Saturday, May 5, 2012

Zoo News Digest 17th April - 5th May 2012 (Zoo News 814)

Zoo News Digest 17th April - 5th May 2012 (Zoo News 814)

Dear Colleague,

This should have gone out an age ago. Apologies. Sadly I had both internet and computer programmes on top of ill health. Money has sorted out the first two but the health is going to take a bit longer. Normally I am very fit but as I get older trying to shake a virus off takes a more time than previously. This one has been with me since the 22nd April. It spoiled my last weeks holiday at home in Thailand and has not helped my first week back at work in Dubai. My girlfriends say that my illness is down to black magic. I don't know about that but I know from some of the very vitriolic emails this week that there are bunch of people out there who do not wish me well.

All in all though the holiday was excellent. Catching up with friends and family and partying the nights away.

Meanwhile lots of interest in the zoo world. It would seem that at long last there is some sort of sanity creeping into the Toronto Elephant debate. I am pleased about that because I have seen my name dragged through the mud on this in various places. All I am concerned about is the health and best welfare of these animals. I really could not give a damn what the celebrities and so called experts have to say. So much of this whole debacle is to do with ignorance and alternative agendas.

Interesting thoughts on Zanesville...see 'Thompson's death questioned by animal organization president'. Feasible? Yes I reckon it is though I don't hold with Schreibvogel's logic.

Whilst in no way against the need or a 'zoo vet' I do not see the need for "Employ a full-time consultant veterinarian" as in 'New regulation seeks to improve zoo conditions' or do I read that to mean someone on a retainer who can be called in at a moments notice?

"Ministers warned Zion big cats could kill".....what a warning....more a statement of fact! Of course they could kill and it could just as easily have been Craig Busch. It never was necessary ever for ANYONE to enter enclosure with big cats. It serves no useful purpose whatsoever in spite of the rubbish spouted out by the so called experts. It is always an accident waiting to happen. If the policy of going in with big cats had not been implemented by Craig Busch then the inevitable would never have happened. This is an undeniable fact. It is totally unnecessary to enter enclosures with and to play/perform/show off with these animals.

"He really IS a sitting duck: Chinese zoo throws live bird into tiger enclosure 'to improve animals' hunting instincts'" WHY? These animals will never ever ever ever be released into the least not by any sane person. I really cannot understand the Daily Mail Online should give this story column inches and photographs. They too are pandering to the the sicko public. Look at some of the comments.

My Thoughts:


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Japanese dolphin hunt town Taiji considers marine safari park
The park would invite visitors to swim and kayak with whales and dolphins in the same bay where 'The Cove' documentary exposed a brutal annual slaughter. The Japanese town of Taiji, notorious for its annual dolphin hunt, is considering turning the local Moriura Bay into a marine park for tourists. According to a report in the local Jiji Press, the idea for the so-called "marine safari park" has been put forward by residents of the western Wakayama prefecture town and would allow visitors to swim with whales and dolphins. Taiji came to international attention after it was featured in the Academy Award-winning documentary 'The Co

Map from Ceta Base -!/cetabase

If you have seen 'The Cove' but not seen the following two videos you need to watch them.

Dolphin Show = Dolphin Kill? An Investigation of The Cove Part 1

Dolphin Show = Dolphin Kill? An Investigation of The Cove Part 2

Ministers warned Zion big cats could kill
Two Cabinet ministers have confirmed Lion Man Craig Busch warned them big cats at the Zion wildlife park could kill someone shortly before a tiger fatally mauled a keeper. Before 26-year-old keeper Dalu Mncube was killed three years ago, Mr Busch wrote to Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson, Primary Industries Minister David Carter and to both the Department of Labour and the former MAF about his concerns over safety procedures at the Whangarei park, now called Kingdom of Zion. Spokespeople for both ministers yesterday said Mr Busch's messages had been passed on to the Department of Labour when they were received. The ministers, government departments and Mr Busch all declined to comment on the warning messages because Mr Mncube's death was set down for the coroner's hearing next month. Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland will hold a three-day inquiry into Mr Mncube's death at Whangarei on June 12-14. Two months before the attack, Mr Busch expressed his concerns to the ministers over the training and skills of Zion

Bill 69, Elephant Protection Act, 2012
An Act to amend the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to protect elephants Note: This Act amends the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. For the legislative history of the Act, see the Table of Consolidated Public Statutes – Detailed Legislative History at Preamble When elephants are required to perform in animal shows and performances, including in circus shows, some elephant handlers still employ abusive and outdated disciplinary tools. These tools are designed to cause the animals pain and to invoke fear. The elephants may also be routinely restrained for substantial periods of time, often by chaining their legs. This restricts their ability to move to one or two steps. These kinds of elephant handling practices, and the devices employed, are based on a traditional system developed hundreds of years ago. At the time, it was common to dominate an elephant by breaking its spirit to make it more compliant and therefore easier to train for performance purposes, as well as for husbandry convenience. Modern, progressive zoos around the world have stopped using fear or dominance-based training of elephants in favour of safer, more humane systems, such as protected contact management systems. Such systems reward elephants for good behaviours, rather than disciplining them for unwanted behaviours. The elephants are not restrained for substantial periods of time and are only restrained using specially designed barriers. Proponents of fear or dominance-based elephant training claim that the devices they use, such as bullhooks, are only supposed to be used as guides and that they are necessary and not damaging to elephants. They also claim that restraints such as chains are acceptable and do not negatively impact an elephant’s health or welfare. Cruel and abusive elephant training methods often result in life-long injuries to the elephants and there is also a high risk to human handlers. There have been incidents in which

Aquarium's new penguin exhibit angers activists
Some new birds in town have animal activists hopping mad. The Vancouver Aquarium's African penguin exhibit opens on May 18, but animal-rights activist Annelise Sorg is deeply opposed. "Why are they bringing in African penguins?" asked Sorg of the group No Whales in Captivity. "They should be left in the wild and not put in captivity." Sorg called for a boycott of the aquarium. "This is not education and not conservation," she said. "They are keeping these animals to make money." But a notice on the Vancouver Aquarium website says the penguins were bred in captivity as a means of saving the species. "African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) are endangered. North American zoos and aquariums, i

Dubai’s underwater discus hotel lets you sleep in a high-tech aquarium
Sleep with the fishes, dine with the sharks. Now you can literally do both when the Underwater Hotel premiers in Dubai. Without a doubt, Dubai is one of the hottest exotic destinations with amazing skyscrapers and luxury amenities to rival even the most modern cities from the rest of the world. Now, a Polish architecture design firm has unveiled a new hotel concept that will make use of space below the ground, giving guests the ability to sleep underwater while enjoying the

Valley Zoo says Lucy stays, despite Calgary decision
Elephant deemed too sick to relocate Edmonton Valley Zoo director Denise Prefontaine says Lucy the elephant will stay where she is, despite a decision by Calgary Zoo to move its four Asian elephants elsewhere. On Thursday, the Calgary Zoo announced plans to relocate its endangered elephants to another accredited zoo within the next four to five years. The Calgary Zoo's president, Clément Lanthier, said that relocating the animals to "a larger social group" would be in their best interest. The Valley Zoo "supports the decision," Prefontaine said in a statement, noting that the Valley Zoo’s African elephant, Samantha, was relocated to a breeding herd at the North Carolina Zoo in 2007. Lucy, the remaining Asian elephant at the Valley Zoo, "has a respiratory condition which precludes any thought of placing her in a stressful situation, such as transporting her and/or placing her with unfamiliar caregivers or in an unfamiliar environment," the zoo said. "Moving Lucy would be life-threatening and this is a risk that we cannot and will not take." It’s anticipated the Calgary Zoo's lone bull, Spike, will be moved out first in co-operation with the Miami zoo — which still owns him —and after consultation with the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan. The Calgary Zoo's three female elephants — Kamala, Swarna and Maharani (and her calf, due next February) — will be kept together as a family unit when they are moved, officials said. Toronto city council voted in October

Toronto Zoo loses accreditation over plan to ship elephants to sanctuary
The Toronto Zoo has lost its accreditation from an international zoo association over the city’s plans to send three elephants to a sanctuary in California. The American-based Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits most major zoos in North America, sent a letter to the Toronto Zoo last week announcing the decision, effective immediately. The zoo, accredited by the AZA since 1977, won’t be able to re-apply for certification — considered the gold seal for top zoos — until March 2013. The move comes after city council voted last year, over the objections of their handlers, to send the zoo’s three aging elephants to a non-AZA-accredited sanctuary in California called PAWS. Before council’s decision, the zoo’s board of management had voted to have its zoo staff find a new home for the aging elephants by first searching for a suitable AZA-accredited zoo. But staff failed — at least in council’s opinion — to do so quickly enough. The AZA says the council vote contravened the association’s governance rules. The rules state, among other things, that “while the governing authority (city council) may have input, the decisions regarding the animal collection must be made by the professionals who are specifically trained to handle the institution’s animal collection.” In the end the zoo board voted to abide by city council’s will, and the three elephants are expected to be sent to the PAWS sanctuary within the next month or so. AZA-accredited zoos have breeding agreements and species survival plans that involve loaning animals between facilities for conservation reasons. But Toronto Zoo CEO John Tracogna said he expects the AZA’s decision to have a “minimal’’ impact on the zoo’s breeding programs, and he doesn’t expect other AZA zoos to break their loan agreements with Toronto over the issue. The decision won’t affect next year’s arrival of giant pandas from China, either, he said, because the AZA had no decision-making role in the visit. The accreditation decision shows what happens “when you do policy on the fly,’’ Mayor Rob Ford said Wednesday. “You should leave it in the staff’s hands. Hopefully it won’t hurt us,” he said, adding “council sometimes thinks they know better, and this is a perfect example of when they don’t know better.’’ Ford, who was “absent’’ during the council vote last year, said it’s too late to halt the relocation to PAWS. Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, who tabled the motion at council calling for the move to PAWS, said Wednesday: “The reality is what we’re seeing here is the bully (the AZA) that’s trying to tell us what to do, and tell the taxpayers and residents of Toronto what to do, with our elephants. “The other issue is why are they doing it right now? They just happen to be doing it when we’re getting ready to move the elephants,” she added. But Grant Ankenman, president of CUPE 1600, which represents the zoo’s animal keepers, said in a statement Thursday that “the loss of our AZA accreditation puts the Toronto Zoo in a very precarious position.” He later added: “Despite what the mayor and zoo administration

Council at fault for zoo's rejection, mayor says
Elephants don’t forget and neither does the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Toronto Zoo announced Wednesday that the AZA denied the attraction’s request to renew its accreditation citing city council’s decision to stomp over the zoo board and send three elephants to an animal sanctuary in California. Mayor Rob Ford blamed city council for the zoo being denied its AZA accreditation. “That’s what happens when you do policy on the fly,” Ford told reporters Wednesday. “You should leave it in the staff’s hands; hopefully it won’t hurt us.” Ford — who missed the vote on the elephants — said councillors shouldn’t have made that decision. “We should have left it in the staff’s hands, council sometimes thinks they know better and this is a perfect example of when they don’t know better,” he said. But the mayor said it was likely too late to reverse the elephant decision. The transfer of the pachyderms is still moving ahead. The zoo has had accreditation since 1977 and won’t be able to apply again until March 1, 2013. Zoo board chairman Joe Torzsok said if the the zoo does not get accredited next year, its ability to get animals on loan from other institutions could be impacted. “For 2012, this doesn’t have any significant impact on any of the great conservation, education and research work we are doing,” he said in an e-mail Wednesday. He stressed there is no financial impact on the zoo but it does highlight the need to deal with governance issues. “This provides another proof point that the zoo needs to leave the city’s nest,” Torzsok said. “Our governance model is outdated and we need to follow the path of other great zoos in North America.” Councillor Michelle Berardinetti — who led council in the elephant vote — blasted the AZA. “What we’re seeing here is the bully that is trying to tell us what to do and tell the taxpayers of Toronto and the residents of Toronto what to do with our elephants,” Berardinetti said. Zoo board member Councillor Gloria Lindsay

Zoo to say goodbye to Asian elephants
The Calgary Zoo has made the decision to move their group of Asian elephants within four to five years to a facility with more year round space. The move will include all three female elephants, Kamala, Swarna, Maharani and her expected calf, and bull elephant Spike. The females will be kept together with the calf because of the importance of the social structure with the elephant species.
There is no information on where they will be moved but the facility must provide for the following criteria:
•The facility must accept all three adult females and the calf as a family unit.
•It must participate in a breeding program that provides the elephants with the opportunity to participate in this fulfilling experience where possible and be part of a complex family group, and which supports the conservation of Asian elephants.
•It must provide large acreage that is useable year-round.
•It must be large enough to allow for an increased social group or herd size – minimum eight individuals.

The Calgary Zoo and the Miami Zoo, which still owns Spike, will be working together to find an appropriate facility for the elephant. It's likely he'll be moved before the females. "This decision is all about animal welfare," said Calgary Zoo President and Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Clément Lanthier in a release. "It was based on a growing acceptance and understanding of the importance of the social structure in elephant herds and the knowledge that their welfare is better served by being part of a large social group; something that can only be achieved at a facility with more year-round space than we can provide given the physical limitations of living on an island in a northern climate." Lanthier says that the zoo has a limited area for expansion and it will not be able to expand the year-round space for the elephants. Zoo officials say that they've chosen a lengthy time period to move the elephants because moving is a stressful experience for the animals. Special consideration has been made on accommodating for the new calf. "We know many people in Calgary will be as sad as we are regarding this decision, but we are confident that everyone wants only the best for the long-term welfare and care of these magnificent animals who have given us so much over the years," said Dr. Lanthier. "What we want people to understand is that the decision to move our elephants and

Calgary Zoo to close elephant exhibit
They’ll leave the biggest void, but there’s a good chance elephants won’t be the last to leave St. George’s Island under a major species shake-up taking place at the Calgary Zoo. For a guy used to wading through the largest manure piles possible, the zoo’s top animal director certainly gives a no-bull answer when it comes to the future of all creatures great and small in Calgary. Within minutes of breaking the heavy news — Calgary is abandoning elephants and shipping its four pachyderms to another zoo — Dr. Jake Veasey admits there are more animals endangered as local exhibits. “No firm decision have been taken on any of the big animals at the Calgary Zoo at the moment, but certainly we want to ensure we can provide year-round care,” said Veasey. “We have to face the reality that the Calgary Zoo is the region that it’s in, and everything is pointing to us having to look for animals more suited to this climate.” First to go, following a 40-year stint in Calgary, will be the elephants, because Calgary is too cold and the exhibit too small for a full-sized herd. The Zoo made the official announcement about the elephants Monday, though the rumour has been swirling for months. Veasey admits it’s a big loss for the city. “I would describe this as sad news, but not bad news,” said Veasey, director of care and conservation. “What we enjoy is not necessarily appropriate for the animals, and it’s going to be a sad day for Calgary and for our keepers, and a slightly sad day for myself, who’s worked with elephants for many years. “But ultimately, this is good news for our elephants, and that’s what we have to remember.” There’s still plenty of time to say goodbye to the bull and three females, given a recently-announced pregnancy, with a calf due in Feb. 2013. But the four- to five-year wait hinges heavily on that baby: if it fails to live — as has happened with other calves — the elephants may be leaving Calgary much sooner. “If we tragically lose that calf, we absolutely have to reassess that time frame,” said Veasey. “I would anticipate that time frame being brought forward.” Calgary is not the first Canadian zoo dealing with departure of elephants this week, and in Toronto, the announcement that three elephants are sanctuary-bound resulted in the zoo being stripped of accreditation. But Toronto Zoo’s conflict is rooted in their choice of a California sanctuary that refuses to breed, in breaking with Association of Zoos and Aquariums mandate to preserve genetic diversity. Calgary, on the other hand, is demanding any new home “must participate in a breeding program ... which supports the conservation of Asian elephants.” Of bigger concern to Calgary is the potential white elephant left behind when the elephants go. Just five years old, the $11-million Elephant Crossing building was built to house cownose rays and elephants — both soon-to-be extinct species on the zoo’s roster of residents. Veasey says the taxpayer-funded building will be refurbished, rather than knocked down. “It’s not like the investment was entirely wasted, and we will re-purpose that facility — we’re not looking to demolish it,” said Veasey. The empty building might even house a new species. Veasey said the zoo, as well as considering whether to abandon warm climate species like giraffes, zebras and lions, is looking at new animals better suited to Calgary — such as those from temperate Asia. “I can anticipate us continuing with an Asian focus,” said Veasey, pointing to a similar climate and increasing threats to species on that continent as motivation. “This is where we increasingly start looking — species at risk, needing conservation for their long term survival, but also very suited to our climate here in Calgary.” That means focusing on creatures like tigers (“I would anticipate a new facility for them,” said Veasy), and re-considering endangered animals from closer to home, like polar bears. “Polar bears do fit a lot of the criteria — I think there’s huge value in having a captive breeding program for polar bears, but it has to be done right,” said Veasy. “If Calgary is to consider

Calgary Zoo makes one elephant of a mistake
Sorry, Calgarians, but the zoo has traded our Asian elephants for a bunch of penguins. They haven’t put it like that, of course, but after opening the penguin display earlier this year, there’s news that our four cherished pachyderms — one of them a distinguished painter — will be moving in the next four to five years. “The decision is all about animal welfare,” said zoo president Clement Lanthier in a news release. “It was based on a growing acceptance and understanding of the importance of the social structure in elephant herds and the knowledge that their welfare is better served by being part of a large social group.” Bull crap! The zoo had nursed plans to bring polar bears and all sorts of other species to the zoo as part of its ambitious Arctic Shores exhibit until money ran short, but suddenly there’s no room for elephants, which have been part of the Calgary Zoo experience for more than four decades. The animals have literally been voted off the island. The decision shows a lack of imagination and compassion on the part of the zoo. It has recently added parking for 500 cars — outside the main compound, granted — but it can’t continue to provide a loving home for Kamala, Swarna and Maharani (along with Maharani’s calf due to be born in February 2013) and Spike, the distinguished gent with the silver tusk? It might be acceptable to announce that this is it, there will be no more additions to the exhibit, but to send the elephants asunder is a mistake. Where are our friends going to go where they’ll be better treated and loved than they are in Calgary? The zoo’s decision is a breach of trust to Calgarians. A quick reversal is in order and plans should be made to keep the elephants in Calgary. In the meantime, just try to imagine tusks on those interchangeable penguins and get ready to welcome the short-lived arrival of the pandas in the former elephant enclosure in a few years. Let’s start a stampede to see this

New Edinburgh Zoo chief Professor Chris West announced
A new chief executive has been announced for Edinburgh Zoo. Professor Chris West, currently chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of South Australia, is to take up the post later this year. He will replace Hugh Roberts, who was appointed interim chief executive in April 2011 and is now retiring. It followed the departure of Donald Emslie, who resigned when a vote of no confidence in him was passed at an extraordinary general meeting. Professor West, originally from the UK, has been in his post in Australia since 2006. In 2009 he led the RZSSA team in introducing a pair of giant pandas to Adelaide Zoo. He said: "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be at the helm of an organisation that is one of the leading lights in worldwide animal conservation. "Edinburgh Zoo in particular has a global profile, supported by a robust long-term business plan which is set to build on the good work already undertaken. "There are many parallels linking my work in Adelaide to Edinburgh. I am tremendously excited by what the future brings and look forward to returning to the UK later on this year, following what has been a fantastic six years in Australia." International profile Professor West trained as a vet and has worked in senior roles for both Chester Zoo and the Zoological Society of London. Manus Fullerton, chairman of The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland's board of directors, said: "I am thrilled to welcome Chris back to the UK and particularly to Scotland. "This is an excellent appointment for the RZSS and one which promises to build on the significant international profile enjoyed by the society and Edinburgh Zoo in particular. "Chris brings with him an unmatched track record in the development and stewardship of zoos of international

Zoo director quits his job after latest boss named
FORMER Edinburgh Zoo boss Gary Wilson has resigned from his position less than a week after the new chief executive was unveiled. Mr Wilson decided to leave his role as director of business operations with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) earlier this week, but the RZSS would not comment on the reasons for his exit. It followed the news that Professor Chris West will be the next chief executive of the RZSS, having quit the same post in Adelaide, Australia, after six years at the helm. Prof West, a former London Zoo director, will replace interim chief executive Hugh Roberts, who filled a leadership void last May amid a crisis that saw a director sacked and two suspended, including Mr Wilson, amid investigations into anonymous allegations. The same month, Donald Emslie resigned as chairman. Mr Wilson, who was chief operating officer at the time, was suspended last March while inquiries were carried out by the board. He was subsequently cleared of all allegations. Iain Valentine, the director

Surabaya Zoo workers protest unilateral firing
Media Summary 30 employees of Surabaya Zoo who were fired unilaterally by the Zoo's temporary management set up a protest tent and demonstration in front of the Surabaya Zoo gate. 30 employees of Surabaya Zoo who were fired unilaterally by Zoo Temporary Management set up a suffering protest tent in front of the Surabaya Zoo gate. They are demanding a salary during the 19 months that have not been paid by the management. In addition they also perform theatrical acts by eating a stone and grass, holding a charity box for non-active employees, and action poster. Sigit Handoko, Head of Unit Leaders Varia Sekar Surabaya Zoo, coordinator of the protest explain that, "We fired for no apparent reason. We stopped working since August 10, 2012. From that moment we become unemployed, but we've got a wife and children at home should eat and schooling. We are victims of Zoo internal conflict, which until now has not been resolved. " The demands requested by the protesters is the right of return to work and be rewarded and justice, strict punishment to the management, and investigations by the police against Zoo Management. Since disagreement between the new and old management happened, the victims not only animals, but also the employees who are innocent must be fired unilaterally because they are disagree with the new management. Theatrical action by eating stone and grass with an empty plate symbolizes the economic conditions of families of non-active employees who actually are in very poor condition. They are no

Feline Conservation Federation Accredits Two Feline Facilities
FCF accreditation is a detailed review and inspection process covering all aspects of a feline facility’s operation, including diet, veterinary care, physical design, construction and maintenance, public and employee safety, and licensing record. Hawk Creek Wildlife Center, Inc. and G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park are two of the latest feline facilities to earn accreditation from the Feline Conservation Federation(FCF). FCF accreditation is an assurance that the facility is providing excellent care for felines. FCF exhibitors provide great experiences for the public and help shape a better future for felines living in nature. FCF accredited facilities represent a diverse collection of the finest FCF members, including licensed breeding centers, zoos, educators and sanctuaries. FCF accreditation is a detailed review and inspection process covering all aspects of a feline facility’s operation, including diet, veterinary care, physical design, construction and maintenance, public and employee safety, and licensing record. Accreditation takes place every two years, ensuring that facilities are maintained at standards that meet FCF accreditation policy. With just over a dozen accredited feline facilities, FCF can attest that facility accreditation is truly limited to centers that meet high standards. FCF accredited refuges and educators like Hawk Creek Wildlife Center and G.W. Exotic Animal Memorial Park help preserve threatened and endangered felines through their rescue and public education programs. Hawk Creek Wildlife Center is an environmental center in East Aurora, New York, performing wildlife rehabilitation, outreach education and conservation. Over 500 native wildlife species are treated and released annually. The feline residents of Hawk Creek are a mixture of rehomed pets and felines that owners gave up, and a couple of specially acquired ambassador felines. The Hawk Creek Wildlife Center is open just seven days annually

Crocodile eradication programmes in the Nilwala River Matara are to be conducted without interruption
Minister S.M. Chandrasena says that crocodile eradication operations in the Nilwala river in Matara have not been terminated. The Minister told the national radio that the officials of the Department of Wild Life will be constantly deployed around the Nilwala river. The murderous crocodiles will be released safely to the crocodile conservation centre to be set up in Muthurajawela. The centre will be established before the end of the year. Minister Chandrasena added that elephant conservation centres will be set up in Maduruoya, Veheragala, Horowpathana and Galgamuwa

Thompson's death questioned by animal organization president; sheriff calls claim unfounded
If you ask Muskingum County Sheriff Matt Lutz, the case is closed -- Terry Thompson cut the cages, freed his animals and then shot himself. The U.S. Zoological Association president doesn't think so. Joe Schreibvogel thinks Thompson was murdered. During a news conference posted Tuesday morning on YouTube, Schreibvogel told reporters he thinks Thompson was killed to push along legislation banning private exotic animal ownership in Ohio. He said there is no way Thompson would have had time to free all the animals and then shoot himself -- one of the cats would have gotten to him first. The comments refer to the Oct. 18, 2011, incident, during which officials have said Thompson set free 56 exotic animals from his Kopchak Road farm before

Ohio: Surviving Exotic Animals to Be Returned to Owner’s Widow
A zoo says it will transfer five exotic animals on Friday to the widow of the animals’ owner. The owner, Terry Thompson, released dozens of wild creatures, including black bears, mountain lions and Bengal tigers, last fall before killing himself. Two leopards, two primates and a bear have been held at the Columbus Zoo since October under a state-issued quarantine order, which was lifted Monday. A friend of the widow, Marian Thompson, said she planned to take the animals back to her farm in Zanesville, in eastern Ohio. Mr. Thompson released 56 animals before killing himself. Fearing for the public’s safety, the authorities killed a majority of the animals. The five animals that were quarantined are the survivors. The

Meet one of the oldest chimpanzees in captivity
Senior citizens are common in Florida but one 74-year-old is in a class of her own: "Little Mama" is believed to be the oldest chimpanzee in captivity. Born in Africa, she was one of the first residents at Lion Country Safari theme park in Loxahatchee, Florida, about 20 miles west of West Palm Beach. "She came here when the park opened in 1967," said Lion Country Safari Wildlife Director Terry Wolf, who has been with the park just as long. Wolf said the park's owners bought her from a pet dealer. "It was a whole different world then," explained Wolf. "Chimps in pet shops that were babies at that time could go for 10 grand." Wolf doesn't know how much the park's owners paid for Little Mama, who was certainly no baby when she came to Lion Country Safari 45 years ago. The owners said that Little Mama was part of the Ice Capades, a traveling variety show that performed

Apps for Apes

Survival doubtful for local elephants
VietNamNet Bridge – Wild elephants could disappear from Viet Nam's Central Highlands permanently as deforestation has destroyed their habitat and source of food needed for survival. Their survival in the country remains doubtful as plans for a preservation project remain only on paper and forests continue to be cut down for rubber, coffee and cassava plantations. In 2006, the Prime Minister approved an action plan for elephant conservation in the three provinces of Nghe An, Dong Nai and Dak Lak. In the Central Highland province of Dak Lak alone, around 100 wild elephants live in districts of Buon Don and Ea Sup. The province's People's Committee signed a project in 2010 to preserve elephants in the province through 2015, with the total budget of VND61 billion (US$2.9 million). Nevertheless, between March 26 and 31, police and forest-protection forces from the province's Ea Sup District found three dead elephants. A 150-kg elephant was found in Cu M'Lan commune, and six days later, the bodies of two other elephants, one weighing 400-500 kg and the other two tonnes, were found in the same commune. Vice director of the province's Agriculture and Rural Development and head of Forest Protection Division, Y Rit Buon Ya, said that several elephants in the area had been hunted as food, and others had died of accidents or eaten inappropriate food. The illegal killing of wild elephants for their tusks and tails is common in some provinces. Y Rit said that last year, the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre

New regulation seeks to improve zoo conditions
A new regulation spells hope for the betterment of animals kept in zoos. IF animals could laugh and sing in happiness, there would be some trumpeting of joy emerging from zoos and wildlife parks in Peninsular Malaysia for on Feb 1, the Wildlife Conservation (Operation of Zoo) Regulations 2012 was gazetted. The new regulation gives voice to the need to regulate zoos systematically and to higher standards. Animal lovers and conservationists have long highlighted the terrible conditions under which wildlife is held in captivity in such establishments. The problem was also widely highlighted in the media last year. The new regulation is made possible with the enforcement of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 in December 2010. It replaces the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 which had been criticised as lacking bite and failing to address many concerns. One of the failures was the lack of power for the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) to act against errant zoos and wildlife parks. Also, the old legislation has no provisions addressing wildlife welfare and cruelty to captive animals. The new regulation resolves these loophole as it provides for some areas where Perhilitan could take action against errant zoos. Zoo operators have a six-month grace period to comply with the new requirements of the regulation. Those which do will be issued an annual permit. Any person operating a zoo without a permit is liable to a fine not exceeding RM70,000 or/and a prison term not exceeding three years. The new regulation requires zoos and animal parks to: > Adhere to minimum cage sizes, which are specified according to various animal groups. > Have a quarantine area and

Rescuers hunting for elusive 'Igor the beaver' instead find evidence that animals are breeding in the wild for first time in 400 years
They were hunted to extinction in Britain more than 400 years ago, but the beaver is believed to be back and breeding on our shores. Experts believe the dam-building, tree-gnawing creatures are breeding in the wild after unexpectedly finding a wild one in a slurry pit in Cornwall. A wildlife team had been hunting for an escaped beaver called Igor who, as we reported earlier this week, escaped from his owner three years ago and has been on the run ever since. The team thought they had found the dishevelled fugitive in a slurry pit in Gunnislake, South East Cornwall - but were mystified to discover their captive was nor Igor, but a wild beaver instead. And his appearance could mean more beavers

The Last Wild Beaver in Britain

'Panic-attack' elephant crushes zoo owner to death in trunk
A zoo owner was crushed to death in an elephant’s trunk after the animal she had spent two years nursing back to health picked her up and lifted her into the air, New Zealand animal welfare authorities say. Helen Schofield, the owner and director of Franklin Zoo, 56 kilometres south of Auckland, was caring for 3.1-tonne Mila, formerly a circus elephant known as Jumbo, when tragedy struck. Emergency services were called to the zoo about 4.30pm yesterday after receiving reports that Ms Schofield had been killed when Mila picked her up and crushed her. Auckland SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge said he did not believe Mila had attacked Ms Schofield, who was also a vet. "It would appear to be a tragic accident," he said. Just two-and-a-half hours before her death, Ms Schofield revealed details of the elephant's troubled emotional state during a talk to a group of 50 zoo visitors - including a Fairfax reporter - while standing in front of Mila's enclosure. The elephant was known to suffer frequent panic attacks at night and Ms Schofield, who lived on site, would comfort the animal by speaking with it through a safety wall. The SPCA had expressed concerns about the elephant's physical and mental wellbeing before Mila went into the zoo's care. Emotional scenes unfolded outside the zoo last night as Mila's former handler Tony Ratcliffe demanded

Zoo's elephant move 'futile:'
Lindsay Luby Zoo board member Councillor Gloria Lindsay Luby is stomping all over the impending move of the Toronto Zoo’s three elephants. “This whole exercise we are going through has cost us time and money, staff time, the board’s time,” Lindsay Luby said Wednesday. “We’re not saving any money by sending them, I think that has been pretty clear so what are we getting out of it? Nothing, we’re losing three elephants.” Lindsay Luby said the actual cost of providing food and lodging for the elephants at the Toronto Zoo is quite small and there will be no saving in staff costs once the elephants are gone because those that care for the pachyderms will be redeployed elsewhere in the zoo. Late Monday Toronto Zoo officials said they had reached an “impasse” with the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) animal sanctuary, claiming the group had not yet sent them needed medical records of elephants already being kept at the northern California sanctuary. Zoo officials are due to meet Thursday with Councillor Michelle Berardinetti. The Scarborough councillor said she has the necessary documents ready for Zoo CEO John Tracogna’s review. Berardinetti led council last year in overruling

Could the Toronto Zoo lose its Canadian accreditation next?
About a week ago, the Toronto Zoo lost its golden seal from the American-based Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Now, the president of the union representing the zoo’s animal keepers is concerned the Canadian accreditation may follow. “That is a very strong possibility,” said Grant Ankenman. “At the present time our membership with CAZA (the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums) is under review and there is a very strong chance that we will have that revoked as well.” The two organizations are very similar in principle. The Toronto Zoo lost its AZA accreditation over governance issues. In its unanimous vote, the AZA board of directors found the zoo did not have control over its animals. This became obvious when city council was able to decide to move the zoo’s aging elephants to a non-AZA-accredited sanctuary in California despite the zoo’s protest. This was the first loss of its accreditation in the zoo’s history. CEO John Tracogna regretted the decision to suspend his zoo. “Clearly, we are disappointed with the decision made by the AZA,” Tracogna said. “There was never any question of the Toronto Zoo’s animal care. Governance was the key issue.” The zoo will not be able to re-apply for accreditation before Mar. 1, 2013. Ankenman is worried about the consequences of this. “In the short term it may not affect us too much. It mostly hurts our reputation,” Ankenman said. “I think the real test will be a year

Saving the elusive pygmy hog
As grasslands shrink, the world’s smallest and rarest wild pig is among the most threatened of species endemic to the habitat Success in conservation is usually measured by the effectiveness of steps to boost the numbers of big, charismatic species. In India, the stars are the Bengal tiger, followed by the Asiatic lion, the leopard, the elephant and the rhinoceros. Conservation in India, generally, begins and ends with the tiger, considered a flagship species at the top of the food chain. If the tiger is okay, then everything else is fine—so goes the theory. But that may be missing the woods for the trees. Assam, for instance, is celebrating an increase in the population of the endangered, greater one-horned rhinoceros by 250. Earlier this month, a once-in-three-year census put the rhino population at 2,505, just 495 short of the 3,000 target of the Indian Rhino Vision (IRV) 2020. IRV is a joint programme of the Assam forest department, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) in seven protected areas in Assam. The rhino, which has hogged the conservation limelight in Assam over the past century, is an animal of the grasslands, more specifically the tall wet grassland

Rhino Wars
NO MATTER HOW GREAT a tracker Deon van Deventer may be, he could never find a wild rhino in Vietnam. Javan rhinos once proliferated in the Vietnamese forests and floodplains, but in 2010 poachers killed the nation's last wild rhino. Yet Vietnam has no shortage of rhino horn. The illegal horn trade once revolved around markets in China, Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, and Yemen, but now it centers on Vietnam, with more than a ton of horn likely to have entered the country last year alone. In South Africa several Vietnamese nationals, including diplomats, have been implicated in plots to smuggle horns out of the country. Not all rhino horns enter Vietnam illegally. South African law, which complies with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), allows a rhino's horns to be exported as trophies. In 2003 a Vietnamese hunter flew to South Africa and killed a rhino on a legal safari. Soon after, dozens of Asian hunters arrived, each paying $50,000 or more for a hunt through a certified safari outfit. Many of these hunters are believed to work for syndicates. Back in Vietnam, an average pair of horns, weighing 13 pounds, could be cut into pieces and sold on the black market, yielding a profit that could easily top $200,000 after costs. The triggers for this gold rush are difficult to pinpoint. Rumors about famous users, rising black market prices, and dwindling numbers of Asian rhinos are all feeding the mania. But behind the hype is a renewed interest in the horn's alleged healing power. For at least 2,000 years, Asian medicine has prescribed rhino horn—ground into powder—to reduce fever and treat a range of maladies. The handful of studies conducted over the past 30 years on its fever reducing properties have proven inconclusive, yet the 2006 edition of a Vietnamese traditional pharmacopoeia devotes two pages to rhino horn. The newest and most sensational claim is that it cures cancer. Oncologists say that no research has been published on the horn's efficacy as a cancer treatment. But even if rhino horn possesses dubious medicinal properties, that doesn't mean it has no effect on people who take it, says Mary Hardy, medical director of Simms/Mann UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology and a traditional medicine expert. "Belief in a treatment, especially one that is wildly expensive and hard to get, can have a powerful effect on how a patient feels," she says. To gain insights into the popularity of rhino horn in Vietnam, I traveled the country with a woman I will call Ms. Thien. A mammogram had revealed a spot on her right breast; a sonogram showed a worrisome shadow on an ovary. The attractive and irrepressible 52-year-old planned to seek modern treatment but also wanted to consult traditional doctors. I asked her if she believed rhino horn might help cure he

Zoo Keeper Helps Constipated Monkey Pass Peanut By Licking Its Butt For An Hour
As stories about a Chinese zoo keeper licking a monkey's butt in order to save its life gp, this one from chinaSMACK is by far the most endearing. After a young Francois' leaf monkey in his care consumed a peanut that had been tossed into its enclosure, Wuhan Zoo employee Zhang Bangsheng noticed that the animal had become dangerously constipated. Being too big to pass through the monkey's system naturally, the peanut had to be extracted manually. Apparently, that meant licking it out. Zhang told local reporters the three-month-old lutung was too small for laxatives, so he had no choice but to extract the wayward legume with his lingua. After washing the its bottom with warm water (because not doing so would be disgusting), Zhang spent an hour polishing the monkey's pooper before the peanut finally

Endangered frogs go home to Montserrat
A critically endangered frog species reintroduced to the Caribbean island of Montserrat is surviving in its new home, British conservationists say. The "mountain chicken" frogs had declined by as much as 80 percent in the wild, struck by a fatal fungal disease affecting amphibians globally. Captive-bred frogs are doing well three months after their release, Britain's Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust reported. Leptodactylus fallax are one of the world's largest frog species, with females weighing almost two pounds. "Due to their size they have very large meaty thighs which they use to leap long distances," Sarah-Louise Smith, project coordinator for the Mountain Chicken Recovery Program, told the BBC. It was those meaty thighs that gave them their curious name, she said. "Locally their meat is a delicacy, apparently they taste like chicken," Smith said. "In the past [it] was served in many restaurants and hotels to locals

Korea’s largest aquarium opens at Yeosu Expo site
South Korea’s largest aquarium opened at the 2012 Yeosu Expo site on Friday, about a week ahead of the official kickoff of the three-month-long international fair. Hanwha Engineering & Construction Corp., which built the aquarium, said the Aqua Planet is a four-story building covering 16,400 square meters and equipped with a 6,000 ton main tank. The overall size of the aquarium is two to three times larger than existing facilities in Seoul and Busan and will remain on the

4th International Congress on Zookeeping Registration for the 4th International Congress on Zoo Keeping in Singapore this September is now open

Fur, Feathers, Ivory and Bone: The U.S. Military and Endangered Species Souvenirs
The links between conflict and contraband are as old as war, and have been the subject of extensive research. The reasons are easy to grasp, if sometimes hard to trace. Wars disrupt economies and can create acute shortages, often while encouraging lawlessness and the breakdown of borders and institutions. In these circumstances, smugglers are both in demand and can thrive. Much of the public conversation about contraband and conflict centers on either products of high value – Iraqi and Chechen oil, West Africa’s so-called blood diamonds, the heroin trade extending from Afghanistan’s poppy fields – or on goods essential to organized violence, including weapons, ammunition and food. Now a recent study examines war and contraband from an atypical perspective: the illicit trade in wildlife products as souvenirs for Western soldiers. The study, published this year in the journal Biodiversity and Conservation, sketches market forces that are at once highly visible and mostly unexplored. The summary of those market forces is that Western soldiers on deployments have both relatively high salaries and access to bazaars, and they’ve helped create a niche industry on overseas bases and outposts for goods made from imperiled species. This

24 threatened lizard species discovered
New species are all skinks on the Caribbean islands U.S. researchers have identified two dozen new species of lizards on the Caribbean islands, and about half of them may be extinct or close to extinction. Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University, led the study in the New Zealand journal Zootaxa that was published Monday and co-authored by Caitlin Conn, a researcher at the University of Georgia. Skinks typically have small smooth round scales, thick bodies, strong necks and short legs or snake-like bodies. The team identified 39 types of skink — six of which were already recognized and nine named long ago but considered invalid until now – by examining museum specimens, DNA sequences and the animals them

Police uncover 700 illegal wildlife trade cases
Police uncovered more than 700 cases of illegal wildlife trade during a recent crackdown on websites and antique markets that openly traded in animal products from endangered species, the State Forestry Administration said Saturday. Around 100,000 police officers were sent to inspect 5,962 markets during the crackdown, the dates of which have not been revealed by authorities. They busted 13 gangs, punished 1,031 illegal traders, seized over 130,000 wild animals and 2,000 animal products worth nearly seven million yuan ($1.11 million), according to a statement posted on the administration's website. Police officers also shut down 7,155 high-street shops and 628 websites selling banned animals and removed 1,607 related online messages, it added. Illegal wildlife trade has been rampant in some parts of the country in recent years, triggering complaints from domestic and foreign wildlife advocacy

Edited by Dr Kees Rookmaaker

He really IS a sitting duck: Chinese zoo throws live bird into tiger enclosure 'to improve animals' hunting instincts' (and pull in the crowds)
They're predatory killers in the wild, but zoo visitors rarely see the same side of tigers when they are locked in an enclosure. When Wenling Zoo in eastern China threw a live rabbit and duck into their tiger enclosure, however, visitors got a direct view of the majestic animals' hunting instincts. The zoo in Zhejiang province, China, claimed 'wild' training program was part of a practice to help its tigers awaken their wild hunting instincts.

Pictured: The moment British woman was mauled by 'tame' cheetahs at holiday safari park and had to play dead to survive
Forced to the ground and with blood pouring from her head, this British holidaymaker had a miraculous escape after being attacked by supposedly tame cheetahs. Violet D’Mello was visiting a wildlife park with her husband Archie during a trip to South Africa for her 60th birthday. But their day out went horrifically wrong when two cheetahs turned on her, knocking her to the ground and biting her legs and head in a horrifying attack. Other tourists tried to scare the beasts off as park attendants desperately fought to get them away from the injured woman. And her husband? He carried on taking photographs, saying he did not quite realise what was happening. The attack took place at a wildlife park where tourists can pay £4.50 to pet cheetah brothers Mark and Monty, both hand-reared and said to be tame. Inside the private Kragga Kamma game reserve near Port Elizabeth, Mrs D’Mello posed for a picture with a cheetah, stroking its head and describing it as ‘a beautiful animal that felt so soft’. However, things changed quickly when one of the beasts grabbed eight-year-old Camryn Malan, who was among other tourists in the enclosure, and


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