Sunday, July 22, 2012

Zoo News Digest 16th - 22nd July 2012 (Zoo News 824)

Zoo News Digest 16th - 22nd July 2012 (Zoo News 824)

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Dear Colleagues,

White tigers new attraction at Karachi zoo
"Senior Director Culture, Sports and Recreation Rehan Khan while giving a briefing on this occasion said the white tigers were imported from South Africa which is the country of origin of this species. Karachi Zoo is the first zoo of the country where a pair of white tiger was inducted."

Perhaps a bit of confusion here because other newspaper reports relate to white lions. Really though it does not matter a jot because the aquistion of either puts Karachi Zoo squarely into the Dysfunctional Zoo slot.

Why oh why did they spend so much money to aquire a type of animal which is TOTALLY VALUELESS TO CONSERVATION? They are now exhibiting freaks and may as well keep an eye out to purchase a two headed goat. Which cruel and manipulative animal dealer persuaded them to part with 10 million Rupees (thats 106 thousand US Dollars) for animals which are effectively valueless. Who didn't do their homework? There are going to be heads rolling over this very soon....I know it.

Then there is story 'After four years, Delhi zoo begins breeding of white tigers' where some way down in the text it states "“Reproduction is important for animals once they attain maturity. We also need to increase numbers,”...I won't argue with the importance of reproduction but as to needing to increase numbers of inbred white tigers.....why? Please tell me why?

Sticking for a moment with the White theme. I was asked the other day if I had heard the rumour that someone plans to import White Tigers into Dubai? I hadn't but have little doubt that they are here already somewhere.

So the elephants are flying. It really defies all common sense and logic. Those animals are going into a risky environment but those who have worked so hard to make this happen simply do not care about the elephants. It may seem like they do but they don't. They are concerned about their own 'face' and status....nothing else. I have seen similar things happen a time or three in recent years. Gorillas from South Africa to the Cameroons, Orangutans from the UAE to Egypt to mention just two recent issues. Both of these have resulted in tragedy as without doubt will happen with the elephants. I wish the people with the clout would get real, be honest, forget the money and the politics and really really considered the elephants.

Those elephants should remain where they are till the properly managed AZA facility is ready and if it is then decided, by people who know what they are talking about, then they should move.

I had a couple of requests this week from people wanting to become friends with me on Facebook. No problems except that I note that they are friends too with the infamous 'Doc' Antle alias Mahamayavia Bhagavan Kevin  and whatever. Sorry, but if you are friends with this guy are you really sure you want to be friends with me? His basic principles and understanding of what a good zoo and conservation is about are so far removed from my own that he and his lot are placed squarely in the Dysfunctional Zoo (see link a little further down) slot.

Chicken Soup? Cooked Chicken? This is not the food of Cheetah.

"Plan to sell rhino horn: report - South African conservationists have unveiled a plan to sell rhino horns" Sorry....conservationists? Lets understand the difference here between Rhino farmers and conservationists. I am so very much against the idea of this legal trade idea, but if it were to go ahead then first of all they must destroy every last little stubby bit of horn that is presently stockpiled away. Ask yourself why it has been stockpiled in the first place. Precisely so this proposed plan can be moved forward so that some corrupt 'conservationist', the precise ones currently selling horn on living animals to China can make a big fat profit. Gosh it all smells so much, the stench of Rhino carcase.

The most stupid statement of the week? Here you go:

"We are the only ones who have lions. We have managed without interference until now," Gujarat's environment secretary, S.K. Nanda, said proudly from behind an enormous desk in an office complex decorated with lion posters reading: "Gujarat's pride; World's envy."
"Can we humans be arbiters of where these lions should live? Should we move the mountains and the rivers, too?" Nanda said. "If the lions want to move, let them move on their own."

If it seems like I have been picking on India and Pakistan this week, it is just the luck of the draw. Regular readers will know I just pick on who needs picking on.

Hello Giza Zoo....any news on the new Orangutan house yet? What of the evacuated chimps? The zoo world watches as you drag your feet. So very sad. Just how long will it take?

Still not a whisper about the baby Orangutan and Gibbon from Abu Dhabi (see past Digests). As the recognised world organisations that the collection belonged to knew that they had these you would think they would be just a little concerned as to where they went. It doesn't smell right to me.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.


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White tigers new attraction at Karachi zoo
Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) Administrator Muhammad Hussain Syed said induction of new animals and birds to Karachi Zoo and Safari Park will continue and soon more zebra, rhino, giraffe and hippopotamus would arrive in these facilities.
He said this while talking to a large number of electronic and print media representatives on Tuesday on the handing over of a pair each of white tiger and Bengal tiger to the Karachi Zoo administration.
The Director General Technical Services Altaf G. Memon, Senior Director Culture, Sports and Recreation Muhammad Rehan Khan, Director Zoo Dr. Muhammad Kazim and citizens in good numbers were also present on this occasion.
The people especially kids expressed pleasure on seeing the newly arrived tigers through an acrylic glass enclosure and just in front of them.
Administrator Karachi calling it a refreshing addition to the zoo announced to hold a

Karachi Zoo: A threat to endangered animals?
The other day, my two-year old nephew would not let go of The Express Tribune. On the front page, there was a picture of a large white lion. While he didn’t understand the headline “South African white lions to land in Karachi”, he sat transfixed on the floor with the page and roared over and over again like he was the big bad Scar from The Lion King.
Unfortunately, I could not be as ecstatic about the picture as my nephew.
The Karachi Metropolitan Corporation imported these white lions at a price of Rs10 million. A glass enclosure is being built from a special material that is used for making airplane windows. Considering that the zoo’s entry fee is Rs5 for adults, it will be more than a few years before the zoo can actually break even on this new investment. I just hope that these lions are still alive by the time that happens.
I say this only because we’ve all heard stories of lions parading around in cages looking more emaciated than the top models of the country. Just last year, three cubs were found dead and one allegedly eaten by a lioness. With news of reptiles freezing to death, poorly designed enclosures and unqualified caretakers making the rounds, isn’t it time we close the doors to this establishment and return these animals to conservationists?
But the former director of the zoo Bashir Sadozai thought this was a completely justified and natural move. He said,
“White lions do not need special caretakers. The staff is well trained to handle the different kinds of lions. We have done all the assessments in this case.”
He’s right in one way – the white lion cannot survive in the wild and would be better off in a zoo. But wouldn’t you agree that even the wild has to be mild compared to the conditions of the Karachi zoo?
I checked online to see if a debate has started on the futility of caging these animals. But the debate was less thought-provoking and more comical.
“Abb tou sher bhee goray ayein gay” said one.
Another one read,
“They must have done something seriously wrong, why else would they be in Pakistan?”
My favourite was,
“Welcome lions to the land of the mullahs, lionesses, bring your burqas!”
None of us realise how special these cats are with their prophetic long, white beards. White lions were once regarded as ‘divine’ by locals and represented the good that is to be found in all creatures. Referred to as ‘the children of the sun god’, they are a genetic rarity and occur in only one region — Timbavati.
Shamans believe that killing a ‘lion sun god’ is blasphemous and the ultimate form of disrespect to nature. They also believe that the way humans treat the lion determines

Over the Top Bad news for big cats
Animals have a pretty rotten deal in Pakistan since the nation, by and large, can’t seem to stand the sight of the four-legged ones. Dogs are the worst off because man’s best friends from times immemorial are “paleed,” or untouchable. Watch the zealous ones in evasive action should, heaven forbid, a dog arrive. Short of an epileptic fit and frothing at the mouth, they will recoil in the same terror as women do when faced with a formidable mouse.
Our zoos-I find them more akin to slaughterhouses – are in horrific condition. The last priority of all administrators is the welfare of the inmates, because they have little or no use for these beautiful creations of God. As and when such good people as the famed Dr Toosi came upon the Lahore Zoo and the animals at long last had a real friend, circumstances were created that eventually forced that good and capable man to retreat both from the zoo and the country. The rest are third-class baboos with minds narrower than a needle and they like to keep their distance from those who have the misfortune of falling into their rotten corruption- and incompetence-ridden world. Zoos are a big no no and should be dispensed with. They have been around but the idea of imprisoning animals who are born to roam at will into a 10 foot by 10 foot cage is a criminal offence in my book – but zoos don’t read my ‘book,’ and so the animals suffer till they die often from diseases that are wholly preventable.
A so-called Safari Park has been built outside Lahore, but barring a few saving graces it is a forlorn, desolate and dusty land with the animals confined to an existence with few privileges. I think it will soon die a natural death, but by the time it does, the animals who reside here would have long died. I saw the place from close quarters and the sight of mangy big cats lying listlessly, completely bored and broken in spirit, was enough. I fled from this latest aberration and haven’t been back, but if it has improved I’ll walk barefoot to pay my respects to the Baboo-Kingdom.
They tell me that Karachi Zoo is even worse. It is no place for anyone, least of all an animal who cannot protest or put a shotgun to some official’s head and press the trigger. Now another scam, much in the same vein as was witnessed in Lahore some years ago. The Karachi Municipal Corporation, KMC, has taken upon itself to import four of the large cats-two magnificent Bengal tigers and two-what the officials blithely claim are “White Lions.” This scam was earlier pulled off in Lahore amidst much fanfare-but the White Lions are actually albinos, most likely the result of too much inbreeding. The KMC has considered it a waste of time to obtain an NOC from the Islamabad-based National Council for Conservation of Wildlife. (Do they mean by wildlife the ministers and the high-level generals, a species that is proliferating day and night?)
When the animals arrived after a gruelling two day travel-the Bengal tigers from Belgium and the albinos from South Africa – the KMC officials had done no paperwork in the case of the Bengal tigers, so they suffered for hours in their cages. The two pairs have set back the KMC by Rs17 million. As one correspondent said, at Rs5 a pop, it should take us into the next century to recover this amazing “investment.” Perhaps the KMC could have spent this money (aren’t they broke?) on improving sewerage, but then what good would that do? For one thing, the KMC administrator, the moving spirit behind (and I daresay in front of) this lark, wouldn’t be able to inaugurate the sewerage, whereas he has a whole song and dance routine planned for the big Inaugural, the Lord be praised.
The icing on this stinking cake is there is no NOC and no permission so far from the Sindh Wildlife Department. While those will be undoubtedly squeezed out, the KMC has simply gone ahead and done what it wanted to do – hang the rules. How this import was allowed without an NOC is not a mystery, as we all know. Worse is that the “importers” (read crooks who have been given the walloping contract) are defaulters already and are facing trial for a scam. The company masquerades under various identities and brought in lions, tigers, hippos, and what have you, in 2007. Case remains pending! Now this. Ye gods, is there no mercy? However palms will be greased and the gravy train will chug along happily.
I am not an expert on wildlife trade, but I believe that Pakistan is a signatory to CITES-the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. The Bengal tigers who are cut down to a little over 2,000 cannot be traded unless it is established that they are for breeding purposes and are assured of first-class conditions. The zoos at Karachi and Lahore-Islamabad too – are killing fields. What chance does an animal have? Breeding? They will be fighting to stay alive. The big cats in Lahore are herded into their suffocating cages by – guess what? Long bamboo poles with cloth doused in kerosene and a “trained” fire expert thrusting the pole at the terrified cats which scamper into their cages! Modern animal management.
The Lahore Zoo, which is rolling with money. has spent next to nothing on the animals. There are no X-ray facilities, no pharmacy, no vaccination program (TB is rampant), no medical record, qualified doctors or vets, no infirmary, operating arrangements and necessary qualified staff. God forbid, should an animal contract a disease, it would be dead sooner than later. The list of innocent ones sent to an early grave is a long and shameful one, and the blood of those innocents is on the heads of the heads at the zoos we have. The only “animal handlers” in Lahore are the security guards. You know why? Because they spend time with the animals, talk to them and give them treats. When the animals see the zoo director flanked by his scraping, bowing minions, they recoil in horror and retreat to the farthest corner. They know who their enemies are.
People like me have written reams without an iota of action. A group of us even begged the current chief minister to intervene, make the zoo autonomous and take it out of the clutches of the vile people, but many promises of executive action yielded zero results. Instead, his tacit approval led to two snow leopards ending up in cages in Lalazar, Nathiagali, where they live out their lives. More big cats have been added. Who looks after them? Your guess is as good as mine.
So my dear animal friends freshly

Zoo worried over survival of cheetahs
After the death of two cubs of Maya, the African hunting cheetah, there are now concerns about the survival of three cubs. Though they are healthy yet the trio also visibly seems to be missing their mother Maya, who died six weeks back.
Speaking to TOI, zoo senior vet Dr Suresh Kumar said that after the death of Maya, they tried giving the cubs goat and cow milk. But, the cubs started developing indigestion. Hence, they are now being regularly fed with chicken soup, Kumar stated. As suggested by experts, authorities are giving the 16-week-old cubs rabbit meat once in a week and cooked chicken.
Expert vet Pampapathi, who runs a pet clinic in Bangalore, is visiting Mysore zoo on Sunday. Following back to back deaths of cheetahs, the authorities are seeking his suggestions on rearing the big cats in

Zoo sends SOS to SA facility
The first captive bred African hunting cheetah cubs in India are battling for survival. The death of four cheetahs - three cubs and an adult female-has left the zoo wringing its hands.
Now the Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) has sent an SOS to the South African facility from where the cheetahs were shipped to Mysore. Said M Nanjundaswamy, ZAK chairman, "We will bear the expenditure. There is no problem with that." ZAK has also asked expert vet Dr Pampapathi from Bangalore to visit

Zoos these days are a whole different animal (interesting photos and quips)
TODAY Melbourne Zoo prides itself as a conservation leader but a book released for its 150th birthday doesn't gloss over what modern readers might view as the horrors of its early years.
Although the book was commissioned by the zoo, in it you will find the story of Mollie the orang-utan, who for 20 years until her death in 1923 lived in a cramped cage, and was famous for smoking cigarettes.
For 40 years, Queenie the elephant gave rides to up to 800 children a day. Then in 1944, she accidentally squashed her keeper. She was retired and a year later was put down because she was too

Zoo crocodile escapes, hunt intensified
Rescue workers including experts from the Davao City-based Philippine Crocodile Rescue and Breeding Center, have intensified their hunt on the eight-foot crocodile that escaped from the city’s mini-zoo located at the Landmark, one of the tourist destinations here in the city.
Psalmer Bernalte of the Kidapawan City Emergency Response Unit (KidCeru) said they already sought the expertise of the crocodile breeders from the Philippine Crocodile Rescue and Breeding Center (PCRBC).
Their hunt started Friday night when the crocodile is expected to settle down after staying long in the river.
A team of seven crocodile experts will be organized to conduct the search operations.
The team has already secured ropes, high-powered flashlights, and other gadgets needed for the hunt and will be accompanied by soldiers and paramilitary men to secure them from other ‘unfriendly forces’.
Once recaptured, the city government said the crocodile

Former zoo director feared firing
Coker: Heat on Zoo staff fell on more than fired plaintiff Llizo
Former Topeka Zoo director Mike Coker said he saw the handwriting on the wall after two inspection reports in 2009 showed multiple violations at the zoo.
So he retired before the city could fire him.
Coker testified for nearly three hours Thursday in the federal discrimination lawsuit filed by Topeka Zoo veterinarian Shirley Yeo Llizo.
Randy Speaker, deputy city manager who was Coker's direct supervisor in 2009, said he had several concerns about Coker's abilities and confirmed that Coker would have been terminated had he not stepped down.
Speaker said he was concerned about Coker's "inability to lead the staff" and his inability "to address the USDA reports effectively."
Llizo is seeking $300,000 for emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience and mental anguish, along with attorney's fees and other costs.
Llizo was hired as the zoo's veterinarian in 2006 and was fired in 2009 after a U.S. Department of Agriculture review of the zoo found violations of USDA standards. The city gave Llizo her job back in August 2010.
Llizo's suit states she is a non-Caucasian female of Chinese ancestry who was born in the Republic of Singapore and is a naturalized citizen. It contends the city terminated her but not other American-born citizens of a different race and/or gender who also were considered responsible for USDA violations, including Coker.
Coker was the first witness called by the city of Topeka, which is being represented by Philip Gragson, a private attorney working under contract.
Gragson began asking Coker about his educational background and then asked where Coker is working now. Coker said he is a seasonal employee for Kaw Valley and also works as part of a night crew at Walmart.
Coker was named zoo director in 2001. He spent more than 30 years working at the zoo.
He told the eight-member jury he never considered Llizo's race or gender when hiring her or firing her. He also acknowledged he was aware of the city's no discrimination policy. Coker said Llizo "did very well" and gave her high marks on her first evaluation.
In August 2009, a USDA review of the zoo noted several violations, including expired drugs. The USDA did another review in September of that same year and noted there were incomplete animal records. Llizo earlier testified that a computer crash and an error by the city's IT department in backing up files caused the zoo to lose more than two years of animal records.
Gragson entered several emails between Coker and other city officials into evidence. The emails show Coker setting up a time to meet with USDA officials on Sept. 9, 2009.
"I felt it was appropriate to sit down and talk privately about some of the things they noted," Coker said.
He testified that during that meeting one of the two USDA inspectors questioned Llizo's lack of compassion for animals. One of the inspectors on Wednesday said she didn't make such a statement during the meeting.
Coker said he left the meeting "with concerns about the veterinarian program and Dr. Llizo."
Later Thursday, Eric Smith, a former city attorney, testified about a simi

To The Arctic

3 Toronto Zoo elephants trained for California flight
Iringa, Toka and Thika set to fly south as early as Aug. 2
For elephants to fly, you have to do more than load trunks on a plane.
Pat Derby, co-founder of the Performing Animal Welfare Society, has been working for two years to get three 4,500-kilogram elephants in the air. The elephants are scheduled to take off on Aug. 2 in what could be a million-dollar move.
The African elephants, Iringa, 42, Toka, 41, and Thika, 31, are being retired from the Toronto Zoo and moved to PAWS' 930-hectare sanctuary in San Andreas.
To get the elephants ready to fly, the animals had to undergo crate and noise training. A Russian cargo jet and two fleets of trucks had to be rented; pilots, drivers and crews hired; crates built and fitted for each elephant; hydraulic gates reinstalled at the sanctuary; and barn space cleared.
The amount of red tape rivalled only the green involved, but former game show host and animal activist Bob Barker is paying the bill, expected to be between $750,000 and $1 million.
The Aug. 2 departure is being questioned by officials in Toronto, who said preparations to move the animals could still take weeks. A spokesman for Michelle Berardinetti, one of the Toronto councillors spearheading the move, said Tuesday that the elephants will most likely not be moved in August.
Zookeepers have been teaching the animals to walk in and out of their travel crates, finished in January. "We rattle the crates and make all kinds of sounds so they are used to noise," Derby said, because "there are no test flights."
Iringa and Toka do have past plane experience — they were flown to Toronto from Mozambique 37 years ago. Would an elephant forget?
"It would be the way we remember some gut feelings," Joyce Poole, an elephant behaviourist and co-founder of ElephantVoices, said in a phone interview from Norway. "They are used to going in and out of cages and being in small confined spaces. Otherwise, getting back into a truck could bring back some scary feelings. Obviously, they were captured and taken from their families and in July 2012

~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~
Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!
The Elephant Exhibit at Heidelberg Zoo was designed and built for keeping bulls. The need for male holding facilities is high in many species that build social groups of females with one or few males only. The elephant bulls at Heidelberg Zoo enjoy a lot of choices in space and object use as well as training.
We would like to thank Sandra Reichler, curator at Zoo Heidelberg, and Sabrina Linn, an intern at Zoo Heidelberg, for preparing the German presentation. The English translation was done by Hannah Gängler, our intern in summer 2012, and edited by the ZooLex editorial board.
Thanks to Eduardo Diaz Garcia we are able to offer Spanish
translations of two previously presented elephant exhibits:
El Bosque del Elefante Asiático
Reino de Gigantes
We keep working on ZooLex ...

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Dolphins, elephants for Chickland
LOCALS may soon get a chance to see dolphins, elephants and other exotic animals close up once a zoo and nature park is set up in central Trinidad.
The zoo which was earmarked in 2007 by the then PNM administration, would occupy 40 acres of Sou Sou lands in Chickland.
However, a date has not been set for the project to begin nor has any money been allocated, Tourism Minister Stephen Cadiz said yesterday on a tour of the proposed reserve site. Accompanying the minister was Caroni MP and Minister of the People and Social Development Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh, and minister in the ministry Vernella Alleyne-Toppin.
Alongside the team were officials of the Zoological Society of TT (ZSTT), as well as officials of the Couva/ Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation.
Speaking to reporters, Ramadharsingh said the Emperor Valley Zoo has severe limitations in terms of space and a natural environment. But the proposed zoo will allow for animals to be in their natural environment, said Ramadharsingh, a veterinarian by profession. He noted that persons have to travel to countries such as Africa , India and Australia to see exotic animals or learn about them on televison programmes.
“They are very loving creatures that can teach us a lot about nature,” the minister explained. He said people are excited when they journey to Miami to see dolphins.
Ramadharsingh said the zoo will be a boost for the country’s tourism.
“We will make Trinidad a unique destination for local tourists as well as regional and international tourists. When you look at the site you will see the natural beauty of central Trinidad and we want to capture this,” he said.
Ramadharsingh said the zoo will also stimulate economic activity in Central, which has been adversely affected since the closure of the sugar estates of Caroni Ltd.
“You do not have anything to drive the economy in these areas. You don’t have an ocean front or a port. You don’t have an airport nearby, you don’t have centres of economic activity that can drive employment and the local economy,” Ramadharsingh said.
In 2007, under the PNM, plans to build the zoo had been discussed by then tourism minister Howard Chin Lee.
Cadiz said as a tourism initiative the project will work extremely well.
“We all know the Emperor Valley Zoo is limited in size. And zoos all over the world are becoming more like nature centres. Now animals are free to roam in certain areas rather than being in cages and that would be brand new for Trinidad and Tobago and brand new for the region,” Cadiz said.
Plans have been discussed to set up institute to study local animals and to include animal care as part of the “rehabilitation” of persons.
“Animals have an effect on people. The issue of rehabilitation of certain people who might have found it difficult when growing up, if they work with animals they have a way of rehabilitating themselves, so there are all kinds of different sectors that would benefit from a project like,163505.html

Genetic test could save Scottish wildcats from extinction
SCIENTISTS are hoping genetic testing could save one of Scotland’s most endangered animals from extinction.
The Scottish wildcat, of which less than 400 remain, has been given a lifeline by experts who hope a simple blood test could help preserve the species.
The genetic test, due to be launched at Christmas, will establish how many pure-bred wildcats remain, and take steps to protect them by introducing a breeding programme – the first of its kind.
The Scottish wildcat is amongst the most endangered species on the planet and experts warn that if interbreeding continues, the species could be wiped out within five years.
Steve Piper of the Scottish Wildcat Association said the official figures claiming 400 wildcats remain was too optimistic.
He said: “There are barely words to describe how desperate their plight is. There used to be tens of thousands of wildcats roaming Scotland. The last attempt to establish the numbers in 2004 estimated it was only about 400.
“Many conservationists put the figure at 100 and some think there may already be none left.
“They are disappearing so fast they are more in peril than pandas, tigers or polar bears.”
The 100,000 feral cats that roam the Scottish Highlands are largely to blame for the decline.
They breed with the wildcats and produce hybrids that are part domestic cat and part wild cat.
Mr Piper said: “These are different from wildcats, which have always been solitary, not taking birds and the likes and existing only on rabbits.
“The hybrids are seen as more of a pest and are targeted as such.”
A mixed breed will have a thicker coat and be bigger than a domestic cat.
Some can be easily identified, with others the extent of the breeding is such that its impossible to know if the creature is pure wildcat.
The genetic test will take blood samples and allow the true remaining wildcats to be identified, with steps taken to protect them.
Dr Paul O’Donoghue of Chester University, who is developing the test in partnership with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland WildGenes Lab in Edinburgh, described the work so far as “incredibly encouraging”.
He said: “Initial results suggest a diagnostic wildcat test will be available.”
Mr Piper added: “Even some of the wildcats in captivity may be hybrids, no body knows.
“This test will allow Scottish wildcats in captivity to be identified, brought together from wherever they are in the UK and a breeding programme started.
“This is absolutely critical to the creature’s survival. Communities, even gamekeepers, are right behind supporting wildcats.
“If we can successfully breed them in captivity then we can start to address the problems in the wild.
“Everyone who seems them loves them but if we don’t act now then the Scottish wildcats could be gone in as little as a year.”
If enough true wildcats were discovered to breed from, Mr Piper would favour the creation of a “mainland island” for the

Brookfield Zoo’s Bornean Orangutan Turns 51
Brookfield Zoo’s Bornean orangutan celebrated her 51th birthday Wednesday.
Maggie born in 1961 at the San Diego Zoo is the oldest of her kind living in a North American Zoo.
Maggie has had some memorable moments while in Brookfield Zoo. In 1996 she served as a surrogate mother to a male infant. Eight years later she underwent an extreme makeover losing 90 pounds after being diagnosed with a hypothyroid condition

Inspectors visit Fairhope elephant sanctuary
An inspection team toured the International Conservation Center near Fairhope on Thursday, looking at everything — down to the flowers.
Dr. Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, which owns the center, said the primary emphasis is on the quality of care of the animals. But the four inspectors, who are with the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, also look at finance, marketing, education and visitors' experience.
"Once every five years, the zoo and the ICC go through an accreditation inspection," Baker said. "It's like the Good Housekeeping seal of approval for the over 200 zoos in the country. Every aspect of the zoo affects the others — if marketing is not doing its job, we aren't getting visitors and then we aren't raising money. They spend a lot of time on animal care. At the Pittsburgh Zoo, we approach this as our chance to shine and showcase all the great work we are doing at the zoo and the ICC."
Ed Asper, chairman of the accreditation team, said he could not comment on specifics about the inspections. The zoo's inspection was earlier in the week. At the end of the inspection, if the inspectors have any concerns, they let the zoo know. The zoo then has the opportunity to address each concern. A written report is sent to the 15-member Accreditation Commission, which reviews the report and the zoo's response during a hearing that the zoo president attends. The Pittsburgh Zoo and ICC's hearing will be Sept. 10 in Phoenix.
"The AZA office chooses the teams that are specific to sites," Asper said. "There is someone who is an expert in administration, a veterinarian and a territorial expert, in this case someone who is an expert in elephants."
The territorial expert looks at the animals' living conditions. The team has three choices: to grant accreditation; to deny accreditation; or to table a decision for a year to give the zoo time to improve. Asper could not recall the last time a zoo was denied accreditation. Baker said the Pittsburgh zoo has always received it since the process began in 1986.
"We want to improve all aspects of the zoo," Baker said. "Every time the standards are changed, we improve to meet the standards. We want to exceed the visiting team's expectations."
The center has five elephants: Jackson, the bull from Pittsburgh; and four females: Bette, from the Philadelphia Zoo; and Seeni, Sukiri and Thandi, all rescued in Botswana, Africa. African painted dogs and springboks — a gazelle-like animal — will be brought from the zoo to the center sometime in the fall. Fencing is in place, Baker said, but a building is needed to house them during the winter.
There are six zoos with off-site breeding facilities,0,7749179.story

Desert life made sand cats a hardy lot – with one bad habit
For the most part, it looks like any domestic cat. And with its wide, flat face, big ears and perfectly oval eyes, it is almost cartoonishly cute.
But don't be fooled. When the Arabian sand cat spots a mouse, its demeanour changes. It flattens itself, slinking along the sand, capturing its prey in the blink of an eye.
"That is when you know it is a wildcat," says Rashed Al Qamzi, a supervisor at Al Ain Wildlife Park and Resort.
Al Ain's zoo has 31 Arabian sand cats - 16 males and 15 females. The smallest member of the cat family found in Arabian Peninsula, the sand cat also lives in North Africa and central Asia.
"You can't help but be mesmerised by the way the sand cat moves," says Mr Al Qamzi, an Emirati. "It is very light on its feet, almost flying about. And it can become flat like a cardboard cutout, so you don't see it against the sand.
"Their large ears are set low on the side, which makes them very sensitive to any sound."
The cat takes its Latin name, Felis margarita, from a French general, Jean Auguste Margueritte, who led an expedition to the Sahara in the 1850s. He captured one of the cats from the desert between Libya and Algeria.
Its coat is thick and pale, ranging from sandy brown to grey, while its belly, chest and lower muzzle are white. Its limb and tail have black markings. Standing 26 centimetres tall at the shoulder and weighing up to 3 kilograms, it is shorter and stockier than a domestic cat.
"They are quite tough," says Mr Al Qamzi. "They can take on and eat poisonous snakes, like the horned sand viper.
"But they also purr - not exactly like a house cat, a bit more subtle - and meow loudly like any other cat when it wants your attention."
Nocturnal, the

Detroit Zoo Mourns Loss Of Rescued Polar Bear
She was a loving mother, a former big top performer, and a favorite of Detroit Zoo staff and visitors since her rescue a decade ago.
Bärle, a 27-year-old female polar bear rescued from a circus nearly 10 years ago, was euthanized Wednesday after an exam revealed multiple tumors in her abdomen.
Zookeepers reported changes in Bärle’s behavior over the past five days, including decreased appetite. Efforts were made to encourage her to eat – including providing her with favorite foods of cooked sweet potatoes and chicken – to no avail. During a veterinary exam Wednesday morning, the tumors were discovered and the difficult decision was made to hum

Plan to sell rhino horn: report
South African conservationists have unveiled a plan to sell rhino horns legally and directly to Chinese pharmaceutical companies, The Star reported on Friday.
"Let's try it out for five years and see what impact it has," Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife's former conservation planning chief Roger Porter said in Durban on Thursday, as the formal proposal was presented to the International Wildlife Management Congress.
He said the horns would be sold in the same way diamonds were sold by the De Beers corporation.
The Star reported the price would be controlled by a central selling organisation, with sales held at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg four times a year.
The money used from horn sales would be used to fund rhino conservation efforts.
More than 270 rhinos had been slaughtered for their horns so far this year. Rhino horn is used to make traditional medicine, which is mainly consumed in Asia.
Porter acknowledged the proposal was not a "silver bullet" to halt poaching.
"If it reduces poaching sig

Extinction prompts conservation
The Taipei Zoo said it is working with global partners to prevent an endangered tortoise species from sharing the same fate as Lonesome George, the last of a subspecies of tortoise that died last week on June 24.
“Lonesome George is in the past now. The pressing issue is to prevent the tragedy from happening again to other tortoises threatened with extinction,” said Chang Ming-hsiung (張明雄), chief executive of the zoo’s Conservation and Research Center.
Lonesome George, a Pinta Island giant tortoise (Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii) that lived in the Galapagos Islands, died at the age of 100, prompting worldwide mourning over the beloved conservation icon.
The subspecies is believed to have become extinct because Lonesome George, which had been kept in captivity in Galapagos National Park since the 1970s, failed to leave any offspring.
Although it caused consternation among conservationists, the tortoise’s demise may help other species survive.
It has prompted the Taipei Zoo to reflect on its conservation strategy for the endangered Burmese star tortoise. The zoo has 19 of the turtles, which were found in the 1990s in Taiwan after being illegally smuggled into the country for the pet or medicine markets.
That is 6.3 percent of the estimated global population of 300 for a species ranked 11th in the Turtle Conservation Coalition’s report last year entitled Turtles In Trouble: The World’s Top 25+ Endangered Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles.
Speaking at an international workshop the zoo held last week to discuss ways of restoring tortoise populations, Donal Boyer, curator of herpetology at the Bronx Zoo in New York, said the case of Lonesome George pointed to the need for conservationists to work more closely together to establish captive breeding programs.
Chang agreed, saying that a successful partnership would mean frequent exchanges of information on details such as the reptile’s habits and behavior as well as new high-tech breeding methods.
Chang cited as an example the time when the Taipei Zoo contacted the Behler Chelonian Conservation Center in California with the help of the Bronx Zoo in 2006 for advice on lifting the hatchling survival rate of its Burmese star tortoises.
As a result of the partnership, the survival rate improved from under 10 percent to 70 percent.
Another benefit of a strong network is the exchange of robust genetic diversity to increase the group’s chances for survival, said Gerald Kuchling, a conservationist at the University of West Australia.
Chang said these multinational efforts are aimed at creating “recovery houses” for the tortoises, natural sanctuaries that imitate the animal’s original habitat.
He said the Taipei Zoo’s next step would be to work with the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society to prepare its Burmese star tortoises for reintroduction into such recovery houses

Indian state's grip on rare lions may be too tight
A peacock shrieks. A monkey scrambles higher into the fire-colored canopy of a kesudo tree. And an Asiatic lion - one of the last few hundred in the wild - pads across the dusty earth of a west Indian sanctuary that is its only refuge from the modern world.
Within the guarded confines of this dry forest in Gujarat state, the lions have been rescued from near-extinction. A century ago, fewer than 50 remained. Today, more than 400 fill the park and sometimes wander into surrounding villages and farmland.
But the lions' precarious return is in jeopardy. Experts warn their growing numbers could be their undoing. Crowded together, they are more vulnerable to disease and natural disaster. There is little new territory for young males to claim, increasing chances for inbreeding, territorial conflict or males killing the young.
Conservationists agree these lions need a second home fast, and far from Gir. Government-backed experts in the 1990s settled on a rugged and hilly sanctuary called Kuno, where lions historically roamed with tigers in the neighboring state of Madhya Pradesh. Millions were spent preparing the park. But Gujarat rejected the plan. And no lions were sent.
Now, the uncertain fate of the Asiatic lions - once dominant in forests from Morocco and Greece across the Middle East to eastern India - rests in the hands of bureaucrats, and the case has reached the Supreme Court.
"We are the only ones who have lions. We have managed without interference until now," Gujarat's environment secretary, S.K. Nanda, said proudly from behind an enormous desk in an office complex decorated with lion posters reading: "Gujarat's pride; World's envy."
"Can we humans be arbiters of where these lions should live? Sho

Georgia Aquarium applies to bring 18 beluga whales to zoos and aquariums around the country
The application is part of a five-year, multimillion-dollar conservation program to improve the genetic diversity of captive belugas in the U.S. That would, in turn, make the beluga population more stable and would broaden the database of research on belugas’ needs and capabilities.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports ( ) that the whales would be housed in aquariums and zoological parks around the country.
Georgia Aquarium chief zoological officer William Hurley says there are 34 belugas in U.S. captivity. He said many of them are past prime calf-bearing age, and bringing more belugas into the pool could improve the success of breeding efforts.
Georgia Aquarium’s 17-year-old female beluga, Maris, gave birth in May, but the infant calf died just a few days later. The aquarium is still waiting on reports from the necropsy.
“When the calf didn’t make it, it was devastating to us,” Hurley said.
If the application is approved, the new belugas would come from the Sea of Okhotsk in eastern Russia, where there is a population of several thousand. Marine protection agencies there have overseen the collection by Russian scientists of the animals that would come to the U.S.
The Georgia Aquarium has taken significant steps to make sure the removal of those animals wouldn’t have negative effects on the whale population in that part of the ocean. The aquarium has spent about $2 million on research missions over the last five years to do population counts and epidemiological studies on the whales there.
It hasn’t been determined whether any of the new belugas would come to the Georgia Aquarium. That kind of decision is generally made by those coordinating nationwide conservation efforts.
Marilee Menard, executive director of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, says the project is important.
“The beluga import is a seminal decision that is strongly supported by the marine mammal community,” she said. “The Alliance’s understanding is that the new animals are of the right ages and sexes to virtually ensure the goal of a long-term, sustainable population

After four years, Delhi zoo begins breeding of white tigers
After a gap of nearly five years, the Delhi Zoo now plans to begin breeding of one of its star attraction — the white tiger, officials said on Monday. The zoo also plans to begin breeding programmes of other carnivores such as Asiatic lions, jaguars, hyenas and wolves in the coming months, said R A Khan, curator of the National Zoological Park.
“We had not been able to breed the white tigers till now due to a shortage of space. But this year, the zoo has given away three of them to other zoos in the country and so we now plan to start breeding again. Wolf and hyena pairs were brought to the zoo recently and we plan to breed them as well, along with Asiatic lions,”said Khan.
The zoo currently has six white tigers — four females and two males. Three tigers have been given away in as part of exchange programmes with other zoos this year. One was was sent to Jaipur, Gwalior and Chandigarh zoos.
“The last breeding of white tigers took place about four-and-a-half years ago. The process has already

S.F. Zoo turns to consultant for habitat vision
Terry Maple could sense that Jasper the hedgehog, whom he cradled in his arm while posing for a photo, was uncomfortable with his surroundings.
"I think his stomach is making noises - this could be trouble," he said.
Sure enough, the spiny creature urinated on his crisp blue dress shirt hardly a minute later.
It is Maple's knowledge of the environments animals need to thrive that led the San Francisco Zoo to hire him as its first professor-in-residence. Maple, a former zoo director on the East Coast with a doctorate degree in psychobiology, will advise the zoo on how to put its animals before people when redesigning some of the outdated animal h

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