Thursday, May 19, 2011

Zoo News Digest 18th - 19th May 2011 (Zoo News 752)

Zoo News Digest 18th - 19th May 2011 (Zoo News 752)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

Not for the first time has someone been caught trying to smuggle live 'wild' animals out of Thailand in their baggage. Traveling first class and to the UAE no less. There is a suggestion of political involvement and that a number of other people had managed to slip through the net. These were young animals, small animals. Without a shadow of a doubt there is zoo involvement here. The question is which zoo or zoos? May not be Thailand of course. Malaysia is a likely suspect too. This concerns me far more than the smugglers or their intended destinations. We need to find out and close down the source. When I first mentioned this story (following hot on the heels of the Arabian Tiger report) I was questioning the fact that there were leopards and 'panthers' reported and wondering exactly what they meant. I see now from the video (see below) that they are black leopards. All of the cubs are around a month old. Somebody must know where they came from.

Edinburgh Zoo still high in the headlines of important zoo stories.

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CIB fears political meddling in animal smuggling case
The Central Investigation Bureau has taken over a wildlife smuggling case involving a United Arab Emirates citizen from Samut Prakan police following reports that a politician had been trying to intervene.
Kittipong Khawsamang, deputy chief of the CIB's natural resources and environmental crime suppression division, said his agency resolved to take over the case after Racha Thewa police told him "that a politician has pressured them to return the passport to the suspect". An initial investigation had found the suspect was an alleged member of a huge wildlife trafficking ring with links to an international crime network.
Undercover anti-trafficking officers on Friday arrested the 36-year-old man after suitcases filled with drugged baby leopards, panthers, a bear and monkeys were found at Suvarnabhumi airport.
The suspect, identified as Noor Mahmoodr, had been waiting to check in for a first-class flight to Dubai when he was apprehended by agents who had been monitoring him since he had purchased the rare and endangered animals on the black market.
Mr Mahmoodr has been released on bail and was not allowed to leave the country, Col Kittipong said.
He would not identify the politician who had reportedly been meddling in the case.
The CIB's investigation team will meet today to review the case, particularly the number and species of the seized animals. The team will also ask the airline to identify other first-class

UAE must tighten curbs on illegal wildlife trade
The UAE must do more to clamp down on the illegal smuggling of endangered and exotic animals into the country, animal welfare charities said.
The prevalence of illegal wildlife trading in the Gulf state became apparent this week when a 36-year-old Emirati man was arrested at a Thailand airport for trying to smuggle baby leopards, panthers, monkeys and a bear in his luggage.
The case comes weeks after media reports cited a tiger was spotted leaning out of the passenger car window of a blacked-out Dubai vehicle as it drove past the Mall of the Emirates.
“Not enough is being done to prevent this trade,” said Steve Galster, the director of Thailand-based anti-trafficking group

The Auckland Council is downsizing a plan to import a herd of elephants to the city's zoo.
The idea was approved year but now the number of elephants has been reduced to two.
A $13 million proposal to expand the elephant enclosure to accommodate up to 10 animals was endorsed by the former Auckland City Council last year.
The Auckland Council - which merged eight former councils - says councillors will now consider a revised plan under which two juvenile elephants would join the zoo.
Auckland Zoo has been home to just

Ancient turtle wants to return to Hoan Kiem Lake

Dr. Bui Quang Te, leader of the turtle treatment team, said that in the recent hot days, the turtle did not eat for three consecutive days.

“I’ve warned that it would be a matter if the temperature is over 30 degree Celsius. The turtle must be brought back to the lake as soon as possible,” Dr. Te emphasized.
Dr. Dang Gia Tung, deputy director of the Hanoi Zoo, also said that the turtle must be released back into the lake early. However, experts should fence a zone in the lake as the home for the turtle. He also worried that the turtle may be tamed after a long time living in an artificial tank, especially the way it is fed.
“I was surprised that they strike fish dead and give dead fish to the turtle,” he said.
Other experts agreed to release the turtle

New Edinburgh Zoo chiefs face grilling from members
NEW Edinburgh Zoo chiefs Hugh Roberts and Manus Fullerton are to be grilled by Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) members next week.
The interim chief executive and new chairman will face a membership still unhappy about the handling of the worst scandal in the prestigious charity’s 102- year history.
The zoo has descended into months of turmoil after anonymous allegations over the conduct of a number of managers in March sparked events that led to the sacking of one executive, the suspension and then clearing of another, and the ongoing suspension of a third.
The Herald also revealed earlier this week that the £6 million, 10-year giant panda business plan has been widely citicised by experts and is being investigated by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator after it received a complaint about the funding package with China in January.
One RZSS member said last night: “The membership needs to know where the zoo is going, and we still don’t have that information. The board sat on their hands the whole time. And why do we have an interim chief executive?
"That makes you think that the zoo is still going to be hived off.”
The zoo admitted considering privatising

Does new Edinburgh Zoo man have enough animal magic?
THERE are few people at Edinburgh Zoo, it's probably fair to say, who would know how to organise drinks in a brewery. However, that is all about to change.
After six months without a chief executive, in which time the zoo has been battered by internal strife and external allegations about its management, a former brewery boss has been appointed to take charge of the second most popular tourist attraction in the Capital.
Hugh Roberts, who spent 12 years working for Adnams, an independent brewers and distillers in Southwold, Suffolk, before trying his hand at running football clubs and going on to become a somewhat nomadic board member of a variety of organisations, took up the reins of the troubled zoo yesterday.
Despite his appointment bringing an end to months of concern about a lack of leadership at a time when a major deal to bring pandas from China is in the offing, Edinburgh Zoo has put Mr Roberts under wraps until June, when it's been decided he might be able to field questions about the zoo's future.
So just who is the "interim" chief Hugh Roberts? And is he the right man to ring the changes at an institution which has recently seen the suspension of two directors, the sacking of another, the resignation of the honorary treasurer, the leaking of plans to lease the zoo to a Spanish company and a vote of no confidence in chair Donald Emslie?
Certainly, the 61-year-old appears to have no connection to Edinburgh and has spent most of his life in Suffolk.
In fact, so rooted to the area is he, that even an 18-month sojourn to Sunderland was hard going for his family whom he said in the past "never settled". That at least was his reason in 2003 for quitting as chief executive of Sunderland football club - nothing to do with relegation from the Premiership, debts of £23 million and a share price crash of around 85 per cent.
His business life though started in the "quaint" Suffolk brewery of Adnams, where in a 12-year-period he rose to become joint managing director with responsibility for the company's strategic direction.
In February 2001 he was headhunted by Sunderland FC and became its chief executive at a time when the club was riding high in the Premiership and was on a solid financial footing.
The results for the year to Ju

Zoo's bid to get more people cycling
AN OLYMPIC Gold medalist is backing Chester Zoo’s bid to get more people cycling this summer.
The zoo is rewarding all those who arrive by bicycle with 15 per cent off the price of admission in its attempt to get its visitors to go green.
Cyclist Chris Boardman, who famously took Britain’s opening gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona games, said: “The zoo is making a real effort to encourage people to get healthy, go green and cycle in to see the animals over the summer. So I hope as many people as possible start pedalling and take advantage of the offers.”
Highlighting the financial, physical and environmental benefits of cycling, the winner of three stages of the Tour de France added: “Cycling

Edinburgh Zoo's EGM from a member's point of view
It's been a turbulent year for Edinburgh Zoo, with scandals, investigations and now the executive chair's resignation. Will pandas solve the problems? Guest blogger and Leith resident Yonmei reports back from the zoo's emergency general meeting
I went to the Edinburgh Zoo EGM on Thursday 14 May not sure what to expect. I've been going to the Zoo since before I was ten - one of my tenth birthday presents was a child's membership in the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which founded Edinburgh Zoo in 1913. (My grandmother, also Edinburgh-born, remembered being taken as a small child to see the very first penguin hatched in captivity, which I was able to tell her must have been when she was seven years old.) People all ages still love visiting Edinburgh Zoo.
I haven't visited the Zoo in several months - the severe weather in December and January, work overflowing into weekends - but no one interested in the Zoo could have helped noticing that they were having problems. I'd heard that the heavy snow and ice had made some of the steep paths so treacherous that the Zoo had had to close for a few days, last year and the year before, cutting down gate revenue. I'd heard that there were going to be staff redundancies, that two senior managers - including Gary Wilson, acting CEO - had been suspended for unspecified "allegations", that a third senior manager had been fired, and that OSCR was investigating (the RZSS is a registered charity).
I'd heard that the Zoo planned to sell off some of its land, I'd noticed that we were seeing an increasing number of empty enclosures, and I'd heard that the RZSS were planning to sell the Zoo to Parques Reunidos, a company that runs entertainment parks. And the pandas had been the cover pic for the latest Lifelinks. I wanted, like most of the other 500 or so members there that night, to find out

Brantford closer to banning shark fin
The Ontario city that gave the world the telephone and Wayne Gretzky is now one step closer to being the first municipality in North America to ban the sale of shark fin, a controversial ingredient still used in some Asian cooking even though its hunting practice is banned.
In a presentation Monday night, Phil Gillies, a former Brantford MPP and member of the advocacy group WildAid Canada, lauded council for its bold leadership.
"There is a growing acceptance that this is a wasteful and cruel practice and must be stopped," he said.
"And yet, the hunt for shark fin continues. You have to eliminate demand for the product."
Shark finning is a practice in which fishermen slice the fins sliced off caught sharks and then throw the fish back into the water.
Without fins, the creatures bleed to death, drown or are eaten by other species.
Wildlidfe claims that in recent decades some shark populations have declined by as much as 99%.
The fins are the principal ingredient in shark soup, a popular Asian delicacy.
Even though there are no restaurants that offer shark fin soup on their menus in Brantford, city council appears ready to vote in favour of the ban on May 24.
"I don't see how any right-thinking person

Biofuels can be dirtier than fossil fuels
Biofuels may pollute the environment much more heavily if the process used to make them isn't done in the right way, researchers say.
Conventional fossil fuels may sometimes be much "greener" than their biofuel counterparts, according to a new study.
University Research funded by a pair of U.S. federal government agencies found that taking into account a biofuel's origin is important.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers say, for example that conventional fossil fuels may sometimes be the "greener" choice compared with fuel made from palm oil grown in a clear-cut rainforest.
"What we found was that technologies that look very promising could also result in high emissions, if done improperly," said James Hileman, a an engineer at MIT who published results of a study with graduate students Russell Stratton and Hsin Ming Wong.
"You can't simply say a biofuel is good or bad - it depends on how it's produced and processed, and that's part of the debate that

Man Caught With 'Zoo-Case' Full Of Animals

How KFC and the Tea Party Kill Tigers
Over at Yale E360, you can watch a great World Wildlife Fund video showing the areas of the Sumatran rainforest slated to be logged in the near future. Sumatra is home to a pretty astounding array of wildlife, including rhinos, orangutans and tigers. Last week, WWF released rare footage of 12 critically endangered tigers in the area, including a mom and two cubs. Only about 400 Sumatran tigers are left in the world.
The video mentions one particular company responsible for much of the Indonesian rainforest destruction: Asia Pulp & Paper, a major subsidiary of the Sinar Mas Group, an Indonesian mega-conglommerate known for its cozy relationship with the Suharto family. APP's realm of influence is truly vast: The 5 million tons of paper it produces annually are sold in 65 countries on six continents.
APP has long been on environmentalists' radar; it has been accused of illegal logging in Cambodia and Indonesia, and a 2008 investigation by the rainforest advocacy group Eyes on the Forest suggested that companies connected to APP had illegally built a road through a part of Sumatra that was one of the world's biggest carbon stores.
And yet APP still has a firm hold on the US paper market. According to Greenpeace, KFC and several other fast-food chains owned by

Is Going Private the Only Way to Save the L.A. Zoo?
The Los Angeles Zoo is struggling to meet its payroll, and with the current state of the city's budget, there isn't likely to be an influx of cash streaming in from the coffers any time soon. One solution on the table is to turn the Zoo over to a private operator who can afford to run the attraction, according to the Press-Telegram.
The idea was pitched by Los Angeles' Chief Administrative Officer Miguel Santana who "recommended the city choose a nonprofit partner by January to take over management in July 2012. A request for proposals may go out this summer, with a private partner to be selected by fall." Back in December 2009, with a budget crisis looming, city officials hinted that public-private partnerships for the Zoo might be worth pursuing.
Santana believes that by removing the local government from the management of the Zoo, the fundraising opportunities would multiply, since, in its current configuration, donors may be reluctant to write a large check to the City of Los Angeles. He also cites rising costs of

Reptile custody battle leaves tangled snake pit
Crocodiles, pit vipers, boa constrictors land in a legal battle
When reptile zoo curator Karel Fortyn died, he left a mess as tangled as a snake pit.
The 52-year-old Czech-born man never wrote up a will. He died from a stroke May 2, leaving behind more than 200 snakes and crocodiles in his Welland, Ont., house that also operates as a reptile zoo — and an unusual custody battle.
Now his lawyer Margaret Hoy must sift through legal claims on Fortyn's property: a brother she says is the rightful owner, a former common-law wife who also has laid claim and government officials involved because of the endangered animals.
"It's a typical estate without a will," said Hoy.
But the occupants are anything but typical.
Among the reptilian inhabitants of the southern Ontario home are a pair of highly endangered Orinoco crocodiles, several other crocodiles and a number of non-venomous and venomous snakes, including pit vipers (Fortyn's favourite), boa constrictors and many more.
The large snakes are kept in individual cages, crammed side-by-side on shelves in a garage renovated with floor-to-ceiling tiles to create the Seaway Serpentarium Reptile Zoo, a small facility that opened its creaky door to visitors three days a week.
An addition in the back houses the two Orinoco crocodiles — each creature is over 300 kilograms and

New director hopes to help Bangalore Park turn a new leaf
The Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) which has been making news for sometime now for the death of its animals — some for natural reasons and others due to ailments like bacterial infection — is gearing up to meet the challenge head on with the new executive director, R Raju, announcing a slew of measures to streamline animal care at the facility.
Raju took charge a week ago from Milo Tago who had served at BBP for three years.
Raju said he had already scrutinised all animals in the zoo and was chalking out a plan for the park. The first challenge facing the park is the identification of ailing animals and monitoring their health and hygiene, he said.
This will be followed by preventive care for larger mammals. Strict feeding times will be followed — herbivores will be fed between 11 am and 11.30 am and carnivores in the afternoon. This

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