Friday, October 21, 2011

Zoo News Digest 16th - 21st October 2011 (Zoo News 791)

Zoo News Digest 16th - 21st October 2011 (Zoo News 791)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I have never claimed to be an 'expert' on anything. I don't because I'm not. I know a little bit about a lot of things and a lot about a few. One of the few is practical crocodile husbandry. I know these magnificent creatures to be hardy, long lived and if properly managed almost trouble free. They are very very rarely 'hands on' and actually need much less attention than so many other species. It is because I know this to be true that I dislike crocodile shows where they are teased for public amusement and awe. I wonder though about the recently departed 'performing crocodile Pocho'. I feel somewhat different about that. Okay Gilberto was earning his living out of the animal but there did seem to be a genuine affection between man an animal. I daresay he will be heartbroken at his loss.

And was heartbreak the cause of the tragedy in Ohio? There are umpteen press reports out there. This unique event went viral and nearly pushed the death of Ghaddafi out of the news . One of the reports I read said that Terry Thompsons wife had recently left him. Now I am not looking for excuses here but rather to try and understand how this awful event took place. Regardless of the after the event criticisms and reports it does seem that in his own special way that Mr Thompson did like his animals and so too, apparently, did his wife. Terry Thompson was 62, recently released from prison and his wife had left him. Three things there which made him a prime candidate for depression to set in and so to perform acts whilst the balance of his mind was disturbed (understand that depression is a serious illness and is NOT feeling sad). He was thinking, or not, depending on how you look at it, for the moment and not for the future. So at the end of all this I feel sorry, not just for the tragic loss of animal life but for the passing of Terry Thompson too. It really was not his fault that the stupid law allowed him and others to keep such creatures in the first place.

Other reports ramble on about 'rare Bengal Tigers'...but were they? Or were they common or garden generic tigers? I think the latter is probably true. Or were they a managed species? What about the leopards? I see that they and a couple of other species have ended up in Columbus Zoo? For how long I wonder? Because the liklihood is that they too are generic animals and so of absolutely no use whatsoever to any breeding programme. In Columbus they are just going to take up valuable space. In the interim of course they will be a valuable visitor attraction. The public are like that..."Let's go to the zoo to see the leopards that came from that place that...." You get the drift. It's rather like slowing down and looking as you pass accidents when driving.

Should the released animals have been shot? Most definitely. I wrote an article on why back in March 2010. Read 'Why did they not dart the Tiger?' Not all will see it that way. Some sadly live in cotton wool worlds and cannot grasp the reality of such situation. The big surprise is that some Animal Rights Groups actually said that they saw that shooting the animals was necessary.

What of the law and animal collections like this? Well wherever they occur they should be very closely examined. If they are holding animals that are not in an official breeding programme then everything else they are doing comes into question. If they are holding and breeding freaks and hybrids and subspecific hybrids then that question mark over suitability is magnified. It is not a question of the people you know, how much money you have or how much bullshit is pushed out verbally or in writing. There is a need to get real here. The tragedy is that at least one of these Dysfunctional Zoos has the ears of congress.

I was a little puzzled why the Washington Park Zoo director was suspended and actually hit the press. This is another of those things that don't smell quite right (do I hear the sound of something stirring?). Perhaps someone felt they should have been invited to the party and were not. No this whole episode could have been sorted out in discussion by two people behind closed doors and that is how it should have been handled.

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Zion Wildlife Park tours face delay
People wanting to tour financially troubled Zion Wildlife Gardens near Whangarei face delays, despite assurances it is business as usual at the park.
Receiver PricewaterhouseCoopers is keeping mum on the future of the park and the fate of its big cats while talks with interested parties continue.
It's understood receivers are running pre-booked tours with certain conditions, three months after the park ran into financial trouble.
Those ringing the park to make bookings are encountering a recorded telephone message saying Zion is closed for public tours while receivers assess the situation.
The park's Gray Rd office is not being manned.
It's understood limited

Animal park to put up high fence two years after zoologist row
A safari park hopes to erect threemetre high fencing in its elephant enclosure almost two years after a former worker quit over safety fears.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue resigned from Woburn Safari Park and took the company to an employment tribunal saying worries over the animals’ wellbeing led to his resignation in 2009.
At the hearing, zoologist, Dr O’Donoghue claimed that an elephant escaping from its enclosure was the ‘final straw’. He told the tribunal in March: “When an elephant escaped, it wasn’t reported to the local authority and for me it was the final straw.
“The fence it was kept in was a fence you would keep sheep in – it was about three to five feet tall.
“An elephant would not, and did not, have any trouble

Michigan City zoo director suspended
The director of Washington Park Zoo in Michigan City has been disciplined for having what was described as an "after-hours" party at the zoo.
Among the violations cited against Johnny Martinez were concessions such as ice cream and slushies being eaten without paying for the items and not picking up the litter.
Originally, Martinez was suspended by parks Superintendent Jan Orlich for five days, but that was increased to 20 days Wednesday by the Michigan City Park Board.
The board's decision came at the recommendation of Orlich, who

Manatee Illusion Release - Cincinnati Zoo

Scandal of the private zoo that ended in slaughter
Their owner freed them moments before his suicide. Now the hunting of scores of wild animals has shocked Ohio and America
It wasn't easy for residents of Zanesville, Ohio, to fathom how such carnage involving so many exotic animals could have happened in their midst yesterday, and yet, looking back, you could say that something like this was always bound to happen at the private Dolittle compound of Terry Thompson.
The pandemonium at the Muskingum County Animal Farm began late Tuesday when police officers responded to calls that some of its 56 animals were on the loose. They found the farm gate unlocked and animal cage doors wide open. They also found Thompson dead from a gunshot wound. It is believed he shot himself.
That Thompson, a veteran of Vietnam who sold firearms from the farm and once owned a Harley Davidson dealership in the area, had long been at war with the rest of the world was no secret. He had just spent a year in prison for firearms violations and had often been in dispute with neighbours.
The sheriff's office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals escaping on to neighbours' property. Thompson had been charged over the years with animal cruelty, animal neglect and allowing animals to roam.
Some who had had run-ins with Thompson, who lived on the 70-acre farm – which was not open to the public – with his wife, Marian, think they know what happened. Desperate for whatever reason – perhaps the huge cost of keeping the animals had overwhelmed him – he freed them as a parting gift to all his neighbours. It "could have been a 'fuck you' to everybody around him," suggested Angie McElfresh, who lives close by.
"What a tragedy," Barb Wolfe, a veterinarian with The Wilds, a nearby wild animal preserve. "We knew there were so many dangerous animals at this place that eventually something bad would happen, but I don't think anybody really knew it would be this bad."
It could have been worse. When Sheriff Mark Lutz arrived at the farm with his deputies they were confronted by wild and dangerous animals everywhere. His first concern was the safety of his officers and the local community. Containing the animals, which mostly meant shooting to kill, was his first priority before someone got mauled.
After an all-night hunt that extended into Wednesday afternoon, 48 animals were killed. Six others – three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys – were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo. A wolf was later found dead.
Another monkey, that was carrying the dangerous Herpes B virus, is believed to be dead after being eaten by one of the other animals. Those destroyed included 18 rare Bengal tigers – an endangered species – and 17 lions, six black bears, two grizzlies, a wolf, a baboon and three mountain

Rescued exotic animals land at Columbus Zoo

Sheriff: Big cat bit owner's head after suicide
Amid expressions of horror and revulsion at the killing of dozens of wild animals in Ohio — and photographs of their bloody carcasses — animal rights advocates agreed there was little local authorities could have done to save the dangerous creatures once they began roaming the countryside after their owner released them before taking his own life.
Sheriff's deputies shot 48 animals — including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions — after Terry Thompson, owner of the private Muskingum County Animal Farm near Zanesville, threw their cages open Tuesday and then committed suicide.
Thompson died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound and also had a bite wound on the head that appeared to have come from a large cat, such as a Bengal tiger, county Sheriff Matt Lutz said Thursday morning.
It appeared the bite occurred quickly after Thompson shot himself and that his body had been dragged a short distance, Lutz said.
"What a tragedy," said veterinarian Barb Wolfe, of The Wilds animal preserve sponsored by the Columbus Zoo. "We knew that ... there were so many dangerous

Zoo employees decry 'horrid' loss of animal life in Ohio on Wednesday
Workers and volunteers at Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure shared their passion for wild animals Thursday, and echoed distaste over the destruction of so many exotic species Wednesday in western Ohio.
But they also agreed that the shooting of 18 Bengal tigers, 17 lions and other species was justified. The animals were let loose from the Muskingum County Animal Farm by owner Terry Thompson, who later committed suicide.
"Of course, you're concerned about human safety. That's always top priority," said Sandy Walker, assistant director at Rolling Hills, a zoo with a museum and other attractions located seven miles west of Salina.
"While it's a terrible tragedy, there is no way to anesthetize animals in the dark," she said.
The news was followed by "a lot of shock," said Peter Burvenich, the Rolling Hills curator.
"Any time you lose that many animals for any reason, it's horrid," he said.
The story also brings to light the issue of keeping wild animals, the responsibility and resources required, and what governments should do to regulate the practice.
"These types of exotics really should not be owned by individuals," Burvenich said.
Allan Feltes, a Rolling Hills volunteer, wondered about the care of the animals, and the owner's intentions, which he doubts had much in common with the mission of zoos.
"It's not about conservation, it's about people having the desire to own exotic animals," he said.
Maybe tougher rules
While there are some federal regulations addressing the ownership of wild animals, Burvenich said, much of the oversight is left up to states.
"Ohio is probably one of the most lax, regulations-wise," he said. "I come from Florida. Down there, you've gotta have your ducks in a row to own them."
Perhaps the experience in Zanesville, Ohio, will influence tougher rules, Walker said.
"I would hope the message is these are not appropriate pets," she said. "Their needs are so vast and so specialized."
It might be cool to entertain the thought of keeping a monkey in a dorm room, Walker agrees, but that's not a quality life for such an animal.
These are social animals
"To have one primate is cruel. They should live in pairs or groupings. Likewise, lions are very social animals. To have a single lion is really not a life of high quality," she said. "They also need large spaces to get the

U.S. zoo in ‘promising’ talks over Toronto’s elephants
Nearly six months after the Toronto Zoo decided to close its elephant exhibit and send three aging female pachyderms elsewhere, a new home for them could be decided soon, an official with the Scarborough facility confirmed.
Talks are going well with a U.S. counterpart interested in taking Toka, Thika and Iringa, Bill Rapley, the zoo’s executive director of conservation, education and wildlife, told the Star.
While there are “opportunities’’ in the works with other facilities, one U.S. zoo — Rapley wouldn’t identify it for fear of jeopardizing sensitive discussions — is looking promising.
“There is real good potential evolving with one particular facility,” Rapley said, adding that if discussions go on as hoped, “it’s the best solution.’’ The location is one accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
His comments came after a Thursday meeting of the zoo board at which a member of the watchdog group Zoocheck Canada urged swift action to send the elephants to the PAWS sanctuary in California, which is not AZA-accredited.
Zoocheck director Julie Woodyear pointed out to board members that nearly half of the zoo’s annual $620,000 cost to maintain the elephant enclosure has been spent since the May decision to close the popular exhibit because it would cost too much to properly upgrade.
Woodyear reiterated the offer being made by her group and their “donor,’’ retired television personality Bob Barker, to pay for the elephants’ relocation to the sanctuary. That’s estimated to cost between $100,000 and $300,000.
The board had voted to look first for a suitable AZA-accredited zoo, in part because such organizations operate in a transparent way.
The PAWS elephant sanctuary isn’t an AZA member because it isn’t run like a zoo, but rather as a massive retirement home for old and ailing beasts. Also, PAWS doesn’t believe in breeding elephants in captivity, as tradition

monkey show phuket zoo

Some Zoos are Dysfunctional.......The Phuket Zoo is one of these.

Nepal to 'poo-print' tigers
Scientists in Nepal are building up the world's first Bengal tiger national DNA database by collecting and recording a unique genetic fingerprint from each adult's faeces.
Conservationists have relied in the past on the old-fashioned technique of photographing the big cat and recording footprints to study the population, said to number little over 100 adults in Nepal.
But the Center for Molecular Dynamics Nepal (CMDN) told AFP a two-year Tiger Genome Project would gather a raft of vital behavioural and genetic information to help conservationists better understand the species.
"The whole idea is to scoop all the poop and get a genetic database of all the tigers in Nepal," said CMND researcher Diwesh Karmacharya.
Teams from the centre will fan out in four national parks in Nepal's Terai southern plains, the main habitat of the Royal Bengal tiger, armed with sample bags.
The project, funded by the United States

The European Commission has agreed to include a session on 'wild animals in captivity' as part of the planned regional workshops across Europe for veterinarians. This resulted from the key findings of The EU Zoo Inquiry, a review by the Born Free Foundation and ENDCAP of the implementation and enforcement of the EU Zoo Directive, which identified a lack of knowledge of captive wild animal welfare and expertise of State Veterinarians in the majority of EU countries,
The EU Zoo Inquiry conclusions are consistent with those of the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe (FVE), concerning the limited animal welfare knowledge amongst practitioners, which led the FVE and the Commission to organise a series of training workshops aimed at benefiting both practitioners and State[tt_news]=893

The October 2011 issue of ZOO’s PRINT Magazine (Volume XXVI, Number 10) is online at in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.

If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on


Making conservation work
-- Kamal Medhi, Pp. 1-2

Wild boar, a new threat to the Manipur Brow-antlered deer - the Sangai
-- Khuraijam Jibankumar Singh, Rajkumar Robindro, Mayengbam James and Meiraba Nongmeikapam, Pp. 3-4

Over one hundred years of solitude: History of the Hollongapar Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary
-- Narayan Sharma, Pp. 5-8

Active Learning Activities and What They Can Do? Changing Attitudes and Behaviour of Villagers living in Elephant Conflict Areas in Tamil Nadu
-- B.A. Daniel, Pp. 9-12

Third Asian Zoo Educators (AZEC) Conference, Taipei Zoo, Taiwan
-- R. Marimuthu, Pp. 13-14

Stranger than Fiction . . . the Spy from Outer Space : Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Mole, Part II of III
-- Sally Walker, Pp. 15-18

Avian diversity adjacent Manimuthar Dam in the foothills of Kalakad- Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve, southern India
-- J. Patrick David, Pp. 19-24

A study of endangered plants of Itchagarh Hill in the Ormanjhi block of Ranchi District in Jharkhand, India
-- Sudhanshu Kumar, Pp. 25-27

Preliminary report on the Bird Diversity in the Veterinary College Campus, Puducherry
-- D.Sreekumar, R.Sreekrishnan, R.S.Rajkumar and K.Afsal, Pp. 28-30

A happy closing of Wildlife Week in Orissa


We Bought a Zoo " Official Trailer HD "

World-famous crocodile Pocho dies in Siquirres
Pocho, the “domesticated” Costa Rican crocodile that gained international attention for a weekly show he performed with owner Gilberto Sheedan, died Tuesday at Finca Las Tilapias in the Caribbean-slope town of Siquirres. Olga Valle, Sheedan’s wife, said the nearly 1,000-pound croc died a natural death at age 50. A funeral will be held for Pocho on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“All of the people in the village have offered their condolences and assistance,” Valle said.
On past Sundays, Pocho and “Chito,” as Sheedan was better known, performed a show for visitors in a 100-square-meter artificial lake at Finca Las Tilapias. Chito, 54, declared the one-eyed crocodile “domesticated.” He could command Pocho to do tricks such as winking its one good eye, lifting its head and tail out of the water, rolling over and permitting Chito to stick his head inside the massive reptile’s maw.
Chito found the 5-meter-long crocodile near death on the shore of the Parismina River, in the Limón province, 17 years ago. The crocodile had been shot in the left eye. Chito and several friends loaded the animal into a boat and took him to Siquirres, where Pocho was nursed back to health. Chito even slept with the crocodile during its recovery.
After an employee saw Chito swimming with Pocho one day, word of the duo’s friendship spread. In July 2000, Costa Rica’s Channel 7 filmed the unusual pair. Chito and Pocho became stars, receiving attention as far as the United States, Chile and the United Kingdom.
The Environment, Energy and Telecommunications Ministry allowed Chito to keep the crocodile as long as they could monitor it. Chito worked with a veterinarian and a biologist and fed Pocho 30 kilograms of fish and chicken a week.
Chito never imagined the fame that would come from the unique friendship. All he wanted was an animal companion. A sign on his ranch emphasized that relationship

Costa Rica Chito "The Crocodile Man and the famous Crocodile Poncho"

Trafficking of baby gorillas poses new threat to endangered species
DR Congo authorities say they are powerless to combat trade in which poachers demand up to $40,000 an animal
A surge in trafficking of baby gorillas is posing a fresh risk to the endangered species in the Democratic Republic of Congo, wildlife officials have warned.
Poachers demanding $40,000 (£25,350) for one of the animals were caught by park rangers earlier this month in an undercover sting operation.
It was the fourth such incident since April, making this a record year for the poachers trying to feed a growing black market caught with baby gorillas.
Mountain gorillas are critically endangered, with around 790 remaining in the world - about 480 in the Virunga volcanoes conservation area (shared by DR Congo, Rwanda and Uganda) and just over 300 in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in Uganda. Eastern lowland gorillas are more numerous but largely outside protected areas and still in decline.
Emmanuel de Merode, director of Virunga national park, said: "We are very concerned about a growing market for baby gorillas that is feeding a dangerous trafficking activity in rebel controlled areas of eastern DRC.
"We are powerless to control the international trade in baby gorillas, but our rangers are doing everything they can to stamp it out on the ground." Merode added: "Four baby

ZSL London Zoo - Toy for Tigers

Zoo looks for staff with an interest in bear necessities of life
WANTED: giant panda staff. Must be willing to spend all day talking about breeding pandas.
Edinburgh Zoo is looking for 12 to 15 full-time employees to work at its new Giant Panda enclosure as it prepares for the arrival of a pair from China later this year.
The jobs will involve giving educational talks about the pandas at the £250,000 purpose-built enclosure and answering visitors’ questions.
The move comes as Alison Maclean, headkeeper of the giant pandas for the zoo, prepares to head to China to spend three weeks getting to know Tian Tian and Yang Guang at the Bifengxia Panda Base in Sichuan Province before they are sent to Edinburgh. She will remain there until next month, to learn about pandas’ daily habits and breeding patterns.
She will even wear her Edinburgh Zoo keeper uniform each day to familiarise the pandas with the outfit.
“Pandas can be quite sensitive animals, and quite sensitive to change,” she said. “I really need to get to know these pandas inside out and get to a stage where, when I come in to see them in the morning they think, ‘Oh, it’s her’, not ‘Who is this strange person?’  ”
Maclean will also learn some words of Mandarin that the pandas understand, as well as hand signals

Zebras Escape from Zoo Enclosure to Terrify Boston
Two zebras escaped from their exhibit at the Franklin Park Zoo in Boston on Saturday, forcing the evacuation of the zoo and briefly sending the city into paroxysms of fear until zookeepers managed to return one to its enclosure and "confine" the other to a "non-public area."
It was the first day on the job for one of the two fugitives—a baby—and he apparently returned to the exhibit fairly quickly; the other, an adult female, "took off," probably in search of human meat, which is the zebra's favorite food. Zoo New England evacuated the zoo as a precaution and "corralled" some zoo-goers, like Pete Hopkins, who took the

Somerset elephant haven will be largest in Europe
A Somerset zoo has unveiled plans for Europe's largest elephant enclosure.
Elephant Eden at Noah's Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall, North Somerset, is due to open in 2013, and will include a 9ft-deep heated swimming pool and a 19.5-acre paddock where the animals can roam freely.
The enclosure will become home to four Asian females and one Asian male, who will be fed organic food and receive daily mud baths and skin rubs.
Zoo owner Anthony Bush said the sanctuary would set a "much-needed" national benchmark in animal welfare standards.
"Elephant Eden will be a new chapter in the history of elephant accommodation - and is the result of extensive thought and planning," he said.
"Elephants are the largest land mammals, and we want to create a destination of paradise for these important creatures."
The enclosure will be built within the zoo's existing 110-acre site in Wraxall.
It will comprise a spacious steel-framed 'hotel' where

ZSL London Zoo - Coatis Training & Enrichment

Unknown ‘rodent’ wipes out exotic birds
Persistent attacks by a rodent like animal over the past year have left the Phuentsholing zoo, which most residents don’t know about, with only one animal – a deer.
The zoo, which has been in existence for more than a decade, was home to three peacocks, six peahens and two deer. Eight of the birds were killed and preyed upon by a rodent like creature, which neither the caretaker nor the forestry officials were unable to name. “The attacks began last year,” Tika Ram Rai said. “In lhotsham, the animal is called a neuri musa, and we’ve mentioned it that way in the report submitted to our department,” a forestry official said.
“During the first attack last year, a peacock got killed and two peafowl were injured,” said caretaker Tika Ram Rai.
Following the attack, Rai said additional wire fencing and lighting were installed. “But it didn’t work, as the mammal being quite small could still come inside.”
The last attack, about two months ago, left all the seven peafowl – two peacocks and five peahens – dead, while the deer weren’t attacked. “It attacks the peafowl on the neck, kills it and sucks blood,” he said.
The incident occurred around 1:30am Rai said. “That day it rained


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