Friday, February 11, 2011

Zoo News Digest 7th - 11th February 2011 (Zoo News 724)

Zoo News Digest 7th - 11th February 2011 (Zoo News 724)

Alectura lathami Photo by Jonas Livet

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

My laptop has had me jumping through hoops this week. It has been practically impossible to accomplish any but the simplest of tasks. I have burnt a lot of midnight oil. Happily these things seem to pass in waves so hopefully next week will be a little better.

I was saddened to learn of Chester Zoos loss. I know how hard these things can be. I extend my sympathies to all of the staff and those who knew and loved her. Sympathies too to Racine Zoo and others who have lost older animals this week.

Curious to see how long it is before some 'Animal Rights' body puts the boot in. They always do when an elephant is involved.

Valentines Day stories have already started to appear. Having dredged through these every year I am, and I know you are too, looking for something original. Not found it yet. 

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Mountain Gorilla Gives Birth to Twins
Gorilla trackers from the Volcanoes National Park, yesterday, reported a rare birth of gorilla twins, born to Kabatwa from the Hirwa Group.
According to park officials, the successful birth of twin gorillas becomes the second since 2004 in Susa Group and only the fifth case recorded in more than 40 years of Gorilla monitoring in Rwanda
The first twins in Susa Group, which have grown to the adult age of 6, were named by President Paul Kagame and First lady Jeannette Kagame during the first public and national Gorilla

Edinburgh Zoo at risk over welfare failings
The future of Scotland's flagship zoo is in doubt after it failed to act on a string of animal welfare and safety recommendations made five years ago.
The future of Edinburgh Zoo is in doubt after it failed to act on a string of animal welfare and safety recommendations made five years ago.
Scotland's flagship zoo could have its operating licence removed after a recent inspection found a series of repairs and hygiene issues flagged up during a Scottish Government visit in 2006 have not been resolved.
Edinburgh City Council's community safety department made a report in September, which has now been released under the Freedom of Information legislation.
It noted a failure to act upon warnings given for the big cat enclosure, which was found to be in a state of disrepair, and the sea lions were reported to be suffering from eye infections.
A main food store was also found

Move zoo's elephants to sanctuary: Councillor
Coun. Shelley Carroll will ask Toronto Zoo board members to let the attraction’s three remaining elephants live out their lives at a California sanctuary.
The former budget chief, tried to deliver the plea and the petitions in person last fall but couldn’t because not enough members of the zoo board showed up.
She’ll make another attempt at speaking about the “elephant in the room” at the next zoo board meeting on Feb. 14.
Carroll said she’s optimistic board members will listen to her and the more than 1,500 petitions from people asking that the zoo’s elephants — Toka, Iringa, and Thika — be sent to live in an animal sanctuary where they would enjoy more space and a climate better suited to the large animals.
She noted research that shows the health of elephants born in captivity is compromised from birth.
“(The Toronto Zoo) is a great zoo, that is not the issue here,” Carroll added. “The issue here is we know something about keeping elephants in captivity that we didn’t know in the days of Barnum and Bailey.”
The Don Valley East councillor stressed she’s not trying to play politics with the elephants.
“This has nothing to do with whether or not Rob Ford got elected,” Carroll

Growling surfaces at Naples Zoo
Longtime former owners criticized as they continue its management
The Naples Zoo has just celebrated a record-breaking year, its attendance surpassing 300,000.
Behind the scenes, though, the good feeling gives way to criticism over how the zoo is run, as well as the management of the taxpayer-owned land it sits on.
The zoo, a historic Southwest Florida landmark and the only one accredited between Miami and Tampa, has been forced to change radically over the last six years to survive.
The zoo became a nonprofit in 2005 after being a family-owned business for 35 years. Critics say that family still runs it as its own, circumventing or rebelling against oversight of a volunteer board of directors.
At stake is the zoo’s ability to evolve into a successful nonprofit, and the family’s ability to evolve into responsible managers instead of owners. The scenario unfolds against the backdrop of a $70 million, 20-year zoo master plan and a recent, three-day inspection by a team from the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums for reaccreditation.
Criticisms include:
• Resistance to changing a longtime pattern of nepotism;
• The purchase of seven giraffes for a new exhibit when the board agreed to three;
• Volunteers’ charges of indifference to and removal of some botanicals.
David Tetzlaff, eldest son of zoo founders Lawrence and Nancy Jane Tetzlaff, is the Naples Zoo’s executive director.
“David still runs this as his own fiefdom,” said Bob Printz, a certified master gardener who has volunteered at the zoo for five

Orangutan Copy Cats
How smart are copy cats? Maybe it depends on your species
You know the saying "monkey see, monkey do?" How about "orangutan see, orangutan do?" If that holds true, the small orangutan peering over his mother's shoulder in an enclosure at Zoo Atlanta should learn how to get a tasty treat just by watching how she gets one.
"One of the questions that we were looking at is how individuals learn from one another," says Marietta Dindo, a primatologist studying orangutans and their behaviors. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and in affiliation with the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Dindo is studying these endangered primates to better understand how our distant ape cousins watch and learn.
"What's interesting and unique about orangutans compared to humans or even other great apes is the fact they're what we call "solitary but social," which means that the individuals, aside from a mother-offspring interaction, will only have limited times where they spend in affiliation with other orangutans," explains Dindo.
Since orangutans in the wild are difficult to observe, Dindo designed an experiment with captive animals. "We had 13 orangutans at the time of the study, and this allowed us to look at what we call a transmission chain: individuals learning like in the game of telephone. I tell you something, then you tell him something and so on, how does that information then pass on? We wanted to see whether or not these orangutans would learn," she continues.
Dindo built a small plastic box with a small door and attached it to the bars of the cage. It allowed the orangutans to slide or lift the door open, and she would give them a treat through the door. Regardless of which method the orangutans used to get the door open, they could always collect a treat behind the door. This meant that the only motivation to conform to one method over the

Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in £1m upgrade
A Kent animal park is set to undergo a £1m upgrade which will see its African exhibit expanded.
The project at Port Lympne Wild Animal Park involves changes to its African Experience, which was launched in 2005.
It will increase its safari area from 100 acres to 500, and cut the area to explore on foot from 500 to 100 acres.
The "on foot" areas of the park will be divided into four zones where visitors will be able to explore exhibits and interactive educational displays.
Managing director Bob O'Connor said the new format would overcome the problems experienced by visitors "struggling to see and do everything on offer".
"The new format will not only overcome

Tiger Mom? Teen Girl Sleeps With Pet Tiger
Felicia Frisco, 17, Raised 6-Month-Old Bengal Tiger Since Birth
Teen Felicia Frisco's pet cat, Will, is cute, fuzzy and bigger than a Rottweiler. He's a Bengal Tiger.
The Tampa, Fla., teen has had the tiger since the day he was born.
"My friends think it's really cool that I have a pet tiger because most of them only have a cat or dog," Felicia said.
Each night the playful tiger crawls into bed with Felicia, sleeping on her pink, black and leopard print sheets with her.
The 17-year-old girl comes from a family of animal handlers. Her parents run a program called Tiger Encounter.
"He'll be with me until he's a year old and we'll use him to educate others," Felicia said.
For now, she's still feeding the six-month-old tiger milk; but in just a few more weeks, he'll eat only meat.
Doctor Bhagavan Antle runs The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species. He's known Felicia's family for years and said that the family is well-trained to take care of the

Just What Is The Point Mr Antle?

Pups of endangered species on exhibit in Al Ain
Six dog pups of an endangered African wild species on exhibit at Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort
The six dog pups of an endangered African wild species, born under a conservation breeding programme, have been placed in an exhibit at Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort (AWPR).
Difficult to breed in captivity, the dogs were born in November last year in the park. They are recognised as an endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Farshid Mehrdadfar, Manager of the Animal Collection Department at the AWPR, said visitors can enjoy watching the dogs that are being taught how to hunt by their parents and other pack members.
"Our back-of-house environment with minimal disturbance and close veterinary and husbandry team observation enabled them the best possible start into their new life," said the manager. African wild dogs belong to the family of dogs, which also includes jackals, foxes, wolves and domestic dogs. Their large head and swift nature often misleads one to recognise them as hyenas.
The dogs were once widely distributed

Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort The Orangutans are waiting, the chimpanzees are waiting and the rest of the zoo world are waiting to see what will happen next

Consultant hired to provide Chattanooga Zoo study
The Friends of the Zoo's board, which took over the operation of the Chattanooga Zoo in September, has contracted a $25,000 consultant study to examine everything from the zoo's management team to its policies.
"Everything is on the table," said board Chairman Gary Chazen, who, with two other board members, addressed the Chattanooga City Council's Legal and Legislative Committee on Tuesday afternoon.
In a separate meeting Tuesday, the group also talked with editors and reporters at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
"We know there are some issues there [at the zoo], and obviously we're going to try to get to the bottom of it," Chazen told the Times Free Press.
The consultants began work last month and another meeting between the zoo board and the consultants is planned in the next few weeks. The board hopes to have the final report in March or April, members said.
Chazen and board members Mickey Myers and Robin Derryberry said the zoo has asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the consulting firm of Schultz & Williams to help.
The board also is awaiting necropsies for the seven animals that died in a month's time over the holidays, said Myers, who also is a veterinarian.
"You have members of the board who take it very personally

Zoo suffers huge drop in attendance
The Toronto zoo saw a whopping 12 per cent drop in attendance last year — more than 150,000 fewer visitors — compared to 2009.
The decline is a major setback for an attraction trying to burnish its image and vastly improve fundraising.
The zoo drew 1,308,788 visitors in 2010, compared to 1,459,574 in 2009, according to figures set to be discussed at next Monday’s meeting of the zoo’s board of management.
Zoo spokesperson Shanna Young blamed the sharp decrease on the recession and the fact the HST came into effect at the start of the zoo’s peak season.
General admission now costs $23 ($20.35 + $2.65 HST). The same admission was $21 in 2009.
Young put a positive spin on the declining numbers

The Baghdad zoo's booze-swilling bears and laser-enhanced fish
The near-total destruction of Baghdad's city zoo over the course of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was, in retrospect, a grim portent of the poor planning and disastrous mismanagement that would characterize the early years of the Iraq war. The zoo had been the largest in the Middle East before the invasion, with more than 650 animals; eight days after coalition troops arrived in the city, however, all but 35 were dead. "All the Americans would've had to do is drop off 50 men, with a few vets and a truckload of food, and they wouldn't have lost any of the animals," Lawrence Anthony, a South Africa conservationist who salvaged what was left of the zoo after the invasion, told

London Zoo opening bigger pool for penguins
A new £2m pool for nearly 150 penguins is to open at London Zoo in May.
Penguin Beach will be four times longer and three times deeper than the current area set aside for the birds, which have had a permanent home at the zoo for the past 150 years.
"They are one of our most popular animals, with over eight million people visiting them in the last 10 years," said zoo director Ralph Armond.
Interactive games and displays will also be built for visitors.
And there will be a replica field station, which

Dead cubs to be used for vet classes
The tigress which was rescued from a dry well on Monday delivered two stillborn cubs at Deer Park at Seminary Hills on Tuesday morning. The third cub was noticed by the forest staff after the cage was shifted to the forest guesthouse around 1.30pm. The cages were completely covered with green net and late in the evening when the animal was being put in the squeeze cage, the staff saw one more stillborn cub.
Of the three premature cubs, two are female while one is a male. Tiger experts, who did not want to be quoted, said pregnancy in the tigers is not obvious to the eye for the first two-and-half months, but becomes noticeable only in the last 10-12 days.
"The tigress looked healthy but its genitalia were normal and hence the pregnancy could not be detected. The gestation period for tigers ranges from 93 to 111 days. It can have a litter of between 1 and 7 blind cubs, the norm being 2 to 4," an expert vet told TOI.
In the case of Katlabodi tigress, the cubs had developed body organs like whiskers, nails, ears, legs and tail. The coat and teeth were missing. Doctors of the government v

Race is on to repopulate species of bustards
After a major breakthrough reproducing houbara bustard chicks, scientists in the UAE are perfecting and expanding on their methods in hopes that one day soon they can repopulate the region with the endangered wild bird.
Teams working on two separate research projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, presented their findings yesterday to an audience of experts at the First International Symposium on Conservation and Propagation of Endangered Species of Birds, at Emirates Palace hotel.
Scientists are working to isolate certain male and female reproductive cells from a single houbara embryo so they can create what is known as an immortal cell line, one that can be frozen and used to produce chimeric birds, and ultimately houbara bustards, as needed.
The conference is organised by the Ministry of Presidential Affairs and has attracted leading scientists from as far afield as Britain, Japan, Korea, the US, China, France and Australia.
The houbara bustard, one of the main birds

Patas monkey dies at Racine Zoo at age 28
A 28-year-old patas monkey named Julie has died at the Racine Zoo.
Julie spent nearly her entire life at the zoo except for one year in the early 1990s when she went to an Illinois zoo while her exhibit was rebuilt.
In warm weather, Julie was often the first animal zoo visitors saw.
The Times Journal reports Julie was the only patas monkey left at the zoo,0,2981547.story

John Ball Zoo advocates support idea of merging management into single nonprofit partnership
Longtime advocates of the John Ball Zoo still want to see the details but say results of a study released Thursday suggesting the zoo should be reorganized under a single nonprofit public private partnership make sense.
The more than yearlong study says zoo operations could be accomplished more efficiently if functions now performed by Kent County and the John Ball Zoo Society were organized into a single nonprofit group. The county would retain ownership of the zoo and essentially contract with the new nonprofit entity to manage the entire scope of zoo operations.
Kent County currently manages

Chattanooga Zoo to ban dogs
The Chattanooga Zoo has a new policy: No dogs.
"This board of directors is going to say no more dogs in the zoo," said Mickey Myers, a member of the board's executive committee and a veterinarian.
Pets in the zoo -- including animals owned or cared for by Zoo Director Darde Long -- have come into question after allegations that at least one of the most recent deaths of animals at the zoo may be tied to barking dogs.
Seven animals died at the zoo during a monthlong period over the holidays. During one of the Holiday Lights "pet night" events, a muntjac is believed to have been frightened by barking dogs.
The muntjac, a small Asian deer, was locked out of its shelter, appeared to have a seizure, fell into the frigid water of a koi pond and died, according to complaints filed with PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
While Myers said he doesn't think any animals at the zoo died from neglect, he acknowledged that the muntjac's death prompted the board's decision

Zoo mourns lion queens
In life, twin sisters Tawni and Nauschka were inseparable.
So it was only fitting when the elderly lionesses’ time came that they would go together.
“It was pretty tough,” said Debbi Rowland of Innisfail’s Discovery Wildlife Park, which the two lionesses called home for the past 15 years.
“We were so used to hearing the lions roaring all night. It’s pretty quiet around

First vulture chick born at Sakkarbaug zoo
In a significant development for the conservation of the endangered white backed vultures, the Sakkarbaug zoo here has succeeded in breeding vultures in captivity. A chick was born at the zoo's Vulture Conservation and Breeding Centre on February 1.
According to zoo director V J Rana this is good news for the species which faces extinction. Sakkarbaug is one of the five captive vulture breeding centres in the country.
The vulture breeding aviary was started in the zoo in April 2009 with 43 vultures and this

Zoo team heads to Panama to save frogs
A team from Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is heading back to the jungles of Panama to save amphibian species on the verge of extinction due to fatal chytrid fungus.
This is their fifth expedition.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is a founding partner in the international initiative called the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.
Della Garelle, the zoo's Director of Conservation, says over a third of the world's amphibian species are threatened with extinction.
A large part of the problem is habitat loss and

Chester Zoo's oldest Asian elephant dies
An Asian elephant which had lived at a Cheshire zoo for 46 years has died.
Chester Zoo said Sheba, who was the zoo's oldest elephant, had been ill for a short time and despite the best efforts of staff died on Wednesday.
Chester Zoo is home to eight Asian elephants: Maya, Jangoli, Sundara, Thi, Upali, Sithami, Nayan and a female calf, born at the end of January.
Dr Mark Pilgrim, zoo director general, said the death of the matriarch of the herd was a "huge loss".
He said: "Sheba had a long and happy life with us; she had a strong personality - intelligent and sometimes stubborn - and she thought the elephant section belonged just to her.
"She was a good elephant with a will of her own. Sheba had a way with the other elephants too and was able to keep the others in line.
"I have no doubt the elephants


Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

As a gardener, I have mixed feelings about entering the Year of the Rabbit this month. Can this be good for plants, I wonder? Well, 2011 begins with some remarkable new discoveries about plants and their ecosystems, so maybe rabbits can be good for plants after all. February's links at  (NEWS/Botanical News) include some fascinating new discoveries.

· Following upon the thrilling revelation that some species of Asian pitcher plants benefit from being toilets for tree shrews comes this story of another species of pitcher plant that offers itself as a sleeping bag for bats.

· The dependencies between terrestrial flora and aquatic fauna fascinate me. Researchers have now demonstrated that up to 1/3 of the food eaten by zooplankton derives from terrestrial plants! Does your trout taste of a hint of pine or oak?

· Tropical rains leach nutrients from Amazon soils. To learn where fresh nutrients come from, scientists followed the trail to the African desert.

· Ants do it. Termites do it. Fish do it. Even humans have been known to farm. Now amoebas can be added to the list of farmers.

· Where I live, everything has been covered by snow for over six weeks. What does all the de-icing salt on the roads do to local plant communities? Oh yes… it replaces them with different plant communities.

I'm yearning for Spring and flowers. Join me in celebrating how wild and cool flowers are:

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and -- most importantly -- visitors! Follow on Twitter:  -- a new story every day!



Message from Sally Walker ref. ZOOS' PRINT Magazine

As we told you earlier, we have curtailed the print version of ZOOS' Print and moved to web only. For our first issue we featured on two extremely productive organisations which ZOO, WILD and SAZARC are most closely associated with, e.g. IUCN SSC Conservation Breeding Specialist Group and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. We believe that if you get in the habit of checking their websites from time to time, you will find a very impressive and helpful lot of material.

We did not hear anything back from you after sending this in January and wondered if perhaps you did not open the issue. The instructions were not that noticeable or clear. We are sending again ....and request you to acknowledge if you received and opened the issue. The front page of ZOOS' PRINT will appear and to open it you just click on the image and it will download. OR you can find it also on the ZOOS' PRINT website,

We welcome your comments. We hope to incorporate a number of new ideas and features to ZOOS' PRINT web magazine. Next issue (February) will be about the SAZARC conference on 21st Century Crises and zoo preparedness to meet them. The March issue will be a more "regular" issue with many different subjects.

Apologies for lateness and any awkwardness. We will improve. Also, if you are not already on the mailing list for Journal of Threatened Taxa JoTT, and would like to receive it, please inform us with your email address and request or go to its website

ZOOS' PRINT magazine is free. If you have friends that you think might like to read it please forward a copy to them or send us their mail. If you wish to be taken off our list, please see instructions below.

Best wishes,

Sally Walker, Editor



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