Monday, November 8, 2010

Zoo News Digest 4th - 8th November 2010 (Zoo News 701)

Zoo News Digest 4th - 8th November 2010 (Zoo News 701)

Dear Colleagues,

You and your family can get free entry to South Lakes Wild Animal Park up till the 13th February! David Gill is no stranger to controversy and frequently comes up with ideas to get the attention of the public. This must be one of his craziest ideas yet, or is it? There are free zoos of course and many of the paying ones have done 'free for a day' or enter at '1960's prices' but to allow free entrance for such an extended period is probably a unique idea. I certainly am unaware of any other collection which have done it. It is, admittedly a quiet period of the year but the Lake District is popular with visitors throughout the year. The fact that there is a rock bottom bargain down the road is sure going to draw people in. It is debateable whether the Park will make enough money through the gift shop and the catering but I actually believe it will. Getting 100 people through the gate on a day when you would normally get 5 has got to be good. People will eat and buy gifts especially when they have saved on the entrance. So why is he doing it? It may well be an experiment which he can afford to do or perhaps it is to strengthen his case for new access roads.

I am starting to worry a little bit about YouTube. I never got any joy out of getting them to re-install the footage of the Orangutan Boxing Match which I took in and published in my article on Safari World Bangkok. Although it showed no cruelty at all it was undoubtedly cruel and wrong and that is the point I was trying to make. So why ban it? Especially why ban it when there must be at least a dozen other clips on YouTube showing the same thing? (Actually I wrote further on this yesterday. Please see Orangutan Boxing if you are remotely concerned about Orangutans).

Now for something completely different (but connected). I wrote an article entitled The Anatomy of a Beer Bar. I took three bits of video to illustrate this. As it turned out I only used one (number 2) as it was the longest. Next thing I hear is that section number 3 has been banned for viewing in Germany. I really do puzzle sometimes. I have a few other banned articles on other sites which will never see the light of day unless I make corrections. But what? I am not a pornographer. I don't use bad language or descriptions of poor taste. As I say, I remain puzzled.

I am delighted to learn that Robitussin has decided to Pull Orangutan Advertisements. If you missed that story then read here first: Latest Coup From The Myrtle Beach Circus

The real sorry part of this that it came down to PETA to do it. It should have been zoos who insisted that this was wrong. I also feel that in spite of the need for money that Birute Galdikas should hand back the check to the so called 'The Institute for Greatly Endangerd Rare Species' or better still burn the money publicly to show that it is 'dirty bloody money'. Zoos, Good Zoos really need to stand up against these charlatans and commercial exploiters. The trouble is, some of the worst offenders are in the highest positions within recognised Good zoos.

When 'Zoo Check' first reared its ugly head, before it started calling itself the 'Born Free Foundation' they had a set of proposals for zoos. I, and every person I knew in the zoo world was in agreement with practically all of these apart from the 'closure of all zoos'. Whereas I continue to be against the Zoo Check/Born Free Foundation because of the zoo closure agenda I am grateful for much they have done and drawn attention to. It really saddens me however that it is not the Good Zoos which are calling foul. They should and if they did they would have a lot more credibility.

As one of the people involved in taking some of the first animals over to Bani Yas Island I am always interested to learn more of the developments there. The latest article has snippets of history which I was unaware of. A pre-Islamic monastery. Wow! I missed that in my wanderings around the island. I do wonder though how often the Cheetah will be included in "indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula" before people start to actually believe it. It never was. Well it might have been, way way back. I do recollect fossil rhino bones recovered from the mainland just opposite the island.

Not a single offer of Photographs to include at the start of Zoo News Digest (see note in last edition). No sweat. Plenty in creative commons.

Some Stories You May Have Missed:

Orangutan Boxing

Status of Elephants in Thailand

A Tightrope is Not a Life for an Elephant

The Good Zoo and Euthanasia

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Help for the animals of Mt Merapi
Mount Merapi, on the island of Java, Indonesia, has been erupting since October 26.
Many animals have fallen victim to the hot ash and air and others have been left behind by their fleeing owners, many caged and without food or water.
The local association Animal Friends Jogja (AFJ), in conjunction with Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) & Centre for Orangutan Protection (COP), has started relief and rescue operations in the area, including safe disposal of the many animal carcasses. They are also sweeping affected areas for sick and injured animals in need to food, water and medical treatment. AFJ desperately needs help to treat animals with burns, lung injuries and breathing difficulties, as well as money to buy medication, food and to provide temporary shelter for the animals rescued.
While VBB is not affiliated with AFJ, we recognise the enormous task they're facing trying to help thousands of suffering animals in this disaster area.
AFJ have put out the following call for assistance: If any veterinarians who specialise in farm animals can come to Jogja and help the team, it would be much appreciated. As AFJ have no funding, volunteer veterinarians would have to stay at the base camp (basic mat-on-floor accommodation) and eat with the other volunteers.
Alternatively, if you

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Palm oil for power station in Hawaii threatens forests and communities
HECO (Hawaiian Electric Company), the largest electricity company in Hawaii, could soon become one of the largest US importers of palm oil. They have been given permission to burn 2.56 million gallons of palm oil in two large power stations for a 'test phase' – and they want to burn far more after that. HECO's so-called 'clean energy' will mean more deforestation and land-grabbing in South-east Asia and West Africa, and more climate change. Please call on the state government of Hawaii to withdraw the permit and not to allow HECO to burn palm oil or other agrofuels.

Canada's pandas continue to befuddle government officials
Panda confusion continues with word that China verbally agreed to loan a pair of the beloved beasts to three Canadian zoos for a total of 11 years, not the 15 envisioned by Toronto’s chief panda booster.
Pascale Boulay, press secretary for federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice, said China’s state forestry minister gave “verbal confirmation” to Prentice on Friday, “for an 11-year loan of two pandas.”
Boulay said that’s the period proposed by a “consortium” of three zoos – in Toronto, Calgary, and Granby, Que.—with the giant panda pair staying at each for an undetermined period.
But Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, head of the Toronto zoo’s panda task force, said Tuesday: “The zoos have been talking about a 15-year deal,” with the animals spending 5 years at each, starting with Toronto in 2012.
“If it’s 11 we’ll adjust,” he said. “The zoos are putting their business cases together. If (the others) can’t make it work, we’ll accept the pandas for the full term if we have to.”
Conflicting information has been circulating about whether the loan is a certainty, the costs involved and the pandas’ power to draw visitors.
None of the zoos have signed agreements to

Huge solar panels for open range zoo
Three huge solar panels at Monarto Zoo will help offset the open range zoo's power use.
The solar energy will be fed back into the grid to neutralise the zoo's energy use.
The South Australian Government contributed $450,000 to the project at Monarto, south-east of Adelaide.
Zoos SA CEO Chris West says the panels will have both environmental and educational benefits.
"This allows the millions of people

Rare Borneo rhino caught on camera

Snake gives 'virgin birth' to extraordinary babies
A female boa constrictor snake has given birth to two litters of extraordinary offspring.
Evidence suggests the mother snake has had multiple virgin births, producing 22 baby snakes that have no father.
More than that, the genetic make-up of the baby snakes is unlike any previously recorded among vertebrates, the group which includes almost all animals with a backbone.
Details are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.
Virgin births do occur among animals.
Many invertebrates, such as insects, can produce offspring asexually, without ever having mated. They usually do this by cloning themselves, producing genetically identical offspring.
But among vertebrate animals, it remains a novelty, having been documented among less than 0.1% of vertebrate species.
In 2006, scientists discovered that two komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis), the world's largest lizard species, had produced eggs that developed without being fertilised by sperm - a process called parthenogenesis.
Then in 2007, other scientists found that captive female hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo) could also reproduce without having sex.
But vertebrates generally

West Midland Safari Park scoops award for good working practices
West Midland Safari Park has received a silver award in the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS) for their efforts in sustainability and good working practices.
Katie McDonald, the Park's Research Officer, said "This is a marvelous achievement for West Midland Safari Park and to get a silver first time around is extremely rewarding for all the hard work that has been put in by members of the Park's Green Team. West Midland Safari Park was assessed in July by a qualified grading advisor against a rigorous set of criteria, covering a range of areas, like energy and water efficiency, waste management and commitment to conserving biodiversity.
Based on our level of achievement, we had our fingers firmly crossed that we would at least meet the required standard of bronze for our first attempt".
"The silver award is a tremendous boost and will help the Park's Green Team define realistic goals for continued improvement in the sustainability

Woburn Safari Park scoops top award for Significant Advances in Animal Husbandry and Welfare in 2010 BIAZA Awards
Woburn Safari Park received one of the top awards from the zoo world last night, following a prestigious awards ceremony held at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park, Devon, attended by some 100 people.
Woburn Safari Park was commended in recognition for its pioneering work in Animal Husbandry and Welfare. A certificate was presented to Adam Kenyon by Adrian Sanders, MP.
This award particularly highlights the Zoo’s efforts in taking significant steps in trying to achieve the highest standard of husbandry and welfare within its elephant

Safari park takes top tourism award
BLAIR Drummond Safari Park won a prestigious tourism award at a glitzy ceremony in Edinburgh last week.
The popular attraction – which this year celebrated its 40th anniversary – took the inaugural Scottish Daily Mail Kids’ Choice Award at the Scottish Thistle Awards. Organised by VisitScotland, the Thistles are the top awards for Scotland’s tourism industry.
The safari park couldn’t have been in a more difficult group of finalists either – up against both Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh Zoo – but still came away with the top award in the category.
Blair Drummond also made the top three in the finals of the Readers’ Choice Award, though this time it was just edged out by Landmark Forest Adventure Park in the Highlands.
Home to exotic creatures such as elephants, rhinos, lions and tigers, the park has again proved itself

Wonderful news to report!
Despite the disastrous floods and major upheaval for all, it is not stopping our conservation efforts. Pang Phootson give everyone the special gift of feeling joyful when she gave birth to a healthy and strong baby girl on Wednesday 3rd November.
Only a few hours old we walked mum and baby to the safety of the Elephant Kraal where the other mothers and babies are temporarily staying. It was an impressive journey. Please see our website for photos and details.

Chinese zoo makes special toothbrush for hippos
A Chinese zoo has built a special four foot-long toothbrush to clean the teeth of its hippopotamuses, after using a broom for years.
Shanghai Zoo now puts on a public show three times a week where visitors can watch zookeepers administer oral hygiene to its three hippos.
“Usually wild hippos do not need to have their teeth cleaned,” said Pan Xiuwen, an official at the zoo, to the Shanghai Daily newspaper.
“They usually eat grass, which is not likely to get stuck in the gaps between their teeth. However, at the zoo we feed them fruit and vegetables which can easily clog up their teeth,” he explained.
Hippos have enormous mouths, measuring up to four foot-wide, and a pair of large incisors in each jaw. On the outer part of their jaw, they have curved lower canine teeth, which are a source of ivory and which can grow like tusks until they reach three feet in length.
London Zoo has also swapped brooms for special long toothbrushes

Overdue repairs to Calgary Zoo attractions called a looming 'crisis'
Alderman leery of rising costs
In the meerkat exhibit, the floor is worn and in need of repair.
The glaze must be replaced in the hippopotamus pool.
Then there's the South American pavilion -- the nearly four decade-old home to spider monkeys and giant anteaters -- where the heating and ventilation systems are inefficient and the building is outdated. It's due for a $30-million overhaul.
The Calgary Zoo's list of deferred maintenance projects is long -- and growing.
This week, zoo officials raised the alarm over the $7 million the popular attraction needs for critical maintenance of aging facilities. That tab is the zoo's three-year projected maintenance spending for levels considered "minimally acceptable" in the industry, but the cost of maintaining the zoo's infrastructure is steadily rising.
"We try to do as many repairs and as much improvement maintenance as we can afford. We do it in priority," said

Ten former laboratory south Asian monkeys fly in to begin a new life at Monkey World
TEN former laboratory monkeys flew into Southampton Airport on Thursday night on their way to a new life at Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset.
The nine female and one male stump-tailed macaques are going into retirement at the leafy sanctuary near Wool after spending the last decade at a lab in Edinburgh.
They were each transported in separate boxes so they could make the journey from the Scottish capital to the south coast in comfort.
The south Asian monkeys were accompanied by Monkey World director and primatologist Dr Alison Cronin, who said: “We are so pleased to get Wilmot and his nine ladies a more natural life in their remaining years. Relocation can be a stressful time for anyone

Mysore Zoo flooded three times in as many years
Call it erroneous civic administration or callousness on part of the authorities — the animals in the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Garden have to pay with their lives. In the third flooding incident in as many years two animals have died when their enclosures were flooded by the waters of a swollen Karanji tank due to excessive rain on Thursday night. An adult Neelgai (of the deer family) and a bison died in the floods.
“The flooding has become an annual feature of this zoo. Though for the last two years the floods have not been to the magnitude of causing death of animals they did pose serious levels of pathogen infection

Hogle Zoo: Ambitious construction, education effort is under way
Years of anticipation have yielded to a feverish construction schedule at Utah’s Hogle Zoo, where a 3-acre section of the aging Salt Lake City animal park has been cleared to make way for the zoo’s most ambitious project ever.
But for a place that is open 363 days a year — and which proudly surpassed the 1-million-visitor mark for the first time last year — the $17 million “Rocky Shores” project will come with unique challenges.
For the next year and a half, Assistant Director Doug Lund and his fellow Hogle employees will work to make sure that the construction effort doesn’t hamper his guests’ experience at the park. In fact, Lund said, he’s hoping to make the big dig part of that experience between now and the spring of 2012, when the diverse arctic exhibit, featuring polar bears, seals, sea lions and river otters, is scheduled to open.
“We think there is going to be a lot of interest in how exhibits like this are created,” said Lund.
Could hard-hatted construction crews become as popular to visitors in 2011 as the zoo’s cute and clumsy baby elephant, Zuri, was in 2010? Lund is hoping so. While many amusement parks try to hide new construction with hedges and fences, a long chain link fence along Hogle’s northwest quadrant offers a panoramic view of the construction area — and viewing opportunities will continue through the construction schedule.
Right now, the area is little more than a dirt patch. But as crews begin to build — likely in the next few weeks — Lund and education curator Chris Schmitz will work together to provide visitors opportunities to learn about how the project, funded by Salt Lake County voters through a 2008 bond measure, is taking shape.
That will be good practice for the future. While all of the zoo’s exhibits have educational features — signs noting facts

Detroit Zoo trying to save frogs from extinction
That's not only how the mountain chicken frog got its name, but it's also one of the big reasons why the creatures have been nearly wiped out in the Caribbean, where the amphibians are native.
Besides islanders hunting them for food, the rare species also decreased in population because of habitat loss and disease.
The Detroit Zoo is one of only five U.S. zoos that has mountain chicken frogs, and is trying to preserve the species designated as "critically endangered" from extinction through breeding, Marcy Sieggreen, the curator of amphibians, said.
On Wednesday, zoo officials announced that three more frogs were born on Oct. 21. It is the zoo's second successful breeding, bringing the total number of the species there to eight. The baby frogs are 2 weeks old today.
"It is very exciting and significant that we have bred these unusual frogs, as they are extremely difficult to breed," Sieggreen said.
Mountain chicken frogs grow up to 8 inches long and can weigh up to 2 pounds, making it one

New Scottish polar bear
A new arrival at a wildlife park in the Scottish highlands has had a frosty reception.
A two year old polar bear called Walker has been brought over from Holland as a companion for the park's resident bear - a mature female called Me

In the lap of nature
After a 30-minute flight from Abu Dhabi, landing here on water is the quickest way to reach Sir Bani Yas, although a boat trip from the mainland after three hours drive from the capital has the advantage, especially at this time of year, of spotting endangered species like dugongs or dolphins.
The ferry crossing also allows the only view of Shaikh Zayed’s palace on the island. Another surprising sight is the wind turbine, the only one in the Middle East.
Visiting the island anytime soon would be a good idea, as everyone here is in a celebration mood because Sir Bani Yas got to blow two candles on its birthday cake this week. Yes, it was on November 4, 2008, that this beautiful island unveiled its eco-friendly transformation to its long-waiting visitors.
“So much has been happening on the island during the last year,” said George Chakar, communications manager for the Western Region at Tourism, Development and Investment Company (TDIC).
“We had the first hyenas and cheetah, indigenous of the Arabian Peninsula but long declared extinct, born free without any human interference in the wild!”
“We had the Desert Island hotel named among the world’s greatest hotels on the ‘Condé Nast Traveller’s 2010 Gold List!”
“And we had the first electric buses arriving, as it is our ultimate objective to have all transport on the island petrol-free and environment-friendly!”
Part of TDIC’s over Dh 11 billion Desert Islands tourism development, Sir Bani Yas was also the first in the archipelago of eight natural islands, all in Al Gharbia, to open for tourism. But not just any tourism. It is nature-oriented, eco-friendly tourism, as the island is now one of the region’s most important wildlife park reserve.
Arabs, Europeans, Americans, Asians, Australians—people from all corners of the world who come to Sir Bani Yas, stay at the Desert Islands Resort and Spa, the only hotel on the island and, according to manager John Rogers, 30,000 visitors from 47 countries have been hosted here since the opening two years ago.
What is it about Sir Bani Yas that attracts so many to its shores? With desert sands, rocky hills, pristine beaches and abundant wildlife, the island is hard to resist for any adventure seeker or outdoors lover. Yet, there is a lot more to Sir Bani Yas than meets the eye.
The size of Abu Dhabi city, the 87 square kilometres island carries the name of the Bani Yas tribe, one of the oldest and largest on the Arabian Peninsula, to whom Al Nahyan royal family belongs.
The 5,000-10,000-year-old island that was once connected to Abu Dhabi’s mainland may be considered young, but the land itself has a much deeper history. The large salt-dome hilltops located in the middle of the island, still standing today, were created up to 10 million years ago by natural geological forces.
Recent archaeological discoveries have also proved that human settlement here has a long and rich history. The first inhitants are believed to have arrived on the island around 6,000 years ago. What survived since then are 36 archaeological sites discovered throughout Sir Bani Yas. One of the oldest is the remains of a pre-Islamic monastery, which dates back to 600AD. This site has been excavated by an expert team of archaeologists and is now open for viewing.
The island was first mentioned in European literature around 1590, when Venetian jeweller Gasparo Balbi listed ‘Sirbeniast’ as an island around which pearls were often found. Indeed, along with its neighbour Delma Island, Sir Bani Yas was on the pearl route of Arabian pearl diving and trading expeditions.
Later on, the island was described in some detail, during the 1820s and 1850s, by British naval officers who were surveying the lower Gulf waters.
After pearl diving was drowned in history by the invention of sweet water pearls, Sir Bani Yas was forgotten by the world. It was Shaikh Zayed, in love with the island, who restored its glory. Not only did he build a palace here, but also launched one of his biggest wildlife conservation projects on the island.
His visionary programme of ‘Greening of the Desert’ started on Sir Bani Yas, with the aim of making the deserts more suitable for human settlement and provide a haven for Arabia’s endangered wildlife. Several million trees were planted and over a dozen animal species were introduced to the island.
Once all was done, Shaikh Zayed opened the reserve to tourists on weekends and these tours became so popular that they would have to be booked over a year in advance.
After years of building upon this rich legacy, TDIC opened the island for tourists again. This time around, they got a larger wildlife park to discover, a place to stay overnight and plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, be it in tough summer heat or cool winter breeze.
Out of the 30,000 tourists so far to the island, most of them, 27,536 to be exact, partook in guided activities such as kayaking, nature and wildlife walks or drives, snorkelling and mountain bike riding. This summer, Desert Islands Resort and Spa also introduced indoor fun like classes for Thai massage, making shisha, Arabic cooking, arts and crafts, dance and yoga for kids.
“We also started cruises around the island and sailing too. Even people who don’t how to sail can try it out, as we have professional instructors to join them in the two-seat boat,” said Chakar.
Without doubt, the Arabian Wildlife Park is the most popular attraction on Sir Bani Yas. Taking up approximately half of the island, the 4,200-hectare park is surrounded by a 32km fence and is home to nearly 5,000 free-roaming animals indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. The endangered Arabian oryx, the sand gazelle, the Arabian (mountain) gazelle, giraffes, as well as predators and scavengers such as the cheetah and hyena are all at home here.
Cheetahs, in fact, were one of the biggest excitements on Sir Bani Yas last year. Four of them were introduced on the island, and although they were brought up in captivity, they were taught to hunt and fend for themselves and subsequently released to roam free in the park. As a result, on April 5, the first wild cheetah cubs were born on the island.
The hyenas, on the other hand, have been here right from the park’s new opening in 2008, and they too gave a fresh reason to celebrate when two stripped hyena cubs were born last February, following a successful breeding programme. A second litter of striped hyena were born three months ago and the father and the cubs from the first litter have been seen visiting the new cubs in the

Efforts on to shift Corporation Zoo
In an effort to end the long stalemate over the shifting of the Corporation Zoo at VOC Park from the cramped 4.61 acre site, the Corporation has identified another piece of 27 acres of land belonging to the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department at Othakkal Mandapam on Pollachi Road.
The land was recently inspected by the Corporation Commissioner Anshul Mishra, Deputy Commissioner S. Prabhakaran and Joint Commissioner of HR&CE, P.R. Ashok.
Mr. Anshul Mishra said that the process was in the preliminary stages and the Corporation is writing to the HR&CE department and Government for getting permission to use the land.
Since reassignment of the HR&CE land for Corporation would be difficult, authorities are exploring the possibilities of either taking it on lease or on a revenue sharing basis.
The process involves getting the Government

Rhino's zoo retreat under fire
The decision to move Phila - the black rhino who survived two attacks by poachers - to Johannesburg Zoo has been criticised as exploitive.
The black rhino cow was part of a breeding programme in Limpopo.
She was shot nine times by poachers and was moved to the zoo last month to recover.
Michael Swart, founder of the Mission Rhino charity, criticised Phila's owner last week, saying she was being "exploited" for financial gain.
Swart wrote: "Why would the owner ask the zoo to have Phila moved there when more suitable locations exist? Again the answer is simple - no medical bills. The zoo has agreed to pay for its keep and medical costs," he charged.
But Phila's owner, who asked to be referred to only as ''Allan", said he had no other options if he wanted to keep the rhino safe.
"I had to beg the zoo to take her because where else can I take her? There is no other secure location,"he said, adding that, though the zoo was not ideal, "the practicality of her being in a bigger space is not possible".
Swart also accuses Allan of wanting to continue breeding with Phila while she recovered at the zoo.
"And, more disturbingly, it now seems the owner is planning to have her artificially inseminated.
"If it were my rhino, I would be far more concerned about her welfare rather than planning to have her artificially inseminated right now."
But Phila's owner blasted back, saying: "Well, it's not your rhino.
"[Artificial insemination] was certainly

Chhatbir officials propose zoo society
Taking a leaf out of zoological parks functioning in other parts of India, Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park, Chhatbir, plans to install a local zoo society to improve its day-to-day functioning. Many other zoological parks in the country—Mysore, Lucknow and Rajasthan among others— have their own zoo societies which facilitate daily functioning and funding purposes.
The Chhatbir zoo authorities, too, have submitted a proposal to the finance department after getting the forest ministry's approval. Sources said that at present the zoo authorities are dependent on the finance department for implementing their plans and projects, and it often leads to inordinate delays. They have to approach the department even for fulfilling their small needs. In fact, it is considered the major reason factor behind the failure of animal adoption scheme at Chhatbir.
'If we are given a chance to self-finance... to renovate the zoo and other needs, perhaps we would not have to depend on the finance department for (carrying out) small projects. It will be better for the wildlife area,' an official told
TOI. When the animal adoption scheme was launched in September

Robitussin Pulls Orangutan Ads
After learning from PETA that great apes used in commercials are torn from their mothers when they are just babies and beaten into submission, pharmaceutical company Pfizer has replaced a new TV ad for Robitussin that originally featured an orangutan with a new ad that includes a computer-generated ape.
Grey Group created the old commercial just before signing PETA's Great Ape Humane Pledge, agreeing to never again use great apes in ads. It joins many other top ad agencies including BBDO, Young & Rubicam, and Ogilvy & Mather. Pfizer has also pledged not to use

Sharjah Aquarium to host lecture on marine environment
AS part of Sharjah Museums Department’s education programmes for adults, Sharjah Aquarium will host a free lecture and a behind-the-scenes tour of UAE marine life on Saturday.
The guest speaker, Dr Thabit Zahran, director, Biodiversity Management Sector Environmental Agency, Abu Dhabi, will provide an overview about the uniqueness of marine life found off the two coasts of the UAE. The lecture will highlight the importance of preserving marine environment - an issue of global concern.
The free lecture is open to the public and will be held from 11-11.30am. Attendees can also take part in an exclusive tour, observing over 100 different species of marine life in the aquarium display tanks. Kerwin Porter, curator of Sharjah Aquarium, will lead the informative

Wildlife authorities grapple to contain jumbo-sized problem
Help is at hand in the deadly game of saving elephants and other threatened species
Wildlife authorities are playing a "cat and mouse" game with criminals who kill elephants, wrench the tusks bloodily from their heads, then sell the ivory on the black market _ usually in Thailand.
They say they are trying better ways to deal with what they term "wildlife crimes" _ which involve big cats, pangolins and ivory.
Authorities said they are "playing a game with wildlife smugglers" which now is a transnational, well-planned, organised network. Criminals are changing tactics to avoid crackdowns.
One of the top concerns for Thailand is the illicit ivory trade. Thai craftsmanship is regarded as among the world's finest.
Thai authorities from police to customs agencies are in talks for the first time with officers from the Nairobi-based Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) in Bangkok to map out better planning and closer cooperation to try to stop the flow of raw tusks from East African countries to the kingdom.
The illegal ivory trade is complicated. In many cases, elephants are killed in Africa and the raw ivory culled from the slaughter is sent to Thailand for carving.
The finished products are exported to international customers, said Onkuri Majumdar, a senior programme officer with the Foundation for Human Rights an

Government green light for Chester Zoo’s “biodome”
AMBITIOUS plans to build a £225m “Eden of the north” at Chester Zoo have been given the green light by the Government.
The zoo’s Natural Vision project includes a “Heart of Africa” biodome, a hotel and expansion of the main entrance and car park.
Doubts were cast over its viability after the Government scrapped the NWDA.
The zoo had approval in principle for a £40m grant from the NWDA and European Regional Development Fund towards the scheme, but in August the NWDA confirmed this was one of more than 100 projects in the North West hit as it cut millions of pounds from its budget ahead of its abolition.
But Dr Mark Pilgrim, Chester Zoo’s director general, said: “We are delighted with the Secretary of State’s decision.
“The announcement is the culmination of many years of hard work and extensive public consultation.
“In light of the decision, the zoo will now take stock of the project as a whole and agree the best way forward

Taiping Zoo: Will they, won’t they prosecute? .
Since denying it was complicit in attempting to have the case dropped against the Taiping Zoo, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) have done nothing to allay either public concerns or perceptions.
Following a rumour circulating last week, neither NRE, DWNP or the Attorney General’s office have attempted to deny their offices want the case dropped for ‘political reasons'.
If the case was to be dropped, one would imagine Anson Wong as well as the NGO community would be disappointed and angry.
Wong, because dropping the Taiping case might suggest, the AG applied double standards.
It confirms the NGO's beliefs that both the NRE and Perhilitan have not changed their spots, only in a few cases – changed their desks; otherwise it is up to its cloak and dagger business as usual.
Whilst on the subject of Perhilitan and the AG’s office. Follo

Taiping Zoo prosecution: Ministry waiting for AG's green light .
We appreciate the concerns highlighted by Mr Sean Whyte in his letter, “Taiping Zoo prosecution: Stalling for time?”, (Free Malaysia Today, Oct 14, 2010).
We would like reiterate that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) have always been serious in curbing wildlife smuggling in this country. Therefore, we have given our utmost importance on the said case and proceeded to appeal for a tougher penalty against Anson Wong which will serve as a deterrent to international wildlife trafficking and wildlife crimes.
In relation to the investigation on Taiping Zoo, the ministry and the department have taken up the matter with the AG’s Chamber for reconsideration. For your information, we will take necessary actions based on advice and decision by the AG’s Office.
We also wish to inform that the ministry does not condone any violation of law among government officials and will not hesitate to take the necessary action as we view such cases very seriously. In addressing those issues, we are continuing to enhance the capabilities of our officers in the aspects of enforcement, integrity and professionalism.
The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has enlisted the assistance of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to nab officers who collude with illegal wildlife traders and poachers.
The ministry would like to engage the larger public

Blog Posts:  

Look to the right within the blog and see and click on blog postings. Some of these have not been mailed out by email. Most will have been posted on the Facebook Page however.


Sumatran Orangutan Society
SOS T-Shirt Design Competition


ZooKunft 2011 in Königstein/Kronberg
Exhibit Presentation: Biologically correct, educational and exciting?
25th, 26th und 27th of February 2011
in KTC Königstein, Ölmühlweg 65, 61462 Königstein, Germany

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

If plants first appeared 435 million years ago, why are they still surprising us? One reason may be that we are mere babes compared to them.
See the final link at
(NEWS/Botanical News) this month.

. Mutualistic relationships, such as plants and their specialized pollinators enjoy, are complex and important to both parties as well as others. But how well do we understand what will happen to them as the climate changes?

. A topic that fascinates me is: How do you define a "native species?" Some alien species are introduced by humans, but some come naturally. But the question is moot in Swaziland where the ecology and the economy are being pummeled by both kinds.

. New research on peccaries in the Amazon reveals their central role in the dynamic ecosystem of the rain forest.

. Thinking of building repairs? Sticky rice mortar used in centuries old buildings can withstand bulldozers today.

. What are the oldest living organisms? Plants! Watch a TED lecture highlighting everything from trees to bacteria.

Maybe plants still surprise us because they are so much faster than we are!

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