Saturday, January 7, 2012

Zoo News Digest 7th January 2012 (Zoo News 800)

Zoo News Digest 7th January 2012 (Zoo News 800)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I do feel sorry for those group of people that I would term anti-zoo. Sorry because they are simply not prepared to even think for a moment about the other side of the story. Some of this may be due to their experiences within bad zoos. Bad zoos, the Dysfunctional Zoos are our enemy. WE must force them to close or change. Sadly though the bad zoos have a large group of 'friends'. These are the pro-zoo people who have not the faintest idea of the difference between a good zoo and a bad zoo. These wolves in sheeps clothing are enemies within, ignorant of the meaning and complexity of ex-situ conservation and so in their way are just as bad as the anti-zoo groups. It is not going to be an easy battle.

Read the elephant TB article. Food for thought.

I have thought for a while, more than ten years in fact that Zoo News Digest was in need of a Logo. When I can afford it I thought (I am useless at art). It is just not going to happen. Then today I thought why not have a competition? The prize would be that I would display my choice of the best five Logos with a link to the designers website. The winner would be credited in Zoo News Digest for the next six months. I would reserve the right not to include unsuitable links. If interested please send to

The fact that "San Diego Zoo euthanizes 2 elephants" really has to be read hand in hand with "Worst year for elephants since ivory trade banned with at least 2,500 slaughtered for ivory". Here we have proper use of the words 'euthanize' and 'slaughter'. To euthanize is a kindly considered death and one usually arrived at only after careful consideration. Why anybody should make a fuss about a correct and humane decision is beyond me and yet they will.


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Zoos a breed apart for species on the brink
MELBOURNE'S zoos will become urban arks, breeding sanctuaries for 20 of the most at-risk species in the state, as scientists struggle to save them from extinction.
Flagging a strategic shift to become a ''zoo-based conservation organisation'', Zoos Victoria - which includes Melbourne Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo - has released a ''priority'' list of species it believes are in urgent need of help.
The list includes 11 species that are already the subject of the zoos' conservation efforts, including the Tasmanian devil, mountain pygmy possum and orange-bellied parrot. Nine additional vulnerable species, including the Baw Baw frog, Leadbeater's possum, the alpine she-oak skink and the Guthega skink, are set to be brought into captive breeding programs in the coming

Night safaris start at Dubai Aquarium, Underwater Zoo
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, one of the world’s largest indoor aquariums, has launched a series of night safaris for nature lovers.
The nocturnal events at the Dubai Mall aquarium which features over 33,000 aquatic animals, run until February 29.
Visitors can strap on a headlamp and join expert safari guides on a journey of discovery with all new tours, presentations and feeds.
Several new and unique species have been added to the collection especially for the night experience.
They include adult carpet python and the Amazon tree boas, colourful frogs like the Madagascan day gheko, Chinese water dragons and iguanas.
Gordon White, general manager of Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo, said: “We are opening doors to nature lovers to experience the way of life in the rainforests at night, right here in a mall environment. Night Safaris’ will showcase the collection in an entirely new light.”
Dubai Aquarium & Underwater Zoo is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the world and also features the world’s largest acrylic viewing panel.
Underwater Zoo, located on Level 2 above the main aquarium, presents the bio-diversity in different

Dubai Mall receives world's most visitors in 2011
The Dubai Mall received a record- smashing of more than 54 million visitors in 2011 to become the world's most-visited shopping and leisure destination, according to Emaar Properties, developer of the mall.

No end to Gorewada staff woes
The woe of Gorewada international zoo project, which is hanging since six years, fails to end. Even as the Forest Development Corporation of Maharashtra (FDCM) has been given the responsibility of implementing the project, fate of 44 employees, transferred to it, hangs in balance.
On November 29, 2011 a detailed GR was issued transferring existing 33 employees with Gorewada project to FDCM. On January 5, 2012 another GR was issued shifting 11 posts to Gorewada. This included the lone post of Gorewada divisional forest officer (DFO) to FDCM. Accordingly, H M Meshram, who was waiting for the posting for 3

Why I Still Believe in the Zoo
One unusually warm day in November, I took my 10-year-old daughter, Moriah, to the San Francisco Zoo. It had been a while since our last visit, and we meandered from exhibit to exhibit until we found ourselves in the section where the polar bears are displayed.
The first bear was alone in her grotto, sitting back on her haunches, staring off into space. Uulu, I read, was born in 1980 in Churchill, Manitoba, one of the breeding grounds for Canada’s southern population of polar bears. I’ve seen videos of the area online. Though frozen, gray, and desolate, it still seemed less barren than the 1940s-era concrete space Uulu occupied. Clearly I wasn’t the first person to have that thought, for another sign noted that Uulu, as well as the two polar bears in the grotto next door, received regular “environmental and behavioral enrichment” -- training, games, and exercises such as following man-made scent trails to “stimulate their minds and . . . give them fun things to do.”
Polar bears in the wild are fearsome creatures, up to 11 feet tall and weighing 1,000 pounds. They can gallop 35 miles an hour and swim 60 miles in a day. But on this unseasonably warm afternoon, all three bears lay still, as if pinned to the concrete by the sun’s rays. A woman next to me made kissing sounds to entice one of the bears to turn his head so her daughter could capture his face on her cell phone camera.
“Let’s go to the next exhibit,” Moriah said, tugging at my hand.
“Why?” I asked.
“This one’s sad,” she said. “These polar bears are out in the hot weather on hot stones with no ice.”
I don’t know if the polar bears really were uncomfortable, but I understood my daughter’s distress. Zoos have always aroused a discomfiting mix of feelings in me: the thrill of seeing wild beings close up; the depressing fact of captivity. Even in the best exhibits, the animals seem diminished by the inevitable bars. As Vicki Croke wrote in her history of zoos, The Modern Ark, “Cut off from its place in the world, an animal appears as only a shadow of its true self.”
What about when an animal is not only cut off from its place in the world but loses that place entirely? The ceaseless press of human beings has whittled wild spaces down to just 17 percent of the planet. With each encroachment, wildlife dwindles, so that more than 5,700 species are now lurching toward the brink of extinction. That includes a quarter of all mammals and one in eight species of birds.
“There aren’t many polar bears left in the wild,” I heard a man tell his son. But the real point is, there’s not much of a wild left for polar bears. If Uulu were set free, where would she go? Global warming is melting the Arctic sea ice so fast that experts fear in 50 years the only polar bears left may be those in captivity. Then a bear like Uulu won’t even be a shadow of her true self; she’ll be a ghost.
I’ve visited many zoos in my lifetime, and inevitably there’s a moment -- when a gorilla looks me square in the eye or I see a deeply social animal like an elephant penned up alone -- when I find myself wondering: What is the point of this place? It’s a question that made headlines as I was writing this piece, when one of the Siberian tigers at the San Francisco Zoo escaped from its pen on Christmas day and killed one teenager and mauled two others before being shot dead by police.
Humans have been collecting and displaying exotic animals for more than 4,000 years. The earliest zoos were designed to display a ruler’s wealth and power. They also served as an entertaining spectacle, and that role continues. Each year zoos draw more visitors -- 157 million -- than all professional sports combined.
As the signs in front of nearly every exhibit my daughter and I passed made clear, they also have a mission: wildlife conservation. Indeed, today’s zoos operate as modern-day Noah’s arks, gathering up threatened species, sustaining their populations through captive breeding, and, when possible, returning them to the wild. Sadly, it felt as though the only animals Moriah and I saw that weren’t facing some kind of threat were the gulls flying in from the nearby ocean to scavenge for food.
Although zoos have historically focused on collecting charismatic crowd-pleasers like tigers and bears, the situation is now so dire that even the lowliest of creatures, such as frogs and newts, need a lifeline too. Amphibians are currently besieged by a wave of extinction rivaling the one that swept away the dinosaurs. About half of the 6,000 known species of frogs, salamanders, and newts are imperiled by a combination of threats: a lethal fungal infection, global warming, and loss of habitat to urbanization and deforestation.
Kevin Zippel coordinates teams of scientists who carry out rescue missions on behalf of Amphibian Ark, a group that works with zoos to find safe havens for threatened frogs and other amphibians. “It’s overwhelming to see a place that’s so beautiful and untouched but know that it’s going to be decimated, and that the only future these things have is in captivity,” he says. So far, zoos have been able to accommodate only about 10 percent of the 500 most endangered amphibian species.
Envisioning the countless generations of frogs that will be marooned in tidy glass terrariums, I can’t help but think about Martha, the last passenger pigeon, who died in 1914 after spending most of her life in the Cincinnati Zoo in a condition of scarcely imaginable aloneness. Zoos often describe their animals as ambassadors of the wild, yet if their wild race is gone, their wild space vanished, what ambassadorial role is left for them to play? Does it make sense to save one piece of the wild if its only future is within the tame confines of a cage?
Tatiana, the marauding Siberian tiger, was a product of the Species Survival Program (SSP), a collaborative effort among zoos and aquariums to oversee the care and breeding of certain endangered species. Tatiana was born in the Denver Zoo to parents selected by the SSP Siberian tiger coordinator, who also recommended sending her to San Francisco in 2005 to be a companion to the zoo’s other Siberian tiger, Tony. This sort of effort has helped preserve the genetic diversity of the species, while anti-poaching and conservation measures in Russia and China have helped raise the wild population of these tigers from about 50 at the time of World War II to about 400 today. Nevertheless, poaching and deforestation still go on. More Siberian tigers -- about 600 -- live in captivity than in the wild.
It’s not clear what led Tatiana to cross the 33-foot moat and scale the 12.5-foot wall surrounding her enclosure, but there’s no mystery about her behavior once she got out. She acted like a tiger. And when she did, I think, she pierced the vital fiction that makes zoos possible. For all the appearances of a peaceable kingdom of docile shadows, the animals remember who they are: flesh-and-blood marvels of a tooth-and-claw world.
“I’m not going back there any time soon,” my daughter said after hearing about the tiger attack.
“Are you afraid it could happen again?” I asked, as I tried to think about how I would reassure her.
“No,” she said, struggling to explain. “It would just feel weird.”
It does feel weird. Once we get a glimpse of the animals’ true selves, putting them in zoos seems a sorry sort of salvation.
Noble as the zoo-as-ark idea may be, it’s no long-term answer for the world’s wildlife. Noah knew the floodwaters would recede one day, but for many animals, like the polar bear, the waters could well keep rising unless human behavior changes. Animals are safe in zoos, but they’re not saved in zoos, one zookeeper told me. The real salvation for wildlife lies in saving wild spaces. To accomplish that, more and more zoos are turning themselves into storefronts for field-based conservation efforts, as zoo managers shift their focus from the world inside the fence to the broader one beyond it.
I can see that new emphasis when I take a stroll through the San Francisco Zoo’s new Lemur Island exhibit, a grand space full of mature cypress pines, eucalyptus trees, and platforms where five species of this endangered animal can sport and hide. Signs inform me that the lemurs have been rescued from the dwindling forests of Madagascar and that the zoo is working with locals there to find economic alternatives to the hunting, logging, and slash-and-burn agriculture that destroy lemur habitat. Other zoos are doing similar things. The Saint Louis Zoo, for example, is working with Masai tribespeople in Kenya to carve out a corridor of safe grazing lands for a tiny population of Grevey’s zebra, and the Gladys Porter Zoo, in Brownsville, Texas, is protecting sea turtle nesting sites in Mexico.
Despite my qualms, I still believe in zoos. Even the best Discovery Channel documentary can’t match the experience of seeing wild animals in real life: the immediacy awakens our innate sense of connection to other creatures. I think of the time I got to feed a giraffe and felt its velvety, muscular tongue pluck eucalyptus leaves from my fingers, or the time my daughter and I watched a Sumatran tiger snooze just on the other side of the glass and saw his whiskers quiver and twitch the way our cat’s whiskers do. Those experiences are where the spark of conservation begins.
But it doesn’t require seeing a tiger or a giraffe, as I was reminded when wandering through the zoo on another day recently. I came across a woman and her 2 -year-old granddaughter. They had stopped in the middle of a path and the girl was transfixed, not by any of the exotic animals around her but by a black and yellow caterpillar

Chinkaras’ death: Notice to firm handling zoo security .
The death of four Chinkaras inside the Delhi Zoo could have been avoided had the Delhi Zoo been under the CCTV surveillance. The proposal of installing the CCTV cameras has been pending in the zoo for more than three years now. While the zoo management has issued a show-cause notice to the agency managing the security of the zoo, a team of 15 members has been formed to study the possible entry point of the stray dogs.
Four Chinkaras died inside the enclosures on Tuesday night, when two stray dogs entered their enclosures. The animals were found dead on Wednesday morning. Chinkara, popularly known as Indian Gazelle, are amongst the vulnerable group of antelopes.
The point from where the two stray dogs managed to enter the enclosure of the Gazelle is yet to be found. “The possibility is that the dogs might have entered trough the service gate that opens at Sunder Nagar. A committee of 15 members has been formed to look into the matter. Meanwhile, we have also issued a show cause notice to the security agency,” said the Director of the Delhi Zoological Park Amitabh Agnihotri.
Agnihotri also said that had the zoo campus

Can Sambo and other elephants transmit tuberculosis to people?
What the article about Sambo in the Phnom Penh Post about Sambo in the Phnom Penh Post doesnt discuss, is the risk of people transmitting bacterial TB to Sambo, and Sambo transmitting TB to people.
Does Sambo have Tuberculosis? None knows.
She was never tested, we dont know if her owner Sin Sorn, his family, or his nephew working as Sambos mahout was tested. But statistically, she most likely was heavily exposed to Tuberculosis, and she and all humans in daily close interaction, should be checked ASAP.
Recently, 17th of December, she was used at christmas mascot at a christmas event in Phnom Penh, called Santa Elephant Parade:.
People will gather at the Kids Park at Wat Phnom at 7:45am. At 8am, Santa will arrive on his elephant and the parade will begin. The parade will be led by 20 children from The Future Light Organisation, which runs an orphanage for more than 280 orphans which aims to help them the skills necessary to lift themselves out of poverty towards a brighter future At the end of the parade, Santa will be handing out gifts to all the children whilst people on the parade can help feed Sombo a well deserved healthy meal. The event, organised by Monument Books and Toys, is part of their regular calendar of children’s events and activities, which has included, face painting, magic shows, storytelling and origami.
Did anyone catch Tuberculosis

Indian Rhino Training

Identifying Sloth Species at a Genetic Level
Identifying species, separating out closely related species and managing each type on its own, is an important part of any animal management system. Some species, like the two types of two-toed sloth, are so close in appearance and behavior that differentiation can be challenging. Conservation researchers at San Diego Zoo Global's Institute of Conservation Research have developed a mechanism for identifying these reclusive species from each other.
"Species identification of two-toed sloths has always been problematic in the wild and captivity due to their large overlap in external morphology. " said Oliver Ryder Ph.D., Director of Genetics for San Diego Zoo Global's Institute of Conservation Research. "Through this effort we have described a low-cost easy-to-use molecular tool for species identification that will help to improve management of two-toed sloth species so that we can ensure that they are properly represented on the ark of rare and endangered species."
The study, published in the December 2011 issue of Zoo Biology, describes a PCR-based technique that allows species identification of two-toed sloths without requiring sequencing, by using a mitochondrial marker (COI gene) and restriction enzyme assay. It also reports intra- and inter-specific patterns of chromosome variation in captive two-toed sloths. The chromosome number in Hoffman's two-toed sloths showed low variation ranging only between 50 and 51. In contrast, Linnaeus's two-toed sloths appeared to vary widely, with diploid numbers ranging from 53 to 67, suggesting distinct geographic groups.
The San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research is dedicated to generating, sharing and applying

Elephant Care And Rehabilitation Center Could Become Model For Other Animal Centers In India
Earlier this week we looked at the growing problem of elephant poaching and the illegal ivory trade, which has risen to its highest levels since the 1989 international trade ban on ivory products went into place. Today we look at a positive project in India, one meant to rescue some captive Indian elephants (Elephas maximus indicus) from the unhealthy and often-abusive conditions that they currently endure.
The animals are currently trapped in a kind of legal purgatory. In 2009 India's Central Zoo Authority, a government body that owns all of India's zoos, mandated that all elephants be removed from the nation's zoos and circuses. The authority issued the order, which will eventually affect about 146 animals, after a five-year study by a citizens' committee found zoo life can be profoundly unhealthy for the animals. Unfortunately, the elephants have had no place to go.
Life in the worst Indian zoos "can be quite horrible," says Carol Buckley, co-founder and former director of The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and now founder of Elephant Aid International. In some, elephants spend their lives in stark concrete bunkers where they are perpetually chained and can barely move. Animals who are somewhat better off can also suffer. "There's a zoo in Bangalore where a family of elephants is exhibited on a tiny dirt yard during the day where they can barely turn around," Buckley notes, but when the zoo closes each day, the animals are released into the bordering forest.
Buckley is about to leave for Bangalore, India, where her nonprofit intends to build the first Elephant Care and Rehabilitation Center, currently in the planning stages. When completed, the 80-hectare facility is expected to become home to seven former zoo elephants and to be a model for other rehabilitation centers throughout India. "Once everything is working smoothly, the government will jump on and replicate this effort throughout India," Buckley says. She also expects the government to take in hundreds of other privately owned elephants, such as those living in temples.
This is the first real action since the mandate was issued. Buckley says the government originally thought the elephants would be moved into government-run forest camps, where wild elephants -- usually "rogues" that have threatened humans -- are often "broken" and given jobs like carrying soldiers on anti-poaching patrols. "The elephants in these camps are usually trained and maintained quite brutally, but they're also allowed to stay in the forest most of their lives," Buckley says. "The government assumed that these zoo elephants could be absorbed into forest camps, but camp directors said no, this won't work. There was no recognition that the elephants would need a rehabilitation phase where they would be reconditioned to live in

Elephant Center chooses builder, might start construction in 2 months in Fellsmere
National Elephant Center officials are expected next week to hammer out a budget and timeline for turning their dream of a 225-acre ranch for training and retiring zoo elephants into a reality this year in the city's agricultural northwest area, south of the C-54 Canal.
"We have made a decision on a construction company," center Chairman Rick Borangi said Wednesday. "They're in the ($2.5 million) ballpark. So there's no surprises."
He declined to identify the builder, whose proposal was selected from a handful of others, until the center's board can notify other finalists vying for the job. He said his organization still has to negotiate details, such as areas of possible cost-savings, before awarding the contract.
The National Elephant Center is a collaboration of 73 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Borangi, director of the Houston Zoo, will be in Miami next week for a meeting with fellow AZA directors. He said those involved in the National Elephant Center also will meet as a subgroup to advance their own project and might be able to announce

When a cage means freedom
Two stories -- a real-life tragedy and a feel-good film -- offer a clear lesson for zoos. And maybe even us, too
2011 brought two very different zoo stories. The first, a tragedy, takes place in mid-October in Zanesville, Ohio. Terry Thompson, the owner and keeper of Muskingum County Animal Farm, released 56 animals from their enclosures before killing himself. It is unclear what he thought would happen to them, but it’s safe to say that Thompson was disturbed, depressed and isolated. He had just spent a year in prison for possession of unregistered guns (and many more were found on the premises after his death), his wife had just left him, and it was reported that he was having serious financial difficulties. He was unable to maintain good relationships with most of his neighbors; some people speculate that releasing the animals was a way of getting back at the people who surrounded him. Others thought he intended the animals to find a new life in the wild. Faced with over 35 big cats and other dangerous animals running loose in their community, though, the sheriff’s office ordered all the animals to be hunted down and killed. The bodies of dead animals lined the road into town.
The second zoo story is a tale of redemption, coming in the form of a big Hollywood holiday release, “We Bought a Zoo.” Directed by Cameron Crowe and loosely based on a book by Benjamin Mee, “We Bought a Zoo” stars Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson and is a delightful if overly sentimental Christmas film. Mee (Matt Damon) is mourning the death of his wife and losing touch with his kids. On a whim, he decides to change their lives by buying a zoo that is in serious disrepair. Through hard work, borrowed money and lots of struggle, Mee and his friends manage to refurbish the zoo, get a new license and reopen. Along the way, Mee finds emotional healing through his connection with animals.
The two zoo stories are inverse images of each other. The only thing they have in common is that both can make you cry. But I think there’s a lot we can learn from both stories.
We had a hard year in America. Foreclosures, unemployment, homelessness, depression, occupations in cold and wet tents, rubber bullets, pepper spray. We seemed a country turned against itself. This past year felt to some of us like we were on the brink of destruction, and we maybe felt a tinge of the despair Terry Thompson may have experienced as he released his animals into the world, and turned the gun on himself. As a country, we seem fallen, lost.
Animal rights advocates, and even many animal welfarists, decry the keeping of animals in zoos, especially the unregulated, private ones like Thompson’s. And I have to confess that when I see images of animals pacing in cages, mutilating themselves, being gawked at by human observers, or lining the road like they were in Zanesville, part of me agrees. My heart goes out to suffering zoo animals mostly, I think, because I feel fully identified with their precarious place in the world. But there are other truths that beg for consideration. The first is that we are losing our wild animals at a rate nearly a thousand times faster than background natural extinction. Global warming, climate change, deforestation, human development and human overpopulation are putting the lives of all wild animals in grave danger. Wild animals have no more room, no more resources. We humans have taken everything. We have doubled our population in 20 years and are now consuming not twice as much of the earth’s resources as we were in 1990, but 10 times as much.
We should continue to pour resources into conservation, but at the very same time we need to recognize that the vast majority of these efforts are failing. Failing miserably. The harsh reality is that if we cannot find ways of accommodating and controlling wild animals in places like zoos and sanctuaries, we will lose them for good. Extinction really is forever.
The real Benjamin Mee, author of the book “We Bought a Zoo,” knows this; the zoo upon which the Hollywood movie is based is in Britain, and Mee specializes in collecting captive bred endangered animals. Eventually, he says, he would like his zoo to exclusively house the endangered and extinct-in-the-wild animals. He fully understands that reintroduction of these animals is difficult, in most cases probably impossible. But keeping them in this world in conditions where they can flourish is, to my thinking, a laudable goal. Responsible zoos like Mee’s never take animals from the wild, but breed captive animals through international stud books and zoo alliances. These captive animals can’t replace the ones squeezed out of the wild, but they go a very long way in teaching people about other species and the need to conserve whatever we have left.
The second truth in this mix is this: the kind of freedom animal rightists advocate is built on a notion that no longer seems tenable — for animals or, for that matter, even for humans. The idea of complete autonomy and self-determination for animals underwrites a worldview where individual freedom trumps everything, even the goals and goods we all ought to be holding together and in common. In the strictest sense of the word, animal rights means that no animal should ever be used for human purposes whatsoever. No meat, no pets, no circuses, no sport, and certainly no zoos. Indeed, one of the major animal rights organizations that works to permanently close down all zoos, even the good ones, is named “Born Free,” a reference to the story of Elsa, a lion cub raised by humans Joy and George Adamson, and immortalized by the 1966 British film of the same name. Even though Elsa dies soon after her release, the moral of the story is that it’s better to be dead than in a cage.
This kind of valorization of autonomy, and the radical individualism that follows from it, misses the fact that it is precisely our enmeshments that make us who we are and give our lives meaning. We are all part of many different systems, economic, environmental, familial, etc., and it is our shifting presence in those systems that makes us visible, that allows us to be known. America may have been built on an ideology that values personal freedom over any and all connections, but that is exactly the ideology that leads us to free-market capitalism, neoliberalism, global domination, and winner-takes-all social Darwinism. In the name of “personal” liberty, corporations (which are now considered “persons”) are granted constitutional power that gives them license to perpetuate economic inequality, and has produced the dominant 1 percent. The greater good, whether it’s configured in the frame of the “commons,” the environment, the proletariat, or the biomass, is losing ground. (Many of us, obviously, think it’s time for a different reality.)
There are bad zoos out there; of that there is no question. Animals who are not treated well, lacking the kind of attention that will allow them to thrive. But the final truth worthy of consideration here is that there are really good zoos out there too. They do exist. Places where animals have enough room, good food, an existence where their “freedom” is somewhat curtailed in return for care, connection and belonging. “We Bought a Zoo” portrays one of those places. It is an experiment in learning how to live with and appreciate one another, not through dominance and power, but through attachment and connection.
Terry Thompson was completely alone in the world with his animals; Benjamin Mee had a lot of support from a lot of people who really valued the lives of the animals in their care. They didn’t always know what they were doing, they made a lot of mistakes, but working together they listened to their animals, built them bigger enclosures, found better food, habitat enrichments, and better ways of caring for them. Most of all they didn’t give up hope — on each other, their animals, or the world.
That’s not just a useful model for zoos, but possibly for where we we want to go as a country, too. We need to resist the dark impulse to retreat from society — like the isolated individualism of Terry Thompson — and instead embrace a different model where interdependence and care

Evaluating The Conservation Mission of Zoos, Aquariums, Botanical Gardens and Natural History Museums
(Not recent....but just as applicable today)

San Diego Zoo euthanizes 2 elephants
Cha Cha and Cookie, put down two days apart, were elderly and ailing. After a temporary closure, the elephant exhibit has reopened.
Reporting from San Diego -- Two ailing and aged elephants at the San Diego Zoo had to be euthanized this week, zoo officials announced Friday.
The two Asian elephants were suffering and their chances for recovery were virtually nil, officials said.
Cha Cha, estimated to be 43 years old, was euthanized Wednesday. To allow other elephants to see her a final time, her lifeless body was lifted on a forklift and taken to where other elephants in the Elephant Odyssey exhibit are kept.
Cookie, estimated to be 56, was euthanized Friday morning. There was no connection between the decline of Cookie and Cha Cha, officials said.
Both elephants were at the zoo's Wild Animal Park — now called the Safari Park — for decades before being moved to the zoo in 2009. Before such performances were halted, both were stars in the elephant shows at the Wild Animal Park.
Cha Cha, the smallest elephant in the Elephant Odyssey exhibit, was often seen in the company of Ranchipur, the 12,000-pound dominant male.
Elephant keepers performed an emergency procedure on Cha Cha on Christmas Day after noting that she was having trouble eating and drinking. A large mass of food blocking her esophagus was removed. But within two days, she began to rapidly decline.
Cookie had been in distress for months with a variety of geriatric problems and had begun to drag her back legs. She was given large doses of pain medication, but zoo specialists concluded that her condition was irreversible.
Elephant Odyssey, one of the more popular exhibits at the zoo, was closed temporarily but reopened Friday. But elephant-keeper interactions with the public have been canceled to provide time for them to mourn, officials said.
Cha Cha arrived at the Wild Animal Park in 1971, Cookie in 1981. Their deaths come just weeks after Umoya, 21, an African elephant at the Safari Park, was killed in an attack by another elephant.
The zoo now has five elephants at Elephant Odyssey and 17 at the Safari Park. The zoo elephants are older than those at the Safari Park and need more attention,0,3902164.story

Worst year for elephants since ivory trade banned with at least 2,500 slaughtered for ivory
Large-scale tusk smuggling has reached a record high this year, with at least 2,500 dead elephants used for ivory.
Organised criminals - particularly Asian syndicates - are increasingly involved in the illegal trade, according to environmental agency Traffic.
Experts believe it has been the worst year for the endangered animals since sales of ivory were banned in 1989.

Orangutan cruelty at zoo: Mirror story sparks 60,000 complaints
Thousands of horrified Mirror readers have complained about orangutans being kept in disgusting conditions at a zoo.
Heartbreaking photos we published this week have already generated more than 60,000 angry emails to officials in charge.
Campaigners say the orangutans are kept in prison-style conditions at Melaka Zoo in Malaysia. Some seem to be locked up for 24 hours a day. Others are in cages that are barely 5ft-wide.
Appalled readers bombarded the Malaysian embassy with more than 500 calls and emails. Online petitions have generated tens of thousands more irate emails.
Sean Whyte, from Nature Alert, which raised the plight of the orangutans, said: “Thank goodness for Daily Mirror readers. Nature Alert has generated over 60,000 emails this week to Malaysian

British newspapers claim apes 'like prisoners on death row'
Malaysian zoos have been thrown into the international spotlight again with British newspapers reporting the alleged abuse of orang utan housed at Malacca Zoo.
The Mirror, the online edition of British tabloid The Daily Mirror, reported that the orang utan were "being cruelly locked in for up to 24 hours a day by callous zookeepers".
It quoted British conservation and animal rights group Nature Alert director Sean Whyte as saying that the orang utan were being treated "like prisoners on death row".
"We don't know how long it's been like this but it's months and possibly years," he said in the report published earlier this week.
Another tabloid, Mail Online which is the online edition of the Daily Mail, reported that the orang utan were left without any room to exercise and could only stare hopelessly from behind bars.
Its report claimed that despite attempts by Perhilitan (Department of Wildlife and National Parks) to clamp down on the appalling conditions in the zoo, it had failed

Hybrid Sharks Discovered
Scientists have found 57 hybrid sharks that are a cross between two types. Find out why the shark...

Sea turtle boots, leopard skin coat turn up in cyberbusts
Twelve people were charged Friday with trafficking in endangered wildlife -- from live animals to sea turtle boots and leopard skin coats. The suspects all used websites to sell their wares, authorities said in Los Angeles in announcing the results of "Operation Cyberwild."
"We made our first undercover purchase within 24 hours of beginning the operation," Erin Dean, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent, said in a statement (which includes the names of all 12 defendants). "We hope that this operation will send a message to individuals selling – or even considering selling – protected wildlife that we are watching

Rest in peace, Cheetah ... whoever you were
In the final days of 2011, various television news programs paid tribute to notables who died last year. Kim Jon Il. Elizabeth Taylor. Andy Rooney. Vaclav Havel.
Inexplicably, perhaps inexcusably, none of the lists I saw included Cheetah, who reportedly died of kidney failure on Christmas Eve in Florida at the age of “around 80.”
Cheetah, as every Saturday matinee-going kid of the ’50s knew, was the simian sidekick of Tarzan, the Ape Man, who swung on vines through jungles and consorted with wildlife, which he summoned by cupping his hands around his mouth and imitating Carol Burnett.
Cheetah appeared in numerous Tarzan movies, playing a supporting role for Johnny Weissmuller, although its debatable which of them had more acting ability. The fact that Weissmuller got top billing may merely have been because he had the better agent.
The plots of these movies were not exactly Shakespearean, or even easy to distinguish from each other: Tarzan protects animals against greedy white poachers.
And Cheetah’s roles were not terribly complex. Cheetah pretends to laugh. Cheetah pretends to be afraid. Cheetah jumps up and down. Cheetah doesn’t jump up and down.
But we were not what you would call a discerning audience. It never even occurred to us to wonder why a chimpanzee had been given the name of a large cat. If you had a giraffe, would you call it “Hippo?”
Of course, Tarzan wasn’t noted for his extensive vocabulary and “Boy” probably was lucky Tarzan didn’t name him “Banana.”
According to his obituary, the off-screen Cheetah was multifaceted, with interests including finger-painting, watching football, biting his co-stars and flinging his poop at people.
But in death, as in his life, questions remain.
Was his name really “Cheetah,” or was it “Cheeta”? More importantly, was the Cheetah/Cheeta who died in Florida really the one we saw on the screen 60 years ago?
According to some researchers, there may have been a whole bunch of Cheetahs who played the role, including chimps named Jiggs Jr., Harry and Zippy. Plus a 6-year-old human named David Holt, who must have had a great deal more body hair than most 6-year-olds.
Besides, as many experts have pointed out, chimps in captivity rarely live past the age of 50.
“The one I saw did not look 80,” one of the experts insisted.
Then again, there is no proof that the chimp who died in Florida wasn’t Cheetah.
As one film archivist put it, “All


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