation is that we sometimes learn from them and can take measures to see they never recur again.

Just who the dickens is 'Charo'? Fair enough, he doesn't like elephant rides, but thousands of people do. Why anyone should listen to the advice of some stage performer defeats me. PETA are apparently taken in by this pseudo expert who knows nothing at all about Elephant Care. Just because elephant rides are less common in zoos does not mean that they are necessarily wrong. All over India and South East Asia it is common practice and has been for thousands of years. Here the methods practiced may at times be questionable but in the modern 'good' zoo I side with the zoo.

Dubai Zoo gets a lot of flak. Unfairly I believe by groups of well meaning but uninformed individuals. The popularity of this little collection is once again proven in the record number of visitors during the Eid Al Adha holidays. I am not saying that there are not things wrong in Dubai Zoo because there undoubtedly are but I would be against the collection closing. I do believe though that this recent success should be a wake up call to Dubai Municipality to actually inject more capital into improvements and correction of wrongs.

When I was seventeen or eighteen I spent a summer diving for pearls. I was probably in the water 4-6 hours a day every day for nearly a month. I found some beauties too the best of which I had made into a ring which later I gave to the lovely Sue S. I often wonder if she still has it. The nights of that summer were spent opening oysters till my hands were red raw. There were lighter moments when I sat on the sand and shared salty kisses with the delightful Rosemarie M. I wonder what happened to her? Today I feel guilty at having killed so many oysters. I probably would not feel so bad if I had eaten them, because they are so delicious. Whilst diving I was often joined by cuttlefish. I more often than not ‘felt’ their arrival before I saw them. They sort of hung there in the water staring at me with, well curiosity I suppose. I wondered what they were thinking. Whereas they came quite close they shot off at speed if I approached. Sometime shooting out a jet of ink as they left.
This week I partially relived the experience. I was approached by a cuttlefish whilst I was swimming. He kept following me. I approached him and he moved just out of reach. I moved away and he followed. We must have played tag for the best part of half an hour. I noted that the poor little guy was injured. Nothing I could do except hope that he makes it. That little mollusk conjured up a lot of memories. The older I get the more I reminisce.

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:

Disaster At The National Marine Aquarium

Conservationists meet to help save UK crayfish from extinction

EU-ZooS XXI - what do the public want us to tell them?

Rescue missions under way to save Haiti's species from mass extinction

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Bid to shift birds from zoo slammed
The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is considering shifting the birds and reptiles enclosures of Byculla zoo to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Garden, next to Powai Lake. However, the plan has not gone down well with everyone.
According to civic officials, the plan came up after mayor Shraddha Jadhav expressed her desire to set up a bird park in Mumbai along the lines of Jurong Bird Park in Singapore.
Among the dissenting voices is the founder of Young Environmentalists' Programme Trust, Elsie Gabriel, who told TOI: "It is not a good idea to shift caged birds and reptiles from the Byculla zoo to new cages in the Powai garden. This may have been done by the corporation to attract tourists, but is detrimental to the animals."
Byculla zoo director Anil Anjankar said the enclosures, which were a part of the zoo revamp programme, would be shifted to the Powai garden. "Babasaheb Ambedkar Garden is owned by the BMC and is 30 acres in size. We thought there would be more space in Powai to keep birds of different species. We are looking at all kinds of birds - both foreign and Indian," he said. "The Byculla zoo will be used only for mammals. We are planning to send
Read more: Bid to shift birds from zoo slammed - The Times of India

Ducklings a hope for the species
A special clutch of ducklings in Te Anau is the key to repopulating a rare species of ducks in the south.
The ducklings will be released into the wild in Fiordland when they are old enough, in the hope that they will mate with wild whio (blue ducks) to repopulate key areas. The ducks are found only in fast-flowing rivers.
It is the second time the Department of Conservation has taken eggs from the wild and hand-reared them at the Te Anau Wildlife Park.
Department of Conservation biodiversity ranger Andrew Smart said there were eight security sites throughout the country that were focused on replacing the whio species. The long-term goal is to have 50-plus breeding pairs of whio by 2017. The southern sites for whio include Fiordland, Nelson and the West Coast.
With the department taking the eggs it means a pair of whio will continue to breed and hand-rearing

Record visitor numbers at Wildlife Park
THE Wildlife Park in Ballaugh recorded its best ever visitor figures in October.
Figures are up seven and a half percent on the previous best for October and 36 percent on attendance figures for last year.
Nick Pinder, general manager of the Wildlife Park, said: "We're very pleased with the increase in visitor numbers not only for October but the year as a whole which to date is six percent up on last year.
"With the extra attractions we're proposing to put in place this winter we're hopeful that the success enjoyed by the Wildlife Park will continue.
"The park is an important attraction for residents and visitors to our Island alike giving them the chance to see animals up close and providing them with the opportunity to learn about the natural

New black-footed ferret breeding center dedicated at the Phoenix Zoo
The dedication of the recently completed black-footed ferret breeding center on Thursday, November 18, 2010 at the Phoenix Zoo represents the commitment to conservation and tireless efforts of many community partners.
Phoenix Zoo President and CEO Bert Castro noted that, although the zoo had to temporarily decommission its ferret breeding efforts in 2008 when the orangutan exhibit encroached on the original building, he was happy to see the old building demolished in December 2009. Castro said it was an “outdated, inadequate facility that did not represent the world class vision for the Phoenix Zoo and the zoo’s commitment to the conservation of the black-footed ferret.”
After 14 months of planning, design and construction, the new facility is a reality, thanks to the approval of a grant from the Arthur L. “Bud” and Elaine V. Johnson Foundation, which fully funded construction of the facility. David Hammerlag, Trustee for

Troops rebuild Belize zoo
Troops stationed in Belize with the British Army Training Support Unit, BATSUB, have been helping clear up following a hurricane which devastated the country. British Forces News reporter Charlotte Cross reports....
Hurricane Richard struck in late October, causing damage to many houses, bringing down trees and even destroying the war memorial in Belize City. Nobody was injured or killed during the storms, but The Belize Zoo was particularly badly hit. Many of the cages were left damaged by the winds, or hit by falling trees, and are in urgent need of repair. It will take months if not years to restore the zoo to its former glory.
Since the zoo was first built in the 1980s, BATSUB has enjoyed a close relationship with its founder and director Sharon Matola. Servicemen helped her design the zoo by flying her above the site in a helicopter to take pictures from the air. Soldiers used engineering machinery to dig out the giant pond, which is now home to crocodiles, turtles and many species of fish.
So it was only natural that the servicemen and women of BATSUB should rush to Sharon¡¯s aid when the zoo was hit by the hurricane

Siberian Tigers Coming to Korea
Russia has pledged to send three Siberian tigers to Korea next year.
According to a Foreign Ministry official in Seoul on Tuesday, Russian officials who were here last week for the Korea-Russia summit promised to send three tigers sometime next year when the animals are old enough to be transported.
Russia agreed to Seoul's request for two male and one female tiger last year. The animals will be used to help the survival of the endangered species.
A team of Environment Ministry officials and

Summit To Save The Tigers
Did you hear WCBS 880¡äs Pat Farnack speak with Dr. Steven Sanderson, the president and chief executive officer of the Wildlife Conservation Society?

Protecting Tigers (Radio broadcast)

Monarch butterfly, its numbers dwindling, gets new conservation centre in Mexico
Mexico's celebrated winter visitor, the Monarch butterfly, has a new conservation centre aimed at boosting its dwindling numbers.
The black and orange insect has been hit hard by deforestation around its winter nesting grounds in Michoacan state.
Environmentalists say that last winter, only about one-fourth as many butterflies migrated to Mexico from the U.S. and Canada as in the previous year.
President Felipe Calderon said Wednesday that logging is a major threat to the butterflies, which are a big tourist draw and a boon for the local economy.
He spoke at a ceremony inaugurating the centre

Elephant advocates allege mistreatment at conservation center
The U.S. Department of Agriculture received a complaint yesterday from animal activists claiming that two elephants that lived at the Philadelphia Zoo are being mistreated at a conservation center in central Pennsylvania.
A spokesman for the USDA said the agency would investigate the complaint, filed by Friends of Philly Zoo Elephants.
But, according to a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Zoo, which runs the International Conservation Center in Somerset County, the USDA's elephant specialist visited the conservation center on Oct. 1 and reported no problems.
Connie George, spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Zoo, called the activists' complaint "just ludicrous."
Philadelphia Zoo communications manager Dana Lombardo said only that the zoo had confidence in the International Conservation Center and that the group making the allegations "is not qualified to evaluate their care or health."
The activist group said Kallie and Bette, both 28-year-old African elephants, spent two months last winter in a cement barn, rather than being allowed to roam the center's 724 acres.
In a video posted on YouTube, Dayton Baker, the conservation center's facility manager, says the animals were inside for two straight months last winter because of the weather. "We couldn't risk them going out and slipping on the ice," he said. "We had so much ice, it was a problem."
The group said that two of its members were told that the elephants were confined in pens of 1 to 3 acres since their arrival July 8, 2009, and that "there are no plans to allow them access to any of the rest of the property."
The elephants also are restricted free access to water for drinking or bathing and deprived of enrichment items, such as tires and balls to toss around, the activist group said it had been told during an event sponsored by the Salvation Army.
Kallie and Bette were moved to the conservation center because

Now, water contamination haunts zoo
After the rising levels of air pollution it is water contamination that has come to haunt the Nehru Zoological Park in the city. According to sources, the partially-treated water from the nearby Mir Alam Tank that overflows into the zoo and accumulates in the small lakes on its premises, has led to a rise in the pollution levels of these water bodies. There are about three such small water bodies in the Hyderabad zoo.
In fact, during summer this year, the contamination even led to the death of some fish in these lakes, said senior zoo officials. They claimed that the impure water also posed a threat to the lives of the many migratory birds that take shelter at the Hyderabad zoo every year. "The zoo animals are safe as this water is not fed to them. But the health of fish and birds are definitely at risk," the official said. He added that the water is also added for gardening purposes inside the zoo premises.
While the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority ( HMDA) did install a sewage-treatment plant (STP) at the Mir Alam Tank in 2007 to check this problem, it has not

Conservation, not conversation
Poachers are hunting down tigers across Asia and Russia for their skin, bones, and even private parts to sell on the lucrative wildlife black market. With populations dwindling, the world¡¯s remaining 3200 wild tigers could use some help - and fast. And certainly, it looks like people from around the world are uniting to save the tiger - by declaring their intention, over and over.
Next week, 400 participants from around the world will gather in Russia for the seventh meeting in two years on how to save the tiger ¡ª if they raise a tonne of money.
One could argue that next week¡¯s meeting is not your typical gathering of

S'pore-India ink zoo tie-up
WILDLIFE Reserves Singapore (WRS) and the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India have signed a three-year memorandum of understanding (MoU).
Under the MoU, WRS will facilitate a two-week attachment on zoo management for senior management from selected Indian zoos annually, while CZA will host WRS staff in specialised workshops.
WRS is keen to learn how to breed the Indian rhinoceros and participate in conservation programmes for Asian lions. WRS also

A horny headache
The rhinoceros is under threat yet again
CONTRARY to widespread belief in China and South-East Asia, the rhinoceros horn has no proven medicinal or aphrodisiac qualities. Its effect, some scientists say, is the same as chewing your fingernails. It is made of the same stuff, agglutinated hair. Yet rhino horn is currently worth more than gold, selling for up to $60,000 a kilo. That is why a beast that has been on earth for some 60m years is fighting for its existence.
So far this year, at least 260 South African rhinos have been illegally killed, a rate of nearly one a day and well over double last year¡¯s total. Almost all were shot for their horns; these days, few are taken for bush meat. South Africa is home to more than 90% of the world¡¯s white rhinos (the adjective is a corruption of the Dutch word wijde, meaning wide, a reference to the species¡¯s broad mouth) and around

Chefs, Conservationists Join Forces Against Shark Fin Soup
In a case of PR gone horribly wrong, sharks have held onto a fearsome reputation in popular media for decades. Ever since the movie Jaws hit Hollywood, the public has been more concerned over sharks eating people rather than people eating sharks. This attitude is slowly starting to change, but will it be too late too save sharks from extinction at the hands of unsustainable fishing practices?
Today, San Francisco conservation groups are standing up to the alarming disappearance of sharks at the hands of "shark finners" who kills an estimated 100 million sharks each year. Shark finning is the harvesting of adult dorsal and pectoral fins and the discarding of the less valuable shark carcass. The fins are usually cut off the live shark, with the still living body thrown overboard to perish at the bottom of the ocean. With dried shark fin prices reaching upwards of $500 per pound in San Francisco shops, harvesting has increased beyond sustainable levels and sales of fins continue to go unregulated by legislature.
The harvested fins from commercial fleets usually end up served as a key ingredient in traditional Chinese banquets. Since the Ming dynasty, shark fin soup has been an important cultural and culinary tradition in communities celebrating special events. According to an article in the New York Times, Emperors loved shark fin soup because "it was rare, tasty and difficult to prepare." Currently, the expensive soup is served by hosts determined to show honor and appreciation for their guests. Many consumers of the traditional dish argue that if you do not provide shark fin soup at special functions, the host will lose face and potentially suffer disgrace.
Served as a symbol of prosperity and health, despite that fact that today most shark fins contain dangerous levels of mercury, the subject of serving shark fin soup is an understandably culturally sensitive topic for consumers. This presents a delicate struggle for opponents who hope that public education will turn the tides against the unsustainable practice of shark finning.
Peter Knights, executive director of WildAid (based in San Francisco), told the Times in an interview that "what's needed, is a huge increase in consumer awareness." To accomplish that goal, local organizations like Aquarium of the Bay, Sea Stewards, and WildAid have enlisted the support of public figures--including nationally syndicated cartoonist Jim Toomey (of Sherman's Lagoon) and action star Jackie Chan--to try to alter public attitudes towards an often misunderstood and endangered predator.
Aquarium of the Bay's Director of Husbandry Christina Slager explains that "people have a perception of sharks as vicious killers and blood thirsty. Of course, the irony is sharks are endangered from humans, humans aren't in danger from sharks. Most sharks are shy and secretive. Very few of the many species would even remotely consider eating a human being. So it's really bad press and it's unfortunate."
Through outreach and special exhibits, Slager says she hopes to educate the public about the beauty and importance of sharks in both a global and local context.
"I think it would be easier to rally people if they were cutting fins off dolphins because of that whole charismatic

Chhattisgarh zoo closed to mourn death of tigress
A zoo in Chhattisgarh was closed Friday to mourn the death of one of the world's oldest tigresses.
The tigress died Thursday at the age of a little over 22 years and 10 months at the government-run Nandan Van zoo that is based on the outskirts of state capital Raipur.
'Shankari was ailing for a few days and had enjoyed a lot of affection of visitors and even residents of nearby villagers,' Rakesh Chaturvedi, conservator of forests (wildlife), told IANS.
'The local people are even demanding a memorial to commemorate Shankari who was one of the oldest tigresses in the world,' he added.
A few villagers had offered their land near the zoo to the forest department for construction of the memorial, he said.
R.S. Mishra, a zoo official, said over 1,500 people

Tiger den invader heads for mental test
The man who allegedly searched for two lion cubs in the National Zoological Gardens in Pretoria, apparently on instruction from his ancestors, will be examined by a district surgeon to determine his mental condition.
Tshepo Phage, 27, who almost ended up in the tigers’ enclosure at the zoo when he mistook the striped cats for lions, appeared in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on a charge of trespassing.
He was arrested on Wednesday after he was coaxed off the narrow wall between the tigers and lions’ enclosures.
Magistrate Len Muller yesterday had difficulty stifling a snigger when the State informed him about the man’s alleged transgression.
The prosecutor requested a postponement for seven days for further investigation, which included a visit to the district surgeon.

USDA inspects Topeka Zoo
The Topeka Zoo announced Thursday it would hold a news conference Friday to reveal three findings made by the U.S. Department of Agriculture during a routine inspection of the zoo conducted Tuesday and Wednesday.
The conference will be at 10 a.m. at the zoo in Gage Park, said city spokesman David Bevens.
This week's inspection was the zoo's first since the USDA cited it in connection with four noncompliance issues resulting from a routine inspection made in July.
The July inspection was the first during the tenure of Brendan Wiley, who became zoo director May 24. The USDA cited the zoo for eight issues during its last previous inspection, in April.
The USDA is the federal agency responsible for enforcing the

Topeka Zoo in hot water again with United States Department of Agriculture
Returning to world class is going to take a lot of work. But that's the goal for Topeka Zoo officials after being scrutinized again by the United States Department of Agriculture. Zoo Director Brendon Wiley says, "Because of our past, we are inspected differently than other zoos."
The USDA found three problems during their surprise inspection of the Zoo. Wiley says two of the problems they knew about, but it was the third that bothered him. He says, "We want to be an organization that knows our institutes well enough, knows our job well enough, that we identify the problems and not some outside agency."
That agency cited the Zoo for a sloth who went missing for a week. Wiley says they knew the sloth was in the exhibit because he was still eating, but they didn't want to disrupt the other animals by sending a team in to find him. Wiley says the USDA was comfortable with that decision, but a missing animal is still a problem.
Also, the USDA did not approve of some fencing in parts of the Zoo. Wiley says it will cost about $300,000 to replace. Wiley says, "If you're going to replace a fence like this,

Zoo animals for dinner - Why not?
Recent turkey and ham recalls casting a shadow over Thanksgiving plans? Not to fear, armed with a handy how-to guide for preparing everything from black bear to yak meat, your family will be in for a special treat this holiday season.
Just as a recent listeria contamination scare resulting in a massive recall of turkey and ham products leaves North Americans rethinking their Thanksgiving table centerpieces, Chef Dave Arnold blogs about some more, er, exotic alternatives.
In a Nov. 8 blog entry written for Popular Science magazine's Web site, Arnold, who is the director of culinary technology at the International Culinary Center's French Culinary Institute, provides tips for sourcing, prepping and enjoying all sorts of unconventional meat.
According to Arnold, those who prefer tougher meat should enjoy wild game even more than standard meat and poultry, which he says are generally butchered young to ensure tenderness, and lack the flavor of their full-grown counterparts.
Arnold's tastes are nothing new - during the Middle Ages, bear meat consumption was symbolic, and bear paws are still considered a delicacy in Cantonese cuisine. Beaver meat has been eaten by indigenous North American populations for generations.
Upscale Chicago eatery Moto served a road kill raccoon dish back in 2008. (see it here:, and this past June an Arizona restaurant owner caused a public uproar when he put lion burgers on his menu.
Exotic meats are generally avoided due to concerns over bacterial contamination and animal cruelty. However

Stem cells will hopefully change a leopard's knee, not its spots
WHEN you are born to leap up rock faces that are almost vertical, an arthritic knee can be more of a pain than usual.
That's why one of Sydney's snow leopards, Kamala, has become the first big cat and first zoo animal in the world to undergo a new stem-cell therapy aimed at preventing further degeneration in her joint.
Her extremely long, thick, furry tail hung down from the operating table at the Taronga Zoo Wildlife Hospital, as the surgeon, Tony Black, collected a wad of fat from her belly.
After it had been processed in the hospital lab, the fat, which contains large numbers of stem cells, was injected back into her right hind knee joint.
A hospital veterinarian, Kimberly Vinette Herrin, said it was decided to try this new approach after traditional treatments for the five-year-old snow leopard

Zoo owners speak out against student protest
The Tregembo Zoo has been a family business for decades, but have recently been at the center of public criticism.
SETA, which is the student form of PETA protested against the zoo downtown around a month ago. They claimed the zoo provided inhumane living conditions for large animals. They dressed in animal costumes from head to toe, one student even sat inside an animal cage, to get their message across.
The Tregembo family says, however, they dedicate their lives to the animals. Many of the animals they take in are rescues or already born in captivity. They also explain that much of the animal's living space can't be seen by visitors, because it is behind the viewing area of the cage.
"There is no teasing or harm done to the animals," said Sherry Tregembo. "The FDSA comes out here a few times a year to inspect the animals and the park, just like they do at the North Carolina

NC zoo, aquarium charity ranked best in nation
The nation’s largest and most trusted evaluator of charities recently cited the North Carolina Aquarium Society as the top zoo and aquarium charity in their annual Holiday Giving Guide.
Charity Navigator is a New Jersey-based nonprofit watch-group that compiles financial data from over 5,500 charities across the U.S. and rates the efficiency and effectiveness of each organization. The results are posted on their website, providing prospective donors with inside information on the charities they might choose to support.
Whether it’s a natural disaster in a far-off land or a hometown charity in need, Americans are a generous people and quick to support worthy causes. One thing donors expect is accountability, along with an assurance their contribution will be used for the intended purpose in a responsible manner. Savvy donors have learned they can turn to Charity Navigator to evaluate an organization’s performance before making a donation.
This marks the third year in a row the Aquarium Society has received a four-star rating from the group, the highest possible ranking.
“Donors are demanding accountability, transparency and quantifiable results from the charities they choose to support with their hard-earned dollars” wrote Ken Berger, Charity Navigator’s president and chief executive, in the announcement letter. “This ‘exceptional’

Zoo offers free admission for help with cleaning up
The New York State Zoo at Thompson Park will offer free admission to anyone who stops by to do a little yard work.
From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the zoo will hold a fall cleanup. Those who come with a rake in hand and give 30 minutes of work will be permitted to visit the zoo for the rest of the day.
For more information, call

Born to be Wild 3D

Farms to harvest rare animal parts 'are not the answer'
Farming rare animal species will not halt the illegal trade in animal parts, a conservation group has warned.
Care for the Wild says the fact that the animals are worth more dead than alive is hampering efforts to save species such as tigers and rhinos.
They add that selling parts from captive-bred creatures would not result in a halt of illegally traded animal parts and would instead fuel demand.
A kilo of powdered rhino horn can fetch £22,000 on the black market.
Mark Jones, programmes director of Care for the Wild International, said recent media reports suggested that the South African government was considering "a feasibility study on some kind of farming or ranching of rhinos for their horns".
"This flagged up that these sort of farming initiatives are still being considered at quite high levels," he explained.
"Rhinos are in quite a lot of trouble at the moment, with the value of their horns going through the roof, especially in Vietnam."
Media coverage in 2009 reported that a member of the Vietnamese government said he took rhino horn and his cancer went into remission, prompting a growth in the demand for the illegal product.
"The sums that are being paid for powdered rhino horn are just astronomical."
There are two species of rhino found in Africa. While the white rhino (Ceratotherium simum) has enjoyed a surge in numbers in recent years, taking the population to about 17,500, it is a very different story for the northern sub-species Ceratotherium simum cottoni.
It is listed as Critically Endangered, and conservationists have warned that it is on the "brink of extinction" with four

OTC students make tiger crate for zoo
Until this semester, Jim Bridwell and his welding students at Ozarks Technical Community College had never seen, much less built, a tiger crate.
But when Dickerson Park Zoo officials recently asked if Bridwell and his students would be interested in the construction project, Bridwell said yes.
"We didn't know anything about tiger crates. We just knew they had to be strong," Bridwell said.
About a dozen welding students made a custom 150-pound aluminum crate, 79.5 inches long, 29.5 inches wide and 40 inches tall, that is being used to securely haul large felines to and from the zoo.
Don Tillman, the zoo's development director, contacted OTC about building the crate.
"We said yes. We met with a zoo engineer and went to work," Bridwell said.
Crocker Consulting Engineers of Springfield designed the crate according to zoo specifications. The drawings

The Detroit Zoo is the first zoo in the country to be certified "StormReady"
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS) has given the Detroit Zoo their seal of approval.
“The safety of our animals, guests and staff is our highest priority and we have a responsibility to be top notch at keeping the Zoo safe in the event of severe weather. This certification is validation that we are,” said Detroit Zoological Society Executive Director Ron Kagan.
The nationwide StormReady preparedness program leads communities, universities and other venues in developing plans to handle local severe weather and flooding threats.
The program is voluntary and provides advice from a partnership between the local NWS weather forecast office and state and

Blackpool Tower Aquarium to be replaced by dungeon
Blackpool is losing one of its oldest attractions to make way for a Lancashire version of the London Dungeon.
The Tower Aquarium is being revamped as part of new operators Merlin Entertainments' £10m re-development plans.
Work to move the 200 fish out of the aquarium starts on Sunday.
Most will be re-located to the nearby Sea Life Centre, which is owned by Merlin.
The rest of the fish will be

Elephant dung will be used to heat conservation center
Elephant manure at the International Conservation Center in Fairhope Township will help fuel a biomass furnace.
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has received a $267,000 clean energy grant from the Department of Community and Economic Development and $375,000 from the Richard King Mellon Foundation for a biomass alternative energy project.
“Both grants will be used for the development and installation of a biomass furnace at the ICC that will run on elephant manure and switch grass,” zoo Chief Operating Officer Frank Cartieri said. “We want to thank state Rep. Pete Daley, whose support of the zoo and the ICC has made this all possible.”
Daley, D-Fayette/Washington, said in a press release that he was honored to work closely with the zoo.
“They have a proven track record when it comes to conservation,” he said. “This grant will not only showcase alternative energy and the use of biofuels, but it will provide more data to other zoos to help them evaluate the feasibility of installing similar units."
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Austin Burke announced the clean energy grant as part of nearly $7.9 million in grants and loans approved by Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Financing Authority. The authority awarded grants and loans for projects in 12 counties.
To fuel the furnace, the ICC will recycle about 300 to 375 pounds of manure a day and will supplement it with switch grass, also grown at the ICC.
“Before we committed to the biomass furnace though, we wanted to make sure that it would work efficiently for us,” Cartieri said. “We took about 1,500 pounds of elephant manure for a test burn at a biomass furnace manufacturing company and

Calgary Zoo can be 'a better place,' believes new animal boss
Director wants to restore reputation
A s a teenager, Jake Veasey sold hotdogs at the London Zoo simply because he wanted to be close to animals.
He's come a long way since then.
Those humble beginnings were followed by 10 years in academia, studying zoology and earning a PhD. The last decade, Veasey has directed conservation at the Woburn Safari Park in England, and advised the U.K. government on zoo standards.
Now, the 39-year-old is the newest director of animal management, conservation and research at the Calgary Zoo, bringing with him a slew of experience and an attitude that puts animal welfare before all else.
He also walks into the aftermath of a tough number of years for the zoo, which has volleyed back and forth between a series of bizarre animal deaths and incidents, and is rebounding from a critical review by two national zoological bodies.
Veasey says his goal is simple: make the Calgary Zoo world-class at a time when wild animal populations are threatened around globe.
In his mind, world-class means every animal at the zoo has a purpose beyond entertaining the public -- that conservation and welfare not only come first, but also push beyond best practices.
"I have come here with a great deal of optimism about trying to make the Calgary Zoo a better place," he says in an interview. "Every breath I take and every decision I make is going to be around that."
He warns, however, change will take

80-year-old shark sent to breeding program
After about 19 years at the park, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom's only sawfish, which is believed to be about 80 years old, has been shipped to New Orleans for a breeding program, officials said.
Buzz's species is believed to have a life span of more than 200 years, "so he's not the old man we thought he was," park Animal Care Director Michael Muraco said.
Buzz lived among five or six shark species at the park's Shark Experience until late Friday when he headed for his new home, Curator of Fish John Shultz said.
"We all feel this is good for Buzz and good for the species, which is endangered," Shultz said.
Muraco said the process that led to Buzz's departure started during a regular "blue sky" meeting where ideas are discussed.
"This led to a conversation with the Autobahn Aquarium in New Orleans, and they mentioned there are only a handful of these animals left in United States and that they're at risk in the wild and they asked how we'd feel about a cooperative breeding program," Muraco said.
This left park officials with "a moral dilemma," he said.
Discovery Kingdom lacks the space for a breeding

Hundreds of fish die at National Marine Aquarium after power cut
HUNDREDS of fish have died at the National Marine Aquarium after a power cut caused a tank to drain.
A spokesman for the NMA said storms during Tuesday night led to multiple power failures which knocked out the life support and back up systems for the Atlantic Reef tank.
Water started to drain out of the tank at approximately 10pm. As the NMA has no night shift, the tank was nearly empty when the aquarist team arrived just before 8am on Wednesday morning.
The spokesman said: “Staff at the aquarium worked tirelessly to minimise the impact but unfortunately losses have occurred.”
Most of the fish in the tank died – a total of more than 200 – with a bout 30 survivors, some of them in poor health.
Conger eels, turbot, bass, pollock, grey mullet, horse mackerel and wrasse were among the all-native species lost.
The spokesman said: “The aquarist team are clearly very upset by the incident.
“A firm favourite, Caesar the Stone Bass, was amongst the fish that were lost.
“Although this is a tragic incident, the aquarium is moving forward with plans to refurbish and re theme the exhibit.
“The result of this unfortunate series of events

'Zoo revamp spells doom for trees'
Experts who have mapped the bio-diversity of the city’s only zoo have concluded that the civic body’s current makeover plan for it will mean doom for its existing green cover. A five-month study conducted by a committee of six taxonomists, under the guidance of botanist Dr Marselin Almeida, have shown that the
53-acre compound of the Byculla zoo has 3,213 trees belonging to 57 families and 285 species.
Of these, 30 species of trees are listed as rare and endangered under different levels of vulnerability, in the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list.
Also, 87 species have been tagged as locally rare, while 39 have been termed ‘very rare’ in list.
Litsea Fernandesii Almeida, a variety of tree that was found in quarries in Malad, was found during the survey. It is among five species that are not found anywhere else in the city.
The civic makeover plan envisions replicating the animals’ natural habitats and bringing animals from Australia, South Africa and other Asian countries to the zoo.
It has been stuck with the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee for more than two years.
The team used a global positioning system to superimpose the various trees within the premise on the current makeover plan to see how many trees fall within the enclosure.
“We found that at least 1,000 trees, which is one third of the total, will fall inside the enclosures. This will make these trees out of reach for the public,” said Almeida.
For the first time, a census of the herbs and scrubs was also conducted and it found that there were 843 species of them in the zoo.
“We have sent the report of members of the Central Zoo Authorit

Zoo hullabaloo: All motives are suspect
Louis Garibaldi was the director of New Bedford's Buttonwood Park Zoo until 2007. Today, he is the head of the Friends of Buttonwood Park.
Most of the time, that wouldn't even raise an eyebrow. The zoo abides already within the park's boundaries, and some of the Friends also give their time to the zoo.
But then came the zoo's proposed 4-acre expansion, an emotional response from members of the Friends who say that it would ruin the character of the park, and the strong backlash from those who favor the expansion.
And so Garibaldi — at least in the eyes of some of those who want to see the zoo grow, bring in tigers and snow monkeys and another elephant — is one whose motives might seem suspect.
Is his the honest opposition of the head of a non-profit group charged with protecting the vision of the 19th century visionaries who designed and built Buttonwood Park, or is it the jealousy of a former employee who doesn't like the new direction of the zoo?
And the Friends themselves, who only occasionally dip their toes into the political currents that meander through everything that happens in New Bedford, for the moment have become, in the eyes of some zoo expansion supporters anyway, a bunch of meddlers who think the park is theirs and not everyone else's.
That is the way of people in the Decade of the Knowing Sneer, when nobody's motives or actions — from the pope's to the president's to the news media's — are considered pure.
In fact, Garibaldi — who with two other mainstays of the Friends of Buttonwood Park visited The Standard-Times editorial board last week to talk about why they oppose the current master plan for the zoo's $12 million to $15 million expansion — had his doubts about the newspaper's intentions.
He twice pointed out that in The Standard-Times coverage of last weekend's tours through the section of Buttonwood Park that would have to be taken for the zoo's expansion, our reporter did not mention that the vast majority of questions being asked of current zoo Director William Langbauer suggested deep skepticism to the expansion and to the process surrounding it.
Although the newspaper's editorial board

Zoo giraffe killed in netting
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanial Garden officials were still waiting Sunday to learn how “everyone’s favorite” giraffe died in a freak accident the day before.
When it was time to turn the zoo’s three giraffes in for the night, Akilah was discovered dead about 4:30 p.m. Saturday, sitting in the back of the outdoor exhibit. She had been fine just 90 minutes before when the giraffes were fed hay.
The 3-year-old female Massai giraffe was spotted in a normal sitting

PETA tries to halt elephant rides at Santa Ana Zoo
The activity is banned at many facilities, but the director in Orange County supports the practice.
The Santa Ana Zoo is one of only a handful in the nation that still offer elephant rides.
For more than 25 years, children — and some grown-ups — have turned out by the hundreds to ride on the back of an 8,000-pound Asian elephant as it trudges around a shaded, circular enclosure near Monkey Row.‬
Although others have bowed to pressure from animal welfare advocates who oppose once-popular elephant rides as cruel to the animals and dangerous to the public, zookeepers in Santa Ana are rushing to their defense.
Animal activists set their sights on the zoo last year and have intensified their opposition since the ride opened for the season last month. Since,0,5910897.story

Police fail to file charge sheet in zoo death cases
Despite substantial evidence on hand, the Sitabuldi police have failed to file a charge sheet against anyone for secretly burying a deer and an emu that died in August 2010 due to alleged negligence at the Maharajbagh Zoo. The zoo is run by the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV).
It has been over three months now since an FIR was registered against associate dean of College of Agriculture, Nagpur, Vandan Mohod and in charge of the Maharajbagh Zoo Dr Abhijeet Motghare, who is presently working as the zoo vet. Both have been granted regular bail by the court.
Mohod was stripped of the zoo controller's charge and Dr Motghare was also removed as zoo in charge after the shocking incident. Both are facing charges of violating Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Recognition of Zoo Rules and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 for burying the exotic bird emu and a deer without conducting post mortem.
The duo has also been charged with negligence leading to the death of two deer while relocating the herbivores to Navegaon National Park on August 13, 2010. No transit pass, which is mandatory to shift Scheduled animals, had been obtained from the forest department.
Sitabuldi police inspector PB Thombre had registered an FIR on August 14 against the duo, on a complaint filed by city chief of People For Animals (PFA) Karishma

Dubai Zoo packed during Eid holidays
THE Dubai Zoo has received a record number of 28,299 visitors during the Eid Al Adha holidays, according to the Dubai Municipality (DM).
Moreover, nearly Dhs56,598 was collected through ticket sales during the five days of the holidays - also breaking previous years’ records, said a DM statement.
Dr Reza Khan, specialist at the zoo section of DM, said that the figures show a marked increase compared to previous years.
“We had 5,788 more visitors than last year and the income also rose by Dhs11,576 this year. During 2009, we collected Dhs45,022 through 22,511 visitors. In 2008, we collected Dhs39,646 from 19,823 visitors,” he added.
According to him, a record number of visitors thronged the zoo on the third day of Eid.
“On this day, about 9,043 visitors entered the

Penguin gets prosthetic beak
An injured penguin has received a prosthetic beak. It is recovering in a Rio de Janeiro zoo after he was found stranded on a nearby beach.
The zoo's veterinarian said the acrylic replacement will help the five-month-old Magellan penguin named Tungo to catch fish on his own.
About one month ago, the bird was found with a shattered bill which was damaged by a boat propeller.
He has only been able to eat with the help of caretakers since the accident. He will soon be ready to travel to a breeding centre in California along with other rescued penguins of this endangered species.
The prosthesis, made from the same material used to restore human bones, was shaped from the broken piece of the original beak that was found with the animal.
Veterinarian Marco Janackovic, who performed the surgery on Tungo, said he had to be extra careful not to cover the penguin's nostrils.
"My biggest concern was not covering his nostrils during the surgery with the resin material to

Komodo dragon’s evolutionary tale turned on its head by Canadians
A Canadian-led team of researchers that discovered the 33-million-year-old fossilized remains of a large lizard in an Egyptian desert is rewriting the evolutionary history of the iconic Komodo dragon and its closest carnivorous cousins.
The African find is being described as the oldest known specimen of the Varanus reptile group, which includes Indonesia’s giant Komodo — at three metres long and 75 kilograms, the world’s largest lizard — and all other species of monitor lizards inhabiting ranges in Africa, Asia and Australia.
The breakthrough discovery, led by University of Alberta biologists Robert Holmes and Alison Murray, challenges the prevailing theory that monitor lizards originated in Asia about 20 million years ago before spreading to Africa and Australia.
Instead, the researchers contend, the much older varanid lizard bones found at the well-known Fayum fossil bed south of Cairo indicates that these predatory lizards — perhaps 1.5 metres in length at the time — probably evolved first in that region before making their way out of Africa.
That finding has potentially major implications

Fighting for animal rights in Lebanon
"Grooming is a social thing, a friendly thing, it calms chimpanzees down," says Jason Mier director of animal rights NGO Animals Lebanon.
As Mier talks, Omega, a 12 year old chimpanzee, picks through Mier's hair, occasionally yanking out the offending strand. It's one of the few displays of natural behavior that Omega has shown in over a decade.
Omega used to serve customers at a café in southern Lebanon until some got him drunk. As a result he turned aggressive, attacked some clients and was sold to a small, decrepit zoo.
Mier, who first met Omega six months ago, points to trash littering the floor of the 5m by 10m cage, a putrid blend of old food, water bottles and plastic bags.
"There is cement, there are metal bars, there

NewsOK camera gives behind-the-scenes look at Oklahoma City Zoo elephants
A live online video from inside the elephant barn at the Oklahoma City Zoo is now available 24 hours a day exclusively at
Viewers will be able to see Asian elephants Asha and Chandra whenever the two are in the community stall inside their new home.
“From now until the spring, the elephant cam will provide a glimpse into the everyday lives of Asha and Chandra,” said David Morris, director of video for OPUBCO Communications Group. “Thanks to the support and generous access from the Oklahoma City Zoo, we have perched a camera above the community stall.”
The camera is the centerpiece of the NewsOK Elephant Nation page, which documents the elephant breeding



Dear All,

On Wednesday next week we are having a meeting that will help to decide the future of Studland Bay and its seagrass and seahorses.

The meeting is being organised by the Marine Management Organisation with a group of stakeholders including those that do not want Studland protected and who want negative activities to still carry on on the site, damaging the seagrass and threatening the future of the Seahorses.

You can help us to show public opinion by voting on the Marine Conservation Societies Yours Sea Your Voice page
It is crucial you have your vote for this amazing unique site that is under a great of pressure and threats from destructive practises, so please vote and get your friends to vote and show public opinion.

Thank you.

Best wishes


Neil Garrick-Maidment FBNA
Executive director
The Seahorse Trust (registered charity no. 1086027)
Escot Park
Ottery St Mary
Nr Honiton
EX11 1LU

Tel: 01404 822373!/group.php?gid=106564446031865&ref=ts


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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