Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Zoo News Digest 11th - 14th December 2011 (Zoo News 798)

Zoo News Digest 11th - 14th December 2011 (Zoo News 798)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I really cannot believe that anyone, much less a bunch of people, could be so anal* to criticise the BBC for using 'zoo' shots in their documentaries. The first link today explains the reasoning behind such moves so clearly that if those complainants cannot see it then they must be so far up their own arses that there is no longer any hope for them. I make no apologies for the terminology used because it explains these people perfectly....a good bit worse than blinkered.
(* borrowing this word from a friend)

I have said it before. I have never claimed to be an expert on anything. Apart from anything else it is a dangerous designation to have. The article "Imprudent: expert responds to Abu Dhabi's theme park plans" puzzles me somewhat especially in its mention of Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort. Do they really believe it did not get built? see "were all ill-conceived and never had a remote possibility of happening"

The "The Desire for Tigers: Is It Enough?" puzzles me. I can't get my head around the statement "India is home to approximately 50 percent of the world’s wild tigers, estimated to number somewhere around four thousand. But just one hundred years ago, as many as a thousand tigers may have roamed Asia."??

MR. 'Doc Antle' has done it again. Read "Feline Conservation Federation Applauds Save Vanishing Species Stamp". Something is very very very wrong somewhere if he is called up as an expert! What is happening here? Why are the AZA not involved? It is frightening that "The proceeds from the sale of these 55 cent “Save Vanishing Species” first class stamps is distributed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to conservation efforts that safeguard habitat". What does this mean....more Tigons and Ligers? More coloured Tigers sent to third class Dysfunctional Zoos in Thailand? And Yes...I am wholly 100% against the deliberate pulling of cats of any kind for hand rearing...ambassadorial role or not!

"“There are no other options, period,” said Berardinetti.....the 'Brainless Puppet'. See 'Toronto Zoo elephant move blasted by councillors'. Just who do these councillors think they are?

The internet is still a pain and I have a ton of mail to answer but while I have a window when it is working I thought I would get this out.

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Highland polar bear Walker in BBC Frozen Planet row
One of two polar bear cubs at the centre of a controversy over the BBC's Frozen Planet has been confirmed as Highland Wildlife Park bear Walker.
An episode featured the cubs in a den with their mother, with many people assuming they were born and filmed in the Arctic.
But the cubs were actually in a Dutch zoo, as revealed in behind-the-scenes footage on the show's website.
The BBC has defended the footage and denied misleading viewers.
Walker, who is now three years old, is kept at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig, near Aviemore.
Douglas Richardson, animal collection manager, said the BBC was right to film cubs in a zoo rather than risk harming a den in the wild.
He said: "We're all delighted here at the Highland Wildlife Park to discover that Frozen Planet's fantastic high quality footage of the polar bear cubs in their cubbing den actually includes our very own Walker.
"Walker is an extremely happy and well-loved bear."
Mr Richardson added: "To do something like this in a polar bear cubbing den in the wild would be totally impossible, as well as being extremely dangerous, the interruption would likely cause the mother to kill her cubs.
"The captive footage wa

New zoo unit to focus on global conservation
A plan to give the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds a more-global reach is shaping up, thanks to a $1 million gift from a local foundation.
The Robert F. and Edgar T. Wolfe Foundation is donating the money so the two facilities can concentrate on three big efforts: improving the planet’s sustainability, increasing animal populations and researching connections between animal and human diseases.
“We all live on one planet, and everything is connected,” zoo Director Dale Schmidt said. “We’re the zoo of the future.”
The zoo’s foundation, made up of donations, will match the Wolfe Foundation gift to create what Schmidt calls the “transformation center” — not a building initially, but a working group that will oversee efforts in all three areas.
“We want to become a regional player with a global impact all around the world,” Schmidt said. “ This is the seed money

THE BBC has been accused of misleading millions of viewers after it emerged one of the scenes in its Frozen Planet series was actually filmed in a wildlife park.
The scene from episode five shows a polar bear in her den giving birth to her cubs and then gently tending to them.
However, the poignant scenes were actually filmed in a wildlife park enclosure followed by scenes from the Arctic.
During the commentary, narrator Sir David Attenborough did not explain where it was actually shot.
John Whittingdale, chairman of the Commons Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said it was "hugely disappointing" that viewers were misled.
He said: "My view has always been that all broadcasters should not seek to give viewers a false impression.
"If this was not filmed in the wild it would have bee

Polar bear 'cannibalism' pictured
It is an image that is sure to shock many people.
An adult polar bear is seen dragging the body of a cub that it has just killed across the Arctic sea ice.
Polar bears normally hunt seals but if these are not available, the big predators will seek out other sources of food - even their own kind.
The picture was taken by environmental photojournalist Jenny Ross in Olgastretet, a stretch of water in the Svalbard archipelago.
"This type of intraspecific predation has always occurred to some extent," she told BBC News.
"However, there are increasing numbers of observations of it occurring, particularly on land where polar bears are trapped ashore, completely food-deprived

Sick Shetland pony among zoo animals living without mate
Efforts are under way at the Zoological Gardens Karachi to save the life of a lone Shetland pony suffering from various medical complications, including a severe form of arthritis.
The animal is the only one of its species left in the zoo. There used to be two pairs of the species at the zoo, but over the past 10 to 12 years, all of them died, sources said. The surviving pony was born to one of the pairs at the zoo a few years ago while a newborn pony died soon after its birth, they added.
“This pony was shifted to the Landhi-Korangi zoo some time ago where the staff didn’t look after it well. No veterinary surgeon was posted at the Korangi zoo at that time and the staff reported the case only when the animal’s condition deteriorated to the extent that it wasn’t able to stand on its feet and lost its appetite,” a zoo staff member told Dawn. The poor animal has been under treatment at the zoo’s dispensary for 15 days.
During a visit to the zoo, the animal was found eating

Imprudent: expert responds to Abu Dhabi's theme park plans
Over the couple of months, Abu Dhabi has been a strong topic of conversation among the Kipp team. We can’t help it. The capital has been making news for some of the decisions it’s taken in the last quarter of the year.
Back in October, although it reiterated that every intention is still there to go ahead with the projects, Abu Dhabi announced its decision to delay the construction of its museum. Then in November, we talked about the job cuts experienced across the country, which most notably included the capital’s clean energy champion, Masdar.
Then early this December, we looked at these necessary steps backward that Abu Dhabi has taken, looking at its projects with a more pragmatic perspective and cutting down where it feels it can. This was then followed by the news that there were job cuts at the Ferrari World theme park. The company says the redundancies were due to a schedule change. And it’s not a long stretch to see that the schedule changes to theme park openings is due to a lower than expected visitor footfall.
So considering there’s been a general housekeeping and tightening of belts across Abu Dhabi’s projects, you can imagine

Be a Keeper for a Day

If you’ve always dreamed of getting close to a penguin or feeding a rhino his lunch, well this could be your chance as Edinburgh Zoo has launched a package of Keeper Experiences available to buy.

From magic moments lasting 30 minutes to living the dream all day long, there’s an encounter to suit everyone.

If lemurs are your thing, feed our lively lemurs in their enclosure and find out all about Duke, Naomi (check spelling) and the rest of the gang. Or if you have a passion or penguins, feed our boisterous birds next to their outdoor pool, meet the famous king penguin Sir Nils Olav and even lead the penguins when they go on Parade.

Although we can’t guarantee they’ll be wise or old, a Magic Moment with our awesome owls gives you the opportunity to handle and help fly them. If its creepy crawlies that captivate you, we’ve bearded dragons, tortoises, cockroaches, snails and more. Finally, if size matters, meet and feed our impressive resident rhinos Samir and Bertus.

If 30 minutes just isn’t enough, our Keeper for a Day Experience is a dream come true. From cleaning our bongos, to feeing our wallabies, helping to train our rhinos and handling our creepiest crawlies, the day is out of this world. You’ll even get to create enrichment objects for our sunbears and chimpanzees, feed our famous penguins and lead the Penguin Parade. To top it off, we’ll give you an exclusive “Keeper for a Day” t-shirt and your very own certificate to show off to your friends.

Prices start from £50 for 30 minute Magic Moments and £250 for the full day Keeper Experience. Most Magic Moments are suitable for adults and children aged 12 and above (although children must be accompanied by a supervising adult). Keeper Experiences are for adults and those aged 16 years and above. For a full list of terms and conditions and to book a date for an experience, please contact  or 0131 314 0349.

To buy a Keeper Experience gift card, please visit Edinburgh Zoo’s brand new online shop at  or call into Edinburgh Zoo’s main gift shop or Gyle shopping centre gift shop.

Defacing the world's rarest tortoises
2011 marks 25 years of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust's work in Madagascar to save native species, including the Critically Endangered ploughshare tortoise.
But with the explosive growth in demand for pet tortoises from Asia, the ploughshares' former safe haven of Baly Bay National Park is under increasing threat from poachers.
Richard Lewis is director of Durrell's Madagascar programme. Here he speaks about how the team and the local villagers are working to protect the world's rarest tortoise. This includes the drastic measure of "defacing" the beautiful shells in order to make the animals worthless on the black market.

The Desire for Tigers: Is It Enough?
“We have the means to save the mightiest cat on Earth, but do we have the will?” asks writer Caroline Alexander in an article titled “A Cry for the Tiger” in the December 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine.
The question certainly gives us pause. The United Nations declared 2010 the International Year of Biodiversity; and because it was also the Chinese Year of the Tiger, the World Wildlife Fund placed the animal at the top of its list of “ten critically important endangered animals that we believe will need special monitoring over the next twelve months.” And in November 2010, the thirteen “tiger countries” attended the St. Petersburg Global Tiger Summit in Russia and pledged to double the number of wild tigers by 2022.
Yet, 2010 came and went with no detectable improvements in wild tiger numbers. In fact, in March 2010, a mother and two cubs were poisoned in the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in western Thailand. In the same month, it appears that villagers who had lost goats to tiger attacks poisoned two young tigers in Ranthambore National Park in India. And today there are still more big cats in captivity than there are in the wild.
So, do we truly have enough “tiger desire

Feline Conservation Federation Applauds Save Vanishing Species Stamp
Proceeds from the Save Vanishing Species stamps will help safeguard habitat and protect endangered species.
The Feline Conservation Federation (FCF) applauds the release of the Multinational Species Semi Postal Stamp, which generates funding to conserve tigers, great apes, rhinoceros, Asian and African elephants, and marine sea turtles.
The proceeds from the sale of these 55 cent “Save Vanishing Species” first class stamps is distributed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to conservation efforts that safeguard habitat, and protect these endangered species.
The Rare Species Fund, (RSF) co-managed by T.I.G.E.R.S., (The Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species) and the FCF, worked to build Congressional support of the bill that reauthorized the Multinational Species Conservation Funds Semi Postal Stamp.
RSF founder, Bhagavan “Doc” Antle testified before members of Congress, and the appearances of RSF’s wildlife ambassadors helped raise awareness of endangered species issues. Congressman Henry Brown thanked T.I.G.E.R.S. assistance saying, “This couldn’t have been possible without the help of you and your team at T.I.G.E.R.S. and the Rare Species Fund.”
The stamp design features an Amur tiger cub by artist Nancy Stahl. Amur tigers are a critically endangered tiger subspecies, with less than 400 alive today. The population of all wild tigers is believed to be around 3,000 individuals worldwide, with about half the population living in India.
Since "Project Tiger" was launched in the 1970’s, poaching, habitat degradation, human encroachment, and corruption of government and wildlife agencies has continued to decimate tiger populations. Valmik Thapar, who has worked on big cats for 30 years, and spends 60 to 70 days a year in jungles, calls Project Tiger a complete failure, and the task of the Tiger Task Force impossible.
India's Bengal tiger is an American favorite at exhibits. Managed captive breeding of Bengal tigers can bring forth recessive traits, creating white tigers with black stripes, snow white tigers lacking any stripes, and tabby tigers, which have cinnamon colored stripes.
The Feline Conservation Federation is a non-profit organization, dedicated to responsible captive management of felines, and the conservation

Free Perks Revealed by Toronto Councillor Rob Ford

Toronto Zoo light on details of pending elephant transfer
The Toronto Zoo is not foot-dragging on a Council-imposed move of three aged elephants, staff made clear Monday morning, but they still can’t offer specifics on when or how the beloved pachyderms will be California-bound.
Zoo staff provided an update on the elephants’ status Tuesday morning, responding to mounting pressure from city councillors and zoo critics pressing to have the Toka, Thika and Iringa shipped to a California sanctuary before winter sets in.
That timeline now looks unlikely. Zoo CEO John Tracogna told reporters that, contrary to recent reports, the zoo was not impeding the move and had met an application deadline for a federal export permit. But Canadian and U.S. approvals could still take upwards of three months.
Organizations such as Zoochek Canada have argued that the animals could be trained for the 3500-kilometre

Toronto Zoo elephant move blasted by councillors
Stalling tactics by the Toronto Zoo and its keepers over sending three elephants to a California sanctuary threaten their health, according to city councillors closely involved with their fate.
Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker calls it “sabotage” that ultimately could thwart the transfer of Iringa, 42, Toka, 41, and Thika, 31, to the Performing Animal Welfare Sanctuary (PAWS) in San Andreas, Calif.
“It’s a guerrilla campaign against council and the people of Toronto by a rogue staff,” he said. “As a zoo board member, I’ve been immensely frustrated over unwillingness by the Toronto Zoo to put the elephants first before political warfare and personal agendas.”
“We’re in another winter — but we could have had them out right before Christmas,” said Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who spearheaded council’s Oct. 25 motion approving the sanctuary and instructing zoo staff to work with PAWS.
“I don’t want another death on our hands,” said Berardinetti. “If an elephant dies this winter, it will be on their heads, not on ours.”
Since 1984, seven elephants have died at the zoo, four within the past four years. The oldest was 41.
Zoo chief executive John Tracogna did not return repeated phone calls from the Star over several days last week.
CUPE Local 1600 president Grant Ankenman, whose union represents 192 Toronto Zoo staffers, says the elephant keepers have been “totally professional.”
But after council’s vote on PAWS, elephant keepers and other zoo staffers ramped up their opposition to council’s decision with a Facebook campaign.
One posting on a public page called The Toronto Zoo Elephant Keepers compared Berardinetti to a “brainless puppet.” Another called PAWS co-founder Ed Stewart “an evil, lying man.” One zoo staffer wrote on her own Facebook page that

Toronto zoo chief regrets staff members’ ‘inappropriate’ Facebook remarks
Toronto zoo chief John Tracogna says he regrets “inappropriate remarks” on Facebook by staffers who oppose moving the zoo’s three African elephants to a California sanctuary.
He told a morning press conference at zoo headquarters in Scarborough that he has asked zoo lawyers to draft a policy for using social media to avoid problems in future.
The negative comments, posted on Facebook by zoo staffers and included in a Star report Monday, blasted council and individuals for voting to send Toronto’s elephants to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in San Andreas, California. Nasty remarks were also directed at PAWS director Ed Stewart.
However, Tracogna said relations with the California sanctuary are good and plans to transfer Iringa, Toka and Thika from Toronto to PAWS are going smoothly.
It’s expected the move will come in March or April.
Tracogna said it’s too soon to say if the elephants will travel by air or land.
However, Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a zoo board member, told the Star he’d love to see an “Operation Jumbo Drop” in which the Canadian military transferred the elephants by cargo plane and the whole country got involved in the saga.
That’s what happened with Maggie, an elephant flown by the U.S. Air Force from Alaska to California in a C-17 four years ago. An animal welfare group paid for the trip after it was decided Maggie should leave the zoo in Anchorage.
Even the Pentagon got involved, facilitating the use of a Hercules plane and prioritizing the elephant lift.
De Baeremaeker said it’s best to let the people moving the elephants decide what’s best. Toronto Zoo keepers will work with PAWS on the transfer, the cost of which is being covered by PAWS.
Still, a source said very preliminary efforts have begun to try and sell the idea of an elephant flight by the Canadian military to the Conservative

Gay Penguin’s New Girlfriend’s Best Friend Has Some Advice
“Toronto’s zoo has split up a pair of male penguins whose affection for each other drew headlines and speculation about whether they might be gay. The zoo said Buddy and Pedro had been officially separated and Buddy had mated with a female.” —The Guardian
Buddy’s new girlfriend: Hey, oh my God. I need to confess something …
Buddy’s new girlfriend’s best friend: You’re seeing Buddy?
Buddy’s new girlfriend: I’m seeing Buddy!
Buddy’s new

Workers' stir throws zoo management out of gear
The woes of historic Maharajbagh Zoo have no end. On Monday, 66 daily wagers working with the zoo and garden went on an indefinite strike resulting in collapse of services. The zoo is already understaffed and workers' strike has further complicated the matters. The daily wagers, some of whom claim to be working for more than 25-30 years, are demanding regularisation of their services.
There are 15 daily wagers including 10 sweepers in the zoo while remaining are posted in the garden and nursery. These workers clean the garden, guard enclosures, feed the animals and dispose of solid and liquid waste. A visit on Tuesday revealed that Maharajbagh was feeling the pinch due to strike. Animals


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