Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zoo News Digest 24th - 27th September 2012 (Zoo News 831)

Zoo News Digest 24th - 27th September 2012 (Zoo News 831)


Dear Colleagues,

Birthday Party number one tonight so I thought I best get this out before I am incapable. If you are passing Dao's Bar on 3rd Road in Pattaya tonight at eight o'clock do drop in. It will be busy but the more the merrier.

There is a certain Indian gentleman who I have been having a conflict of opinions with for a number of years now. We differ on so many subjects surrounding zoos. I accept that, we are not all the same. We are shaped by events in our lives, people we meet, books we read and more. He is probably unlikely to change his point of view on zoos. I could be. I am always prepared to change and be re-shaped by convincing argument and am on some issues. Anyway I digress. What I was leading up to was what he wrote when he sent me a link this week ..."This man like you, speaks his mind and I respect him the way I respect you". That counts for a lot to me and I thank him for it. It is a similar sentiment that was expressed by several who spoke to me at the International Congress of ZooKeepers in Singapore. They were pleased that I spoke out on issues that they were unable to.

If 'Zoo-tiger fans go to maul' is anything to go by I daresay that the Bronx Zoo has had quite a large increase in attendance since the unfortunate incident with the tiger.
I am delighted that there will be further discussion on the Toronto Zoo elephants. Now lets hear it from the zoo side and not the bunny huggers who will even now trawling around for some tame vets to drag into the ring.

The Liliger? Short answer...Euthanase. Okay I fully appreciate that it is not the unfortunate creatures fault but Euthanasia does not hurt. Letting this zoo profit from this cruel and despicable experiment will give a green light to Dysfunctional zoos everywhere. I imagine that Mr Antle is giving the idea some thought.

'Steve Irwin's Son Robert Fearlessly Feeds Crocodiles At The Australia Zoo'...okay it is just a story for the press but every crocodile feeding should be fear-less. There is or should be no risk at all. Crocodiles small or large don't need handling to be fed. In fact you don't need to be within an arms (or two...cut out the pretence) length of them. I wonder if the same paper would have said 'Michael Jackson fearlessly holds son out of window' there there were risks involved.

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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Tiger Killed and Butchered in Itanagar Zoo in India

Four Itanagar Zoo officials sacked for negligence of duty over tigress death
Two days after miscreants killed a tigress in Itanagar Zoo, the forest department on Wednesday terminated the services of three contingency staff and suspended one forest guard of the zoo for negligence in duty.
Miscreants sneaked into the zoo in the cover of darkness and broke open the enclosure of Oni, a third generation tigress on Monday night. They killed the tigress and left with her flesh. However, they did not take with them valuable parts like teeth, skin and claws, leaving the zoo officials in a dilemma about the motive behind the gruesome act.
"We performed the last rites of the six-year-old tigress within the zoo campus on Wednesday in the presence of the magistrate and police," deputy conservator of forest (wildlife) P Ringu said.
He said police have launched a search operation, but no arrests have been made so far. The zoo authority also informed the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB

With panda deaths, zoos need to reprioritize
A week-old baby panda no bigger than a stick of butter died at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
The official cause of death is still unclear, but the initial necropsy said there was fluid in the abdomen and some liver damage.
Only four zoos in the United States actually have panda enclosures, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper reported that borrowing a panda for a year from China costs about $1 million. That doesn’t include habitat upkeep, research requirements made by federal import permits and the basic care of animals.
Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo, said that over three years, the Washington, Atlanta, Memphis and San Diego Zoos spent $33 million more than they received in revenue for their pandas. Zoos, like colleges, are just businesses. Their main focus is to keep their animals safe and content, but they also need money to function.
It has reached the point that some zoos take shortcuts to support themselves. The vice president of Animal Care at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio said the zoo uses mirrors in the flamingo exhibit, according to the Columbia Monthly. These mirrors not only made the enclosure less costly but also make the flamingos believe they were kept in a bigger space than they were.
Similarly, in Rob Laidlaw’s book “Wild Things in Captivity,” he talks about research of elephant enclosures in zoos. The habitats were found to be 1,000 times smaller than animals’ natural one. Animals also act unusually when kept in these types of enclosures, according to a report in The New Scientist.
The principle behind a zoo is admirable. We should know what kind of animals are out there, what they eat and how they live, especially endangered ones. But zoos get lost in the money. While we still don’t know the exact cause of the panda’s death on Sunday, the facts don’t lie: Financial

Dubai plans Middle East's first crocodile park
Dubai is planning to establish a crocodile park in the emirate as its latest tourism attraction, officials said on Tuesday.
The Dubai Municipality said the crocodile park would be set up "in the near future", adding that it was studying similar parks in France, Tunisia and Belgium.
Abdulla Rafia, assistant director general of Dubai Municipality said the civic body has assigned a team from the investment section of Asset Management Department to study best practices around the world.
In comments published by news agency WAM, he added: "The Municipality seeks to build a new world tourist attraction in the emirate of Dubai through the partnership with the foreign investors to establish the crocodile park project in the

Dubai is planning the Middle East's first Crocodile Park

Plight of 2 baby Grauer’s gorillas raises fears others killed in Congo, only 4,000 remain
The plight of two infant gorillas, rescued after being kidnapped from their wild families, highlights the dangers confronting the endangered Grauer’s gorillas that have become victims of ongoing violence and a new rebellion in eastern Congo.
A decision to allow oil exploration in a national park there may put the gorillas at greater risk.
Virunga National Park said Monday that wildlife authorities rescued two baby gorillas in the space of a week this month.
“Baby gorilla trafficking is terribly damaging for endangered gorilla populations because many members of the gorilla’s family will probably have been killed to obtain the infant,” said the park’s director, Emmanuel de Merode.
Fighting between rival militia groups is making it impossible for wildlife authorities to find out how many of the Grauer’s gorillas have been killed. Grauer’s, also known as eastern lowland gorillas, exist only in eastern Congo. Experts estimate that fewer than 4,000 remain, down from about 17,000 in 1995, de Merode said in a statement.
The poaching comes as the park itself faces oil exploration. Congo’s Hydrocarbons Minister Crispin Atama Tabe announced Monday that the government is authorizing the British firm SOCO to explore

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Zoo-tiger fans go to maul
Bachuta, the tiger who mauled an intruder in his Bronx Zoo lair, kept a low profile in his enclosure yesterday as dozens of fans lined up for a chance to see him.
“We wanted to see the tiger,” said Jeff Jones, 52, who waited 20 minutes for the monorail ride through the zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit, where Bachuta has remained out of sight since Saturday, the day after the mauling.
Billy Muntner, 49, who had also hoped to catch a glimpse of the 400-pound beast, said no one should blame the animal.
“The tiger did what the tiger is supposed to do. I’m very glad he’s not in trouble,’’ Muntner said.
A zoo volunteer said Bachuta has “been on exhibit since the incident.’’ Yesterday, he “just didn’t want to come out,” the worker said.
David Villalobos, 25, was mauled after jumping from the monorail and scaling a protective fence, claiming he “wanted

World's largest oceanarium set to open soon in S'pore (Watch the Videos)
There's no exact date given but the world’s largest oceanarium, Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), will open its doors to the public by 7 December, officials said at a press conference this mormning.
On 7 December, the integrated resort will hold its grand opening.
The Park will feature some 100,000 marine animals in more than 60 million litres of water. Some of the highlights include the Adventure Cove Waterpark which will be the region’s only water park with marine life elements and the Southeast Asia Aquarium which will house a diverse range of marine life including manta rays and hammerhead sharks.
There’ll be water coasters for those seeking wet-and-wild thrills and opportunities to snorkel amongst thousands of colourful fish at the Rainbow Reef.
Finishing touches are being carried out at the Park, which will have 90 per cent of its marine life ready for showcase by the time it opens.
Details of ticket prices have yet to be confirmed.
Those waiting to catch a glimpse of the controversial 25 bottlenose dolphins will have to wait till sometime in 2013.
Animal rights groups and activists have criticised Resorts World Sentosa over its decision to house the dolphins in the Park.
Initially 27 dolphins, which were caught in the wild, were meant be housed at the Park but two died from a water-borne bacterial infection in 2010.
The remaining 25 dolphins are currently at a facility at Subic Bay in The Philippines.
Director of the Education and Conservation team at the Marine Life Park Biswajit Guha said: “We recognise that there will always be divergent viewpoints and from a Marine Life Park perspective, conservation, research and education are the pillars of the Marine Life Park and what we do".
"Essentially, the dolphins will be ambassadors for marine life, their counterparts in nature and more importantly, it’s their ability to actually inspire

UAE to host shark conservation forum
30 species of sharks in Gulf ecosystems under pressure from over-fishing
Top marine scientists from around the world will converge in Dubai next week for the inaugural Shark Conservation in Arabia Workshop.
Organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the four-day forum is to be held at City Seasons Suites from October 9-11 in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Water to find solutions to thinning shark stocks in the Gulf.
Roughly 30 species of shark in the Gulf are facing fishing pressures that could have long-term impacts given that sharks take a long time to reproduce, experts say.
Dr Al Syed Mohammad, Middle East regional director of IFAW, said the UAE’s strict laws allowing fishermen to catch sharks only in the off season when sharks are not producing pups is a good example of protection measures needed to stave

Spray-on repellent could outwit incorrigible kea
Kea are renowned for their curiosity but can clash with humans, as anyone who has had rubber stripped from their cars at southern skifields can attest.
But the Kea Conservation Trust is developing repellents to stop the endangered parrots in their tracks.
Its efforts attracted praise last week at the West Coast Conservation Awards.
Trust chairwoman Tamsin Orr-Walker said the move was prompted by an urgent need to protect kea from aerial drops of 1080, which caused high death rates, particularly on the West Coast.
Initial trials of a non-toxic bird repellent in bait have proved successful on captive kea.
It worked by making them feel sick when they ate repellent-laced bait so they learnt to avoid trying it again, she said.
Studies are under way to ensure the repellent does not deter rats and possums from eating 1080 bait.
The trust is also investigating surface repellents to stop other problem kea habits, such as attacking sheep to peck the fat around their kidneys, and destroying equipment, such as kill traps or bait stations, foiling efforts to kill introduced predators.
The first trial of surface repellent, which is released when a kea lands on it, was done on a Queenstown farmer's merino sheep in June.
It makes kea feel sick if it lands on the animal then later preens,

Google adds coral reef panoramas to Street View maps
Panoramic images of several coral reefs have been added to Google's Street View service in its maps, allowing users to navigate their way around the sites.
The material was gathered by the Catlin Seaview Survey - a project studying the health of the reefs, including the impact of global warming.
The programme's director said the effort would help scientists analyse ecosystems and raise general awareness.
It is also a publicity coup for Google at a time of growing competition.
Google has previously offered computer-generated views of the sea floor terrain, but this is the first time it has incorporated underwater photographs into its mapping product.
"We want to be a comprehensive source for imagery that lets anyone explore anywhere," Jennifer Foulkes, Google's ocean programme manager, told the BBC.
"This is just the next step to take users underwater and give them the experience of an area that most people have been been to - seeing sea turtles, seeing manta rays, crazy pencil urchins and beautiful fish."
Locations added to the service

UN recognizes wildlife crime as threat to rule of law
Poaching and the illicit trafficking of wildlife products were raised on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly for the first time this Monday, during discussions on strengthening national and international governance.
World leaders gathering in New York for the global body’s 67th annual meeting highlighted wildlife trafficking along with other severe threats to the rule of law such as corruption and drug running.
In a written statement, permanent Security Council member United States highlighted “the harm caused by wildlife poaching and trafficking to conservation efforts, rule of law, governance and economic development.” The rapidly-growing illicit international trade in endangered species products, such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger parts, is now estimated to be worth $5 billion per year globally.
“Such organized crime is increasingly affecting the environment and biodiversity through poaching and illegal fishing,” Gabon’s President Ali Bongo said during the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law. “Gabon intends to strengthen its criminal justice

Zoo Director Speaks Out On Elephant Complaint
Topeka Zoo Director Brendan Wiley spoke out Tuesday night (9/25) out on the latest complaint against the zoo. It's from animal activists to the USDA, and it calls into question video you'll only see on 13 News and
In the video, you can see Asian elephant Sunda run toward the zoo's African elephant Tembo. In Defense of Animals members call it an attack from Sunda. The complaint states that the Topeka Zoo violates the requirement that animals in the same enclosure must be compatible. IDA member Catherine Doyle calls the behavior aggressive, adding that according to the Animal Welfare Act, animals must have sufficient space to make normal social adjustments.
Zookeepers say the move shows Sunda telling Tembo not to take her food. Wiley says "attack" is a strong word.
"Elephants live in a social structure that has a dominance to it, not unlike dogs or pets at home, if you have more than one," Wiley said. "When you see behavior like this, it's really important to evaluate not only what is going on right then, but what occurs before and after."
Wiley says the animals showed healthy behavior and began eating together after the incident. He says the complaint is part of a plan from In Defense of Animals.
"They are very open that they operate a campaign against the Topeka Zoo and its elephants. And so this is one of those tactics that typically you see in those types of campaigns. So is it surprising to us? No. It's really not. Does it give us an opportunity to look at the situation and explain it to the community? Yes it does," Wiley said.
The USDA did cite the

TB Concerns put transfer of Toronto Zoo elephants back in limbo
The tug-of-war over retirement plans for Toronto’s three aging elephants is far from over, with councillors being asked to rethink their controversial decision to order the animals sent to a California sanctuary.
The Toronto Zoo board is asking Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee and council to consider a new report from zoo staff that outlines several roadblocks preventing the move. These hurdles include the zoo’s top veterinarian saying he cannot back the plan because of active tuberculosis at the 80-acre facility run by the Performing Animals Welfare Society.
The latest move by the zoo board opens the door for a possible reversal of council’s decision last year.
Graham Crawshaw, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, outlined his concerns to zoo board members Tuesday, including evidence discovered earlier this year that the PAWS sanctuary has one elephant with active TB. That elephant is a female Asian elephant and would not be housed with Toronto’s African elephants. Dr. Crawshaw said he is not satisfied PAWS has sufficient quarantine measures in place to protect the Toronto animals. “Based on what I know, I cannot recommend it,” he said about the planned move.
Zoo CEO John Tracogna said the animal transfer also is being held up because of problems with shipping containers, aircraft

Croc bank to chip in for online zoo database
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) has joined an international initiative to preserve endangered wildlife by contributing data to the largest online zoological knowledgebase.
The crocodile bank will use the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) application to establish an online database where they can record and preserve data. "ZIMS is a database that allows zoos to enter data pertaining to most of their management operations. Selected information can then be shared with other zoos," says MCBT director Colin James Stevenson.
The application has been created by the International Species Information System (ISIS), a global collaboration of more than 800 zoological institutions from round the world. The organisation works to strengthen knowledge about animals in human care and uses the information to save vulnerable populations. The croc bank has been a member of ISIS since 2011.
"ZIMS allows us to record not only data about the animals but also information about their care and maintenance," says Stevenson. This will help zoos improve the way they maintain their facilities. "We can enter details of the animals' diet and care, enclosures, records of weights, measurements and any medical treatment given," he says. So zoos can track and modify the way they are treating the animals under their care more accurately. "Since it is a global, real-time system, we can select a species and obtain up-to-date informatio

The 48th issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa is online at We thank all the subject editors, reviewers, language editors and authors for their contributions in producing this issue.

Journal of Threatened Taxa

ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)

September 2012 | Vol. 4 | No. 11 | Pages 2993–3084

Date of Publication 26 September 2012 (online & print)


Cave bats of the central west coast and southern section of the Northwest Panay Peninsula, Panay Island, the Philippines

-- Antony Mould, Pp. 2993–3028

Land snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of India: status, threats and conservation strategies

-- Sandeep Sen, G. Ravikanth & N.A. Aravind, Pp. 3029–3037

CEPF Western Ghats Special Series

Balitora laticauda, a new species of stone loach (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Balitoridae) from Krishna River, northern Western Ghats, India

-- Sunil Bhoite, Shrikant Jadhav & Neelesh Dahanukar, Pp. 3038–3049

Seasonal variation of Hemiptera community of a temple pond of Cachar District, Assam, northeastern India

-- Kankana Das & Susmita Gupta, Pp. 3050–3058

Notes on two species of the genus Atemnus Canestrini (Pseudoscorpiones: Atemnidae) from China

-- Jun-fang Hu & Feng Zhang, Pp. 3059–3066

First record of the Borneo Earless Monitor Lanthanotus borneensis (Steindachner, 1877) (Reptilia: Lanthanotidae) in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo)

-- B. Yaap, G.D. Paoli, A. Angki, P.L. Wells & D. Wahyudi & M. Auliya, Pp. 3067–3074

Ecological studies on Aerangis biloba (Lindl.) Schltr. (Orchidaceae) in NACGRAB field gene bank, southwestern Nigeria

-- Temitope Israel Borokini & Adedotun Onoyinka Afolayan, Pp. 3075–3081

Additional record of Resplendent Bush Frog Raorchestes resplendens (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Western Ghats, India

-- Jobin Joseph, K.M. Jobin & P.O. Nameer, Pp. 3082–3084

In case you wish to receive Table of Contents every month please send an email to <> with no subject or text.

What's In Store For Russia's Little Lion-Tiger Hybrid?
Zookeepers and biologists at Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia believe they have produced a taxonomic first. They have shared images of a "liliger," called Kiara, whose birth earlier this month raises a number of questions.
Like what's a "liliger"?
Lions and tigers share a common ancestor, and are extremely close on an evolutionary scale. Thus their shared genus (Panthera).
But big-cat cross-breeding is not unheard-of in captivity. As they're different species, the resulting offspring are hybrids.
Outside of the public imagination and a cottage industry, the lion-tiger hybrid is perhaps best-known as the favorite animal of the unlikely hero in the cult indie film "Napoleon Dynamite," "bred for its skills

Steve Irwin's Son Robert Fearlessly Feeds Crocodiles At The Australia Zoo
Following in his father’s footsteps, Robert Irwin, son of the legendary “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, has made his first public appearance feeding a crocodile at the Australia Zoo.
Robert, 8, appeared in front of crowds at the Zoo’s “Crocoseum” in Beerwah, Queensland. The young boy seemed entirely comfortable around the crocodiles, which were babies and not the full-size monsters that his father routinely appeared alongside.
However, despite the danger of the creatures, Robert appeared entirely fearless, feeding them, dancing around them, and even picking one up. A zoo staff member was right next to Robert on the off-chance that anything went wrong.
"It's awesome because every single croc we feed is different," Robert told Australian news outlet Sunshine Coast Daily. "It's really fun and exciting."
His mother Terri seems just as excited as her son about his love for wildlife.
"Robert's finally worn me down, so he gets to feed something in the show for the first time as well," she told Sunshine Coast Daily.
Robert seems to have spent his entire life around crocodiles. A famous photo of Steve Irwin shows the TV personality and naturalist feeding a crocodile with

Elephant, Ranger Protections Endorsed—But Do They Have Teeth?
Motions passed amid spike in African elephant poaching.
Amid an unprecedented spike in African elephant poaching, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last week passed two motions it hopes will bolster protection for elephants and the park rangers who look after them.
The motions were approved without debate at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea. (Related: "In War to Save Elephants, Rangers Appeal for Aid.")
The highest recorded rate of elephant poaching in a decade occurred in 2011, with tens of thousands of the animals slaughtered, their ivory smuggled out of East African seaports en route to East Asia. A 1989 CITES treaty banned international trade in elephant ivory.
One motion calls on all countries with African elephants to "prioritize the protection and conservation of elephant populations" and to ensure adequate legislation, penalties, and incentive programs for local people living among elephants.
Mary Rice, head of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, said by email that she has concerns about the elephant-protection motion, which "does not call for curbing the ongoing international illegal trade in ivory through coordination with key authorities such as INTERPOL."
"This is crucial for tackling illegal wildlife trade, which is serious transnational organized crime."
In the second motion, Africa's rangers asked the IUCN leadership "to encourage member states, governments, civil society, and local and international NGOs and foundations to provide support for the initiative of improved wildlife-resource protection."
The IUCN also made the unusual move of calling for a "high-level" meeting of conservationists as soon as possible to "recommend urgent measures" to stop the killing of elephants. (See pictures of ivory poaching in National Geographic magazine.)
"Road Is Long" for Protecting Rangers
Tim Snow, whose organization, the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), sponsored the motion to fund new training programs and equipment for rangers, said he’s delighted that the IUCN has recognized the issue of protecting rangers.
But, he said, "The crux is that the IUCN motion has merely exposed the problem and elevated it to international awareness levels."
Already this year, increasingly well-armed and violent poachers have killed dozens of rangers in Africa, many of whom lack adequate training or equipment with which to respond.
"We don't just need more guns, we don't need escalating warfare—we need more trained rangers on the ground, so you can let people qualified to deal with the problem deal with it," Snow said.
"That should be the status quo in all conservation areas, not just [those] with rhinos and elephants," he added.
The first step, he said, will be for the GRAA to work with IUCN's regional offices to survey the current standard of ranger training in their areas, and then begin to work out what needs to be improved.
But helping out with the survey will likely be the IUCN’s only financial contribution to keeping rangers safe, Snow said.
"We as rangers in GRAA will have to continue to fight for the support we need.
"The load is still heavy, and the road is long. And the problem is real."
Cameroon Boosting Ranger Force
At least one government isn't waiting for new ranger training programs.
Cameroon has already padded its ranger force and increased the days of a ranger's military training from 45 to 120, Ngole Philip Ngwese, Cameroon's minister of forestry and wildlife, said during a press briefing last week in Jeju. About 500 rangers will soon be graduating from that course.
The boost is in response to an incident in January, when "poachers of a different class, extraordinarily violent, well equipped and well trained" entered Cameroon's Bouba Ndjidah National Park on horses and camels, Ngwese said.
The Sudanese poachers, individually skilled in killing elephants and removing their ivory, slayed 200 animals. (See a graphic of where ivory poaching occurs in Africa.)
The ten rangers, or "ecoguards," on duty could not stop the surprise attack, and the government had to call in elite members of the army who drove out the poachers within a month and are still monitoring the situation.
"Our ecoguards are not as trained and equipped as these people who came to massacre the elephants—obviously they had the upper hand," Ngwese said.
The increased ranger training will also ideally save human lives—between two to three ecoguards are killed on duty each year in Cameroon.
Local People Need Incentives
The poachers who invaded Cameroon were also successful because they could melt in among the local people, to whom they gave meat from the killed elephants, Ngwese said.
But some locals also saw the elephant deaths "as a relief," he said.
That's because elephants sometimes wander outside park boundaries, destroying villagers' crops and homes and even killing people.
That's "something we in the West have to keep in

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