Thursday, November 11, 2010

Zoo News Digest 9th - 11th November 2010 (Zoo News 702)

Zoo News Digest 9th - 11th November 2010 (Zoo News 702)

Wolverine in Winter
by Sue Sabik

Dear Colleagues,

It is not the first two headed terrapin I have seen (see links). I have seen a couple in the past two years. I just hope the white tiger breeders don't get hold of a pair. They will start churning them out and claiming that they are an endangered species.

South Lakes Wild Animal Park had 6,000 visitors in the first weekend of their new initiative. It will be interesting to see how things will move on from there.

I note that the Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort will be hosting the WAZA conference in 2015. I just hope that before that comes around that they come clean and explain why they sent the Orangutans to Giza Zoo... a collection that was kicked out of WAZA because of the poor conditions!!! Puzzled.

Although I am delighted to learn of the 'rescue' (there's that word again) from clearly inadequate conditions in Lebanon I am a little concerned to see it is going to Brazil to the Vargem Grande Paulista Sanctuary which is owned by Dr. Pedro Ynterian who has one of his 'sanctuaries' currently under investigation following accusations of animal abuse and experimentation. Puzzled again.

The concerns about elephants being sent from India to Ashgabat Zoo in Turkmenistan are continuing to cause upset and ruffle some feathers. Okay it worries me personally on a number of fronts but I think that there is some confusion at play here. It may be accidental or it may be intentional, I am not sure. With the anti-zoo people I am pretty sure it is intentional. There are TWO Ashgabat Zoo's in Turkmenistan. There is the old one described HERE in the city which does sound bad. Then there is the New Ashgabat Zoo which is located some 17 or so miles outside of the City in the foothills of the mountains. I have yet to see any viable unbiased reporting on this collection. I am up for going if anyone wants to sponsor my trip. In the meantime you can view a couple of photos of the new collection by clicking HERE. Here is an article about the New zoo.
World of Earth’s wildlife at foothills of the Kopetdag Mountains

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:

Another Crime Against Nature By The Myrtle Beach Circus

I did write an article entitled The Good Zoo and Euthanasia a week or so ago. Here is another but written from a slightly different angle.

Zoos and Euthanasia

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Washington prisoners helping save endangered frogs
James Goodall cradled a frog in his hand and stroked its belly, trying to soothe its racing heart before slipping it back into a cattle tub filled with water.
He smiled proudly as he watched the little black and green Oregon spotted frog dart away to join the other 28 that he and fellow inmate Harry Greer are responsible for fattening up before spring.
In a fenced off-area behind Cedar Creek Correctional Center called "Frogga Walla," the two men spend nine hours a day feeding and tending to the endangered species.
"We baby them like little kids," said Goodall, who is serving time at the prison near Littlerock for possession of drugs with the intent to deliver. "They've got personalities, too, it seems like."
Much to the surprise of research scientists and zookeepers also participating in a "head start" program to bolster the dwindling population of the frogs, Goodall, 45, and Greer, a

Omega, Cigarette Smoking Chimpanzee, Rescued In Lebanon Zoo (PHOTOS)
Animal rights activists have rescued a 12-year-old chimpanzee from a zoo in Lebanon, after it was discovered the animal had developed a cigarette habit. (Scroll down for photos)
Omega, who has reportedly never climbed a tree or been in an environment with other chimpanzees, began smoking after visitors to a now-defunct zoo in Ansar began throwing lit cigarettes into his cage, the Associated Press is reporting. Still, it was not the primate's first exposure to nicotine -- according to Beirut's Daily Star, Omega had been used in a local restaurant, where he served water pipe to customers and would occasionally smoke cigarettes.
Following his rescue Monday, Omega will now reside in the Vargem Grande Paulista Sanctuary, a dedicated chimpanzee reserve in Sao Paulo, according to the

Dalton zoo boss brings seasonal cheer with free admission
A TOP tourist attraction is scrapping admission fees for all visitors this winter.
South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton will be free to everyone from today until February 2011.
Children will continue to receive free admission until Good Friday.
The offer includes weekends and school holidays.
Owner of the park, David Gill, is confident no other tourist attraction has ever run such a promotion.
By waiving admission for the entire winter season he hopes to avoid a massive influx of visitors all at once.
Unlike some other tourist attractions, Dalton zoo retains its full time staff and if the promotion is a success, it could mean extending the contracts of seasonal staff.
Mr Gill said: “The idea of giving something away is not as stupid an idea as you might think because it’s creating goodwill and helping families who can’t afford to come normally.
“We want to get as many people here as possible and we hope people will eat here; we’ve got special menus on and we hope we can make money out of the restaurant side and gift shop and cover the costs that way.”
Mr Gill added that he hoped the promotion would help ease people’s financial woes during these difficult times.
He said: “Come the end of October people are saving for Christmas and paying off Christmas

New Self-Cloning Lizard Found in Vietnam Restaurant
All-female species reproduces via virgin birth, new study says..
You could call it the surprise du jour: A popular food on Vietnamese menus has turned out to be a lizard previously unknown to science, scientists say.
What's more, the newfound Leiolepis ngovantrii is no run-of-the-mill reptile—the all-female species reproduces via cloning, without the need for male lizards.
Single-gender lizards aren't that much of an oddity: About one percent of lizards can reproduce by parthenogenesis, meaning the females spontaneously ovulate and clone themselves to produce offspring with the same genetic blueprint.
(Related: "Virgin Birth Expected at Christmas—By Komodo Dragon.")
"The Vietnamese have been eating these for time on end," said herpetologist L. Lee Grismer of La Sierra

Hybrid Panthers Helping Rare Cat Rebound in Florida
Breeding with Texas cougars created "Schwarzenegger"-tough offspring..
Breeding rare Florida panthers with Texas cougars created tough hybrids that one scientist calls the Arnold Schwarzeneggers of cougars.
And, like action heroes, these vigorous offspring may well rescue the Florida subspecies from extinction, according to Stephen O'Brien, an animal geneticist who co-authored new research on the North American big cat.
Florida panthers are considered a subspecies of cougar, big cats found across the Americas that are also called pumas or mountain lions, depending on the region.
In the 1900s people hunted the Florida panther out of most of its southeastern U.S. range, driving the few remaining animals into rugged South Florida swamps.
Inbreeding within this tiny population caused heart problems and reproductive defects that

Report: 1,000 Wild Tigers Killed in Last Decade
100,000 Wild Tigers Roamed Asia a Century Ago, but Today Their Numbers Have Fallen to Around 3,200 Due to Poaching
They have lost nearly 90 percent of their wild habitat. They have been placed on every "near extinction" list in the world. They have become a symbol of mankind's overreach in the wild. Yet somehow, the number of wild tigers continues to decline at an alarming rate, reports Traffic International, a British non-profit wildlife trade monitoring agency.
In a newly released report detailing the illicit trade of tiger parts, Traffic says that parts of at least 1,069 tigers have been seized in the last decade in countries were tigers roam wild, making for an average of more than 100 killed each year. Considering the number of tigers poached is probably far higher than the number officially reported, and with only an estimated 3,200 tigers remaining in the wild, the outlook for the future of the

Brown bruins could displace polar bears, scientists say
Scientists are warning that polar bears, which evolved quickly to dine mainly on seals, could face formidable competition as brown bears expand northward with global warming.
The iconic white bruins exist almost entirely on a meat diet, while their omnivorous southern cousins will chow down on almost any animal flesh and gorge themselves on berries.
In fact, one recent study predicts that polar bears may be forced to eat the eggs of snow geese to fill their bellies.
Another study, published Nov. 5 on an online research journal called PLoS One, says polar bears may be at a disadvantage precisely because they have adapted over the past million years to a diet of seals.
The polar bear developed smaller molars and a low, slender skull which allow it to "efficiently process" seal flesh and blubber.
Another paper that examined the "extremely rapid evolution" of polar bears notes that their skulls are less suited

Double award for Shepreth Wildlife Park
ONE of Crow Country’s most prominent tourist attractions is enjoying a double celebration this week after being commended with two prestigious awards
Shepreth Wildlife Park scooped the award for Best Education Project at the national British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) awards, at a ceremony last week.
The park then followed this up with the award for Large Visitor Attraction of the Year at the East of England Tourism Enjoy England Awards.
The first gong was for the park’s free of charge sessions which allow school children to enjoy encounters with hedgehogs, owls and reptiles.
It was presented to Shepreth’s, Head of Education, Lainie Bazzoni by Adrian Sanders, MP for Torbay, near Paignton Zoo, where the ceremony was held.
Rebecca Willers, Animal manager at Shepreth said: “We have been simply over-whelmed this week, and we were so delighted to hear we had won the BIAZA award for education.
“Lainie works tirelessly to provide

One last chance: can we save the tiger?There are only 3,200 left in the wild. So why are conservationists boycotting the world's first tiger summit?
When a British colonel called Jim Corbett was summoned to the thickly forested ravines of the Himalayas, he found people living in abject terror. Without guns, they were powerless to protect themselves from a small number of tigers that had developed a taste for human flesh. To live "and have one's being under the shadow of a man-eater" was not so different from prehistoric times, Corbett reflected, when early humans cowered in caves to escape the sabre-toothed tiger.
Corbett hunted alone. He tethered buffalo as bait, stalked silently in rubber-soled shoes and even tried to lure tigers by donning a sari and disguising himself as a woman cutting grass in the fields. Avoiding being dispatched by a tiger to what he called "the happy hunting grounds" in the sky, Corbett shot dead more than a dozen rogue tigers.
In the 70 years since Corbett bagged his last tiger, the balance of power between Panthera tigris and mankind has been dramatically reversed. In Corbett's day, 100,000 of these charismatic predators roamed free in Asia. As forests were slashed and hunting flourished, Corbett began to shoot tigers with film rather than with a rifle. "A tiger is a large-hearted gentleman with boundless courage and when he is exterminated – as exterminated he will be unless public opinion rallies

In pictures: Walker the polar bear

First dolphin calf born at Dubai Dolphinarium
The Dolphinarium is planning to name the calf using input from the public in early December.
Dubai: A first dolphin calf was born at Dubai Dolphinarium on 10.10.10.
Its mother, a 20-year-old Black Sea bottlenose dolphin called Ksyusha gave birth in a dedicated pool within the facility. The sex of the calf is still undetermined and is spending most of its time bonding with its mother, nursing and learning to control the movements of its body.
It measures about 90cm in length and weighs approximately 10kg. At birth the dolphin measured 20cm and weighed 4kg.
“Ksyusha’s pregnancy was confirmed in November 2009. We monitored her health by conducting regular medical assessments throughout the whole [12 month] gestation period to ensure that everything was normal,” said Alexander Zanin, Head Marine Mammal Specialist, Dubai Dolphinarium.
This is the first calf for Ksyusha, one of the five bottlenose dolphins at the 5,000 square-metre Dolphinarium. The baby’s father, Senya, is 24 years old. The calf is expected to appear

Al Ain to host 70th Conference of World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2015
Abu Dhabi's 'Oasis City' of Al Ain has received a boost in its bid to become the Middle East's conservation capital, with Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR) winning the right to host the 70th annual World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) Conference.
WAZA is the unifying organisation for the world zoo and aquarium community. The body's network - an influential international group that comprises more than 1,300 institutions - includes leading zoos and aquariums, regional and national associations of zoos and aquariums and affiliate organisations, such as zoo veterinarians and zoo educators from around the world. Together, they are 'United for Conservation' and more than 600 million visitors pass through the gates of member zoos and aquariums every year.
Having outmaneuvered other competitive bids, AWPR intends to leverage WAZA's maiden foray into the Middle East and North Africa region to consolidate its dynamic leisure and learning destination credentials, as well as the Abu Dhabi emirate's burgeoning reputation for conservation and sustainability.
"Hosting this prestigious global conference will strengthen our position as a world leading wildlife and conservation organisation," said Ghanim Al Hajeri

43 animals died in Delhi zoo in Sept: Ramesh tells House
At least 43 animals, including several black bucks, died in Delhi Zoo in September this year and most of the deaths were due to consumption of contaminated water, the Lok Sabha was informed on Wednesday.
"Death of animals, particularly black bucks had occurred due to consumption of contaminated water which caused severe intestinal and lung infection," environment minister Jairam Ramesh said in reply to a written question.
He attributed the deaths to excessive rains and backflow /overflow of sewage resulting in contamination of the rain water in the animal enclosures in the national zoological park.
While 15 black bucks died due to gastrointestinal infection, a sambar, giraffe, leopard and a wild boar had lost their lives due to reasons like asphyxia, trauma and shock.
Various measures for improvement of animal health care have been suggested by a team of expert veterinarians from Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research

Chinese tortoise born with two heads
A slip of nature has resulted in the birth of a two-headed tortoise at a wildlife park in China.
The tiny reptile has really come out of his shell, popping out not one but two fully functional heads.
Born at Xiaoyaojin wildlife park in Hefeia, southern China, it is the result of a slip of nature when a pair of twins started to separate and then abruptly stopped.
'Both heads operate completely independently of each other and they eat separately and seem very happy with the way they are,' said one keeper.
'The only problem comes when one head wants to go one way and the other wants to go somewhere else,' they explained.
This is not the first case of polycephaly (multi-headedness) among animals, Serbia has its very own two-headed cow while

The above article is from the Bengal Post. Unfortunately I cannot find a link to it. Some of the story is reproduced below. I suggest that if you are interested you do a search in a day or so when the story may well be live.

A power statement we should be ashamed of

Ramesh must review sending elephants to Turkmenistan; we must rethink why so many animals and birds locked up in zoos

Jay Mazoomdaar

The 2010 vision statement of the Central Zoo Authority says that zoos “will have healthy animals in eco-system based naturalistic enclosures, supportive to in-situ conservation with competent and contented staff, good educational and interpretive facilities, support of the people and be self-sufficient."

I do not know how many zoos in India fit that description. But Turkmenistan’s Ashbagat zoo surely does not. The authorities have revamped the zoo last month but the past experience was appalling. From what I have read about this facility, the management seemed to have little regard for the wellbeing of its animals. The enclosures had tin roofs in a temperature range of 46 to -5 degree celcius. The cages were almost never cleaned. Population monitoring was considered a luxury.

Not a place you would fancy visiting after a good meal. But your government, responding to a diplomatic request, has agreed to send two elephants to this desert. Since gifting wild animals is no more legal, the jumbos will be sent under an exchange programme.

Since elephants have been designated as national heritage animal, one would have thought their welfare would figure above petty diplomatic interests. Not too long back in 2005, the government eventually dumped a similar proposal to send an elephant to Armenia’s Yerevan zoo, infamous for its high elephant mortality. Then we sent two young elephants from Jaldapara to Japan’s Okinawa zoo in 2007. Three years on, the duo remains chronically depressed and difficult to control (read frequently tortured).

But these precedents seemed to have taught us nothing. If lack of understanding of the issue prompted Jairam Ramesh to sentence two elephants to a lifetime of misery, he still has time for a rethink. After all, he supported the proposed Universal Declaration on Animal Welfare, an initiative at the United Nations, earlier this year.

Of course, the conditions of most zoos at home are not any better. Since 1992, the CZA has evaluated 347 zoos, out of which 164 have been recognized and 183 refused recognition. Out of these 183, 92 have been closed down and their animals relocated suitably. The future of the remaining 91 derecognized zoos is currently under review. So far, only 34 zoos have their master plans approved by the CZA.

That brings us to the larger question: do we really need zoos? Yes, distressed animals deserve some dignity and a home. Also, captive breeding programmes may offer certain species a second, however thin, chance. But, surely, the thousands and lakhs of creatures confined in zoos world over are not all rescued specimens nor are they there to facilitate some breeding opportunity or other. For example, why on earth India should have more than 36,000 animals and birds in zoos?

Perhaps, Professor Randy Malamud was correct in his bold Reading Zoos: “What people see inside the zoo cage is a symbol of our power to capture and control other aspects of the world. They see what was once a marvellous, vibrant, sentient creature, full of instincts and emotions and passions and life force, reduced to a spectacle, a prisoner, a trophy of our conquest of the natural world. They see a celebration of the human power to displace and reconfigure an animal’s life for our own amusement and supposed edification.”

If that appears too strong an opinion, sample some amazing data from Craig Redmond of Captive Animals’ Protection Society. Take elephants, for example. A government-funded study by Bristol University scientists in 2008 looked at all 77 elephants in UK zoos, concluding ‘there was a welfare problem for every elephant’. They spent 83% of their time indoors and 54% of them showed repeated obsessive performance of apparently purposeless activity. So prevalent are degenerative foot and leg problems in captive elephants, caused in part by hard flooring and the inability to walk far, that only 16% of them could even walk normally.

Redmond punctured the myth that animals in zoos live longer than their wild counterparts. Some 40% of lion cubs in zoos die before one month of age – in the wild only 30% of cubs are thought to die before they are six months old and at least a third of those deaths are due to factors which are absent in zoos, like predation. Elephants in the wild live up to three times longer than those in zoos; even those born in logging camps have lower mortality rates.

Redmond also pointed out how many conservation scientists criticised captive breeding as a diversion from the reasons for a species’ decline. As one paper in Conservation Biology put it, captive breeding.................

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