Monday, April 11, 2011

Zoo News Digest 9th - 11th April 2011 (Zoo News 740)

Zoo News Digest 9th - 11th April 2011 (Zoo News 740)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I wrote to Giza/Cairo Zoo for an explanation/update on the position of the Orangutans. There has been no reply. It has been ignored. This is a great pity. I have had more information from other sources. It would seem that at the present time that if you visit the zoo and ask any questions about the missing Orangutan you will recieve aggressive replies informing you that you are not authorised to ask anything. Why? That suggests that there is an attempt to hide something. It would not matter what zoo or where in the world I was if someone told me I was not authorised to ask questions then I would be very suspicious. Although I view some questions from members of the public as none of their business there are others that zoos need to be open about. When arrivals are hidden for a long time then natural curiosity rises and then when deaths are hidded the curiosity compounds. I note that there is now going to be a protest outside of the zoo on the 16th April (click on the link as it makes an interesting read). Such a pity. If they had been open and honest in the first place this would never have happened.

For myself I hate protests outside of zoos be it Windsor Safari Park, Bristol Zoo, Southport Zoo, Noah's Ark Zoo Farm or wherever. People protest for different reasons however and here I believe those involved (well some of them) are genuinely concerned about welfare issues of certain animals. They don't want to close Cairo Zoo but just right the wrongs. I wish them luck. Personally I am against the zoo closure but I am all for it improving. Big time.

Although it is not strictly zoo, but it is wild (and semi domestic) animals in captivity. These fish and turtle key rings must be one of the most evil and cruel ideas to hit the market in years.


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California zoo prepares for rare captive walrus birth (Scan)
A California zoo walrus is due to give birth to a calf this month, in a fairly rare event that has only been recorded 11 times before in captivity in North America, park officials said on Friday.
The 16 year-old Pacific walrus named Uquq is expected to give birth this month at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo, near San Francisco.
The park has three walruses, one male and two females, which were acquired as calves in 1994.
The animals have been slow to reproduce as the two females' breeding season did not match the rutting season of the male, which is named Sivuqaq, park officials said.
Despite the obstacles, Uquq was

Chinese students wear turtle keychains
The latest fashion trend to come out of China, according to local media, is sporting keychains with tiny turtles and fish sealed inside.
They are being sold outside train stations and are especially popular among school children.
How do you feed the little creatures? You don't.
Vendors say the water, often coloured, that the animals swim around in is nutrient-rich.
'The water in the key ring has 'nutrients',' one vendor told Global Times. 'They can live for months inside there.'
But experts say nutrients or not, fish and turtles need to breathe and will die within days, if not hours, of being put inside a sealed

Fish Key Rings

Turtle Keyring

Algorithm Finds the Hairy-Nosed Wombat Not Worth Saving
It's a bad day to be an Australian hairy-nosed wombat.
Researchers at James Cook University and the University of Adelaide have come up with a new algorithm that ranks endangered species based on how much effort should be expended in an attempt to save them. The hairy-nosed wombat, which is one of the rarest large mammals in the world even though it once roamed across almost all of Australia as recently as 100 years ago, didn't make the cut. It's the Google search approach -- except the poor wombat doesn't show up until page 10 of your results.
There's only so much money out there available for conservation efforts. And that number, whatever it might be, isn't enough to save even a fraction of the species that are currently teetering on the brink of extinction, according to Corey Bradshaw, a professor at the University of Adelaide that worked on the team that developed the new algorithm. "We wanted to come up with an index that was really based around theory that we have developed over the last 20 years about what constitutes the best chance for a species to persist over time," Bradshaw told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Currently, the list maintained by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species ranks animals from safe to critical endangered. But Bradshaw takes issue: "A lot of those categories are based on somewhat arbitrary thresholds for how much a species has declined over a certain period of time or how much its range has contracted, and there is a lot of expert opinion so there is some subjectivity involved," he told ABC.
Bradshaw's new index is based, instead, largely

Zimbabwe rhino conservationist wins top international environmentalist award
The endangered African rhinoceros isn’t like a prehistoric dinosaur on the verge of extinction. It is robust in its natural habitat, it is disease resistant and breeds well when protected from poachers, says veteran Zimbabwean conservationist Raoul du Toit.
“If you can keep the poachers away, rhinos can look after themselves extremely well,” he said.
Du Toit was named Monday among six recipients of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize, the most prestigious international award for environmental activists, citing them as “fearless emerging leaders working against all odds to protect the environment

Rare turtle’s habitat discovered in Vietnam’s Central Highlands
A group of scientists have discovered that Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands is the habitat of an endangered turtle species, Saigon Tiep Thi reported Monday.
Dr. Bryan Stuart from the US-based North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, and scientists from Ho Chi Minh City University of Sciences, found eight southern Vietnamese box turtles (Cuora picturata) in the forests of Langbian plateau during a study conducted from July 2010 to January this year.
Scientists have never spotted the turtle in the wild before.
A representative of the group said the discovery was significant to preserve the endangered animal. The species was first recorded in 1998 during an investigation into wildlife trades in Ho Chi Minh City.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Cuora picturata is a “critically

Zoo chick swap tricks rare condors
Keepers at the Oregon Zoo have pulled off a California condor chick trick. An inexperienced pair of the endangered condors got rough with a freshly hatched chick last weekend, and keeper Kelli Walker rushed to the rescue, grabbed the chick out of the nest and brought it to a veterinary clinic. Walker tells The Oregonian she never usually would have done something so dramatic, but every chick counts with the condors, which were nearly lost to extinction in the 1980s. The zoo’s captive breeding program had an older pair of condors incubating a dummy egg as insurance. So the

Denver Zoo Orangutan Breathes Easier With eFlow Technology From PARI
A state-of-the-art, eFlow Technology nebulizer (PARI Pharma GmbH) has lifted one Denver Zoo orangutan's health and spirits. Mias (Mee-us), a 27-year-old orangutan, has what veterinarians believe to be chronic airsacculitis, a complex respiratory disease that is a substantial problem in both wild and zoo orangutans. Current information suggests that this condition in orangutans may also have some similarities to cystic fibrosis in p

The koala coup that changes the menu
It's a scientific discovery that rewrites the textbooks on koala ecology, shattering the myth they only eat gum leaves.
Across 30,000ha of dry eucalypt forest south-west of Bredbo in southern NSW, evidence has emerged of healthy koalas gnawing bark from brittle gum trees. Some of these ''koala chew trees'', as scientists are now calling them, have deeply gouged teeth marks running from the base of the tree, up into the crown.
'' We don't know why they do it, but it shows koala foraging is far more complex than we thought,'' NSW National Parks and Wildlife ecologist Chris Allen said.
''They could be after salt, minerals or even sap.
''We don't know if bark is a food source or supplement, or if this chewing is linked to weaning behaviour in young animals.''
More than 200 years after Australia's early colonial naturalists were so baffled by the koala they couldn't decide if it was a sloth or a monkey, koalas are showing they can still baffle the experts. Although scientists have claimed for more than a century that wild koalas feed exclusively on eucalypt leaves, local historical records refer to Aboriginal tribes on the Monaro describing

Turtle signs proving too popular with thieves
Del Stowe has a message for township thieves: please don't steal the turtle crossing signs.
Theft of the signs has been a problem since the program began three years ago, and it seems to be getting worse. Of the 18 signs around the township reminding motorists to watch out for the slow-walking reptiles, at least 6 were missing as of last week.
"It doesn't make any sense," said Stowe. "What do they want them for, hanging in their rec room?
"We'd happily sell them one for cost (about $45) if that's the case."
Although evidence of the signs' effectiveness is primarily anecdotal, anyone driving the roads of Frontenac County can see that they seem to have had an impact on the number of turtles killed on area roadways, Stowe said.
"We don't have any numbers, but

Burglars break into Lion House at Lincoln Park Zoo
As targets for burglaries go, this one’s a head-scratcher.
Someone broke into the nearly century-old Kovlar Lion House at Lincoln Park Zoo early Saturday morning. After getting inside, they even forced open a steel door that leads into the moat where tigers sometimes roam in their outdoor enclosure — where the offenders, for reason still unknown, left a ladder.
But the burglars were fortunate, it turns out: the tigers were not outside but in a secure indoor enclosure at the time. And whoever broke in also did not access areas where any of the lions, leopards or other big cats were being held overnight, zoo officials assured.
The break-in happened sometime between midnight and 6:20 a.m.. It was discovered by employees arriving to work just before 7 a.m., Lincoln Park Zoo spokeswoman Sharon Dewar said.
Police said the thieves broke a door window and gained access to the building’s basement. There they were able to get inside an office and

Ghost safari: spotting leopards in Oman
In the mountains of Oman, visitors can join the only conservation project in the world trying to save the endangered –and elusive – Arabian leopard
Khalid stopped the pick-up truck and inspected the ground ahead in the light of the headlamps. There were a few tiny greyish plants on a gently convex plateau of jagged loose rocks. It felt like we had landed on a small and rather inhospitable planet. There was no track, and hadn't been for the past few miles – not since we had stopped to look at a wolf track in the dust.
"This is it," he said, "our campsite." He grinned. "It's not as bad as it looks: there'll be enough firewood to boil a kettle, and in the morning – you'll see – it's a good view."
The rest of the team were coming up in two cars. "And leopards?" I asked, "Are they here?"
Khalid made a face. "Insha'Allah [God willing]. There's a trail camera near here which we'll check tomorrow." He jumped out of the car and started unloading, a man used to this life of remote camps in the Dhofar mountains of Oman.
As a wildlife protection officer with Oman's Arabian leopard project, Khalid is on the front line when it comes to saving one of the world's rarest creatures. There are probably fewer

Marineland To Cost $1.5 million in rates
Marineland is doomed but it is still going to cost Napier ratepayers more than $1.5 million in the coming financial year.
The marine zoo, which had been one of Hawke's Bay's top tourist attractions since the mid-1960s, has been closed to the public for two years and Napier City Council plans to shut it permanently.
According to the council's draft annual plan, Marineland will soak up $538,000 in operating costs and $24,000 in depreciation, offset slightly by $9000 in income.
As well, the plan allocates $1m to build a new enclosure for Marineland's little blue penguins at the National Aquarium further south along Marine Pde.
The fate of the dozen seals and sea lions still at Marineland is uncertain but there seems to be no place for them at other zoos in New Zealand and at least some will probably have to be put down when the attraction is finally closed.
Friends of Marineland event coordinator Emily Otto said her group opposed

Flesh eating disease from a turtle?
A UK hairdresser is recovering from necrotizing fasciitis...flesh-eating disease....that was linked to his pet turtle. The problem started when he cut his finger while cleaning out the turtle's tank. An infection developed, which isn't too surprising since a turtle terrarium is full of a variety of bacteria. However, instead of a mild, local infection, he developed an aggressive infection that started to spread up his arm. "His finger turned black and his arm became swollen and red" and amputation was discussed.
It doesn't sound like there were any cultures taken from the infection at the start, but after he didn't respond to initial antibiotics, he ended up in hospital in IV antibiotics. The infection had progressed from his finger to his bloodstream and a bacterium, Group G Streptococcus, was isolated from his blood.
Here's where more details would be useful. The news article simply says "...and the terrapin, called Cosmo, was identified as the culprit'.
It doesn't say how Cosmo was implicated. To make a link, they'd have to find the same bacterium in the turtle's tank. Ideally, beyond just isolating the bug, they'd show that it was the same strain. It's possible that was done, but rarely do people go to that extent, so it's possible that the link was just made because the initial injury occurred in the tank. The problem with that is Group G Strep can be found in healthy people (10-25% in some studies). Therefore, while he set the scene for the infection in the tank, by breaking his skin, he could have become infected from bacteria already on or in his body. Additionally, other animal sources are possible, such

Shark fest at Dubai Aquarium, Underwater Zoo
The Dubai Aquarium and Underwater Zoo at The Dubai Mall is celebrating ‘Shark Fest,’ until May 15.
The highlights of the Shark Fest include the introduction of seven new and exotic species of sharks at the Underwater Zoo and the world’s largest collection of Sand Tiger Sharks in the aquarium. With such a diversity of species in one leisure attraction, visitors will have an unprecedented insight into the world of sharks.
The additions will give visitors an unrivalled opportunity to watch the marvels of the ‘shark world’. The seven new species will be differentiated by their remarkable adaptations and a variety of striking appearances. The new shark species include the Black Tip Shark, White Tip Shark, Spotted Bamboo Shark, Coral Cat Shark, Zebra Horned Shark, Wobbegong Shark and Leopard Shark.
With the addition of the seven new species, the total species of aquatic animals in the 33,000-strong family of Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is now over 260.
Visitors can look forward to much more than shark spotting at the aquarium, as Shark Fest offers a unique opportunity to further understand the shark community, watch feedings of different species of shark and gain an overview of the operations of the aquarium through§ion=theuae

Essex County spends $3M to bring leopards, jaguars, cougars to Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange
A cathouse is coming to Essex County. And it’s not going to be cheap.
County officials, though, said the $3 million it will cost to bring snow leopards, jaguars and cougars to the Turtle Back Zoo is a worthwhile expense that will pay off for the local economy as well as for something a little harder to quantify — the overall health of wild felines.
Although the zoo’s director, Jeremy Goodman, said it was difficult to gauge how much any new zoo exhibit boosts attendance, it’s thought the cats might bring an additional 50,000 visitors to

I'll be surprised if Chinese send giant pandas to crisis-hit zoo, expert warns
A PANDA expert has warned that the management crisis at Edinburgh Zoo could jeopardise a deal struck with China to bring two of the endangered species to Scotland.
Henry Nicholls said the suspension of key figures at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) could lead the Chinese to pull out of the agreement.
Iain Valentine, the man who had helped broker the deal to bring two giant pandas to the zoo later this year, was suspended last week pending an investigation into "matters of a very serious nature".
A second member of the management board, believed to be director of development Anthony McReavy, also left his job at RZSS, which owns the attraction. The zoo's interim chief operating officer, Gary Wilson, was suspended in March.
Mr Nicholls, author of the Way of the Panda, told

A leaky ark is better than nothing
There is a particular memory that often comes to mind when I think of zoos.
Years ago, I visited one in the south of England and watched as a group of teenage girls stood at the gorilla enclosure and taunted the apes inside. “You looking at me?” they shouted, waving their arms, gesticulating and leering. “Come on, big boy! Have a go!” Back then, I thought how sad it was that, for all zoos talked about educating us about animals, one of the main things they seem to teach us is that if we can enclose them we have them under our control. They can’t hurt us or run away. Mighty as a gorilla might be, he’s a pussy when he’s behind bars.

Greenwich zoo owner agrees to plea deal
The owner of Ashville Game Farm has agreed to a plea deal in a criminal case against him, and it should not affect his ability to re-open the zoo this spring, according to his lawyer.
Jeffrey Ash, owner of the Greenwich zoo, was in Washington County Court on Friday for a hearing on a 29-count indictment filed against him late last year that accuses him of endangering patrons and a host of environmental and wildlife crimes.
Judge Kelly McKeighan told lawyers in the case that they were "very close" to a resolution, and he adjourned the case until April 29. He said he believed "all terms and conditions could be in place" by that point for the case to be resolved.
One of his lawyers, Tucker Stanclift, said he was confident an agreement would be in place with prosecutors by the next court appearance. But he said he could not discuss the case because McKeighan had imposed a gag order.
Stanclift said there was "nothing that is happening with the legal action that will affect his ability to re-open."
"He will make an economic decision as he does each year," Stanclift said.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, has not allowed Ash to renew his state license pending the outcome of the case, DEC spokeswoman Lori Severino said Friday.
Washington County District Attorney Kevin Kortright could not be reached for comment later Friday.
The investigation by the state DEC and Washington County District Attorney’s Office began in August after a 7-year-old boy visiting Ashville was apparently bitten by a ringtail lemur.
Three lemurs were seized and killed to be tested for rabies, but none were found to be rabid.
Authorities said an inspection of the game farm found numerous violations of safety regulations, including improper fencing that would allow visitors to have contact with b


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