Saturday, March 5, 2011

Zoo News Digest 1st - 5th March 2011 (Zoo News 729)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 5th March 2011 (Zoo News 729)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

It must be an age thing but this year seems to be whizzing past all too quickly. I have been tied up the past couple of days and it has been a bit difficult to pull this together. Now I have a bit of catching up to do as well.

My grateful thanks to those to responded to this months appeal for donations. I will respond to each of you in the next couple of days.

I have been having a bit of a problem with my UK phone number. The easiest solution was to change it. I have done that now and it appears to be working fine. Until the next time I suppose. I seem to have a couple of dozen sim cards accumulated over the years.

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Zoo sea lions face legal hurdle
Riverbanks Zoo wants to build a new sea lion exhibit, but first zoo officials must get lawmakers to reverse a change to the state’s marine mammal ban that quietly made such displays illegal.
When South Carolina in 1992 passed the first-in-the-country ban on keeping dolphins and whales in captivity, the law’s wording allowed Riverbanks Zoo to keep displaying seals, sea lions and polar bears as it had since 1974.
But early last decade, when regulators attempted to combine all such regulations into the South Carolina Marine Resources Act, the wording in the ban was changed from “dolphins and whales” to “marine mammals.” There was little or no public discussion of the change.
The folks at Riverbanks didn’t notice it, and regulators never mentioned it to them in the nearly 10 years the zoo apparently was in violation of the law, said executive director Satch Krantz.
Riverbanks shut down its popular sea lion exhibit in 2009, saying the pool was outdated and expensive to maintain. At the time, Krantz said he hoped to build a large, modern sea lion exhibit during the zoo’s next expansion. That expansion since has been put on hold because of the slow economy.
Krantz said he first

Williams and Kates go free at London Zoo
Anyone called Will or Kate - or William or Catherine - will be given the chance to spend a free day out at the zoo to mark the royal wedding by hanging out with the giraffes, lions, and monkeys.

Mexico zoo destroys 114 birds due to avian virus
Mexican agricultural officials say they have euthanized 114 peacocks, ostriches and other birds at a zoo due to an avian virus.
The Agriculture Department's chief of animal health in Guerrero state says zoo officials reported the sudden, unexplained death of more than a dozen peacocks.
Wilfrido Najera Lomeli said Thursday that department officials detected the presence of Newcastle Disease and destroyed the birds.
They also included ducks, guinea fowl, pheasants, piegons, parrots and parakeets. Some were threatened species.
The zoo in the Guerrero state capital of Chilpancingo

Happy birthday, Nellie!
Marineland's famous Atlantic bottlenose is the oldest dolphin living in an aquarium
Neither 5-year-old Brody Woodard nor 58-year-old Nellie the dolphin thought much about history Sunday morning.
Woodard had a single purpose -- swimming with Marineland's Atlantic bottlenose dolphins in the indefatigable, 73-year-old theme park's 1.3 million gallons of seawater habitat. "They say 11:30," the blond-haired boy said of his scheduled swim as he clutched a padded railing between he and his fellow mammals. His mother Carrie Woodard said it was the first day he'd seen a dolphin anywhere but the ocean, except once, on the shore, dead in a fisherman's net.
Threatening the start time of Brody's first dolphin swim was a celebration of Nellie, the oldest dolphin in human care, who swam her 58th birthday Sunday at Marineland, 18 miles south of St. Augustine on State Road A1A.
"She's six months older than I am," said Bonnie Tyler, professional camera around her neck for clear images of Nellie. "She's still beautiful and I'm still beautiful. We're

Dartmoor Zoo slaughter man teaches equine dissection
A Devon zoo's meat processing facility is being used to teach veterinary nursing students about equine anatomy.
Dartmoor Zoological Park at Sparkwell, near Plymouth, is one of the first in the UK with an in-house butchering facility.
Teaching and practical dissection demonstrations are carried out by the zoo's slaughter man and a vet.
The zoo's meat processing and student lecture areas have been separated by a glass wall.
Dartmoor's three tigers eat up to 15kg of meat a day - equivalent to a large adult pony per tiger per week - and fresh meat is also given to the lions, bears, jaguars, lynx, cheetahs and wolves.
The butchering is carried out by slaughter man Andy Goatman who puts the animals down humanely off-site.
It was his idea to provide the lecture facility.
"Everyone has to learn, and normally these students only get to see small parts of the animal they are studying - here

Public letter from ZooMontana Board
The following is a public letter from ZooMontana Board President Ian McDonald. The Zoo must devise both a long-term and short-term funding plan by March 17 to keep its accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Here is his letter:
“When I think of community I think of Billings, the city I’ve called home for thirty years now. It is a place where I believe people care about their neighbors, draw strength from one another to build a diverse, safe and quality environment that we can all benefit from and grow in. It is a place I hope to build a career and raise a family in.
One thing I treasure about this Montana community is the varied cultural choices we have from the Yellowstone Art Museum to a place near and dear to my heart ZooMontana. When I was invited to join the ZooMontana Board of Directors over two years ago now I was thrilled to be a part of the zoo community and to make a difference in the place I call home. I have learned a lot about what it takes to make a zoo successful over the past two years and I feel its time ZooMontana’s board is transparent in what it will take to have a thriving zoo in our community.
ZooMontana is only one of seven Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) accredited zoos in the United States that does not receive public funding. AZA accreditation is much more than just a plaque on the wall – it is vital to the zoo’s mission because it enables the zoo to provide our community with the opportunity to experience rare and exotic, endangered species such as our Amur Tigers and Red Pandas. Without accreditation, we would lose these species and be required to re-home them at the recommendation of the loaning institution and species survival coordinators.
Admissions and memberships alone have never been sufficient to fund the zoo, nor will they be enough going forward. Not even the best known zoos in the country live off admissions and memberships alone i.e. San Diego Zoo, The National Zoo in Washington, DC, or the Columbus Zoo. The model of ZooMontana is out dated in the

Polar bear panoply
$31-M zoo project to bring northern Manitoba to ’Peg
The new polar bear exhibit at the zoo will let visitors feel as if they’re swimming with the Arctic beasts.
The province and the Assiniboine Park Conservancy unveiled detailed designs for the $31-million project announced last year as part of the Assiniboine Park Zoo redevelopment. The project involves the $25-million Journey to Churchill Arctic polar bear exhibit and the $6-million International Polar Bear Conservation Centre the provincial government believes will put Manitoba at the forefront of Arctic conservation and polar bear research.
The enclosure will be a marked improvement on the old setup that last housed polar bear Debbie until her death at 42 in late 2008.
Visitors will be able to watch bears interact from all angles, on ground and in water via a walk-through transparent viewing area.
The new exhibit will cover 10 of 80 acres at the zoo and is expected to open by fall 2013. The new space will be able to facilitate up to six adult bears and any cubs born on-site.
Premier Greg Selinger touted the improvements as world-class.
“It will make Manitoba and Winnipeg a destination for people from all around the world,” he said.
The outdoor portion will feature a tundra area with motorized buggy rides to see the bears up close in a much more realistic environment than the previous exhibit. The indoor interpretive centre will offer up a dome-style aurora borealis theatre and numerous interactive

Flooding kills falcon, wrecks building at Ohio zoo
Flooding 4 feet deep has destroyed a building at Cleveland's zoo and has killed a peregrine falcon Monday.
Spokeswoman Sue Allen tells The Plain Dealer that Monday's flooding on the Big Creek was some of the worst she's seen during 21 years with the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The creek runs through the zoo.
Officials say the falcon died when water filled a zoo amphitheater and the bird couldn't get to safety.
The large service building that was wrecked was the operations center for the zoo's parking lot attendants, cashiers, and ticket takers.
Allen was unable to provide a damage estimate.
Flooding was a problem statewide

US endangered status sought for African lions
A coalition of wildlife advocates has sought US endangered status for the African lions. They say the battle to save the animals from extinction in their homeland should begin in the United States.
The group claims trophy hunting, or killing lions for sport, is one of the biggest factors contributing to the declining numbers of African lions.
The animals are already threatened by increasing human encroachments and disease. The group also says the United States is the leading importer of lions and lion parts.
Wildlife conservation groups have filed a petition with the Department of Interior to list the animals as Endangered under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA).
Adam Roberts, executive vice president of conservation group Born Free USA, says listing the animal as Endangered in the United States would make it harder

Hotel guests pay to feed otters at Durrell for a year
Guests at a Jersey hotel who paid £1 extra on their room bill raised enough to feed a family of otters for a year.
The Grand Hotel collected £1,818 from the end of October 2010 to the end of January 2011.
The money raised will feed Durrell's growing family of Asian short-clawed otters for one year.
The otter pups are one of the most recent additions to Durrell and it is hoped they will be coming out of their hide over the next few weeks.
They were born to proud parents Bintang and Bulan.
The optional £1 pledge is added to guests' final hotel bill and is donated directly to Durrell.
The organisers hope to raise up to £10,000 in a year

Brewer donates $10,000 to zoo
Dr. Kevin Brewer of Brewer Dental Center came forward today with a $10,000 donation to ZooMontana.
Brewer handed the check off to the zoo's board director and fellow dentist, Ian McDonald, this afternoon.
He's also challenging other businesses in Billings to pitch in to help keep the zoo running in Billings.
"The zoo's going under, or, so to speak, potentially and we can't let that happen," said Brewer. "And, I'm going to step up and I'm going to challenge the

Canadian eggs key to return of whooping cranes to Louisiana
A landmark, bi-national project to reintroduce the endangered whooping crane to its historic marshland habitat in Louisiana has been launched thanks, in part, to the efforts of wildlife experts at the Calgary Zoo, who have carefully fostered dozens of eggs from a captive-breeding centre for transport to the U.S.
"The number of birds we're putting back out in the wild is very significant," the zoo's senior curator, Bob Peel, told Postmedia News. "We're really proud of it."
The planned Gulf Coast colony of cranes represents the most promising initiative in years to help secure the long-term survival of North America's tallest bird. The species had not been seen in the wild in Louisiana for more than 60 years before the first 10 individuals in the new flock were released in late February at the state's White Lake conservation area.
"We must make the co-ordinated effort to restore species that have been decimated by man-made or natural changes to wildlife habitat," state wildlife secretary Robert Barham said in a Feb. 22


Fateh Singh Rathore
Fateh Singh Rathore, who died on March 1 aged 72, fought a valiant but distinctly uphill battle to save India’s dwindling tiger population, becoming in the process one of India’s most revered “tiger wallahs”.
In 1973 Rathore created a tiger sanctuary at Ranthambhore, about 300 miles southeast of New Delhi in the Indian state of Rajasthan. Once a private hunting ground for maharajas, the 155-square-mile enclave of forest and scrub became India’s most famous and visited tiger preserve — and a key battleground in a desperate fight to save the country’s national symbol from extinction.
When Rathore arrived at Ranthambhore, there were thought to be just three or four of the animals left. In 1976 he negotiated the resettlement of 13 villages containing some 10,000 families from inside the reserve to a new village outside and, four years later, secured bans on baiting the tigers and on night-time driving. Before long the numbers of tigers began to recover. In 1980 Ranthambhore sanctuary was declared a national park and in 1982 India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi presented Rathore with the Project Tiger conservation award.
A striking figure with a large handlebar moustache, Rathore was never seen without an olive-coloured

Carnivorous Plants Eat Poop From Tiny Bats
In a bizarre example of a symbiotic relationship, tiny bats in Borneo have been found using a carnivorous plant as a toilet, feeding the pitcher plant with their droppings, while they safely roost in the plant’s traps.
Ulmar Grafe, an associate professor at the Universiti Brunei Darussalam, was researching the pitcher plant — a giant, carnivorous vine with deep, pitfall cups that are used to trap prey — for a study published in Biology Letters. Grafe wanted to find out how the pitcher managed to find the nitrogen needed to survive in the nutrient-poor peat swamps of Borneo in southeast Asia.
His team found Hardwicke’s woolly bat — a tiny, four gram animal no bigger than a car key — consistently sleeping in the carnivorous plant’s traps during the day. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a partner or with a child. Roosting on top of each other, two or three bats could snugly fit in the pitchers.
But the plant wasn’t getting its nutrients by munching on the tiny bats. In fact, the plant has adapted to stop the winged critters from tumbling down into the bottom of the trap and drowning in the digestive fluid. The vine’s pitchers have a tapered shape and an unusually low amount of fluid, to stop the bats accidentally becoming dinner. That also

Spotted! The elusive Sunda clouded leopard of Sumatra is caught on film for the first time
A rare and elusive big cat discovered just four years ago has been filmed in Sumatra for the first time.
The camera-shy Sunda clouded leopard has finally been snapped by a camera trap in Indonesia's Berbak National Park on the island of Sumatra.
The 22-second-long video footage shows the rare cat snaking its way through the dense jungle undergrowth.
And it provides evidence that the predator has adapted to living in tree-tops -unlike some leopards it has a long tail that ensures balance on branches.The cat also relies on long claws and highly flexible ankles to scramble among the trees - and even shimmy down tree trunks like a squirrel.
'This footage is further evidence

Plans to cull mink menace
A PROJECT to rid north Kent's marshes of a furry killer has been proposed by conservationists.
The Kent Wildlife Trust says American mink are partly to blame for the decline in the number of threatened water voles around the Hoo Peninsula and Sheppey.
Mink started breeding in the area when some escaped in the 1950s, having been imported for their fur.
Now the trust is proposing to clear the predators with floating traps, that entice them

Time to end this exotic circus farce
A LION sits looking forlorn in a cage while its companions pace up and down, menaced by dogs teasing them outside their enclosure.
In another cage a monkey chews on a bit of grass it picked up through the bars.
But in eight hours it will be showtime and these animals will be centre stage as one of the main attractions.
These lions are the opening act at Stardust Circus - one of the few circuses in Australia to use exotic animals.
The RSPCA is calling for a state-wide ban on exotic animals in circuses and wants to make its campaign an election issue. The RSPCA's concerns are not directed at the treatment of the animals, which meet the requirements of the National Circus Standards, but against all use of lions and monkeys in circuses because the requirements of circus life are not compatible with the physiological, social and behavioural needs of these sorts


The book is available from the Zoo shop & from the Zoo website.

· or you can send a cheque made payable to ‘Bristol Zoo Enterprises’ to Maggie Pearson, Bristol Zoo, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA.

· It costs £15 (plus P&P).

· The Zoo is also appealing for old film footage that people may have of the Zoo.

· If you have old film footage of Bristol Zoo, send an email to

Vivid stories, world firsts and creature capers from bygone eras have been revealed in a new book celebrating the rich history of Bristol Zoo Gardens.

Published to celebrate the Zoo’s 175th anniversary this year, the colourful, hardback book charts the origins of the zoo and its opening in 1836, through 18 decades and two world wars, the ‘Animal Magic’ years with Johnny Morris, to the present day.

With over 190 pages and more than 350 photos, “An Illustrated History of Bristol Zoo Gardens” goes on sale this week (March 7, 2011).

It includes stories such as the escapee buffalo which ran amok through the city streets in 1838, the opening of the world’s first nocturnal house in 1953, and many more tales of the Zoo’s various famous inhabitants including babies born in the Zoo such as tigers, leopards, jaguars, okapis, sloths, rhinos, gorillas, orang-utans and boa constrictors; many of which are now rare and had never been bred in the UK or Europe before.

The in-depth book also includes special sections dedicated to Alfred the gorilla, Johnny Morris, okapis, great apes, zoo babies and the nationally important 12-acre botanical gardens, as well as a pull-out map showing the Zoo’s planned layout before it was built.

The book was written and compiled by Zoo historians and enthusiasts, Alan Ashby and Tim Brown, along with Bristol Zoo’s Head of Research, Christoph Schwitzer.

It includes a foreword by world-famous television comedian and actor, John Cleese, who went to school at Clifton College, next door to the Zoo, and has been a supporter of Bristol Zoo ever since.

I spent many hours wandering round the zoo gardens, watching the animals close-up and learning about their behaviour,” he said. “This happy experience instilled in me a lifelong interest in the natural world.

Of course, it is embarrassing to recall that in the 1950s, the animals were often kept behind bars in cramped cages. Nowadays, thank heavens, zoos display animals in as natural surroundings as possible, and the concern for their health and wellbeing is, in my experience, deeply impressive. Bristol Zoo has led this transformation in the way animals are treated, and it is recognised throughout the zoo world as having had a major contribution to this change.”

He added: “Another transformation has been the growing awareness of the importance of conservation, and Bristol Zoo now plays its part in this by working to ensure that many species which would otherwise become extinct will still be here for our great-grandchildren to marvel at".

This work is carried out not only within the zoo gardens, but also by supporting conservation projects for primates in Colombia, lemurs in Madagascar, forest birds in the Philippines and penguins in South Africa. Nevertheless, the brutal truth is that species are becoming extinct in the wild, and increasingly we shall only be able to see and study them in zoos, which will become sanctuaries.”

Alan Ashby, who is art editor of Antiquexplorer magazine, said producing the book was a unique opportunity to tell the fascinating history of one of the world's best and oldest zoological gardens.

Working on this book has been a joy,” he said. “Bristol Zoo Gardens is one of the oldest and most important zoos in the world, yet there is very little published material on its history.

While researching the book, Alan discovered many previously-unseen photos, illustrations and archive documents, such as the never-before-published photo of a rare gerenuk (a species of antelope) with its keeper in 1956.

He added: “Walking around today's progressive, up-to-date zoo is an activity enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, myself included. However, now that I have a greater understanding of the zoo's rich past, I’ve realised that visiting this wonderful place can be even more rewarding.”

As part of its 175th birthday year, Bristol Zoo has teamed up with BAFTA-winning animation and production company, ArthurCox, on a project that will collate archive film, audio and photographic material from the local community to create a film which enables viewers to travel through Bristol Zoo’s history.

The Zoo and ArthurCox are now appealing for old film footage that people may have from Zoo visits from years gone by.

Kaia Rose, a producer at ArthurCox, said: “We want your film footage - from your attics, from your grandparents’ cine reels, or from family outings in summer. If we use your material then we will have it transferred and you will not only receive your film back but a digital copy to watch too.”

She added: “You can also choose to have a copy of your film deposited at the Bristol Record Office to be kept in its archives. You may not think your film is important, but it really is, and it will allow personal histories to inform this project and the 175th anniversary of Bristol Zoo.”

Bristol Zoo’s new book, “An Illustrated History of Bristol Zoo Gardens”, is available priced at £15.00 from the shop at Bristol Zoo, from the Zoo website at  or by sending a cheque made payable to ‘Bristol Zoo Enterprises’ to Maggie Pearson, Bristol Zoo, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 3HA.

If you have old film footage of Bristol Zoo, send an email to  or phone Kaia Rose at ArthurCox Ltd on 0117 373 2184.


2 weeks!?! - Actually Less Now!!!!!

Yes, there are only 2 weeks left to catch the Early Registration price for the 2011 ABMA Annual Conference! The conference will be held in Denver Colorado, April 17th - 22nd. Be sure to register and book your room for the conference NOW! After March 15th, prices will go up, and rooms will be scarce!

And don't forget - we have 2 events happening before the conference: a TAGteach primary certification seminar April 15th and 16th, and our preconference trip with avalanche deployment search and rescue dogs on April 17th.

Visit: , hover over the Annual Conference tab at the top, and click on 2011 Conference.

There is a lot of information on the website, and we will continue to update this as the conference approaches, so check back often! Any questions? Feel free to contact us at


For more information please contact Sabrina Brando



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