Monday, March 21, 2011

Zoo News Digest 18th - 21st March 2011 (Zoo News 734)

Zoo News Digest 18th - 21st March 2011 (Zoo News 734)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

In the many years that I have been producing Zoo News Digest I don't believe I have seen as many newspapers reporting the same zoo story at the same time. I refer of course to the sad demise of 'Knut' the polar bear.

Peta are talking out of their rear end yet again.'Peta said: “We asked zoo authorities to move Knut. His premature death could have been avoided.”' Incredible. We have not yet had the results of the post mortem and yet they make such a statement. It is almost as if they knew something the rest of us didn't. Mind you I did not expect anything different from the likes of Peta. They like so many anti-zoo groups and individuals like to put the boot in when people who care are grieving. Here Peta are going one step further and grinding their heel into the face of those that cared. Following not so very far behind Peta are the Born Free Foundation with a slightly different slant of attack in 'A TRAGEDY FROM START TO FINISH'.

I must admit I was no special fan of Knut. Nothing against him in particular, I am sure he was a lovely little bear... but rather the hand rearing and ensuing complications which could have occurred. One thing I am especially thankful to Knut for is exposing greed. Zoos, good zoos should be exchanging or loaning animals for no money at all. This has to be 'quid pro quo' for the good of conservation, the long term maintenance of species and nothing to do with money. If a zoo has an especially successful publicity campaign and gets visitors through the gates and makes mega bucks then good luck to them. In any zoo animal exchange deal, which should/must be arranged by the EEP (or equivalent) it should be share of progeny, not cash, and in turn the progeny should move at the EEP recommendation too. Otherwise there really is no point at all is there?

I am delighted to see that sense has at last come to the fore in the Indian Zoo Elephant saga... see "Suparna Ganguly, member, Elephants Inspection Committee, set up by CZA, said that if zoos have proper facilities and natural conditions, the elephants will not be relocated." This is exactly as it should be. Why move any animal to anywhere which could be worse? The same should apply to any animal in any zoo anywhere in the world. The destination zoo should be able to offer facilities equal to or better than the one from which the animal is being moved. I am of course not referring to sizes of enclosure or dressing the destination up in titles like 'sanctuary' but of the things which really matter like quality of care.

Lambton Castle gets an animal related mention again after all these years. The Safari Park is of course long gone. Now a wedding venue. I do believe I recognise the young lady in the photo. Gosh doesn't time fly. Which reminds me I attended a college course in the same castle long before the Safari Park was a twinkle in anybody's eye.

Banning Farm Photos? How ridiculous. It will be zoo photos next...or somebody will get the wrong idea. Thinking back there was a discussion on Zoo Biology on this very subject some years back.

No further news on the Orangutans heading to Bangkok Safari World for their training as boxers.

Good to see the level of interest and response for the stricken zoos and aquariums in Japan. Zoos aside I had emails from concerned members of the public too.


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North East venue swaps lions for brides
BRIDES can now blush beneath the ramparts of a piece of North East history.
For grade II-listed Lambton Castle, near Burnmoor, is to become an upmarket wedding venue.
Grade I listed Biddick Hall, within the grounds, is also available for couples to hire for their magical day.
The 1,400-acre County Durham private estate, the ancestral seat of the Lambton family, is set to expand services for other events, such as classical concerts and parties, to raise money towards its upkeep.
It is a far cry from when it was a popular safari park.
Lambton Lion Park opened in 1972, although there were problems with animals escaping.
It closed in the early 1980s, a special Bring Back Lambton Lion Park page has been set up on social networking website Facebook.
“At the moment we have no plans to reintroduce lions to the Lambton estate,” said Bob Duff, events manager at Lambton Castle. “But who knows what could happen in the future?
“However, even without the lions, Lambton Castle is a very special place with a colourful and unique history.
“It’s also one of the most stunning 19th century castles in County Durham, with lovely grounds and wonderful interior rooms which lend themselves to any occasion from weddings to business conferences.
“We’re now excited to be entering a new phase in the castle’s history, and we’re delighted to be throwing open our doors to guests who appreciate art, music, culture and excellent cuisine in a beautiful and unique setting.”

Video of Knut - Taken the day before he died

Knut's last moments: Harrowing film of the death of the world's most famous polar bear emerges amid fears over his treatment
WARNING: Animal lovers will find this video extremely distressing, please do NOT view it if you are easily upset. We have chosen to include it because of the profound animal welfare issues raised by Knut's short life and and untimely death

Alarm raised over loss of wild animals
Wildlife conservancies in the Upper Eastern region have expressed concern over rampant poaching.
The private and community conservancies concentrated in Laikipia, Samburu and Isiolo called for stiffer penalties for those involved in the illegal trade in wildlife trophies if the war against poaching is to be won.
“The rate at which we are losing the elephant and rhino populations means that in the near future we might not have any of them left in Kenya,” said Dr Antony King of the Laikipia Wildlife Forum.
He was addressing representatives of more than 300 conservancies from across the country during a meeting in Nyeri.
The agenda of the forum was to push for the passage of the Wildlife Bill, which they said would boost conservation efforts.
Participants were taken through shocking statistics showing how the country’s elephant and rhino populations had drastically reduced, mostly due to poaching, over a 70-year period.
The workshop heard that the elephant population

States Consider Bans on Farm Photos
In the past decade, modern industrial agriculture has experienced a stream of negative media attention, a significant departure from the typical pastoral image of American farming. The livestock industry in particular has come under fire with the release of undercover videos exposing animal cruelty.
In 2004, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) secretly filmed a video revealing horrific images of workers at a West Virginia slaughterhouse kicking, stomping, and slamming live chickens against walls and floors. The video brought about a massive investigation of the slaughterhouse, as well as several firings of workers who had engaged in the abuse.
A few years later, in 2008, The Humane Society published a similar undercover, investigative video documenting the abuse of "downer" cattle, or cattle that are too sick or injured to stand

Not new but I like it:

'Lemurs are a bit like Hollywood stars: beautiful, but a bit stupid' Primate populations in the forests of Madagascar are declining rapidly. Dr Christoph Schwitzer, head of research at the Bristol Conservation & Science Foundation, talks about the battle to save species from extinction

Biodiversity Conservation: Zoos Urged to Breed Animals from Threatened Populations
Of around seven land vertebrate species whose survival in the wild is threatened one is also kept in captivity. These and other data on the protection of species in zoos and aquaria have now been revealed by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock.
Writing in the journal Science, the team of researchers and the International Species Information System (ISIS) advocate the establishment of targeted captive breeding programmes to supplement the protection of animals in the wild. To do this, zoos should team up in networks and shelter these animals, as a form of life insurance, until they can be released back into the wild.
The researchers used data from the International Species Information System (ISIS) to calculate how many of the endangered species can already be found at zoological gardens: 20 to 25 percent of all endangered mammal species are kept at zoos. The overall figure for birds is only slightly less than that, but is much lower for avian species that are acutely at risk of extinction: only nine percent of these are found in captivity. Only three percent of endangered amphibian species are kept in

Zoo boss asked by cops to dart vicious dogs to death
A FURNESS zoo owner has spoken of the moment he had to kill a pair of savage dogs after they attacked a teenager.
Lancashire police contacted David Gill, owner of the South Lakes Wild Animal Park, after two dangerous dogs turned on a man in a vicious attack.
Mr Gill travelled from Dalton to an area of Blackburn where he met a team of 60 police officers and an armed response unit.
Police told Mr Gill two dogs, possibly illegal pit bulls, had savaged a man.
The two dogs, called Coco and Dekker, were on the loose inside a terraced house and police were unable to bring them under control. Mr Gill, 49, said: “The mess inside the house was unbelievable, there was blood and bits of flesh everywhere from where the dogs had attacked the man. Police had managed to get him out but he had been very badly hurt.
“We decided to wait until the

THE rare Iberian lynx could soon be found roaming the British countryside following a radical proposal to save them from the brink of extinction.
With just 200 found living in southern Spain, the animal, which has distinctive leopard-like spots, is the world’s most endangered cat.
Professor Chris Thomas, of York University, believes Britain would be an ideal place to introduce the Iberian lynx and other species that are struggling to cope with climate change.
Writing in the science journal Trends In Ecology And Evolution, he presents a controversial plan to save endangered species, which also includes introducing to Britain the Spanish Imperial Eagle

Saving the missing Iberian lynx
Ten years ago, there were barely 100 Iberian lynx left. But an innovative Spanish conservation programme is rescuing them from the edge of extinction
It took a very short time for Dactil the Iberian lynx to prepare his dinner. The four-year-old male clamped his jaws on a rabbit's throat, there were a few twitches of his prey's legs and it was all over. Within minutes, the rabbit had been consumed. Then Dactil wandered off to rejoin his mate, Castanuela, inside their enclosure at the Olivilla breeding centre, near Santa Elena in Andalucía.
Such behaviour is difficult to observe in the wild. For a start, Lynx pardinus is a reclusive hunter that leads its life as far as possible from humans. The lynx, with its distinctive large, tufted ears and woolly side whiskers that grow thicker with age, is also extremely rare. Its territory across Spain and Portugal had already started shrinking in the 19th century, before numbers plunged drastically in the 20th. Habitat destruction, loss of prey and indiscriminate trapping by landowners brought this beautiful predator to the brink of extinction. Ten years ago, there were only around a 100 of them, making the Iberian lynx the world's most endangered species of cat.
But at Olivilla, an ambitious attempt is being made to transform the animal's fortunes. Here 32 lynxes – a substantial percentage of their total population –are provided with shelter with each cat's behaviour being monitored by more than 100 cameras dotted round the centre's 20 enclosures. These images are studied by staff working in a control room that has enough TV monitors to do justice

Russia lifts ban on polar bear hunting
Russia has legalised the hunting of polar bears for the first time in more than half a century, a move that critics say will put further pressure on the endangered mammal.
Roman Kopin, the governor of Russia's remote Chukotka region, signed a decree allowing the area's indigenous people to hunt and kill 29 polar bears each year, including 19 females.
Russian wildlife campaigners condemned the move, saying the polar bear was already threatened by a shrinking habitat and rampant poaching.
Varvara Semonova, a wildlife campaigner, said the decision would "threaten the survival of the polar bear in the Russian Arctic and will have not only ecological but serious social and political consequences for us."
The authorities defended the partial lifting of the ban, arguing that hunting polar bears for their meat and their fur was a traditional part of local Chukchi culture in the Russian Arctic. They said hunters would not be allowed to export

Russia Bans Winter Den Hunt for Bears, Countless Cubs
Today new "Rules of the Hunt" legislation was enacted in Russia, which will effectively end the cruel hunting practice of rousting bears from their dens during winter hibernation and then shooting the bears. Often, this hunting practice left tiny bear cubs orphaned, and the cubs would quickly die of starvation or freeze to death.
Since 1995, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW has campaigned to end the winter den hunt and to rescue, rehabilitate and release orphan bear cubs back into the wild. To date, IFAW has successfully released more than 150 cubs from its rehabilitation center in Bubonitsy, Tver region.
"The Rules of the Hunt legislation is a tremendous step forward for animal welfare in Russia and reflects the opinion of the Russian people that bears should be protected from this sort of hunting," said IFAW Russia director, Dr. Maria (Masha) Vorontsova. IFAW gathered more than 400,000 signatures against the winter den hunt and notified the Ministry of Natural Resources that the public wanted this kind of hunting to end.
The new law significantly reduces the hunting season for bears and specifically excludes the winter season when bears are hibernating

Park trophy hunting decimates hyaenas
SPOTTED hyaena packs in the Kwando Core Area of the Bwabwata National Park and in the forest in the Mudumu North Complex (MNC) are stable but exist at low density, a recent study has found.
The study on Spotted Hyaena Ecology and Human-Wildlife Conflict in the Caprivi Region was conducted by the Caprivi Carnivore Project (CCP).
Project leader Lise Hansen said it appears that the spotted hyaena population around human habitation areas of the MNC was fragmented and unstable and this was likely due to persecution and trophy hunting, which under most conditions cannot be practiced sustainably with this species due to the population dynamics.
“It is likely that trophy hunting of spotted hyaenas in conservancies is impacting on clan structure within the protected are of Mudumu National Park (MNP). The density of spotted hyaena throughout the Caprivi Region appears to be far lower than originally calculated,” said Hansen in the report.
The report suggested that present management practices like trophy hunting of spotted hyaenas should not be conducted within the boundaries of protected areas, particularly the Bwabwata National Park, which is the only stable habitat for the long-term conservation of spotted hyaenas in the region.
It said the present method of setting trophy-hunting quotas per conservancy to maximise benefits to the members rather than the sustainability of the hyaena population should be reassessed for spotted hyaenas.
The report argues that there is no scientific basis or justification for the present off-take, which is driven by community pressure and negative perception and is likely to be extremely damaging to the species.
Hansen said research efforts for 2011 will focus on areas adjacent to the core conservation areas of the Bwabwata National Park, to examine the impact of continued trophy hunting of spotted hyaenas within the park as well as in the vicinity of human settlement areas to assess the extent of human-wildlife conflict.
Additional hyaena clans using the Kwando

Zoo board: Few perks, big satisfaction
Zoological Society panel lacks diversity, but not passion for mission
Who would ever want this gig?
For one thing, it doesn’t pay a dime. Travel expenses? Sorry, but they’re not covered either.
Whenever there’s a big fundraiser, it’s expected that you pony up. That runs about $3,500 a year — at least.
Yet ...
Most everyone who gets tapped for a seat on the Zoological Society of San Diego’s board of trustees doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Far from it.
Robert Horsman is the latest person to be named to the 12-member board that runs the zoo, the Safari Park near Escondido and the zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. “I was flabbergasted,” said Horsman, 64, who was appointed in January.
Not that he should have been, perhaps. Horsman fits a familiar profile when it comes to most zoo board members — past and present.
He’s prominent in local society and successful in his line of work, which is finance. He’s white and middle-aged. He has volunteered for the zoo for years —in his case, raising funds.
“We look for people with a passion for the zoo,” said Dr. Frederick Frye, the board’s current president. “Robert has a passion for the zoo.”
The zoo is world-renowned. Nearly 5 million people visit it and the Safari Park annually.
So getting on the board that runs such a high-profile organization can be heady. One former board member, Albert Eugene Trepte, called the 12 seats “precious” in a 1985 story in the San Diego Tribune.
To land one, a person usually has to show serious commitment to the zoo over a number of years — even decades.
Frye. a retired pediatrician, served on various volunteer committees for the zoo starting in the 1970s. It wasn’t until 1993 that

Badminton players, morning walkers abuse zoo staff
Repeated requests and warnings by officials to morning walkers and badminton players to stop venturing into the Maharajbagh zoo premises fell on deaf ears. The matter took an ugly turn on Saturday when players barged into the Maharajbagh zoo office, abused staffers and threatened to bash up zoo officials for refusing permission to play inside the zoo premises.
Mahesh Pandey, livestock supervisor, filed a police complaint at 9.30am at the Sitabuldi police station on Saturday following threats from unknown persons. "This has been going on for many years. Our requests and warnings don't work as morning walkers continue to stray inside. Some of them even formed a club and started playing badminton adjacent to the cage of sambars till as late as 11.30am, without paying a penny for entry ticket or pass," informed zoo-in-charge Dr SS Bawaskar.
The zoo is officially open from 9am to 5.30pm but badminton players and joggers are seen inside the zoo premises as early as 5am and even past sunset. Helpless zoo staffers have a tough time keeping amorous couples under check too.
"Even the Central Zoo Authority officials from Delhi asked us to stop such activities within the zoo premises as noise disturbs animals. Zoo is meant for captive animal breeding and not for playing badminton. Morning walkers must not enter the zoo. Finally, fed up of these troublemakers, we deliberately damaged the area where they played. The angered

Radio collar unfolding mysteries of snow leopard
The joint venture of Wildlife department and some international organizations to tie satellite radio collar to a snow leopard in Chitral district provided unique opportunity to researchers to explore and study the obscure habits of rare big cat.
“Snow leopard is considered as cryptic in nature because the animal resides in one of the harshest and most inaccessible mountainous areas due to which it was almost impossible for wildlife biologist to explore its life,” said Muhammad Ali, deputy conservator, Wildlife Department, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Talking to APP, Muhammad Ali said the attempt to tie up satellite collar by Wildlife department, Global Environment Facility (GEF) and International Snow Leopard Trust provided a base to biologists to study and unfold the mysteries shrouding the life and habit of this elusive wild specie.
This obscure nature of the creature has led to it being labelled as the “Imperiled Phantom” by eminent wildlife biologists, remarked Muhammad Ali.
It was a first ever successful endeavor that a snow leopard was trapped in the mountainous Chiltral district

Sea otters a hit at Busch Gardens
It’s always fun, when traveling to different parts of the country, to see others have an appreciation for otters. Such was the case this past Monday at Busch Gardens near Tampa, Fla. People admired sea otters that came from Southeast Asia.
For officials at Busch Gardens, having the otters on their grounds means much more than just providing an opportunity for people to see these mammals. Organizers of the Busch Gardens Conservation Fund are among organizations working to protect the struggling sea otter population on California’s Central Coast.
“Sea Otter Awareness Week” celebrations are held in various parts of the country. Those events directly benefit sea otters and the diversity of marine wildlife. Those mammals depend on the coastal ecosystem for food and habitat.
Otters are members of the Mustelidae family of mammals, which also includes weasels, minks, ferrets, wolverines, skunks and badgers. Otters are semi-aquatic carnivores that inhabit every continent except Australia and Antarctica. Most otter species mainly live in freshwater habitats, including North American river otters such as those that were at one time more prevalent in Otter Tail County.
Sea otters and marine otters dwell almost exclusively in coastal regions. A recent issue of “Land, Sear and Air” described 13 otter species.
The North American River Otter is also known as the Common Otter. An adult river otter can weigh between 11 and 30 pounds. The river otter is protected and insulated by a thick, water-repellent coat of fur. This type of otter is versatile in the water and on land. The otter establishes a burrow (tunneling) close to the water’s edge in river, lake, swamp, coastal shoreline, tidal flat, or estuary ecosystems.
Their dens have many tunnel openings. One of the openings allows the otter to enter and exit the body of water. Female otters give birth in these underground burrows, producing litters of one to six young.
North American river otters, like most predators, prey upon the species that are the most readily accessible. Fish is a

SF Zoo Sees First Traffic Spike Since Tiger Attack
It's been a long, hard climb back to popularity for the San Francisco Zoo following a string of bad publicity.
After surviving the onslaught of national media and lawsuits involving a tiger attack that left one teenager dead and another two severely injured on Christmas day in 2006, the zoo has been doing what it can to clear its name.
Now the San Francisco animal sanctuary tells the San Francisco Examiner that it is starting to see a climb in attendance since its turnstiles slowed down in 2007.
After three years of consistent visitor decline, the zoo says it is ahead of pace for the first two months of the new year.
The zoo attracted 46,237 visitors

Knut dies: Animal rights group Peta blames Berlin Zoo
AN animal rights group has blamed Berlin Zoo for the death of its star polar bear Knut, who collapsed and died in front of a crowd of 660 visitors.
Peta attacked what it said was “intensive” breeding of polar bears in zoos and claimed putting him in an enclosure with three females led to “enormous stress”.
Knut, aged four, is thought to have died of a massive heart attack on Saturday afternoon.
He started to convulse as he entered a pool and floated ­motionless in the water for several minutes, as watching children began to cry.
An autopsy will be performed today

Jumbos unlikely be relocated from city zoo
The five elephants in Nehru Zoological Park may not be relocated to a sanctuary. Highly-placed sources said that Nehru Zoological Park was one among the zoos, which had written to Central Zoo Authority (CZA) requesting an inspection before the relocation is carried out. Awaiting an inspection, the authorities are confident that it is offering an appropriate environment for this largest mammal.
Besides, officials say that there is no progress in the matter ever since the CZA issued orders directing the authorities to relocate all the elephants in captivity to government-operated refuges even after a year-and-a-half. In fact, soon after its orders, as per the CZA directions, the authorities had also sent an estimate of Rs 98 lakh required for relocating the nine elephants in captivity to sanctuaries. The Nehru Zoological Park has five elephants including the female elephant Rajni that is owned by the Nizam's Trust. The zoos in Visakhapatnam and Tirupati have two elephants each.
Suparna Ganguly, member, Elephants Inspection Committee, set up by CZA, said that if zoos have proper facilities and natural conditions, the elephants will not be relocated.
"The problem is the elephants, which have been kept in captivity, need to be monitored. Some zoos in south India have good facilities with a large area for movement and grazing. We need to first evaluate and then take a decision," said Ganguly. She added that

St Patricks Day Enrichment

National Aquarium Volunteers Save $2.4M
Workers Serve Wide Range Of Tasks
Officials said volunteers have stepped up to help the National Aquarium, even with the economy slumping.
The Baltimore Sun reported that 853 volunteers and interns worked at the aquarium in Baltimore in 2010.
They worked the equivalent of 53 full-time jobs -- which saved the aquarium about $2.4 million.
Nancy Hotchkiss, the senior director of visitor experiences at the aquarium, said 2010 was a record year.
The oldest volunteer was 91, while the youngest volunteer was 14.
The volunteers take on a range of tasks. Some are certified divers who go under water to help feed some of the creatures


Call for Papers

For Dedicated Issue of AKF – UNGULATES
We are planning on producing a combined July/August 2011 edition of Animal Keepers’ Forum dedicated to ungulates. We will be working with the Ungulate TAGs in producing this dedicated issue. We would like those interested to submit manuscripts for consideration for inclusion in this dedicated issue. Possible topics might include the following:

• Ungulate Care and Management

• Managing multi-species habitats

• Managing single-sex herds

• Ungulate Hand-rearing

• Ungulate hoof care

• Ungulate operant condition

• Ungulate Enrichment
Papers should be submitted electronically in MS Word only to
Please use Times or Times New Roman font (10pt text body). Please put “Ungulate
Issue” in the subject line. Papers should be no more than 10 pages in length. Any charts and/or graphs should be submitted as separate jpg or tif files along with (but not imbedded in) the manuscript. We also encourage photos of your animals to include and these should also be submitted electronically as either high-resolution (minimum 300 dpi) jpg or tif files.

If you cannot submit your material electronically, you may submit your materials on a disk or CD sent to: Ungulate Dedicated Issue, AAZK, Inc., 3601 SW 29th St., Suite 133, Topeka, KS 66614-2054. If you cannot submit photographs electronically, you may send 3 x 5 inch prints to the same address. You should include proper photo credit for each photo and also suggested captions for each photo submitted.

Be sure to also include your complete contact information including name, address, email and a daytime phone where you may be reached if we have questions concerning your submission. Also be sure to include your facility and your job title at that facility.

Deadline for submission of articles for consideration for this special Ungulate Issue is May 15, 2011.


April 2011 AKF Table of Contents

About the Cover/Information for Contributors

Scoops and Scuttlebutt

Call for Papers for Ungulate Dedicated Issue

Coming Events

2011 Conference Updates/Information

Announcing Our Rewards Program

AAZK Announces New Members

Training Tales (Training the Trainer: Cooperative Hoof Trim)

Enrichment Options (Using Plants for Enrichment/Call for Manuscripts)

International Elephant Foundation: Playing a Key Role in Elephant Conservation

Chapter News

Keeper Profiles DVD Order Information

AKF Dedicated Five-Issue Combo Pack on Sale

Book Reviews (American Zoos During the Depression: A New Deal for Animals and

A Second Look at Books from the Past

Managing a South American Passerine Population in the Largest Spherical Rainforest in the World

Conservation/Legislative Update


Please help save the Mekong

Dear friends,

This is an urgent request for your support. A very crucial decision will soon be made in Southeast Asia that will determine the fate of the Mekong River and the millions of people in the region who depend on the river’s natural resources for their survival.

Soon a regional decision by the Governments of Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam will be made on whether or not to build the proposed Xayaburi Dam on the Lower Mekong River’s mainstream. The Prime Ministers of Laos and Thailand, will play a key role in determining whether or not this dam is built. Please, show your solidarity and support the people of the Mekong River by signing onto a letter at:

Thank you in advance for your help. Best regards,

Guadalupe Rodríguez


To see the prospectus and learn more please click



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