Sunday, August 12, 2012

Zoo News Digest 5th - 12th August 2012 (Zoo News 827)

Zoo News Digest 5th - 12th August 2012 (Zoo News 827)

Borrowed from Positivity Toolbox on Facebook

Dear Colleagues,

I have little sympathy for zoo staff who go on strike but when you have not been paid for five months as in the case of the 'Daily Wage' workers in Lohi Bher Wildlife Park I really do wonder what other action is open to them. I hate the idea of animals suffering, and I am sure that is one of the reasons these workers have not taken action up to now, for which they have my greatest respect. Don't be fooled by that 'Daily Wage' title, these are Zoo Keepers and some of them will have been employed as such for years. Daily Wages is a way round things, to get out of giving certain benefits and is the mode of employment for a huge number of people in a variety of work fields right across Asia. I am quite frankly disgusted my the management of Lohi Bher Wildlife Park that they have not got action. One month without a wage is hard enough for anybody but for people with so little in the first place, families to support, bills to pay it is more difficult than you or I can imagine. I recall a similar incident some years ago where the keepers did actually strike. Was there action? Sure enough, the following day the police were called in and the striking staff were beaten till they returned to work.

Animals short of food in Coimbatore Zoo....very worrying.

There has been some investigation into the death of the elephant in Marghazar Zoo. Result? The Mahouts were punished. Reading between the lines on the reports of this tragedy they were the very last people who should have been giving any blame.

What is the difference between a "Rare Bengal Tiger" and a Bengal Tiger? It is quite simple really. Bengal Tigers are tuppence a dozen and can be found in every tin pot slum zoo all over the world. Their parentage is lost in the midst of time, they are so inbred they are useless to conservation. A "Rare Bengal Tiger" is truly a rare animal and most live in the wild. Even there there are populations polluted by the well meaning but ill informed.

My weekend started out well and I had a great time. Then my Thai girlfriend and motorcycle ended up under a pickup truck. Not the happiest of Mothers Day (in Thailand) for her. I am hoping she will be okay. Back and head injuries. She is always a bit scant on detail so as not to worry me....but I worry anyway.

Unusally you may think but I have been supporting China in this Olympics. Well perhaps not as the little bit I did manage to see was over the shoulder of a beautiful Chinese woman.

International Vulture Awareness Day is just a month away. What is your zoo doing to promote Vulture Awareness?

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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It’s either orangutans or cheap palm oil
When four men were sentenced to eight months in jail in March for the ‘murder’ of orangutans, it was the first time that people associated with Indonesia’s booming palm oil industry were convicted for killing man’s close relations in the primate family.
Conservationists were not happy with the ‘light’ sentences handed down by the court in Kutai Kertanegara district, East Kalimantan, on March 18, to Imam Muktarom, Mujianto, Widiantoro and Malaysian national Phuah Cuan Pun.
“As expected, the sentences were light, much lighter than what the prosecutors demanded. Such punishments will not bring any change to the situation of orangutans,” Fian Khairunnissa, an activist of the Centre for Orangutan Protection, told IPS.
Indonesia’s courts have generally looked the other way as the palm oil industry relentlessly decimated orangutans by destroying vast swathes of Southeast Asia’s rainforests to convert them into oil palm plantations.
In April, a court in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, dismissed a case filed by the Indonesia Environmental Forum (WALHI) against PT Kallista Alam, one of five palm oil firms operating in Tripa, and Irwandi Yusuf, former governor of Aceh province, for the conversion of 1,600 hectares (3,950 acres) of carbon-rich peat forests into palm oil plantations.
The court admonished WALHI saying it should have sought an out-of-court settlement with PT Kallista Alam – which never paused clearing its 1,600-hectare concession, granted in August 2011.
Mysteriously, just before the WALHI case was to be heard in court, numerous fires broke out in the Tripa peat swamps, including in the concession granted to PT Kallista Alam.
Community leaders in Tripa point out that the concessions fly in the face of a presidential moratorium on new permits to clear primary forests, effective in Indonesia since last year as part of a billion dollar deal with Norway to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“The issuance of a license to Kallista is a crime, because it changes the Leuser ecosystem and peat land forests into business concessions,” Kamarudin, a Tripa community spokesman, told IPS.
The Leuser Ecosystem, in the provinces of Aceh and North Sumatra, covers more than 2.6 million hectares of prime tropical rain forest and is the last place on earth where Sumatran sub-species of elephants, rhinoceros, tigers and orangutans coexist.
The survival of orangutans, a ‘keystone species’, is critical for the wellbeing of other animals and plants with which they coexist in a habitat.
Orangutan seen as encroachers
A statement released in June by the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme estimated that there are now only 200 of the red-harired great apes left in Tripa compared to about 2,000 in 1990 and said their situation was now ‘desperate’ as result of the fires and clearing operations carried out by palm oil companies.
During the last five years, the oil palm business has emerged as a major force in the Indonesian economy, with an investment value of close five billion dollars on eight million hectares.
Indonesia plans to increase crude palm oil (CPO) production from the current 23.2 million tons this year to 28.4 million tons by 2014. This calls for an 18.7 percent increase in plantation area, according to Indonesia’s agriculture ministry.
But the price of the planned expansion would be further shrinkage of orangutan habitat by 1.6 million hectares because oil companies find it cheaper to burn forests and chase away or kill the orangutans.
“If you find orangutans in palm oil plantations, they are not coming there from somewhere else… they are in their own homes that have been changed into plantations,” said Linda Yuliani, a researcher at the Centre for International Forestry Research.
“But plantation company people see the orangutans as the encroachers,” she said. “Confused orangutans can often be seen wandering in plantations, and with their habitat gone, they forage on young palm trees,” she said.
A joint survey by 19 organisations, including The Nature Conservancy, WWF and the Association of Primate Experts, found that some 750 orangutans died during 2008-2009, mostly because of conflict with human beings.
It has not mattered that Indonesia is one of the signatories to the Convention on Illegal Trade and Endangered Species, which classifies orangutans under Appendix I which lists species identified as currently endangered, or in danger of extinction.
“Clearing peat land also releases huge volumes of carbon dioxide, similar to amounts released during volcanic eruptions,” Willie Smits, a Dutch conservationist who works on orangutan protection, tells IPS.
Enforcement needed
Reckless clearing of peat swamp forests has already turned Indonesia into the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, after the United States and China.
“The government may earn some money from oil palm investment, but there are far bigger losses from environmental destruction,” says Elfian Effendi, director of Greenomics Indonesia. “There is a multiplied effect on the local economy and loss of biodiversity.”
But, even to some conservationists, stopping the oil palm business in Indonesia – which feeds a vast range of industries from fast food and cosmetics to biodiesel – is impractical.
“What is needed is enforcement of schemes that allow the palm oil business and orangutans to co-exist,” Resit Rozer, a Dutch conservationist who runs a sanctuary for rescued orangutans, told IPS.
Palm oil companies that are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), a convention to encourage importers to buy only RSPO-certified CPO, see no advantage in the scheme that requires them to set aside a forest block for orangutans within plantations and provide safe corridors for the apes to move from one spot to another.
“US and several European countries still buy non-certified CPO as the RSPO certificate does not gurantee purchase,” Rozer told IPS. “The West told us to practice environmentally-sound business, but they do not buy RSPO-certified CPO because implementation has been delayed till 2015,” Rozer said.
“For companies that have invested in RSPO certification, the del’s-either-orangutans-or-cheap-palm-oil/

Drag Chains and Training

Bear Attacks Girl in Private Zoo
A 12-year-old girl who was mauled by a bear at a private zoo in the Far Eastern Amur Region on Friday is now in intensive care at a local hospital after undergoing emergency surgery, said Denis Chernov, one of the attending doctors.
An Asian black bear at a private zoo in Blagoveshchensk attacked the girl when the she tried to give the animal a drink from a bottle.
“The operation, to treat a deep wound in the back of her head, lasted several hours," Chernov said. "The girl is now in the intensive care ward where she is in critical condition,” the doctor added.
The general prosecutor's office in Blagoveshchensk is investigating the incident.
It is the second time this year a child has been injured in an animal attack at a private zoo in Blagoveshchensk. In January a tiger at the Liger roadside zoo attacked a three-year-old boy. According to the investigation

Daily wage workers await 5 months salaries
The daily wage employees of the Lohi Bher Wildlife Park have not received their salaries for the last five months despite repeated reminders to the concerned department for the release of funds.
Daily wage employees told ‘The News’ that they are waiting for salaries for the last five months but the department is taking no notice and doing nothing to pay our salaries. “We are working without salaries for the last many months, as we don’t have any other option,” they added.
They said that everyone is busy in Eid shopping but we don’t have money to buy new clothes and other items for our children, as we didn’t get salaries for the last five months. “We have requested so many times to high officials of the park but they are doing nothing for us and they only have one answer that we have written letter to the concerned department for the release of funds,” they added.
The employees have urged the Punjab chief minister to take notice and direct the concerned departments to release their salaries as all the employees are facing very hard times and now it has become very difficult for them to provide even two times meal to their family members.
When contacted, Deputy Director Lohi Bher Wildlife Park, Raja Javed, told ‘The News’ that they have around 20 daily wage employees. “We couldn’t pay their salaries because of shortage of funds. He said that they have written letters to the concerned department for release of development funds as we have to pay salaries of the employees but there is no reply.”
“Now I am not in a position to tell when the budget would be released and the employees would get their salaries

Edited by Dr Kees Rookmaaker

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Marghazar Zoo : elephant death probe goes nowhere
Almost four months have passed, but the probe into the death of female elephant ‘Saheli’ has failed to make any headway as high-ups of the Capital Development Authority seem to be disinterested to fix responsibility on officials whose negligence caused loss of millions to the authority.
“The investigation is in progress but yet no headway could take place. Even no hearing has been made to hear the case,” said a senior CDA official. The CDA chairman had assigned the probe to Member (Administration) Shaukat Mohmand who later forwarded it to Forest Director Muzaffar, who has yet not been able to launch it formally.
Besides being a precious animal, Saheli had been the most attractive animal at the zoo in the city, particularly for children who used to enjoy riding on the animal. Born in 1989 in Sri Lanka, Saheli, an Asian elephant, had died following brief illness caused by a wound in one of her foot on May 1 at the age of 23.
In its report based on the samples from the animal’s carcass, the National Veterinary Laboratory revealed that Saheli had died of heart failure as its respiratory system had failed after it had laid down during her illness causing distress to the breathing system. An elephant’s respiratory system is quite exceptional\08\10\story_10-8-2012_pg11_7

SeaWorld begins acclimating killer whales to the presence of trainers
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has begun conditioning its killer whales to accept trainers in their pools, the first step toward resuming "water work" with the giant marine mammals more than two years after a trainer was killed in Orlando.
Animal trainers at SeaWorld marine parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio began "water desensitization training" Monday with the company's killer-whale collection — the process by which the animals are acclimated to humans' presence in the water.
The process is expected to move slowly. SeaWorld hasn't allowed trainers in the water with whales since Feb. 24, 2010, the day SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by the 6-ton whale Tilikum.
SeaWorld said the training that began Monday is designed to prepare whales for "the close interaction required for veterinary care and husbandry." The company says it also improves worker safety by ensuring that whales do not respond unpredictably should a trainer accidentally fall into their tank.
"This well-established process is intended to reduce the novelty of trainers and other caretakers working in close proximity to the animals, which contributes to team member safety and proper care for our killer whales," the company said in a written statement. "It is a lengthy process that involves progressively increasing the degree and type of contact between human caretakers and whales. The safety of SeaWorld team members and the welfare of animals are our highest,0,6459314.story?track=rss

Coimbatore zoo animals feel the hunger pangs
For the past one month, animals especially those like deer and camels at the Coimbatore Corporation Zoo at VOC Park are in a miserable plight as there has been a disruption in the supply of green grass to zoo.
In a very disturbing development, the workers at the zoo are now cutting branches from the trees in the zoo compound and dropping it in the enclosures of the animals.
"There is shortage of grass to feed these animals, hence we are cutting the branches from the trees and feeding them. It has been like this for over a month now," said a worker at the zoo.
When asked, zoo director K Asokan initially confirmed that there was shortage of grass but they were somehow managing the situation. He, however, refused to divulge more on the matter.
"We have some fodder issues at the zoo for over a month but we are managing it somehow," Asokan said.
The Coimbatore Municipal Corporation was growing tall grass adjacent to the sewage farm in Ukkadam to use it as green fodder to feed the animals at the zoo and also the corporation-owned bulls that were used to pull garbage collection carts in the past.
But a portion of the land was levelled a few months back as there was a proposal to use the land for some other purpose, including shifting of the omni bus stand which was later abandoned.
The civic body had made some arrangement to procure grass from near Tamil Nadu Agriculture University as well but it has been stopped over the last one month due to 'non-availability' of green fodder.
 "We were trying to get grass from other sources but that also has ceased. Now there is a shortage of supply or rather no supply of green fodder to the zoo," said an official.
The corporation officials on the other hand pointed out that they have entrusted the zoo director in charge of the procurement of food items for the animals. They also added that food procurement was not being properly done at the zoo and the issue has already been brought to their notice. Corporation commissioner TK Ponnusamy said that he would look into the matter at the earliest.
The facility is in such a pathetic stage at a juncture when

West Midland Safari Park plan is handed to bosses
The expansion of West Midland Safari Park was today moving closer to reality after draft plans for the development were submitted to council bosses.
A number of major developments are in the pipeline for the Bewdley attraction including the creation of a hotel, indoor water park and a link to the Severn Valley Railway. Wyre Forest District Council has been sent draft plans.
The document has been submitted so further talks can take place with the authority and changes made to the scheme before a final version of the brief is formally submitted.
Spokesman Richard Boother, of RPS Planning, said sending the draft brief was an important and necessary step in the planning process.
“Essentially we have included details of all the proposals we are putting forward for the park in this draft plan and have sent it on a more informal basis to the council,” he said.
“This will allow talks to take place with officials from the authority on what we want to do. They will then be able to give us their views on the proposals.
“It will allow any alterations to be made to the brief before the final version of the document is submitted to the council for consideration.
“The scheme is moving in the right direction and work is ongoing.”
Once the final development brief is submitted, a final decision on its contents is not expected until the end of the year due to the scale of the plans.
If it is approved the first formal planning applications for developments at the site would

Las Vegas chimp goes to zoo after 2nd escape in a month from owners’ backyard, police say
Police say a chimpanzee who rampaged through a Las Vegas neighborhood last month made a second escape from her backyard enclosure.
The Las Vegas Sun reports ( a resident called authorities about 4:50 p.m. Saturday to report CJ, the chimp, broke free from her cage. Las Vegas Metro Police captured her at around 5:30 p.m. after setting up a containment area and targeting her with tranquilizer darts.
On July 12, CJ and her mate Buddy broke free and roamed through their owners’ neighborhood, pounding on vehicles and climbing in an unoccupied car. Buddy also jumped on cars.
An officer shot and killed him after police say he veered too closely toward onlookers.
CJ was returned

Zoo is named as ‘Overall Business of the Year’ 2012
DRUSILLAS Zoo has scooped one of the top accolades at the 2012 Sussex Business Matters Awards, celebrating outstanding businesses throughout the county.
At the ceremony Drusillas Park was named, ‘Overall Business of the Year’.
This prestigious accolade is bestowed on the organisation that most impressed the judges for doing the best by their clients, staff and the community.
The zoo was also ‘Highly Commended’ in the Hospitality Tourism and Leisure Category. Organisations in this grouping were judged on their ability to demonstrate exceptional industry success, innovation, strong growth and market leadership.
Managing Directors Laurence and Christine Smith collected the awards from Meridian Tonight presenter and the host of the evening, Fred Dinenage.
Mr Smith said: “In these tough economic times, which have been hindered by the unusually wet weather, it is great to bring this award home for our team.
“We are delighted that our hard work and dedication has been recognised by the judges and will continue to ensure that Drusillas Park remains an exceptional visitor attraction.”
Laurence and Christine Smith acquired the zoo in 1997 and have invested heavily in Drusillas

"Zoothanasia" Is Not Euthanasia: Words Matter
We shouldn't kill captive animals because there are too many of them
A recent essay in the New York Times has made me rethink just why zoos exist and what they're really good for. The title of this essay, "When Babies Don't Fit Plan, Question for Zoos Is, Now What?", also made me realize how the animals who find themselves living in zoos are totally at the mercy of the humans who control their lives. My colleague Jessica Pierce also wrote about this essay and told me she wasn't radical enough in that she really isn't "for zoos". She encouraged me to write more on this touchy and very controversial subject.
The New York Times essay begins: "Zookeepers around the world, facing limited capacity and pressure to maintain diverse and vibrant collections of endangered species, are often choosing between two controversial methods: birth control and euthanasia. In the United States, the choice is contraception. Chimps take human birth control pills, giraffes are served hormones in their feed, and grizzly bears have slow-releasing hormones implanted in their forelegs. Even small rodents are included."
However in countries other than the U. S. it's a different story. In Europe, for example, "some zookeepers would rather euthanize unneeded offspring after they mature than deny the animal parents the experience of procreating and nurturing their young." (my emphasis) I emphasized the word "unneeded" because frankly the use of this word makes me sick to my stomach. These animals aren't objects but rather sentient beings who are "unneeded" simply because the zoos don't need them. How anthropocentrically arrogant and insensitively heartless it is for these people to take this view. I also was sickened to see an abstract of a paper by Paul Andrew, curator of the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia, in which animals are referred to as being surplus to the genetic needs of a zoo's program.
Consider what happens at the Copenhagen Zoo. According to Bengt Holst, director of conservation, “We have already taken away their predatory and antipredatory behaviors. If we take away their parenting behavior, they have not much left.” So he and other European counterparts "generally allow animals to raise their young until an age at which they would naturally separate from parents. It is then that zoo officials euthanize offspring that do not figure in breeding plans."
Zoothanasia is not euthanasia
Killing animals in zoos because they don't "figure into breeding plans" is not euthanasia, it's "zoothanasia", and is a most disturbing and inhumane practice. Using the word "euthanasia" seems to sanitize the killing at least for some people and makes it more acceptable. While one might argue that many if not all animals in zoos suffer, killing animals who aren't needed isn't mercy killing, it's really a form of premeditated killing. Furthermore, animals should be referred to as "who" not "that". However, of course, referring to animals as if they're objects can make it easier to kill them even when they're not suffering.
In my view there's something very wrong with this picture. People who supposedly love animals and want there to be more of them, choose to kill them because they're unneeded and there are too many of them. The animals are innocent victims of human arrogance and quite often greed.
I also learned about another phrase thrown around by zoo administrators, "management euthanasia". One former zoo director goes as far as to say, “I am not saying management euthanasia is wrong .. It is just not the best solution.” I thoroughly disagree. There is something very very wrong with this egregious practice. It should really be called "mismanagement zoothanasia". Zoo adminstrators should surely be held accountable for reckless and fatal breeding practices.
The New York Times essay is filled with lame rationales for killing unneeded or surplus animals. Consider this discussion about the timing of killing unneeded animals. "Even when zoos wait to euthanize animals until their parents have had a chance to raise them, questions can come up. It might seem suspiciously convenient for zoos to destroy an animal just after it has completed its most adorable phase — given that baby animals are a top zoo attraction. But Dr. Holst emphasized that the timing is dictated by nature. Zookeepers know it is time when the young leopards start picking fights with their mother. 'It may be painful for us,' he said, 'but more natural to them.'”
Oh please, how can anyone who knows anything about animals claim that killing them because they pick fights is natural. Would he also kill his or another dog who fought with others?
KIlling hybrids is "courageous" claims the executive director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria
We also learn that it's okay for animals who are "genetically useless" to be killed. Lesley Dickie, executive director of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, called the killing of the offspring of a hybrid male tiger at Zoo Magdeburg in northern Germany "courageous". The zoo director and three employees were prosecuted for violating the euthanasia law but they received suspended sentences. Of course this was not euthanasia.
There's ample evidence that zoos do not contribute much if anything to education or conservation (see also), a conclusion that's even supported by the Association for Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) despite claims to the contrary. Given that animal lives are discussed as if the individuals are unfeeling and unneeded or surplus objects, it's no surprise that there are many reasons many people are against zoos. For further discussion of some of the above material and other arguments about why zoos must go please see Dale Jamieson's essay "Against Zoos".
Zoos, as long as they exist, must be for the animals who are forced to live there, not for the people who visit or run them. We really need some radical changes now that emphasize how important is the life of every single animal living in captivity. Glib excuses for killing any individual must be countered and zoo personnel (and others including those who write for mass media) must refer to the animals as who they really are, not as disposable, unneeded, or surplus objects "that" don't, for example, fit into their breeding programs, programs that don't really do anything for the individuals themselves or for others

Reveal orang utan death findings
I REFER to "Safe haven for orang utan" (News Without Borders, July 30). Friends of the Orang Utans are still waiting to hear the verdict of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment on the deaths of two orang utans this year on Orang Utan Island in Bukit Merah Laketown Resort.
In May, its minister, Douglas Embas, gave an "assurance" that investigation of abuse at Orang Utan Island was ongoing.
It is August, and we are still waiting to hear from the ministry, and repeated emails to them have gone unanswered. While we wait for the results of the investigation, we see Orang Utan Island appearing in the media as guardian angels of orang utans.
Friends of Orang Utans and our supporters are waiting for answers to questions of the island's activities, among them the high birth rate, origin of orang utans including the need for orang utans from other sanctuaries to be sent to the island, and the need to put baby orang utans in tanks.
The ministry is fully aware of wha

Javan rhinoceros facing dire extinction threat: Study
American researchers have confirmed that a species of Javan rhinoceros found in Vietnam are on the verge of extinction, with only 29 of them remaining.
"We still have a chance to save the species but before we do anything, we have to determine the profile of the remaining group," study leader Peter de Groot said.
Researchers from the Queens and Cornell Universities used genetic tools to determine that only Javan rhino was living in Vietnam in 2009, who was later found dead a year later.
The study confirmed the demise of the Javan rhinoceros population living in Vietnam by analysing animal dung collected with the assistance of special dung detection dogs.
The researchers are now working to save a group of 29 Javan rhinoceroses currently living in a tiny area called Ujon Kolong in Indonesia.
They will use the rhinoceros feces to determine the age, sex and pedigree of this group. This study will provide a direction to try to save the remaining population of one of the most threatened large mammal species in the world.
The research was published in Bio

New crocodile species? What a crock
Melbourne reptile handler Raymond Hoser wanted to name the Territory's freshwater pygmy crocs as a new species. He dubbed them Oopholis jackyhoserae after his daughter and published the name in his Australasian Journal of Herpetology.
But preliminary DNA tests are showing the stone country crocs - which only grow to 1.2m - are not a new species. They are freshies - Crocodylus johnstoni.
Crocodile researcher Adam Britton took about 20 tissue samples from populations of the tiny crocs around the Bullo River area in 2008 and sent them to a laboratory for DNA testing.
Mr Britton said preliminary results had come back.
"There are some genetic differences," he said. "It's a different sub-population but it's not enough to be classified as a new species or even a sub

When Babies Don’t Fit Plan, Question for Zoos Is, Now What?
Zookeepers around the world, facing limited capacity and pressure to maintain diverse and vibrant collections of endangered species, are often choosing between two controversial methods: birth control and euthanasia.
In the United States, the choice is contraception. Chimps take human birth control pills, giraffes are served hormones in their feed, and grizzly bears have slow-releasing hormones implanted in their forelegs. Even small rodents are included.
Cheryl Asa, who directs the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Wildlife Contraception Center at the St. Louis Zoo, said euthanasia was not a comfortable fit for zoos here. “On an emotional level, I can’t imagine doing it and I can’t imagine our culture accepting it,” she said.
Dr. Asa sees contraception as a better approach. “By preventing the birth of animals beyond carrying capacity,” she said, “more animals can be well cared for.”
But in Europe, some zookeepers would rather euthanize unneeded offspring after they mature than deny the animal parents the experience of procreating and nurturing their young.
“We’d rather they have as natural behavior as possible,” said Bengt Holst, director of conservation for the Copenhagen Zoo. “We have already taken away their predatory and antipredatory behaviors. If we take away their parenting behavior, they have not much left.”
So he and many of his European counterparts generally allow animals to raise their young until an age at which they would naturally separate from parents. It is then that zoo officials euthanize offspring that do not figure in breeding plans.
This spring, the Copenhagen Zoo put down, by lethal injection, two leopard cubs, about 2 years old, whose genes were already overrepresented in the collective zoo population. Leopards are considered near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. But as part of a breeding plan to maintain the genetic diversity of this species, the cubs’ fate was determined before they were born.
“We promised the species coordinator that the offspring would never leave the zoo,” Mr. Holst said, meaning they would not be bred with leopards from other zoos. The Copenhagen Zoo, he said, annually puts to death some 20 to 30 healthy exotic animals — gazelles, hippopotamuses, and on rare occasions even chimps.
The thinking is that this strategy mimics what would have occurred in the wild, where some 80 percent of feline offspring die from predation, starvation or injury, he said.
Terry Maple, the former director of Zoo Atlanta and co-editor of “Ethics on the Ark,” said that while he knew of no studies assessing the importance of raising young to animals’ health or well-being, observation indicated that most zoo animals are motivated and protective parents that play frequently with offspring.
He acknowledged that American zoos once focused more on the intricacies of breeding endangered species than on their day-to-day well-being, but said this was changing. In meticulously planning their populations, Mr. Maple said, zoos will eventually avoid a surplus of animals and ensure that most breed and raise offspring. “I am not saying management euthanasia is wrong,” he said. “It is just not the best solution.”
International guidelines on the ethics of breeding zoo animals have been elusive, in part because philosophies vary, said Dave Morgan, chairman of the Population Management Committee at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The African association of zoos lists euthanasia as a population management tool, whereas the precepts of Hinduism and Buddhism make the killing of even terminally ill animals difficult.
Both the United States and Europe tolerate the euthanasia of feral cats and dogs. Euthanasia is permitted under the American zoo association’s regulations, but is mainly reserved for ill or elderly animals, said Steve Feldman, the association’s spokesman.
Although reliable data on the use of contraception is not kept by zoo associations, officials say that it is much more prevalent in North America but that it is starting to expand in Europe.
American zoos began developing contraception for highly fertile animals like lions in the 1970s, after breakthroughs in human birth control. Contraception use then expanded as it became quite difficult for zoos to sell or give away animals they could no longer accommodate.
This kind of family planning meant males and females no longer had to be kept apart to avoid unwanted pregnancies, which was ideal for the transition to more natural zoo environments. There were benefits, too, for zookeepers: hormones in contraceptives given males can take the edge off aggressive behaviors surrounding competition for a mate, which can result in mayhem and unsettle visitors.
There was a time when no one could have imagined that contraception would be needed for the Mexican wolf, a species hunted nearly to extinction in the 1970s. Zoos began with only seven survivors and bred a captive colony of nearly 300 wolves, saving the species. Ninety-two were reintroduced into the wild by the federal government starting in 1998, but then four years ago, the government used up the limited space

Alipore Zoo in red over deaths of Red Kangaroos
With the death of the last of the four Red Kangaroos, which were brought from Czech Republic to Alipore Zoological Garden on Monday, questions are being raised on what went wrong within 14 months of the mammals’ transfer to Kolkata.
 In June 2011, four such kangaroos — two males and two females — were brought from a Czechoslovakia zoo as part of an exchange arrangement of animals between the two zoos. But one the kangaroos started dying after the other. A baby kangaroo, which was born nine months ago, is the only remaining Red Kangaroo in the zoo.
The post-mortem report of the fourth kangaroo stated that the animal died of acute haemorrhage in the lungs followed by cardiac failure. The first one died in August last year reportedly of stress. For the second mammal’s death in December 2011, respiration failure was cited as the reason. In February this year, when the third died, zoo authorities blamed it on “stress”.
“There might be some problem with the habitat here. It is difficult to pin point the reason because if it was entirely unliveable, the joey would not have been born here. Moreover, there was no particular pattern in the death of the four kangaroos,” said Neeraj Singhal, Director, Alipore Zoological Garden.
He also said at present there were no plans of bringing any more kangaroos to the zoo.
With a young joey alive, the zoo authorities are planning to consult their counterparts in Czechoslovakia as to what went wrong and how to keep the young one alive. “One good thing is that the baby is independent and feeding it, hopefully

Nation denies WWF claim of negligence
VietNamNet Bridge – The CITES Authority of Viet Nam has rejected a World Wildlife Fund report that rates Viet Nam as the worst performer in wild animal protection, saying it is not objective or thorough.
The report criticised Viet Nam for its failure to combat trade in rhino and tiger body parts, and gave it two red scores – one each for the rhino and tiger – in the fund's Wildlife Crime Scorecard, which rated 23 African and Asian nations known for high levels of poaching and trafficking in ivory, rhino horns, and tiger parts.
The scorecard hands out green, yellow, and red scores for tigers, rhinos, and elephants to indicate recent progress in complying with CITES commitments.
Do Quang Tung, director of the CITES Authority of Viet Nam, was quoted by Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper as saying the report could hamper Viet Nam's efforts and prestige in combating the illegal trade of wild animals.
The country has recently made great efforts to crack down on the smuggling in of wild animals from other countries, he said.
In the last six months five trafficking gangs were busted, and tiger bodies seized from three of them and 30kg of rhino horns from the other two, he said.
The country is doing quite well in complying with CITES conventions and in conservation of wild animals in general, he said.
"The WWF report only mentions rhino, tiger, and elephant. It was done by collecting unofficial information from non-governmental organisations, the media, and individuals, and without any consultation with legal compliance agencies."
He said the country allows tiger breeding only for non-commercial purposes and pointing out that tigers in an eco-tourism park in Nghe An had delivered cubs.
The CITES Authority of Viet Nam has pledged to take action to win recognition

L.A. Zoo officials still don't know why a chimp killed its baby
Los Angeles Zoo officials said Tuesday they are still investigating what happened in July when a three-month-old chimpanzee was killed by a male believed to be its father.
Zoo Director John Lewis said officials have been consulting with experts around the country to determine what triggered the violent attack.
"We were told the male, the chimp and the mother had been playing together in this morning," Lewis told the City Council's Arts, Parks, Health and Aging Committee.
Zoo officials were concerned because the baby was the first new chimp born at the facility in 13 years. Also, Lewis said, another baby chimp was recently born and officials are taking

All Change at Yerevan Zoo
Although I have been in Yerevan for nearly three years, I am still discovering fascinating corners of the city. Over the weekend, my wife Molly and our 16-month daughter Alicia visited the Yerevan Zoo.
It was absolutely scorching as we chugged along in chaotic traffic, heaving because half the roads in the city are currently being repaved. We arrived just as the zoo opened its doors, at 10am. We duly paid our 500 AMD entrance fee and started our tour.
The main courtyard of the zoo is surprisingly peaceful and green, with a fountain in the centre and lovely terracotta coloured original buildings (dating from the zoo’s origins in the 1940s). It’s the kind of place that, with only a slight leap of imagination, one can imagine for a summer evening soiree. It would be infinitely more interesting than yet another reception at a sterile hotel.
The variety of animals is staggering. There are more than 200 different species living in the zoo, ranging from birds indigenous to Armenia to a beautiful white tiger.
The sweetest was the hyena, dancing against the cage begging to be touched (we found out later that a friends’ children do actually pet her and she purrs with gratitude). The most entertaining were the brown bears, which put on a spectacular show, leaping for food and snarling at each other with greed.
As the zoo openly recognizes, the animals are caged in extremely substandard spaces. The cages are tiny, which is wonderful for actually seeing the animals (there isn’t anywhere to hide!) but of course terribly inferior for the animals. The zoo is currently undertaking a massive effort to bring the zoo up to international standards, with plans for natural habitat enclosures. The centre piece of the refurbishment

Jerusalem to open NIS 80m. aquarium at Biblical Zoo
One fish, two fish, red fish, bible fish?
The Jerusalem Biblical Zoo and the Jerusalem Municipality announced on Sunday a NIS 80 million initiative to create Israel’s largest aquarium at the zoo. The aquarium, expected to open in 2015, will hold 2 million cubic meters of seawater in a number of large tanks.
The highlight of the exhibit will be an underwater tunnel where visitors can walk underneath the aquarium and see a 180-degree view of the sharks, sea turtles, coral reefs and exotic fishes.
The two largest tanks will focus on life in the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, while 30 smaller tanks will feature small habitats.
There will be a tank for feeding stingrays, known as “sea cats” in Hebrew.
“Jerusalem will be the first city where there will be both the Red Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, and people won’t be able to say anymore that Jerusalem doesn’t have the sea,” Mayor Nir Barkat said. “The enormous underwater park will be a unique experience and attraction, which will attract visitors, tourists and researchers from Israel and the world.”
The aquarium is funded by New York philanthropists Ruth and David Gottesman and will be built

Maharajbagh zoo master plan ready
Even as the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapith (PDKV), which manages the Maharajbagh zoo, has warned of legal action against the consultant for delaying the zoo master plan, the Jan Sansadhan Vikas Sanstha (JSVS), engaged for the job, said final plan will be submitted by August 25.
Speaking to TOI from Bhopal, wildlife consultant and retired assistant conservator of forests (ACF) VK Mishra of JSVS said that the delay has been caused for various reasons. There were several corrections in the draft plan.
CZA's major objection to the plan was the Nag nullah flowing through the zoo. Most of the important enclosures including that of tiger were close to the nullah, which needs to be covered.
"We have now shifted the enclosures to the other end," Mishra said. One of the reasons for the delay was that data was never submitted by the zoo in time. "For the past two months, we waited for the data," he

Your letters: Thoughts about Ragunan Zoo
Jakarta’s streets were filled with becak (pedicabs) and cars with manual starters. The smells of street stalls with varied dishes far outweighed the fumes of the cars that now blocked the streets of this metropolis. President Sukarno was still omnipresent when some 60 years ago I joined my husband on his assignment to the German Embassy in Jakarta. Shortly after arriving in Jakarta, my husband died, and I was alone.
As a young widow, I decided to stay and I sought solace in the old zoo in Cikini where the zoo director, Benjamin Galstaun, allowed me to use my paramedical skills from my German education to help the animals. I love animals. All animals! From mice to whales, I love them all, but orangutans have a special place in my heart. Five millimeters more love than for other animals.
And I visited them almost daily to bring them fruit. This is something I still do every day in Ragunan zoo, to this very day. More than a lifetime of looking into their eyes when they show me that they recognize me and happily accept the food I buy from my small pension every day.
Memories, I have many. I have lived in Jakarta under all of Indonesia’s presidents. And I have travelled far and wide in this amazing country of thousands of islands. And I love Indonesia. I always say, Germany is my fatherland and Indonesia is my motherland. Its beauty is beyond compare and I have been extremely privileged to see so much of this emerald archipelago and its wonderful people.
Now having spent more than six decades here, I am in my 90s and most of my school friends have long passed away. Not many people visit me anymore in my little house in the middle of the Ragunan Zoo. My body is getting frail, but my thoughts are still clear, although often filled with frustration.
My thoughts go back to 1965. The big change of the Soeharto era had started. And here we nervously traveled with lions and bears in flimsy cages, more or less sedated by beer, which was all we had to reduce the risk while moving them. We were moving to the rubber gardens of Ragunan, far outside the city, in a place free of flooding and with lots of space to build one of the worlds’ largest zoos. The Jakarta zoo is the world’s third oldest, and one of the largest and most visited zoos in the world. So much space in the 147 hectares, with so many fruit trees, what a paradise for animals this should be. We had every chance, and maybe still have, to make that a reality.
Governor Ali Sadikin and the Secretariat Cabinet of Indonesia granted me a permit to build a small house in the zoo to stay for the rest of my life and where I wanted to help the orangutans.
Many hugely expensive projects have been done here in Ragunan. And when we read in the Internet the reports of how many meetings, and consultations, and workshops, and, and, and… the zoo has held, it looks as if they care! And how much work this talking represents! But why did the expensive new cages not have feeders and why could they not be cleaned? Why do we have such a poor water system? It seems to me that the projects themselves were more important than what they were about!
There are so many more things that I see, but my words are filled with emotion and I seem too old to be listened too. So I write this letter in the twilight of my existence and hope that the Jakarta administration will finally give the Ragunan zoo a director who cares for the animals, a man who is brave enough to stand up for what is right and needed, a man who knows how a Zoo is run.
Please allow an old woman to make a last ditch effort to help the zoo and its inhabitants. Let us all try to make Ragunan Zoo into a place that helps both animals and people and one of which we can all be proud!
Ulla von Mengden

7 rare rhinos photographed in western Indonesia
A conservationist says seven of the world's rarest rhinoceroses were photographed at a national park in Indonesia. It is the first sighting there in 26 years.
Tarmizi, from the Leuser International Foundation, said Thursday that pictures from movement-triggered cameras identified a male and six female Sumatran rhinos in Aceh province's Leuser National Park as of April.
More than 1,000 images from 28 camera traps were taken since last July. The park's rhino population is estimated to be no more

Scientists discover reptiles that change colour with location!
Same reptiles look a bit different when their geographical locations change. This is one of the findings of a long research undertaken by the Reptile Research and Conservation Centre (RRCC), Ujjain.
The centre has identified 28 new species of reptiles in Madhya Pradesh over a decade. RRCC director Mukesh Ingle told DNA that a snakes or lizards from a same species are not similar in colour or other features in different eco-regions in the state.
The director said that when he started study in 2002, there were around 80 species of identified reptiles in the state. But his research work spotted 28 new species of reptiles. The new species included snakes, lizards and frogs.
According to Ingle, further details would be available once assessment of the data compiled by the team is complete within a fortnight. The study is funded by MP Council for Science and Technology (MPCST) and forest department.
It started by a team of a dozen members led by Ingle. The research team divided the state in five eco-regions-- Malwa, Nimad, Vindhya, Satpura and

Tiger cub finds home among dogs
A rare Bengal Tiger cub has made its home at a dog shelter in Mexico.
The 70 kilo big cat named Albert was forced to move to the pound after his former zoo was shut down by environmental authorities.
The 6 month old playful tiger has received a warm welcome at the shelter.
"He's happy here," shelter director Guillermo Korkowski told Fox News, adding that he was "very fond" of his 6-month-old guest.
Shelter officials have had to build a larger space for the growing tiger, who is nearly a half-meter (1.6-feet) tall and weighs about 70 kilos (154 pounds).
His shelter has also been customized and includes a kiddie pool, a swing made from an old tire, a tree trunk to use as a scratching post and a desk so he

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