Friday, September 23, 2011

Zoo News Digest 18th - 23rd September 2011 (Zoo News 787)

Zoo News Digest 18th - 23rd September 2011 (Zoo News 787)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

We have just celebrated World Rhino Day. It wasn't really a celebration but more of a reminder of what a dire situation our Rhinos are in. Now next month we have thirty white rhinos to be auctioned. "surplus to the ecological requirements of the various protected areas" they say... Ha! I actually do understand the statement but can you imagine if they were to do the same with Orangutans or Gorillas? So this is going to be yet another legal sale of Rhinoceros Horn on the hoof. I say we should/must sedate the rhinos, remove the horns under veterinary supervision, burn the horn and only then auction the Rhinos. Fair enough the horn will grow again in time but lets stop the sale of horn on the hoof.

The 'White Tiger Cubs Need Names at Chinese Wildlife Park' is all nonsense of course but there is an interesting video clip attached.

I am very much in favour of the 'rescue' of circus bears and I hope the Five Sisters succeed with their plans but I am a little worried about Libby Anderson's statement "Many of these animals are actually captured from the wild"...really?

I am surprised that the story of the Cornwall Tortoise Zoo is continuing to rumble on. It must be well over a year now. They have had plenty of time to comply with the law. Whereas I sympathise we cannot bend the rules to sort one collection. Arguments put forward like "to be micro-chipped for identification and she feared the procedure could trigger stress in the animals and possibly kill them."are ridiculous and to me statements like "They couldn't survive in the British countryside without human help, they would die in the winters, that makes it a domestic animal." actually prove they are exotic not domestic.

I was interested to learn how many tigers there were in the USA. Not as many as everybody thought it would seem. However this means there is not nearly as many viable Tigers, real tigers, important tigers because of the stupid 'Generic Tiger Rule'

"In 1998 the Fish and Wildlife Service enacted the Generic Tiger Rule, legalizing interstate commerce of mixed sub-species and non-pedigreed tigers. This exemption allowed tiger breeders to purchase unrelated bloodlines, which improved the health and genetic diversity of tigers. Ms. Culver says the benefits of the CBW exemption are "right before our eyes", noting that decades of out crossing have created perfect white tigers, a public favorite at zoological parks and in animal shows."

I really don't know anybody can proclaim proudly that they have "created the perfect white tiger". Hybrids, subspecific hybrids, colour mutations and freaks may well be genetically diverse but they are totally wrong and go against everything that conservation, real conservation stands for. We were not meant to have Snow Tigers, Marmalade Tigers, Ligers or their ilk. It is not clever, it is not difficult it is quite simply stupid.
White Tiger Breeding is Not Conservation

Protest on the Care2 Petition site by a bunch of well meaning but totally ignorant people who have not the faintest idea about elephants, elephants in the wild, elephants in captivity, sanctuaries or good zoos. They object to elephants being compared to big cows....but they are like that......I've worked with them....protest away in your bewilderment.

Read about the Belugas...there is another angle. If they can't go to a zoo....a good and caring zoo, in this case Hong Kong's Ocean Park they well end up being killed in the wild "It makes me cry that when they harvest belugas, they sometimes kill them and just throw them back into the sea. I don't want to dramatize the situation but that is what happens.""Beluga whales that are not sent to dolphinariums are simply being given to locals to harvest and welfare organizations do not talk about this,". It is just like Happy Feet all over again. The blinkered anti-zooers really have not got a clue. They should take the blinkers off once in a while and read and research.

Zuohai Sea World Jellyfish Aquarium sounds neat. I love jellyfish. This would be my top place to visit if I had a choice right now.

'Captive breeding of aquarium fish urged' last somebody else has said it. All aquariums should be breeding for other aquariums. Most aquariums are light years behind good zoos. They need to catch up.


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Ezemvelo to auction white rhinos
Thirty white rhinos will be auctioned next month at the iMfolozi game reserve, says Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.
"The auction is aimed at disposing white rhino that are surplus to the ecological requirements of the various protected areas," Ezemvelo's rhino security strategist Jabulani Ngubane said.
The auction on October 1 was part of a larger "disposal strategy" which incorporated internal translocations and donations to private and communal land owners, he said.
"The sale of rhino to private land owners has been an essential ingredient in saving the species from extinction and remains an important part of its continued survival," he said.
Ngubane said rhino conservation successes were being undermined by poaching. He said 23 rhinos had been poached in KwaZulu-Natal reserves so far this year. The

Rhinoceros Farming in China

China must help S. Africa halt rhino poaching surge, WWF says
China, Vietnam and Thailand, where rhinoceros horns are used for supposed medicinal properties, need to match South Africa’s efforts to end a surge in poaching of the endangered animals, WWF International said.
South Africa, home to 93 percent of Africa’s rhino population, has arrested 165 people this year in connection with rhino killings. At least 287 rhinos have been killed by poachers in South Africa in 2011 compared with 181 during the same period a year earlier, Joseph Okori, the African Rhino Programme manager for the Gland, Switzerland

‘Happy 100th birthday, Admiral’
Durban’s oldest tortoise, Admiral (pictured), has a lot to celebrate. He’s seen two World Wars, the dawn of democracy in South African and on Saturday, he’ll be turning 100-years-old.
Admiral, carefully strolls up to Mitchell Park zoo assistant Deva Pillay. It’s been a big week for the four-legged centenarian-to-be. With a party that’s to be hosted at the zoo and an estimated guest list of an expected 4 000 people, according to zoo spokesman Karl Westphal, the pressure will certainly be on.
The Mitchell Park Trust has organised birthday celebrations on the paddock

Feline Conservation Federation Census Documents Less than 3,000 Tigers in America
The Feline Conservation Federation used the Freedom of Information Act to gain USDA and state wildlife agency inventories of all wild cats
Contrary to the wild guesses of five to ten thousand tigers in the U.S.,a nation-wide survey of tigers and tiger habitat, conducted by the FCF, has revealed less than 3,000 tigers live in America.
"We have suspected this for a long time, but now we know for a fact that the pitiful, dwindling number of tigers living in nature exceeds those protected in state and federally licensed animal facilities in the US", says Lynn Culver, executive director for the Feline Conservation Federation (FCF).
“The FCF survey also proved the so-called “pet tiger” in your neighbor’s back yard, is an overblown urban legend. The majority of tigers live in licensed exhibits such as zoos, nature centers, and sanctuaries.”
In 2011 the Feline Conservation Federation used the Freedom of Information Act to gain USDA and state wildlife agency inventories of all wild cats. The project also worked to identify non-exhibiting sanctuaries, and non-licensed wild feline owners
The FCF census has documented 2,884 tigers, which is less than the estimated number of tigers in nature. The FCF census revealed that the licensed tiger habitat in America consists of 468 facilities. Of these facilities, at least 226 have been identified by the FCF as USDA Class C exhibitors that operate city, county, or private zoological parks. These facilities hold at least 809 tigers, including the nearly 400 tigers maintained in AZA member zoos. Another 91 sanctuaries hold 1,544 tigers. At least 22 educational facilities provide habitat for 68 tigers. The remaining 585 tigers held by 129 USDA or state licensed entities, reside in commercial breeding facilities, nature centers, are owned by small exhibitors, are owned by individuals, or are part of retired commercial operations, or are school or university mascots, are used in circus, stage, and other traveling exhibits, or could be tigers in zoos and sanctuaries not identified by the FCF.
Speculation by animal rights organizations that the state of Texas holds more tigers than the country of India has been proven completely false by the Feline Conservation Federation census. “Actually only about 300 tigers live in Texas, and most are in zoos or sanctuaries,” says Ms. Culver.
In 1998 the Fish and Wildlife Service enacted the Generic Tiger Rule, legalizing interstate commerce of mixed sub-species and non-pedigreed tigers. This exemption allowed tiger breeders to purchase unrelated bloodlines, which improved the health and genetic diversity of tigers. Ms. Culver says the benefits of the CBW exemption are "right before our eyes", noting that decades of out crossing have created perfect white tigers, a public favorite at zoological parks and in animal shows.
The World Wildlife Fund and TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, have pressured the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to rescind the Captive Bred Wildlife registration exemption for generic tigers. A 2008 report by TRAFFIC titled “Paper Tigers,” examined whether U.S. tigers were involved in the illegal trade in tiger parts and could not find any evidence. TRAFFIC did however, speculate that U.S. captive tigers could potentially, someday, enter the body parts black market, and fuel the demand and cause an increase in poaching in range

Between the devil and the deep blue sea
The marine mammal scientist who spent four years conducting a study into beluga whales in Russia's Okhotsk Sea says the decision not to import them to Hong Kong may do more harm than good to the near-threatened species. Simon Parry reports.
Few people in the world know and love beluga whales as well as Olga Shpak. The marine mammal scientist has devoted years of her life to studying and understanding the species in the icy waters of the Okhotsk Sea in Russia. And few people are as disappointed as Shpak by the decision not to import wild-caught belugas to Hong Kong for Ocean Park's new Polar Adventure attraction - something she believes will do more harm than good not only for the six whales in question but for the species in general.
"This decision is nothing to do with science," she said in a phone interview with the China Daily from Moscow. "It's about politics, and to me it is just incredible."
Shpak, more than most people who supported the import, has good cause to feel crestfallen by the events of recent weeks. She spent four years conducting a study commissioned and funded by Ocean Park into the sustainability of beluga whales in the Okhotsk Sea.
That study, verified by a panel of independent international experts, concluded that 29 beluga whales a year could be removed from the part of the sea she studied over the next five years without adversely affecting the population.
When Shpak flew to Hong Kong for her first ever visit in June and was shown the giant tank being prepared at Ocean Park for the six beluga whales, currently in a holding facility in Russia, it must have seemed only a matter of time before they were on their way to Hong Kong.
"I have to say I really liked what I saw," she said. "I've seen different facilities in different countries and Ocean Park is a nice facility. It looks like the same level as the high-standard facilities in the United States. It looked a rich environment for the belugas."
On Aug 29, however, the tide turned decisively against the import. With opposition to the import continuing from animal welfare groups and a coalition of groups preparing within days to stage a protest outside Ocean Park, the park's Chairman Allan Zeman and his executives decided to abandon the project.
The biggest losers, as Shpak sees it, will be the beluga whales. "I am a little bit surprised that public opinion went this way, because I have seen how many visitors come to Ocean Park," she said. "I saw how popular it is and the educational side of it. So to me it is surprising that public opinion was so critical.
"The park is popular and you can see from the dolphin show that people want to see animals in the park. It's not my business but I believe what has happened is more about politics than a real reflection of the situation."
The decision, she argues, is bad not just for the six belugas once bound for Ocean Park but for the near-threatened species at large because, she said, if wild-caught whales do not go to overseas aquariums, it increases the chance of them being harvested by local fishermen.
"The population is doing well at the moment," she said. "It is increasing and there is huge overfishing and locals keep saying there are more and more belugas, so the situation in the area is not good for belugas.
"It makes me cry that when they harvest belugas, they sometimes kill them and just throw them back into the sea. I don't want to dramatize the situation but that is what happens.
"What is most disappointing (about Ocean Park's decision) is that more animals will be harvested? Will the public be more satisfied with this? Unfortunately this is how the world works."
Shpak said that a limit was already set by Russian officials on the number of beluga whales that can be harvested by locals and captured either for scientific research or for public display. Reducing the number that went on public display meant more beluga whales would be harvested.
In recent years, no requests had been made by fishing communities to harvest beluga whales but this year, as their perceived numbers rose, requests had been submitted by local fishermen, she said.
"Beluga whales that are not sent to dolphinariums are simply being given to locals to harvest and welfare organizations do not talk about this," Shpak said.
Shpak was especially critical of the suggestion put forward by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau, that the six beluga whales Ocean Park was considering importing released back into the wild.
"I would be totally, totally against it," she said. "There is no way the animals would survive. For young animals to be extracted (from the wild) and after one year or so in captivity to be transported back to the wild, what will they do?
"Do they know how to catch fish? Will they rejoin their group? These animals have spent one year or two years in captivity. There is no way this would happen.
"Belugas migrate at around this time of year and it is highly unlikely the whales would find their adult relatives, and it will be cold for them at migration time. How can a biologist suggest this? They would certainly die."
Cousteau's argument was in reality more broad-ranging than a simple appeal for the release of the beluga whales back into the wild. In a letter to Ocean Park Chairman Allan Zeman seen by the China Daily, he summed up the core objection of animal welfare groups to putting the magnificent creatures into captivity in the first place.
"Marine parks and aquariums claim to educate, but in reality they teach people that the capture and exploitation of these intelligent and complex creatures is acceptable," wrote Cousteau, who is president of the California-based Ocean Futures Society.
"They send a message that the whole of nature is ours to exploit, for a reason as frivolous as sheer entertainment. That's why many scientists and experts, such as my late father, Jacques Cousteau, and myself oppose all captivity of marine mammals.
"It is time that we humans, as a species, have outgrown the need to keep such wild, large, complex, intelligent and free-ranging animals in captivity, where their behavior is not only unnatural, it can become pathological."
Cousteau argued: "In captivity, whales can't even echolocate (find their way around using sound). They live in a world of sound, and confining them between walls and glass is like blindfolding a person - putting them in a jail and expecting to learn something about them. I find it distressing to think that people can continue to treat animals in such a way."
Jill Robinson, founder and executive director of Animals Asia which campaigned against the import of the beluga whales to Ocean Park, said: "While we believe that the right decision has been made in terms of the Beluga whales, there is the rather bitter taste of acknowledging that the six belugas slated for the park now have a fate unknown.
"I think that Jean-Michel Cousteau's request that Ocean Park explore the options of releasing these cetaceans back into the wild, considering that they originally held an option on bringing them into Hong Kong, would be the rational and right decision to take.
"The truth is that no-one really knows the success of such an exercise but, if tagged and monitored, these mammals can be part of a scientific study which will potentially benefit the conservation and welfare of the species into the future."
Robinson believes that despite the uncertain fate of the six beluga whales, the decision not to bring them to Hong Kong had achieved a bigger objective for beluga whales and other sea mammals.
"We stand behind our original protests acknowledging that the import of such marine mammals sends a negative message to the public and to other aquaria that it is perfectly acceptable to remove threatened, free-ranging animals from their family members and social groups, and to place them in an artificial environment contrary to their physical and psychological needs," she said.
"All aquaria lack the size and means to manage such cetaceans appropriately. The stress of capture and confinement, forcing them to adapt

Lawyers clash in SeaWorld killer-whale case
Lawyers for the federal government said in opening arguments that SeaWorld animal trainers cannot safely work in close contact with killer whales.
"Killer whales are large, powerful and non-domesticated animals. They have the potential to cause serious physical harm or death to people who get near them," said John Black, an attorney for the U.S. Department of Labor.
But lawyers for SeaWorld defended the company's safety program.
"There's a lot of training of the killer whales themselves … that goes hand-in-hand with the training of killer-whale trainers," said Carla Gunnin, an attorney representing SeaWorld. "They have a lot of safety procedures in place. You don't start Day 1 at Shamu Stadium and go train a killer

Fellsmere city manager: 'We look at elephants as just big cows'
A 225-acre private elephant ranch proposed for just south of the C-54 Canal is expected to get city Community Development Director Mark Mathes' approval Friday, the only local review it needs before regional water managers look over the National Elephant Center's plans.
"I took a look at it today and I don't see much of a problem," Mathes said Thursday.
The National Elephant Center is a collaborative effort with the support of 73 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
"The folks associated with this are top-quality folks," City Manager Jason Nunemaker said. "This is not some sort of carnival show. We're excited."
The center won't be open to the public. But Nunemaker said he stressed allowing access for school groups on an educational visit.
A site plan filed with the city Thursday shows the elephant compound straddling a north-south irrigation canal at the northernmost end of the Fellsmere Joint Venture's agricultural property, which the city annexed in 2007. The property would be reached on

Armed man escorted from zoo by police sues city of Evansville
A lawsuit has been filed against the city on behalf of a man Evansville Police Department officers physically escorted out of Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden after police said he refused to cover up a gun he was carrying on his hip.
The lawsuit, filed in Vanderburgh Circuit Court on Friday by attorney Guy Relford of Zionsville, Ind., names Evansville and its Department of Parks & Recreation. It alleges the actions of zoo employees and police officers violated an Indiana law effective July 1 that pre-empts the regulation, with a few exceptions, of firearms by local governments.
The lawsuit seeks financial damages, including triple attorney fees; a court declaration finding the city’s actions were illegal; and an injunction preventing future actions by the city — all of which the state law spells out.
“It’s a clear violation of Indiana law,” Relford said. “As of July 1, the state law pre-empts local regulation of firearms, including the carrying of

Saint Louis Zoo Launches Institute for Conservation Medicine
Zoo will form major consortium to work for healthy animals, healthy people
ST. LOUIS, Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A leader in wildlife conservation medicine for the past 20 years, the Saint Louis Zoo will establish an Institute for Conservation Medicine and take its conservation work to a new level, it was announced today. The Institute will focus its research on diseases known to affect threatened and endangered wildlife, as well as how disease relates to domestic animals and public health.
Though infectious diseases have always been of concern for human survival - black plague, influenza go back centuries - it is only in the latter part of the twentieth century that emerging infectious diseases were noted to be increasing in incidence and geographic range.
"Many of these emerging diseases are now common household terms," says Dr. Sharon Deem, director of the Zoo's new institute. "Avian flu, West Nile virus, SARS, Ebola and monkeypox are all newsworthy today. Unfortunately, because these diseases may be transmitted from animals to humans, it is possible that wildlife may be seen as the 'bad guys,' threatening human health. In reality, wild animals are not the bad guys. Rather, growing human

Denver Zoo the greenest
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has awarded its first Green Award to the Denver Zoo for its sustainability practices.
Among the zoo's conservation achievements are the reduction of electricity usage by 13 percent from 2008 levels and a 60 percent reduction in annual water usage since 1999.
Craig Piper, the zoo's chief executive, and Jennifer Hale, the zoo's sustainability coordinator, accepted the award at the group's annual

NARCO PETS: Mexico's zoos strained by drug kingpins' exotic animals
For years, three tiny squirrel monkeys led a life of luxury on a 16-acre ranch surrounded by extravagant gardens and barns built for purebred horses.
More than 200 animals, ranging from mules to peacocks and ostricheslived on the ranch in central Mexico and hundreds more stayed on two related properties, many in opulent enclosures. Also kept on the grounds were less furry fare: AK-47 assault rifles, Berrettas, hundreds of other weapons and cocaine.
The ranch's owner was Jesus "The King" Zambada, a leader of the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel. He had developed a love for exotic species shared with other kingpins. Just two days before Zambada's arrest, police confiscated two tigers and two

Living Coasts fish at Torquay's coastal zoo raises family – of 65!
A fish just a few inches long has raised a family of 65 youngsters on her own.
The female orange chromide has managed to rear the fry despite her mate dying shortly after the youngsters hatched.
Living Coasts exhibit manager Clare Rugg said: "This is the first time we have bred orange chromides at Living Coasts. We believe that approximately 65 hatched in June. They were around 5 millimetres long when they emerged. We have had no deaths as far as we know."
Clare added: "One parent has raised them, which is a huge feat! They share their tank with banded archer fish, scats, and Atlantic mudskippers. The scats are much larger and are omnivorous, so we were worried they would eat the young, but when we tried to remove the scats, it was impossible because they are so quick.
"We had to leave the fry with the parent, as they feed off a mucus the parents produce on their skin for the first few weeks of their lives, which obviously we are unable to replicate. We could have taken some of them away to help the parent fish cope, but it was doing well, so we let nature take its course. We are all very proud of her!"
The orange chromide, Etroplus maculatus, lives in brackish water in India and Sri Lanka. It is wary and sensitive to changes in water chemistry. It is not uncommon in zoos and aquariums and is kept by private aquarists.
Females can lay up to 300 eggs on rocks, wood, and roots. Both parents guard them until they

Nest efforts in a large-scale iguana project produce a baby boom
A baby boom is underway at the San Diego Zoo among the Grand Cayman blue iguanas, one of the world's most endangered lizards.
Since 2007, the zoo has been part of an international effort to save the blue iguana. Despite elaborate efforts at providing the right environment, results have been modest: three or four hatchlings a year.
But in the past week, nine blue iguana hatchlings were reported at the zoo's Anne and Kenneth,0,1802864.story

Zoos criticised by animal group "Animal Equality"
SPANISH zoos ill-treated animals, claimed international animal rights group Animal Equality.
The animals’ living conditions were not good and the group called for eight zoos, including those of Madrid and Barcelona, to be shut down.
In contrast to earlier occasions, the group lodged formal complaints as a result of their investigations. In the past, they had limited action to releasing photographs to the media as had happened with mink farms and pig-raising plants, explained Animal Equality’s Sharon Nuñez.
Named and shamed were zoos in Madrid, Barcelona, Castellar (Jaen), Cordoba, and Guillena (Sevilla), together with Zoobotanico in Jerez and Bioparc and Rio Safari in the Valencian Community.
“We did not score them but conditions at Madrid Zoo were very bad indeed,” Nuñez said.
Self-harming and violent behaviour amongst the animals were among situations denounced by Animal Equality. This, she claimed, was the result of stress caused by confinement in small spaces not adapted to their needs.
“We can’t allow animals to be used as mere entertainment,” argued Nuñez who also complained about visitors throwing objects into cages or, when animals were kept behind glass, banging on windows.
Ill-treatment by employees ranged from rough handling to obliging the animals to perform. Dolphins were frequently seen with grazed heads “probably as a result of trainers standing on them during training and performances.”
Animal Equality footage also showed the suffering and death of a lioness when zoo refused to go to the expense of paying a vet to treat her.
Zoos served no educational purpose, accordin

Zuohai Jellyfish Aquarium to open on Oct.1
Zuohai Sea World Jellyfish Aquarium, the first jellyfish aquarium in Fujian province, will be put into service on Oct. 1.
It is reported the aquarium made of acrylic glass costs about five million yuan and covers an area of more than 160 square meters. Construction has been completed and the aquarium is now undergoing water quality testing and exterior finishing.
Also known as the “invisible killer”, most jellyfish are poisonous. There are now more than 250 species of jellyfish in the world and eight of them are very common to sea on the coastline of China, including moon jellyfish and freshwater jellyfish. The aquarium accommodates nearly ten species of jellyfish, including a large jellyfish called the Pacific sea nettle from America, brown jellyfish from Japan, and pearl-like Australian spotted jellyfish. The biggest jellyfish is the 24-tentacled Pacific sea nettle, while the Australian spotted jellyfish has a blue “umbrella” dotted with white spots.
Given the very high demand for the living environment of jellyfish and their short life with an average life expectancy of only couple of months, Zuohai

Court date set for Lion Man and mum
The Lion Man and his mother are set to go head-to-head in the High Court.
Craig Busch has applied to have Zion Wildlife Park director Patricia Busch declared bankrupt for failing to pay almost $4000 for previous court costs owed to him.
Mrs Busch has entered a counter-claim through her lawyer, saying she gave financial

Captive breeding of aquarium fish urged
Breeding saltwater aquarium fish, seahorses and invertebrates in captivity could preserve the ecosystems of the world's coral reefs, U.S. researchers say.
Marine biologists at the University of Texas at Austin say their research into captive breeding could help move much of the $1 billion marine ornamental industry toward entrepreneurs working to sustainably raise fish for the aquarium trade, a university release reported Tuesday.
"It's the kind of thing that could transform the industry in the way that the idea of 'organic' has changed the way people grow and buy fruits and vegetables," Joan Holt, UT professor of marine science, said.
"We want enthusiasts to be able to stock their saltwater tanks with sustainably raised, coral-safe species."
Holt, a pioneer in developing food sources and tank designs that enable fragile larvae to survive to adulthood, is a vocal critic of current methods used to bring sea creatures from the oceans to pet store tanks.
"One popular method is to use a cyanide solution," Holt said. "It's squirted into the holes and crevices of the reef and it anesthetizes the fish. They float to the surface. Then the collectors can just scoop them up, and the ones that wake up are shipped out."
This method damages coral and contributes to 80 percent of traded animals dying before ever reaching a tank, she said.
Holt said she believes fish raised in captivity will live longer, be healthier and be easier to care for.
"Species that are bred in captivity should

Penguins identify mates, kin by smell, study finds
Penguins can sniff out the odor of lifelong mates, helping them reunite in crowded colonies, and also can identify the scent of close kin to avoid inbreeding, scientists said on Wednesday.
Some seabirds have previously been known to use their sense of smell to find food or locate nesting sites but the experiments with captive Humboldt Penguins at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago proved, for the first time, that the birds use scent to discriminate between close relatives and strangers.
"Other animals do it, we do it, so why can't birds?" said Jill Mateo, a biopsychologist at the University of Chicago, who worked with graduate student Heather Coffin on the research published in the journal PLoS ONE.
"Their sense of smell can help them find their mates and perhaps choose their mates," Mateo said.
"Seafaring birds that travel long distances in the ocean use odors to find food and use odors to recognize nests but we didn't know what odors or the

Anger at zoo appeal move
COUNCILLORS voiced their anger that a decision over the proposed extension of Dalton zoo has been taken out of their hands.
Members of Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee spoke out over an appeal lodged by South Lakes Animal Park boss David Gill at a meeting at Barrow Town Hall yesterday.
Mr Gill appealed to the Planning Inspectorate due to the delay in a decision being made over a proposed extension. This means the decision over whether to give plans the go-ahead will now be made by the government.
In July, Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee members said they were minded to refuse plans to expand the Dalton zoo by nine hectares. The committee had been due to issue a final decision on whether or not to reject the plans.
But Mr Gill appealed on the basis of non-determination, as he was unhappy that the council failed to issue a decision within an eight-week timescale.
But councillors blamed the delay on ‘sketchy’ plans.
Councillor Ernie Wilson said: “I think the information Mr Gill provided us with was very sketchy

Zookeepers baffled by mysterious critter
Zookeepers from the city of Wenling have not been able to identify the creature and now believe they may have stumbled across a new type of monkey or possum, Daily Mail reports.
The rat-like animal has a marbled tortoise-shell coloured fur with pointy paws and a bushy tail.
The zoo said the animal measures about 25cm in length and liked to eat grass.
Wenling Zoo

Malacca Zoo getting crowded
The Malacca Zoo cannot accept a high number of animals sent there for keeping due to a lack of space.
Malacca Zoo director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said seized wild animals could still be placed at the zoo as a temporary measure until court cases or other disputes involving them are settled.
“The zoo has adequate facilities to accept them. However, it will not be able to accommodate a high number of animals at any one time due to space constraints.

White Tiger Cubs Need Names at Chinese Wildlife Park
They are the first white tiger cubs being successfully raised by humans in the region.

Unbanning trade in rhino could curb poaching
Increase in rhino poaching is laid at the door of growing economic prosperity in some Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and China, and an unfounded belief that it has medicinal properties
WATER and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa should "seriously consider" lifting the ban on national rhino horn trade, which could free up more than R1-billion in stockpiled rhino horn that could be used to combat poaching, the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association said yesterday.
SA, home to almost 90% of the world’s estimated 22800 rhinos, has lost at least 290 of the pachyderms to poachers this year, 335 last year and 122 in 2009.
The increase in rhino poaching is laid at the door of growing economic prosperity in some Asian countries, particularly Vietnam and China, and an unfounded belief that it has medicinal properties.
World Wide Fund for Nature African Rhino Programme coordinator Joseph Okori said there was no legal rhino horn market anywhere in the world, and neither the fund nor the South African government could condone black market trade.
SA Hunters’ hunting and conservation manager Herman Els said trade partners would have to be vetted and a legal trade route established.
"It wouldn’t start tomorrow ...we would have to go there

Happily feather after: The bald baby penguin rejected by its parents who grew a new coat
This dejected little chap didn't have a lot going for him.
Born without feathers and rejected by his parents, his chances of survival looked grim.
But now, thanks to the efforts of keepers at an aquarium in China's Liaoning Province, the five-day-old has been reunited with his family.

Zoo builds ‘fang shui’ habitat for python
Eight months of remodeling dust has settled and an 18-foot python is settling into her new digs at the Detroit Zoo.
The 85-pound female reticulated python was rescued from a private owner in July 2010 and now has an enclosure full of features she would find in her native habitat, such as plants, trees and a basking pool that provides underwater viewing for visitors.
“Pythons are exceptional swimmers, so the pool was vital to replicating a habitat synonymous with the wild,” Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Reptiles Jeff Jundt said.

Aquarium says its dolphins aren’t from drive fisheries
The Vancouver aquarium is a member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, an international organization that condemns the inhumane killing of dolphins and other cetaceans in the Japanese drive fisheries [“The Cove comes downtown”, September 15-22]. The message of The Cove—that drive fisheries must stop—echoes our position and that of like-minded, credible institutions.
Members of the alliance do not support, fund, or acquire animals from drive fisheries. It is completely false that any of these animals are being exported to North America. There is not a single dolphin from the drive fishery in any aquarium accredited by the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums or the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums.
Our three Pacific white-sided dolphins did not come from the Japanese drive fishery, nor were they purchased. They were rescued as badly injured animals from fixed fishing nets along the east coast of

Zoo appeals for help saving rescued bears
Bid to rehome bears that were held in small cages for 20 years as part of a circus.
A West Lothian zoo has just under 12 weeks to raise £60,000 to save three former circus bears.
The animals are currently being held in a holding pen in Belgium.
In their new enclosured in Belgium, Carmen, Suzi and Peggy can turn and move around. For the last 20 years they have been held in cages barely bigger than themselves and transported around Europe as part of a circus troupe.
However, if the Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian zoo can raise enough cash, the bears will be brought there to live out the final years.
Brian Curran from Five Sisters Zoo said: "We have a bit of ground at the back here which is ideal for bears. It's nearer their natural living conditions as you would get.
"We're keeping it as natural as possible. We're keeping the trees that are already there.
"There's a pond that we've

New plan for Byculla zoo makeover ready
Four months after the central zoo authority rejected the civic body's master plan for the renovation of the Veermata Jijabai Bhosle Udyan and Zoo, a new plan has been prepared.
Thailand-based firm HKS Designers & Consultants International has prepared the new makeover plan for the 150-year-old Byculla zoo, which has a Grade II B heritage tag.
“The consultant will make an official presentation to the civic administration. Only after the municipal commissioner approves the plan, we will submit it to the central zoo authority next week,” said Aseem Gupta, additional municipal commissioner.
Despite several revisions in the first master plan, the central zoo authority had rejected it saying it was “impractical” and will reduce the green cover on the premises.
“In the new plan, we have adhered to all the directions of the authority. Minimal changes will be carried out, so that the vegetation is not destroyed,”said Anil Anjankar, director of the Byculla zoo.
Under the new plan, only three exotic animal species will be housed in the zoo —humboldt penguins from Chile, zebra and emus from Australia. Earlier, the BMC had wanted to bring in many

Zoo stories gone bad ...starved of funds, Ranchi park ails
Bhagwan Birsa Biological Park, spread over 104 hectares of sprawling natural forest in Ormanjhi, could have been a green oasis for its 1,000-odd animals and birds, but for the stranglehold of red tape which has squeezed funds for this financial year dry.
Its 80-odd daily-wage workers have threatened to strike from early next week as they haven’t been paid since April. They’re fuming more because 18 government employees — from class IV to class I — get monthly salaries on time, including the zoo director, assistant conservator of forests, doctor, two foresters, office assistants and peons each, three rangers and six forest guards.
Zoo sources said cleaning and sanitation activities had already taken a beating. Worst, stockists stopped supplying medicines, as outstanding bills amount in excess of Rs 50,000, and food supplies are depleting.
The worst victims of this cash crunch are the animals and birds of the zoo, 15 km from the state capital. For, resentment among workers

Educational zoos receive good marks
Swiss Animal Protection (SAP) is generally satisfied with animal parks and zoos in Switzerland, although some animals still don’t have adequate space.
In its latest report, the organisation noted an “upwards trend” in zoo animal care, picking out for particular praise large zoos and wild parks which end up being education centres for the protection of species.
Successful models included the elephant enclosure and tropical wetland at Zurich Zoo, the ape house at Basel Zoo, the Dählhölzli animal park in Bern and the children’s zoo in Rapperswil.
But poor marks were given to the Hotel Restaurant Grimselback in canton Valais and the Connyland dolphinarium in Thurgau “where ignorance about animals’ specific requirements is joined by a fundamental misunderstanding of the aim of zoos, using animals as crowd pullers”.
SAP also criticised otherwise praiseworthy institutions where animal care “harked back to the beginning of the last century”: tiny owleries, bleak wolf or bear enclosures and ape cages that are legal but unsuitable for the species.
SAP, the largest organisation of its kind in Switzerland, was founded in 1861. In 2010, its 70 sections across the country lo

Bisexual Squid? Not Exactly — Just Lonely
Male deep-sea squid will get it on with just about anything with tentacles.
A team of researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute observed nearly 20 years of mating behavior of Octopoteuthis deletron, recorded on video by remote-controlled vehicles up to half a mile below the surface of the Pacific Ocean off the coast of California. Male squid were just as likely to try to mate with other males as with other females, the researchers found.
It's not the first time same-sex sex has been noted among squid and octopus species, but it's the first time it's been found to be equally as common—-just-lonely/?iid=pf-main-mostpop2

Sticker Tortoise Garden sanctuary given 24 hours
Threat to 'reclassified' tortoises
A tortoise sanctuary in Cornwall has been told it has 24 hours to apply for a zoo licence or face closure.
Joy Bloor, who has run the Tortoise Garden, in Sticker, St Austell, for 20 years, said she could not afford to pay for a licence.
Council officers said tortoises were "wild animals" and needed to be covered by the licence.
They said that after Friday Mrs Bloor would be in breach of the law and could face prosecution.
'Really worried'
The zoo licence costs licensees £275 for the first four years.
On top of that, they have to pay fees for government-appointed inspectors to assess their site when they apply for a licence, along with any subsequent formal inspections.
Anyone found without a licence can be fined.
Mrs Bloor said the sanctuary, which houses about 400 tortoises whose owners have died or are no longer able to look after them, would be unable to meet the extra costs.
She said she already struggled to meet the £25,000 annual cost of caring for and feeding the animals and said she was "really worried" about the future.
'Moral promise'
Mrs Bloor said: "I'm going to have try and find other ways of raising funds to keep them.
"I've made them a moral promise that I will have them for life and I am going to keep that."
Allan Hampshire, Cornwall Council's head of public health and protection, said the authority had spoken to experts who considered tortoises to be "wild animals, in that they are not normally domesticated in this country".
Born Free Foundation chief executive Will Travers said not complying with the law was "unacceptable".
Mr Travers said: "Any facility that contains a specie or species that are not normally domestica

Calgary Zoo gets nod for preserving rare marmot
The Calgary Zoo and Toronto Zoo have been recognized for their role in the preservation of the endangered Vancouver Island Marmot.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums recognized both zoos for their work in helping the endangered animal recover as a result of their captive breeding programs.
The Vancouver Island Marmot is one of North America's most endangered mammals. The Calgary Zoo was also recognized in 2006 for similar work in the recovery of the swift fox.
"We are honoured to receive this award along with our colleagues for our work with the Vancouver Island Marmots," said Dr. Doug Whiteside of the Calgary Zoo. "From 2000 to 2011, the Calgary Zoo has contributed 95 pups to the recovery effort - either for reintroduction

Panda born at Atlanta zoo and returned to China is male, not female as previously thought
Turns out a panda born at Atlanta’s zoo and returned to China for breeding will end up being a dad, not a mom as originally thought.
Zoo Atlanta staff and a researcher from the panda research center in China where Mei Lan now lives examined the panda 19 days after its birth and determined the panda was female, said Rebecca Snyder, curator of mammals at Zoo Atlanta. But researchers in China recently noticed male reproductive organs and determined Mei Lan is male.
It’s difficult to determine the sex of giant pandas early on and mistakes are not uncommon, Snyder said. Generally, the Chinese try to examine cubs within a day or two of their birth because they’re slightly dehydrated and have less fur, which makes a close examination of the genital area easier, she said.
“With Mei Lan we waited quite a while before we took him the first time because that was Lun

‘Big cat’ out on the prowl
A “PANTHER-like” beast spotted prowling the countryside is the latest sighting of a mysterious big cat thought to be living in the district.
Claire and John Booth saw the animal, which resembled a large black cat, on farmland near their Notton home on Sunday.
Mrs Booth, 40, of Notton Lane, said the animal was much bigger than a domestic pet.
She said: “It was between four and five feet long. It looked panther-ish.
“It was definitely a big cat. You could tell

Big Cats In Britain


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1 comment:

  1. The mysterious critter that appears in the photo is a Spotted Cuscus (Spilocuscus maculatus)