Sunday, August 28, 2011

Zoo News Digest 26th - 28th August 2011 (Zoo News 782)

Zoo News Digest 26th - 28th August 2011 (Zoo News 782)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I was disappointed not to have had the opportunity to catch up with my friend and colleague Marimuthu during his recent short stay in Thailand. Marimuthu was so very kind and helpful to me when I traveled in India. Sadly this week I was tied up with meetings and conference calls and visits to government departments.

You may be familiar with the work of Dina Zulfikar, very courageous Egyptian lady who fights for improvements of the welfare of animals in Egypt wherever they are. She is currently arranging workshops in Cairo, free of charge, in conjunction with the Jane Goodall Institute and some colleagues from Phoenix Zoo. All very noble and necessary. Can you guess what the response was from the management of Central Zoos?? They say they "are behaviour specialists and they don't need to learn more"
Do you believe it? Sadly I do. Exactly the response you would get from the likes of Manila Zoo who seem to think they know it all too.

Interested to learn that all AZA institutions which hold elephants must move over to protected contact by 2014. (I wonder if the none AZA so called 'sanctuaries' will follow suit) I note that certain individuals are seeing this as a victory over the use of the ankus....though of course these people call it a bullhook, simply because they do not understand. Personally I am not against 'protected contact' but I much prefer 'free contact' and count myself lucky that I have been able to enjoy one to one relationships with these wonderful animals.




I am glad that I no longer work with elephants because I feel this change in relationship would be something akin to a very painful divorce.

Some years ago my wife rescued a dog. Beautiful, gentle natured, harmless. Loved animals and children (she did not like black and white collies though). She ran freely on walks around North Wales and never hurt a flea. A year or so later laws changed. It turned out she was a 'ban dog'. Two choices. She must be euthanased or spayed, microchipped, insured for three million, and muzzled and on a lead whenever in public (including in the car or garden). We loved her and did not want to lose her and so took the second option. That poor animal never understood what it was that she had done....and she had done nothing. The law is an ass sometimes. My point is that there are going to be a lot of elephants that are going to wonder just what it is that they have done wrong.

Straying only slightly off the subject of elephants and dogs and onto free contact with big cats. As you are aware I am very much against this totally unnecessary and cruel exploitation. I am even more against it when I learn that concealed tazers are being carried 'just in case'. There never would be a need to use such things if the cats were parent reared and kept with their own kin in the first place.

My thoughts are with those zoos (and everybody really) in the path of Hurricane 'Irene'. Good luck.

Sad to learn of the untimely death of the lion cubs but then as was so rightly pointed out these things happen in the wild all the time. What was the relevance to this story to include "Berlin Zoo came under fire early this year when star attraction Knut the polar bear had a fatal fit from an undiagnosed brain disease and keeled over into his pond in front of horrified children".? Why include this? And how on earth could the zoo possibly "come under fire" for a totally unexpected natural event? Except from the very very stupid of course.

Interesting... "a more humane Safari-style facility" is how the new set up for Kuwait is described. Okay details are scant but I fear that here, once again, the incorrect assumption is being made that more space is better but sorry 'it ain't necessarily so'.


"a pair of white tiger".....Come on Patna Zoo. There really isn't such a thing, especially when mentioned in the same sentence as a Bengal Tiger.

There has been a slight increase in the number of participants in International Vulture Awareness Day. Sadly the number of collections which should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves remains painfully high.


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Elephants still roaming streets
Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) deputy governor Theerachon Manomaipibul yesterday said that seven street-roaming elephants were impounded in separate cases this month, mostly in the suburbs.
Despite the authorities' attempts to solve the street-roaming elephant issue, elephants were still being brought to beg in the Greater Bangkok area, with their mahouts taking them to rest in Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan and Samut Sakhon. BMA has asked for the cooperation of these provinces and of the Livestock Development Department in arresting the mahouts. So far this month, seven mahouts have been arrested and their elephants impounded. While the mahouts were prosecuted at the police stations, the elephants were kept in quarantine for 30 days

Devouring Dragon, Disappearing Tigers
China has launched a number of conservation efforts
to save the remaining tigers in China, including the nearly extinct
South China tiger. However, the demand for tiger products persists,
much of it related to the vaunted health, medicinal and preservative
qualities of the tiger; there are also questions as to the
motivation of these tiger conservation efforts and it appears that
the two preserves visited by Econoff really can't sustain themselves
without undertaking some commercial actions that would affect the
well being of the animals they are supposed

Palm Oil For Ape Blood

US diplomat posed as Korean tourist in undercover visit to China tiger farm
Cable released by WikiLeaks reveals American efforts to investigate allegations breeding centre was selling tiger parts
An American diplomat posed as a Korean tourist to investigate a notorious tiger breeding centre in southern China, where he saw animals whipped, made to perform "marriage processions" and reportedly sold to be used in traditional medicines.
As a result of the undercover visit to Xiongsen Tiger and Bear Farm, the US government was notified of doubts about China's conservation efforts, according to a diplomatic cable recently released by WikiLeaks.
The investigation – more a piece of journalism than spying – was inspired by a flurry of foreign media reports in the spring of 2007 alleging the farm offered tiger meat in its restaurant and

The Big Bat Map
(Great idea...sadly not worldwide, Just UK and Eire)

What's all the flap about?
Best option for Happy Feet not clear.
Under a clear blue sky, Christine Wilton's stroll along Peka Peka Beach was interrupted by the shiny white object standing ahead of her.
She had no idea that her chance encounter with an emperor penguin would set off a conservation phenomenon that would grab headlines around the world, spark debate among experts, and provoke a nation to open its wallets and hearts.
After walking her dog on Peka Peka Beach that Tuesday morning of June 21, Mrs Wilton returned home to call Peter Simpson, the Conservation Department's Kapiti biodiversity programme manager. The previous afternoon, he had taken a call from a Raumati Beach resident who reported seeing what he thought was a large bird playing around in the water. Mr Simpson assumed it was a seal, the witness wasn't so sure, and the pair left it at that.
Mrs Wilton was more persistent. She described a penguin that came up to her chest - Mr Simpson assumed she was very short. "She said no, this thing is five foot tall. She thought it looked like an emperor. I said blimey." There had only ever been one emperor penguin to arrive on New Zealand's shores, at Southland's Oreti Beach in 1967.
Perplexed, he got on the phone to DOC's Waikanae office. They knew exactly what he was calling about, their phone was also ringing hot.
On his way out to Peka Peka Beach with fellow DOC workers, Mr Simpson didn't feel excitement building. He was more concerned about confirming whether or not the bird was in fact an emperor penguin. "Then we would have to figure out what would happen from there."
What would happen from there was far beyond DOC's control. One penguin's poor sense of direction was about to spark debates about animal welfare, arguments over the ethics of mankind intervening with nature

20 endangered Siamese crocodiles hatch in Laos
A rare crocodile species is one step further from extinction after 20 eggs hatched in a Southeast Asian zoo.
The Siamese crocodiles were born at Lao Zoo last week, just outside Vientiane. The babies wiggled their way out of their eggs while under the soft red light of an incubator.
The wild eggs were found in the southern province of Savannakhet in June by a team of villagers trained by the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society, which is working to save the species in landlocked Laos. The eggs were then brought to the zoo to hatch.
The crocodiles will be raised in captivity for 18 months before


Cricket St Thomas wildlife park fans peeved by signs
Families hoping to visit a wildlife park in Somerset are turning up at a hotel because of outdated road signs.
Cricket St Thomas Lakes and Gardens hotel resort near Chard used to be home to hundreds of animals and birds.
But while the wildlife park closed in 2009, signs directing motorists to the location have not been removed.
The Highways Agency, which is responsible for the distinctive brown road signs, said it was working with the firm to resolve the issue.
Staff at the hotel resort said they regularly have to deal with angry tourists searching for the animal park.
Despite requests from the resort owners, the signs along the A303 and M5 have not been taken down by the Highways Agency.
A spokeswoman for the Highways Agency said: "We have been made aware that Cricket St Thomas Lakes and Gardens is no longer a wildlife park and our agents have

Suspected gorilla traffickers arrested in DR Congo
Two men suspected of running a baby gorilla trafficking ring have been arrested in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, conservation activists said Friday.
The two were arrested in Goma, the capital of DR Congo's Kivu Nord province, and "charged with illegal trafficking of an endangered species", the Congolese ICCN conservation group said in a statement.
Authorities believe the criminal outfit captures baby gorillas in the iconic Virunga National Park, which straddles DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, and then smuggles the rare mammals into Rwanda to be sold.
"The arrests are the outcome of a coordinated effort by Rwandan and Congolese law enforcement authorities," Virunga National Park director Emmanuel de Merode told AFP.
"While we are pleased to have brought this group of traffickers to justice, we remain very worried by what appears to be a significant and growing demand for baby mountain gorillas," he added.
Most of the world's mountain gorillas are found

Jozankei Bear Farm
Suspected of Violations of Animal Welfare and Management Act. ALIVE Requested Sapporo City to Make Inspection and Order Improvements
ALIVE received a letter informing us about the bears at Jozankei Bear Farm in Hokkaido. The letter explained the horrible situation of the bears at the farm. After conducting our own inspection survey of the site and gathered information, ALIVE sent a letter of request to Sapporo City on August 17, urging that improvements be made at the bear farm facility. We asked the city to oversee and direct the farm to change the current situation

How a police horse was nearly slaughtered at Woodland Park Zoo
Prince was a beloved animal when he left the SPD mounted patrol
Earlier this year, there was talk of Seattle police horses being retired because of budget woes. But quick efforts from the Seattle Police Foundation and private donors helped saved Seattle's equinest.
That wasn't the first time a Seattle police horse had been spared at the last minute, though the previous case had a more serious fate looming.
In 1926, Seattle police had 14 officers on horseback. One of the horses was Prince, a light brown horse with a white streak down his muzzle. Early that year, the top brass determined Prince was too old for the job and sent him to retirement.
He didn't get a pension, but a local farmer agreed to take him. The

Life in a fishbowl
Six wild-caught beluga whales have spent the past year in a holding facility in Russia, ready to be flown to Hong Kong, while a giant tank is being built for them at Ocean Park, Simon Parry reports. Does this mean animal welfare groups have lost their fight to stop the import of the near-threatened species?
Their location is being kept secret and few people have access to them - but they must be a magnificent sight. In a marine facility in western Russia, six wild-caught beluga whales from the Okhotsk Sea swim back and forth, ready to be flown to a new home in Hong Kong.
Thousands of miles away, an activist campaigning against their import to Hong Kong sees what he describes as "a huge tank" about 10 meters deep at the construction site of Ocean Park's new Polar Adventure section, big enough to accommodate the six whales and up to 14 more besides.
The belugas, it seems, are coming. Two other major developments appear to be making imminent the controversial import of the near-threatened whales to Hong Kong, a move fiercely opposed by a coalition of animal welfare groups.
Firstly, independent scientists have verified a sustainability study funded by Ocean Park which concluded up to 29 beluga whales a year can be taken from the Okhotsk Sea - and secondly, an opinion poll on the import of belugas to Hong Kong has returned largely favorable results.
With preparations so advanced and both scientists and the public largely in support, the campaign to stop belugas being brought to Ocean Park appears doomed and their import to the Polar Adventure section before it opens

Maximizing Occupational Safety of Elephant Care Professionals
At AZA-accredited and AZA-certified Facilities

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) continually strives to advance the occupational safety of elephant care professionals 1 as well as the care and welfare of elephants. Through a series of AZA actions over the past two decades, AZA has attempted to promote significant improvements in safety, care and welfare. Among other things, AZA has developed a Principles of Elephant Management training course and has adopted minimum Standards for Elephant Management and Care, which were made mandatory in 2001. These Principles and Standards have assisted AZA entities and organizations in developing sound practices regarding elephant care professionals.

In January 2011, the AZA Board of Directors initiated another review of the occupational safety of elephant care professionals. As part of this review, the AZA convened a special meeting in May 2011 of all directors of AZA facilities2 with elephants and their elephant managers to discuss occupational safety in elephant care and management. While every facility is as different as are their elephants, a number of factors emerged from this discussion that have and will continue to increase workplace safety and reduce occupational risk, including adherence to high standards, increased staff training, well-developed management communications and protocols, and frequent program evaluation.

Concurrent with this review, in March 2011, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Board of Directors adopted revised Accreditation Standards for Elephant Management and Care3. These are comprehensive, performance-based standards that were developed over several years.

The above-listed safety measures notwiths tanding, preliminary information suggests that the amount of time (both frequency and duration) an elephant care professional spends with an elephant in the same unrestricted space increases occupational risk4. Therefore the Board of Directors is taking the following measures to maximize the safety of elephant care staff, while continuing to advance the care and welfare of elephants.

As soon as possible and no later than September 1, 2014, elephant care providers at AZA facilities with elephants shall not share the same unrestricted space with elephants, except for in certain, well-defined circumstances outlined in II.d below.

The Board recognizes that, in order to achieve the above-stated goal, a transition period will be necessary. This transition period is sequenced to encompass:

Additional work from the AZA Elephant Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG) to support AZA facilities in safely managing elephants and providing advanced care and welfare;

Program safety assessments;

Immediate steps regarding the management of aggressive elephants;

Program planning and documentation;

Staff training; and

Facilities/infrastructure changes.

The Board:

Tasks the AZA Elephant Taxonomic Advisory Group (TAG) with the following:
By September 1, 2012, to provide guidance to institutions on elephant aggression in the form of a widely applicable scale/index, so that there is consistent understanding and implementation of item II.a. below;
By September 1, 2012, to develop standardized methods and protocols for AZA facilities to maintain daily behavioral profiles/ethograms for each elephant and document all instances of aggression5 to be applied in item II.e. below;
By September 1, 2012, to develop an appendix to this document that provides guidance and examples to AZA facilities making modification to their infrastructure to accommodate this change in policy (see item II.i. below).
By September 1, 2012, to develop standardized methods and protocols for AZA facilities to report annually on:
The circumstances in which elephant care professionals share unrestricted space with elephants versus when barriers and/or restraints are present (see item II.d.).
The number of workplace injuries or fatalities, if any, that occurred in the care and management of elephants and the specific conditions under which each occured.
The number of elephant births and mortalities and a description of the specific practices and protocols used during each event.
By January 1, 2013, to develop standardized methods and protocols for AZA facilities to evaluate and maintain records of each elephant care professional’s safety-proficiency, in a manner that integrates their experience level with the specific behavioral profiles of the elephants in his/her care (to be applied in II.g. below).
Convene a task force to research means of successful breeding, health care and welfare that will be increasingly effective with barriers in place between elephant care professionals and elephants.

Directs all AZA facilities with elephants in their care to:

As soon as possible, move any elephant that displays aggression (see item I.a. above) towards an elephant care provider(s) into management and care with barriers or restraints in place between that elephant and that care provider(s).
By January 1, 2012, perform at least one of the semi-annual program safety assessments, as outlined in AZA Elephant Standard
By January 1, 2012, specifically address the facility’s elephant program in the risk management policy required in AZA Accreditation Standard 11.4.1.
By September 1, 2012, amend their existing elephant management plans to include clear protocols for the frequency and duration when elephant care professionals and elephants may share the same unrestricted space6 for the specific purposes of required7 health and welfare procedures, transport, research, active breeding and calf management programs, and medical treatments and testing.
By January 1, 2013, maintain daily behavioral profiles/ethograms for each elephant and document all instances of aggression.
By January 1, 2013 provide a report (required annually) to the Accreditation Commission, the Elephant TAG, and the AZA staff that, for the previous year, defines:
The circumstances under which elephant care professionals share unrestricted space with elephants versus when barriers and/or restraints are in place.
The number of workplace injuries or fatalities, if any, that occurred in the care and management of elephants and the specific conditions under which each occurred.
The number of elephant births and mortalities and a description of the specific practices and protocols used during each event.
By June 1, 2013, evaluate and maintain records of each elephant care professional’s safety-proficiency, in a manner that integrates their experience level with the specific behavioral profiles of the elephants in his/her care.
By September 1, 2013, train their elephant care professionals to manage and care for elephants with barriers and/or restraints in place that provide employee safety.
By September 1, 2014, have put in place and implemented use of adequate infrastructure to manage and care for elephants with barriers and/or restraints in place that provide employee safety.
By September 1, 2014, if a facility cannot meet the infrastructure standard (see item II.i. above), it must apply for a variance. Before the variance can be issued by the Accreditation Commission the facility must describe to the Commission its plan to meet the standard. No variances will be granted after January 1, 2016.

Tasks the Professional Development Committee to:

By September 1, 2012, update the Principles of Elephant Management-I course curriculum, which shall include mechanisms to:
Manage and care for elephants with barriers and/or restraints in place.
Minimize the frequency and duration elephant care professionals share unrestricted space with elephants subject to the exceptions outlined in item II.d. above.
Develop and maintain detailed elephant behavioral profiles/ethograms.
All elephant care professionals8, managers and directors of AZA facilities with elephants will complete by November 2016.
By September 1, 2013, create and deliver a series of online elephant training modules on subjects including: safety, elephant record keeping, behavioral profiling and developing and maintaining elephant ethograms, positive operant conditioning, assessment of elephant aggression, and assessment of personal safety-proficiency.
All elephant care professionals will complete by June 2014.
By September 2013, create a facilities-based Principles of Elephant Management-II course curriculum, which includes experience with managing live elephants with the use of barriers and restraints and the application of advanced principles of elephant management, care, welfare, and occupational safety.

All elephant managers will complete by November 2016.

1 The term “elephant care professionals” includes all who provide for the care and welfare of elephants including veterinary care and other health care providers.

2 In this document the term “AZA facilities” refers to all AZA-accredited and AZA-certified Related Facilities.

3 References to “elephant standards” refer to “AZA Standards for Elephant Management and Care” as approved by the AZA Board of Directors in March 2011.

4 The Board understands that non-AZA entities and organizations may assess and address these risks in a different manner, and the policies adopted herein are only intended to be applied to AZA facilities.

5 This is an expansion of Elephant Standards: (Daily and life stage variation in patterns of social affiliation, which requires that a behavioral profile must be maintained for each individual elephant and updated annually); (Daily Care, which requires that all elephants must be visually inspected on a daily basis); and, 5.2 (Animal and Keeper Safety, which encourages that a record of all elephant-related keeper injuries or aggression directed at keepers should be kept, and related keeper injuries or aggression directed at keepers, and elephant behavioral profiles should be reviewed annually.).

6 This is an expansion of Elephant Standard 4.1.1 Training Methods.

7 The word “required” is intended, first, to allow for a degree of flexibility, recognizing the wide array of conditions that occur in managing animals and, second, to indicate that a decision to engage in any of the specific exceptions (i.e. in which elephant care professionals and elephants may share the same unrestricted space. See: II.d.) should involve more than a single individual and must be approved by the facility director.

8 Veterinary staff are encouraged but not required to complete this course. Elephant managers who have already completed PEM-I will not be required to re-take the course but will be required to complete the online elephant training modules outlined in III.b. .

New İstanbul Aquarium has already become a top attraction
The İstanbul Aquarium, the world’s biggest thematic aquarium with its 15,000 species of fish, opened in June and has already become one of the top attractions in the city.
The İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality launched the İstanbul Aquarium project, in which TL 268 million was invested. Designed by the municipality, the aquarium complex sits on an area of approximately 100 acres in Florya.
In an interview with Sunday’s Zaman, İstanbul Aquarium General Director Sami Milli stated that he has taken part in all stages of the aquarium’s planning since 2007, from its draft sketches to its opening ceremony, when the aquarium was inaugurated by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş in June.
Visitors can see 15,000 species of fish at the İstanbul Aquarium, which features 16 regions of the world, from the Black Sea to the Pacific Ocean. Inside the aquarium are an exploration trail and an interactive rain forest. The aquarium project was announced in 2003, and its plans were completed after İstanbul Metropolitan  

The 33rd issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa

is available as free download online at
August 2011 | Vol. 3 | No. 8 | Pages 1961-2032
Date of Publication 26 August 2011 (online and print)

Keeper blamed as lion cubs killed by adult lion at Berlin zoo
Two lion cubs at Berlin Zoo have been bitten to death by an adult male lion after a keeper carelessly opened a door separating them, the visitor attraction admitted Friday.
Iringa and Bomani, both 5 months old, were prowling round with their own parents in an exercise yard next to the lion cages. Suddenly, another lion couple, Paule and Amira, leaped into the enclosure. Paule, 13 years old, killed the two cubs wit

Safari Zoo planned in Jahra
With widespread public dissatisfaction at the state and conditions of Kuwait's one existing extremely old-fashioned zoo in Omariya, the Public Authority for Agriculture and Fish Resources (PAAFR) is planning to build a new, more humane safari park-style facility to the west of Jahra City.
The new safari zoo will be more modern in design, with the animals allowed to roam freely whilst the human visitors will only be able to travel through it by car or in specially designed trains, although there will be indoor facilities too which visitors will be able to view using the latest technology.
The Municipal Council has already approved the proposed site for the new facility, explained Yousef Al-Najem, the director of Kuwait Zoo: "It will be located on a 16,000 square meter site, sixteen times the size of the current zoo," he told the Kuwait Times. "The zoo will be established under the BOT [Build Operate Transfer] system, and will add to the existing entertainment facilities in the country.
The PAAFR is currently conducting a number of studies on the best layout for the new zoo, Al-Najem continued, adding, "The research won't take long to carry out, but the problem lies in the execution. The research is carried out by the investor, then sent to the Municipal Council for approval. The good thing is that the new safari zoo won't cost the government more money.
The animals currently at the present zoo will be transferred to the new facility, Al-Najem explained. "The animals will be transferred from the zoo in Omariya to the new one. The zoo will include animals from different environments such as the tropical or the cold one, and we will prepare similar environments to those which they came from.
The new zoo will also bring more animals from other zoos that we have an agreement with. For instance, Kuwait Zoo has an animal exchange program with the Korean Zoo, from which we brought the leopard and we exchanged it with deer that were bred here.
The old zoo won't be completely abandoned, however, the director revealed. "It will be turned into to some other useful facility. We are not sure yet, but the PAAFR is planning to change it to an aquarium or an insect zoo. Kuwait signed the CITES [Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species] Treaty on wild fauna and

Lions get a closer view of Detroit Zoo visitors
Animals can better interact with guests in expanded habitat
The Detroit Zoo's lions have more room to roam, thanks to a newly renovated habitat that opened Thursday.
The habitat, home to two male and four female lions, underwent a six-month, $1 million renovation that expanded it from 3,500 square feet to 7,500 square feet. Besides being bigger, the exhibit features a 17-foot-high glass wall that allows the lions and visitors to stand within feet of each other.
"It gives them an opportunity to interact with guests," said the zoo's chief life science officer, Scott Carter. "Sometimes, they'll take an interest in someone across the glass. They're predators. We're prey. They'll take a predatory interest in us sometimes."
But rest assured, the wall of 60 tempered glass panels is strong enough to keep the lions from acting on their predatory instincts, the zoo says. The glass could withstand a 2½-ton truck traveling 40 mph, according to zoo officials.
Besides the see-through barrier, the new habitat features grass, a small watering hole and several warming rocks, some of which are near the glass panes.
The lions' old habitat featured a rock and dirt landscape and a 22-foot-wide moat to separate the lions from spectators. When the zoo opened in 1928, the exhibit was groundbreaking because it was one of the first to feature a natural habitat, said Ron Kagan, executive director of the Detroit Zoological Society.
"Almost all zoos had bars and cement floors. It was very small," he said. "Over the years, we've wanted to give them more room, and we finally now have


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National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center adds endangered species, emphasizes preservation
When you realize your home’s look hasn’t evolved much since its post-college phase, you put the Ikea bookshelves on Craigslist, start searching for a contractor who won’t drive you crazy, scrutinize endless tile samples and stop considering Pottery Barn too public a venue to fight with your spouse. Then you prepare the neighbors and pay the county.
When you realize your reptile house is “stuck in the ’80s,” as National Zoo biologist Matt Evans did last year, you put your aging non-endangered snakes, turtles and lizards on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ “status list” (a Freecycle of sorts for curators), work the phones to find a new home for unwanted animals, and start cashing in favors from former colleagues whose zoos have just the gecko you gotta have. Then you prepare the neighbors: Tell the plant people you need new native plants, the commissary you need new meat, and the vet you need quarantine space. And you cross your fingers and hope no red tape keeps the Smithsonian’s Reptile Discovery Center from getting fresh, new cold blood.
Kinda makes your remodeling look less beastly.
When Dennis Kelly left his post at Zoo Atlanta to take over the National Zoo last year, he made species preservation his top priority. He enlisted Evans and Jim Murphy, a research associate, to do a massive remodeling of its “geriatric” inventory, while revamping its mission: more research, more species protection and more endangered animals.
The Smithsonian’s zoo wasn’t, as Evans says, “doing much in the way of science” or leading the country in species preservation, so the 71-year-old Murphy, a giant in herpetology circles, was called out of semi-retirement to head up the Reptile Discovery Center.
“Firing up the herpetologists is Jim’s forte,” said David Chiszar, an animal behaviorist and snake specialist at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In terms of research and journal contributions, Chiszar says, “Murphy is probably in the top five across all zoos and across all the years we have had zoos in the U.S.”
It was the conservation aspect that lured Murphy out of semi-retirement: “I am convinced that we are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event of animals and plants, caused by humans,” he says. The fifth cleared the planet of dinosaurs. “I know hundreds of biologists, and not one is optimistic. It is incumbent upon me to alert others to this looming catastrophe.”
With every new endangered Malagasy leaf-tailed gecko now calling Woodley Park home, Evans and Murphy are shifting the

Final stranded pilot whale heading to SeaWorld
The last pilot whale remaining in the Florida Keys since a mass stranding nearly four months ago will be transferred to SeaWorld of Orlando to continue its rehabilitation.
"SeaWorld received federal approval today to provide a permanent, caring home for the remaining rescued pilot whale that has been deemed non-releasable," SeaWorld spokeswoman Becca Bides said Friday.
The 12-foot, 1,800-pound whale has been under care at the Marine Mammal Conservancy in Key Largo since a few days after the May 5 stranding.
A pilot whale calf, originally identified as whale 301, that was also at the MMC was driven in a special truck to SeaWorld's new stranded-animal facility in late July, and continues to recover. That 900-pound calf has been renamed Fredi.
The pod of 23 pilot whales stranded May 5 off Cudjoe Key. Most died at the scene, but two males were released after being deemed healthy enough to survive. The two females, Fredi and 300, are the only other survivors.
The calf cannot be released into the wild because it apparently lost its mother in the stranding, and has not learned survival skills. The adult female suffers

Raiders steal fake rhino horns in Britain
Two rhinoceros horns were stolen from a British museum on Saturday -- only the horns were fake and worthless.
The horns were removed from a stuffed Indian rhino and a White rhino specimen at the Natural History Museum's site in Tring, northwest of London.
However, due to a recent spate of such thefts across Europe, the museum had replaced the horns with replicas.
Rhinos are often poached for their horns, made of keratin and sold on the black market for ornamental or medicinal purposes, particularly in Asia.
Horns fetch around £60,000 ($100,000, 70,000 euros) per kilogramme.
"The theft occurred around 4:00 am (0300 GMT) this morning, following a failed attempt at midnight," a Natural History Museum spokeswoman, Chloe Kembery, told AFP.
"The horns were replaced with replicas about three


Bored with wolves? Go see wolverines
Distracted by lynxes, grizzlies, gray wolves and skunks, visitors often miss seeing a rare glimpse of nature when they visit Northwest Trek Wildlife Park: wolverines mating.
"Visitors don't seem to spend much time watching our wolverines," said Dave Ellis, deputy director of the animal park near Eatonville, Wash.
Maybe they should.
"Our wolverines are pretty much unafraid of anyone watching from overhead or through the glass," he said, noting that the park's wolverine couple engages in amorous behavior in late July and August.
"Like most members of the weasel family, they are intensely active for 15 or 20 minutes, then crash and sleep it off," Ellis said. The result, in four of the past five years, has been the birth of wolverine kits around Valentine's Day.
Wolverines are still common in the far north, but their numbers have dwindled in the lower 48 states, so seeing them is a treat. The two kept at Northwest Trek, in the foothills of Mount Rainier, were acquired from private breeders and are among only a half-dozen pairs displayed at U.S. zoos.
Northwest Trek is a 725-acre wildlife park, home to more than 200 animals native to western North America.
The park's visitation experience brings to mind Oregon's Wildlife Safari in Winston, with a twist. Wildlife Safari is a drive-through park, where visitors tour the grounds in their own vehicles. Viewing at Northwest Trek is on foot, past enclaves where carnivores and birds of prey are kept, plus an escorted tram tour through a free-roaming area where plant eaters live.
Both parks have large enclosures where animals have more space to ramble than big city zoos can offer. Northwest Trek is the rural adjunct to Tacoma Metro Parks' excellent Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium.
Of course, big space may be good for the animals,

Possible biological control discovered for pathogen devastating amphibians
Zoologists at Oregon State University have discovered that a freshwater species of zooplankton will eat a fungal pathogen which is devastating amphibian populations around the world.
This tiny zooplankton, called Daphnia magna, could provide a desperately needed tool for biological control of this deadly fungus, the scientists said, if field studies confirm its efficacy in a natural setting.
The fungus, B. dendrobatidis, is referred to as a “chytrid” fungus, and when it reaches high levels can disrupt electrolyte balance and lead to death from cardiac arrest in its amphibian hosts. One researcher has called its impact on amphibians “the most spectacular loss of vertebrate biodiversity due to disease in recorded history.”
The research, reported today in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, was supported by the National Science Foundation.
“There was evidence that zooplankton would eat some other types of fungi, so we wanted to find out if Daphnia would consume the chytrid fungus,” said Julia Buck, an OSU doctoral student in zoology and lead author on the study. “Our laboratory experiments and DNA analysis confirmed that it would eat the zoospore, the free-swimming stage of the fungus.”
“We feel that biological control offers the best chance to control this fungal disease, and now we have a good candidate for that,” she said. “Efforts to eradicate this disease have been unsuccessful, but so far no one has attempted biocontrol of the chytrid fungus. That may be the way to go.”
The chytrid fungus, which was only identified in 1998, is not always deadly at low levels of infestation, Buck said. It may not be necessary to completely eliminate it, but rather just reduce its density in order to prevent mortality. Biological controls can work well in that type of situation.
Amphibians have been one of the great survival stories in Earth’s history, evolving about 400 million years ago and surviving to the present while many other life forms came and went, including the dinosaurs. But in recent decades the global decline of amphibians has reached crisis proportions, almost certainly from

Planet Penguin

Retired Lab Chimpanzees Provide Sound Track for the Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Andy Serkis. James Franco. Freida Pinto. John Lithgow. These are clearly the stars of the movie, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” which is now showing in theatres. But there are others who had important speaking roles in the movie who won’t appear on theatre marquees. Hamlet, Les, Henry, Keeli, and a host of other chimpanzees spoke for the apes in the movie.
The chimpanzees are residents of Chimp Haven, a sanctuary in northwest Louisiana that provides a home to chimpanzees retired from biomedical research or are no longer wanted as pets or entertainers. Of the 134 chimpanzees currently living at the sanctuary, 124 come from biomedical research.
The facility is on a 200-acre campus that provides spacious outdoor habitats for the chimpanzees to live in large social groups. Every day, they receive nutritious meals and behavioral enrichment—items and activities that challenge that stimulate their mental and cognitive functions.
Unlike the “sanctuary” in the movie, Chimp Haven provides a positive environment where the chimpanzees can climb trees, build nests, participate in social groups, and engage in behaviors typical of c


Zoo focus on safe animal breeding
plans to provide wildlife-friendly ambience
Apart from displaying animals for visitors, the Patna zoo is now focussing on conservation of wildlife through breeding.
The zoo authorities are now putting in comprehensive efforts to conserve wildlife, including several endangered species through breeding.
The authorities are also putting in efforts to develop pseudo-natural habitat for animals inside the zoo, including developing favourable enclosures and arriving at an ideal male to female ratio for the animals to mate.
At present, there are several constraints, which are proving to be a hindrance to the breeding of the animals inside the zoo.
“The basic principle of conservation of animal includes augmentation of breeding of animals, so as to make the zoological gardens self-sustaining and if possible develop a pool of surplus animals, which can be given to the other zoos. Thus, we are making step-by-step efforts to promote breeding of animals at the zoo,” director of Patna zoo Abhay Kumar told The Telegraph.
“For instance, there are certain animals which need to be kept in a no-display area to breed. Thus, we have sent a proposal to central zoo authority (CZA) to develop a lion conservation area in the zoo, where lions would be kept in no-display area where they would be able to breed. Similar proposal has been sent to CZA for developing a rhino conservation area. We are also making plans for developing a conservation area for tigers. Moreover, we are also making efforts to complete the pair of several existing animals so that they are able to mate,” he said.
Recently, a pair of Asiatic lions, a pair of white tiger and a lone royal Bengal tiger arrived at Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park, Patna from Nehru zoological park, Hyderabad under an ex-change programme.
Sources said, Patna zoo has also entered into an agreement with Sipahijala zoo, Tripura, for another animal exchange programme where Patna zoo would give one female rhino and a pair of hippopotamus to the Sipahijala zoo and in return would get one pair of spectacled languor, a pair of clouded leopard, one pair of pig-tailed macaque, a pair of leopard cat, one silver and one golden pheasant.
“There are certain animals which are not being able to breed as they do not have breeding partners. The problem has almost been solved for lions and tigers with for the recent addition from the Hyderabad zoo. We will also come up with a similar breeding solution for leopards, languor and pheasant if the exchange programme with Tripura zoo is successful,” Abhay said, adding that the animal exchange apart, there are several other fundamental wildlife issues, which the zoo

Extinct bumblebee to be reintroduced to Britain
A rare bumblebee that died out in Britain more than two decades ago is to be reintroduced into the wild under a new project by conservation experts.
Scientists are planning to release around 60 short-haired bumblebee queens into wild flower meadows in an attempt to re-establish the species in this country.
The rare insect, which is also known by its scientific name of Bombus subterraneus, has not been seen in the UK since 1988 when it was spotted in a meadow in Dungeness, Kent.
The queens to be reintroduced have been imported from Sweden. The first crop of the fertilised insects are currently being screened for disease, before being released into meadows in southern England in the spring. Other releases are likely to follow.
Dr Mark Brown, a senior lecturer in biology at Royal Holloway who is involved in the scheme, said: "These insects have been declining across Europe due to the changes in agricultural practice that have seen the decline in flower-rich wild meadows.
"While other species of bumblebee have been declining, this is one that we have lost and we are

Tides To Power Yorkshire Aquarium
In Hull, East Yorkshire, England, the Neptune Proteus NP1000, a tidal power device we first told you about last year, was approved for implementation, developers announced. The device, developed by Neptune Renewable Energy, will become operational in the fall of this year.
The Proteus will use the tidal stream of the Humber, a tidal estuary, to power The Deep, an aquarium and popular tourist attraction. The Deep’s managers see the use of tidal power as entirely fitting for a marine-themed place like the aquarium – and Neptune hopes it opens eyes to the possibilities with tidal

It seems more zoos have forgotten than have remembered
It costs nothing tp participate and yet can really make difference
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