Friday, June 10, 2011

Zoo News Digest 9th - 10th June 2011 (Zoo News 759)

Zoo News Digest 9th - 10th June  2011 (Zoo News 759)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I thought that the shooting of the escaped wolf would generate comment and it has. No doubt the debate will run. It is the sort of escape which will cause a lot of discussion. Outsiders always come up with the use of tranquilizers which of course have their place. For me though it is only of real value for a dangerous animal that has been confined to a building...and even then there may be alternative methods of capture. Tranquilizers for potentially dangerous animals running free are more risky. I wrote more on this in Why Did They Not Dart The Tiger?
I have once had to deal with an 'escaped wolf' situation. Unusual in that we did not know how many had escaped. It was at least two but could have been a dozen for all we knew. It turned out it was five. We manage to to catch all of them, which involved swimming for part of the time. We did not shoot  any, but we were ready too. Every situation is different and needs instant assessment and frequent review.


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Wolf escapes from MN Zoo enclosure; killed minutes later
The Minnesota Zoo is reviewing its wolf holding area for possible weaknesses after a Mexican gray wolf escaped from the enclosure and was killed minutes later.
On Wednesday around 10 a.m., zoo officials say an 8-year-old male wolf found a weak spot in the chain link holding area and nudged his way into an outer enclosure. He then jumped an 8-foot fence to gain access to the public area of the zoo.
It was at that point that the zoo staff switched its strategy of how to recapture the wolf.
"Last thing we want to do is kill one of our animals. We would've chosen to tranquilize him if we had had the option. However, in that situation the wolf can be threatening and can be aggressive. And we don't want to take the chance," said Tony Fisher, the zoo's animal collections manager.
Fisher said the staff also couldn't rely on a tranquilizer, given that it can take a while for the drugs to take effect. The animal can

Zoo officials defend shooting of escaped wolf
Dangerous predator or terrified runaway?
Minnesota Zoo officials and wolf experts disagreed Thursday over the threat posed by the Mexican gray wolf that briefly escaped its pen on Wednesday before being shot to death.
"We had thousands of people on-site and the potential for danger," said Lee Ehmke, the Minnesota Zoo director.
"That animal wouldn't have been dangerous, period," countered David Mech, a wolf researcher and vice chairman of the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn.
The escape, which occurred when the 8-year-old wolf apparently squeezed out of its enclosure and jumped a fence into a visitor area, was the first in the zoo's 33-year history involving an animal classified as potentially dangerous. Ehmke said the quick killing of the wolf was not a departure from procedure.
"This is a traumatic event for all of the staff," Ehmke said. "But things worked out the way they were supposed to. It actually ended as planned."
Mech and others said that the zoo had to reassure the public it was doing everything it could to protect the safety of its patrons, even if the danger was minimal.
"They were protecting themselves from the perception and the insurance and so many other things," Mech said. "It would have looked pretty bad if the wolf got out of the zoo and caused a big fuss around town. But I don't think there was any risk to anyone."
Peggy Callahan, executive director of the Wildlife Science Center in Forest Lake, said she and her staff last year chased a female Mexican gray wolf for three days after someone released it from its cage.
Her policy at the wildlife center is to use tranquilizers on wolves if they escape, not kill them. "We told the police she was not a threat," Callahan said. "She was terrified."
Although Minnesota Zoo officials said that they feared the animal would become aggressive if cornered, documented attacks by wolves on humans are exceedingly rare, said both experts. There are about 3,000 wolves in Minnesota and an estimated 60,000 in Canada.
The only known fatal wolf attack in modern U.S. history occurred last year in Alaska when a pack of four is believed to have killed a woman who was jogging.
While zoo officials acknowledged that wolves are not inherently aggressive toward humans

Vandals slaughter animals at zoo for children
FOUR guinea pigs and two finches were slaughtered during a break-in at a popular children’s zoo.
The animals and birds were found after the rampage at Pets’ Corner in Darroch Park, Gourock.
A rabbit and another bird were also left seriously injured and are currently receiving treatment from a vet, while 12 animals, including three ducks, three guinea pigs, three love birds and a chicken, were also stolen from the council-run animal enclosure.
Council workers discovered the destruction when they arrived for work at the zoo yesterday at 8am.
The attack is believed to have taken place between 7.30pm on Tuesday and 8am yesterday.
The property was also badly damaged by the vandals, who broke their way through a locked door.
Pets’ Corner, which normally houses 75 animals, has been forced to close due to the incident.
Michael McCormick, Inverclyde’s Provost, said: “Words fail me to describe the kind of person who would be capable of something like this and I know news of this unspeakable act will cause a great deal of upset across Inverclyde.
“Pets’ Corner is hugely popular for people of all ages and to

Little Rock Zoo Gets Two New Elephants
Two elephants are getting acclimated to their new home at the Little Rock Zoo.
The former circus performers were donated by Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey after the death last month of the zoo's elephant Mary, who had been suffering from cancer.
The new elephants will serve as companions for another elephant Ellen, who has been at the zoo since 1954.
“It's really important for these guys to socialize,” said Joseph Darcangelo, curator of the elephant exhibit, looking out at the elephants after their arrival Wednesday.
Jewell, 60, and Zina, 50, traveled to Arkansas by truck from a center in Florida that cares for retired circus elephants.
“Right now you can tell that both the elephants are a little bit tired because of their long travel,” said Darcangelo, “but the fact that they are grazing in the

Nobody to sign Gorewada zoo staff pay cheques
The upgradation of IFS cadre has disturbed the set up of Gorewada international zoo, spelling doom for the Rs 720-crore high-profile project in the city.
The post of zoo director (IFS cadre), who is also the drawing and disbursing officer (DDO) has been scrapped as per the notification issued by the Centre in May 2010 and subsequently by the state government in August 2010. As there is no post of zoo director after May 27, the powers of DDO wrested with him have also stood withdrawn. Over 27 staffers, most of them protection staff, now face a peculiar problem.
The employees' salary cheques are ready but they cannot withdraw as there is no DDO to authorize them. Sources said of the around 50 staffers in Gorewada, over 27 working in the field and an assistant conservator of forests (ACF) have not received May month's pay.
Those who got their salary were lucky as a divisional forest officer (DFO) who was having additional charge had signed some cheques. The Gorewada office functions directly under principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife). Despite knowing well in adva

RZSS chief executive - 'His main task is to regain the zoo's respect'
IN his first major interview since taking over as head of Edinburgh Zoo, Hugh Roberts today makes a brave attempt to paint an optimistic future for the much-loved institution.
He's right to suggest that the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) stands on the brink of something great at the moment, with the imminent arrival of giant pandas offering the tantalising possibility of an even brighter future both as a visit or attraction and as a player in global conservation.
But everyone who cares about the zoo knows that it in recent months it has also strayed too close to the precipice of disaster.
There's no need to recap the various calamities on Corstorphine Hill, but suffice to say that it seemed almost predictable when we revealed on Monday that officials had forgotten to apply for planning permission for the new panda enclosure.
So far, the Chinese don't appear to have been too troubled by such problems, or the suspension of two senior managers, and the pandas could still be here as early as July.
But the main task facing Mr Roberts is to rid the RZSS of this recently-acquired reputation for cock-ups and return it instead to one of respect for an admired institution.
It helps that he was brought in with a reputation as a calm but determined troubleshooter. What's more, he handled the planning application fiasco deftly, conceding the mistake without obfuscation. He even took a share of the blame himself - even though he has only been in post for three weeks.
We sincerely hope this is a sign that the zoo now has good, pragmatic leadership and that this will continue in the key months ahead, for the sake of the city as a whole as well as one of its best-loved features.
Ward awards
When TV chiefs decide to make their next fly-on-the-wall documentary, they should consider setting it inside the ERI - specifically in the offices of private contractor Consort.
The moment when the company's own maintenance inspectors get stuck in a lift and find the emergency button doesn't work might leave viewers in stitches - of the non-A&E variety, of course.
And when senior managers decide that

Animal rights activists allege elephant abuse
Have Trunk Will Travel, a company that provides elephant rides at the San Diego County Fair, is being accused of serious abuse by a group of animal rights activists.
An undercover video that was recently released by Animal Defenders International (ADI) purportedly shows a trainer striking a baby elephant with a sharp-ended heavy stick known as a bullhook. That elephant was later featured in the current blockbuster “Water For Elephants,” and therefore the allegations of abuse have garnered international attention.
During the June 7 board meeting of the 22nd District Agricultural Association (22nd DAA), spokespeople from ADI, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and the San Diego-based Animal Protection and Rescue League all publicly spoke out against the company, claiming it also uses high-voltage electrical prods to make the animals submissive. They all urged the board to exclude Have Trunk Will Travel from this year’s fair, or at least investigate the claims.
22nd DAA board president Barry Nussbaum said he had seen the video and discussed it at length with the director of San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, who told him he was “not uncomfortable with what he saw.” However, Nussbaum also claimed that because he is not an animal expert, he was not entirely sure how to interpret the video. Therefore

Live feeding continues at Badaling
In spite of claims that their live-feeding program was banned a year ago, tourists have reported that they were encouraged to buy live goats and chickens to feed lions and tigers in the Badaling Wild Animal Park (BWAP) in Yanqing county over the past holiday weekend.
"It was 40 yuan [$6.17] for a live chicken, and 300 yuan [$46.29] for a goat. The price list was posted on the tour bus, and there was a coop with live chickens," Zhou Ming, a lawyer from the Beijing Yuecheng Law Firm who visited the park on Sunday, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "But nobody wanted to buy anything to watch such a cruel scene, and besides that, there were children with us," she added.
According to Zhou, the tour guide kept encouraging them to buy chickens to feed the lions even after they refused, because live feeding would give them a "more spectacular scene to observe."
"What kind of impact would it have on children to see live animals being bitten and torn apart? That's just too bloody and cruel," Zhou said.
A Beijing woman with the user name "qiubenjiumeiziAK" posted a picture taken in BWAP on her Weibo on Sunday that showed two lions awaiting chickens being dangled from a small hole in the protective cage around a tour bus. The photo's caption read "lions drooling over 'chicken snacks.'"
"That can't be true. Providing live chickens and goats to feed lions and tigers has been banned for over a year, and I've never heard of such things happening ever since," BWAP's office director, surnamed Liu, told

Live Feeding To Zoo Animals

National Zoo Welcomes Quiverful Of Cheetah Cubs
The National Zoo recently welcomed a quiverful of cheetah cubs to its conservation center in Front Royal.
"Armani" gave birth to five cubs, a large litter for cheetahs, and the only one in North America so far this year.
Biologist Adrienne Crosier says since their birth on May 28th, Armani has

Bob Barker urges Alberta to protect all animals at closed private zoo
Animal rights advocate and retired game-show host Bob Barker has entered the debate over a shuttered private zoo in central Alberta.
Barker, 87, who for years led the long-running show "The Price is Right," said Thursday he wants to see all the animals at GuZoo protected by the province — not just the exotic ones.
"All of us who are trying to protect these animals applaud the government of Alberta for taking this first step to revoke the zoo's licence, but what we're concerned about is that all of the animals won't be protected," Barker said in an interview.
Last week, the Alberta government said it would no longer issue GuZoo a permit because an independent review found deficiencies in all categories of its operations.
However, GuZoo owner Lynn Gustafson has suggested he might reopen as an unlicensed facility that featured only domestic animals.
Dave Ealey of Sustainable Resource Development

Zoo artificially inseminates elephant for 9th time since 2005
The Woodland Park Zoo artificially inseminated its 32-year-old Asian elephant, Chai, June 8 in the hopes of turning around a string of nine inseminations over six years without a successful pregnancy and help preserve Asian elephants in zoos and their native habitats.
Dr. Dennis Schmitt, an expert in elephant reproduction physiology, helped zoo staff with the insemination. The zoo will not be able to confirm a pregnancy for another 15 to 16 weeks.
Chai’s only pregnancy since 2005 ended in miscarriage, according

Elephant in the room causes two walkouts from zoo meeting
A dispute over how to evaluate new homes for Toronto’s elephants prompted two city councillors to walk out of a zoo board meeting Thursday, bringing the proceedings to a halt.
Councillors Gloria Lindsay-Luby and Paul Ainslie refused to vote on whether the board should approve an animal welfare group’s offer to pay for Councillor Raymond Cho to visit PAWS, an expansive California sanctuary that wants to house the pachyderms.
The board voted last month to shut down its elephant exhibit and move Toka, Thika and Iringa to another accredited zoo. After that meeting, Mr. Cho says he was approached by Zoocheck Canada about a trip to PAWS, which is not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
“I said yes, I want to go,” said Mr. Cho. “I like to make sure that we choose the best place for our elephants.”
He flagged it with the integrity commissioner, and on Thursday Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker moved a motion asking the board to OK the trip for Mr. Cho, other board members or staff, thus sparking a heated debate.
“I hit the boiling point,” said Ms. Lindsay

Dugong health hit by floods
HERVEY Bay's dugongs have fared worse than their Moreton Bay counterparts after the summer floods, a Sea World and University of Queensland survey has found.
Researchers from UQ, Sea World and Taronga Zoo spent the past two weeks catching wild dugongs to survey the health of the populations.
It was the first time the team had carried out its revolutionary capture methods in Hervey Bay, which suffered massive losses to its dugongs after the 1991 floods.
“We've been studying dugongs with UQ for many years, probably 10 years, but it was only four years ago we developed the techniques and processes to be able to lift them (dugongs) out on board and do the work,” said Sea World's director of marine sciences, Trevor Long.
“You've got to remember these are big animals and they're very sensitive

Private zoo fights to stay open
The keeper of a controversial private zoo says he will not surrender his animals without a fight after the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) decided not to renew its operating permit.
Saleng animal trainer and zoo keeper J. Sivapriyan said he was devastated when he received the letter from Perhilitan yesterday.
“This means I will lose all my animals, including the 32 tigers we have in the zoo.
“These animals are like my children and I will do everything in my power to ensure that the zoo is not closed down,” he said.
Under the Perhilitan ruling, animals found in illegal zoos are to be confiscated and sent to various designated animal facilities, in-cluding the Malacca zoo.
Sivapriyan said he had also appealed to the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas.
He said he had held numerous meetings with Perhilitan but his pleas were ignored.
Sivapriyan said instead of hurling accusations, Perhilitan should come up with proper evidence on why they think that the zoo was not up to standard.
“Our animals are actively breeding and if they were unhappy or abused, why would they do that?” he asked, adding that he would be starting a signature drive to prove that he had the back

Zoo cuts its carbon footprint
JOBURG Zoo is the owner of the country’s first “zoo poo” biogas installation. The environmentally friendly project is part of its renewable energy demonstration site, which includes a 3.75Kw solar panel.
A biogas digester at the zooLocated near the zoo’s Education Centre, these facilities were unveiled at an official launch on 8 June. They were donated to the zoo by Project 90 by 2030, a non-governmental organisation committed to reducing the country’s carbon footprint by 90 percent by 2030.
Roslynn Greeff, the member of the mayoral committee for infrastructure services and environment; Brenda Martin, the director of Project 90 by 2030; Gary Fahye, the owner of Grey Green Installations, which installed the alternative energy projects; Stephen van der Spuy, the chief executive of the zoo; and zoo board members, among others, were at the launch.
They were given a tour to witness firsthand the three individual projects: a solar panel that

Int'l research body launched for giant panda protection
An international research center was launched Tuesday in Southwest China's Sichuan province to improve research efforts directed at the protection of giant pandas and other endangered species.
The International Center for Giant Panda Conservation Biology is a joint project sponsored by the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base and the US-based Global Cause Foundation.
The center will employ both domestic and international resources, technologies and funds to tackle major threats that endanger the survival and development of giant pandas and other endangered species, said Professor Zhang Zhihe, the director of the Chengdu base.
Zhang said the center is a "new step" in international cooperation on giant panda protection.
"It will provide an international platform for researchers dedicated to the conservation of endangered animals and biodiversity," Zhang said.
The Global Cause Foundation will introduce leading biologists and environmentalists from across the world to the conservation program, including noted ecologist James Spotila, who is also the foundation's vice president.
The Global Cause Foundation, based in Fairfax, Virginia, is a nonprofit organization that works to help developing nations boost economic growth while simultaneously

Jackal survey to involve people's participation
An online survey of jackals, initiated by Mysore-based Nature Conservation Foundation, began on the World Environment Day, last Sunday. The survey titled ‘Days of Jackal' will be completed in two months. Sharing details of the project, M. D. Madhusudan, Senior Scientist and Trustee, Nature Conservation Foundation, told The Hindu that the objective of the survey is to enlist researchers, wildlife enthusiasts, photographers, and common people to answer a few simple questions about jackals based on their observations. Where do jackals occur? Are they being seen as often today as in the past? What threats do jackals face in the areas where they are found? Based on answers to these questions, the organisation will be able to map the regions where jackals are found. Apart from this, population trends, and documenting the threats faced by jackals across its ranges were some of the other works, the organisation proposed to take up, Dr. Madhusudan said.
This is not the first online survey on wildlife, he said. Migrant Watch, a project coordinated by the Citizen Science Programme by Suhel Quader working in National Centre for Biological Sciences, pioneered enlisting people for observing and reporting of wild animals. Another project called Season Watch has sought to take this forward. Projects such as this online survey are valuable means of complementing field ecological research.
It becomes possible to involve non-specialists

A tiger in the tank
Police in China were surprised to find that a driver of a 4x4 had taken the expression 'put a tiger in your tank' to heart when they ordered him off the road following a hit and run accident.
A search of the rear of the vehicle revealed a Siberian tiger secreted in the cargo space.
The driver, who had sped off after colliding with another car on a motorway near Yizhang in Hubei Province, was intercepted by police at a toll gate and then arrested.
Officer Chen Yin said: "There was a strong stench coming from the boot so we opened it found something wrapped in a large canvas.
"We unwrapped it and found a giant tiger sitting in a cage. We don't know why the man had it or where he was taking it but he didn't have any papers for it."
Police say they are still investigating

Israeli, Arab researchers unite over shared ecosystem
Twelve marine and environmental studies graduate students from the Middle East and Europe are taking part in a two-week Mediterranean research project off the shores of La Spezia, Italy, to protect the unique ecosystem shared by countries that might not typically have relations.
The project, which began on Sunday and is called “Environmental Impacts Know No Boundaries,” hosts graduate students from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Malta, Lebanon, Tunisia, Italy, Greece, Turkey and the UK, according to Israeli conservation NGO EcoOcean, one of the sponsoring organizations behind the venture.
EcoOcean worked together with Italian organization Environmental Ocean-Team, as part of an overall initiative to bring the region’s scientists together to find solutions for an often-threatened ocean habitat, the Israeli group said

CEPD signs cooperation deal with world's No. 1 indoor aquarium
The Council for Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on Thursday with the John G. Shedd Aquarium, the world's largest indoor aquarium, for exchanges in marine research and conservation of biodiversity in Taiwan.
The deal will drive exchanges of research staff between the Chicago-based aquarium and two Taiwanese aquariums -- the National Museum of Marine Biology and Aquarium in Kenting and the Farglory Ocean Park in Hualien -- to allow the sharing of experience in exploring the ocean, said CEPD Chairwoman Christina Liu.
"We expect that our staff will learn how to manage big indoor aquariums and pick up professional knowledge on how to conserve Taiwan's ocean resources, " Liu told reporters at a signing ceremony

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cheetahs, but Were Too Afraid to Ask (blog with a difference)


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ZHCD Zoo Botanical NEWS for June
Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

Plants and wildlife interact on grand scales and also in the tiny details. Seeing the big picture yet appreciating the tiny moment is one of the great pleasures of observing Nature. June's links at  (NEWS/Botanical News) will require the use of bifocals:

· Animals migrate over distances large or small, in great herds or individually. Researchers are discovering that the sort landscape they traverse determines the type of migration they'll pursue, and that realization can lead to better conservation strategies.

· Seagrass supports marine animals as pasture for grazing, habitat for spawning, and phytoplankton for nurturing. (That's the big picture/tiny moment bit.) Recent surveys reveal that up to 14% of seagrass species worldwide are in danger of extinction.

· Chronic Wasting Disease is decimating some North American elk and deer populations. CWD is thought to be due to prions - neither bacteria nor virus - and almost impossible to treat. Yet a cure may be found in the lowly lichen.

· Chinese Lady Slipper Orchids produce no nectar to attract pollinators. They are pollinated by flies, but unlike other fly-pollinated plants that mimic the look or smell of rotting meat, these orchids offer flies a meal of their favorite fungus… except it's all a fake.

· Just what is the connection among fungi, plants, bacteria and animals? New species have been discovered that may be the missing-link that connects them all.

Big Picture or Small… missing links… all nicely captured in this video of The World's Least Efficient Machine that presents the history of the World while watering one simple potted plant:

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and -- most importantly -- visitors! Follow on Twitter:  -- a new story every day!



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