Sunday, July 15, 2012

Zoo News Digest 1st - 15th July 2012 (Zoo News 823)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 15th July 2012 (Zoo News 823)

Dear Colleagues,

Lots of Chimpanzee news this week. If you ever doubted the intelligence and strength of these wonderful animals then read through the stories.

My comments on the importance of the AZA was judged by some to be an attack on other organisations. It wasn't directly and I intend, when I get a little time, to explain why I believe what I believe in greater detail.

This week saw an unprecedented response to vacancies posted on the Zoo News Digest 'Zoo Jobs' site. Advertising here really works. I can often spot huge interest within minutes of the ad appearing, some being much more popular than others. I am extremely grateful for the donations received which keep this up and running.

"We donate tigers to reputable zoos around the world" - What is wrong with this statement? The answer is there are no reputable zoos which need to have tigers donated. Reputable zoos are members of official breeding programmes......and there can be only ONE of these programmes per tiger subspecies (though broken down into regions). In reputable zoos the tigers belong to the breeding programme for the well being and preservation of the species as a whole. There are no 'reputable zoos' in Asia which need tigers donating to them.

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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Palm-oil boom raises conservation concerns
Palm oil was once touted as a social and environmental panacea — a sustainable food crop, a biofuel that could help to cut greenhouse-gas emissions and a route out of poverty for small-scale farmers. In recent years, however, a growing body of research has questioned those credentials, presenting evidence that palm-oil farming can cause damaging deforestation and reduce biodiversity, and that the oil’s use as a biofuel offers only marginal benefits for mitigating climate change.
But even as the environmental case against it grows stronger, the palm-oil business is booming as never before. “Oil palm is such a lucrative crop that there is almost no way to stop it,” says William Laurance, a forest-conservation scientist at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia. Indonesia, the world’s largest grower of oil palms (see ‘Palm sprouts’), is expected to double production by 2030. And on 28 June, the Malaysian palm-oil company Felda Global Ventures (FGV) earned US$3.2 billion in the second-largest initial public offering (IPO) this year after Facebook, which will enable the company to bring thousands of extra hectares into production.
Sabri Ahmad, group president of FGV, told reporters last week that the company planned to expand its operations eightfold in eight years. To do so, it will have to look beyond Malaysia to countries such as Cambodia and Indonesia. Although Malaysia is now the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil, it is running out of viable land for new oil-palm plantations, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
Such expansion is driven by the steadily rising demand for palm oil, mainly from the food sector, which uses it in a vast array of products, including margarine and biscuits. But the emerging biodiesel market is also thirsty for the oil.
In principle, biodiesel made from palm oil could be environmentally friendly, because the carbon dioxide released when it is burned is roughly the same as that absorbed as the plant grows. But vast swathes of forest have been cut down to make way for the crop, often in carbon-rich peatlands, where tree burning and soil degradation release extra stores of the global-warming gas. A recent life-cycle assessment suggested that it could take up to 220 years for a plantation to become carbon neutral (W. M. J. Achten and L. V. Verchot Ecol. Soc. 16, 14; 2011).
In January, after the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that palm-oil fuels emitted only 11–17% less greenhouse gas than diesel over their entire life cycle, it suggested that the oil should not be classified as a renewable fuel. Although a public consultation on the matter concluded in April, the EPA has not set a date to issue its final ruling. But the European Union (EU) continues to encourage the use of fuels based on palm oil. The EU has a binding target to raise the share of biofuels used in road transport to 10% by 2020, and most of that is expected to be met by blending biofuels such as palm

Panda Politics: Tokyo’s Outspoken Governor Puts His Paw in it Again
When a giant panda gets pregnant, it’s news. Especially in Japan, a country that has waited decades for a baby panda to be born. But the good news that Shin Shin, a giant panda at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo on loan from China, appears to be with child, has quickly been turned into bad news by Tokyo’s outspoken governor.
Gov. Shintaro Ishihara suggested Shin Shin’s potential newborn be named Sen Sen or Kaku Kaku, a word play on the disputed islands known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China. Mr. Ishihara, laughing, proposed the names at the end of a press conference in Tokyo on Thursday in response to a question asking his thoughts on Shin Shin’s possible pregnancy. “This will give China control [of the Senkakus] when the baby pandas return to China,” he said.
Beijing fired back on Friday.  ”Ishihara’s scheme to undermine China-Japan relations is a clumsy performance. It will only tarnish the image of Japan and Tokyo,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a

South Africa's Chimp Eden maulers escape death penalty
Two chimpanzees which mauled an American student in South Africa will not be put down, a government investigator says.
They were defending their territory and there was no evidence of negligence by their keepers, said Dries Pienaar.
Andrew Oberle was studying at a sanctuary in north-eastern South Africa when he was attacked last Thursday.
The chimps tore off some of his fingers, a testicle and mauled his head.
Mr Pienaar, a conservationist who is leading the investigation into the attack said the animals were defending their territory.
He said Mr Oberle, a Masters student in anthropology and primatology at the University of Texas

It is very one sided but worth a watch: A Fall From Freedom

Chimpanzees vs. Humans: Sizing Up Their Strength
The mauling of Texas graduate student Andrew Oberle by two chimpanzees at the Jane Goodall Institute Chimpanzee Eden in South Africa Thursday was a reminder that in strength, size might not matter.
Chimpanzees are considered the closest living relative of humans, sharing 95 to 98 percent of the same DNA, according to the Jane Goodall Institute in Washington, D.C., a separate entity from the facility in South Africa.
But in no way do humans compare with a chimps' sheer strength and the few percentage points in which the two differ are extreme, many experts say.
"It's the closest thing we know to human warfare" when a chimp is provoked, said Steve Ross, director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study of Conservation of Apes at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago.
"Chimps are incredibly strong and fast so humans are easily overpowered."
Indeed, chimpanzees have been shown to be about four times as strong as humans comparable in size, according to evolutionary biologist Alan Walker, formerly of Pennsylvania State University.
Research suggests the difference in strength between the two lies in the muscle performance.
In chimps, the muscle fibers closest to the bones -- those deemed to be the source of strength of both chimps and humans – are much longer and more dense, so a chimp is able to generate more power using the same range of motion, Ross of the Lester Fisher Cente

Penguin caretaker one cool customer
So what's black and white and red all over?
A penguin with mosquito bites.
"You'd be proven wrong if you thought heat is our penguins' biggest enemy during summer," said Jin Jun, a penguin keeper at the Shanghai Zoo.
"Mosquitoes are."
She said that unlike the Emperor Penguin, which can only be found in cold climates - and only a few species live that far south - African penguins adapt better to the hot summer temperatures.
"But the strange thing is I kept finding these tiny red spots that looked like sties on each penguin's upper eyelids almost every summer and I couldn't figure out what they were," Jin said.
"That kept puzzling me until one day I was driven crazy by the annoying mosquitoes in the zoo - and I suddenly realized my little flightless fellows were covered with feathers from head to toe except their eyelids!"
The 43-year-old has since used a liquid mosquito killer to keep the insects at bay.
After 10 years working with the penguins at the zoo, Jin knows the personalities of the 33 birds in the penguin building and can recall where the ancestors of each came from - zoos in Japan and the Netherlands - despite the fact they're African penguins.
Yet even in the partially enclosed environment that is equipped with a cool pool, air conditioning is still necessary for the penguins in the 34 C summer.
"We hide three air conditioners under the rocks so that zoo-goers won't see them," Jin said, pointing to one and adding that they're the penguins' favorite spots during summer.
Adult African penguins usually grow to 70 centimeters tall and weigh between 2 and 5 kilograms, Jin said. They have a black stripe and black spots on their chests, and the pattern is unique for every penguin, like human fingerprints.
"It's the cutesy-cutesy," said Jin, who has the wholesome, patient, competent-in-the-wild style every mother would want for her child's camp counselor.
"People say, 'Ohhh, they look like they're wearing little tuxedos.' As an animal person, I don't care for it. I would rather see respect for the animal. They look the way they do for a particular reason. When they swim in the ocean, for the predators, looking up, white is hard to see. Looking down from above, the black is camouflage."
According to Jin, penguins are social animals, and when she opens the door to the enclosure a young penguin rubs its head against her leg.
"They're like a dog or cat that needs patting from its owner. Once I pat them, they'll make a funny bray," she said.
African penguins are also known as "jackass" penguins for their donkey-like bray.
Before feeding them, Jin prepares hearty little fish by shoving a vitamin tablet into their gills. For penguins with less appetite, Jin has to open their beaks and ease the fish down their gullets.
"You've got no idea how picky these penguins are. They'd only eat the best part of the best fish," said Jin, who was once a handler for sea lions.
Jin arrives every morning at 7:30 and often works a nine-hour day, washing the enclosure, thawing the fish and caring for the birds. But one less-frequent duty for Jin is to play matchmaker.
"But I'm a bad one," joked Jin, adding she couldn't stand the sight of a lonely penguin in the corner.
"It doesn't matter how hard I tried by leaving two penguins in the same room or creating opportunities for them. I could never get them to successfully fall in love - penguins are birds that believe in free love."
Jin's connection with animals is not limited to penguins. She's also close to the tigers and lions in the zoo because her husband, Zhang Zhixin, works in Shanghai as their keeper.
"I knew Jin from work but both of us were keepers for herbivores back 15 years ago," Zhang said.
Now the handler for meat-lovers, Zhang is in charge of six South China tigers and four lions with his colleague.
"We don't have direct contact with tigers and lions if you're talking about touching them or patting them. No, that's forbidden, especially after the accident

Antarctic moss eats 8,000-year-old penguin poop
Earlier this year, a slightly horrifying factoid made its way around the internet: Penguins poop so much that piles of their poop can be seen from space. But take heart, people who don’t like thinking about mountains of bird guano: It turns out that today’s penguin dung heap could be tomorrow’s source of nutrition for beautiful, fuzzy moss.
A team of Australian researchers were looking into the source of nutrients for these Antarctic plants, the BBC explains, and had narrowed it down to “nitrogen that’s gone through algae, krill and fish.” That food chain leads to seabirds — penguins — but the researchers were puzzled:
Since no penguins live on the elevated lakeside site in East Antarctica, the researchers had to work out where the mysterious seabird poo came from.
They realized that their moss beds were growing on the site of an ancient penguin colony.
“Between 3,000 and 8,000 years ago, on the site where the moss is now growing, there used to be [Adelie] penguins,” said Prof Robinson.
The moss growing on the penguin poop creates a tiny Antarctic jungle of lush green, which creates a habitat for insects and other tiny animals that can deal with cold. There is, however, a lot of this moss, which means that at one point there was a LOT of penguin poop lying around. Like, tons. Try not to think about that

Threatened specie, Western Tragopan pheasant breeds again
They say all the nine pairs of the western tragopan which were hit by a serious bacterial infection in 2010 have not only recuperated but have also multiplied after a gap of two years.
“Seven chicks have been born. They are now three weeks old and shaping up well,” said Principal Chief Conservator (Wildlife) RK Sood.
He said almost all the birds at the Saharan pheasantry, located 160 km from Shimla, have recovered from the infection.
They were hit by E. coli bacteria in May 2010, leading to the death of three.
Since then, there have been doubts about the future of the Central Zoo Authority-supported conservation breeding project at Saharan, the only breeding programme of pheasants in the country. The wildlife authorities were forced to abort their breeding for the time being.
Sood said a total of 40 eggs were laid by the birds in six clutches this season.
“From one clutch, three chicks hatched. The remaining four chicks produced from two clutches – two from each clutch. Their success in breeding indicated that the birds have fully recovered from the infection,” he added.
Officials said three females are still involved in brooding.
Unlike the past, the caretakers have not used broody hens

The June 2012 issue of ZOO’s PRINT Magazine (Vol. XXVII, No. 6) is online at <> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.

If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on < showmagazine.asp="">

ISSN 0973-2543 (online)

June 2012 | Vol. XXVII | No. 6 | Date of Publication 7 July 2012


Editorial: Dhaka Zoo, 12 Years Observation and a Personal Rant by ...,
-- Sally Walker, Pp. 1-3

South Africa: Rhinos and Lions ... Hippos and Zebras ... Giraffes and Kudus ... Hyenas striped and spotted ...Oh My!
-- Sarah Pappin, Pp. 4-6

Dhaka Zoo Improvement Initiative -- a Bangladeshi Professor’s outlook during the first Dhaka Zoo Advisory Committee
Pp. 7-8

Dhaka Zoo ... now Bangladesh National Zoo ... a casual inspection
-- Sally Walker, Pp. 9-11

Nepal Zoo Network - Mini Zoos, Deer Parks, Breeding Centres to Communicate, Cooperate, and Collaborate for better Zoo Conservation
-- Sally Walker and Sarita Jnawali, Pp. 12-13

Kathmandu Zoo - National Trust for Nature Conservation / Central Zoo getting a makeover
Pp. 14-16

Captive Wild Animal Facilities in Nepal: Some details
-- Sarita Jnawali, Pp. 17-20

Central Zoo takes the Lead
-- Sally Walker, Pp. 21-22

Cologne’s Elephant Park
-- Gunther Nogge, Pp. 23-27

‘Thousand Leggers’
-- B.A. Daniel, P. 28

Sighting of Lesser Adjutant Leptoptilos javanicus at Haripura Reservoir in Uttarakhand, India
-- Anushree Bhattacharjee, P. 29

Save the Knifetooth Sawfish (Anoxypristis cuspidata) (Latham, 1794)
P. 30
Announcement: The 4th International Congress on Zoo Keeping, Singapore
P. 30

Leaping Ahead of Amphibian Extinction….a celebration of good news for amphibians in 2012
-- Complied by R. Marimuthu, Pp. 31-36

Announcement: 2012 International Aquarium Congress (IAC), South Africa, Cover Page
P. 40

Lemurs sliding towards extinction
A new survey shows lemurs are far more threatened than previously thought.
A group of specialists is in Madagascar - the only place where lemurs are found in the wild - to systematically assess the animals and decide where they sit on the Red List of Threatened Species.
More than 90% of the 103 species should be on the Red List, they say.
Since a coup in 2009, conservation groups have repeatedly found evidence of illegal logging, and hunting of lemurs has emerged as a new threat.
The assessment, conducted by the Primate Specialist Group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), concludes that 23 lemurs qualify as Critically Endangered - the highest class of threat.
Fifty-two are in the Endangered classification, and a further

Chimps bust out of Germany's Hannover Zoo, child hurt
Five chimpanzees broke out of their enclosure at Germany's Hannover Experience Zoo on Wednesday, terrorizing patrons and injuring a 5-year-old girl.
Five chimpanzees broke out of their enclosure at Germany's Hannover Experience Zoo on Wednesday, terrorizing patrons and injuring a 5-year-old girl.
How exactly the chimps escaped from their enclosure is under investigation, according to the Hannover Allgemeine Zeitung.
The chimps may have used wood that had fallen into their area during gardening work to scale the wall of their pen, AFP reported. A zoo spokesperson told Die Welt Online that the apes utilized a tree that had fallen over in a recent storm to climb out.
About 2,500 people were visiting at the zoo at the time, and were evacuated once officials realized the apes were on the loose.
A 5-year-old girl was knocked over by one of the apes as it tore through the grounds of the zoo. The child escaped the encounter with cuts on her face, and was taken to the hospital for observation, according to Die Welt Online, where

Shooting of chimp in Las Vegas a reminder that primates aren't pets, expert says
Poker pro Lee Watkinson put up the money and girlfriend Timmi De Rosa gave her heart to an effort to rescue two adult chimpanzees that had outgrown their youthful cuteness in a northwest Las Vegas neighborhood.
"We wanted to build a sanctuary," Watkinson said Friday. "We found them in a bad situation. People have them and play with them for five years and then someone has to come and rescue them. That's what we tried to do. We failed."
On Thursday, after three straight days of stifling 110-degree days, the chimps burst through one door of their outdoor pen, opened a secondary door with two dead bolt latches, and escaped.
For 30 minutes they rumbled through yards and climbed into and out of at least one unoccupied vehicle. The male, Buddy, dented fenders and jumped atop a police car before veering toward a gathering crowd of people. A Las Vegas police officer killed him with three shotgun blasts.
Buddy and the female, named C.J., had become unmanageable for their former owner, who signed part ownership of the animals over to a nonprofit that De Rosa heads, called the Cortland Brandenberg Foundation.
The couple spent $100,000 of Watkinson's winnings from the 2006 World Series of Poker on a sturdy double-fenced enclosure of 800 square feet, about the size of two big-rig trailers, this in the backyard of a home in a horsey neighborhood in unincorporated Clark County. Building codes in the area and Nevada state law allow people to keep exotic animals as pets.
Officer Marcus Martin, a Las Vegas police spokesman, said the veteran officer who shot Buddy thought he was the last defense between the rampaging animal and people gathering to watch. Martin recalled a 2009 attack on a woman who was blinded and disfigured by a chimp at a friend's home in Stamford, Conn.
A U.S. student also suffered critical injuries including head wounds and the loss of a testicle and fingers when he was attacked by two adult chimpanzees after he entered their enclosure last month at a primate sanctuary in South Africa.
Animal control officers tranquilized C.J. twice before she succumbed about an hour later beneath a shade tree in neighbor Tony Paolone's backyard. She was returned to her enclosure before she regained consciousness.
"Typical story. Primates just don't make good pets," said Toby Goldman, a veterinarian who previously examined both chimps and was summoned to the scene to help tranquilize C.J.
"They're cute when they're young. But they become big and aggressive," he said. "Thankfully, nobody was hurt."
Goldman on Friday stored Buddy's body — 4-feet-7 and 150 pounds with a 43-inch chest — at his nearby Island Pet Hospital. Goldman believes Buddy was about 13 years old. Chimps can live 40 years or more. C.J. wasn't as tall or heavy as Buddy.
"I look at it as he was an angry young adult, full of testosterone," the veterinarian said. "It was a hot day. That adds another dimension. Everybody gets just that much more agitated."
Goldman noted the damaged inner door on the chimps' enclosure, with mangled bolts and broken cinderblocks. But he said he thought the secondary

Man Killed by Tigers at Copenhagen Zoo
Earlier this week, a man was killed by tigers at the Copenhagen Zoo after he climbed a fence and went across a moat to access the enclosure. The victim has been identified as a 20-year-old of Afghan descent. He was living in Copenhagen at the time of his death, which occurred when he was savaged by three tigers after breaking into the zoo in the early hours of the morning.
The man was found deceased, surrounded by the tigers, when the zoo staff arrived for work in the morning. Police have yet to rule out suicide as a reason why the man entered the tiger enclosure. The man lived by himself in a flat near his family and was preparing to finish high school.
‘We have cried all day’, a family member said.
‘I’m absolutely shattered’, a friend said. ‘He was a really, really nice guy.’
The man was bitten by the tigers on his chest, thigh, throat and face, according to Superintendent Lars Borg. Borg said, ‘We received an emergency call at about 7.30am that a person had been found lying in the tiger pen and that three tigers were surrounding that person. The tigers attacked him and killed him. It is likely that a bite to the throat was the primary reason for his death. He has been in the water and the animals must have seen that and attacked him.’
Detectives working the case are sifting through video footage to figure out how the man entered the tiger enclosure. Psychologists were called in to talk to staff members who found the body, according to the zoo’s chief executive, Steffen Straede. The zoo is 152 years old and Straede said that this is the first incident of its kind. He also said that he is not planning to review the security of the zoo because of the incident. ‘If a

Edinburgh Zoo plans for £750,000 penguin colony pool
Edinburgh Zoo is planning to house its penguin colony in a new £750,000 enclosure.
Over the past 100 years it has gained a reputation for its breeding success but the colony was split up earlier this year when their pool sprang a leak.
Many of the 160 birds went to other zoos in Belfast, Denmark and England, with some remaining in Edinburgh.
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland is now campaigning to raise the last £100,000 for the new pool.
Plans include diving boards, water slides and a beach for the penguins, with a better view for visitors.
Meanwhile, interim chief executive Hugh Roberts has told BBC Scotland he believes the zoo is on a much firmer footing than before it secured its two pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang.
Mr Roberts said: "The real problem here was perhaps that people had lost trust and for me it was about rebuilding and regaining that trust."
He added: "The fundamental thing about the pandas was never really in doubt, the Chinese don't enter into long-term arrangements and then throw them overboard just because one or two things are not going so well.
"The UK government, the Scottish government weren't going to let that all happen, we certainly

Theme park wars!
Ocean Park and Disneyland have been in a battle for business for seven years. With each launching major new attractions a day apart this fortnight, Andrea Yu dodges corn dogs and coasters to get into the middle of the fracas
Once upon a time, Ocean Park ruled the Hong Kong amusement park landscape alone. When it opened in 1977, it was the city’s grand darling of theme parks with its quirky array of marine life, thrilling spills and, yes, a cable car. But then one day in 2005, along came another theme park player, busting out Ocean Park from its near 30-year comfort zone. Hong Kong Disneyland had arrived – and the battle for business began in earnest.
Over the course of their short joint history, the competition between Disneyland and Ocean Park has, on the surface, increased exponentially. Just months after the arrival of Disneyland, Ocean Park launched a six-year Master Redevelopment Plan, which has seen the Wong Chuk Hang park add the Ocean Express funicular railway, open the theme areas Thrill Mountain and The Rainforest, and unveil an epic Frank Gehry-designed aquarium. In turn, Disneyland has swelled with Tomorrowland, the iconic Disney boat ride It’s a Small World and, just late last year, Toy Story Land. The expansions have been regular and significant, each adding fuel to the comparative fire. But, arguably, this rivalry has never been greater than it will be in the coming weeks, when both parks unveil major new attractions.
On July 13, Ocean Park launches Polar Adventure, a new Arctic and sub-Antarctic themed area home to penguins, walruses, seals and a rollercoaster. A day later, Disneyland returns fire, launching Grizzly Gulch, a new ‘land’ featuring rides based on the story of the 19th century gold rush, combining its latest coaster with the water-based Geyser Gulch and a themed show.
Like a theme park arms race, both Disneyland and Ocean Park are equipping themselves with more high-powered attractions. But when you consider the changing face of Hong Kong and Chinese amusement parks, it’s hardly a surprise. Apart from their own intra-SAR duel, two new players north of the border are soon to join the game – Shanghai Disney in 2015 and a new ocean-themed amusement park juggernaut opening in Zhuhai by the end of next year. It seems the grab for the ever-increasing Mainland tourist pie has never been more competitive.
So is there a major rivalry between Ocean Park and Disneyland? “I suppose it occurs in a healthy manner,” says Poly U School of Hotel and Tourism Management Professor John Ap. “It’s not as though they’re competing for exactly the same market. There are going to be differences.” Ap highlights the fact that Disneyland offers a ‘magical experience’, based on a strong tradition of storytelling, whereas Ocean Park is more about ‘offering an educational, nature-based experience’.
Indeed, the laws of theme park economics are also rather unique. The fact that both parks are growing rapidly and, to a certain extent, competing with each other, just means that the quality of the theme park experience is improving for those who visit them. It also means the magnetism of Hong Kong as a theme park destination city becomes stronger. “When we see these situations with multiple parks in a market, there’s a little bit of competitive cannibalisation but what also happens is that the total pie gets bigger,” says Chris Yoshii, global director of Asia for AECOM, which publishes the most authoritative worldwide amusement park rankings.
A simple look at the pre and post-Disneyland visitor numbers tells a similar story. Since 2004, Ocean Park has seen its visitors increase from three million per year to just under seven million. Disneyland struck just under six million last year. Ocean Park chief executive Tom Mehrmann is well aware of this growth in tandem. “In seven years, we went from three million people going to the theme parks to 13 million people going to them,” he says. “That tells an awful lot about how the parks have changed the market.”
But there’s one eager group of tourists that these two parks couldn’t have lived long or prospered together without – Mainlanders. Sure, they’re a magnet for people griping about queuing and manners (you know how it goes…) but they’ve obviously played the most significant part in the success that both parks have enjoyed. According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, 67 percent of visitor arrivals to the city were

Colchester Zoo fined for exposing employees to asbestos
Colchester Zoo has been fined for exposing workers to one of the most dangerous types of asbestos.
The zoo also did not follow the correct procedures for removing the substance and did not bring in specialist contractors.
A court heard the zoo is taking civil action over a report it commissioned from experts on asbestos.
The zoo admitted 12 charges brought by Colchester Council over asbestos at a hay barn and was fined £35,000 and £3,398 costs.
After the hearing, zoo director Anthony Tropeano said it was the result of a genuine error.
He said: “Based on the level of fines imposed, it’s clear to us the court acknowledged this as being the case.
“Colchester Zoo deeply regrets on this one occasion, as a result of an administrative oversight, proper procedures were not followed.
“Procedures were immediately reviewed and Colchester Zoo is confident this situation could not arise

Humboldt Penguins In Chile: Threatened By Rats, These Animals Could Face Extinction
A 3-week-old Humboldt Penguin gazes plaintively from the opening of its nest, waiting for its parents to return with food. They may be out hunting for fish. But if they take much longer, they might not have a chick to provide for.
Invading rats with bodies up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) long have begun eating eggs and chicks, and some experts fear that unless the rats are eradicated, they could tip the Humboldt penguin toward extinction.
These penguins with distinctive black bands across their chests also are threatened by changing sea currents, fierce gulls and nesting pelicans whose relatively heavy bodies collapse their shallow earthen caves. And the biggest peril has been the nets of fishing boats that trap and suffocate the adults, at least until now.
"The cause of the decline in the penguin population is man," said bird veterinarian Paula Arce. "And of its eggs ... That could be the rats."
The Humboldt population has dropped from hundreds of thousands decades ago to below 45,000, said Alejandro Simeone, who directs the Ecology and Biodiversity Department at Andres Bello University in Santiago, Chile's capital.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature

Biggest Aquarium in Asia to Open in JejuA new aquarium in Seogwipo,
Jeju held a free open house period for two days on Friday and Saturday prior to the official opening this coming Friday. Aqua Planet Jeju is the largest in Asia, bigger even than the 10,400-ton Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Japan.
The main tank is 23 m wide and 8.5 m high, about four times larger than a normal cinema screen. The acryl window gives the effect of watching an IMAX screen.
The operators said it took two weeks just to fill up the 5,000-ton water tank with seawater. The specially made acryl window is 60 cm thick and was installed by engineers from the U.S. It cost W10 billion.
The volume of all water tanks

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

A scientist ought to retain some childish curiosity and the ability to be wowed. And science’s continuing discoveries can be a stimulus for our own childish curiosity and leave us saying Wow. July’s links at (NEWS/Botanical News) are just cool:
·       Plants employ a variety of techniques to enlist animals into their seed dispersal process: wrapping seeds in tasty fruit, making seeds stick to fur, occasionally making seeds appear as tasty fruit and cheating the disperser. But here is a plant that uses chemicals to make the seed disperser vomit. Botany for adolescents.
·       Many plants rely on ants to protect them from other insects that eat leaves or fruit. Some ant species are better at it than others because they are so aggressive. So what’s a plant to do if it has attracted a slacker ant colony? Get them hopped up on nectar so they develop a lust for meat.
·       You have to love tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes species). They have come up with the most creative ways to get their dose of protein. Researchers have just noticed that one species uses rain drops to catapult insects down into the pitchers.
·       One of my first botanical News emails over six years ago shared a report on the forest-killing invasive weed, garlic mustard. New research reveals that over time, native plants are developing resistance to this pest, offering hope that Nature will find its equilibrium even with invasive species.
·       I hope you are sitting down for this one: ice cream may be in short supply this summer all because of hydrofracking.

And in this spirit of Wonder, enjoy these monkey portraits by photographer Jill Greenberg:

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter:  – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.


Franklin Zoo to close after keeper's death
The zoo where an elephant crushed a woman to death has announced it will close.
Franklin Zoo, near Auckland, said this afternoon it will shut its doors permanently in the wake of the death of zoo keeper Dr Helen Schofield.
In a statement released today, a spokesperson said it has been a difficult few months trying to find someone to take from Schofield, who had also acted as a vet and mentor at the zoo.
“Helen is irreplaceable and this is why the Trustees have now had to make the incredibly difficult decision to close Franklin Zoo.”
The future of Mila, the elephant who killed Schofield, is still uncertain.
“Helen dedicated her life to animals, and her greatest dream was for Mila to be moved to another facility where she could live out the rest of her days with other elephants.
“We will not give up on Helen's dream, and we believe that the best way to honour this is to focus resources into our goal of working towards Mila’s relocation to a facility overseas so that we can try to secure her future.”
The spokesperson said the zoo would work closely in the coming weeks with the Australasian Zoo & Aquarium Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries to find homes for its animals.
Auckland and Hamilton zoo staff will continue to assist in the day-to-day care of Mila, and preparing her for her relocation overseas.
The zoo has been in financial dire straits since Schofield died.
A recent zoo newsletter said Schofield was paid just $29,731 for her work in the last six and a half years.
"She even objected to this amount, saying she was paid too much and

CCTV cameras go missing at Delhi zoo
Two CCTV infrared cameras - each worth about Rs. 25,000 - have gone missing from the Himalayan Bear enclosure at the National Zoological Park. The cameras were installed inside the bear enclosure to document pregnancies and subsequent delivery of the species. This is because the female bear tends to go deep inside its cave-like enclosure during delivery, and comes out only after the baby bear is about 12 to 15 days old.
"It was found that one of the cameras had been damaged, possibly after one of the bears hit it. The two equipment were pulled down and kept for repair. However, someone moved the two cameras from there," said AK Agnihotri, the zoo's director.
The cameras were installed last year following a 'female bear gone missing during pregnancy' controversy in 2007.
The zoo administration had since then installed infrared cameras to monitor the would-be mother's movements and the birth of the baby at its enclosure at beat number 5.
"Although the zoo administration has no clue on who could have done it, the needle of suspicion pointed towards our electrical workers. So, our staff approached the police," said

Views clash on what’s best for Manila’s lone elephant
While an animal rights watchdog contends that Manila zoo’s lone elephant is suffering physically and psychologically, her “best friend” has come out to air sentiments to the contrary.
The first has managed to internationalize the issue by gaining expressions of support from British rock star Morrisey, American pachyderm expert Henry Richardson, and, just last week, Nobel Prize-winning novelist J.M. Coetzee.
The other owns the hand that has patiently fed and pampered “Mali” for more than a decade.
Mali may be alone but not unloved, according to veteran advertising photographer John Chua, who has served as the animal’s volunteer caretaker since 2001.
Chua is almost single-handedly challenging the views of the group People’s Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) concerning its campaign to have Mali transferred to a nature sanctuary in northern Thailand.
“Don’t tell me she’s sick or that she’ll die if she’s not moved. I’ve taken care of her for 10 years. That’s no joke,” Chua said in a recent interview, when he spent yet another morning at the zoo to feed and play with  Mali.
Chua has become known to zoo visitors and administrators as Mali’s pro bono keeper, often the only person capable of approaching Mali without any difficulty. He treats her almost every day to her favorite food like mangoes, bananas, even orange-flavored popsicles.
He gives her a shower and a soothing spray on her massive feet, and puts her through what he called an “enrichment program” that includes “coconut football” or a lazy dip in a puddle.
But for someone who shares the same objective as Mali’s avowed protectors, Chua is not exactly on the same page as Peta. “I really have no problems with having her transferred … but I’m questioning [Peta’s] sincerity,” he said quite bluntly.
“What is Peta’s objective? Why are they doing this? To raise funds? If that is so, then just leave us alone. If they really care for her, care for her now. Because I do,” he said.
(Chua’s advocacy also includes encouraging parents of children with autism to let the kids explore the world through photography. He has also organized field trips to the zoo for visually impaired children to encourage them to conquer their fears and discover new thrills by touching some of the animals, including Mali.)
He started attending to Mali in support of his daughter’s stint as a zoo volunteer in 2001. He has since donated a water pump for Mali’s enclosure, found private sponsors for other improvements at the site, and even trained how to handle such an animal in Singapore and at the Pinnawala elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka where Mali came from—all to “make her life better.”
It was therefore no surprise that when local Peta members brought Richardson to the country in May, Chua, along with the zoo veterinarians, was there to show them Mali.
Richardson, a California-based elephant specialist for 40 years, later released a report on Mali’s condition, which he said was based on his visual inspection of the 38-year-old behemoth.
“My major concern is that Mali is alone,” Richardson said in his report, which Peta cited in a campaign statement. “Mali’s social and psychological needs are being neglected at Manila Zoo. Even the best intentions of … her keepers, who all clearly care about her well-being, cannot replace these needs, which can only be met by the companionship of other elephants.”
Chief zoo veterinarian Donald Manalastas said the zoo administration had agreed to train Mali to be more cooperative during foot care procedures, as suggested by Richardson. He said they were also heeding the veterinarian’s advice that they add more soil and greenery in the enclosure.
But for Manalastas, Mali, who arrived in the zoo in 1980 when she was only three years old, cannot survive in the wild because she was bred in captivity.
Chua agreed that something needed to be done about Mali being alone. He challenged Peta, however, to come up with a solid plan for her transfer and long-term care in a sanctuary. In the meantime, he said, they must help make her living conditions at the zoo better.
Chua noted that Peta’s protests against Mali’s stay in the zoo seem to be a recurring theme every year. “Last year they made a call for donations for Mali on their website,” he recalled.
But for Peta-Asia campaigns manager Rochelle Regodon, “the obvious problem with the zoo is that Mali is alone. Her mental suffering cannot be understated.”
“The simple fact is that Mali will have a much better life in a sanctuary,” she said, adding that a sanctuary in northern Thailand, which was highly recommended by experts, had agreed to accept Mali.
Peta will shoulder all expenses for Mali’s transfer, including her preparation for travel, Regodon said. “The sanctuary currently houses 14 other elephants

Manila Zoo

No Disney ending for woodrat breeding program
Ten years ago, in a desperate move to save one of Florida's most endangered species, U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials approved capturing a few of the animals and taking them to Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo for captive breeding.
The endangered species in question was not the Florida panther, the manatee or any of the other license-plate icons that call the Sunshine State home. It was the Key Largo woodrat, a small rodent with smooth fur and bulging black eyes.
Federal officials figured they could save the species from extinction by spending $12,000 a year breeding the rats and then turning them loose in the wild.
At first the breeding program seemed to be a big success.
At Lowry Park and, later, Disney's Animal Kingdom, the endangered rats bred like, well, rats. But then the project ran into big problems, demonstrating why captive breeding is a tricky strategy that's used only as a last resort, said Larry Williams, South Florida field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The rat project ended this spring, he said.
The shutdown "was a little disheartening for us," said Anne Savage, senior conservation biologist for Disney's Animal Kingdom. Perhaps it is no surprise, given the role of a cartoon mouse in Disney lore, that Animal Kingdom won a national award for its success in breeding

Bear shot dead, another on run in S. Korea: report
South Korean police shot dead one bear and another was on the run after the pair of female six-year-olds escaped from a farm on the outskirts of Seoul on Saturday, a report said.
The duo broke out of their pen in Yongin, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Seoul, the Yonhap news agency said, quoting police.
About 20 police hunters and 10 dogs went after the bears, and one of them was shot dead about

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