Monday, May 31, 2010

International Congress of Zookeepers

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Zoo News Digest 24th - 31st May 2010 (Zoo News 671)

Zoo News Digest 24th - 31st May 2010 (Zoo News 671)

Dear Colleagues,  

Without apology I return to the story of the Orangutans being gifted from Al Ain to the Giza zoo. I have still yet to have seen a single mention of this story in any online news article or in any discussion group. You would think there would be something (New Animals For Cairo Zoo!)....but no, nothing at all. It is almost a 'lets keep quiet and it will go away' sort of scenario. Although my email in-box remains as full each day there has up to now only been three bits of correspondence mentioning this (which will remain private unless otherwise requested by the authors). When I think of all the fuss that was made over the Taiping 4 it really makes me wonder. Granted the situation is not the same, and I am not defending any illicit activities which surrounded that incident, but you can be very sure that the accommodation and quality of care which the Gorillas would have recieved in Taiping would have been a lot better than these Orangutans will recieve in present day Giza. I mean Giza cannot afford to feed or properly contracept the Lions so how can they do justice to a highly endangered and threatened primate?

I sometimes think it must be the zoo involved that has a 'fuss factor' attached to it. Press and others will go for some and completely ignore others. In all honesty I have nothing especially against Al Ain, in fact quite the opposite. It has a very special place in my heart. It is probably because of this that when I read stories from that source that I percieve as either incorrect, wrong or rubbish then it bites home. I have not got anything especially against Cairo either. I have friends and colleagues who work or have worked there and I am aware of the real challenges they face. These are not excuses though. I am and always have been concerned about animal welfare and remain 100% pro good zoo. I don't like most of the anti-zoo arguments I hear because they are made by people who are cluesless but if I percieve something is wrong I will say so. To be frank....this is wrong.

I suppose it is because I am on the subject of Orangutans that I recall another incident which I drew attention to which was completely ignored. This is the ten or so baby Orangutans that I saw in the Avilon Zoo in the Philippines. I queried their origin and later I queried their departure and yet I never heard anything. I sometimes think that the mysterious appearance of the young Orangutans appearing later in the infamous Phuket zoo may somehow be connected. Again the fact that there were Orangutans in Avilon at all was very wrong. You know it. So do I. Happily I am in the position to say so because nobody can fire me for saying so. True enough they can threaten, because they do often enough. So what is it? Is it because Avilon is a SEAZA zoo? Is it because Al Ain is WAZA zoo? I feel the reason lies there. Zoos of a feather will not question or criticise each other. They shouldn't of course....they should condemn! They should expose the bad. If they don't then they tarnish their own reputations and to be sure there are reputations at stake here..... but much more important there is the welfare of the animals to consider.

There are many zoo related publications which I have subscribed to and/or read over the years. There really is nothing to beat 'hands on' practical experience but if you can complement this by other learning sources then you are definitely heading in the professional direction. I would like to draw readers attention to the 'A Very Generous Offer' which is further down this blog.

Chris Packham has made another controversial statement. Good luck to him. It is something to read twice and think over because, like his previous statement on the Giant Panda it makes a lot of sense. One wonders however in case of Tigers what his partners take on his views are. Another person who may well have something to say is Leonardo DiCaprio. As Chris says...hearts in the right place.

I know it was a serious story but I really was amused to read about the 'Emrest Fizard', once I had figured out what it was, that is.

The poisonings in Kiev city zoo continue. It is a real worry and one wonders what will be the next. The real trouble with this sort of stupid crime is it inspires some of the sicker elements of our society.

I found the story of the birth of the tigers at at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Safari Park quite pleasing. Pleasing because they were not pulled for hand rearing and that observations were being made by infra red camera. This is how it should be. No interference. The only part of the story I did not like was the use of live chickens for feeding. Why do places insist on live? It takes just a few seconds to kill a chicken.

I really only have one word to say about the story of Leopards and other big cats living in the wild in the UK.....'Hogwash'.

Lots of news out there this week.

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Yerevan hosts Caucasus leopard protection campaign
On May 22, Yerevan Zoo hosted Caucasus leopard protection campaign timed to International Day for Biological Diversity.
The event featured games, contests and other entertainments for Zoo visitors. RA Minister of Nature Protection Aram Harutyunyan, Honorary Consul of Norway in Armenia Tim Straight and Yerevan Mayor’s Office representatives were also attending.
As WWF Armenia director Karen Manvelyan noted, the action is aimed to raise awareness of ecological situation in Armenia as well as environmental programs implemented.
The event was organised by World Wild Fund For Nature, Armenian Women for Health and Healthy Environment and sponsored by Norwegian Foreign Ministry in the framework of Biodiversity Protection and Community Development: Implementing Ecoregional Conservation Plan Targets in South Armenia project.
A rare species of leopard found only in remote areas of the southern Caucasus Mountains faces extinction, the World Wildlife Fund warns.
Currently numbers of the Caucasus leopard are estimated to have fallen

Will Kangaroo Farts Save the World?
You've read some outrageous headlines although perhaps none as silly, or as fact-based as that.
Kangaroo flatulence is actually being studied very seriously as a way to prevent greenhouse gas build up in the atmosphere.
I'll explain that below, but first a brief outline of the problem to make the need for the work clear.
Of course there are still people who think we aren't experiencing global warming, but any gardener knows that growing seasons have extended by up to a month and even the growing zones (showing what plants can survive in a location) are moving north in the U.S. by hundreds of miles.
These days the wild weather around the world is generally agreed to be either due to atmospheric instability or perhaps a stone calendar carved by the Mayans. (Global warming doesn't just mean it will get warmer everyplace, it means it will get warmer overall with lots of new weather patterns everyplace.)
Personally, I think the 2012 Mayan calendar is misinterpreted because the final symbol on the map probably translates as "2012-5012 continued on next stone."
Regardless of whether you think global warming this is caused by man made emissions or is just a part of nature really doesn't matter becaus

Azerbaijani government shuts down Baku zoo
Azerbaijani Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources Huseyngulu Bagirov said, is not excluded that the Baku zoo will stop the activity as the animals live in inhumane conditions in it.
«The new zoological park which will settle down on Apsheron, becomes a complete antithesis, existing today. Animals in a new zoo will contain in the conditions approached to the natural. If in Azerbaijan such zoological park needs in old will not be» functions, - G.Bagirov has told.
“A new zoological park, which be located in Apsheron peninsula, will become a complete contrast to one existing today. Animals in the new zoo will live in the conditions, approached

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Iraq's wildlife trade anything but tame
Dizzying array of animals sold in resurgent markets
A dozen fluffy white kittens with piercing blue eyes frolic in a wire cage, perched perilously atop a pen containing two African lion cubs. Neighborhood schoolchildren stop to feed sunflower seeds to a chained monkey, while three red foxes cower in their curbside enclosure from the street noise.
Iraqis can get just about whatever animals they want, whether as pets, novelties or status symbols or for a private zoo — and as violence subsides many are stocking up at Baghdad's several pet markets.
The lack of government regulation means animals like lions and crocodiles are going home with people unequipped

Bee demonstation this weekend at Battersea Zoo
Budding Bee keepers and honey lovers are excited about Honey Bee Day at Battersea Park Children's Zoo.
The day will focus on the importance of bees with live demonstrations, beeswax candle rolling and the opportunity to make a bee stick puppet.
James Hamill from the Honey Hive Shop will stage the event, and he sees it as a chance to raise bee awareness and also give hayfever sufferers a chance to try HayfeGUARD, a mixture of local raw honey and pollen concentrate.
Mr Hamill said: “I'm really looking forward to the day. It will be extremely educational and hopefully answer a lot of questions people may have about bee keeping.”
Mr Hamill has been keeping bees since he was five years old and bee keeping has been in his family for four generations.
It is hoped the Honey Bee Day will encourage people to keep their own bees and produce their own

Black rhinos released in Tanzania in 'most ambitious' relocation of mammals ever
Five of the world's most critically endangered animals spent their first day in a new home over the weekend after the start of the "most ambitious" international relocation of large mammals ever undertaken.
Three female and two male Eastern Black Rhinoceroses were airlifted on a chartered Hercules C-130 aircraft from the South African conservancy where they were raised to Tanzania's Serengeti National Reserve.
They are the first of 32 of the animals which will be flown home to the native habitat from which their ancestors were evacuated as poachers began decades of slaughtering almost 50 years

Tiny new kangaroo: "spectacular find"
AN EXPEDITION INTO THE MOUNTAINS of Papua New Guinea has revealed what may be the world's smallest species of kangaroo.
A research team that ventured into the Foja Mountains in 2008 have this week released their findings of a number of species new to science, including a new dwarf wallaby, Dorcopsulus. The wallaby inhabits the floor of the montane forests, and has been called "beautiful" and "gentle" by expeditioner Dr Kristofer Helgen, a zoologist at the Smithsonian Institution of Washington DC.
Kangaroo expert Dr Euan Ritchie, of James Cook University in Queensland, told Australian Geographic that the new species may represent a major find. "It is indeed possible it represents

Boost to Sabah wildlife centre
A Sabah Wildlife Rescue Centre has been set up at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here.
It was made possible through a joint initiative between the Sabah Wildlife Department, Shangri-La Rasa Ria and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC).
A memorandum of understanding was signed by the three organisations at the International Palm Oil Conference attended by 300 local and foreign participants here.
Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Ellorin Angin said the centre would be involved in wildlife rescue and translocation operations throughout Sabah.
“It will also conduct on site wildlife enforcement and monitoring as well as liase with other stakeholders like the Worldwide Fund for Nature and the plantation industry,” he said.
MPOC chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor said it would

Chhatbir zoo employees protest against director
8 eggs of a rare Chinese hen were reported missing following which T K Bahera had lodged a police complaint
A Police complaint lodged by the field director of Chhatbir Zoological Park against three Class IV employees sparked a massive protest here on Wednesday.
Around 150 employees, including zookeepers, caretakers, guards and peons, assembled outside director T K Bahera’s office and raised slogans against him.
They even blocked the way and did not allow him to go home and carried on the protest till late in the evening.
Gurmail Singh, president of Chhatbir Employees’ Union, and Banda Singh, chairman of Class IV Government Employees’ Union, said eight eggs of a rare Chinese hen ‘Emrest Fizard’ had gone missing from its enclosure on Tuesday morning, following which zookeeper Jarnail Singh

DiCaprio wants to save tigers
Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio has launched a campaign to protect the tigers.
'Tigers are endangered and critical to some of the world's most important eco-systems. Key conservation efforts can save the tiger from extinction, protect some of the planet's last wild habitats and help sustain the local communities surrounding them,' quoted him as saying.
The 'Titanic' star has joined hands with the World Wildlife Fund to create 'Save Tigers Now' with a view to raise $20 million for the cause.
DiCaprio, who is currently in Asia learning about

Do you support the smoking ban at Auckland Zoo?
Auckland Zoo will ban smoking from Saturday, riding the growing wave of opposition to lighting up at outdoor venues.
Smoking is banned by law indoors at all workplaces and everywhere - both indoors and outdoors - at schools and early childhood centres.
Now a growing number of outdoor venues, universities and polytechnics are choosing to ban smoking. Nearly a third of city and district councils

Donation helps species-at-risk
More than 3,400 acres (1,375 hectares) of Carolinian Canada land in Norfolk County will be preserved and restored thanks to the W. Garfield Weston Foundation.
A donation to the Nature Conservancy of Canada will result in the lands being gradually restored to natural habitat for many species-at-risk, said a media release.
The Foundation's Norfolk Carolinian Legacy project will help the Nature Conservancy of Canada preserve land on the Southern Norfolk Sand Plain, part of the Carolinian Life Zone – which comprises less than a quarter of 1% of Canada's landmass, but is home to 25% of all species at risk.
The lands that are part of this initiative are outstanding examples of Norfolk County's best forests, savannahs and wetlands.
"We are inspired by the commitment of The W. Garfield Weston Foundation to champion conservation in Canada," says John Lounds, president and CEO of the Nature Conservancy of Canada, said in the release. "The Weston family's generosity and foresight have allowed us to dream and plan for projects of this scope

Dutch cities hunt vulture and crocodile
Police, fire crews and council workers in the eastern Dutch city of Nijmegen are still searching for a crocodile after a passer-by reported seeing it creep into a pond. Meanwhile, in the northern city of Leeuwarden, the hunt is on for an escaped vulture.
Police in Nijmegen began their search on Friday evening after a woman reported seeing a 1.5 metre long brown reptile slipping into a pond in Steve Biko Square. The surrounding area, including two nearby ponds and the playgrounds beside them, was sealed off as a precaution. Then, on Saturday morning, local fire crews began searching the pond with sonar equipment, in an attempt to locate the reptile underwater.
Torches and cameras
On Saturday night, animal experts shone torches on the surface of the pond in the hope that it would be reflected in the eyes of the crocodile. When that had no success, sewage company workers started searching the bottom of the ponds, and the canals between them, with specialised cameras on Sunday morning. So far they have failed to find anything.
The police have now concluded that it’s highly unlikely there is a crocodile in the pond. A police representative said that, “large objects have been detected in the water, but upon investigation they turned out to be nothing more than branches.” No further search of the pond

Dutch hospitality for Limassol and Larnaca raccoons
A DUTCH voluntary animal welfare organisation will this week give shelter to two raccoons currently housed at the zoos of Limassol and Larnaca.
The animals will fly out from Larnaca airport onboard a Cyprus Airways direct flight to Amsterdam on Wednesday where they will be relocated just outside the city with an animal sanctuary called AAP.
According to reports all the necessary travel arrangements have already been made including who will take delivery of the two raccoons as well as their anaesthetisation so that they can be microchipped and transferred in special cages. A representative from Animal Responsibility Cyprus (Kivotos) will travel to Holland with the two animals.
The animals were relocated in line with European legislation which bans the operation of zoos where wild and exotic animals are kept in unsuitable conditions. Limassol zoo has in the past repeatedly come under fire for its unacceptable conditions

Emmen zoo in financial trouble
Emmen zoo has asked the local council for a financial boost of between €2m and €3m because of falling visitor numbers, news agency ANP reports.
'The bottom of our reserves are in sight. We are very worried indeed,' zoo director Hans Bosma is reported as saying.
However, the financial problems have no implications for the zoo's plans to move to a new location on the west of Emmen as part of the redevelopment of the town centre. The move is being funded to the tune

China to demarcate 9 privileged zones for Siberian tiger conservation
China will build nine zones in the northeastern provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang for the conservation of Siberian tigers, according to the latest international meeting on habitat protection for the endangered species.
The nine zones will be Huichun-Wangqing-Dongning-Suiyang, Changbai Mountains, the southern area of Mount Zhangguangcai, Muleng, Huadian, the northern area of Mount Zhangguangcai, Baishan-Tonghua-Ji'an, Lushuihe-Dongjiang and Jingyu-Jiangyuan.
The areas are all near the border of China and Russia and between China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and cover an area of 38,000 square kilometers.
In the areas there are vast forests and sufficient prey for Siberian tigers, according to experts.
Although they used to be widely distributed throughout northeastern China, wild Siberian tigers only number 20 or so in the region now due to fragmentation of forests and illegal hunting. But in the neighboring far east region

Nurturing life
A dynamic breeding programme initiated by the Arabian Wildlife Park on Sir Bani Yas Island is beginning to show results and there seems to be hope for the conservation of some of the endangered species of native desert animals
Conservation lovers have reason to celebrate. In January this year, four cubs were born to Safira, a resident cheetah, on Sir Bani Yas Island, a nature reserve off Abu Dhabi which is a major attraction for wildlife enthusiasts.
Three cubs survived, and together with the one female cheetah, Safira, from the Wildlife Centre in Dubai and two adult males from the Sharjah Breeding Centre, the cheetah population in the UAE now stands at six.
In February, two cubs were born to striped hyenas Phiri and Arnold on the island. Both the cheetahs and the striped hyenas are indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula and figure prominently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN's) red list, which deals with species of plants and animals that are on the brink of extinction.
The idyllic Sir Baniyas Island lies about 250km southwest of mainland Abu Dhabi, close to Jebel Dhanna. At 87 square kilometres, it is the largest natural island in the UAE. Together with the Dalma, Discovery and five other natural islands it forms the Desert Islands project which is being developed as an economic and ecological conservation centre that will provide a fiscal boost to the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.
The late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan recognised the need for conservation of the fast-disappearing plant and animal species of the country as soon as he assumed office of the president. He had observed: "We shall continue to work to protect our environment and our wildlife as did our forefathers before us."
In 1971, Shaikh Zayed transformed the island into a private wildlife reserve to ensure the survival of the most endangered species on the Arabian Peninsula such as the Arabian Oryx, sand gazelle, cheetah and hyena. The Arabian Wildlife Park was officially opened to the public in 1990. Intensive conservation work and ecological investment have made this island home to thousands of large, free-roaming animals, including the region's largest herds of the Arabian Oryx.
The 4,100 hectares of the Arabian Wildlife Park houses 4,500 animals of a variety of species today that are both indigenous and non-indigenous to the Arabian Peninsula. Flora too was

How caged animals became a tool of statecraft.
Earlier this month, the government of Zimbabwe announced that it was planning to give North Korea an ark's worth of animals -- two of every creature found in the southern African country's Hwange National Park -- for its longstanding Asian ally's zoo. Conservationists in Africa and elsewhere, not unreasonably, fear the worst As with most things in the Hermit Kingdom, only a few sketchy facts are known about the Korea Central Zoo in Pyongyang; its elephants purportedly are descended from a "hero" pachyderm given to the Kim regime by Ho Chi Minh -- even zoo attractions in North Korea come with an Western-imperialist-fighting lineage -- and one British visitor in the 1970s encountered a parrot that cawed "Long live the Great Leader!" in English. Suffice it to say that Pyongyang is probably no Mount Ararat.
But though President Robert Mugabe gifting a pair of baby elephants to Kim Jong Il may seem like a particularly ghastly move, zoos and geopolitics have long been closely linked -- with results that range from the bizarre to the downright appalling.

In 1861, Arab traders captured a 2-year-old African elephant calf on the plains of Abyssinia, now Ethiopia, and sold him to a European animal collector. The elephant's name was Jumbo -- the adjective, as applied to jets and buckets of popcorn in the English usage, originates with him -- and he would become not only perhaps the most famous zoo attraction in history, but also a sore spot in British-American relations.
In 1880, when the showman P.T. Barnum was looking for a marquee animal for his Barnum & Bailey Circus, his thoughts turned to Jumbo, who was at the time the prized possession of the London Zoo. It took him the better part of two years, but Barnum convinced the Zoological Society of London to part with the animal for $10,000. An uproar immediately ensued in London. The fracas was about more than a beloved sightseeing attraction -- it was about British national identity. Since antiquity, imperial rulers had gathered exotic animals from distant corners of their empires and kept them as tokens of their far-reaching power; similarly, the evolution of the modern zoo in Victorian England had happened in tandem with the growth of the British Empire. The London Zoo, which had replaced the private royal menageries of the past, was a potent symbol of British might -- visitors were admiring not only a captivating array of wildlife but also a physical manifestation of the crown's reach, to colonial lands that counted among their subjects everything from the rhinoceroses of Rhodesia to the tigers of Bengal.
The ability of an American upstart entrepreneur to wrest loose one of Britain's most prized African treasures was considered a "disgrace to English lovers of animals," in the words of one letter to the editor of a London newspaper collected in historian Harriet Ritvo's The Animal Estate: The English and Other Creatures in the Victorian Age. Jumbo "was a popular figure, as well as an imperial symbol," Ritvo says. "The zoo's selling of him was ballyhooed in the press of a kind of treason -- a betrayal of the public, and a lèse majesté."
Bits of doggerel verse written in Jumbo's voice abounded in London; in one of them the elephant declares, "I love the brave old British flag, of it my boys,1 

Junior zookeeper experience at London Zoo: Animal magic casts its spell
Bereft of birthday gift ideas, Simon Hughes turns to London Zoo.
There are many annoying things about 12 year-olds. Their refusal to go to bed. Their inability to get out of it once they're in it. Their monosyllabic retorts when you ask them about school. The deliberate baiting of their younger siblings. Their general ignorance of the whereabouts of the rubbish bin/dishwasher/wardrobe. But perhaps the most frustrating thing about them is the lengths you need go to buy them a decent birthday present.
They've got everything. The laptop (including DVD player), the (overused) mobile, the (unused) bike,

Camel poisoned, dies
Ukrainian police were searching for a man suspected of complicity in a series of zoo animal poisonings, the Interfax news agency reported on Wednesday.
The suspect, described as a man aged 40-45 wearing an earring, had been seen last week next to the cage of a dromedary camel in the Kiev city zoo.
The animal died of poisoning on Wednesday.
Handlers later found a boiled potato in the camel's enclosure, possibly used to deliver the poison, according to a Kiev city zoo statement.
One of the Kiev zoo's star attractions, a male Indian elephant aged 39, died of suspected poisoning on April 26. A high-profile biological research institute performed an autopsy

Patnaites' lack of civic sense irks Singapore officia
"The Patna zoo is amazing. It's much richer in terms of botanical species than I had expected," gushed Singapore zoo's assistant director May Lok.
She was here to attend a four-day training workshop on `Conservation, education and zoos', organized by the Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park here last week.
"There are a number of old trees and the overall vegetation is also impressive. Another major thing that struck me was the huge size and number of Indian rhinos at this zoo. There are 12 of them, second largest number in any of the zoos in the world. They are a real treat to eyes," Lok said.
But, she said, there's scope for improvement. Like, signages for flora and fauna should be at least bilingual. "Under an overall master plan, zone-wise development should be undertaken. The enclosures should be upgraded so as to make it more animal friendly and lively, somewhat resembling their natural habitat," Lok said and also stressed the need for

Police shoot escaped chimp
The Director of the Ogba Zoo, Benin, Andy Ehanire, has faulted the circumstances behind the death of one of the chimpanzees in the care of the zoo.
Residents of Ogba, on the outskirt of Benin City were thrown into panic penultimate week when a chimpanzee allegedly escaped from its cage in the Ogba Zoological garden and attacked some fun seekers at the zoo.
One of the victims, Nwoke Chidozie, who sustained injuries in the incident, said he saw other visitors to the zoo scampering for safety after the chimp allegedly escaped from its cage.
“Upon sighting the animal, I tried to save my children from getting attacked, but was attacked by the animal,” he said.
He alleged that the animal grabbed his last son, Divine, and he had to fight the animal by grabbing it at the neck in order to rescue his son.
Police spokesperson, Peter Ogboi, confirmed the story, and added that men of the Airport Road Police Station had to shoot the animal dead when it became clear that it might cause harm to other people.
“The police were invited to the Ogba Zoo on the day of the incident, following the stampede caused by the chimpanzee,” he said. “When it became evident that the chimpanzee had became a threat to others on sight-seeing at the zoo, the best

Rajkot zoo sets up top-open enclosures for leopards
Zoo authorities in Rajkot have set up top-open enclosures for leopards.
Praduman Park, a small hilly area surrounded by two lakes and situated on the outskirts of Rajkot city was selected as the zoo site.
The zoo is developed on 137 acres of land on a hilly area and the topography is suitable for wildlife.
The enclosure has a front of 40 meters, 29 meters at the back and 23 meters on its sides. Their fence is four meters high and on the top of it has a 1.2-meter high over hand made of stainless steel plates and hot wires on top.
"This kind of enclosure I am seeing it for the first time, I have seen so many zoos but this enclosure is open from the top safety measures in enclosures

Rare Tiger Gives Birth at China Plateau Zoo
A Siberian tiger has given birth to two cubs in northwest China zoo, bringing hope for the endangered species, zoo officials said Friday.
The tiger gave birth to the cubs two weeks ago, said zoo worker Yang Weiguo in Xining capital of China's Qinghai Province
"It was natural breeding, a real miracle in the plateau region," said Yang, who looks after the tigers at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau Safari Park in Xining.
He said the tiger and her cubs were all in good condition. "The cubs have not yet opened their eyes, but have a very good appetite."
Zoo workers were unable to approach the cubs for a closer look under their mother's watchful eyes, Yang said.
Zoo workers fed the mother tiger mutton, live chickens, milk and eggs to ensure adequate lactation, he said.
The mother tiger is three and a half years old and was born at a zoo in Ningbo, east China's Zhejiang Province. The cubs' father was born at the Beijing Zoo in 2000.
Park manager Liu Chuanhui said the 300-hectare safari park provides

Zoo opens DNA lab
The National Zoo says it is opening a new DNA lab that will help protect endangered species in the wild and in zoos worldwide.
The lab located on the Zoo's “Research Hill” is scheduled to open Tuesday.
Smithsonian officials says the zoo has studied genetics for more than 20 years, but the new lab will allow increased collaboration among zoo pathologists, veterinarians, reproductive biologists, ecologists and behaviorists.
Rob Fleischer, head of the Center for Conservation and Evolutionary Genetics, says work done at the lab will range

Recent births of rare local species at zoo add to its public attraction
At a time when the Karachi Zoo had just had two elephant calves, recent births of some rare local species have also added to its public attraction.
The News has learnt that a red-dear gave birth to a baby at the zoo just four days ago.
Similarly, Wallaby which is an Australian specie belonging to the kangaroo family gave birth to a baby some three months back.
The Wallaby’s baby was hardly had a length of more than one inch at the time it’s birth but now it has grown to an great extent and could be easily seen in the pouch of the mammal. District Officer (DO) Karachi Zoo Mansoor Qazi told The News that a black buck was also born at the zoo some four days back.
It is pertinent to mention here that the black buck which is commonly known as “Kala Hiran” is regional specie but endangered owing to excessive hunting.
Qazi added that a spotted dear and a blue bull (Neel Gaiy) also gave birth to babies at the zoo just a couple of months ago.
He said that jungle cat, which is local but endangered specie, also gave birth 25 days ago whereas blue peacocks also delivered four births at the zoo. He said that Afghan tortoise also delivered births some nine months back at the zoo.
Qazi said that the Karachi Zoo has also turned into a breeding place for a number of animals and around 18 different species were also shifted to the Safari Park from the Karachi Zoo.
He said that a number of animals and birds including s

Rescue Diary – The Lions Arrive and Go Free!

Spare wives, his own zoo … and a missing $200m
How much illicit wealth can the president of one of the planet’s poorest countries amass in just five years?
In the case of the deposed president of Kyrgyzstan, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the answer appears to be a staggering amount.
Gold bars, a private zoo of endangered species and tens of millions of dollars in hidden bank accounts – if his detractors are to be believed.
As the dust settles on a violent April uprising that forced Bakiyev and his extended family to flee the arid former Soviet republic, the politicians who deposed him say they have uncovered evidence of massive fraud.
In a country where the average monthly wage is the equivalent of just £45, revelations about the “Bakiyev millions” have stirred deep anger. Officials say Bakiyev’s entourage transferred up to $200 million out of the country just before they fled, leaving Kyrgyzstan’s coffers almost empty and the nation teetering

Stronger action urged to slow extinction
Experts have called for legislation to protect biodiversity and promote the efficient use of technology to curb the unprecedented decline of plant and animal species.
It is estimated that at least one species disappears every hour, including some unknown to human beings, according to the UN. Currently, more than 34,000 plants and 5,200 animals are on the verge of extinction, such as the Cuban crocodile and the white-headed langur.
The species that are part of an endangered species group are closer to extinction, among which amphibian species face the greatest risk. Deterioration of coral species face the highest risks.
"A better legislation is needed to curb the decline and maintain a stable ecosystem," said Li Wenhua, an ecologist at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, who attributed the decline to environment pollution and exploitation.
Li made the remarks on Saturday, International Day for Biological Diversity, at a ceremony to unveil the monument for the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity at the Beijing Zoo.
"We have to enhance efforts to protect biodiversity which not only benefits current development, but coming generations," Li added.
Li Ganjie, vice-minister of environmental protection, said that the ceremony marked the full implementation of China's action plan for biodiversity protection.
"We aim to improve the public's awareness about protecting biodiversity and encourage them to participate in the campaign," he said.
Local governments and NGOs also held activities to promote biodiversity conservation among people. The government in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, launched the first Asia-pacific Forum on Biodiversity Conservation on Saturday.
Despite repeated global promises to protect the planet's species, the variety of life continues to decline at an unprecedented rate, UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday as he called for action to curb the root causes of the problem.
"Biodiversity loss is moving ecological systems ever closer to a tipping point beyond which they will no longer be able to fulfill their vital functions," he said.
In 2002, several countries vowed to greatly reduce the

Wetland aliens cause bird extinction
BirdLife International has announced, in the 2010 IUCN Red List update for birds, the extinction of Alaotra Grebe Tachybaptus rufolavatus. Restricted to a tiny area of east Madagascar, this species declined rapidly after carnivorous fish were introduced to the lakes in which it lived. This, along with the use of nylon gill-nets by fisherman which caught and drowned birds, has driven this species into the abyss.
"No hope now remains for this species. It is another example of how human actions can have unforeseen consequences", said Dr Leon Bennun, BirdLife International's Director of Science, Policy and Information. "Invasive alien species have caused extinctions around the globe and remain one of the major threats to birds and other biodiversity."
Another wetland species suffering from the impacts of introduced aliens is Zapata Rail Cyanolimnas cerverai from Cuba. It has been uplisted to Critically Endangered and is under threat from introduced mongooses and exotic catfish. An extremely secretive marsh-dwelling species, the only nest ever found of this species was described by James Bond, a Caribbean ornithologist and the source for Ian Fleming's famous spy's name.
And it's not just aliens. Wetlands the world over, and the species found in them, are under increasing pressures.
In Asia and Australia, numbers of once common wader species such as Great Knot Calidris tenuirostris and Far

Zoo Study Reveals $100 Million Economic Impact to City
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo Economic Impact Study results reveal the Zoo's economic impact to the City of Omaha to be $101.2 million. This includes $36.3 million in labor paid to nearly 1,418 workers employed at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo or businesses throughout the Omaha economy. The additional economic activity in Omaha due to Omaha's Zoo generates an additional $1.65 million in local sales, use and lodging tax revenues for Omaha. Study results reveal Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo's economic impact to the State of Nebraska to be $83.14 million which includes $27.35 million in labor income.
In 2009, 1.56 million people visited Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo. Of those visitors, 35.7% were from the City of Omaha, 42% were from other parts of the Omaha MSA and nearby counties and 17.6% were from outside of state. "The adventure-inspired experiences created at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo have helped grow Omaha's image as a tourism destination. Each new exhibit increases the city's ability to attract new visitors who in turn bring new money into our local economy. The Zoo's economic impact is significant and the prestige it brings to

Zoo Penguin Dies After 1 Day on Job
The Little Rock Zoo says a six-month-old penguin acquired this week suffered a seizure and died after one day at the park.
One of the two birds received Wednesday from the Tautphaus Zoo in Idaho Falls, Idaho, died in quarantine Thursday. A cause isn't known. The zoo says the other penguin is doing fine.
The Little Rock Zoo lost animals throughout the 2000s to various ailments, including two giraffes, a leopard, a black bear and a gorilla that died after a non-invasive echocardiogram. Two snowy owls died from suspected West Nile virus and a lemur escaped and was found dead two days later - the day after a sloth bear was

Tiger conservation is disastrous, says BBC wildlife presenter Chris Packham
Donating money to tiger conservation charities is a waste of time because their success rate is "disastrous", according to Chris Packham, the BBC wildlife presenter.
Packham, who caused an outcry last year when he suggested that pandas should be left to die out, said efforts to save the animals through conservation were worthless.
"Tiger conservation is a multi-million pound business that isn't working. If it were in the FTSE 100, it would have gone bankrupt. Who'd buy shares in a business that's failing in its objective?" he asked.
"I'm not saying the conservation agencies don't have their hearts in the right place, but the results are disastrous."
He told the Radio Times: "I do rather dislike the fact that if you do as I do and openly criticise conservation, it's almost as if you're attacking something holy.
"But if we're all giving a pound for the tiger, or whatever, I think we all have a right to think that money is being best spent, that's all. Why shouldn't I criticise if there is a criticism to be levelled? One would hope the vast majority of wildlife charities are doing good - but why shouldn't I ask? What's so sacred?"
There are only 3,000 tigers left in the world, down from an estimated 100,000 a century ago, according to figures from the World Wildlife Fund.
Last year, 85 tiger deaths were recorded in India - the highest toll since 2001 - many of them a result of poaching, Packham said.
The presenter of BBC Two's Springwatch said

55 rhinos killed in Kaziranga in last 4 years
While wildlife lovers around the globe are rallying against rhino poaching, as many as 55 rhinos have been killed in the UNESCO’s world heritage site Kaziranga National Park, in the last four years.
According to insiders of Kaziranga National Park, a nexus between a section of forest guards and poachers is being suspected to be involved in rhino poaching.
And now, authorities of Assam’s Kaziranga National Park, forest guard and security personnel are killing innocent people in fake encounters and producing them as poachers to cover up their failure, alleged by local people who reside near the park.
The incident came to light when villagers of Silveta under Bokakhat Police Station in Golaghat district, some 35 kms from Kaziranga National Park, alleged that, a youth called Rahul Kutum was killed by forest guards in a fake encounter inside the Park on May 21, morning.
Later, the park authorities produced 4 'poachers' killed

Javan rhino probably killed by poachers
The rare Javan rhino found dead in the central highlands of Vietnam last month was very likely shot by poachers, according to the World Wildlife Fund’s latest press release.
Physical and photographic evidence showed that the female Javan Rhinoceros, found buried at a muddy riverbank in Cat Tien National Park on April 29, had been shot dead and its horn had been removed, WWF said in the statement issued on Thursday.
Abnormal cut marks were found where the horn was attached to the skull, it said, adding that a large portion of

Oil spill creates huge undersea 'dead zones'
Clouds of crude and chemical dispersants have formed in the Gulf of Mexico and oceanologists fear these could have devastating effects on the food chain
The world's most damaging oil spill – now in its 41st continuously gushing day – is creating huge unseen "dead zones" in the Gulf of Mexico, according to oceanologists and toxicologists. They say that if their fears are correct, then the sea's entire food chain could suffer years of devastation, with almost no marine life in the region escaping its effects.
While the sight of tar balls and oil-covered birds on Louisiana's shoreline has been the most visible sign of the spill's environmental destruction, many scientists now believe it is underwater contamination that will have the deadliest impact. At least two submerged clouds of noxious oil and chemical dispersants have been confirmed by research vessels, and scientists are seeing initial signs of several more. The largest is some 22 miles long, six miles wide and 3,300 feet deep – a volume that would take up half of Lake Erie. Another spans an area

Ivory sale row: Tanzania should first put its house in order
One of the most emotive issues in the country today is what to do with a haul of ivory in government custody. On the one side is a group, which believes that the 90 tonnes should be sold and the proceeds spent on wildlife conservation, and in the opposite corner, those convinced that such a move would only fuel the slaughter of more elephants by poachers.
The matter became even more poignant last March after the Tanzania Government’s appeal for international approval to sell its ivory stockpiles valued at Sh20 billion was turned down, and some MPs cried foul, accusing neighbouring Kenya of involvement in an alleged conspiracy against their country.
Tanzania’s proposal to sell off the ivory hit a dead end at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) meeting held in Doha, Qatar.
With the Cites decision having slammed the brakes on the sale bid and the tension and finger pointing almost relegated to the back burner, it is time for deep reflection by all the players.
Lesson one: The last such concession that allowed the southern African countries to sell their "legal stocks" immediately resulted in increased poaching in eastern Africa, from where ivory is then smuggled to buyers overseas.
Lesson two: Kenya was hit by a wave of poaching last year, hardening the country’s stance on the matter.
Lesson three: Compared to 2007, poaching figures for elephants quadrupled in Kenya last year. Reliable sources within Kenya’s tourism and wildlife management organisations are laying the blame squarely on the Cites decision at the last meeting that allowed the limited trade in southern Africa.
And lesson four: The hunger and greed for the "white gold”, as ivory is also known, are largely fuelled by China and other south and far eastern countries, with little or no regard to conservation efforts in Africa, which are crucial to support and maintain wildlife and nature-based tourism.
Tanzania Natural Resource Forum (TNRF), an Arusha-based organisation working to improve natural resource management for local livelihoods, says the country should stop blaming Kenya for its failure to sell its ivory stockpiles and instead improve its own wildlife governance.
In a statement posted on its website this week, the TNRF argues that although the debate is interesting, it clouds the root cause of the problem: the fact that despite Kenya’s opposition, Tanzania

Mahout's Miracle Escape

Lion drags girl, 4, into cage at Russia's Tambov Zoo
A LION in a Russian zoo dragged a four-year-old girl through the bars of its cage and mauled her neck and arm, according to local news reports.
The girl was visiting a zoo in Tambov, in southern Russia, with her grandparents on Saturday when she approached the lion's enclosure and it dragged her in with its paw, a city police spokesman told Interfax.
"The visitors and zoo workers managed to shoo away the animal, which had time to seriously maul the little girl's neck and arm," he said.
The girl underwent an operation but was in a "very serious" condition in a city hospital tonight, Interfax reported.
A section of the bars around the lion's enclosure

Webcams burnish zoo's animal appeal
Putting a camera into saltwater and watching a live feed from that camera is nothing new for researchers at the National Zoo in Washington.
It may not be as deep as BP's cameras watching a mile-down oil spill, but the zoo has had a live feed from its octopus tank for a some time.
It is just one of around 100 cameras that the zoo uses for animal research, 20 of which can be accessed by anyone with a high-speed connection and a computer.
The zoo's two pandas have 38 cameras in their enclosure alone. A team of volunteers work in the panda control room to choose the camera with the best view and stream it out to the world.
"Our pandas accrued a huge following," said zoo director Dennis Kelly in a recent interview. "Of course, we're still using the recordings and what's going on with pandas for research, but boy, what a following our panda cam got over the years."
The giant Pacific octopus is another popular webcam. The camera is built to withstand cold saltwater 24

Kung Fu Bear

Leopards and other big cats ARE on the loose in Britain - just don't tell a soul
My worst fears nearly became a chilling reality last week when two girls, Kim Howells, 15, and her cousin Sophie Gwynne, eight, were stalked in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire - by what appears to have been a huge black cat.
Kim described the ‘panther’ as about the size of a Great Dane. ‘We cut through the brambles and just started running,’ she reported afterwards.
When they arrived home, their feet were cut and bleeding. Sophie was in tears. But what really brought this strange case home to me was the fact that if they had come to any real harm, I would have felt responsible
For six months earlier, I had visited the same spot near Cinderford while making a TV film about leopards around the world, including a short section about the (I thought unlikely) possibility of them living in the UK.
In the end, fearful of causing public alarm, I chose not to use any of the extraordinary evidence I gathered. But the encounter of the two girls last week has convinced me that might have been a mistake. Indeed, I have come to the conclusion that it is time to tell the full, disturbing story.
For the truth is I may well know the ‘mythical’ beast that chased them. Danny Nineham, the region’s local big cat enthusiast, showed me evidence of its existence when I was there last autumn. And it’s a black leopard — nicknamed Boris.
‘He’s huge, even for a male leopard,’ Nineham told me. ‘I’ve recorded many sightings of him. He’s dangerous, in my view. More so than any of the other leopards living and breeding wild in the Forest of Dean, or around the country.’
Leopards in Britain? Surely not. At least, that’s what I used to think. But after going on the trail of Britain’s big cats, I’ve

A RARE parrot species has staged a remarkable comeback.
Just 12 years ago the yellow-eared parrot was thought to be extinct – only for a colony of 81 to be found in the Andes of Colombia.
But yesterday, in a rare move, the species was given a more positive rating – going from “critically endangered” to “endangered” – by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
More than 1,000 of the parrots are now living in Colombia thanks to intensive conservation work.
The return was also partly thanks to the Catholic Church. The parrots rely heavily on Colombia’s national tree – the wax palm – and the church reduced the use of wax palm for Palm Sunday celebrations.
Meanwhile, half a world away, British conservationists were celebrating after “the rarest parrot in the world” also made a comeback.Just 20 years ago there were only 10 Echo parakeets left on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.
Now there are 500 thriving in its forests, with another 70 chicks being

Devil export sales lash
THE State Government is scrambling to stop wildlife parks selling endangered Tasmanian devils to interstate parks.
It gave East Coast Natureworld owner Bruce Englefield an export licence this month to send four devils to the Hunter Valley Zoo in NSW and Peel Zoo near Perth.
He has another three devils in quarantine at his park that are earmarked for Phillip Island zoo in Victoria.
The devils are not part of the Government's official insurance population drawn from the wild and housed in zoos around the country.
The gruesome devil facial tumour disease has wiped out 80 per cent of the devil population and the insurance population could be the only thing standing between the species and extinction.
Although all devils in wildlife parks are technically owned by the State Government, Mr Englefield admits charging a "management fee" of several thousand dollars for each devil.
"I can't charge for the animal but I can charge for the management, the vet bills, the cages," he said.
Mr Englefield said he had lost money on the deals but gained "internal warmth" thinking his contribution could help save the species.
But the exportation of devils has outraged the Zoo and Aquarium Association, which is a member of the Tasmanian Government's official Save the Devil Program and represents zoos that have invested millions of their own money in the insurance population, which is largely not on public display.
ZAA executive director Martin Phillips said the peak body had raised "strong concerns" with the State Government and the devils were unlikely to ever become part of the insurance population.
"It would appear a private institution in Tasmania has provided them to a private institution in Western Australia for public display. I can't ascertain any other benefit," he said.
Mr Phillips said the insurance population was carefully managed to breed animals with genetic diversity, because in the wild devils had inbred, making them more susceptible to the contagious

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The 17th issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa is online at 

May 2010 | Vol. 2 | No. 5 | Pages 849-900 | Date of Publication 26 May 2010
ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)


Mandibular structure, gut contents analysis and feeding group of orthopteran species collected from different habitats of Satoyama area within Kanazawa City, Japan

-- S. Abu ElEla, W. ElSayed & K. Nakamura, Pp. 849-857

Rediscovery of the federally protected Scarce Jester Butterfly Symbrenthia silana de Nicéville, 1885 (Nymphalidae: Nymphalinae) from the Eastern Himalaya and Garo Hills, northeastern India

-- Krushnamegh Kunte, Pp. 858-866

Occurrence and redescription of Sipalolasma arthrapophysis (Gravely, 1915) (Araneae: Barychelidae: Barychelinae) from India

-- S.M. Maqsood Javed, Robert J. Raven, Farida Tampal & K. Thulsi Rao, Pp. 867-875

Birds of Sabaragamuwa University campus, Buttala, Sri Lanka

-- Thilina Dilan Surasinghe & Chamitha De Alwis, Pp. 876-888

Meliolaceae of Kerala, India - XXXI new species and a new variety

-- V.B. Hosagoudar & G.R. Archana, Pp. 889-891

First report on mass aggregation of opiliones in China

-- Aeshita Mukherjee, Burkhard Wilske & Chen Jin, Pp. 892-893

A new species of Ceryx Wallengren (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae: Syntominae) from the Kumaon Himalaya, India

-- Peter Smetacek, Pp. 894-895

Observation of a Whale Shark Rhincodon typus (Orectolobiformes: Rhincodontidae) in the offshore waters of Rushikulya, Orissa, India

-- Sajan John, Pp. 896-897

Comments on “An updated and annotated list of lizards (Reptilia: Sauria) based on a review of distribution records and checklist of Indian reptiles by P.D. Venugopal”

-- Zeeshan A. Mirza, P. 898

Taxonomic clarity of Indian lizards as a basis for inclusion in checklists: Response to Mirza

-- P. Dilip Venugopal, Pp. 899-900



June 2010 Table of Contents

About the Cover/Information for Contributors

Scoops & Scuttlebutt

From the President

Coming Events

Conference 2010 - Updates/Reminders

AAZK Announces New Members

“Trees for You and Me” AAZK Chapter Challenge

People Skills for Animal People: Keeper Communication, Part IV

Female Reproductive Parameters and Calf Development in Captive Klipspringers

Enrichment Options (Bah Bah Black Sheep!)

Conditioning 0.1 Eastern Black Rhinoceros for Behavioral Restraint in Diagnosis and Treatment of Vitiligo

Book Reviews (The Intimate Ape: Orangutans and the Secret Life of a Vanishing Species and ‘Spot the Difference’ – are cheetahs really just big cats?)

Training Tales (Training Bears for Voluntary Blood Collections)

Conservation/Legislative Update



Les zoos dans le monde


A Very Generous Offer


Once upon a time (maybe 10 years ago) you had someone offer about 10 years worth of the AZA Publication on your list, for free. As a zookeeper, just starting out, I was so happy to respond to that and receive all that information!!! Well, now it is my chance to pass it on. I have 10 years worth of the AAZK Forum, from February 1999-March 2010, that I am willing to send to someone who promises to make good use of it. All I ask is that they go to a person willing to pass them on when they are done with them (which is what I did with the AZA magazines, way back when), or even to a zoo library where all the staff may make use of it. I checked with the local zoo here, and they already have all of those volumes in their library already, so were not interested. If you could please advertise this in Zoo News Digest, I hope to reach a wider audience... I am located in Indiana, USA, though would be willing to send anywhere depending on postage (the most I can afford is probably $20 US postage). You may give out my email address,  and I just ask that they reply with their situation and intentions for use, and I will choose from the responses I get...

Thank you,



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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Giza Zoo Lion Problem

Following up on the story of the Lions in Giza Zoo.... see HERE if you did not read it. The latest take on the problem of the number animals is slightly different. For a start there is absolutely no mention made of Barbary Lions.

The article states several points which interest me :

It makes mention of contraceptive injections but not implants. I can see where the injection may go wrong but a properly placed implant would be 100% effective.

They can’t exercise everyday and so they are more aggressive with each other.” That is definitely a problem.

"The positive aspect is that it’s known that wild animals in the zoo or captivity do not reproduce a lot,” Mr Sidqy said. “The fact that they reproduce indicates that their physical and psychological states are good and that they are afforded good living conditions
There appears to be a bit of a contradiction at play here. The article states that the living conditions are inadequate but then Mr Sidqy says they are. You cannot have both.....and to be frank lions WILL breed in hopelessly inadequate conditions.

Since Egyptian law prohibits zookeepers from euthanising excess animals – a practice common in other zoos throughout the world - Why? Do Egyptian vets not euthanase Dogs? Cats? Injured Donkeys? Do the slaughterhouses not slaughter? Pigeons and chickens are killed by people all over Cairo every day. What makes it prohibitive for zoos to kindly, humanely, stress free, sensibly, professionaly and gently euthanase? Euthanasia does not hurt. It is and should be a realistic option in all zoos.

The other option which is open to them...though I cannot suggest a suitable location but it is to DONATE their surplus. Forget about selling. Give the lions away to a collection which can offer better facilities. They will immediately save money by not having the extra mouths to feed.

The article follows

Lions give Giza zoo growing problems

For some here, daily life remains a trying ordeal.

A sudden population boom has led to overcrowding and soaring inflation rates have resulted in spiralling costs for meat, which constitutes the bulk of the local diet. But even in the face of such difficulties, the problems of the lion population at the Giza Zoo are about to go from bad to worse. Next month, zoo officials will begin castrating male lions in a final effort to control the animals’ rising numbers.

Both the Giza and Alexandria zoos host 42 lions each, while zoos in Beni Suef, Fayoum and El Arish hold an additional 18 lions, all of which have become a drain on the zoo authorities’ limited resources.

“In any zoo, it’s enough for any kind of animal to be represented. By that we mean a family of lions, a male and a female and maybe two cubs, for example,” said Nabil Sidqy, the director of Egypt’s zoo system. “More than that is an overload on the resources of the zoo. They eat meat, and you know that meat is expensive.”

Indeed, both Egyptian lions and their human friends – of whom 4.5 million visit the Giza Zoo alone each year – suffer from sky-high annual food inflation of about 20 per cent. The cost of meat reached 75 Egyptian pounds (Dh49) per kilogram last month, prompting calls for a boycott.

According to a report published this month by Egypt’s Information and Decision Support Centre, meat consumption among humans fell by 21 per cent between February and April of this year.

But unlike its people, Egypt’s lions rarely go without. Each one gets a daily portion of about 7kg of meat. Combined with veterinary treatment, that costs the zoo about 20,000 pounds each year for every lion in its care.

Compare that with, for example, Egyptian’s entry level salaries: new school teachers can earn as little as 6,000 pounds per year.

Given their shared fates, some have wondered aloud whether both humans and lions could benefit each other by joining forces.

“According to a popular saying, whoever lived with a people for 40 days will become one of them,” wrote Ahmed Ragab, a noted Egyptian humorist, in Al Akhbar newspaper last month. “Nevertheless, I think that the government can make use of the large number of lions. They can take some lions and tie them on the staircase of the journalists’ syndicate to frighten the anti-government protesters there.”

The lions were not always such a drain. Fifteen years ago, the Giza Zoo had only 25 or 30 of the beasts, Mr Sidqy said. As their numbers expanded, officials tried various methods to control the population.

Zookeepers first separated the lions by gender to prevent them from mating. But since the zoo only has 27 separate enclosures, some of which are reserved for the particularly aggressive male lions, the gender separation added further stress to an already untenable population crunch.

“The spaces have become narrower so their normal behaviour changes,” said Abdel Wahab, a zoo vet. “They can’t exercise everyday and so they are more aggressive with each other.”

Despite such measures, the circle of life continued for the captive cats. Giza’s lions are still producing young cubs.

“The positive aspect is that it’s known that wild animals in the zoo or captivity do not reproduce a lot,” Mr Sidqy said. “The fact that they reproduce indicates that their physical and psychological states are good and that they are afforded good living conditions.”

When the gender separation strategy failed, zoo officials searched for other options. Lions are not an endangered species, so demand for them in other zoos and parks throughout the world is low. Mr Sidqy said the zoo can sell or transfer only about three lions each year – far less than their rate of reproduction.

Since Egyptian law prohibits zookeepers from euthanising excess animals – a practice common in other zoos throughout the world – Mr Sidqy and his team decided to experiment with contraceptive injections.

But the injections reduced the reproduction rate by only 20 per cent, Mr Sidqy said, rendering the experiment a failure. With all the other options exhausted, zoo staff are now obliged to put their lions under the knife.

“This didn’t happen before because there was a hope that the other methods would succeed,” Mr Sidqy said. “A castrated lion cannot be sold and we had hoped to sell so


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Friday, May 28, 2010

Bristol Zoo launches insect photography competition

To celebrate next month’s National Insect Week, Bristol Zoo Gardens is inviting budding photographers to enter its insect photography competition.

The competition is open to all ages and abilities and the best six photos will be displayed in the Zoo’s gallery in Bug World.

To enter your photos, simply visit the Zoo’s website:  and upload your best images.

The winning entries will be chosen by the Zoo’s judging panel, made up of the Zoo’s invertebrate keeper, in-house artist and graphic designer. They will select one overall winner, two runner-ups and three highly commended photographs.

The closing date is midnight on Sunday, June 13, 2010. The six winning photos will be on displayed in Bug World for one year.

As part of National Insect Week (June 21-27), Bristol Zoo will also be hosting an insect macro photography exhibition in Bug World, featuring photographs taken by two Somerset-based nature photographers, Robin Williams and John Bebbington. Zoo visitors will also be able to find out about the world of ladybirds, and go on a ladybird hunt around the Zoo. There will also be a chance to meet leaf and stick insects over the weekend of June 26 and 27.

For more information about National Insect Week, visit the website

To find out more about Bristol Zoo Gardens and what’s on over the coming weeks, visit the website at  or phone 0117 974 7300.

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