Friday, January 6, 2012

Zoo News Digest 15th December 2011 - 6th January 2012 (Zoo News 799)

Zoo News Digest 15th December 2011 - 6th January 2012 (Zoo News 799)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

It seems like weeks since the last Zoo News Digest was sent out. It is! It has been extremely frustrating. I have not even been able to work on my HubPages. My internet connection has proved painful at best. It has been working on and off and mostly on when I was either short on time or very very tired (I have not had a full day off in weeks). There has been a lot to do at work plus it has been the party season and I have been celebrating big time. Burning the candle at both ends. I suppose one day I may publish it all in the x-rated follow up to the Itinerant Zoo Keeper.

Just today I have managed to sort out the internet. It cost a bit...nothing is for free these days and I send my grateful thanks to those who have sent donations in recent weeks to allow me to solve the problem.

Some of the news may be just a little dated.

The day before yesterday I posted as my Facebook Status "I can't figure how I can have 141 mutual friends with a man whose views on what zoos should be and what conservation is are so totally opposite to my own. No room for Tigons of Ligers in my world." Fair enough comment I would have thought. Do you know what happened? Not for the first time someone tried to get me banned from Facebook. Sad isn't it? It is a bit like a red rag to a bull and will only serve to sharpen my tongue for 2012. Dysfunctional Zoos must either close or reform! Although I presently have 4,170 'likers' on Facebook Zoo News Digest I have even more on the mailing list. I won't be easy to shut up.

My sincere condolences to the Jackson family in their bereavment. Margaret Jackson was a remarkable woman who I had the pleasure of being aquainted with for more than twenty years.

So a Tiger was killed in Toronto Zoo. Sad, but just one of those things. The story in the 'Star' that went with the article was fair enough and quite interesting. Why the 'F' though did they have to end it with a list of 'Toronto Zoo animal deaths'? What was the point? Does every human death in the city of Toronto end with a list of human deaths? People die in all sorts of circumstances and so do animals. You know the only thing that surprises me is the story never brought up the subject of elephants. Not to worry though because the 'Vancouver Sun' did....a nasty, hidden dig type compilation. Pointless nasty journalism. Inspired by the nastiness of the Vancouver Sun the 'Toronto Star' came back a couple of days later to mention everything they had dredged up. They are as bad as each other.

"Orangutans locked up in tiny cages at Malaysian zoo" I know Sean Whyte means well but and once again here it is the newspaper to blame. Phrases and words like "imprisoned", "callous zookeepers","Largely abandoned by staff", "given little food or water" are nothing short of trouble making. I am not defending the zoos (I have visited both mentioned here, Melaka and Johor) but how does the paper know the zoo keepers are callous? That they are abandoning their animals? That they are given little food and water? As a 'Zoo Keeper' I take offence. Papers in the West often look on zoos outside of their corner of the world as inferior. This can be but it is not always the case. I

Delighted to read "New recruitment rules for zoos". Always right to improve providing they remember that it is good Zoo Keepers which matter most in the successful running of a zoo.

Panda Poo Notepaper? It sells well where I have seen it on sale. There seems to be nothing that cannot be made out of Bamboo but sometimes it needs processing by a Panda.

"Cub club: Chinese zoo gets twin polar attraction"....two sets of twins in a single year??!!

"Zoos vital as EU aims to meet biodiversity targets"....Lets use 2012 to close all the Dysfunctional Zoos which refuse to change. The same needs to be done in the States and elsewhere!

An unfortunate 'accident' with a tiger has left a young boy fighting for his life. I am not into predictions but I believe it will not be the one and only tiger attack in 2012. As long as these 'Dysfunctional Zoos' (Yes any zoo which continues with Tiger Posing sessions is Dysfunctional in my eyes, no matter how big, wealthy and popular they are) continue their little money making schemes then that injury or death is just waiting to happen.

Yuvraj Duggal .....Respect!!


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Zoos vital as EU aims to meet biodiversity targets
The EU has a mechanism to ensure that zoos and aquariums fulfil conservation requirements but is it being implemented as well as it should?
Europe is home to some world-beating zoos and aquariums. They carry out extraordinary work that benefits both human culture and the conservation of biodiversity.
The European Union zoos directive acknowledges the role that they can and should play in conservation in the wild. It contains measures that the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria have been calling for but the directive will only work if national authorities enforce it – which, sadly, is not always the case.
Going to the zoo is always a fun day out. It stimulates young minds and provides an unforgettable experience for all – young and old. European zoos welcome an astonishing 130 to140 million visitors every year and the popularity of zoos is growing. But it's important to understand that a major attraction of going to the zoo is the educational value. Five million children a year are formally educated on conservation and biodiversity. Our zoos are the largest non-governmental education network in Europe.
Collectively EAZA members annually devote more than €100m to conservation in the wild. The association's zoos partner with the world's foremost conservation body, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which recognises responsible zoos as key components in conserving the Earth's biodiversity. In 2012, IUCN is partnering with EAZA in a joint international campaign to raise funds for the conservation of the biodiversity of Southeast Asia.
So why do zoos get a bad time from their critics? It's simple: because in some cases, they deserve it. Some zoos need to do more to improve their standards and their conservation commitments. It is easy for critics to generalise – a zoo is a zoo is a zoo. But some zoos are better than others. The EAZA cannot speak for those poorly performing zoos since our membership is based on the highest standards but they are in the minority and what we can do – and are doing – is help bring them up to speed. The zoo community, like any other sector, should not be represented by the worst cases.
But what about the conservation role of zoos in a world that is seeing ever increased species decline and widespread failure by governments to reach the targets set through the former 2010 Convention on Biological Diversity? Well, there is also a legislative mechanism via the EU Zoos Directive (1999/22/EC).
The EAZA lobbied repeatedly throughout the 1990's for its introduction – and is also the only body named in the text of the directive as an example of good practice. This directive seeks to ensure that Article 9 of the Convention on Biodiversity is carried out effectively in the EU. And it has been implemented into many national legislations in an exemplary manner.
A recent study commissioned by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the United Kingdom demonstrated that zoos are working well in countries where there is a good application of the existing regulatory framework. ADAS, a consultancy group, carried out a review of UK implementation. While this study pointed out areas of improvement it also found that inspections were taking place as they should and that indeed there had been great improvements in the past 10 years.
The legislation is also well implemented in a number of other member states, not least countries such as Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Ireland, France and many more. But as the EU continues to expand, care must be taken to ensure that standards are harmonised across member states. In some countries, the directive is being implemented more

Colwyn Bay's Welsh Mountain Zoo founder dies aged 90
THE woman who helped her husband found the world famous Welsh Mountain Zoo in Colwyn Bay has passed away peacefully aged 90.
Margaret Jackson died in Merton Place Nursing Home, Colwyn Bay, surrounded by her family last Friday.
She was the wife of the late Robert Jackson, who opened the zoo in Upper Colwyn Bay in 1963. From 1945 until 1962 Margaret assisted her husband with his various animal businesses, and in 1962 the family moved from Cheshire to North Wales to start the zoo.
After Robert’s sudden death in a fishing accident in 1969, Margaret took over the running of the zoo assisted by her sons Tony, Chris and Nick.
From then until her retirement from active participation in the running of the attraction in 1981, Margaret remained at the helm as it thrived and developed

Zoo introduces 'local' seahorses
Seahorses native to the Westcountry coast are now on show at a Devon zoo.
Twelve short snouted seahorses, or Hippocampus hippocampus, have arrived at Living Coasts in Torquay.

Young Yuvraj Duggal Raises $22,000 for Belize Zoo
The Belize Zoo in the Central American country of Belize received an early Christmas gift from 16-year-old Yuvraj Duggal, an Indian American from Chicago, after he visited the zoo during the summer, fell in love with the place and managed to raise $22,000 for the zoo.
A grand celebration was held Dec. 2 in honor of Duggal’s achievement at the Belize Zoo and Tropical Education Center, where he officially presented his donation of $22,000, which will go toward the Problem Jaguar Rehabilitation Program.
Duggal had visited the country to learn about politics and how the American embassy functions. He shadowed Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally for a week, staying at the ambassador’s home and attending meetings in the embassy with Thummalapally.
During this time, Duggal visited the Belize Zoo, where he heard how a hurricane during the 2010 hurricane season damaged all the habitats at the zoo. “I knew

Boy Critical After Tiger Attack At Zoo
A three-year-old boy is in a critical condition after being mauled by a tiger at a roadside zoo in Russia.
The tiger was tied to a post behind a small fence when the attack happened at the zoo in Blagoveshchensk, in Russia's Amur region.
A man who was shown on Russian television inside the tiger's enclosure said he tried to stop the attack.
"I hit it (the tiger) with a stick, there was a metal thing on it. But it clutched the kid very tight," he said.
A doctor at the Amur Regional Hospital said: "The boy was brought in a bad condition, he had an emergency operation which lasted several hours.
"He is in intensive care now, in a bad condition. It is hard to give any prognosis so far."
An official of the Amur Regional Investigative Committee said his office was gathering information on the attack.
"According to the information we have, the tiger was not inside the cage, it was between the fence and the cage, so

Stray dogs kill four chinkaras at zoo
Delhi Zoo lost four chinkaras (Indian gazelle) on Tuesday night after stray dogs entered the premises and attacked the animals. The dogs were later captured by the zoo authorities.
“These dogs seem to have entered from the Sunder Nagar area. We have formed a team of officials to conduct a search of vulnerable areas in the zoo from where these dogs could have entered. We plan to block these areas and increase surveillance and security in the premises,” said a zoo official.
“The chinkaras that died were found bitten in the neck, head and shoulders. According to the post-mortem report, all four died of shock. The carcasses were discovered on Wednesday morning. We have lost one male, two females and a calf in the attack. We have had problems with stray dogs in the zoo for some time now and caught over 10 dogs last year,” he added.
According to the zoo officials, the dogs could

Zoo Crafts Love Nest To Save Ozark's Salamanders
It's flat. It's slimy. And it hides under rocks on the river bottom. It's the Ozark hellbender, and at up to two feet in length, it's one of the world's largest salamanders.
But Ozark hellbenders are disappearing: Fewer than 600 are left in the rivers of southern Missouri and northern Arkansas. Scientists have been making a huge effort to get them to breed in captivity. And now, thanks to a major effort at the Saint Louis Zoo, 2012 could be the year of new hope for hellbenders.
The zoo has built a kind of honeymoon resort for salamanders, assembling a mini water treatment plant and carefully tweaking water chemistry to recreate their cold, fast-flowing Ozark streams — minus any distracting predators

Weather delays cheetah arrival to Nehru zoo
All required formalities attended to and clearances obtained, it is now wait for the right weather for cheetahs to arrive at the Nehru Zoological Park.
The city zoo has entered into an animal exchange programme with the Dvur Kralove Zoo in Czech Republic for two pairs of cheetahs and they are to be sent once the weather settles down there.
According to zoo officials, the Czech animal facility is waiting for appropriate weather for flying down the four cheetahs. “Once the snowfall ceases there, the two pairs are to be sent and it could be anytime in next few weeks,” an official said.
The Dvur Kralove Zoo has made all preparations for shifting of the cheetahs and they are to be boarded on a cargo flight. As the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport does not have the required quarantine facility for these animals, orders have been issued for Nehru Zoological Park to act as quarantine for the prescribed period. “Since the facility is not

City zoo accused of mistreatment
VISITORS to the Shanghai Zoo yesterday went online to complain that animals there were mistreated.
Several pictures were published on a local online message board, showing that an injured wolf and a spotted hyena received no medical treatment.
A visitor with a screen name of Jiayi said on KDS, a popular local online forum, that a wolf had an injured paw but no one was taking care of him.
He said he didn't understand why animals living at the zoo would attack each other, as "they are supposed to have adequate food."
Other visitors echoed him. They said they noticed that the left fore paw of the wolf was hurt years ago.
A visitor also said a hyena was hurt on its back, like "it was burned by something."
"The fur on its back was missing, and reddish flesh can

Edinburgh Zoo pandas: Group criticises £43,000 'party'
The Scottish government spent almost £43,000 on a "welcome party" for the UK's only pair of giant pandas, animal campaigners have said.
Tian Tian and Yang Guang - the first giant pandas to live in the UK for 17 years - arrived at Edinburgh Zoo a month ago.
The Captive Animals' Protection Society said the government had spent £42,722 on the arrival event and marketing.
The charity uncovered the cost using Freedom of Information legislation.
It said ministers had previously stated the government expected funding for the pandas to "come from commercial sponsorship and other revenue sources".
Liz Tyson, Captive Animals' Protection Society director, said:

Top money to hunt rhino
A local businessman has paid more than R960 000 for the right to hunt a white rhino in the Hluhluwe Game Reserve, reported on Sunday.
“The animal sold for R960150. The hunt date has not yet been booked,” Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife spokesperson Waheeda Peters said.
The park administrators, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, put out a tender online that invited holders of hunting licences to bid to kill the rhino.
Simon Bloch, an activist with Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching, said he could not understand the move when rhinos were already in danger.
“We are supposed to be fighting poaching. What kind of message are they sending out if we are shooting rhinos ourselves?” He said his organisation had asked Ezemvelo to postpone the awarding of the tender as it was trying to raise money to pay for and thus save the rhino.
Ezemvelo CEO Bandile Mkhize said that the funds raised through the hunts were used for conservation.
“The removal of a small number of individually identified rhino males actually enhances overall metapopulation growth rates and furthers genetic conservation,” she was reported as saying.
At the beginning of December, 405 rhinos had been killed in SA in

Orangutans locked up in tiny cages at Malaysian zoo
THEY should be swinging through trees but they are imprisoned in tiny cages with barely room to move.
Campaigners discovered orangutans being cruelly locked in for up to 24 hours a day by callous zoo-keepers.
Some of the creatures, the world’s largest tree-dwellers, appear never to be allowed out. Largely abandoned by staff, they sit and stare from cages as small as 5ft by 5ft.
The intelligent, red-haired apes are an endangered species deserving iconic status in their native Malaysia – but are given little food or water

Malacca Zoo is too tight for space
The Malacca Zoo, well known for housing rescued wildlife, now needs some help of its own following complaints that its two enclosures for 13 orang utan are crowded.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said the state government had so far received over 3,000 complaints, including e-mails from animal lovers overseas, that the orang utan enclosures were too small.
“We realise this and have decided that we need five more enclosures,” he told reporters after attending an animal adoption and cheque presentation ceremony at the zoo

New recruitment rules for zoos
A modified Cadre and Recruitment (C&R) rules applicable for employees of various zoos of Karnataka is ready and has been sent to the government for approval. The new rules will help the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) to create new posts and depute officers from other departments. The ZAK plans to recruit 60 assistant animal keepers for the Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens, Mysore; Bannerghatta Biological Park, Bangalore; and Tavarekoppa Zoo, Shimoga.
The present strength of animal keepers in all state zoos is 463 which is not sufficient. Soon, they will be promoted and treated on par with Group ‘D’ employees. ZAK Chairman Nanjundaswamy told Express that twelve veteranarians of the rank of assistant directors, with a minimum experience of 8-10 years in animal welfare, will be deputed from the Department of Animal Husbandry to Mysore, Bannerghatta and Shimoga zoos. The respective zoos will bear their salary, perks and other expenses as long as they work on their premises. “The modified rules sent to the government for its concurrence is final and will not be revised in the future,” Nanjundaswamy added.
No Elephant for Germany Zoo
He said the ZAK has dropped its plan of donating an elephant calf to Leipzig Zoo, Germany, following a PIL filed in the state High

IT is something you wouldn’t want to see on your lawn, far less your mantlepiece, but it would certainly be a talking point.
The bad news is that Edinburgh Zoo’s two pandas, Sunshine and Sweetie, produce an astonishing 42lbs of dung every day, the same weight as a large sack of compost.
The good news is that, because the rare creatures survive on a diet of bamboo shoots, the dung is high in fibre and can be treated to make paper

Cub club: Chinese zoo gets twin polar attraction
Touching footage of twin polar bear cubs fooling around have charmed TV viewers around the world.
The video provided by China's state broadcaster shows the cubs playing happily with each other in their enclosure. The mischievous couple was particularly curious about the cameras filming them. One of the bears nudged the camera lens with its nose and then licked it.
The fluffy twins were born on October 14 in a Chinese polar aquarium. The boys are the second delivery for the Finnish bear pair – given to the aquarium as symbol of friendship between China and Finland.
Vets believe the cubs were lucky to survive: it is rather rare for female polar bears to give birth to two sets of twins in the same year.
The venue’s staff say the twins are growing well and

LA Zoo safety questioned after guest enters exhibit
With a whole crowd watching, a woman climbed over a barrier, through a 40-inch fence and right inside the Los Angeles Zoo's year-old elephant exhibit to pet the big stars.
"You expect that behavior from a child perhaps, but not from an adult," said zoo visitor Stephanie Christensen.
Zoo leaders say luckily the elephants were unfazed and the woman was not hurt.
She told security she is mentally ill and was not taking her medication.
"The only way to really exclude everybody all the

Woman climbs into elephant enclosure at L.A. Zoo (Video)
A woman somehow managed to climb into the elephant enclosure Tuesday at the Los Angeles Zoo, where she walked right up to the animals and petted them.
The woman, who has not yet been identified, was able to cross ditches and climb fences to get into the elephant pen.
The incident was captured on video by another visitor to the zoo.
As she walked up to the elephants, onlookers screamed at her in an effort to get her to leave the enclosure, which houses three elephants.
Zoo staffers also urged her to get out. She left voluntarily, climbing out the same way she got in.
One witness said she was inside for about five minutes.
"She went in to kind of check the elephants out," said Branden Adams, who shot the video of the woman. "She comes out and she says, 'I'm

Capture of rare rhino delivers last hope of saving endangered species
Malaysian wildlife authorities say the capture of a young female Borneo Sumatran rhino has given them a last chance to save the species from extinction.
The female rhino, aged between 10 and 12 years old, was caught on December 18 and is being kept at Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah, where it is hoped she will breed with a lone captive male.
''All of us in Sabah are relieved that we have been able to capture this rhino after almost a year-and-a-half,'' the Borneo Rhino Alliance director, Junaidi Payne, said.
The female rhino, which has been named Puntung, was caught in a joint operation by the Borneo Rhino Alliance and the Sabah Wildlife Department.
''This is now the very last chance to save this species, one of the most ancient forms

Endangered elephants have worst year since 1989
Large seizures of elephant tusks make this year the worst on record for the endangered species since ivory sales were banned in 1989, with recent estimates suggesting as many as 3,000 elephants were killed by poachers, experts said Thursday.
"2011 has truly been a horrible year for elephants," said Tom Milliken, elephant and rhino expert for the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC.
In one case earlier this month, Malaysian authorities seized hundreds of African elephant tusks worth $1.3 million that were being shipped to Cambodia. The ivory was hidden in containers of Kenyan handicrafts.
"In 23 years of compiling ivory seizure data … this is the worst year ever for large ivory seizures," said Milliken.
Most cases involve ivory being smuggled from Africa into Asia, where growing wealth has fed the desire for ivory ornaments and for rhino horn that is used in traditional medicine, though scientists have proved it has no medicinal value.
TRAFFIC said Asian crime syndicates are increasingly involved in poaching and the illegal ivory trade across Africa, a trend that coincides with growing Asian investment on the continent.
"The escalation in ivory trade and elephant and rhino killing is being driven by the Asian syndicates that are now firmly enmeshed within African societies," Milliken said in a telephone interview from his base in Zimbabwe. "There are

Endangered Siberian tiger escapes zoo, shot dead in E China
A female Siberian tiger escaped from a zoo and entered a public park in an east China city late Monday, but she was immediately put down by police on safety concerns, local officials said Tuesday.
The nine-year-old animal made her way out of the zoo after a zookeeper came to feed her but forgot to properly lock the cage. After the escape, the tiger roamed a public park in downtown Wuhu, a city in Anhui province, and occasionally met with frightened residents.
More than a dozen armed police came and shot the giant cat

Thai officials find tiger parts in post
Thai customs officials said Friday they had seized four boxes of smuggled tiger skins and bones worth tens of thousands of dollars in the post, believed to be destined for interior decoration.
The tigers, whose parts were found earlier this week, were thought to have come from Indonesia and eventually be destined for China, according to Somchai Poolsawasdi, director general of Royal Thai Customs.
“There were four boxes, and each box contained one tiger skin, bones and a skull. Each one weighed around five kilograms (11 pounds),” he told AFP.
He said the parcels, thought to be sent be a trafficking gang, were en route to Mae Sai in northern Thailand and came through Bangkok’s main post office, where officials received the tip-off.
“The way they processed these tigers, I think they were meant for furniture or decoration,” he added.
Anti-trafficking group Freeland said the tiger parts were worth an estimated $60,000, warning that the

Stallone film in Bulgaria “vandalised” bat colonies
Bat experts have slammed the recent filming of a Sylvester Stallone movie in a Bulgarian cave, saying thousands of the mammals had suffered from the Hollywood treatment.
“Several thousand bats are missing from the Devetashka cave since our latest count in January when the visible colonies numbered 33,800 bats,” Boyan Petrov of the Museum of Natural History said Thursday.
A rough count after the filming of the star-studded Hollywood action blockbuster “The Expendables 2” in November found only about 8,500 bats.
“Never before have we counted less than 10,000 bats in wintertime,” Petrov said, adding however that he hoped the rest had just been chased away to adjacent caves.
The environment ministry, which authorised the shooting, said this week in a statement that it had found no problem with the bat colonies.
But the experts insisted filming inside the cave should never have been allowed.
“As a protected nature territory and important bat habitat, the cave is only open for visits by tourists and researchers and totally sealed

Nakhon Ratchasima zoo announces new species of serpent
Thai researchers have discovered a previously unknown species of pitviper on the southern resort island of Phuket and will unveil it next week at Nakhon Ratchasima Zoo, also known as the Korat Zoo, in this northeastern Thai province.
Commonly known as ‘Phuket pitviper,’ the new species, Trimeresurus (Popeia) phuketensis sp. nov., was discovered in a rain forest on the southern resort island on Oct 5, 2009, according to Kirati Kunya, a member of the research

Gibbon attacks 2 children in Malaysia zoo escape
A gibbon attacked two children, including one who was seriously injured, after escaping from an enclosure at a zoo in southern Malaysia, an official said Thursday.
The male siamang first bit a 5-year-old girl on her ankle Tuesday, Malacca Zoo director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said. Minutes later, the ape attacked a 3-year-old boy and ripped off part of his right thigh, he said.
The girl received outpatient treatment, but the boy, Muhammad Afiq Haziq, was hospitalized in serious condition, the zoo director said.
The siamang is a tailless, black-furred gibbon native to forests in Malaysia and Indonesia's Sumatra province.
The boy's mother, Anita Sulaiman, told The Star newspaper that her family was relaxing at an aviary park when they heard people screaming and saw the gibbon charging at visitors. She said the gibbon snatched her son from her husband's arms before biting off part of his thigh.
"I saw my husband grappling with the gibbon. A visitor came to his aid and hit the gibbon, forcing it to release the child," she told the newspaper. "He lost

‘Obey zoo safety guidelines’
Malaysian zoos are safe to visit but visitors should know how to behave, said Zoo Negara deputy director Dr Muhammad Danial Felix, adding that it was a no-no for parents to lift up babies towards the elephants.
He called on visitors to follow the guidelines to remain safe.
“Our experience here is that we do get some visitors lifting up their babies towards the elephants, for example.
“Our employees are stationed there to teach them and tell them to be careful,” he said, adding that they educated the public through their interactive feeding and photography sessions as well.
Dr Muhammad Danial reminded visitors to refrain from attempting to feed the animals to avoid getting injured.
They should also refrain from knocking on exhibit glass walls as these could break.
Regretting the recent spate of animal attacks on zoo and park visitors, Dr Muhammad Danial said zoos needed to constantly evaluate their preventive security measures.
On Tuesday, a 15kg alpha male charged suddenly at Malacca zoo visitors, snatched three-year-old Muhammad Afiq Haziq and tore a chunk of flesh from his thigh.
Earlier this month, Australian tourist Jenna O'Grady Donley was gored to death by a Borneo pygmy bull elephant at the

Threat of protest closes tiger cub exhibit at Centerpointe Mall
The threat of a protest has closed a display of live tiger cubs that was scheduled to be at Centerpointe Mall through Dec. 24.
Big Cat Rescue Entertainment, a nonprofit based in Oklahoma, operates a touring display that allows shoppers to play with and be photographed holding tiger cubs for a fee. News that the animals would visit Centerpointe at the peak of the holiday shopping season attracted the ire of some local animal-rights activists.
Sarah Hale, a self-described animal lover from Grand Rapids, said she became aware of the cub display when a friend alerted her to a recent "Inside Edition" report on the traveling exhibit. The report questioned

Madagascar’s Lemurs, Sacred No More
A boy ventured into the forest to collect honey. He climbed a tall tree in pursuit of a hive, but before he could collect his prize, he was attacked by bees. Losing his grip, he fell from the tree, which almost certainly would have meant his untimely end. But a kind indri — a type of large lemur — caught him, and the boy was saved. Since that day, the elders say, no one should eat the indri.
“There are many stories about lemur taboos,” said Julie Razafimanahaka, the director of Madagasikara Voakajy, a nongovernmental conservation group in Madagascar. Young people and elders, people in rural areas and urban areas — everyone respected the taboos, she said. The stories, called fady, vary from place to place in Madagascar, she explained, but all of the tales convey the same principle: to kill and eat a lemur is to bring sickness, bad luck or hardship to you and your family.
But new research shows that, along with an influx of immigrants and foreign influences, Madagascar’s traditional values are beginning to break down, and the lemurs are suffering for it as increased hunting — and not just of lemurs — springs up to

Toronto Zoo tiger mauled to death by mate
The tigers had grown promisingly fond of each other in the past few weeks, nuzzling and chuffing as potential mates should.
But the Toronto Zoo courtship ended in tragedy Thursday when Brytne, a much-loved 13-year-old Sumatran, was mauled to death by her breeding partner.
“The keepers put them together this morning and they had a spat. It can just happen so quickly, the power of these animals,” said Maria Franke, curator of mammals at the Toronto Zoo.
Zookeepers broke up the early-morning altercation between Brytne and 3-year-old Harimau Kayu seconds after it started, but they were too late to save her. Veterinarians have confirmed the death was the result of a crushed larynx.
“There was nothing that was not done properly here . . . this is just really bad luck. It’s (part of) dealing with wild animals,” Franke said.
This was the first mating attempt for Harimau Kayu, a young adult Sumatran tiger donated by the San Diego Wild Animal Park in June.
Translated, his name means Tiger Woods, but Toronto Zoo keepers have nicknamed him Harry. He came with a Species Survival Plan breeding

A year of animal troubles at the Toronto Zoo
Thursday's announcement of the death of Brytne, a 13-year-old Sumatran tiger at the Toronto Zoo, is bad news in itself. That Brytne's death came at the paw of another of the zoo's tigers adds to the tragedy, but is perhaps in keeping with the previous 12 months. Indeed, 2011 has been a year of high drama at the Toronto Zoo. We take a look back and wince.
White lioness
Zoo staff were forced to euthanize the white lioness Nokanda on Aug. 2, at the age of 15, when it became apparent she had developed a number of cancerous tumours. The big cat's health had declined shortly before the decision to euthanize her was made by zoo veterinarians. Nokanda was born at the Philadelphia Zoo in 1996 and was brought to Toronto's African Savanna exhibit a year later. She gave birth to three male cubs during her time at Toronto Zoo, and one of them now lives at Parc Safari in Quebec.
Polar bears
Aurora, one of two polar bears at the zoo, rejected her three newborn cubs in October and attacked them, leaving two dead and one in the care of zoo staff. The cubs were born prematurely to the 10-year-old Aurora, and only the quick intervention of zoo staff saved the third cub. The surviving cub will be handraised by zoo staff until he is 12-months old, at which point he will be too large to

Our bad luck zoo
It appears Simon and Garfunkel were right when they sang it’s all happening at the zoo. Problem is, a lot of what’s happened this year has been decidedly bad, especially for Toronto’s lions and tigers and bears. Oh my.
A short, tragic fight between two Sumatran tigers resulted in the death of 13-year-old Brytne last week after her throat was crushed by a younger male meant to be her breeding partner.
Before that, Nokanda, the Toronto Zoo’s first and only white lioness, had to be euthanized after untreatable cancer was discovered in her liver. Then in October came the death of Nokanda’s longtime companion, Rowdy, the zoo’s oldest African male lion. He was at the end of his lifespan and evidently died of natural causes, but that didn’t stop speculation that a broken heart contributed to his demise.
As for the bears, there was shock when popular female polar bear Aurora killed two of her cubs this fall and had a third taken away by zoo staff, certainly saving its life.
Animal rights activists, opposed to zoos on principle,

Norfolk's elephant man weighs in on Toronto elephant debate
Wayne Jackson calls himself 'The Wanderin' Elephant Man'.
The former zookeeper recalled one of his favourite elephant stories Thursday while sitting in the basement of his Port Dover home.
Back in the summer of 1981, he had just finished an elephant talk at the Toronto Zoo and was answering a few questions. Tara -- an elephant -- happened to be standing to his right when one man asked if elephants were affectionate?
"Before I could reply, Tara raised her left leg slightly and brought me between the two front legs and then rested her chin on my right shoulder. My reply to the gentleman was 'she thinks so'!"
Jackson started with the Metro Toronto Zoo in July 1974 as a zookeeper. He worked at the zoo on and off until he retired in 2009. He also spent time working for zoos in 11 countries including Australia and England. He has spent his personal vacation time working with animals and has worked with more than 100 elephants at various

Toronto Zoo Elephants
The Toronto Zoo opened to the public on August 15, 1974, and the elephant exhibit officially opened in 1983. Since that time, the zoo has kept 10 African elephants. As of 2011, three elephants remain.
Health records and necropsy reports indicate that the Toronto Zoo elephants have all suffered from health issues common to elephants kept in zoos.
Necropsy Reports
Tara - Died at age 40 in 2009. The necropsy report indicates that she had severe arthritis in both back leg joints which ultimately made it impossible for her to stand up. Tara had not been seen lying down in many years which staff believe was the result of constant pain from arthritis.
Tessa - Died at age 40 in 2009. The necropsy report indicates that Tessa had collapsed on at least two other occasions in the 3 years prior to her death. On the day of her death, Tessa was hit by another elephant during a struggle over hay. During the struggle she fell against the electric fence and was unable to get up. The zoo used straps, a tractor and ultimately a crane to try to get her to her feet but she died in the process. The necropsy report indicates the cause of her death as a combination of acute traumatic factors from the attempts get her on her feet as well as chronic wasting syndrome.
Tequila - Found dead, lying on the electric fence, at age 38. The necropsy report was not conclusive but noted lymph node abscesses and chronic passive congestion of the liver. It also notes that

Do penguins communicate under water?
IT’S a question being asked by the Centre for Marine Science and Technology’s Research Fellow Miles Parsons, who is collaborating with Perth Zoo to find out.
While penguins can be noisy on land, Dr Parsons says research into the sounds they make, if any, underwater has been extremely limited.
“Given some species of penguins spend significant time underwater and dive to depths where visual communication is reduced, it’s feasible that sound provides an alternative source of communication,” Dr Parsons says.
“The reasons behind any communication could be identifying, locating and catching food, warning signals, exploration, socialising and being antagonistic—but at the moment this is speculation.”
As part of his research Dr Parsons placed underwater noise loggers that include a hydrophone or underwater microphone, hard drive and battery pack, in Perth Zoo’s fairy penguin (Eudyptula minor novaehollandiae) enclosure.
The devices recorded all noise for nine out of every 15 minutes.
“If the penguins produce any sounds underwater we will be able to record them,” Dr Parsons says.
“From there, we would be able to investigate whether these sounds are used to communicate between the penguins or if they serve some other function (involuntary noise).
“Very little is known about underwater acoustic communication

Chester Zoo nutritionist compiles recipe book for its 7,000 animals
AN ANIMAL nutritionist has compiled a book of ‘recipes’ for every one of Chester Zoo’s 7,000 residents – following a nine year project.
The mighty task was carried out by Dr Andrea Fidgett, the only full-time zoo nutritionist in the UK, who has put together a diet plan to provide the best nutritional support for everything from stick insects to Sumatran tigers and corals to Asian elephants.
Dr Fidgett said: “This recipe book is the culmination of work spanning nine years.
“Every animal has had a personalised diet designed for them – accounting for everything from their personal tastes, to how active they are, to their age

Plans for Sentosa in December 2011

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Polar bears may endanger humans as climate changes
They're etched onto our coins, are part of our national identity and lure tourists to the Arctic every year, but the majestic Canadian polar bear could pose a significant risk to northern communities if climate change continues to wreak havoc on its natural habitat.
"It's potentially quite serious in terms of human-bear interactions," says Ian Stirling, an Edmonton-based scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service who has studied polar bears for 41 years.
"It's a big problem in northern communities, it already is. They're killing 30, 40, 50 problem bears a year in the Canadian Arctic because they're threatening human life or property."
The adjunct professor at the University of Alberta wants to drive home the point that action is needed to combat the climate change which has the potential to turn the typically mild-mannered mammals into a risk.
As Stirling details in his new book — Polar Bears:The Natural History of a Threatened Species — the biggest threat to the bears is an increasingly warming climate which is causing


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