Saturday, November 19, 2011

Zoo News Digest 13th - 19th November 2011 (Zoo News 795)

Zoo News Digest 13th - 19th November 2011 (Zoo News 795)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

'S Africa plans to take rhino DNA samples in China' - Interesting story but all a little pointless. Why not fly the horns back to South Africa, do the DNA tests and then publicly destroy the horns? That would be a more realistic move and really show that both China and South Africa mean business. The Living Rhino Horn Sales have only recently taken place in South Africa. Can anyone give me the details of how many were purchased for export for China? Someone must know!

I thought of pulling the story 'Rumours and animals still abound at Tripoli’s zoo' to pieces but haven't. I will let you read it and do it yourself.

"I'm retiring this week so please remove me from your email list. Thanks very much." A message recieved this week. Okay, fair enough but I wondered if I would lose interest in my work if I retired.

What the ??? "Animal rights organization calls for investigation into elephant death at Safari Park". Do they really believe that the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is not doing their own investigation? And just exactly what is this meant to mean? "This elephant's shocking death is another tragic example of how elephants suffer in inadequate and artificial zoo exhibits". What????? All these animal rights people are doing is causing trouble where trouble does not need to be. Elephant Keepers CARE, ZooKeepers CARE, Zoo staff CARE and they have not got their heads stuffed in a blanket. Animals get injured in the wild and in captivity. Nobody wants it to happen. In the wild deaths are often slow, lingering and painful. Stuff the IDA! Why do these people always put the boot in when people are suffering their loss?

"Youth injured in lion attack at Sayaji Zoo". Hardly an 'attack'. The guy was too close to where he should not have been.

"5 newborn tiger cubs die in Odisha zoo"...Going by similar reports of this nature from other Indian zoos there will be a scandal, questions will be asked, probably staff sacked or suspended and the 'experts' will give their opinions. Well here is mine. They were born on Wednesday and today is Saturday. So four days old. Why did they die? "Soon after giving birth the mother abandoned the cubs and refused to feed them". Why did she abandon them? Okay, I agree "had become mother for the first time. Even in the wild, such rejection leading to deaths happens" but "animal keepers had been observing the deteriorating health of three cubs since Thursday evening" I stop and give my own 'expert' opinion. The answers to why these cubs are in the story and here. Read Hand Rearing Big Cats
As per usual with most of these newspaper articles I was unable to post my comments.

Delighted to see that WAZA zoos are getting together to help member zoos in trouble in Thailand. No mention of the infamous Bangkok Safari World. Nor should there be. It is not a member, does zilch for conservation and promotes Orangutan abuse. If they are in trouble let it hit the shareholders pockets. I am surprised we have not seen the Tiger Temple whining as yet...but maybe the water never reached that far.

Good luck Sharon Matola!!!
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Hudson woman uncovers musical ability of goldfish (TRAINING IS ENRICHMENT)
A town of Hudson woman’s ability to train goldfish to play musical instruments is bringing her worldwide recognition.
BBC Radio was the first media outlet to interview her about Jor Jor, the fancy Japanese goldfish she had trained to ring hand bells as part of a shadow puppetry act.
The interview was broadcast live across the United Kingdom. Then The Sun, a British tabloid, picked up the story. Soon it was running in newspapers around the world.
Rains was amazed to sit at her computer and read about her goldfish on websites in Russia, Indonesia and China. Now, Ripley’s Believe It or Not is featuring Rains’ Jor Jor Music Academy for Goldfish in its new book, “Strikingly True.”
She chronicles the tale colorfully on her website,, under “The Bubble Blog.”
“Diane Rains owns a goldfish that can play musical instruments, including the glockenspiel and hand bells, in perfect time to music playing outside its tank,” a Ripley’s spokesperson wrote in pitching a story about Rains and the book to the Star-Observer.
Sadly, Jor Jor died about a year ago. But Rains has two new goldfish that she is teaching to play the hand bells and glockenspiel

Am I serious? Could be.

Fears for zookeepers after TB spreads to chimp
HEALTH authorities have issued no public warnings about the spread of tuberculosis from an elephant to a chimpanzee at Taronga Zoo, despite fears the disease could spread to zookeepers.
Other animals could also be at risk because a group of NSW Ministry of Health and zoo experts has been unable to establish how TB might have spread between two species in different enclosures.
Both the elephant and the chimpanzee were infected with the same TB sub type, a spokesman for the zoo has confirmed.
In February the Herald reported one of Taronga Zoo's elephants, Pak Boon, had been diagnosed with the disease.
In September, Taronga ran a statement on its website which said a male chimp with TB had been euthanised. In early October it said it was investigating whether the chimpanzee and the elephant had the same strain. There have since been no public statements from Taronga Zoo or the Ministry of Health, which argue there is no risk to zoo visitors.
The Greens MP John Kaye said the ministry and Taronga Zoo should have issued a warning. "There is TB spreading between animals at the zoo and it is the same type that can be caught by humans," he said.
An infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at the Australian National University, Professor Peter Collignon, said people could get tuberculosis from elephants. "There is at least a risk to the staff working with the elephants, which is identified

Going Ape?! Monkeying Around?! Orangutan Escapes Enclosure At LA Zoo
The Los Angeles Zoo says a juvenile female orangutan briefly escaped through the mesh that surrounds her habitat, but never left the exhibit area and did not pose a danger to the public.
Volunteers saw 6-year-old Berani climb through a cantaloupe-sized hole in the mesh canopy to the public side around noon

5 newborn tiger cubs die in Odisha zoo
The euphoria over the birth of five cubs, including a white one, in the Nandankanan Zoological Park (NZP) here did not last long as all the newborns died on Friday.
On Wednesday, Priyanka, the 11-year-old tigress, gave birth for the first time. Soon after giving birth the mother abandoned the cubs and refused to feed them.
“We don't see anything unusual in the incident. Priyanka had become mother for the first time. Even in the wild, such rejection leading to deaths happens,” said Siba Narayan Mohapatra, deputy director of NZP. There was no way one could make the tigress feed her cubs, Mr

Bye Bye Bodhi (GREAT VIDEO)

Saviour of marine lives
Inspired by its rich maritime history that dates back to 6,000 years, Sharjah takes its environment seriously. This is reflected in Sharjah Aquarium, home to approximately 120 species of fish, including a number of sharks, crustaceans and mollusks.
Curator Mahmoud Deemas said that some species in the Sharjah Aquarium are rare from an environmental point of view as their numbers are decreasing due to overfishing or other negative human impact such as overdevelopment and littering in the oceans. “Species like Hamour (grouper) or Black-tip-reef shark are threatened. We make it our key goal to educate people about this, and develop people’s appreciation of these beautiful creatures that must be protected to keep the balance of our fragile ecosystems.”
Back in 2008, His Highness Shaikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, put his vision into action through§ion=theuae&col=

The Zoo Community helps to save affected wildlife
After the heavy flooding which has affected nearly the whole of Thailand since beginning of November, the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) has coordinated flood relief measures within the region.
To date, help is provided by Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums and additional help is being prepared by Zoos Victoria in Melbourne, Oceans Park, Hong Kong and Malaysian zoos. Today two vets from Singapore are arriving in Bangkok, bringing urgently needed drugs and other equipment.
Beginning in late July and continuing for over three months, the floods have caused 506 reported deaths by early November, affected over 2.3 million people, and caused

Zoo’s accreditation in question
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums is threatening to pull the Toronto Zoo’s accreditation over city council’s decision to send three elephants to a sanctuary in California.
The association, also known as the AZA, recently sent a letter to the zoo, city councillors and Mayor Rob Ford saying that council’s decision in October raises “serious concerns’’ about its compliance with AZA accreditation standards.
Council’s decision “may place the zoo’s accreditation in jeopardy,’’ the letter states, adding it wants written clarification by Nov. 18 regarding the elephant move.
Many of the Toronto Zoo’s animals are here on loan, and loss of AZA certification could affect loan agreements the zoo has with other accredited centres, an AZA official said Friday.
The PAWS sanctuary to which council opted to send the three pachyderms is not accredited with AZA, a U.S. body. The Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums, with which Toronto Zoo is also accredited, has sent a similar letter seeking information about the elephant move.
Both accreditations are “valuable to the Toronto zoo’’ and core to its mandate “as a modern zoo and a member of a global network of professional zoos,’’ says a Toronto Zoo staff report released Friday.
“Without accreditation, the Toronto Zoo would not be able to maintain its current collection of animals and participate at the same level in species survival programs and other joint conservation programs,” the report goes on to say.
“We have the letters under review and will be responding as per the reports, reviewing our governance models,’’ Toronto Zoo board chair Joe Torzsok said in an email Friday.
Zoo board member and councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby called the zoo’s possible loss of accreditation a situation with “sweeping implications.’’ She said the sanctuary decision deserves some “sober second thought,’’ although she’s taking a wait-and-see approach on pushing for another vote on the move.
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, another zoo board member, called the AZA and CAZA letters “nonsense,’’ noting that other AZA zoos have sent their elephants to PAWS and not lost their certification, a point echoed Friday by Julie Woodyear, a spokesperson for animal rights group Zoocheck.
“I don’t like bullies threatening me,’’ he said, adding all the AZA is concerned about is their “egos and political turf.’’
“This is not about caring about elephants; it’s about them being in control,’’ he said.
The zoo staff report points out that staff were in discussions with a yet to built facility in south Florida called the National Elephant Centre as a possible new home for Toronto’s trio. That facility hopes to open its doors next September.
“The best alternative is an elephant centre that doesn’t exist yet? You can’t go there today… They (zoo staff) have totally and utterly failed to find a better home for our elephants,’’ De Baeremaeker said.
Although only 225 zoos and aquariums are accredited by the AZA — most of them in North America — spokesperson Steve Feldman said the organization’s certification is the “gold standard’’ for zoos.
It means you’re among the best of the best. Our

Zoos Versus 'Sanctuaries'


Losing elephants could cost zoo its accreditation
By getting rid of its endangered elephants, the Toronto Zoo could be endangering itself.
North America’s two zoo accreditation bodies have issued stern letters to the Toronto Zoo, warning staff and board members that shipping three African elephants to California could imperil the Scarborough attraction’s accreditation status.
In a three-page missive, Donald Moore, chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Accreditation Commission, chastised city council for its decision to send the elephants to an 80-acre facility run by the Performing Animals Welfare Society and threatened to yank Toronto’s certification.
“The Accreditation Commission believes that the action taken by the Council may place the zoo’s accreditation in jeopardy,” he wrote in a letter addressed to the chair and vice-chair of the Toronto Zoo Board.
Without proper certification, the Toronto Zoo would be unable to maintain its animal collection, according to a staff report.
There is little argument that the elephants have to go somewhere; a staff report last spring stated that the pachyderms are too expensive for the zoo to care for properly. But views diverge on where their next destination should be, setting

Next Time You Reach For That Can of Tuna...Think!!!! (Disturbing Video)

Tiger Genes
Is the tourism lobby of Ranthambore Tiger Reserve, which sees profits slipping if tigers are moved out, really behind the controversy surrounding tiger inbreeding? Or does declining genetic diversity seriously endanger India's national animal?
Akash Bisht Sariska/Jaipur
The Rajasthan forest department was in a celebratory mood recently when they shifted a new tiger from Ranthambore Tiger Reserve (RTR) to Sariska Tiger Reserve (STR) in the state. The endeavour - part of the relocation drive to repopulate the reserve that went tiger-bare after poachers wiped out the entire population in 2005 - is, however, now in jeopardy.
Wildlife experts have raised doubts on the selection of the newly relocated tiger that has taken the count of tigers in STR to four. Experts believe it is difficult to ascertain whether the tiger sent to STR is actually the one that had been selected after DNA tests. The tests were conducted on eight tigers to ascertain their genetic compatibility with the Sariska tigresses; only two were considered fit for relocation.
Dharmendra Kandhal, a biologist working in Ranthambore, informed Hardnews that the tiger might not be the one that had been selected after DNA tests. He revealed, "Scat (excreta) samples of tigers were sent to Bangalore for DNA tests to avoid genetic incompatibility. The area from where this tiger was selected was regularly frequented by more than eight tigers - so how did the forest department determine which scat sample belonged to whom?"
SP Yadav, DIG, National Tiger Conservation Authority​ (NTCA), didn't rule out the possibility and mentioned that "if it has happened, it is just another case of human error". "You can't expect a person to follow the tiger with a bucket in his hand to ensure that the scat samples are genuine," he said.
To avoid this confusion, Kandhal suggests that a DNA dart could be used - the dart extracts the tissue sample and falls

Tourism's impact on wildlife harassment in Kenya
A result of effective marketing: too many lodges, too many tourists in too many vans - all can contribute to wildlife harassment and crowding.
The Kenya Tourist Board recorded that as of December 31, 2010, the number of tourist arrivals were at an all time high, over 1.1 million. Revenue earnings experienced an 18 percent gain, which translates into approximately 740 million USD (74 billion Kenya Shillings), over 2009 making 2010 the most lucrative year ever for tourism.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, 2011 is on track to receive two million tourist arrivals by the end of the year.
So the industry continues to boost Kenya's economy, but it's steadily gnawing away at the integrity of Mara's

Animal rights organization calls for investigation into elephant death at Safari Park
The animal rights organization In Defense of Animals is calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate the circumstances surrounding Thursday's death of a 21-year-old African elephant at the San Diego Zoo's Safari Park.
Zookeepers found Umoya, a mother of two brought to San Diego from Swaziland in 2003, lying down in the elephant exhibit shortly before the park opened on Thursday, according to the zoo's Christina Simmons.
No official cause of death has been released. Veterinary staff was conducting a post-mortem examination to discover a cause of death, but results might not be known for weeks, Simmons said.
"There were few injuries that indicated there may have been some sort of aggressive interaction with another elephant," zoo spokesperson Yadira Galindo told the Union-Tribune.
IDA's complaint to the USDA states that an adult male elephant, Mabhulane, who is known to throw his weight around was confined with the females and their offspring.
Zoos typically keep males and females separated because the powerful males can injure the females. In the wild, adult males do not live with the matriarchal family groups, the complaint said.
"This elephant's shocking death is another tragic example of how elephants suffer in inadequate and artificial zoo exhibits," IDA Elephant Campaign Director Catherine Doyle said. "There is nothing natural about the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's elephant exhibit or keeping 18 elephants crammed into a space of less than

Coldplay - Paradise
Okay I know there is meant to be a message here but I like the song. It did put me in mind of something one famous African American once said after visiting Africa... "Thank God I was born an American". Don't get me wrong my own visits to Africa were pleasant enough but one does have to wonder what an elephant in a good zoo would prefer.

He's behind you! Starlings form a flipping amazing dolphin in the dusky sky... being chased by an open-mouthed killer whale GREAT PHOTO

Youth injured in lion attack at Sayaji Zoo
A student from M S University here was mauled by a Asiatic lion in the Sayaji zoo here, injuring the youth seriously in his hand, officials said. The incident took place last evening when victim Dhruv Askok Gohil, a student of biochemistry was clicking pictures of the wild beast from near its enclosure and the lion suddenly attacked him and pulled in his hand from the iron grill. When he raised an alarm, onlookers and security men rushed

Stem cells helping beloved Houston Zoo pig battle arthritis
Houston medical researchers are doing a lot of work with adult stem cells to treat heart disease and other problems.
But stem cell treatments aren't just for people; a shot of stem cells may end up extending the life of a beloved Houston Zoo animal.
Remley, the Houston Zoo's popular portly Asian pig, has been feeling her age. Severe arthritis has caused the female babirusa's joints to become stiff and painful.
"There's really nothing else we can do to help her at this point," Houston Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Lauren Howard said.
So Remley had a high-tech treatment with stem cells!
"We're looking at improving her quality of life and her mobility and hopefully extending her life as well," Dr. Howard said.
Dr. Howard, who worked alongside the stem cell company InGeneron for the procedure, took a little of Remley's fat, which she won't miss, to get stem cells.
"We just extract them, concentrate them, wash

Spoon-billed Sands hit Slimbridge
The first batch of Spoon-billed Sandpiper chicks for the captive breeding project at Slimbridge have arrived in Britain.
Conservationists escorted 13 Spoon-billed Sandpipers, one of the most endangered bird species on the planet, into Heathrow and onto their new home at Slimbridge in Gloucestershire. This is the final stage of an epic journey for the birds, which have been brought from their Russian Far-Eastern breeding grounds, via quarantine in Moscow Zoo, and now to Britain.
The arrival of these birds marks the start of a conservation-breeding programme intended to help prevent its extinction. The shorebird's unique appearance and extreme rarity have given it near-mythical status among birdwatchers all over the world.
Throughout 2011 conservationists from Birds Russia have been working with WWT and the RSPB on an emergency rescue mission for the species. This culminated in an expedition to the remote Russian Far East to take eggs from some of the nests and hatch them in captivity. The birds have now been brought to Britain where the climate is suitable for their year-round care and expertise and facilities exist to start a breeding programme.
WWT’s Head of Conservation Breeding

SeaWorld Veterinarian Testifies In Killer Whale Court Battle
Veterinarian Says Killer Whales Rarely Showed Aggression
A SeaWorld veterinarian testified Friday that limiting contact trainers have with killer whales could have potentially deadly consequences.
Jeffrey Andrews defended his assessment during a hearing over SeaWorld Orlando's appeal of a $75,000 fine for three citations it received following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau by a killer whale last year.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration said that SeaWorld killer whale trainers be kept out of the reach of the creatures they train.
Andrews is the associate curator of animals at the San Diego Zoo and a former whale trainer at Sea World San Diego.
OSHA attorney John Black said Andrews may have exaggerated his report when he wrote that Tilicum, the whale who killed Brancheau, rarely showed aggression to trainers. Andrews said despite the fact that Tilicum was involved in the death of a trainer in Canada and a trespasser at Seaworld Orlando.
Black said Andrews had been inconsistent in what he claimed to be the number of safety rules SeaWorld had regarding Tilicum. On the stand, Andrews said it was 100 pages, but on his written report he said it was 47. OSHA said the real number is only about 25.
Friday marked the ninth day of the hearing which may ultimately determine whether SeaWorld ever returns its trainers to the water with the whales.
In court, OSHA said SeaWorld showed disregard for the safety of its trainers.
SeaWorld countered that their trainers interact with the whales in the safest way possible. They said not doing water work with the whales would compromise their health and the educational impact of the killer whale shows.
Just before Judge Ken Welsch adjourned the hearing tonight, he made a point of saying that in his 15 years of conducting OSHA hearings, this was one of the most unusual and complex.
For that reason, he said he would take his time making a decision. That decision could alter the future of SeaWorld's whale shows forever.
The judge has six months to decide wh

Malta to have national aquarium by end of 2012
A national aquarium with 26 display tanks – including one for sharks – additional recreational facilities and an improved promenade should be set up at Qawra point by the end of next year.
Excavation works have already started on the site, which is near the Qawra tower commonly known as Ta’ Fra Ben.
The aquarium will be housed in an underground building whose entrance facilities will be in a starfish-shaped shell structure, as will other facilities including restaurants, a merchandise outlet and facilities for local diving schools.
The main attraction – especially during feeding time – is set to be the main tank, which will be approximately 12 metres in diameter and which will house Indian Ocean species, including sharks. An underwater tunnel will allow visitors to watch the fish up close.
The project will cost around €15.6 million, of which €8.85 million will be provided by the European Regional Development Fund. The rest will be coming from Marine Aquatic Ltd, which will receive a 50-year concession and whose main partners are Ebcon, Elbros and New

Belizean conservationist and Director of the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center Sharon Matola is on a list of nominees for the biennial Indianapolis Prize. According to a statement announcing the nomination, the work of all the Indianapolis Price nominees spans the globe, representing a range of species and locales. Matola told Love FM’s Patrick Jones that she was stunned by the news that she had been nominated for the prestigious international honor.

Tokay Gecko trade boom in South-East Asia
Unfounded claims of a potential cure for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is one factor behind a boom in the trade of Tokay Geckos, according to a new report launched today by TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
The Tokay Gecko Gekko gecko is a nocturnal Asian lizard growing up to 40 cm in length and easily identified by its orange-spotted, blue-grey skin and unmistakable vocalizations.
The animals are popular in the global pet trade and have long been traded—both legally and illegally—for use in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the belief they can cure various maladies including diabetes, asthma, skin disease and cancer. In parts of Asia, Tokay wine or whisky is consumed to increase strength and energy.
Between 1998 and 2002, more than eight and a half tonnes of dried Tokay Geckos were legally imported into the USA for use in traditional medicine. Huge numbers are traded within Asia, from countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, to meet demand, especially in China.
Recently, however, the medicinal demand for Tokay Geckos has skyrocketed, with dozens of new websites in Malaysia, a major hub of the trade, dedicated to buying and selling Tokay Geckos.
Messages have been circulating in online blogs, forums, newspaper articles, classified advertisements and amongst wildlife dealers in the region, extolling the consumption of Tokay Gecko tongue and internal organs as a cure for HIV and e

Acclaimed wildlife park needs £25k or animals may have to be put down
THE owners of a renowned wildlife park fear their animals will have to be put down as they desperately battle to raise £25,000 to survive the winter.
John Denerley and wife Kathryn, who are both deaf, have turned the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park into a popular tourist attraction with more than 30,000 visitors a year.
It has a highly regarded conservation and breeding programme but the credit crunch and poor weather have seen visitor numbers drop and John fears the 27-acre park may not make it through another harsh winter.
If it closes, up to half of the animals – including endangered species such as maned wolf, lemurs, red pandas and lynx – may have to be put down.
Feeding and keeping more than150 creatures warm and paying vet bills costs over £1500 a week and the zoo urgently needs £25,000 to get them through the winter closure period.
John said: “If we can’t get funding then we won’t be able to feed the animals and we’ll need to look into sending them elsewhere.
“If we can’t find homes, we’ll

Killer whale removed from Marineland
Ikaika was subject of legal battle with SeaWorld
It looks like Ikaika is headed home.
A killer whale, believed to be the one at the heart of a custody battle between Marineland and Florida's SeaWorld, was removed from the Niagara Falls amusement park Saturday night by a fleet of transport trucks, a crane and more than a dozen Niagara Regional Police escorts cars.
As the slow-moving convoy crept along the QEW around 9 p.m., it puzzled an OPP officer in the area.
"They're taking this whale to the airport from Marineland," an OPP radio dispatcher broadcast to an officer who was wondering about the "14 cruisers all with their lights on" driving slowly and backing up traffic near Grimsby.
"I have no idea what is going on," the OPP officer radioed in. "I had my window down. One guy yelled at me, 'We're going to the airport.'"
NRP spokesman Nilan Dave described the unusual police activity as "transportation detail regarding an animal."
"I'd contact Marineland for further (information). Must be related to the transport of the killer whale," Dave wrote in an email in response to a Review

I have included the above poster because a colleague asked me too. It refers to captive elephants in Sri Lanka. For the record I am NOT against the chaining of elephants in the same way I am NOT against reins on a horse or collars and leads on dogs. I believe that chaining elephants in zoos is an extremely important part of the proper and correct management of large semi domesticated and wild animals in 'hands on' management.

Town Hall probe clears councillors
A TOWN hall probe has cleared two councillors of behaving inappropriately.
Councillors Ann Thomson and Gordon Murray were investigated by Barrow Borough Council’s standards committee after a complaint was lodged by South Lakes Wild Animal Park’s marketing and development manager, Karen Brewer.
She wrote to Barrow Borough Council’s standards committee after a planning committee meeting on July 26.
She said she was unhappy with comments made by Cllr Thomson and claimed Cllr Murray had a pre-determination to vote against the proposed expansion of Dalton zoo.
But the pair have now been exonerated by the council’s standards committee.
Cllr Thomson said she was pleased to have been cleared.
She said: “We are both pleased to be cleared of this slur on our professionalism and probity as councillors. Both Gordon and I are long-serving members

Giant anteater enrichment

Inside Toronto’s hidden zoo
The white brick building feels medieval, the doorways too small for 21st-century girths and the hallway too narrow for two people to pass without an awkward side shuffle. Open rooms offer brief glimpses of bizarre scenes: a technician examining blood smears of Red River hogs, a PhD stirring a rattlesnake with a stick, a baby moose on a hospital gurney.
A few hundred feet away on the public side, bored kids are staring at an empty polar-bear exhibit and a dad is muttering about the $10 price of parking. A few people strain their necks for a look at Buddy and Pedro, the purportedly gay penguins. But back here beyond a fence next to the snow leopard exhibit, this is where a true magical menagerie tour awaits.
“We call it the hidden zoo,” says Bill Rapley, the executive director for conservation, education and wildlife, as he clops down the narrow hallway of the Toronto Zoo’s Animal Health Centre. “It’s where the real work of this zoo takes place and no one really gets to see it.”
The zoo has hidden it so well, in fact, that when city councillors were debating the fate of the municipally owned Toronto Zoo last month, there was barely a mention of the ongoing activities on this side of the fence. They referred to it in terms more suited to Canada’s Wonderland or Disneyworld – a tourist trap, plain and simple. Mayor Ford led the charge, asking rhetorically what taxpayers

Dear Friends of the Arabian Leopard,

It has just been brought to my attention that a video of an Arabian Leopard captured in Yemen was posted on YouTube on May 28, 2011:
The animal being tormented in the video is one of the most critically endangered mammals on Earth (up to 16 times rarer than the Giant Panda and 30 times rarer than the Bengal Tiger). As Yemen's National Animal (as of Yemen Cabinet decree on April 29, 2008) this animal should be fully protected by law. From the video it is obvious that the law is not working. Can you please take ten minutes from your day at the first opportunity to perform the following actions:

1) Watch the video and click "dislike" so that the person who posted the video, and everyone who subsequently watches it, begins to get the message that what the video depicts is unacceptable.
2) Write a message to Mr. Omer Ahmed Baeshen (, Director of the Endangered Species Unit of the Yemen Environmental Protection Authority and the CITES officer for Yemen demanding that the Endangered Species Unit at the EPA fully investigate this "incident."
3) Encourage your friends, family, colleagues, students etc. to do the same.
4) If you are Yemeni and can tell from the accents, clothing or any other clues the governorate where this took place, contact me immediately with this information. It is impossible to tell at this point when and where the video was taken, but knowing where and when it was captured will contribute to the effectiveness of future actions on the part of the Foundation.

Thank you.

I'm sorry to have had to bring this to your attention, but devoting just a few minutes to these tasks right away will contribute in a meaningful way to the battle that the Foundation continues to fight.



David B. Stanton
Executive Director of the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard in Yemen
P.O. Box 7069
Sana'a, Republic of Yemen
Mobile: +967733916928
Fax: +9671370193

Don't be disappointed that the video has already been taken should be pleased. Still worth sending off an email though. Lets ensure these animals get the protection they deserve.

40 big cat sightings reported in Cumbria
Police have received 40 reports of big cats roaming the Cumbrian countryside since 2003.
But no evidence has ever been found to back up any of the claims.
The majority refer to big black panther-type creatures or lynxes.
One sighting of a “large black cat” dead beside the M6 was found to be an otter.
And after investigating a report of “big black cat” at Troutbeck Bridge, near Windermere, officers concluded it was probably a badger.
Cumbria Police has thrown open its files on big cat sightings after a request by the News & Star under Freedom of Information rules.
They include:
A “black panther” on the fells at Garrigill, near Alston in 2003.

Pacific Primate Sanctuary's latest E-newsletter

African elephant dies at San Diego Zoo, possibly in attack by another
A female African elephant at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park has died, possibly from injuries suffered in an attack by another elephant, zoo officials said Thursday.
The 21-year-old elephant named Umoya was found lying on the ground Thursday morning with severe injuries and died before keepers could arrive to offer help. A post-mortem examination is expected to determine the cause of death.
Umoya was one of seven elephants brought in 2003 from the African nation of Swaziland to the Safari Park, which was then called the Wild Animal Park. The park has 18 elephants.
Elephants are social animals, with adult females often sharing the duties

Wild dog enrichment

2nd coelacanth population found off Tanzania coast
A team of Japanese researchers has discovered a hitherto unknown population of coelacanths, a fish species known as a "living fossil," off southeast Africa.
The researchers from Tokyo Institute of Technology and other entities said the newly found breeding group of coelacanths linked to the site has existed for more than 200,000 years without genetic contact with other groups.
Researchers had believed there was only one breeding group of the species off Africa.
The team published the results in an online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States.
Coelacanths have been found only in the sea off Africa and Indonesia. In Africa, an area in the sea around the Comoros Islands near Madagascar is home to the only previously known population of the fish.
Tokyo Institute of Technology Prof. Norihiro Okada and his colleagues analyzed genes of more than 20 coelacanths caught off Tanga, northern Tanzania, and nearby sites. The areas are nearly 1,000 kilometers north-northwest of the Comoros Islands.
The results showed the fish belong to a population genetically distinct from that off Comoros Islands.
The two groups seem to have separated 200,000 to 2 million

firehose hammock construction

Drunk zoo visitor ends up in hospital after climbing into monkey enclosure 'to play'
An amateur cameraman has captured the insane moment a drunk zoo visitor jumped into a monkey enclosure to 'play with them', and ended up with severe bite marks after the animals attacked.
Joao Leite Dos Santos, a mechanic in Sao Paulo, Brazil, admitted that he had been drinking alcohol when he went to the Sorocaba Zoo on Sunday.
Thinking that it would be fun to join the zoo's colony of spider monkeys, he climbed over a fence and swam across a dividing pool to get closer to the animals, as amused tourists

A bit Gory - Never mess with a monkey

Viewpoints: Should we give up trying to save the panda?
A survey of about 600 scientists published this week found that a majority think it's time to consider conservation triage - focusing resources on animals that can realistically be saved, and giving up on the rest.
Those that fall into the too-expensive-to-save category, it has been suggested, might include the panda and the tiger.
So, should we give up on one endangered species to save another? Here, two experts argue for and against triage.

Toronto Zoo Puts the Kibosh on ‘Gay Penguin’ Agenda
A spokesperson for the Toronto Zoo said the two male African penguins, Buddy and Pedro, which have been portrayed in some media reports as “gay” are actually part of a breeding program for endangered species and that their bond is “social,” not “sexual.”
Buddy, in fact, had a female mate for 10 years and they produced baby penguins until she died.
Shanna Young, executive director of marketing and communications for the zoo, told that

Kanpur zoo captivates Sir Allen's descendants
Allen Forest played host to special guests on Thursday. They were the descendants of George Berney Allen, the man who had established Allen Forest (Kanpur Zoological Park) and had come all the way from England.
The present Kanpur zoo is the changed face of the forest that was established by Sir Allen between 1913 and 1918. His great grandnephew, great grandniece, great grandnephew and other relatives became nostalgic to see the lush green zoo and the wild animals kept in it.
A group of 10 family members of Sir Allen, including Donald Lehmann, Anne Perry, Andrew Perry, Michel Lehmann, Bruce, Elisabeth Jacob, John were lost in the memories of the place. The family members, most of whom in their 60s and 70s, were overjoyed to be in Kanpur zoo where the trees were planted

Rumours and animals still abound at Tripoli’s zoo
Fled or dead, the Gadhafis of Libya now are scattered to the four winds. But the imprint of their hold over Tripoli is still vividly alive in a thriving animal menagerie in the very heart of the capital.
Technically, the shuttered Tripoli Zoo belongs to the people. Yet it is off-limits for now, its 900 exotic inhabitants guarded zealously by a dedicated core staff that was itself traumatized by the excesses of the ruling family that spent the last 42 years right next door, in Moammar Gadhafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound.
The forbidden preserve, coupled with continued infighting among still heavily armed rival militias, have yielded some eyebrow-raising rumours of late. And none matches this doozy — that the rebel gangs of Zintan actually broke into the zoo, “liberated” an elephant and mounted an anti-aircraft gun to its back. A heat-packing pachyderm as the ultimate African war prize, according to cellphone texts flying around Tripoli.
It is patently untrue, Tripoli Zoo Director Anas Ali al-Aghab confirmed Sunday when the Toronto Star went knocking for answers. Tripoli’s last elephant, in fact, died two years ago of old age.
“It is really just a joke, I think. Tripoli is so full of rumours,” said Aghab. “But there’s nothing we can do about it. All we care about right now is caring

A Fantastic Choice For Reptile Keepers at Christmas

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Gibson: A guitar manufactur​er strikes the wrong chord
Dear friends of the rainforest,
the American guitar manufacturer Gibson targets tropical ebony and rosewood in order to decorate its expensive instruments. Due to ruthless overexploitation, the coveted woods are in danger of extinction and are therefore declared a strictly protected species. For this reason, Gibson allegedly purchases wood from an international timber mafia that illegally logs the trees in the Malagasy rainforest. On August 24th, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, a federal government agency, raided Gibson guitar’s offices and factories in Nashville and Memphis – for the second time in a two-year period. Tropical timber has also been imported from India – in violation of Indian laws.
Please support our campaign and make the company replace imported exotic wood with local timber species:

Zookeepers petition city to rethink elephants’ fate
Elephant keepers at the Toronto Zoo are urging city council to reconsider its decision to send the three remaining elephants there to a sanctuary in California.
This week, the keepers presented a petition to councillors with 1,100 names on it, asking that zoo staff be allowed to continue searching for the “best home that meets all the needs of the elephants.’’
The zoo’s board of management meets next week to consider how to move forward with relocating its three aging female pachyderms, Toka, Thika and Iringa. A report with recommendations is expected to be released Friday.
Many of the keepers are angry that city council stepped in late last month and voted to send the animals to the sprawling PAWS sanctuary in California, which is not accredited by the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The vote came despite the fact the zoo board voted in May to have staff look first for an AZA-accredited zoo as a new home for the trio.
In a letter accompanying the petition, the keepers

Government gives debt-laden Adelaide Zoo $2.6m
Debt-ridden Adelaide Zoo is being given a multi-million-dollar loan to help wipe off some of its debts.
The South Australian Government will give the zoo $2.6 million to meet its loan debt to the Westpac Bank.
Westpac has agreed to reduce the debt from $25 million to $7.5 million.
The zoo has struggled to meet rising costs, partly due to its annual grant from the Government having been frozen for several years.
Treasurer Jack Snelling has decided to increase the annual grant to the zoo from $3.1

Rwanda to import SA rhinos and lions
Rwanda will start importing rhinos and lions from South Africa next year, after its own wildlife was decimated by poaching and conflict. Rwanda has only one rhino, while lions disappeared when refugees returning home after the 1994 genocide occupied parts of a national park.
Tourism officials say they have begun fencing the park and work will be finished in February next year. Highly endangered mountain gorillas are Rwanda's main tourist attraction.
Rwanda’s tourism director Rica Rwigamba says, "We have began fencing the park. The work will be finished in February

Lawmakers push to allow zoos to keep rescuing polar bears
Battling life-threatening climate change in the Arctic, polar bears are being frozen out of rescues by American zoos such as Louisville’s because of a federal regulation originally written to help the animals.
But a group of lawmakers — including U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, D-3rd District — wants Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to find a way to change those rules to ensure that qualified U.S. zoos can continue to help save the Arctic’s most famous inhabitants.
Zoos and polar bear conservationists support the congressional appeal.
“We want to be in a position that we can help,” said Steve Olson, vice president of federal|head

S Africa plans to take rhino DNA samples in China
The South African Department of Environmental Affairs Wednesday congratulated China on the seizure of rhino horn and ivory items in Hong Kong and said it plans to send a delegation to Hong Kong to take DNA samples of the rhino horns.
It said this will enable government to compare it to the current data in the DNA database. The Department is in the process of obtaining permission for sampling from the Chinese authorities.
"Officials from the Department have already informed their counterparts in China that they would like to cooperate with them on the seizure," the department said in a statement.
Albi Modise, Spokesperson for the Department of Environmental Affairs, said that, "The latest seizure is an example of the increased cooperation between

A Busy Love Life, Built With a Mother’s Help
The muriqui monkeys of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil, a highly endangered species numbering only about 1,000, live in an egalitarian society.
Females are as muscular as males, so there is no threat of physical subjugation. Males, eschewing any kind of pecking order, do not compete to be alpha monkey. Even when it comes to mating, males tend to simply wait their turn instead of fighting.
Karen Strier, an anthropologist at the University of Wisconsin who has been observing muriquis for 29 years, says she has always thought that in the absence of a social hierarchy, no individual male should be much more successful at reproducing than any other. To test this idea, she and a team recently used DNA analysis to determine who fathered each of 22 muriqui babies.
Their research, which appeared in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that while there were no superdads, some males did have a slight edge.
But it had nothing to do with physical attributes. A male enjoys greater reproductive success if he shares an unusual physical closeness with his mother, or if he happens to be lucky enough to live with a sister or two.
Dr. Strier’s team thinks these females may help their male kin learn how to behave appropriately around potential mates, or perhaps give them special access to prime mating opportunities. “Like you’re out with your mom,” she said, “and you run into her friend who has a really gorgeous daughter.” (To a muriqui male, “gorgeous” means ovulating.)
In addition, Dr. Strier says muriqui ma

Killed for keratin? The unnecessary extinction of the rhinoceros
In recent weeks, the newswires have been abuzz with reports of the extinction of two sub-species of rhinoceros. In late October, the reported death of the last Javan rhinoceros (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) in Vietnam confirmed much of what many in the conservation world had suspected for some time: that this sub-species is now extinct. Sadly, in the past week or so, Africa’s Western Black rhino (Diceros bicornis longipes) has also been declared extinct.
In Vietnam, it was an ignominious end to the Javan rhino. The last remaining individual, a female, had been shot in the leg at some point and had died from a subsequent infection that no doubt resulted in a long and painful death. No matter, the end result was the same; the body was found with the horn crudely hacked off.
Prior to the confirmation of its extinction, the past few years has seen continued speculation about the fate of the last Javan rhinoceros in Vietnam. The sub-species was rediscovered in 1988 after a poached individual was found in the Cat Tien National Park. The presence of such an iconic, yet enigmatic, large mammal that had stayed hidden from the world for so long, precipitated considerable conservation activity in Cat Tien. The Government of Vietnam, supported by international conservation NGOs mobilized significant resources to protect the last remaining population, estimated at between 7-1


Rhino horn trade triggers extinction threat
Tourism and wildlife officials want the slaughter to stop. Private security armies and the South African military have cracked down. Still, rhinos are being killed in South Africa alone at a rate exceeding one a day, a rate that has already made one species of rhino extinct and threatens the two others.
Tourism chiefs and wildlife protection groups say both black and white rhinos face extinction because of poaching to meet demand from Asia where powdered rhino horn is used as a medicine, and the Middle East, where the horn is valued for decoration.
Exact prices are hard to gauge but some say a kilogram of rhino horn is more valuable than gold, though that is disputed by others looking into the murky black market.
In 2011, more than 340 rhinos have been killed so far in South Africa -- more than for the whole of 2010 which was itself a record year, according to the World Wildlife

Chimps’ Days in Labs May Be Dwindling
In a dome-shaped outdoor cage, a dozen chimpanzees are hooting. The hair on their shoulders sticks straight up. “That’s piloerection,” a sign of emotional arousal, says Dr. Dana Hasselschwert, head of veterinary sciences at the New Iberia Research Center. She tells a visitor to keep his distance. The chimps tend to throw pebbles — or worse — when they get excited.
Chimps’ similarity to humans makes them valuable for research, and at the same time inspires intense sympathy. To research scientists, they may look like the best chance to cure terrible diseases. But to many other people, they look like relatives behind bars.
Biomedical research on chimps helped produce a vaccine for hepatitis B, and is aimed at one for hepatitis C, which infects 170 million people worldwide, but there has long been an outcry against the research as cruel and unnecessary. Now, because of a major push by advocacy organizations, a decision to stop such research in the United States could come within a year. As it is, the United States is one of only two countries that

"The King of the Komodo Dragons" is gone.
That's how Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard described Johnny Arnett, a zookeeper who spent much of his 40-year career at the zoo until he retired two years ago.
Mr. Arnett gained worldwide acclaim for the study, care and breeding of the rare Komodo dragons, natives of Indonesia.
He survived the ferocious animals' repeated attempts to disembowel him and lived a life full of extraordinary travels and adventures.
Then, following an extended illness, Mr. Arnett, of Roselawn, died Nov. 6at Good Samaritan Hospital. He was 66.
Mr. Arnett played a pivotal role in the zoo's evolution, Maynard said. "He was here in that great growth period, when the zoo grew from a little corner city zoo into a major institution."
His wife, Tami Arnett, said her husband's legacy would be "his passion for animals remaining in their natural habitat - and if they couldn't remain in their natural habitat, then how to best take care of them in zoos so they would be sustainable for everyone to enjoy."
Before earning accolades as a zookeeper, Mr. Arnett's life was off to a rough start, his wife said.
Born June 6, 1945, in Jellico|head


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