Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Zoo News Digest 19th - 21st June 2011 (Zoo News 763)

Zoo News Digest 19th - 21st June 2011 (Zoo News 763)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

As I walked through Ravenscourt Park a Grey Squirrel took up a very attractive pose. As I stood and watched it decided to investigate me. It moved slowly across the grass before ending up sitting on my foot. A passing bike gave it a fright and it ran off. Apart from giving the odd cat or dog my attention it is the first physical contact with an animal in a while (apart from nearly tripping over a fox on Askew Road). I thought how much I liked Grey Squirrels. I do too but I must have killed at least a hundred. Always with remorse but out of necessity whilst researching and improving the environment for the endemic Red Squirrel. The Grey Squirrel is unfortunate in that it is in the wrong place, the wrong country, introduced in ignorance. What about zoos? I thought. There is ignorance there too. Far too many animals that should not be there. In the wrong place in the wrong country in the wrong zoo.

Damn superstitions : "According to Maharashtrian superstition, if the boa and an albino tortoise are killed with the nails of an owl, there will be a shower of money in the house." So you pop into your local zoo and steal a snake.(see link below)

I much enjoyed watching 'Conservation's Dirty Secrets' on Channel 4. I wish I could say that I was surprised but I wasn't. A lot of it I already was aware of. In the main it was exposure of corruption in high places and of...yes 'the dirty little secrets' that people tend to turn a blind eye to because it ruffles their morals and rubs their prejudices up the wrong way.


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Calls mount for China to boost animal welfare
Animal welfare advocates in Asia, who gathered in southwest China for a regional meeting, have called for better protection of animals.
Participants at the Asia for Animals Conference 2011, which ended in the southwestern city of Chengdu over the past week, particularly urged the timely passage of China's first comprehensive animal welfare law -- the China Animal Protection Law, which has been shelved at the national legislature since the release of its draft in September 2009.
About 100 countries in the world have enacted laws to protect animal welfare, experts say.
Mang Ping, a professor with Central Institute of Socialist Studies in Beijing, said abuses on animals commonly exist in the industrial breeding, transport, and slaughter of animals for food in China.
"The suffering of animals going through the whole process is beyond imagination," Mang said, adding that animals are reportedly raised with hormone-altering feed by some farm owners hoping to cash in on the rise in the number of full-grown animals for

Krill or kill: secret seal supper
THEY were plucking whiskers from a groggy leopard seal before they heard the crack. A few moments later, David Slip, four of his colleagues and the seal were sliding into near-freezing Antarctic water as the ice floe they were sharing broke apart.
''I was kind of hoping he was going to swim the other way,'' said Dr Slip, a biologist with the Australian marine mammals research centre at Taronga Zoo.
Fortunately the animal, weighing several hundred kilograms, showed little interest in hanging around.
The men, wearing special suits to protect them from exposure, clambered to safety aboard two Zodiac inflatable boats as several pieces of equipment sank to the sea floor.
Dr Slip returned to Australia in March after a summer spent with lightly tranquillised leopard seals on the Antarctic peninsula, using a rare isotope of nitrogen found in their whiskers to work out what the seals have been eating.
Nitrogen-15, which carries one more neutron in its nucleus than common nitrogen-14, stays in the body of animals longer, and a predator will

Zoo to turn poop into power
The Toronto Zoo plans to turn waste from its animals into power.
The zoo said that it would team up with ZooShare Biogas Co-operative Inc. to develop and operate a 500 kW biogas plant.
The project will be the first co-operatively-owned biogas plant in Canada as well as the first zoo-based biogas plant of its kind in North America.
Under the plan, Toronto-based ZooShare will be fully responsible for funding, designing, developing, constructing and operating the plant on lands leased from the zoo.
Both food waste from a major grocery retailer and all of the zoo's manure, which is currently composted, will go to the proposed plant where it will be processed into electricity, heat and fertilizer.
This will result in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 10,000 tonnes CO2, which

Will L.A. Zoo manage a better future?
City officials and advocates agree on one thing: They want the Los Angeles Zoo to thrive.
The question being explored now, however, is what is the best way to accomplish that.
Should it remain a department under control of the city or should it be spun off into a new public-private partnership?
It is a multimillion-dollar question involving one of the largest municipal zoos in the country with a $26 million budget from the city.
Councilman Tom LaBonge, whose district includes the zoo, said he has come to believe it would be better for the institution to be run by a private group, with city support being phased out over the years.
"Most zoos have some sort of partnership," LaBonge said. "What we need to do is develop a partnership to make sure the zoo is run well.
"I want to make sure it stays a zoo and not some amusement park. The L.A. Zoo has a very dedicated group of city employees and we have to make sure they are taken care of."
LaBonge is chair of the Arts, Parks Health and Aging Committee, which

City to acquire more animals for zoo
VISITORS can expect to see more animals and a carousel in the Cebu City Zoo soon.
Zoo keepers will buy more animals from abroad for local visitors and more domestic animals for foreign visitors to see, said Dr. Alice Utlang, head of Cebu City’s Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fishery.
They plan to acquire an albino carabao and Casuari, deer and a female Bengal tiger to give Bogart, the zoo’s lone tiger a mate, said Giovanni Romarate, Cebu City zoo manager.
The zoo’s only cobra and two colasisi died of old age earlier this year, he said.
Utlang said they aim to adopt international standards for keeping zoo animals free from pain, stress, hunger, thirst and disease.
They also want zoo staff to be given venom vaccines.
Utlang said procurement of veterinary supplies for the zoo is slow and should be improved this year.
Romarate said they will also replace cages with better barriers for the animals “so that they would not feel like captives.”
The zoo would be transformed to make it look more like the animals’ natural habitat.
They will also build a carousel in the zoo atrract more visitors, Romarate said.
From January to May 2011, the zoo recorded 400,000 visitors compared to 700,000 visitors from January to June last year.
Romar attributed the fall in the number of visitors to bad   

Rio Zoo Primates Snuggle Up to Beat Winter Chill (Interesting Video)
As the southern hemisphere winter nears, animals in Rio de Janeiro zoo have been braving lower temperatures. But the chilly nights could be over as zoo keepers treat orangutans and chimpanzees to blankets and warming soups.
In a bid to keep the animals warm, zoo keepers doled out covers and changed their diet, after thermometers dipped as low as 49.3 degrees Fahrenheit in the past week.
The orangutans welcomed their new fuzzy blankets, with residents Tanguinha and Else wrapping themselves up in the covers throughout the day.
The chimps also seem to enjoy their tasty pea soups that are part of a new diet richer in carbohydrates and vitamin C. Tropical fruits like watermelon and pineapple have been replaced by corn, potatoes and oranges.
Biologist Karla Cunha said it was the first year they were giving soups to beat the cold.
[Karla Cunha, Biologist]:
"These animals are very sensitive to drastic temperature changes, so we have been doing these actions for some years now and every year we innovate, we invent something new. This year we started giving soups and broths."
Heaters have been installed in the building where baby animals are kept in Rio's zoo. Four baby monkeys from the Amazon arrived in the past days.
Even though the winter season doesn’t officially begin until June 21, a polar air mass arrived early

Alberta zoo owner declares his property a church
An Alberta man facing a deadline to close his private zoo has decided to call his property a place of worship in hopes that the designation will help him keep his animals.
Guzoo Animal Farm owner Lynn Gustafson has started calling his property near Three Hills "a parsonage," and has declared his hundreds of exotic and domestic animals as having found sanctuary.
The designation means, according to Gustafson, that his animals are protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
"We are kind of looking after God's creatures so I guess we are kind of the same as we have always been — a sanctuary," he said.
Gustafson has 400 animals including tigers, a New Guinea singing dog, lynx and a baboon.
The move doesn't impress Zoocheck Canada's Julie Woodyer, who said Gustafson is trying to stall the removal

Bill Haast, creator of Miami Serpentarium, dies at 100
If snake venom holds the secret to a long life, then Bill Haast had the magic.
The man who mesmerized generations of paying customers from 1947 to 1984 by extracting venom at his Miami Serpentarium as a spine-tingling South Florida attraction is dead.
He died of natural causes Wednesday in Punta Gorda, on Florida's west coast, where he had made his home. He was 100 years old.
Born William E. Haast on Dec. 30, 1910, in Paterson, N.J., he was a South Florida celebrity for surviving successive venomous snakebites. Friday, his wife, Nancy, put his lifetime tally at 172. The legacy left him immunized, enabling him to donate life-saving blood to 21 victims across the years.
All survived, she said.
Grainy black-and-white television footage from 1962, now part of the Wolfson Archive, shows a

Assam Zoo plans to breed highly endangered langurs
A breeding centre for endangered golden langurs may soon come up in the premises of the Assam Zoo.
Only a handful of golden langurs (Trachypithecusgeei) are found in the Manas Tiger reserve in lower Assam and in the Umananda temple on river Brahmaputra near here.
Zoo divisional forest officer Utpal Bora said, "The project is highly ambitious and right now it is at a preliminary stage. We have submitted the initial proposals to the government to set up the breeding centre inside the zoo which is a very suitable location for their breeding."
"This initiative has been approved by the government and a detailed report for forming an expert team and construction of an enclosure are being prepared," Bora said.
The zoo DFO said the

Activists oppose Chiangmai Zoo’s polar bear exhibition
After the Chiangmai Zoo has decided to showcase a polar bear, many people and activists denounced the move, saying it would be tantamount to animal cruelty.
Under heavy criticisms on the move to exhibit polar bear, Chiangmai Zoo had held a public forum to listen to public opinion. Over 100 people from different organizations participated in the forum.
A representative from Lanna Bird and Nature Conservation Club said polar bear exhibition at the zoo was unacceptable. He explained that the sub-standard conditions at the zoo and the tropical climate in Thailand were not suitable for the animal. It is pointed out that that

16 gharials born in Punjab zoo
As many as 16 gharials, categorised as critically endangered species, have been born at Chhat Bir zoo in Banur, about 15 km from here, officials said here today. The zoo officials are working overtime to save all the 16 broods in the wake of the death of 12 newborn gharials under mysterious circumstances last year. The gharial (Gavialis gangeticus) is one of the three crocodilians found in India. Characterised by long, slender snouts, it is one of the longest of all living crocodilians. The newborns have emerged in the past two to three days and have been separated from the adults, officials said. A gharial mother hides the eggs under sand during the 80 to 90 days of incubation period. However, the newborn creeps into water within a day or two


IRKA 2011 Photography Contest

Open To All

IRKA is embarking on a new fundraising idea this year in hopes to give back! We are having a rhino photography contest beginning June 1st & ending July 31st. 12 winners of the contest will be featured in the IRKA/IRF’s 2012 Rhino Calendar. The calendars will be sold for $25 with the funds raised going to help Rhino Protection Units (RPUs) with supplies such as; shoes, GPS, binoculars, etc.

Contributors can submit up to 5 photographs in a JPG or JPEG file format by July 31st to this email, IRKACalendar@gmail.com  The total file size must be less than 5MB. Photos don’t necessarily need to be a digital photo from a digital camera either; it can be a digital scan, as long as the end result is a JPG or JPEG file.

Submitted photographs will be posted on the IRKA website (http://www.rhinokeeperassociation.org/)  by August 8th. Voting will be August 8th-29th to determine the 12 top winners. A date of when calendars can be ordered will be announced very soon!

To submit your photos please download the Entry Form from the website http://www.rhinokeeperassociation.org/  fill it out, and send us your BEST Rhino Photos!



Snakes and leaders need a change of image
A red sand boa is missing from Mumbai’s Byculla Zoo. Hindustan Times quotes zoo director Anil Anjankar as saying: “The snake has not been misplaced... this snake was stolen.” The authorities have been very prompt in their response to the absconding snake; they have decided to raise the height of the zoo fence. But this is a sand boa (whose main activity is burrowing in the sand) and not part of the Chrysopelea (flying snake) family. The boa could have gone underground when its keepers were looking the other way.
According to Maharashtrian superstition, if the boa and an albino tortoise are killed with the nails of an owl, there will be a shower of money in the house. It is not as elaborate as Shakespeare’s “Eye of newt, and toe of frogge,/Wool of bat, and tongue of dogge,/Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,/Lizard's leg, and howlet’s wing.” But you must remember that for the spell to work, the boa must be more than 3.5 kg in weight. Sand boas, like the wives of some of our richest industrialists, are short and stout.
The boa is an unloved creature. You might conceivably have a crush on a boa constrictor; remember models Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre were pulled up for obscenity for appearing in an ad dressed only in a snake. They were trying to sell shoes. Both the shoe brand and snake have now disappeared.
Vanishing snakes are not a feature of Mumbai alone. In March, a cobra went AWOL from New York’s Bronx Z

African Penguins face extinction
Cape Town conservation group hand-rears penguins and releases them into refuge.
When four pickup trucks packed with boxes full of chubby African Penguins arrived at Stoney Point, the welcome was less than tremendous.
Hundreds of mature penguins in the existing colony lay out in the morning sun, oblivious to the 63 birds — adults first, then juveniles — who waddled out onto the sand and into the Indian Ocean. A handful of volunteers and onlookers showed up to watch the release.
"At Betty's Bay, people just see penguins, penguins, penguins. They're everywhere — people chase them out of their gardens," said Venessa Strauss, CEO of the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB).
The release of the penguins was part of the effort to boost South Africa's endangered African Penguin.
Cape Town's most famous penguin colony is at Boulders Beach which has a network of boardwalks and viewing points to protect the birds from humans and vice versa. Boulders drew some 88,000 visitors last year, says the National Parks service. Sometimes a few penguins will swim out to people at the next beach, or take a nip at a stray finger. The casual visitor would think that the penguins are thriving.
In fact the penguins are sometimes seen as a nuisance to people who live in neighborhoods near the few land-based colonies. More penguins live on nearby

Private rhinos under siege
Though the police have intensified their anti-poaching operations in national parks, owners of private game reserves fear that criminals are moving in on them and their rhino.
On Friday, a pregnant rhino was killed at a private reserve in Gauteng.
Selomie Maritz, of the eBlockwatch Rhino Dream Team - a private network of individuals fighting poaching - said rhinos had been killed at the same reserve two weeks ago.
She and her team believe the remaining rhinos there are in grave danger and so would not identify the reserve.
Five rhino were killed at the reserve last year.
In Limpopo on Thursday the carcass of a bull was found at a private reserve, she said. A month ago, on the same farm, poachers killed a rhino cow and calf.
"They took the mother's horn and the calf's tiny horn, and even removed its toenails," said Maritz.
Private game owners are now constantly on edge.
On Saturday, two reserve owners in North West called the police when they saw a helicopter hovering near their rhinos.
Reserve co-owner Jacqueline Burger said: "We were very concerned; we are anxious all the time because of what is happening to these animals in South Africa at the moment.
"I immediately called the police and got in contact with Andre Snyman, of eBlockwatch, who tried to get more information on the helicopter.
"My husband then followed the helicopter, which eventually landed next door. My husband was about to beat [the pilot] up when it turned out that our neighbour had decided to take a trip with a friend."
Maritz said poachers often wounded rhinos

Punjab budget: More funds for zoo than minority citizens
“The chief minister’s (CM) regard and vision for minorities can been judged from the Punjab government’s allocation of a measly Rs220 million for minorities. Even the Lahore Zoo has been allocated Rs390 million,” Pervez Rafique, PPP MPA on a reserved seat for minorities, said on Monday.

Officials remove 60 animals from Saleng Zoo
The animals at the Saleng Zoo have finally been “set free”, with the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) spearheading the rescue mission.
Armed with tranquilliser guns, metal cutters and blowtorches, a huge team of officials raided the zoo in an operation that began at 10am.
The entire exercise to remove the animals, said to number about 60, is expected to last at least a week.
The raid, the first in the country since the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 was enforced last December, culminated in the seizure of dozens of protected animals which included bears, tigers, lions, snakes, monkeys, porcupines, crocodiles, birds and ostriches. The zoo has about 40 species of animals.
Starprobe had exposed the situation at several zoos last month where animals were being kept in atrocious and pitiful conditions that went against international and local zoo guidelines.
Saleng Zoo was one of the zoos named. Its animal trainer and zookeeper J. Sivapriyan offered no resistance as the


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