Friday, March 30, 2012

Zoo News Digest 25th - 31st March 2012 (Zoo News 811)

Zoo News Digest 25th - 31st March 2012 (Zoo News 811)

Dear Colleague,

Right now, right this minute as you sit here in your comfortable office or home!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Apocalypse Right Fucking Now: Hundreds of Orangutans Killed in North Indonesian Forest Fires Set By Palm Oil Firms


Meanwhile we have at least four tiny baby orangutans doing the circuit of private hands in the UAE. The one from the Abu Dhabi Kids Park/Emirates Park Zoo* was, I am reliably informed, sold and several more are due to be imported very soon I am told. Who is bringing them in? You may ask. Private jet, no questions asked. That’s it. No questions. But I do question it. At what point do you raise yourself above the law? And here I don’t mean man’s law but the laws of humanity. Do these people care at all that these unfortunate baby animals are ripped from their mothers breasts? Their mothers butchered and eaten or chained down in some slum Indonesian brothel.

Meanwhile Aceh is burning. More baby Orangutans for the evil pet trade.
Sign the Petition. Click HERE

I saw something about Tierpark Berlin and CNN had visited Surabaya Zoo on Saturday, March 24, 2012. But that was it. Was a report made that someone can point me to?

Reminder EARTH HOUR today. Do your bit and make it last 24 hours a day, 365 days a year because one hour of reducing your carbon footprint is simply not enough.

Not for the first time this month I have been asked what a Penguin tastes like. It was not till this week I knew. Read Stewed Penguin and Champagne

And don’t forget April Fools Day. It is almost upon us.

A thought…whatever happened to the story of the Toronto Zoo White Lions? Or perhaps that was a joke.

Then the next momentous event in the calendar…..apart from my holiday that is, back home to La La Land


What is your zoo doing?

The python release story was interesting. I was however struck by the statement “From the time they were born on August 21, 2011, the pythons were fed rats and chicken daily.”  Which rather stretched the credibility of the rest of the article.

ACRES hand in hand with Lao Zoo? Why not? The Lao Zoo has one of the best bear enclosures I have seen anywhere!

I don’t wish it upon anybody to get injured but if you piss about with Tigers and Lions (when all of us know it is completely and utterly and totally unnecessary) then the inevitable WILL happen. It WILL! So I hope you mend quickly John Varty. A little puzzled that he is termed a conservationist. What has he ever done for conservation?

*Site currently off line 'launching with an exciting new look on 1st April'. When it comes back perhaps they will tell us what happened to the baby Orangutan and Silvery Gibbon. Will they still be members of WAZA and the IZEA? They advertised the fact before....if they don't on the new site...well.


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Gorilla shot by poachers: British vets operate
A young gorilla shot by poachers has been given a new lease on life by a team of East Midlands vets which flew to Cameroon to operate on its wrist.
Shufai, a 10-year-old male, was wounded as a baby when his mother was killed for bush meat.
The bones in his wrist were shattered and failed to grow properly in the next few years, leaving him unable to walk on his knuckles or climb trees.
"He needed surgery to get him out of pain," primate specialist Sharon Redrobe of Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire said.
Dr Redrobe, a veterinarian and trustee with charity Ape Action Africa, was asked to help the injured

Penguin Nesting - Shedd Aquarium (amusing and Interesting)

Circus bears arrive at Five Sisters Zoo in West Lothian
Three bears who were rescued from the circus have arrived at a West Lothian zoo.
Carmen, Suzi and Peggy spent 20 years living in cages barely bigger than themselves, and were transported around Europe as part of a circus troop.
They were rescued in Belgium and taken on by the Five Sisters Zoo in West Calder.
The bears' new home has a large built-in waterfall and stream with indoor and outdoor enclosures.
One of the bears, Suzy, is said to be so traumatised by the conditions she sometimes still keeps walking in small circles.
'Bears to safety'
All three of the bears were born in captivity and are now aged between 23 and 28 years.
A huge rescue effort was launched when the bears' owner became ill and was taken to hospital with a long term illness.
Officials at the Five Sister Zoo started a fundraising campaign to raise £80,000 to build the bears

Senda Verde Making the Difference

Stillborn elephant is new tragedy for zoo
Staff at Twycross Zoo are mourning the loss of a baby elephant who was stillborn at the weekend.
The female calf was delivered stillborn to Tara, one of the zoo's Asian elephants, early on Sunday morning.
Three vets and two nurses spent an hour unsuccessfully trying to revive her.
It is the second major blow for the zoo after Ganesh Vijay, an 18-month-old elephant, died of a suspected heart condition last April.
Tara, a first-time mum, gave birth surrounded by the zoo's other elephants – known as a herd birth – while veterinary staff watched anxiously on CCTV.
Head vet Sarah Chapman said: "Immediately after the birth, we could see the calf wasn't moving.
"It's common for elephants to nudge a

Longleat picks up Island’s penguins
PENGUINS from the Isle of Wight will be the stars of a new exhibit at the world-renowned Longleat Safari Park.
Seaview Wildlife Encounter has been chosen to supply 20 fertilized Humboldt penguin eggs for the Wiltshire park’s new penguin exhibit, due to open in a few months.
Each of Seaview’s ten breeding females recently laid two eggs, which are being incubated by the parents. Shortly before hatching they will be placed in incubators and taken to their new home.
Seaview Wildlife Encounter general manager

Seaview Wildlife – Meet The Keepers

Bengal to set up rescue centres for stray jumbos
In a bid to reduce man-elephant conflict and rehabilitate jumbos driven away from the herd, the West Bengal government is planning to set up two 'Elephant Rescue Centres' on a pilot basis.
"Instances of elephants straying away from the forests have been on the rise, resulting in man-elephant conflicts in the state. The stray elephants often destroy crops or kill humans or are killed in the process," West Bengal Forest Minister Hiten Barman told IANS.
"In order to rehabilitate the stray jumbos, we plan to set up two rescue centres of 100 acre each in north and south Bengal. Currently, a survey is on to locate the proper

Tiger attacks conservationist John Varty at South Africa wildlife park
A well-known conservationist was recovering Thursday after being attacked by a tiger at his wildlife park in South Africa.
John Varty, whose work has appeared on the National Geographic Channel, was

John Varty of course made claim to breeding the first white tiger in the wild in recent years. Wild? A fanciful story.

Patricia Busch may lose her licence to operate Zion
Patricia Busch's licence as operator of Zion Wildlife Gardens is under threat after revelations an undisclosed party has applied for her job.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry yesterday confirmed an application had been received for operator's status which was being considered.
It refused to identify the interested party or when the application was lodged.
The news follows an announcement that the park will officially re-open on Easter weekend, with Lion Man Craig Busch on hand to welcome visitors and run some tours.
The ministry said it had no involvement in the park's public reopening or its business operations.
"Our responsibilities relate only to the containment and welfare of the animals and these issues are being managed appropriately," said the ministry's director of verification Steve Gilbert.
Beth McVerry and Ian Stevenson of Tauranga are the new owners of Zion, with Mr Busch back at the park with his big cats.
Mrs Busch was not allowed back into Zion shortly after the new owners took charge but she managed to hold on to her operator's licence.
Zion spokeswoman Jill Albrow said the park started running public tours from March 17, although the official opening would not be until next weekend.
She said the response so far had been good, with people either phoning in or turning up at the gates.
"We had some visitors from the UK on Friday and a group came from Auckland on Saturday but it's mostly domestic visitors at the moment because overseas visitors need time to plan their trip."
Ms Albrow said the Easter opening might include a chance to win a "Behind the Scenes" day with Mr Busch.
The park had lowered the entry fees for children from $30 to $25 while adults would pay $60 a head, she said.
A family pass would cost $150.
Guided tours by Zion staff

ACRES and Lao Zoo set up Vientiane centre to curb illegal wildlife trade
Singapore animal welfare group ACRES and Lao Zoo have set up the first Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre in Vientiane, Laos.
ACRES, which stands for Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the ACRES Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre (AWREC) in Laos on Wednesday.
Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam and Laos Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith were present at the ceremony.
"I am delighted to have witnessed the MOU signing between the Lao Zoo and Singaporean charity ACRES," said Mr Shanmugam. "The Bear and Wildlife Protection Programme under the MOU is a timely initiative. Wildlife and environmental conservation is an increasingly important issue, so the joint effort is very encouraging."
Under the agreement, the five-hectare AWREC will provide sanctuary to animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, with a focus on rescuing bears.
ACRES said AWREC will also serve as an educational facility to create awareness on the wildlife trade, environmental protection and a host of animal protection issues.
It will have exhibits on a animal protection issues and conduct educational talks, skits and performances to create awareness and inspire the community to make a difference.

The 40th issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa is online at . We thank all the subject editors, reviewers, language editors and authors for their contributions in producing this issue.
March 2012 | Vol. 4 | No. 3 | Pages 2409–2480
Date of Publication 26 March 2012 (online and print)

The state of the ark: Zoos in Indonesia
The Jakarta Post recently reported the death of a giraffe at Surabaya Zoo, found to have ingested 20 kg of plastic. This is extremely tragic, but of course by no means surprising in Indonesia’s zoos, given the appalling way they are managed.
As a former zoo keeper myself in the UK, what is clear to me is that the vast majority of zoos in Indonesia hardly pay any attention whatsoever to investing in their zoo and instead see them only as potential revenue generators.
A good example is the so-called Medan Zoo in North Sumatra. For many years this occupied just a few tree-shaded hectares within the city itself and despite its poor and insanitary conditions, a number of animals somehow managed to survive there for several years. Nevertheless, they were subjected to volumous decibels of dangdut just outside their cage every weekend and public holidays, and a barrage of peanuts were thrown at them every day.
On public holidays, more than 20,000 visitors would visit and almost all would throw copious numbers of peanuts at the animals during the day. Not exactly a nutritious balanced diet.
In its wisdom, the Medan municipality eventually decided to move the zoo to a large area of open, mostly tree-less land on the edge of the city. It was then reported that around 60 percent of the animals died during or after being transferred to the new site, built hurriedly, poorly designed and with little thought to providing shelter from the sun or rain, or clean water supplies to any of the animals.
A few survivors did manage to hang on, but could be clearly seen hiding in the few shady areas, gasping due to the heat and dehydration. The standard of care was also extremely poor. A small clinic building had no drugs or equipment, and not even the tools to anesthetize animals properly. Food was inadequate, generally handed out in the mornings, and left there all day.
All in all, Medan is the only place I know of in the world that has built a new zoo even worse than the old one! What gets me most though, is that managing a zoo is not rocket science. Many animals will survive and even breed if simply given a safe and sheltered enclosure, clean drinking water, and adequate nutrition. But just how possible is it to improve facilities and diets when entrance fees are so disgracefully low?
I have heard many times how admission prices for zoos and other recreation sites are deliberately kept low so that everyone is able to benefit from them. Sure, but the old Medan Zoo cost about Rp 2,000 to enter 10 years ago and even the new one is just a little over Rp 5,000 (US 55 cent) today. With admission prices less than half the cost of a becak (pedicab) or a decent nasi bungkus (meal), I think they could easily be quadrupled and still everyone would be able to visit a few times each year. And that might even allow zoo managers to reinvest some of the takings on their assets, their facilities and their animals.
I am sure too, that given the incredible wealth of the Indonesian “elite” and how they love to have their names displayed in public places, that any zoo showing a genuine commitment to improving, by putting some of its own money back in, could quickly begin to tap the large numbers of rich potential philanthropists around these days, to sponsor their animals and new exhibits. But they would

Penguins dive in for 2012 Games

Scott's Antarctic diet: Stewed penguin and champagne
A century ago Robert Falcon Scott and his men perished on their return from the South Pole. But what did they eat as they explored one of the harshest places on earth - and did their diet contribute to their deaths?
They endured months of freezing temperatures and exhausting sledge-pulling, but life for the men of the Terra Nova expedition was not without comfort, at least not in their wooden hut at Cape Evans.
The smell of fresh bread and rhubarb pie was a common feature of life there.
Seal meat - curried, fried, or in soup - was another constant, and it was popular.
"We never tire of our dish and exclamations can be heard every night," Captain Scott wrote in

Can zoos save polar bears from extinction?
Global warming is putting polar bears’ natural environment in jeopardy. Some zoos say captivity could help them survive global warming’s assault.
Captivity could help polar bears survive global warming assault, some zoos say
Polar bears are ideally suited to life in the Arctic: Their hair is without pigment, blending in with the snow; their heavy, strongly curved claws allow them to clamber over blocks of ice and snow and grip their prey securely; and their rough pads keep them from slipping.
The one thing they cannot survive is the disintegration of the ice. They range across the sea ice far from shore to hunt fatty seals, whose blubber sustains them.
Heat-trapping greenhouse gas emissions caused by burning fossil fuel are making the Arctic warm twice as fast as lower latitudes, and Arctic summer sea ice could disappear by 2030, according to climate models.
So a group of activists, zoo officials, lawmakers and scientists have a radical proposal: Increase the number of polar bears in U.S. zoos to help maintain the species’ genetic diversity if the wild population plummets.
In a worst-case scenario, a remnant group of bears would survive in captivity.
That should be good news for the St. Louis Zoo, which designed a $20 million polar bear exhibit with a cooled saltwater pool and concrete cliffs covered in simulated ice and snow for three to five bears. Its goal was to have them there by 2017. But it doesn’t have a bear lined up, because it’s illegal to import them, captive cubs are rare and finding orphaned bears in Alaska is difficult.
The Fish and Wildlife Service could allow the importation of polar bears for public display through future legislative or regulatory changes but has shown no inclination to pursue those options.
Evolved from brown bears tens of thousands of years ago, polar bears have become an iconic species for their majestic size and ability to thrive in the harsh Arctic. Today the image of a mammoth bear clinging to a piece of ice embodies an environment under siege.
Polar bears would prefer to hunt for seals year-round, but the disappearance of sea ice has forced them onto land or far offshore where the ice remains only over deep unproductive water. “Either way, they’re food deprived,” said Steven C. Amstrup, chief scientist for the advocacy group Polar Bears International and an emeritus researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Advocates of the plan to bring more into captivity, including St. Louis Zoo president and chief executive Jeffrey Bonner, say that saving a species whose habitat is disappearing is an immense challenge.
“Polar bears are simply the first species where we have to get it right,” Bonner said. When it comes to research on how to sustain an exotic species through breeding techniques, “that research is only research that can be done in zoos,” he added.
Based on current projections, federal scientists say two-thirds of the world’s polar bears could be extinct by mid-century, though a significant cut in greenhouse gas emissions could help halt that decline. There are roughly 20,000 to 25,000 polar bears worldwide, 3,500 of which live in Alaska and spend part of the year in Canada and Russia.
There are 19 sub-populations of polar bears living in Canada, the United States, Russia, Denmark and Norway, and since scientists fear ice melt could cause some of these to disappear from their historic ranges, the idea would be to preserve enough genetic diversity in captivity to allow them to be repopulated through artificial insemination of wild bears or other methods. Supporters of the plan say researchers are just beginning to experiment

15 zoo pythons released in Western Ghats
Fifteen Burmese pythons from the Arignar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur were released into the Kalakad-Mundanthurai tiger reserve in the Western Ghats. Zoo officials involved in the exercise said it was part of the forest department's plan to promote the exterior conservation - conservation of rare species in their natural habitat.
The spot where the reptiles were released was marked with the help of a GPS tracking system to help officials locate them when they visit the forest after 15 days. Till then, the officials said, staff of the tiger reserve would monitor the snakes with the help of local villagers.
Earlier, for nearly a month, steps were taken to help the selected reptiles adapt to the new environment (Western Ghats). "Adequate training was given at the zoo and they responded well," said zoo director and chief conservator of forests, KSSVP Reddy.
They were left to fend for themselves in a large enclosure deep inside the reserve forest area (the Vandalur zoo is located within the reserve forest area). Initially, the daily feed was delayed and officials monitored their movements through closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras. After a few weeks, the officials found that the snakes were able to locate and kill the prey and survive on their own. From the time they were born on August 21, 2011, the pythons were fed rats and chicken daily.
The training "was a laborious exercise as we had to ensure that denying them the regular feed did not affect their health. Besides, the area selected had to be somewhat similar to the area where they would be released," said zoo sources.
Wildlife experts say adequate training is a pre-requisite before species in captivity are released into their natural habitat. Measures like setting up cage-like structures away from the usual enclosure and steps to check their capacity to feed on their own are crucial, they said.
"Every wild species has its own way of survival. Those which have been in captivity for long need to be trained before being released into their natural habitat. This is one  in March 2012

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Naracoorte Cave is a themed environment for Australasian cave animals at the Night Safari of Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Each terrarium is designed to display a species in its natural habitat and to provide the necessary climate control. Visitos can also see replicas of various cave phenomena such as dripstones, fossils, crystals and cave paintings.



We would like to thank Hannah Buchanan-Smith and Claire Watson, both University of Scotland, for the permission to include a link to their useful, entertaining, and instructive website:
WATSON, C.F.I. and BUCHANAN-SMITH, H.M. (2012) Marmoset Care. University of Stirling. Scotland.


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Film on ecology stars real tigers, leopards
National Award-winning director Ashvin Kumar of Inshallah Football fame finally able to release his first ever film, The Forest, after four year wait.The victim in this film has four legs, growls if bothered, and can, with one solid leap, combat the biggest villains that Bollywood’s best have
National Award-winning filmmaker Ashvin Kumar fought the Censor Board for years to protect his documentary, Inshallah Football, from drastic cuts. Ironically, the film won a National Award this year. But even before Inshallah Football, Kumar had directed a film called The Forest which didn’t get to the theatres — until now. On May 4, thanks to a PVR Cinemas initiative, the Nandana Sen-Javed Jaffrey starrer will finally release.
“Inshallah Football should be called Baptism by Fire,” he says, before laughing when asked about the irony in receiving an award from a system that he spent the last few years fighting. “It’s a good milestone, the National Award. It’s tiny, but good.”
Ask him whether his first fiction feature film is seeing the light of day today due to the award and he denies it, saying, “No, the award came much after the deal was settled. My wait has been agonising. Distributors came close to signing, and then plans changed. That’s the thing about Mumbai, no one says no. They’ll make you believe that they’ll do it and then not do it.”
The Forest has been in the cans for over four years. The avid wildlife conversationalist was a regular at Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand when the idea of writing a film about the “anguish about man-animal conflicts in India” came to him. “We are one of the rare countries that has this wildlife, yet we read stories about leopards being stoned to death and burnt in cages,” says Ashvin.
Spread across Jim Corbett, Bandhavgarh and Thailand, the film has been made on a budget of R6.5 crore. This amount also includes the hiring of trained leopards that were flown down from France to Thailand for the shoot.
“The story is about a man who confronts his fear of the animal. All the animals in the film are real — tigers, leopards, elephants — though some scenes were put together during post-production,” reveals Ashvin, adding that the most exciting part of the filming was recording the sound with a 40-piece Philharmonic Orchestra in the iconic Abbey Road studi

Escaped cheetah dies hours after rescue, as baboons roam Al Ain
The pet cheetah caught last week after escaping its abusive owners died only a few hours later, it was confirmed yesterday.
Dr Majid Al Qassimi, the deputy chief veterinarian at the Al Ain Zoo, said the reasons for the cheetah's death had not been confirmed but it was found "stressed" and severely malnourished.
Dr Al Qassimi said that after escaping from its cage in a private villa, it ate several pets belonging to its owner's Emirati neighbours.
The zoo is awaiting results of a post-mortem examination.
Meanwhile, the second baboon in a week has been found roaming the wilds of the Garden City.
The zoo last Wednesday received a call about an illegally kept baboon that was wandering around Al Masoudi. The female olive baboon jumped from roof to roof, eluding zookeepers before being caught the next morning.
Yesterday another was found roaming Al Ain, but on the other side of town. This one was caught by pest control workers.
Dr Al Qassimi said the cheetah's death was "quite surprising", as there had been no sign of severe illness

Debate erupts over elephant training as circus comes to town
Handlers say use of 'bullhook' is crucial to training, health
He stands on a grassy slope, right arm extended upward with an alfalfa treat, addressing his 4-ton companion in the tones of a tender friend.
"You're a sweetie, aren't you? You're special," Mike McClure says. And Dolly plucks the treat from his hand, curls it into her mouth and emits a guttural rumble.
That's the sound of a pachyderm purring, says McClure, the director of animal programs at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore and an internationally known handler of elephants. Dolly, 36, is an African elephant.
It's a remarkable degree of mutual trust — and one that the trainer is sure he'd never have developed were it not for a grim-looking tool some call an instrument of torture.
The so-called bullhook, a 2-foot goad with a pointed end that elephant handlers have used for centuries to train and guide the huge creatures, has been the subject of a national debate that has had Baltimore talking since the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus rolled into town this week.
Elephant trainers around the world still use the tools, now commonly called guides. Animal-rights activists have complained for years that the devices are barbaric.
It's a debate that has pitted Jada Pinkett Smith, a Baltimore-born actress and spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, against MayorStephanie Rawlings-Blake. In a sharply worded statement this month, Pinkett Smith noted that, unlike people in her profession, elephants do not choose to perform. Rawlings-Blake brushed off the concerns and sided with Ringling Bros., which calls its practices humane.
The company's annual run at 1st Mariner Arena ends April 1.
"The process of training is a complex equation, one with many components. The guide is one tool in that equation," says McClure, a certified board member of the Elephant Managers Association, an international nonprofit devoted to the species' conservation and welfare. "Our detractors don't have the experience or insight to know what makes the tool important."
On Monday, even as the circus was loading six of the animals onto a specially outfitted train for Baltimore, McClure said the best way to understand his meaning is to take neither side at face value but to observe the tools in use.
At the zoo
The zoo looks different behind the scenes — all locked gates, tall fences and trailers — and when an official finally grants entrance through the proper checkpoint, McClure, slender and sun-reddened at 41, appears to greet a visitor.
He marches down a slope to the edge of the elephant enclosure, where


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