Friday, April 1, 2011

Zoo News Digest 29th March - 1st April 2011 (Zoo News 737)

Zoo News Digest 29th March - 1st April 2011 (Zoo News 737)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I have been relably informed that one of the Giza Zoo Orangutans died last week. Can anyone confirm or deny whether this is true and provide further details? It is a little under a year since these three animals were transferred from Al Ain.

How has your April fool been up to now? Anything original? I spotted a few in the press but nothing too convincing so far. I have included just one in the links below. Or have I?

I am absolutely delighted to learn that Anne the elephant is going to have a new home. I know my thoughts on the choice of location are not shared by all and never expected they would be. I remain convinced that if Whipsnade Zoo had been called Whipsnade Safari Park or The Whipsnade Sanctuary and Conservation Centre that the move would have been very different. As to my cynicism that has not changed either. Not that any of this really matters as long she gets away. Longleat do have the staff and adaptable accommodation.

I do like the statement on a totally different matter by Heiner Kloes of Berlin Zoo. "When we have decided something, we are not going to let ourselves be swayed either by thousands of people, tens of thousands of people or hundreds of thousands,” Noble words and I fully agree if the decision had been preceded by profound and deep thought. I feel that these anti-zoo groups are in the same frame of mind as Herr Kloes except that they miss out the profound and deep thought altogether.

Sad to learn of the death of Ruby. Why I wonder does it make me think about Lucy in Edmonton? Anne too.

Delighted to learn of the capture of the cobra. It was all getting a bit much for the press.

On Thursday I visited three museums with a friend. One of these was Grant Museum of Zoology. The Grant Museum is both special (Quagga skeleton as well as bits of DoDo and Thylacine) and very different and should be on the itiniary of every visitor to London. It truly is another world. It is as museums once were, old fashioned, and with just a tiny touch of the modern. There is probably not enough room to display Knut the Polar Bear here but if there was, why not? Why lose a creature which people could learn from? Perhaps my own attitude to life, or rather death, reflects here because I have really no interest in my body after I die. As many bits that still work can be snipped off or cut out to help others the better. The remainder can be used for study or cat food. Some people do take animals to the taxidermists and museums, much loved cats and dogs preserved for the future. Not something that I particularily care for but it is different strokes for different folks. Perhaps you recollect the story of the lady who took her two recently dead pet monkeys to the taxidermist for preservation. The taxidermist asked if she would like them mounted to which she replied "No, just holding hands, they were only good friends".


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Zoo managers from around the world go biblical in Jerusalem
Over 100 international delegates flock to Jerusalem for business and the pleasure of hearing the full story of the 'Mossad agent' eagle recently captured in Saudi Arabia.
Over one hundred managers of leading zoos from around Europe met in Jerusalem’s Biblical Zoo Friday, the first time the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria has held a conference in Israel.
Among other issues the meeting tackeld, delegates got the full story of the “Mossad agents” recently captured in Saudi Arabia.
In January, Saudi media reported that a vulture captured in the country was sent by the Mossad, after its captors found standard Israeli tracking marks on the bird. The vulture, like all other vultures born in captivity in Israel in recent years, hatched in the Biblical Zoo and was released from the Golan Heights.
The vulture’s story was told in a panel on “Birds as peacemakers in a conflict zone,” showcasing of the Zoo’s incubator and the return to nature of wild birds hatched there.
“Some of the project we initiate could be a bridge to our neighbors,” zoo director Shai Doron told Haaretz.
Doron said the zoo was extremely excited to host the conference.
“On their way are nearly mythological figures of the zoo-keeping world,” he said. “They are nearly leaders in their home countries. It’s not people like Shai Doron but slight more serious folks, with no disregard to myself.”
Some of the guests included the managers of the London Zoo; managers from the oldest zoo in the world, in Amsterdam; the managers of the Zurich zoo and the managers of the Copenhagen zoo, where a new 40-million-euro section for Asian elephants was recently inaugurated.
While relatively small, the Jerusalem zoo is world renowned for conservation efforts and the reintroduction of endangered species to the wild.
One of its most famous achievements is a rare in vitro fertilization of Tamar, an Asian elephant, using semen from a British elephant flown to Israel. The elephant born as a result, Gabi, was recently transported to Turkey, where he was successfully introduced to one of the local zoos. The Tamar and Gabi story will also be discussed at the conference.
Another reintroduction project said to be discussed in the conference is that of the fallow deer. Fallow deer have been released in the Jerusalem and Kaziv stream area, and the Nature and Parks authority is currently looking for an area to release deer in the Galilee as well.
The project was co-sponsored by the San Diego Zoo.
Some of the visitors used their trip to check on animals they’ve sent to Jerusalem in recent years. The Amsterdam zoo guests were able to meet the descendants of the black-footed penguins they’ve sent to the zoo, which had multiplied exponentially. “Israel will soon start exporting penguins to zoos worldwide,” said Doron.
The director of the Lisbon zoo paid a visit to the Siamang gibbon sent to the zoo just a few months ago. The ape, born in Portugal, was brought to Israel after a failed date with an Israeli ape named Richard, who was sent to Lisbon as part of a matchmaking effort.
She met her current partner, Dylan, soon after her arrival to the Jerusalem zoo.
EAZA is the world’s largest zoo body, and it operates the European program for saving endangered species. Israel became a member five years ago.
“The Jerusalem conference is going to be a lot of fun,” said Doron before the event. “The fact that 100 people from Europe are coming to the conference, in Jerusalem,

Experts: German celebrity polar bear Knut drowned
The Berlin zoo's celebrity polar bear, Knut, drowned after swelling of his brain caused him to collapse and fall into his enclosure's pool, experts said Friday.
A necropsy of the four-year-old bear who died suddenly two weeks ago showed he was suffering from encephalitis, an irritation and swelling of the brain that was likely brought on by an infection, pathologist Claudia Szentiks said.
It remains unclear what that infection was, but Achim Gruber, a professor of veterinary medicine at Berlin's Free University, said it likely was a virus.
"We believe that this suspected infection must already have been there for a long time ... at least several weeks, possibly months," Gruber said, although he added that there had been no sign of anything amiss in the bear's behavior.
Knut died March 19 in front of hundreds of visitors at Berlin zoo, turning around several times and then falling into the water in his enclosure. Polar bears usually live 15 to 20 years in the wild and even longer in captivity.
Experts who examined Knut found massive quantities of fluid in his lungs, supporting the conclusion that the immediate cause of death was drowning. But they said that even if he hadn't fallen into the water he likely wouldn't have survived.
"Given the massive scale of the inflammation, Knut would probably have died sooner or later — it wouldn't really have been possible

Deer death sparks zoo negligence cry
A deer died at Aizawl Zoological Garden in Lungverh while a pair of hoolock gibbons are being treated after they touched a livewire on the highway while escaping from the zoo. Animal activists blamed zoo officials for both the incidents, alleging negligence.
The wildlife division of the state environment and forests department, however, denied any negligence.
An official statement said the deer escaped from its enclosure and officials tried to catch it in vain as it was very strong. It was caught only after its horns were chopped off. The deer was taken to a cage where it was sedated. However

Barcelona Zoo to review security after wolf escape .
Barcelona Zoo is back to normal this morning following a day of tension yesterday, after a she-wolf and her cub escaped from their enclosure, forcing the the zoo to activate its emergency evacuation protocol and causing widespread panic amonst the visitors.
The all-Spanish wolves jumped the perimeter fence in the region their enclosure after becoming "highly nervous" by the arrival of a new animal in the neighbouring enclosure. They jumped over the fence at in the region 11am, forcing the zoo's management to move the roughly 900 visitors, including 17 school groups, into various secure areas whilst the wolves were found.
Approximately an hour and a quarter after the escape, the mother wolf was found and tranquilised, before being taken to the veterinary clinic within the zoo. in the city are conflicting reports as to if her cub actually ever escaped. CiU spokesperson Sònia Recasens claims it was later found "sleeping peacefully" backside a rock in the enclosure, and accused the zoo staff of "alarmist" behaviour.
The zoo's directors have described the wolves' escape as an "exceptional and isolated" incident, asserting that the perimeter fence is three metres high and the upper section is electrified. The wolves had "never before" been known to jump such heights.
A spokesperson for "Libera" - the animal protection organisation, that campaigns against the exploitation of animals in

Zoo Animals Headed To Other Facilities
More than 200 animals currently housed at the Little River Zoo have been auctioned off and will be sent to other federally licenced facilities in the near future, zoo founder Janet Schmid said Wednesday.
Schmid said the zoo had been looking for a buyer for about a year, but couldn’t find one.
“We had an interested party at one point and we negotiated for a long period of time, but the deal fell through,” she said. “At this point, we really have no other choice but to place the animals in other centers.”
Schmid said the animals — including a pair of mountain lions, American black bears and numerous kangaroos — will not be sold to individuals who would keep them as pets. She said, in total, there are around 250 animals on the property.
“We are not selling the animals to the pet trade,” she said. “They will go to facilities that are licensed by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and all the proceeds will go to cover the debts of the zoo.”
The transfer of the animals has to be monitored by the USDA and other agencies “to keep track of them and keep them in the system,” Schmid said, adding that selling them in the pet trade is far more lucrative.
“The zoo isn’t going to get anything near what it could have by selling them as pets,” she said. “But that’s not the right thing to do — by the animals and by the zoo.”
According to Schmid, who stepped down as the zoo’s director 18 months ago, a consultant was hired to find new homes for the animals. Tuesday night, a week-long bidding process involving licensed facilities wrapped up.
The 55-acre zoo shuttered in late January, citing a lack of resources and support from the community. The land is owned by Bill Schmid, Janet Schmid’s former husband and a co-founder.
Schmid, who is still involved with the zoo’s operations

Long lost Coventry Zoo Zulu warrior turns up at last
THE FAMOUS giant Zulu warrior which used to tower over Coventry Zoo has finally turned up.
The attraction at Whitley closed 30 years ago but Coventry folk have long wondered what happened to the iconic 35ft figure.
Today the Telegraph can finally solve the mystery.
The head is all that remains of the statue which greeted visitors to the zoo during the sixties and seventies.
Over the years he’s been well looked after, spending time in sheds, garages and bedrooms around Coventry after being spotted in a scrapyard.
He’s even spent five years at university in Manchester.
The head, spear and big toe of the warrior were discovered by brothers Gary and Wayne Anderson when they were scouring Freddie Barnes’s scrapyard at Baginton in the early 1980s.
They had set out to find parts to restore

Philadelphia Zoo President Vikram Dewan speaks on ethics and extinction at St. Thomas', Whitemarsh
In its 150 years of existence, the Philadelphia Zoo has changed from a Victorian garden to Noah’s ark, Vikram Dewan, president of the zoo, said Sunday morning at St. Thomas’ Church, Whitemarsh.
When it was built in 1859, he said, the 42-acre zoological garden at 34th Street and Girard Avenue was just that: a place to escape from the overcrowded, industrialized city, a maze of cages and flower beds where visitors could literally get lost.
Today, however, as the human population of the world approaches 7 billion, and natural habitat vanishes at an accelerating rate, the zoo’s primary task is to rescue animals from extinction.
“We have not been the best stewards of our planet,” he said.
Dewan’s speech was part of a series of Sunday morning forums on ethics that began at St. Thomas’ in January, and the third of five devoted to ethics and environment. Talking briskly and at length, he detailed the zoo’s efforts to improve the condition of animals, both around the world and within its gates, and to soften its own ecological impact on the Philadelphia area.
Three years ago, Dewan said, the zoo consumed 1.8 million gallons of water a day, which sounds like an exorbitant figure, until one considers the nature of the zoo’s inhabitants.
“You never had to wash a hippo in your backyard,” Dewan reminded his listeners.
The City of Philadelphia, which provides no money for the zoo’s operating expenses, provided the water free of charge until 2008, when budget constraints forced it to give the zoo an ultimatum: either pay half the water bill, or cut consumption. The zoo chose to conserve, Dewan said, and today, daily water use stands at 780,000 gallons a day.
Parking at the zoo is another longstanding problem with environmental consequences, Dewan said. Limited space and the zoo’s location create frequent traffic snarls and keep the number of visitors lower than it could be.
“It’s not unusual for KYW to blame every single traffic issue in Philadelphia on the zoo,” he said. “Parking is a turn-off.”
To alleviate the problem and improve access, the zoo is lobbying SETPA to reopen an old, nearby rail station, he said.
In the distant past, Dewar said, the mass extinction of species was a natural phenomenon caused by volcanoes or meteor impacts. Today, the earth faces the worst period of mass extinction in its history, he said, but this time, the cause is human beings.
One in five species of bird is threatened with extinction, he said, as well as one in four species of mammals and one

River Tay feral beaver dies at Edinburgh Zoo
A feral beaver captured on the River Tay after it was ordered the animals should be "re-homed" has died at Edinburgh Zoo.
The animal, nicknamed "Erica", was trapped late last year. The zoo said it had died "very recently".
Up to 20 beavers are believed to have escaped from private collections in Angus and Perthshire and are now living and breeding on the River Tay.
Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) said it was illegal to allow their escape or release into the wild. An official trial reintroduction is currently being held at Knapdale in Argyll.
The organisation issued the trapping order in November.
But the order has been opposed by the Scottish Wild Beaver Group, who are planning to

Human Metapneumovirus Infection in Wild Mountain Gorillas, RwandaThe genetic relatedness of mountain gorillas and humans has led to concerns about interspecies transmission of infectious agents. Human-to-gorilla transmission may explain human metapneumovirus in 2 wild mountain gorillas that died during a respiratory disease outbreak in Rwanda in 2009. Surveillance is needed to ensure survival of these critically endangered animals.

NC Zoo welcomes white alligators
White alligators, natural anomalies that have fascinated people for years, are the newest attraction at the North Carolina Zoo.
The “Swamp Ghosts: Legends of Fortune and Good Luck” exhibit in the zoo’s African Pavilion brings the white gator together with other animals and elements thought to be lucky.
Two seven-foot, female white alligators are on loan from Florida’s St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. The animals are scientifically known as albinos. The white color results from a genetic defect of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.
Albino animals are very rare because the characteristics that set them apart also make them more vulnerable to predators, more obvious

Pack yer trunk... we’re out of ear

ANNE the abused elephant packed her trunk and said goodbye to the circus yesterday - after The Sun stepped in to help prepare her for a happy new life.
Circus boss Bobby Roberts agreed to let Anne go to Longleat safari park after being as sickened as our readers to find her groom was secretly beating her.
We were on hand to welcome independent vets to check 59-year-old Anne and ensure she was fit to travel after the deal was sealed.
And I broke the news to the elephant over a trunk of her favourite treat - a giant suitcase full of bananas.
Circus owner Bobby said: "We want to thank The Sun for helping arrange the perfect send-off and we're delighted Anne will be retiring to the ideal

At last, Anne the elephant's suffering could be over as Whipsnade Zoo offers her a home
Hopes were rising last night that Anne the circus elephant could be freed from her cruel captivity within days.
A specialist vet from Whipsnade Zoo and RSPCA officers were allowed to visit Anne to check her over after shocking secret footage was passed to the Daily Mail showing her Romanian groom battering, kicking and stabbing her with a pitchfork.
Whipsnade said it would be ‘delighted’ for Anne to join the herd of elephants already living at the zoo.
The 59-year-old Asian elephant’s owners Bobby and Moira Roberts also appeared to be softening their stance on giving her up.
Moira Roberts, 72, said: ‘We will allow Anne to live her days out in a sanctuary as long as we can visit her regularly and as long as she’s cared for properly.’
She added: ‘We have had the RSPCA here today and Bobby

Could this be a loving new home for Anne? We'd be thrilled to take her in says Longleat after secret talks
A deal was close last night to rehome Anne the circus elephant within a week.
Her owners Moira and Bobby Roberts have finally agreed to allow the 59-year-old animal to retire to an enclosure at Longleat Safari Park, the Mail can reveal.
It marks a victory for this paper, which brought Anne’s desperate plight to the public’s attention by revealing secret footage of the Asian elephant’s Romanian groom stabbing and beating her.
And on Sunday, secret discussions between her owners and officials from the 900-acre wildlife park began. They came after the welfare group Animal Defenders International released the footage to the Mail and campaigners began calling for her to be rehomed.
Despite a generous offer from Whipsnade to provide a home for the elephant, experts felt that her old age and arthritis meant it would not be in her best interests to be in the zoo’s herd with young calves.
Last night, Jonathan Cracknell, director of animal operations at Longleat, revealed that discussions with her owners had been ‘favourable’ and a final decision would be reached today.
Mr Cracknell said: ‘Anne is a geriatric elephant coming towards the end of her life and we’re trying to do what we can to see she lives out her retirement in peace.
‘Things are looking favourable and hopefully we will have her at the park within seven days where we can begin rehabilitating her, depending on independent veterinary examinations and consultation with elephant experts.’
He added: ‘The accommodation we already have meets her short-term needs – and long-term, we are committed to building her a modern elephant house and introducing other rescued elephants, if that is in Anne’s best interests.
‘If Anne were to come here, her management and treatment regime will be dependent on Anne’s needs, both physically and psychologically, which will be assessed by Longleat and a team of independent elephant experts.
‘Elephants are very much like humans when it comes to their psychological needs,’ he explained.
‘Some elephants can suffer problems like post-traumatic stress disorder and we have to be careful not to do anything that would be detrimental to her well being.
‘But I think if we do get everything right, there is a capacity for Anne to understand that she is in a loving, caring environment where she will feel safe and secure.’
But even as hopes rose

Anne the elephant's owner apologises after cruelly-treated circus animal is moved to safari park
The owner of Anne the circus elephant yesterday apologised for her mistreatment as a deal was struck to rehome her at Longleat Safari Park.
Moira Roberts said she felt responsible for the suffering endured by Britain’s oldest elephant because she hired Nicolae Nitu, the Romanian groom secretly filmed kicking her and stabbing her with a pitchfork.
Anne’s plight was revealed by the Daily Mail last week.
Yesterday Mrs Roberts, 72, said: ‘I hired the man. I’m responsible. I thought I was a good judge of character. I’m not. I have completely lost all my faith in human beings. I hired him and I should not have done so.’
Mrs Roberts said she and her husband Bobby, 68, had been ‘vilified’ since the footage emerged and had received death threats.
Yesterday, as the Bobby Roberts Super Circus resumed its tour in Knutsford, Cheshire, 100 protesters gathered outside to express their disgust at Anne’s suffering.
It came as it was

San Andreas sanctuary officials say 50-year-old former zoo and circus elephant Ruby has died
Ruby, an African elephant who was moved to a Northern California sanctuary four years ago amid protests over her confinement at the Los Angeles Zoo, has died. She was 50.
Ruby died Tuesday at the Performing Animal Welfare Society elephant sanctuary in San Andreas, director Pat Derby said Thursday.
A veterinarian, the elephant staff and Derby were all with Ruby when she died.
A necropsy was being performed at the University of California, Davis, Derby said.
Ruby spent 20 years at the Los Angeles Zoo, after being transferred several times and performing with Circus Vargas, Derby said.
Los Angeles Zoo officials said Ruby was one of the oldest African elephants in captivity.
The zoo sent Ruby to the sanctuary, southeast of Sacramento, in mid-2007 after years of lobbying by animal rights activists.
Entertainer Bob Barker donated $300,000 to help pay

Honolulu Zoo accreditation in limbo
The Honolulu Zoo's attempt to gain re-accreditation has once again hit a road block.This despite the fact the zoo has spent millions of dollars on upgrades the past few years.
So why won't the Association of Zoos and Aquariums sign off on our zoo?
It's hard not to notice the improvements, which have been costly the past few years.
"We've spent close to ten million dollars in improvements. And behind me, our new entrance here in testimony to a three million dollars investment to upgrade the zoo,” said Sidney Quintal of the city’s Enterprise Service Department.
And that makes for some frustration in the re-accreditation process.
"We don't agree with what they have done to us,” said Quintal. “I think it was unfair, they didn't take it globally."
As for what concerned the inspectors?
"The elephant was an issue, we were slow, that was a major project. The total cost for that project, with moving other exhibit around is in excess of eleven million dollars,” said

Dallas Zoo quickly quashes giraffe-encounter fee
Face-to-face encounters with giraffes have been among the most popular features at the Dallas Zoo. But for two days, it cost you some lettuce to do it.
Nicole McElwee of East Dallas tried Sunday to lead her 21/2-year-old son onto a platform that juts out into the giraffe exhibit at the Giants of the Savanna exhibit and allows visitors to get within inches of the animals.
She was stopped by a temporary barrier.
Employees told her that, under a policy that had begun that day, the family could enter the platform only by paying $5 for lettuce to feed the giraffes.
“My son started crying,” she said. “I can see keeping people out if it was crowded, but there were only eight or 10 people in the … area.”
A visit by a Dallas Morning News reporter Tuesday afternoon confirmed McElwee’s experience, but a zoo spokesman said it was all a mistake that would be corrected immediately.
“The situation you described did exist, but it is not the situation right now,” said Susan Eckert, zoo spokeswoman. “That’s not the policy, and we’re going to make sure the whole staff knows about it.”
Effective immediately, she said, zoo visitors would again be able to enter the giraffe platform with or without buying a treat for the giraffes. She said visitors might have to wait in line if the platform is crowded.
She said she did not know how

Zoo elephant case before Alta. appeal court
Alberta's Court of Appeal heard four hours of arguments Tuesday in the case of Lucy, the Asian elephant at Edmonton's Valley Zoo.
Zoocheck and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA] believe Lucy is in distress and want her moved to an elephant sanctuary in the United States. They filed an originating notice last year asking the courts to declare Lucy an animal in distress.
A Court of Queen's Bench judge ruled against the groups in August, stating they did not follow the proper channels to bring legal action against the City of Edmonton, which operates the zoo.
Zoocheck and PETA appealed that ruling, asking for the case to be reinstated. Lawyer Clayton Ruby said afterwards Tuesday's arguments did not get to the issues at the centre of Lucy's case.
"We argued fine points of very abstract law all day today and that's great for a lawyer," Ruby said.
"But at the end of the day this animal is truly suffering and in pain, aged and dying and not receiving any adequate medical care. That's awful."
City officials say Lucy has health problems that make it too dangerous to move her. They reject any suggestion Lucy is poorly treated at the zoo.
City lawyer Steve Phipps says the Edmonton

Freeze on funds threat to conservation project
ONE of the country's most valuable biological resources is lying dormant due to a lack of funding.
Known as the frozen zoo, the Animal Gene Resource Centre of Australia, at Monash University's Clayton campus, contains samples of blood, saliva, skin and reproductive tissue from more than 100 rare, threatened and endangered species.
The 16-year-old collection - the world's first national animal gene bank - is part of a worldwide database designed to secure the genetic diversity of threatened or endangered species. The frozen zoo also holds genetic material from animals such as sheep and cattle dogs - a valuable agricultural resource should disease decimate stock.
However, Australia's ''biobank'' branch has struggled to secure continued funding after advocate and inaugural chairman Alan Trounson left the country to work in the US. This coincided with biotech

Panda deal finance boss steps down from zoo job
A ZOO boss who was involved in bringing giant pandas to Scotland resigned just weeks after it was announced the attraction had secured the loan of the two animals.
Max Gaunt, who worked as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's treasurer for nearly four years, stepped down from his position in February.
It is unknown why he left the post but it not being linked to the suspension of acting chief executive Gary Wilson, who the Evening News last week revealed was being investigated over mystery allegations.
Bosses said Mr Gaunt, the chief executive of RGA Consulting and a former finance director for Gleneagles Hotel,

Snake's alive! The Bronx Zoo Cobra found... at the Bronx Zoo!
You may now breathe a ssssigh of relief. After escaping from a cage at the Bronx Zoo last week and going MIA, a venomous 24-inch Egyptian Cobra was found on Thursday by zoo staffers. Was it captured while slithering its way through Central Park? Catching a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden? Enjoying a quiet dinner at an Italian bistro in the Village? Nope. She was just coiled up in a dark corner of the reptile house, a mere 200 feet from her cage, and is now “resting comfortably and secure,” according to zoo officials. (Cue the singer from Survivor: The search is over/you were with me all the while…)
It’s been a fangtastic week for the BZC, who quickly became America’s deadly darling as she did everything from staying out of sight to keeping a low profile. One sneaky soul set up a Twitter account @BronxZoosCobra, which detailed

Lost Cobra May Hide for Weeks, Zoo Says
For advice on how to catch a wayward snake in the Bronx Zoo, it seemed worthwhile to consult the city’s own resident snake charmer, Serpentina, of Sideshows by the Seashore in Coney Island.
She recalled how, some years ago, her albino Burmese python once got loose in her dressing room. Then Serpentina, sometimes known as Stephanie Torres, 34, of Brooklyn, offered an answer that clearly benefited from hindsight.
“Get better locks,” she said with a laugh.
The case of the missing venomous snake in the Bronx Zoo has yielded much interest, many press inquiries and even a fake Twitter feed or two. What it has not yielded is the snake, a 20-inch female Egyptian cobra born a few months ago.
On Monday, otherwise known as Day 4 of the cobra hunt, zoo officials put out a statement cautioning that they may not find the adolescent cobra for days, and perhaps weeks.
“We understand the interest in this story and that everyone wants us to find the missing snake,” James J. Breheny, the zoo’s director, said in the statement. “Right now, it’s the snake’s game. At this point, it’s just like fishing; you put the hook in the water and wait. Our best strategy is patience, allowing her time to come out of hiding.”
Zoo officials said they were confident that the snake was somewhere inside the reptile house, which was closed immediately after the snake went missing on Friday.
“The holding areas of the reptile house are extremely complex environments with pumps, motors and other mechanical systems,” Mr. Breheny said. “In this complex environment, she will likely remain in hiding and not move until she feels completely secure. As her comfort level rises, she will begin to move around the building to seek food and water.”
A native of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, the Egyptian cobra, or asp, can be deadly. But it usually preys on toads and birds, not humans. Its venom can quickly cause respiratory failure, and legend has it that Cleopatra used the asp’s toxins to commit suicide.
But experts said cobras are generally averse to human contact and unlikely to bite unless they feel their lives are in peril. In this case, the snake’s small size would make it even less deadly because its glands are smaller, said Rulon W. Clark, a herpetologist at San Diego State University.
“The actual danger in a situation like this is very low,” Mr. Clark said. “These aren’t animals that view people as meals.”
Jack Hanna, host of the syndicated television show “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild,” recalled how a snake escaped

Fugitive Bronx Zoo Cobra Now Has A Twitter Account
The Egyptian cobra that escaped from The Bronx Zoo over the weekend did what anyone would do after being cooped up indoors for several years...create a Twitter account and tour New York City.
A new Twitter page
has emerged in the wake of the venomous reptile's departure becoming a news media sensation. The twitter account (@BronxZoosCobra) was just started yesterday and already has over 50,000 followers.
The cobra has already visited the Magnolia Bakery, the Metropolitan Museum of Art , and the Museum of Natural History. The cobra visited Wall Street as well, but didn't stay long since the

History’s Greatest Snake Escapes
It’s day five of the search for the Bronx Zoo’s most daring cobra, and the animal remains missing. (It is “the snake’s game,” after all.) How might the creature’s game of hide-and-seek end? For answers, we turned to history’s most daring snake escapes.
In August 2010, a poisonous tiger snake (pictures suggest it’s much more snake than tiger) ventured from its home at the Zoo Atlanta. “It’s nowhere near public access,” a zoo spokeswoman said at the time. This would soon prove to be untrue. About two weeks later, the snake was located “roughly 100 yards away on the front porch of a Grant Park couple, where it was clubbed to death by homeowner Guy Mower,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Years earlier, in late 2006, a poisonous cobra went AWOL from its enclosure in a Toronto apartment building, where it had been living as a pet with North America’s worst tenant. The city’s public-health department “sealed off the building

Snake trappers use live mice to bait runaway Bronx Zoo cobra - who now has 118,000 Twitter followers
Worried staff at the Bronx Zoo have resorted to setting traps baited with live mice to catch a cobra missing for five days.
The snake escaped from the zoo's Reptile House on Saturday and while desperate officials search for the fugitive, the cobra is apparently alive and well, according to his very own Twitter page.
The deadly venomous viper appears to have been keeping himself busy, with the spoof page, named @BronxZoosCobra, providing a running commentary as to his whereabouts

Hoan Kiem turtle to have “sanatorium”
Dr. Ha Dinh Duc, a member of the steering board to protect Hoan Kiem turtle, said that the small tank that was built in the middle of the lake in early March is only the “hospital bed” of the turtle. The second tank, which spans several hundreds meters in area, will be the turtle’s sanatorium

Hoan Kiem Turtle

The Role of Thailand in the International Trade in CITES-Listed Live Reptiles and Amphibians
International wildlife trade is one of the leading threats to biodiversity conservation. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is the most important initiative to monitor and regulate the international trade of wildlife but its credibility is dependent on the quality of the trade data. We report on the performance of CITES reporting by focussing on the commercial trade in non-native reptiles and amphibians into Thailand as to illustrate trends, species composition and numbers of wild-caught vs. captive

Do breeding facilities for chelonians threaten their stability in the wild?
After a short introduction into the aims of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and the definition of the different breeding categories used by CITES („captive bred“, „captive born“ or „farmed“, and „captive raised“ or „ranched“), we present and evaluate import and export statistics of different species and countries. These show many cases of incorrect and inconsequent data, in some cases chelonians are mislabelled, or they entry into a country as „wild caught“ and leave it as „captive bred.“ Typical trading routes are named. We address the limits of CITES and show possibilities of the importing countries to improve the conservation status, i.e. by double-checking non-detriment findings, like it's imperative by each import into the European Union.

The Story Of Mawar And Her Mahout
"Mawar is naughty and likes to bully the new trainees here," said Hafizan Mohamed who is the mahout to Mawar, the 11-year-old female elephant (also called she-elephant).
According to Hafizan, Mawar which lives at the Kuala Gandah elephant conservation centre since the jumbo was two years old, likes to slap the junior workers and trainees with her trunk but refrains from doing the same against the senior workers there.
Hafizan started work as a mahout over three years ago and shortly later was given the task of looking after Mawar. Several months earlier, he underwent training with smaller elephants in order to learn the

How Species Save Our Lives
When adding up the benefits from three centuries of species discoveries, I’m tempted to start, and also stop, with Sir Hans Sloane. A London physician and naturalist in the 18th century, he collected everything from insects to elephant tusks. And like a lot of naturalists, he was ridiculed for it, notably by his friend Horace Walpole, who scoffed at Sloane’s fondness for “sharks with one ear, and spiders as big as geese!” Sloane’s collections would in time give rise to the British Museum, the British Library, and the Natural History Museum, London. Not a bad legacy for one lifetime. But it pales beside the result of a collecting trip to Jamaica, on which Sloane also invented milk chocolate.
We still scoff at naturalists today. We also tend to forget how much we benefit from their work. Since this is the final column in this series about how the discovery of species has changed our lives, let me put it as plainly as possible: Were it not for the work of naturalists, you and I would probably be dead. Or if alive, we would be far likelier to be crippled, in pain, or otherwise incapacitated.
Large swaths of what we now regard as basic medical knowledge came originally from naturalists. John Hunter, for instance, was a colorful London physician, a generation or two after Sloane, and his passion for animals made him a model for Dr. Dolittle. (He may also have been the original Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for his nighttime work sneaking cadavers in by the back door.) While others were only dimly beginning to contemplate the connection between humans and other animals, he made detailed flesh-and-blood comparisons, discovering, among other things, how bones grow and what course the olfactory nerves travel.
Hunter, now regarded as the father of modern surgery, came out of a Scottish tradition that treated the study of nature as essential for developing a doctor’s observational skills, and he drilled this attitude into his students. Among them was Edward Jenner, a country doctor who spent 15 years studying cuckoos (perhaps one reason he later got labeled a quack). But this research, combined “with Hunter’s insistence on finely honed observation and cogent presentation, helped prepare Jenner’s mind for his great work,” according to science historian Lloyd Allan Wells. That work was the development of the world’s first vaccine, for smallpox. Establishment physicians balked. But Jenner’s bold

Climate change and evolution of Cross River gorillas
Two species of gorillas live in central equatorial Africa. Divergence between the Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) and Eastern Gorillas (G. beringei) began between 0.9 and 1.6 million years ago and now the two species live several hundred kilometres apart. New research published by BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology shows that the divergence of Western lowland gorillas and the Critically Endangered Cross River gorillas (G. g. diehli) occurred more recently, about 17,800 years ago, during the Pleistocene era.
An evolutionary model of the two subspecies of Western gorillas was generated using microsatellite genotyping of living gorillas and 100 year old museum specimens. This data showed that, although Cross River gorillas diverged from Western lowland gorillas about 17,800 years ago, the two subspecies continued to intermittently interbreed. Drs Thalmann and Wegmann suggest that climate change during the Pleistocene era caused the forests to expand, permitting the Western gorillas to expand their range. When the forest contracted again the gorillas were separated into two populations which began to diverge. Successive rounds of climate change resulted in periods when the two subspecies could interbreed followed by repeated episodes of isolation of the Cross River population.
The model indicates that gene flow finally stopped between the two subspecies approximately 420 years ago. Over the last 320 years ago there has been a 60% decrease in the numbers of Cross River gorillas causing a loss of genetic diversity within the population. Dr Thalmann said, "The number of Cross River gorillas has continued to decrease, probably due to anthropogenic pressure, such as destruction of their habitat or hunting by humans. There are thought to be fewer than 300 individuals left."
He continued "It is unclear what effect this loss of genetic diversity will have on the long term viability of Cross River gorillas. But, given that this bottleneck occurred so recently, it is possible that if the population was allowed to expand the loss of diversity could be stopped."

Polar Bear Lovers Protest Potential Display of Knut's Body at Museum
Fans of the polar bear Knut, who captured the hearts around the world as it grew up in captivity at the Berlin Zoo, are planning to protest a proposal to publicly display the recently deceased bear's body.
Activists are busy collecting signatures to argue that the bear, who died suddenly March 19 at just 4 years old, should not be stuffed for display at a Berlin museum, the UK Telegraph reports. Such a display is one option being discussed, but no decision has yet been made about Knut's remains.
A condolence book on the Berlin Zoo’s website is filled with angry messages, and a letter to the zoo director says, “Nobody wants to look at a stiff, dead Knut,” the paper reports.
Knut unexpectedly died in front of visitors at the zoo, turning around several times and then falling into the water in his enclosure. A team of veterinarians determined brain problems were probably the cause of the death. Polar bears usually live 15 to 20 years in the wild and even longer in captivity.
Knut was rejected by his mother at birth and was the first polar bear to survive past infancy at the Berlin Zoo in more than 30 years. He rose to celebrity status as an irresistibly cute, fluffy cub. He attracted attention when his main caregiver, Thomas Doerflein, camped out at the zoo to give the button-eyed cub his bottle every two hours.
The bear went on to appear on magazine covers, in a film and on mountains of merchandise..
Protesters say the zoo wants to milk the bear for more money. They argue he should be cremated.
But Heiner Kloes, who is in charge of bears at the Berlin Zoo,

Inspectors save 11 hawksbill turtles covered in sea debris
Municipality aims to raise awareness among public
Young Hawksbill turtles, covered in different types of sea waste, were found on the shores of Dubai recently.
Inspectors of the Marine Environment and Wildlife Section of Dubai Municipality rescued 11 young Hawksbill Sea Turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) of length 3-5 inches and weighing 50-150 grams. They were found during the inspectors' daily patrols of coastal areas.
Most of their [turtles] body parts were covered in different types of sea waste which hindered their movement and also resulting in malnutrition.
Special centre
Dubai Municipality handed over the turtles to a specialised centre to conduct required tests as a preparation for its rehabilitation and then to release them back to their habitat.
"The Hawksbill Sea turtles are highly migratory species. They travel through the oceans of the world frequently and this migratory behaviour has made it harder for policy makers to

Naked Gorillas Mate With Staff At Bristol Gardens Zoo
AT Bristol Zoo Gardens experiment , staff are naked as part of an experiment into the sensory sensitivity of gorillas. It is, of course


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