Sunday, April 24, 2011

Zoo News Digest 22nd - 24th April 2011 (Zoo News 744)

Zoo News Digest 22nd - 24th April 2011 (Zoo News 744)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

"So overall, are wild animals happier? While there is a lot more science that can be done to answer that question, the answer seems to be: no, not if they’re cared for well in captivity. The more we study animal behaviors, the better we get at figuring out what they need to pursue their own happiness, even when they are not allowed to be ‘free.’" (see link below Bambi or Bessie: Are wild animals happier?)
.... Something I have always believed. The important thing here is that the zoo in which they are held captive IS a good zoo and not just a run of the mill ordinary zoo. The problem is that some of the zoos which I have visited really believe that they ARE good zoos and to be frank there NOT. I am sure that the owners and staff have their hearts in the right place but, to be frank, it is NOT good enough. Two examples would be:
Residence Inn Mini Zoo at Tagaytay and  Malabon Zoo in Manila in the Philippines

It often strikes me that 'alike' meetings or conferences scheduled so close together is a huge pity. Not only can it be impossible to attend both because of the distances involved but the costs of two meetings close together are prohibitive too. Take a look at 'Zoo Conferences, Meetings, Courses and Symposia'. If you have something to include please send it to me. It is surprising the number of people who don't bother. Time permitting I search these things out because I am providing a service to the world zoo community. Zoo News Digest is read by more zoo people than any other publication. It strikes me that if you want the people at the conference, meeting or symposium then the way to get the word out is to spread the information far and wide. Thanks.

The link to the story about Longleat may not at first appearances have anything to do with zoos until half way down when we reach this statement:
"There is talk of “leveraging the brand” and even of opening “Longleats” across Europe. At one point he says: “Our core clientele, frankly, are children.” What does it mean? A resurrection of the Safari Park?

I always find Wildlife Middle East News interesting as I have long term connections and interest with that part of the world. In the latest issue (see below) I especially liked the following statement from Sh Butti Bin Juma Al Maktoum. A gentleman I have met a few times and whose collection I have visited.
"There needs to be more coordination between the government and private collections in the region. There is simply not enough connectedness at the moment."
So very true. There needs to be less competion to make the biggest, most and more and concentrate on co-operation and manage the breeding programmes according to the needs of the species rather than the needs of the collections.

I am sure Richard Branson's heart is in the right place (he does not need the publicity) but I believe his Conservation Plan for Lemurs is the wrong move. I don't want to see any species of Lemur die out but to move them to Moskito island means for sure that some endemic is going to hit the dust.
I reckon the project will go ahead though because money talks and surrounds itself with yes men who will do as it asks. It would seem to me that there are experts and 'experts' who are being involved and being quoted here. I will listen to both in fairness....but.

Polar Bears in Chiang Mai? Interesting.

I dont know about deep psychological damage but I know for a fact that people dressed in strange costumes can scare the bejeebers out of chimpanzees and cause other animals to panic. In some collections they are used to such things but in others they are not.... so yes Edinburgh zoo was right to refuse entry...regardless of medical conditions.

A message to 'Tiger Touch' re "What makes this sanctuary unique is the fact that Nala, the lioness, and Det, the tiger, harmoniously cohabit in one big cage." It is hardly unique as other totally irresponsible collections have done and continue to carry out such malpractice. Please separate or spay or castrate. Lets not have another bunch of Tigons....please!!! And unless your cats are part of an official breeding programme then you are doing nothing for conservation.

I am all in favour of DNA testing as a tool to managing populations. It is important that we make best use of the genetic diversity available to us. It is worrying though to read that one place bred over 100 Siberian Tigers in 2010 and a 1000 since 1996 ...when it started with just 8 animals!!! Where are they now?


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Would we still be fishing bluefin tuna if they were as cute as pandas?
If bluefin tuna were as cute and cuddly as giant pandas, maybe governments would be a little more prompt to protect them. With this in mind, the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd launched an awareness-raising campaign titled: “When you see a Bluefin Tuna, think Panda", featuring a series of bloody fishing scenes where the tunas have been replaced by the black and white bears. Wildlife conservation group WWF launched a similar campaign, featuring bluefins wearing various endangered species masks.

Photo credit to the article above

Mary the elephant has large abdominal tumors
The Little Rock Zoo is sad to announce that its beloved elephant, Mary, has been diagnosed with inoperable tumors in her abdominal area.
Elephant care expert, Dr. Dennis Schmitt of Missouri State University, was called to Little Rock after Mary was showing signs of lethargy. Dr. Schmitt confirmed the terminal diagnosis.
Zoo veterinarian, Dr. Marilynn Baeyens, says that tests also confirm the presence of carcinoma cells and added that the tumors are likely the result of Mary's old age.
Baeyens describes Mary's condition as "touch and go." Mary will be treated with medicine to ease discomfort and will be closely monitored by Zoo staff. She is still eating, playing in the mud and with enrichment items, and can be seen on exhibit.
Even though Mary is 60-years-old and has already outlived many of her captive counterparts, her diagnosis is still difficult news for Zoo staff. Elephant keepers have a strong bond with their elephants and Mary's keepers are no different.
Mary is an important member

The worst zoo I ever saw
I feel sorry for my Harari friends.
During my stay in Harar, Ethiopia, they were so hospitable, so eager to ensure I had a 100% positive impression of their city and country. For the most part I did, and I left for the capital Addis Ababa with lots of great things to say about Ethiopia.
They should have warned me not to visit the Lion Zoo in Addis Ababa.
It's billed as a natural wonder, where you can see rare Ethiopian black-maned lions descended from the pride that was kept in Haile Selassie's palace. In reality, it's a sad display of animal cruelty and neglect.
The lions, primates, and other animals are kept in undersized cages with bare concrete floors. They look bored, flabby, resigned. Several of them look sick. Visitors shout at the listless animals or even throw pebbles to get them to move. Some toss packets of chocolate or potato chips to the monkeys and laugh as they tear the packages apart to get to the food inside.
The worst are the lions, proud carnivores, kings of the wilderness, reduced to trapped objects of amusement for bored city dwellers who don't give a shit about nature. The lions lie around most of the time, doing nothing. Occasionally one will get its feet, shake its dirty mane, take a few steps

Bolivia to ‘make world history’ by granting rights to Mother Nature
Bolivia is preparing to pass a new law that could lead to citizens challenging environmental destruction in court.
A Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra (The Law of Mother Earth) would grant nature the same rights as humans, according to The Guardian.
The country will establish 11 new rights for nature, including: the right to exist, the right to continue natural cycles, the right to clean water and air, the right to be free of pollution, and the right not to have cellular structures altered or genetically modified.
The law will also give nature the right "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities."
"It makes world history," Bolivian Vice-President Alvaro García Linera said. "Earth is the mother of all."
"It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony

Thai Customs Seize 175 Smuggled Anteaters
On Wednesday, Thai customs officers confiscated about 175 pangolins smuggled from Malaysia worth more than $66,000.
The pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, were kept in nets and cages.
Officials say they were hidden in a pick-up truck to be sold in third-party countries.
Customs officials have confiscated smuggled shipments of endangered animals four times in less than two months.
[Prosong Poothanet, Director General, Thai Customs Office]:
"Nowadays, custom officers focus on prevention of drugs and banned wildlife trade. We can often arrest them. We hope they will stop. If they try to sell them, but cannot make any profit, they might stop one day.”
Pangolins are mostly found in Southeast Asia where some people believe that its meat and blood can enhance sexual power.
The seized pangolins will be sent to a reh


Bonobos Bande-annonce 1 by toutlecine

Mad about the bear: why are we fascinated by pandas?
With a breeding pair set to take residence at Edinburgh Zoo, our reporter meets a man who says there's more to it than just looking like a real-life cuddly toy
SO, WHAT'S black and white and has got us far more excited than the Royal Wedding ever could? It's got to be the giant panda, or more specifically a particular breeding pair of giant pandas. Since it was confirmed that this other royal couple – Tian Tian and Yangguang – are to take up residence at Edinburgh Zoo, the pair have barely been out of the headlines.
Why do these beasts elicit such excitement and curiosity? Why, when Edinburgh Zoo is already home to a spectacular array of lions and tigers and bears (oh my) are these animals guaranteed to get the turnstiles spinning at record speeds?
Author Henry Nicholls will attempt to answer these questions in his talk, The Way of the Panda, as part of the Edinburgh International Science Festival this evening. Nicholls, a panda expert, is fascinated by our fascination with pandas and will set out to explore the political and historical significance of these real-life cuddly toys, whose story incorporates politics, corruption, death and scandal.
Indeed everything but – if one of the many myths surrounding them is to be believed – sex.
Pandas have a rather undeserved reputation for being bad at bonking.
Then there's the fact that, thanks in part to a freak gene that means they probably can't taste flesh, they're carnivores who only eat bamboo. As such, the average panda has to spend half its day sitting around munching on bamboo in order to ingest enough calories. In short, the panda seems to be something of an evolutionary folly.
So why, when this celibate vegetarian appears to be unwilling to play its own part in the propagation of the species, do we revere it above all other endangered animals? "Of course, there are the basic aesthetic explanations," explains Nicholls. "There's the baby-like body proportions, the big round eyes and fluffy ears, the fact that they're quite playful, particularly when they're young, that they're not fierce. But there are loads of other creatures which have never reached the appeal of this one, so that begs the question 'why the panda?' I think it's for a series of historical quirks. A sequence of historical events propelled the panda into quite a formidable cultural position. There's a whole series of events, but history could just have been different, and then we wouldn't revere the panda as we do."
One such pivotal event was the communist party coming to power in 1949 in the People's Republic of China. They were looking to create a national symbol for the new modern China, and needed something which was strongly, identifiably Chinese, but with no connections to the country's imperial past. With all evidence suggesting that humans have been aware of the giant panda's existence for less than 150 years, it seemed like a perfect choice.
"The panda was only formally discovered in 1869 and there is no artistic rendition of it until the 20th century," says Nicholls. "This was very important for the story of the panda because it had no associations with imperial China. It was already obvious that it looks great, and the fact that it was rare and difficult to spot meant that there was a sense of allure around this mysterious creature, this big, big mammal that you can't see."
It wasn't just the communist party who decided to take the panda on as their symbol. In the 1960s, the West got on board when the panda became the symbol of the World Wildlife Fund. Ironically, they didn't choose the animal because it was endangered – at that point no-one really knew that it was – but primarily because it was beautiful, eye-catching, and black-and-white, therefore perfect for printing on their literature.
Indeed it was 18 years before the charity engaged in any panda work.
Advertisers quickly got on board too. The panda's image has been used to sell electronic goods, fizzy drinks, biscuits, liquorice and cigarettes.
Among other reasons given by scientists as to why we are so obsessed with this particular creature is that they remind us of ourselves. They have a special "pseudo thumb

Zoo's rhino heading to Japan for breeding
A white rhinoceros at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo will be moving to a safari park in Japan on Monday.
Zoo director Joe Clawson said “Tank,” a 4,000-pound rhino, has been a resident of the zoo since 2008.
“We have to say bon voyage to our good friend, Tank,” Clawson said. He said Tank had been at the zoo on loan to give him time to grow up.
“He is now going to Japan, along with a new girlfriend, to start a genetic line in that country,” Clawson said. He said most animals that are born in zoos will live their entire lives in zoos.
Clawson said to help control the animal population, zoos must manage how and when animals reproduce. Of great importance is the genetics. Zoos keep stud books, a record of the genealogy of all the animals in collection. They can use these books to look up how closely related animals a

Company in America launches Taser 'bear stun gun'
The company that makes Tasers has unveiled a version of the device designed for use on large animals.
It can temporarily incapacitate mammals like bears and moose and is designed to increase the safety of wildlife workers and park rangers.
The $2,000 (£1,250) Wildlife Taser has a range of up to 35ft (10m) and can fire three shots without reloading.
Taser says the new device will save lives by reducing the need to use guns to kill or tranquilize.
"It is designed to incapacitate larger animals more effectively and safer than current animal control tools," said Rick Smith, CEO of Taser International.
The laser-sighted weapon is based on the company's most advanced police Taser, the X3, but is optimised to work on large animals with thick hides.
Like other Tasers, it delivers an electric shock by shooting two electrode darts attached to conductive wires.
The subject's motor nerves are immediately affected and the brain is unable to send signals to the muscles until the charge is turned off.
Tests in Alaska, and an incident in Oregon involving a trapped elk, suggest that the device is effective in subduing large animals.
Police use of Tasers on humans

Zoo Volunteers

GVI Gains Unique Access to Panda Project in China
A new volunteer project has been established to help conserve the last remaining Qinling pandas, a subspecies of the giant panda. According to WWF China, there are only around 200-300 of the Qinling panda left in the wild following the destruction of habitat, a lack of conservation resources, and poaching.
There have been grave concerns over the future of the species as China continues its rapid economic development. The Western China Development Programme in particular is expected to increase the pressure on the survival of the remaining pandas in the area. The Qinling panda population is especially fragile, since it is distributed in a separate mountain range with little connection to others.
However those intent on preventing the extinction of the giant panda have made some progress. In late 2002, the Shaanxi provincial government officially sanctioned five new panda reserves and five panda corridors to link panda populations, increasing protected areas in Qinling by 130,000 hectares (Source: There are now over 30 giant panda reserves in China, protecting

Elephant meat for hungry prisoners
PRISONERS in the country’s overcrowded jails may soon be fed with elephant meat if a proposal by the Justice and Legal Affairs ministry to curb the shortage of protein in prisons is accepted by government.
The ministry is proposing the culling of the “over-populated” elephants and supply the meat to prisons where inmates have had meals without meat for years. The country’s prison dietary requirements are said to be far below international standards and what is required by the law. Inmates alternate sadza with cabbages or beans as their main meal.
Unconfirmed reports were that prisoners had gone for four years without meat.
In an interview last week, Deputy Minister of Justice Obert Gutu said while “things have slightly improved in the prisons and prisoners are getting three meals a day”, there were still limitations in terms of the dietary requirements.
“The meals do not meet the approved dietary standards as stipulated by the law. In one of our meetings it was discussed extensively how the problem could be solved,” said Gutu. “It was at this meeting that the ministry and the Prison Services Commission considered elephant meat as an option. It was agreed that since experts say that there is an overpopulation of elephants in the country

Bambi or Bessie: Are wild animals happier?
We, as emotional beings, place a high value on happiness and joy. Happiness is more than a feeling to us - it’s something we require and strive for. We’re so fixated on happiness that we define the pursuit of it as a right. We seek happiness not only for ourselves and our loved ones, but also for our planet and its creatures.
Sure, campaigns for Animal Liberation take this to the extreme. They believe that all animals "deserve to lead free, natural lives." But extreme animal activists aren’t the only ones who think animal happiness is important. They’re not even the only ones that think animals have some level of right to be free. Many people are against zoos because they feel it’s wrong to keep animals in captivity. I’ve even heard arguments for hunting as an alternative to farming livestock, because at least the wild animals lived happily prior to their death, while the poor cows or chickens suffered because they are never allowed to be free. And let’s be honest: who didn’t watch Free Willy and feel, at least for a moment, that every animal we have ever put in a cage or a tank should be let go?
The core idea behind all of this is the belief that animals in nature are truly happier than animals in captivity, even than domesticated ones. But are they? I mean, really?
Happiness is hard enough to define in people, let alone in an animals. You can’t just ask them how they are feeling. Instead, we tend to qualify happiness in animals as a lack of chronic stress. Stress, unlike happiness, is very easy to measure. You can look for decreases in overall health in just about any kind of creature. You can keep an eye out for neurotic behaviors, and measurements of hormone levels of cortisol, norepinephrine, adrenaline and other "stress" hormones provide a quantified means of measuring stress. Though lack of stress doesn’t guarantee "happiness", it’s the closest we can get.
The idea, in particular, that livestock could be happier than wild animals is a hard thing to grasp, because as people, we can’t imagine being kept simply to be used. The idea of having no control over how we are used by another, even if we’re given everything we want now, seems unbearably cruel - but it’s not the same for animals. Domesticated animals don’t feel stress about the future, because they don’t have an understanding of their future in

Panda-monium in Switzerland
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) is turning 50, and the Swiss National Museum in Zurich threw a quadrilingual party (sorry Romansch, English is the 4th language) last night to celebrate today’s opening of a summer-long exhibition about the history of the organization. The party’s guest roster included some very A-list taxidermy like a magnificent Bengal tiger from Burma, an elegant polar bear, and a covert of coots from Coto Doñana. A few living celebrities made an appearance as well, namely ‘Chocolate’ the very free-range chicken-turned-mascot for the Swiss cooperative grocery chain Migros, so popular she has 53,000 friends on Facebook.
But make no mistake, this was and is a panda party. There were almost as many pandas there as there were remaining in the wild—1,200 according to WWFs figures. These partying pandas included the original WWF logo ink-sketches by Sir Peter Scott, Giant Panda from Andy Warhol’s 1983 Endangered Species screenprints, an adorable taxidermy baby panda from the Zoological Museum of The University of Zurich, and Panda Eyes, a very cool motion-sensor-activated art piece by Jason Bruges Studio, assembled from a hundred iconic WWF Panda change banks.
The exhibition, debuting today, is not your ordinary eco-family-friendly museum show. The landmark exhibition designed by Zurich architects Ralph Meury, Andrin Schweizer, and design-firm Büro4 opens with the dramatic Burning Room, a simulated living room on fire which forces visitors to experience the loss of

Critically endangered leopard filmed in northeast forest
A leopard of a critically endangered species was filmed for the first time in northeast China's Jilin Province, local authorities said Monday.
Cameras on the Sino-Russia border captured a roaming Far Eastern leopard in Hunchun City on April 13, said Yu Changchun, head of the environment protection bureau under Jilin's forestry department.
Soldier Li Mingquan saw the leopard through the surveillance cameras at 3:31 p.m.
Animal carcasses, which could have been left by the leopard, were found near the spot one day later, Yu said.
The Far Eastern leopard, also known as Amur leopard or Manchurian leopard, faces an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Experts say there are less than 50 Far Eastern leopards in the wild. The feline predators are native to the forests in northeast China, Russia's Far East and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).
About two to four Far Eastern leopards live in the forest of about 100,000 hectares in Hunchun. The number may change as some leopards sometimes cross the Sino-Russia border, said Lang Jianmin, head of the Promotion and Education Center for Hunchun Manchurian Tiger National Nature Reserve.
The Mongolian government had revoked a decision it made earlier this month to allow foreigners to hunt leopards for scientific purpose, local media reported Wednesday.
Mongolian Environment and Tourism Minister L. Gansukh canceled the permission to kill four leopards for scientific purpose this year, after meeting researchers and representatives of non-government organizations to discuss the issue.
The researchers opposed the decision made by the cabinet on March 2. They said genetic research and other modern technologies made it possible to do scientific research

Brazilian court denies painting chimpanzee freedom from zoo
A Brazilian court has rejected a bid by academics, animal rights campaigners and environmentalists to have a chimpanzee who paints every day released from a zoo.
Jimmy, nicknamed the Cezanne of the Simians, has lived for around 12 years on his own in a 61 square metre cage at Niteroi Zoo, near Rio de Janeiro.
Last year a legal action to try to secure his freedom was launched with backers including the Great Ape Project (GAP), a Greenpeace representative and American academics.
They wanted to use the principle of Habeas corpus to have Jimmy, 27, freed and moved to live with other chimpanzees at a wildlife sanctuary in Sorocaba, Sao Paulo state, owned by Pedro Ynterian, international president of GAP.
But a court in Rio has now ruled that despite chimpanzees sharing 99.4 per cent of their DNA with people, Jimmy cannot qualify for Habeas corpus because he is

Zoo admits to releasing 3 more crocs into dams
The authorities at the Rajiv Gandhi zoological park on Thursday admitted to releasing six crocodiles into the dams in the Sinhagad range, out of which three were from the zoo itself while the rest were brought to the rescue centre at the zoo from 'outside'.
An official from the zoo had claimed on Wednesday that only three crocodiles were released in the dams.
The dams in the Sinhagad range area include Khadakwasla, Panshet and Varasgaon, which supply drinking water to Pune and are

Tigers, pumas saved from being Mexico tourist attractions
Mexican environmental authorities rescued here Thursday nine Bengal tigers and two pumas kept in cramped, unsafe cages that belonged to a businessman who used them as tourist attractions.
Taking part in the operation were at least 50 federal agents and specialists in handling wild animals, who took charge of sedating the big cats and moving them elsewhere.
Officials at the Profepa environmental enforcement agency said the animals were being taken to zoos and wildlife reserves in Mexico and Puebla.
The attorney general for the state of Quintana Roo, Gaspar Armando Garcia, said his office had been notified about the operation in Cancun.
Several environmental groups had filed a series of complaints against businessman Jose Juarez because of the foul conditions in which

Tiger expert Ron Tilson retires from Minnesota Zoo
Ron Tilson grew up hunting and fishing in the Montana wilderness.
"I thought if I could find a job being in the outdoors, that would be the way to go," Tilson said.
He took that dream to an extreme. Tilson, the Minnesota Zoo's conservation director, will retire today after 27 years of studying and saving tigers, rhinos and other endangered species — and spending long stints in the world's jungles and wilderness in the process.
"I've been permitted to live in some of the finest outdoor areas on Earth you can imagine," said Tilson, 66. "It's very spiritual."
The Minnesota Zoo has been credited as a leader in species and habitat conservation, a zoo movement Tilson helped spearhead. His last day is today, Earth Day.
Tilson, who is probably best known for his work with tigers, wrote the book on tiger conservation — literally. "Tigers of the World," published in 1988 and updated last year, "put together in one volume, for the first time, the state of science about tigers," said Phillip Nyhus, professor of environmental studies at Colby University in Maine.
"It had an enormous impact," said Nyhus, who co-wrote the updated volume and is one of many people Tilson has mentored who work in the conservation field.
Tilson also has been in charge of the massive breeding database for the big cats in North America for almost his entire career with the Apple Valley zoo, a duty he will pass on to another yet

Ceawlin Thynn interview: It was a different normality, says the young lion of Longleat
Ceawlin Thynn, heir to the 7th Marquess of Bath, has just taken over running the estate. He tells Jasper Gerard about his radical plans for it and his extraordinary upbringing .
Those huge, bulging eyes are unmistakable. So, too, the informality (to even the most junior employee he is “Ceawlin”, pronounced See-aw-lin, rather than Lord Weymouth). Oh, and when my invitation to lunch at Longleat turns out to be a sarnie in a cellophane wrapper from the tourist café, there can be little doubt he is fit to inherit the title of Britain’s least stuffy aristocrat.
But there the similarities with papa seem to end. While the marquess, also known as the “Loins of Longleat”, keeps an estimated 75 “wifelets”, the viscount remains unmarried (though perhaps for appearance’s sake he has been accused, wrongly it now transpires, of fathering a daughter out of wedlock).
While the father favours a wardrobe of velvet kaftans and colourful fezzes the son appears

Artis Zoo puts animal print gallery online
Ever wondered what a teyu looks like? A quick search on Google will reveal it is a 30-centimetre-long lizard found in South America. But in the old days, people would have been left guessing. That was until illustrators like Gerrit Schouten (Surinam, 1779-1839) made detailed drawings of all kinds of strange creatures. Amsterdam’s zoo, Artis, has just published its collection of prints of animals online.
A couple of centuries ago, most Europeans had never seen any animals from Africa. In the late 18th century and early 19th century, the first zoos were built in Europe. Artis was built in 1838. The aim was to entertain the public and enable biologists to study exotic species.
But before that explorers would take artists

Blind Indus dolphin survey concludes in Sindh
The six -day blind Indus dolphin survey in Sindh concluded on Friday.
The survey was launched on April 16 by the Sindh Wildlife Department (SWD) in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature – Pakistan (WWF –P).
The SWD officials said that the survey team counted 918 blind dolphins in the river Indus from Guddu to Sukkur.
The survey team comprised 35 key officials of SWD and WWF–P.
The officials recalled that that during survey conducted by WWF-P in 2006, around 810 dolphins were counted in the river Indus from the Guddu Barrage to Sukkur Barrage.
Assistant Conservator of SWD Ghulam Mohammad Guddani said: “A distance of 200 kilometres from Guddu to Sukkur was covered for the survey and water samples were obtained after each 10 kilometers to ascertain causes of the death of 45 rare blind Indus dolphins reported from 2006 to 2011 March.”
The final report of the water samples would be issued publicly in three weeks, he added.
Guddani said that the survey is conducted every five years and previously each survey has shown 40 per cent rise in the number of the dolphins. However, this survey has posted disappointed results.
“No encouraging growth in the dolphin’s population has been observed because of different reasons,” he remarked.
Use of banned fishing nets and poisonous chemicals by fishermen, unhampered release of hot poisonous water of the Guddu Tharmal power into the river Indus, release of drainage water and industrial wastewater into the river at Sukkur and the construction of hydel power stations along the Indus are among others, grave threats to the survival of the rare species, spelle

'Inspiring zoo' gets new keepers
ANIMALS at Combe Martin Wildlife and Dinosaur Park are under new supervision following the arrival of two new keepers.
Jamie Wood and his partner, Alison Larkin, arrived in Combe Martin from Colchester earlier this month.
Jamie has taken over the position of head-keeper having been at Colchester Zoo for ten years.
The 29-year-old, who has specialised in exotherms: reptiles, amphibians and small mammals, is keen to see the park develop, and plans to increase the reptile centre.
He said: "I am so pleased to have been given this opportunity, I think Combe Martin is such a great conservation centre with the inspiring ethos of animals roaming free.
"I can see the scope for further development and, through discussion with the park's owners, Bob Butcher and Simon Maunder, I am hoping much of the change will be happening soon.
"Bob has done such an amazing job here, it really is a unique place which is so beautiful, and I think with collaboration from all of us it can only get better."
Simon Maunder, investor and partner at the park,

£350k expansion to build on zoo’s ‘best year’
THE first stage of Dalton zoo’s expansion has been completed.
The new £350,000 development at South Lakes Wild Animal Park has seen an increase in restaurant space and a bigger gift shop.
Zoo owner David Gill says the work is the first stage of his expansion plans, which could see the zoo treble in size.
He said: “We’re having the best year in our history.
“We’ve had more than 70,000 visitors.
“It’s been so busy that we’ve been forced to expand our facilities.
“The expansion wasn’t going to happen just yet because we were planning to do our major expansion later this year.
“In the winter, when it is colder, everyone wants to stay inside to have their meal.
“And I sat down one day while having a coffee and said ‘I’m going to build a bigger restaurant’.”
The new restaurant area seats an extra 90 people, taking the overall capacity to 250.
Mr Gill added: “People were coming in to the restaurant and having nowhere

One Ocean premiere at SeaWorld Orlando - New Shamu show

Finding the footprints of a phantom
Only two countries stand between survival in the wild and oblivion for the Arabian leopard: Yemen and Oman.
The situation in Oman is reasonably clear; 50 or so leopards range widely on Jebels Samhan, Qara, and Qamar in Dhofar. They have been extinct in the Hajjar mountains since 1976 and probably in the Musandam Peninsula since 1999. This is known with some certainty since the Sultanate initiated its Arabian Leopard Survey in 1997. This comprehensive effort monitors wild leopards, educates the public about the value of preserving them, and otherwise works around the clock to ensure the survival of Arabia’s rarest and most charismatic mammal.
In Yemen, the situation is a lot murkier. An unknown number of leopards are presumed to exist in a few widely scattered localities. The most recent confirmed evidence was a scat specimen collected in Hajjah in January 2009. Eye-witness reports from various governorates are intriguing but in the absence of hard evidence such as photographs or tissue samples, they remain unp

Tigers and lions find safe haven
Who would have thought that east of Fallon dwells a quiet and peaceful sanctuary for lions, tigers, cougars and a lynx aptly called Tiger Touch?
It all started in 1997 when John and Barbara Williamson were driving thru Fallon heading back to California and they received a phone call. The message revealed some big cats were slated to be euthanized within 30 days if not removed from the property due to an unfortunate mishap involving an unattended child who stuck his hand in the tiger's cage.
The Williamsons assumed the responsibility of taking care of a tiger, a lion and three cougars when nobody was able to take the big cats. With the help of volunteers, donors, wildlife inspectors and un derstanding neighbors, and along with Mary Walker and Nola Fletcher, the Tiger Touch nonprofit corporation facility was built on a 10-acre private property to house the rescued cats. Since then, the Wil liam sons' relationship with the cats has become stronger. Besides providing them a better life, both researchers do all the physical labor themselves, from feeding the cats to cleaning their cages and giving them much-needed interaction.
Tiger Touch currently has seven furry residents: Peggy Sue — a fe male Eurasian lynx who lives in doors with John and Barbara Wil liamson; Teddy and Sunshine — a male and female Canadian lynx, respectively; Nala — a female Barbary lion who recently lost her mate, Rocky, who was also a Barbary lion; Det, short name for Detonator — a male Bengal tiger; and Niki — a female Siberian tiger.
What makes this sanctuary unique is the fact that Nala, the lioness, and Det, the tiger, harmoniously cohabit in one big cage.
You feed them once a day, some of them twice. Make sure that they're happy. Play with them. Give them your attention, as if they were not so much children but friends,” said Tiger Touch director John Williamson in describing the experience of taking care of the big cats.
What started as a sanctuary and as a place of learning ways to protect big cats is slowly in the process of transitioning to Tiger Touch University Retreat.
“We are in a transition into a much bigger operation where we will house about a hundred cats,” Tiger Touch Project Manager Barbara Williamson said. “It'll be a safe place for them, make sure the poachers can't get to them. We need to raise the money to get the land and from then own we can get architectural drawings and see where we can get the money from.”
They realize that offering rescue and sanctuary is not enough and if they want to help in preservation of other endangered exotic cats, they would have to expand.
“There's this press release in 1998 regarding biodiversity crisis, it says we're going to lose half or more of the species within 30 years,” said Barbara Williamson. “We have a maxim

Richard Branson to create sanctuary for lemurs - 8,000 miles from their home
Virgin boss Branson defends monkey conservation plans at Moskito island
Sir Richard Branson has triggered a conservation row over a plan to import lemurs to the Caribbean, half a world away from their natural habitat in Madagascar.
The British entrepreneur said ringtailed lemurs would be transported and released into the rainforest of Moskito island, a tropical hideaway he owns in the British Virgin Islands.
Branson said he wanted to help conserve a species threatened by deforestation in Madagascar, off Africa's Indian Ocean coast, where political turmoil has accelerated illegal logging.
"We have had a lemur project in Madagascar the past few years and seen that things are getting worse for them so we thought about finding a safe haven," he told the Guardian. "We brought in experts from South Africa to Moskito island and they said it would be perfect."
But other experts say the introduction of an alien species from 8,000 miles away could harm the

Monkeyland helps Branson import lemurs
A self-taught primate expert from the Western Cape has been advising UK billionaire Richard Branson on the importation of Madagascan lemurs to one of his two islands in the Caribbean.
Lara Mostert, marketing manager of the Monkeyland Primate Sanctuary in Plettenberg Bay, said she met the head of the Virgin empire at Necker Island at the end of last year, where she advised him on the introduction of the prosimians, or what she called “pre-monkeys”.
Mostert defended Branson’s desire to import the lemurs to a different continent from their native Madagascar, an unusual move in conservation, saying “the forests there are being knocked down faster than you can save them”.
Lemurs, including the ring-tailed and red-ruffed species, are found only in Madagascar, with the red-ruffed lemur listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which has placed the animal on its “red list” of threatened species.
Describing Branson as a “serious conservationist”, Mostert said the ring-tailed lemurs he will be importing would thrive in the forests of the British Virgin Islands, where Branson owns Moskito and Necker islands.
Branson has been quoted as saying that because of the overthrow two years ago of the government in Madagascar, “the space for lemurs is getting less and less”. He will importing 12 to 15 of the ring-tailed species, less threatened than the red-ruffed lemurs, to Moskito.
Monkeyland staff designed a feeding station for the animals on the island, said Mostert, adding that she is in ongoing contact with the billionaire about the project but is not

UK's Branson gets flak for lemur relocation plan
British billionaire businessman and adventurer Sir Richard Branson has plans to fly commercial passengers into space, but his terrestrial scheme to relocate endangered Madagascar lemurs on a Caribbean island he owns is getting flak from some conservation experts,
The Virgin Group VA.L founder, who has combined a meteoric business career with round the world balloon flights and philanthropic initiatives, has announced he will resettle lemurs collected from zoos on 120-acre (48-hectare) Moskito Island, part of the British Virgin Islands archipelago.
He wants to create a new island sanctuary for lemurs, primates native to the Madagascar and Comoro islands off Africa which are threatened by the rapid destruction of their natural habitat due to unchecked farming, hunting, mining and logging.
The bright-eyed furry-faced creatures are favorites with children at zoos and figured, as animated recreations, in the popular DreamWorks movie "Madagascar".
British Virgin Islands officials have approved the Branson plan, but some conservation experts say that, while apparently well-intentioned, it could be an ecological disaster.
"I do think it's a bad idea ... we have experience over and over and over again that when you transplant organisms from one part of the Earth to another part of the Earth the results are usually bad," Anne D. Yoder, a lemur expert and director of the Duke Lemur Center

Activists, zoo polarised over enclosure
Chiang Mai Zoo will go ahead with its controversial Polar World project despite fierce opposition from animal rights activists.
Zoo director Tanapattara Pongpamorn said yesterday the project was worth the investment and strictly adheres to international animal welfare guidelines.
Under the project, the zoo will import a pair of polar bears and some king penguins from foreign zoos. The polar animals will be kept in a 71 million baht enclosure, which is now 30% complete. Work will continue on the 2,909-square metre enclosure over the next two years.
The zoo anticipates that the enclosure will boost visitor numbers by half.
Mr Tanapattara dismissed environmentalists' concerns that conditions at the zoo will harm the polar animals.
"We have done everything to follow the Association of Zoo and Aquarium's guidelines, especially on natural habitats," said Mr Tanapattara.
"We have a life support system in case of emergencies, together with plans to reduce the animals' stress in a new environment."
The zoo has been negotiating with zoos in Russia and Canada as well as Safari World in Bangkok, where four polar bears are kept.
Mr Tanapattara said he would make sure the polar animals chosen for the zoo were born in captivity, as they would adapt to the new environment easily.
Environmentalists are also worried about the amount of electricity required to run the air-conditioned enclosure.
Mr Tanapattara said the electricity bill would be around 200,000 baht a month.
Veterinarian Kannikar Nimtragul, who will look after the polar bears, said the project is part of an attempt to save the species from extinction, as their natural habitat is threatened


Zoo bans 'damaging' bunny outfit
A TEENAGER suffering from cancer was barred from visiting Edinburgh Zoo because she was dressed as an Easter bunny.
Laura Gibson and her friends, who were wearing bunny and chicken costumes, were told by bosses that their costumes would cause the animals "deep psychological damage".
The 15-year-old, who has been receiving daily chemotherapy treatment at Sick Kids' Hospital for Hodgkin's lymphoma, had been encouraged to go out as a treat because her immune system had improved.
But when the group, including Laura's father and brother, showed up at the gates yesterday in all-in-one bunny suits they were refused entry by a zoo manager.
A zoo spokeswoman confirmed that they had turned the visitors away because it has been proven that costumes can cause "psychological damage".
She said: "It is zoo policy not to allow people wearing costumes to enter the zoo. We have to put animal welfare first. It does very much distress the animals if they go up to the enclosure. The chimpanzees in particular get very distressed."
Laura, who is from the New Town

Camel bites baby at zoo
Family trip goes awry when camel snatches one-year-old by his head, causing severe injuries
A one-year-old baby suffered moderate injuries when he was bitten by a camel while visiting a southern Israeli zoo with his family Friday.
The infant was rushed for emergency surgery at Beersheba's Soroka Medical Center; his condition was later said to be stable.
The family was touring the Chai Negev Ecological Village in Kibbuz Revivim when the camel grabbed the infant by the head.
A spokesperson for Soroka Medical Center said that the baby suffered severe injuries to his face and salivary glands. He added,7340,L-4060046,00.html

Bahawalpur zoo’s mane attraction goes underfed
The Bahawalpur zoo has been a success story for breeding of lions in captivity. The fact that 128 cubs were born there between 1982 and 2010 is a testament to the huge reproductive achievement.
But things are getting murky now. The big cats, including a would-be mother, are being underfed, putting the health of the “king(s) of the jungle” in peril.
Sources told The Express Tribune that only one head of cattle is slaughtered to provide meat to dozens of wild animals, including seven male and female lions and a couple of Bengal tigers, kept at the zoo. Veterinary surgeon Dr Naeem says that on average a lion or tiger needs 10 to 12 kilogrammes of meat a day to stay healthy.
The zoo, officially known as Bahawalpur Zoological Gardens, is spread over 25 acres and is famous for the rearing of lions, tigers, black bears, and birds since its establishment as ‘Sher Bagh’ in 1942 by the Nawab of Bahawalpur.
Zoo visitors complain that the public garden now risks losing its rare distinction (of captive breeding) because of lack of interest by authorities. They point out that animals have been confined to small cages and teasing as a form of entertainment, especially of lions, has become a common pastime for those unsympathetic to the creatures of the wild.
Sources in the zoo say that a black bear couple was also born here and is now 28-years-old.
According to Dr Naeem, a lioness is expected to give birth to baby lions in May or June.
Many of the lions born here have been sold or shifted to other zoos of the country.
A senior citizen Saleem, who has been visiting the zoo for decades, says that once the public garden was very well maintained. But now the authorities do not care much. He laments that since an elephant – the main attraction for children – died in 2002, the administration has not bothered to find a replacement.
However, official sources say that a cut in funding for the upkeep of animals is to blame for the dismal state of affairs.
Another reason for diminishing numbers, according to sources, was the demand placed by th

Quake-hit panda center recovers
SOUTHWEST China's Wolong reserve, the world's largest giant panda breeding center, has recovered from the "devastating blow" dealt to it by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, with reconstruction slated for completion by the end of 2012.
"The new center, with more advanced and comprehensive facilities, will play a more important role in the world's efforts to protect this endangered species," Zhang Hemin, director of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda said.
While pursuing higher quality in the artificial breeding of these rare bears, the new center will become more prominent in its role as a training center for pandas that will be released back into the wild after being born in the center, Zhang said.
The center will also serve as a principal public educator in the area of wildlife protection, he added.
The Wolong reserve, some 30 kilometers away from the epicenter of the 2008 quake, was severely damaged in the disaster. The quake left one panda dead, one injured and another one missing.
"With severe damage to the center's infrastructure, total economic losses amounted to more than 1.9 billion yuan (US$292.4 million)," Zhang said. He indicated that 7 percent of the reserve was totally destroyed, including the center's core panda habitat.
Despite the damage, the Wolong center has bred 47 cubs since the disaster and is now home to 165 pandas, accounting for nearly 60 percent of China's giant panda

NE China's Siberian Tiger Breeding Center Conducts DNA Tests on Cubs
Siberian tigers in a northeast China breeding center will soon obtain special "ID cards" that will help facilitate identification, research and management of the endangered animals.
Researchers at the Heilongjiang Siberian Tigers Garden, the world's largest breeding center for the large cat, launched a DNA test program on Thursday to identify and earmark more than 100 cubs born in 2010.
A total of 19 cubs got blood tests and were earmarked on the first day, Zhou Ming, director of the garden's veterinary hospital, told reporters Friday.
The cubs received an anaesthetic before their blood was drawn and identification chips were embedded under the skin around their necks, Zhou said.
To date, the center has conducted DNA tests on more than 800 Siberian tigers since introducing the program in 2001.
Thanks to its successful breeding program, the center has bred over 1,000 Siberian tigers since opening in 1996, when it had just eight of the large cats.
Though Siberian tigers once roamed parts of western and central Asia and eastern Russia, they are now one of the world's rarest species. An estimated 300 Siberian

CDC Warning: 216 Sickened by Salmonella From Aquarium Frogs
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control is warning consumers to be careful handling African dwarf frogs and the aquariums in which they live after the aquatic pets were linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 216 people in 41 states.
African dwarf frogs live completely in water and are sold in stores nationwide for aquariums; they are also sometimes given away as carnival prizes. Frogs and other amphibians are known carriers of salmonella bacteria, which can cause potentially serious infections in the very young, the elderly or those with weakened immune systems. Even normally healthy people sickened with salmonella can suffer from diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.
Since the aquarium frogs usually live at the bottom of their habitat, the CDC said the most likely source for those sickened with the salmonella typhimurium bacterium was the aquarium water itself. This particular strain of salmonella is one of the most common in the United States, and the agency has been tracking this outbreak since 2009.
As of this week, 216 people have been sickened by the same strain of salmonella, which the CDC has tracked back to a single frog breeder in California (The agency did

Alien parakeet's days could be numbered
Defra draws up secret plan to cull latest tropical arrival because of its disruptive nesting habits
As tropical birds go, few look more like they belong in the jungle than the monk parakeet. It is noisy, and has iridescent green and blue plumage and an orange beak that looks like an offensive weapon. But, for all its exotic appearance, it has somehow found a way to settle down in the Home Counties.
It is the latest tropical bird to raise young in Britain, following the success of the ring-necked parakeet which now throngs south and west London. The South American bird, which can live as long as 30 years, has founded colonies in Wiltshire, Hertfordshire and London, and also been spotted in Cheshire and Devon.
But its place on our list of resident birds could be short-lived. The bird may be colourful, a good talker and popular as a pet, but when it goes


Hoan Kiem turtle is a new species
Dr. Tran Binh, Director of the Institute for Biological Technology, on April 18 told VTC News that the institute had finalized the DNA test of the legendary turtle in Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake.
“We will report the test results to Hanoi authorities and the information will then be widely announced to the public,” Dr. Binh said.
According to Binh, Hanoi authorities planed to announce the DNA test results later this week.
“Our test results are not different from previous statements of Vietnamese experts. The turtle is feminine gender and a new species. It is not a Chinese or Dong Mo turtle species,” Dr. Binh added.
Binh said the turtle genetic sample will be sent to the World Gene Bank in Switzerland.
“After the World Gene Bank receives the sample, Vietnam can make public that the legendary turtle in Hoan Kiem Lake is a new species, named Rafetus Vietnamensis or Hoan Kiem turtle,” said Binh.
Binh said the turtle may be sourced from the Red River from millions of years ago.
Dr. Bui Quang Te, chief of the turtle treatment group, said that the turtle’s health is very good now. “We are going to complete our treatment mission later thi



Wildlife Middle East News Vol 5 Issue 4

March 2011

PDFs can be downloaded from:

Request for articles for future issues:

We are looking for contributions of articles from colleagues within the Middle East region for the next issue. Please contact the editors with any ideas that you may have.

Vol 5 Issue 4 Contents

1. Editorial

2. Interview with Sh Butti Bin Juma Al Maktoum

3. Interview with Sh Butti Bin Juma Al Maktoum contd..

4. Legends of the Arabian leopard in the Hawf protected area, southern Yemen

5. Bird ringing programme in Bahrain 2005-2010

6. Mesopotamian softshell turtle (Rafetus euphraticus), the strangest fresh water turtle of the Middle East

7. The role of zoological Externship Programmes to promote wildlife medicine and management in the Middle East

8. News and reviews

Green prophet

Book Review: Common Birds of Qatar

9. News and reviews

Book Review: Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Arabia

Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund


ZOO'S PRINT Magazine - April 2011

April 2011
No. 4

Date of Publication 19 April 2011


Western Ghats Reptile Conservation Assessment and Management Plan (CAMP) Workshop
-- Sanjay Molur, Pp. 1-4

Linking Wildlife Conservation and Wildlife Welfare: Educator Training Report
-- B.A. Daniel, R. Marimuthu and S. Walker, Pp. 5-15

Dysfunctional Zoos & What to Do
-- Sally Walker, Pp. 16-20

Decade on Biodiversity and Opportunities for Zoos in South Asia
P. 21

Dhaka Zoo hosts Interns from all over Bangladesh
-- Dr. Md. Shakif-Ul-Azam, Pp. 22-23

Symbiotic Plant-Ant Mutualism: Biomimetics ideas for Outsourcing in Biz Management
-- S. Paulraj, Pp. 24-26

Zygomycosis in captive Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus)
-- Manuel Thomas, Abin Varghese, K. Abraham Samuel and Punnen Kurian, P. 27

A note on parasitic infections in Indian peacock
-- G. Ponnudurai, K. Rajendran, N. Rani and T.J. Harikrishnan, P. 28



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