Apologies for the delay. I found I had rather a lot to do before I left for Singapore to attend the International Congress of ZooKeeping in Singapore. Then when I was there I found even less time. The congress was very full and interesting, something of which I will write more on later. At the same time however Dao had flown down from Thailand to join me. This was the first time she had left her country in her life and so I felt obliged to spend as much of my 'free' time with her as possible. Every day was very full and I doubt that there was a single day that I went to bed in the day I woke in. The Congress provide the opportunity to catch up with old friends and colleagues and to make new aquaintances but with over 250 delegates from over 32 different countries it was impossible to meet them all. In fact there were several people who I knew were in attendance who I searched for all week and never found at all.
I am back home in Thailand now for a couple of weeks holiday before returning to work in Dubai. Looking for a moment or two to relax when I can. Tang's Birthday today so we are having a party tonight. Maybe get time to relax later.
Moving on to the links. I was delighted to see that at long last someone in authority had visited the evil Tiger Temple. Sadly though they have been blinded by bullshit and so I don't expect that we are going to see any real changes there. I mean these are the same people who gave a clean bill of health and even praise to the infamous Sri Racha Tiger Zoo, which continues in its ways unchecked. What is really sad is that there are people in Thailand who really know and understand about proper wild animal captive welfare and conservation and yet their opinions are ignored. These cruel exploitative and ignorant places are going to continue in their ways. Hosting conferences on tigers and conservation means nothing in my eyes. Action is what is required rather than words and patting each other on the back.
The 'new' situation with Rhino Horn makes the future of the animals even bleaker than before. Now it is being purchased as investment. Locked away in bank vaults and watching the prices rise daily. It is in the interest of these evil people to see the Rhino becoming extinct. The fewer Rhinos there are then the more their horn will be worth. If you were worried before about extinction then become more worried now. I don't know how much more time I will be on this earth but I truly believe that I may be witness to the disappearance of the last wild rhino.
The news of the Liliger being produced by Novosibirsk Zoo I found to be a bit of a shock. This is a collection I have dealt with previously as studbook holder for the Andean Condor. The collection has now dropped itself into the realms of the Dysfunctional Zoo. It is not clever, it is downright irresponsible and if the collection had any sense of right they would euthanase the unfortunate creature now. It is no use crying 'accident'. It is wrong.
Atlas Lions? Really....does anyone really have any? I strongly doubt it. Is it worth persevering with trying to recreate them? Would it even be safe to return them to the wild in a 100 years?
This past two weeks the passing of Paul Howse, Terry Nutkins and Reg Bloom have made me only too aware of my own mortality. There was a time when I could count the people I knew who had died on one hand. Now though there are so very many friends and colleagues who have gone. My sincere condolences go out to the family friends and colleagues.
When I first read the stories about the Marineland in Niagara Falls I took them with a pinch of salt. I am used to reading bad press put out by disgruntled ex employees, especially those who have been dismissed. Here though I am having a bit of a re-think. There is definitely something wrong and I do hope the fullest investigation gets to the bottom of it.
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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Temple tiger numbers face cut
Population surge sparks dept welfare concerns
The National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department has asked Wat Pa Luangta Maha Bua to bring under control the population of tigers in its care to curb a dramatic increase in their numbers.
Damrong Pidech, the department chief, yesterday visited the temple's tiger zoo, well-known among tourists in Kanchanaburi, after a complaint that the temple was profiting from the animals by allowing tourist visits.
"I have come here to take a look at the living conditions of these tigers," he said.
"Frankly speaking, their living conditions are better than those in state-owned zoos.
"If I move them out of here, I am afraid their living conditions might not be as good," Mr Damrong said.
He said the department needed to closely cooperate with the temple to curb the tiger population.
He was concerned a rapid increase in tiger numbers will pose an added burden for the temple.
"As far as I know, the temple has a veterinary team to control the tiger population. The abbot told me he will separate male and female tigers during mating season," he said.
In 2001, the department found the temple was keeping seven tigers illegally. The department allowed the temple to continue taking care of them, while declaring them illegal possessions. Since then, the number of tigers at the temple has soared to 99.
The temple's abbot initially refused to allow officials to enter the zoo yesterday, fearing the animals might be taken away. He eventually allowed them in after 20 minutes of negotiations.
Phra Vissuthisaradhera, the abbot, said that he disagreed with the department's plan to reduce the tiger population by transferring some of them to state-owned zoos or wildlife breeding centres.
"I am not sure the new places will have good conditions like this place. We are very close to the tigers. The animals may suffer from stress if they are taken away," he said.
The department could control their numbers through birth control but then it would have to carry out the job by itself.
The temple spends 400,000 baht a day buying chicken carcasses to feed the tigers.
About 150 tourists, mostly foreigners, visit the temple weekly. The temple charges a 300 baht entrance fee for Thais and 600 baht for foreign tourists.
This brings in about 84 million baht a year for the temple.
The temple's tiger zoo is located on 30 rai of land. The temple has spent about 100 million baht building cement cages and installing closed-circuit cameras to monitor
International Congress on Zookeeping 2012
Rhino Horn Poaching Fuelled by 'Respectable' Speculators Betting on Species Extinction
A rhino crisis fuelled by exploding demand from Asia for horn threatens to wipe out the species, fear conservationists.
The pro-rhino horn trade lobby argues that a controlled, legal business would undermine the black market and poaching. Nobody has disputed that the scale of slaughter of the animal for their horn is reaching crisis point.
South Africa, which has the continent's most sophisticated anti-poaching structure, lost only 15 rhinos to poaching from 1990-2005. This year alone, that figure has rocketed to 339.
Scientists estimate that there are around 21,000 white rhino and at least 4,800 black rhino left in Africa.
On the black market, rhino horn is currently worth more than its weight in gold.
What is fuelling demand in China and Vietnam are powerful beliefs in the healing properties of rhino horn with no basis in medical fact, according to the Environmental Intelligence Agency (EIA).
Consumers believe powdered rhino horn boosts sexual performance, can cure cancer and can be used as a versatile cure-all for sick children where more conventional treatments have failed.
Its soaring value is turning it into a trade commodity in its own right. A report by Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, even found rhino horn being used as a deposit for a luxury car.
A criminal issue
But EIA executive director Mary Rice dismissed the idea that a controlled market could dampen the black market and kill poaching.
She told IBTimes UK: "Traditionally, this has been a wildlife issue but it's a criminal issue, just like diamond smuggling or people trafficking, The organised criminal networks are sophisticated.
"It is a syndicate involving people from all sections of society. The burgeoning trade encourages crime because there are a lot of firearms and these guys are poor.
"Rhino poaching is a low-risk, high-reward activity, but the poachers do not see much of the money.
"We want to see no trade at all and a complete ban on trade," she added.
"Governments need to adopt a more intelligence-led approach to the problem. For every poacher they stop there are another 10."
In a recent letter to the National Geographic magazine, Rice warned: "Rhinos teetered on the brink of extinction once in the past 30 years, but the current crisis has an added dimension ... syndicates speculating on the demise of the rhino by stockpiling horn."
Such groups accused of betting on the rhino extinction include the Groenewald Gang who are awating trial in South Africa.
Made up of 11 professionals including vets, safari operators and a helicopter pilot, they face 1,872 charges relating to rhino horn trading.
The syndicate is only the second alleged rhino horn gang to stand trial.
The pro-trade lobby
On the pro-trade side of the argument is respected conservationist Clive Walker, who pointed out that banning the trade in rhino horn has failed to kill demand.
He also rejected the prospect of extinction unless controls were tightened.
"The species almost went extinct and we were able to bring it back. If rhinos continue to decline at the rate they are now it would be difficult to say at what point extinction could take place," Walker said.
"The concern is not so much the imminent extinction of the species but that the level of crime involved in rhino horn and the trade in it has reached such dramatic proportions in terms of the costs, and whether South Africa, which is home to most of the world's rhino, is going to be able to get on top of it.
"It's huge and you are dealing with a country with social problems of immense concern and the government is trying to deal with those as well as trying to deal with a crime revolving around a substance that is wanted in a country far, far away," he said.
"We are dealing with the affects but not dealing with the cause. We don't know enough about the market. A lot more attention needs to be paid to the end consumer countries - Vietnam, China. There needs to be a great deal more done with those countries."
Critics of pro-trade point to what happened in 2008, when a stockpile of ivory from Africa was sold on the open market.
China won approved buyer status from CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) but the sale failed to dampen prices.
Instead, in 2011 prices hit $7,000 per kilo and 90 percent of the ivory was illegal, reported EIA.
CITES will meet in Bangkok in
Zoo must go back to future
Toronto Zoo board members seek to end city funding, Sept. 5
The model that the current zoo board proposes is very similar to the one upon which the zoo was founded in the early 1970s. I was the first membership secretary for the Metropolitan Toronto Zoological Society, a non-profit organization that operated the Metro Toronto Zoo (as it was then called).
The society’s board of directors was a who’s who of Toronto’s most influential names on Bay St., in academia and culture. The zoo director, metro chairman and the mayor of Scarborough were ex-officio members and the first chair was a public relations guru named Cecilia Long who championed the zoo whenever she could.
A separate fundraising arm called the Zoo Fund was a foundation that raised millions for the animal collection. The Zoo Fund also had a board consisting of some of Toronto’s most influential philanthropists.
Perhaps it can work once again, but zoo officials and politicians
Obese elephants given slimming help
Authorities in India are being presented with an massive task: managing the weight of obese elephants kept in temples.
In parts of India, elephants are kept in temples for religious reasons - taking part in ceremonies and festivals.
Efforts are on in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu to get these over-pampered tusked animals to slim down, officials have told the BBC.
Almost all the elephants kept in temples in the state have been found to be obese.
Accordingly, officials are temple officials are reconfiguring the diets of their temple elephants on the advice of veterinary surgeons.
"The female temple elephant - 15 year-old Parvathi - is overweight by 500kg and efforts are on to reduce it," said Pon Jayaraman, executive officer of the Madurai Meenakshi Amman temple told the BBC Tamil service.
Another elephant in the Kallazagar Temple weighs 700kg more than the optimum for its age, according
Liliger born in Siberia
What do you get when you keep lions and tigers in the same enclosure?
The Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia says a 'liliger' was born at the zoo in August.
Reuters reports lions and tigers are kept in the same enclosure at the zoo and as a result a female liger, called Zita, was born.
Now Zita has produced a cub from a lion that is kept in the same enclosure - the offspring known as a 'liliger'.
Zoo keepers believe it is the only animal hybrid of its kind in the world.
The female cub has been named Kiara and will be available for viewing by the public as early as October.
'This cub has just started growing and develop, her character
What do you get when you keep lions and tigers in the same enclosure?
The Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia says a 'liliger' was born at the zoo in August.
Moroccan zoo is home to last of Atlas lions
www.zoolex.org in September 2012
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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!
NEW EXHIBIT PRESENTATION
We would like to thank Paul Lotter, Assistant Curator at uShaka Sea World, for presenting "Dangerous Creatures: From Fear to Fascination" to the ZooLex audience. Due to its popularity with visitors, a temporary exhibition of reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates was developed into a permanent themed exhibition in the setting of a warehouse in the harbour of Zanzibar.
Thanks to Eduardo Diaz Garcia we are able to offer the Spanish
translation of a previously presented exhibit of Zoo Zurich in Switzerland:
Simen (ibices, geladas, gansos y damans de las rocas):
We keep working on ZooLex ...
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USDA zoo findings could remain secret
City appealing latest inspection
The public might never know what the U.S. Department of Agriculture found in its latest inspection of the Topeka Zoo, an inspection that triggered the city’s appeal of the findings.
In accordance with the USDA appeals process, any version of the Aug. 28 inspection won’t be published until after that process is complete, USDA spokesman Dave Sacks said.
If the city’s appeal is successful, the USDA will publish only the amended findings — not the original inspection, he said.
The original inspection will be posted to the USDA’s website if the appeal is denied and the USDA sides with its inspector, Sacks said.
In that event, however, the city of Topeka has another 30 days to file a second appeal before automatic publication to the website. The city would have a third opportunity to appeal if that one is denied as well, he said.
The city announced Wednesday it would appeal USDA findings from its Aug. 28 inspection. The city wouldn’t release what the USDA inspector found — only that the inspection focused on the zoo’s two elephants, and that the zoo was cited for violating the Animal Welfare Act.
“We do not want to fight with the USDA but to continue to have a cooperative relationship with them that will lead to an even better facility for the animals and visitors,” zoo director Brendan Wiley said in a news release. “We will continue our effort to address our differences with the USDA.”
Wiley said later Wednesday that the zoo hopes the appeal will lead to “a more uniform understanding of the inspection that occurred that day,” and that the appeal in no way reflected the zoo’s positive relationship with its USDA inspector.
The supervisor of the zoo’s inspector will make a decision on the appeal, Sacks said. But the supervisor won’t be visiting the zoo to make the determination. Instead, the supervisor will review the inspection itself and the appeal filed by the city, he said.
“The inspector was just there, and it was an official USDA finding,” Sacks said. “The appeal is the official statement by facility, so I don’t know that we would have to go back.”
Should Topeka disagree with the result of the appeal, it has two more opportunities to challenge the findings, he said.
Appealing the supervisor’s decision would send the determination to the USDA western regional director. Appealing that, he said, would take the matter to its final stage — the USDA headquarters in Riverdale, Md.
Sacks said the USDA doesn’t keep track of the number of appeals it receives in a year, and it also doesn’t have a good estimate on how long the appeals process will take.
“It’s in everyone’s best interest to make it sooner rather than
He brought up tigers in a reserve forest infested with poachers and tiger-haters
In 2009, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests received a jolt when it came to know that the Panna Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh too had no tigers left in it. Just four years earlier, the Sariska Tiger Reserve was in a similar situation and it had caused a massive public furore.
Poachers seemed to be having a field day. The animal was being hunted down for its body parts, which fetched a high price in China.
Stung by the public outrage, the MP government woke up from its slumber and shunted out all top forest officials from Panna. After wide consultations, it decided to identify officials who would be able to revive Panna’s lost glory.
The result: RS Murthy, an official who would so gloriously live up to expectations of the government, was appointed the Field Director in Panna. A decision was also taken to relocate a few tigers to Panna from the nearby reserves.
Shortly, two tigresses from Bandavgarh and Kanha Tiger Reserve were brought to the park after a male tiger was seen roaming in the periphery of the reserve. The male tiger though disappeared soon and it was believed he too had fallen victim to the poaching mafia active in and around the reserve.
A male tiger from Pench Tiger Reserve was brought in next, followed by two more tigresses from Kanha. The total count went up from zero to five.
What followed later was no less than a miracle, as the count further went up to 17 in less than two years.
While Sariska is struggling to make such a turnaround, Panna’s story has become a global benchmark for animal relocation.
However, while discussing the Panna success story, not many are talking about the man who made it all possible. The one who chased a male tiger for hundreds of kilometres, and brought it back to safety; the one who spent sleepless nights
Taiping zoo to get facelift
TAIPING Zoo and Night Safari will embark on upgrading work worth RM4 million in the coming months.
The upgrade will include the main entrance, tram station, a new enclosure for the seven elephants and the creation of an African savanna.
Zoo director Dr Kevin Lazarus said the upgrade, funded by the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority, will start at year-end and completed next year.
"We will try to recreate and mimic the actual scene of elephants and other African animal species living in the wild.
"The enclosure for the elephants will be based on the 'Elephants of Perak River' theme, complete with a waterfall and river bank."
There will be separate rooms and an exercise yard for both the lone bull elephant (male) and the six cow elephants (female) in the zoo, with added security features.
Dr Lazarus said it was necessary to have separate sections as the bull elephant could turn sexually aggressive during "musth" -- a periodic condition.
Testosterone levels in an elephant during this period can be as much as 60 times greater than at other times.
"Besides, this is also to keep our elephant handlers and the general public out of harm's way.
Dr Lazarus also said it was high time the zoo shared the elephant's rich history with the public.
"The elephant used to be a much-revered animal in the late 1800s, especially in Perak, where we used to have skilled elephant catchers.
"Those days, the rulers and the rich used to own elephants," he said, adding that six of the elephants in the zoo were from Perak while one was from Pahang.
Of the seven elephants, three, including the bull elephant, were brought from outside. The other four were born in the zoo.
The zoo is the only one in Peninsular Malaysia to successfully breed elephants.
On the African savanna,
Check out the world’s first man-made bat cave
While it may lack most of Bruce Wayne’s gadgets, the very first artificial bat cave in the world is sure to provide resonable accomodations for non-superhero dwellers. The cave was introduced after a group of environmentalists raised money, in an effort to help save thousands of bats from a disease which has claimed the lives of millions of bats so far in North America.
The cave, located in Tennessee where the most documented bat caves in the US can be found, has yet to receive a name and was built as a sanitary hibernaculum, in an attempt to dwindle the numbers of fallen bats which succumb to white nose syndrome, a condition named for the distinctive fungal growth around the wings and muzzles of hibernating bats that was first discovered in a New York cave six years ago. Since then around 6.7 million bats have perished to the disease.
Back to the bat cave. It’s located near the Tennessee town of Clarksville, and is 78 feet long and 16 feet wide or about the size of a single-wide mobile home. That might sound small, but officials from The Nature Conservancy which built and raised $300,000 for the cave, claim that it can house a minimum of 160,000 of the estimated 265,000 that reside in the nearby Bellamy Cave network, where the syndrome was first discovered back in March.
Cory Holliday, director of the Cave & Karst Program for The Nature Conservancy in Tennessee, says the cave is completely bat friendly. All sorts of improvised metal works hanging from the cave ceiling ensure that bats can cling onto them for slumber, a rainwater pipe ensures humidity levels are close to their natural habitat as well as provide drinking water. Also, currently two 1.5-ton air conditioning units will run for the next few weeks to drop the cave’s temperature to the required range, between 41 and 50°F. For the sake of science, cameras have been installed to monitor the bat population which is expected to migrate there for winter.
Why go to all this trouble and build an artificial cave when you could simply cleanse the existing infected caves? Well, things is, according to Sally Palmer, director of science
A 5-day training course on lemur and callitrichid captive husbandry and conservation is being run 15-19 October 2012 by Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
This is an intensive course held at Durrell's headquarters in Jersey, designed to expose participants to the latest theory and practice of lemur and callitrichid husbandry and captive breeding. Participants will be equipped with the necessary skills to successfully manage and breed these popular primate groups in captivity, and understand the potential to support conservation of threatened species.
This course is delivered by leading callitrichid and lemur husbandry and conservation experts. It will include practical skills development, and the opportunity to work with Durrell's callitrichid and lemur collection during the course.
For further details of this exceptional training opportunity, course content and early booking discounts, see here: http://www.durrell.org/Training/Courses/Captive-Care-and-Conservation-of-Callitrichids--Lemurs-----/ or email me.
Deputy Head of Conservation Training
International Training Centre
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust
Les Augrès Manor, La Profonde Rue,
Trinity, Jersey JE3 5BP
British Channel Islands
Elephants and accreditation
Niabi Zoo leaders and fans have known for at least two years about the problem with elephants.
So when the American Zoological Association this week dropped the accreditation it granted the zoo in 2006, it was a predictable outcome of inaction by the zoo since former director Tom Stalf left in 2010.
This week, Forest Preserve Committee chairman Tom Rockwell initially blamed Stalf for the loss of accreditation. Rockwell’s knee-jerk condemnation flew in the face of facts. The real culprit is Rockwell and the committee for dawdling until the AZA did what Stalf said it would do two years ago.
The Forest Preserve Committee took five months to fill Stalf’s position after he resigned in 2010. Then Stalf’s successor left unexpectedly this January without the Forest Preserve Committee ever disclosing why. Yet, the ousted director was paid through June and allowed to live in the zoo director’s home through May 31.
The committee has authorized lots of work at the zoo, but none of it addressed the AZA’s concern about elephants. The AZA says elephants are social animals that suffer in enclosures the size of Niabi’s. Our zoo’s choice? Upgrade the pen or get rid of the elephants.
It’s the same choice Stalf outlined two years ago.
Privatize the zoo?
Niabi Zoological Society member and former president Dan Palmer told Times reporter Barb Ickes the society, “has approached the county numerous times, saying, ‘Let the society run the zoo.’ We have the support and flexibility, and we’re not-for-profit. We think we could save the county money and get a first-class zoo out of it.”
Not so fast.
Most of the zoo’s operational funding comes from
Jambo stamps go on sale
Four stamps to commemmorate the 20th anniversary of the death of Durrell's famous silverback gorilla, Jambo, go on sale on Saturday.
The images have been designed by Jersey Post together with Jambo's keeper of 15 years, Richard Johnstone-Scott.
Jambo became world famous after he was seen protecting a five-year-old boy who fell into the park's gorilla enclosure in 1986.
Gerald Durrell's widow, Lee Durrell said: "I am truly delighted with the new stamps, the eighth issue highlighting the work of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust for more than forty years. This one is particularly special to me, as
Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
When it comes to plants, it is clear that all depend on each other.
September's links at www.zooplantman.com (NEWS/Botanical News) look at some interesting civic arrangements:
. Many animals use marks or scents on trees to communicate with their own kind. Now it seems insects change the chemistry of plants. and even the soil where new plants will grow. to communicate with other insects.
. The Cape region of South Africa is a renowned biodiversity hotspot. Maybe the reason for the floral diversity all comes down to specialization in ant seed dispersal.
. What is a plant to do when insects lay eggs on its leaves? Call for parasitic wasps, of course! New research looks at how that is done.
. Doctors recognize that medicines are more effective if taken at certain times of day. But it is different for each patient. How to refine the body clock? Look to plants.
. Giant Rafflesias or corpse flowers are well known (especially in zoo exhibits) as parasites. Now it is discovered they take genes from their hosts as well as nutrients.
And, for additional credit, a thoughtful musing on the forbidden topic:
conservation and human population growth:
Congratulations to the Louisville Zoo on the AZA Top Exhibit Award for Glacier Run, just announced. It was a pleasure to work with the zoo and PGAV on that one.
Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and - most importantly - visitors! Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PlantWorldNews - a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.
Consulting & Design
Greening design teams since 1987
Yangtze finless porpoise: China's national treasure disappearing fast
At their current rate of decline, these ancient creatures are set to follow the baiji dolphin into extinction in 10-15 years
It's been an hour and the group of volunteers aboard the rickety fishing boat are still yet to spot a Yangtze finless porpoise, known as jiangzhu or "river pig". Thirty years ago, when they numbered 2,000, the mammals could be seen from the shore here dancing on Dongting Lake in the sludge-coloured waves. Now there are about 85 jiangzhu here. As Xu Yaping, the patrol's chief, peers through the haze, and coal barges and dredgers churn the lake, the chance of encountering this ancient creature seems remote.
The jiangzhu's survival is not guaranteed. Since the official extinction of the baiji, a river dolphin, in 2007, the porpoise is the only cetacean inhabiting the Yangtze River and two connecting freshwater lakes, Dongting and Poyang, China's largest. It's estimated there are around 1,200 jiangzhu living in the wild – two-thirds less than a decade earlier. The species is decreasing at a rate of 6.4% a year, making it rarer than China's national treasure, the giant panda.
A spike in deaths this year is causing experts renewed anxiety. In April WWF China expressed "deep concern" over the deaths of 32 porpoise in 2012. At the current rate of decline, the jiangzhu is
The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) – the charity that owns and operates Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park – is the proud winner of a prestigious Sandford Award for Heritage Education for 2012.
The Sandford Award for Heritage Education recognises excellence and quality in heritage education through work with schools, with the RZSS award citing:
“An education service of exceptional quality, RZSS well deserves its Sandford Award in 2012. This award reflects a commitment to quality and constant improvement and a flair for innovative new programmes. The high standard of content of the RZSS schools’ programmes, combined with sensitive use of real specimens and handling materials allows students of all ages to discuss the very real issues facing natural environments both locally and globally. Helpful staff provide all the information needed for teachers and pupils to plan their visit and new high profile attractions at the Zoo are incorporated into programmes which enrich children’s learning”.
Stephen Woollard, education and interpretation manager at RZSS, said:
“This is a great validation and endorsement of our education programmes by the award of such a recognised UK quality badge. We are thoroughly looking forward to being presented with the award certificate at Blenheim Palace in November and it will take pride of place in the Education Centre at Edinburgh Zoo.
“The assessment involved the Heritage Education Trust judges reviewing our education programmes by visiting the Zoo, as well as examining our education strategy, learning resources and work with schools and visitors. We have adopted Curriculum for Excellence in our innovative programmes to engage children and young people in conservation, science and the environment. We are truly delighted to have received the Sandford Award – a real testament and a fantastic accolade to the education work we carry out.”
RZSS education team provide a whole host of different education programmes and aim to make each lesson as interactive as possible for participants. Amongst the different programmes offered is the extremely popular Summer Schools programme which welcomed just under 400 students this summer alone! The team provide exciting, fun-packed interactive lessons, be it through the successful Global Classroom lessons or Zoo Environmental Skills Training (ZEST).
The Heritage Education Trust, who has awarded this particular accolade for over 30 years, provides independent quality assurance to historic properties and collections with delivered educational services.
Each award entry is assessed independently by a judging panel who take different criteria into account, such as development of the educational programme and the provision of relevant educational resources which will enhance the quality of the student’s visit.
The naturalist, who hosted Animal Magic and The Really Wild Show, died at home in his beloved Scottish Highlands on Thursday. He was 66.
Those tweeting tributes included Ricky Gervais, who wrote: “RIP Terry Nutkins. Animal lover and thoroughly nice chap.”
Radio 1 DJ Greg James said: “What an absolute icon. Him on TV was my childhood.”
BBC presenter Ben Fogle said: “He was one of my childhood inspirations” and Phillip Schofield added: “A delightful man & passionate naturalist.”
With his trademark unruly hair and denim shirts, Terry spent seven years as Johnny Morris’s co-presenter on BBC children’s teatime favourite Animal Magic, which ran from 1962 to 1983.
The dad of eight — and grandad of eight — then devised and presented The Really Wild Show, along with Springwatch presenter Chris Packham, staying with the programme from 1986 until 1993.
Born in London in 1946, as a child Terry had a Saturday job at the elephant enclosure at London Zoo.
He recalled: “The keepers liked my enthusiasm and cheek and so I learned all I could from them about some of the most dangerous animals in the world.
“I used to go home at night and when I went to bed, I didn’t wash my hands because I liked to smell the elephants on them.”
At 11, Terry went to stay with naturalist Gavin Maxwell, author of Ring Of Bright Water, in the Scottish Highlands, helping to care for wild otters.
The post was temporary but Maxwell ended up adopting Terry and home-tutoring him so that he could stay on.
When he was 14, an otter bit off the top joints of two of Terry’s fingers. In 2006 he recalled: “I had gangrene quite badly. I can remember the smell now.”
He told a medic: “Chop ’em off, doctor. That ruddy lot’s no good to anyone.”
Terry, who lived with his wife Jackie at remote Glenelg on the west coast of Scotland, near the Isle of Skye, later tried running a hotel and helped to restore historic Fort Augustus
Harp Seal Pups Slated for Death at Aquarium
Two six-month-old harp seal pups are slated to be killed on September 15, when the Aquarium des Iles in Quebec closes for the season.
The two pups, Zak and Mika, were taken from the wild this spring by Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO-MPO) and accepted by the aquarium for display for the summer. Aquarium officials took the seals, even though they knew the seals would not be released again at the end of the season and would be destroyed in the name of ‘research.’
“We are almost speechless by this aquarium’s loathsome and self-serving attitude towards wildlife. While we do not condone wild animals held in captivity, a responsible aquarium will, at the very least, provide year-round habitats,” stated the Island Wildlife Natural Care Centre (IWNCC), which is campaigning to save the lives of these two young seals.
The supposed reason they won’t be released is a potential for contamination, but the IWNCC points out that captive seal pups at other facilities in Eastern Canada will be set free.
It’s heartbreaking that the DFO is not only capturing
Former Marineland workers fight for regulations
Ontario needs regulations to protect animals at zoos and aquariums, former workers at Marineland in Niagara Falls said Monday as they delivered a petition with 77,000 signatures urging the government to take immediate action.
"Our best interests at Marineland was to care for these animals, but sadly over the years things got systematically worse and worse, at least in my personal experience," said Phil Demers, a former animal trainer at the popular tourist attraction.
In addition to dolphins, sea lions, walruses and whales, Marineland is also home to bears, elk and deer, which the former employees say are housed in pens that in no way represent a natural habitat for the animals.
Watching dolphins swimming with their eyes squeezed shut because their water filtration system had broken down and was not repaired was heart breaking, added Demers.
"My job went from trying to stimulate the minds and keep these animals healthy to administering appetite stimulants just so they’ll eat to get the medications that they needed in response to the problem," he said.
"Sadly my heart is a big one, and it continues to break."
Jim Hammond said he quit after 11 years at Marineland because he could no longer stand to see animals not being properly cared for and housed in inappropriate settings.
"One morning I walked in and filled out my slip, walked up to the administration building and handed it in, knowing that I had failed, at that point, to do what’s right for the animals," Hammond said as he choked back tears.
"We need laws that are provincially governed. We can’t stand for laws that are local."
Marineland declined to comment Monday, saying it wanted to wait until the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums completed a joint investigation and released the results of their inspections.
Dr. June Mergl, the head of Marineland's veterinary services, has previously denied the allegations, saying the animals receive quality care.
Premier Dalton McGuinty said Monday he too wants to wait to hear from the experts, but he expects the government will eventually move to regulate zoos and aquariums.
"We think the responsible thing to do, in addition to acknowledging the concerns expressed through those petitions, is to wait for the investigation to be completed and see what recommendations come to the fore as a result of that," said McGuinty.
"My sense is we’re going to have to do something, but I think we should wait for the expert body to weigh in on this."
PC Leader Tim Hudak said the legislature has more important issues to deal with than zoos and aquariums, such as jobs and the economy.
However, the New Democrats said regulations to protect the animals were needed immediately.
"How can we as a society put regulations on individual pet owners, but not on companies which use animals for entertainment," asked New Democrat Cheri DiNovo.
Zoocheck Canada said anyone can open a zoo or aquarium in Ontario without facing regulations or standards to protect the animals or the staff, and can import exotic animals like tigers without permits.
"You don’t require any expertise, any training, any experience with regard to the handling and care of wild animals or the safety of wild animals," said Zoocheck director Ron Laidlaw.
"There are no regular inspections, and there’s no way to close a zoo...no matter how bad it is."
Hammond said he was disheartened when he worked at Marineland to see management get advance warnings of inspections.
"When I was at Marineland it was always very disappointing to hear that we were getting a call from the Humane Society, maybe a day or two days in advance, before
Almost all large predators are now endangered and the tiger is particularly at risk due to rapid growth of both economic development and human population across Asia. With threats including habitat loss and killing of tigers both for their parts and in retaliation where tigers have killed livestock or people, the challenges are immense. This meeting will examine innovative approaches to long-term tiger conservation, including the use of technology to increase protection of tiger habitat, undercover operations to tackle tiger trade, a social-marketing approach to help change people’s behaviour, and a discussion of how zoos can contribute technical expertise to help deal with conflict tigers.
Sarah Christie - Head of Regional Programmes, ZSL
Linda Kerley - Project Manager, Russia, ZSL
Debbie Banks - Environmental Investigation Agency, Lead Campaigner
Adam Barlow - Asia Programme Manager, ZSL
This meeting will be chaired by Jonathan Baillie, Head of Conservation Programmes, ZSL
Admission is free and seating is available on a first come, first served basis.
Reintroduction of the Cape Griffon Vulture into Namibia
Through better understanding, awareness, community education and support the bad or ugly image of the Cape Griffon vulture has definitely improved. This amazing bird being the largest of the diurnal birds of prey in the southern regions of Africa is mainly confined to a small area of south and southwest Africa. It reaches higher altitudes than any other vulture, as its huge wing span takes it to elevations or levels of about 26,300 feet (8,000 metres) above sea level.
This bird sadly is one of the most endangered being listed as “vulnerable” to extinction by the World Conservation Union. This means that the Griffon Vulture is threatened to total extermination and irrefutable disappearance from the world as we know it. Over the past few decades the Cape Griffon vulture has suffered a substantial and major population decline. The greater part of the Cape Griffon vulture population 5,000 to 7,000 birds is mainly found in South Africa.
Electrocution caused by power lines, changes in the migration patterns of large game herds and an increase in domesticated animals, where the domesticated animal is either buried or incinerated when dead, thereby lessening and shrinking the amount of food available to these birds, this in turn leads to dietary and nutritional deficiencies. Today poisons play a detrimental role in the threat of the Cape Griffon vulture’s extinction and endangerment, where in all probability most of the poisonings are mass and caused accidentally or inadvertently.
To destroy, eliminate or kill most key or apex predators preying on livestock such as Lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and jackal, farmers poison the dead carcass of an animal, thus baiting or goading the predator. The Cape Griffon vulture being a bird of carrion, a scavenger, feeds on the dead animal that has been poisoned causing its death, thus assisting in the demise or unintended extinction of the Cape Griffon vulture.
The unsophisticated, inexpensive, effectual accessibility of poison supplies is a mammoth problem, as the farmer receives incorrect or unqualified information from the supplier, causing erroneous application thereby exterminating non-target species as well as prime predators.
The social eating characteristics of the vulture is unique in as far as that, very seldom will a single bird eat on a carcass. Instinctive and inherent protection knitted with individual security will prevail against other scavenger carnivorous. Intuitively the vulture will wait, until many other birds begin to eat. There have been many sightings of hundreds of vultures eating on a single carcass. This scenario plays out to the reality that if a carcass has been poisoned or even tainted with pesticide toxins and as many birds eating on that particular carcass at one time. This will ultimately dictate how many vultures will be poisoned on mass. As many as eight hundred vultures can be poisoned at one carcass sitting.
This exact picture tells a horrifying story and sadly has been the prime decline of the Asian vulture. Over ten million birds destroyed in ten years. This is a defined and distinct animal genocides depiction.
The decline or waning of the Cape Griffon vulture has dramatic inference on the ecosystem. The Griffon vulture being a bigger bird consumes so much more than other vultures; being immune to many carcass carrying diseases, a small cast or committee of Cape Griffon vulture will devour the bacteria tainted carcass in less than one hour thereby thwarting or preventing most of these diseases from spreading to our ecological unit and environment.
A focus on the reintroduction of the Cape Griffon vulture was initiated with the main objective of reintroducing the Griffon vulture back to Namibia. If we look back to the 1950’s about 2,000 individual Cape Griffon vultures existed in Namibia; today due to a myriad of raison d'être less than 12 vultures exist.
Rare and Endangered Species Trust (REST) of Otjiwarongo, Namibia together with the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Trust of North West Province, South Africa established a program with its prime focus and motivation being the
Guidelines may force many private zoos to close shop
Many private zoos and animal parks in the country are likely to close shop soon as they are finding it difficult to comply with the guidelines provided under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
Abdullah Ahmad Mahmood, president of the newly-formed Zoo Operators, Breeders, Wildlife Entrepreneurs and Animal Hobbyists Association said: "If the guidelines are not rescinded, it could result in the closure of many private zoos and it will affect the tourism industry."
Citing the stipulation for enclosures under the Act, which came into effect on Feb 1 this year, he said all zoos were given six months to comply with the guidelines.
"Ironically, enforcement by officials from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has been carried out since January last year even before the actual guidelines were made available to zoo operators," he said.
Abdullah said the specified sizes of the cages did not take into consideration the type of businesses involved. "Instead, it was a blanket ruling for all zoo operators, breeders, entrepreneurs and owners."
He said a zoological park with a "safari" concept would have different sizes and space requirements, as compared to one with an exhibit placed in cages.
"The guidelines also does not differentiate between an adult and sub-adult species, newly-hatched or newly-born animals all of which have different requirements," Abdullah
National Zoo welcomes baby panda
Keeper Becky Malinsky was getting ready for bed Sunday, sitting on the couch with her dog when she decided to check the National Zoo’s panda cam, which was monitoring Mei Xiang, the female giant panda.
Malinsky knew that Mei was nearing the end of her annual reproductive cycle, and that most experts figured, after five failed attempts to impregnate the panda, the odds
Will the National Zoo's Giant Panda Cub Die?
A panda cub's first days are filled with potentially perilous obstacles
Animal keepers at the National Zoo got a pleasant surprise Sunday night: Mei Xiang, one of the zoo's two giant pandas and its star attraction, gave birth to her second cub in seven years. Now, its handlers have to make sure the cub lives to adulthood.
Pandas are notoriously bad breeders—Mei Xiang was artificially inseminated and has had five false pregnancies over the past several years—but they may be even worse at keeping their young alive. Many giant pandas born in captivity die before reaching adulthood. Only four pandas born in the United States have survived, and of the six (now seven) pandas born at the National Zoo, just one, Tai Shan, has survived. Earlier this year, the first giant panda born in captivity in Japan in more than 24 years died of pneumonia just a week after it was born.
But the Washington, D.C.-based zoo's newest cub (keepers still don't know if it's a male or female) has some key things going for it. According to Nicole MacCorkle, one of the panda's keepers, Mei Xiang has been a successful mother before (to Tai Shan), and has been generally healthier than Ling Ling, the panda whose five cubs all died shortly
Don’t send orangutans to Kemaman Zoo
Friends of the Orangutans (FOTO) were told that six orangutans would be sent from Melaka Zoo to the equally terrible, if not worse, Kemaman Zoo in Terengganu.
Perhilitan must be out of their minds. We have seen pictures of a gibbon clad in a t-shirt and chained for visitors’ amusement, macaque chained to a pole, an emaciated tapir and owls in tiny cages, we wonder what other horrors are going on in that zoo, not that Perhilitan care.
Sending orangutans from one irresponsible zoo to another makes no difference to the well being of the six orangutans. Infact, we wonder if the six will be worse off at Kemaman Zoo. Because if the cruel Melaka Zoo, who were last week exposed again on orangutan abuse, are training Kemaman Zoo keepers to handle and manage orangutans, there is no hope the orangutans
Penguin paints pottery in Pawcatuck
Penguins at Mystic Aquarium may be a lot more talented than you think. One penguin in particular was able to go to a Pawcatuck pottery studio to strut his stuff.
Blue Blue is putting more than just blue paint on some tiles. The five-year-old African penguin is a trained artist. Well at least he's trained to extend his feet so trainers can put paint on them for creations.
"It can take many years for some of the penguins to get to the point where we can do something like we did today," said Sarah Dunn, Mystic Aquarium.
The training is tough because penguins don't eat much so they are not motivated by food rewards. They just need to get used to people.
The ceramic tiles and vases the penguins paint will be given out as prizes during Mystic Aquarium's annual penguin walk/run in October, which
S. Korean aquarium apologises for whale shark's death
A South Korean aquarium publicly apologised Wednesday for the death of a captive whale shark, and said it would release a second such shark following protests from conservationists.
"We admit a lack of proper preparations (for sustaining whale sharks in captivity) and we regret causing concern among the people," Aqua Planet, which opened last month in the southern island of Jeju, said in a statement.
Whale sharks, the world's largest fish, are protected under the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species.
The aquarium said they were caught by chance in a fisherman's nets off the southern island last month, about a week before the facility opened.
One of them stopped feeding around the end of last month and died last week.
The Korea Federation for Environmental Movement of Jeju said the whale shark had died of extreme distress in captivity.
It criticised the aquarium for holding the pair in a tank 25 metres (82 feet) long, 23 metres wide and 8.5 metres high, along with some 8,000 other fish.
Awareness of conservation is growing in South Korea. Jeju will host a major international congress on the issue next month.
In April, a court on the island ordered the release into the ocean of five
Perhilitan shuts six zoos
Six zoos around the country have been shut down by the Wildlife and National Parks Depart-ment Perhilitan for being unsanitary and unsafe.
They have also failed to comply with the Wildlife Conservation (Operation of Zoo) Regulations 2012, which came into effect last Feb 1.
The six are Lye Huat Garden in Kedah, Kuala Krai bird park in Kelantan, Countryview Recreation in Pahang, PD Mini Zoo in Negri Sembilan, Taman Kuang in Ajil, Terengganu, and Animal Wonderland at Mines Wonderland in Selangor.
Perhilitan said the six were closed following checks at 45 zoos and animal parks nationwide.
“All the affected animals will either be released to their natural habitats after a rehabilitation process (for local species) or handed over to other zoos in the country,” the department said in a statement yesterday.
Under the regulations, zoos and animal parks are required to ensure that the welfare, health and safety of the animals are taken care of.
They are required, among other things, to:
> Adhere to minimum cage sizes, which are specified according to various animal groups;
> Have a quarantine area and provide veterinary services;
> Provide nutritious and sufficient food for the animals, as prescribed by a veterinarian; and
> Vaccinate the animals.
Calling for zoo operators to comply with the regulations, Perhilitan said the vetting process at other premises was ongoing.
“Although this involves substantial cost, the welfare of animals in captivity has to be a priority,” it said.
As a follow-up measure, Perhilitan together with the Malaysian Associa-tion of Zoological Parks and Aquaria will conduct zoo management training to help members increase knowledge in welfare management and husbandry of wild animals in captivity.
The department stressed
Malaysia animal groups concerned over animals future after zoo closures
Following the closure of 6 zoos in Malaysia, animal rights activists and groups are worried over the future of the animals.
“Now that the government is cracking down on zoos and their horrific conditions, we are all wondering where the animals will end up at this point,” animal rights advocate Mohammed told Bikyamasr.com from Putrajaya on Thursday.
The Wildlife and National Parks Department said that the zoos are being closed after they failed to comply with the new measures and are unsanitary and unsafe for the animals.
They have also not complied with the Wildlife Conservation Regulations 2012, the new regulations regarding the country’s zoos, which came into effect February 1.
The 6 zoos to be closed are Lye Huat Garden in Kedah, Kuala Krai bird park in Kelantan, Countryview Recreation in Pahang, PD Mini Zoo in Negri Sembilan, Taman Kuang in Ajil, Terengganu, and Animal Wonderland at Mines Wonderland in Selangor.
In a statement, Malaysian Nature Society communications chief Andrew Sebastian said he hoped that the animals would be returned to the wild and not transferred to another facility.
“We hope more animals will be rehabilitated and released to the wild,” he said in comments published by The Star newspaper.
“I hope the process will be transparent and the public, together with other NGOs, will be kept informed,” he said.
He added that the move was a positive beginning and showed that the government was getting stricter against errant zoo operators.
The closures also come as another set of regulations are to be established this month, but animal rights activists are tentatively optimistic they will make an impact.
Malaysian Animal Welfare Society president Shenaaz Khan told The Sun newspaper that she believes that without a strong enforcement operation, the laws are meaningless and zoos can continue to treat animals poorly.
“Under these new regulations, even forcing animals to ride a bicycle and juggle balls is an act of cruelty to animals because it is not their natural behavior,” she said.
But she fears that without proper government enforcement and ending permits for new zoos in order to focus on the existing zoos and their conditions, these acts will persist.
The new regulations for zoos in Malaysia are in line with international standards, and have garnered the support from animal rights groups and activists, despite the worry over enforcement.
They include minimum cage sizes as well as having quarantine areas and a veterinary clinic or animal hospital with a full-time veterinary on site.
Shockingly, some “animal sanctuaries” in the country do not currently have an on-site veterinary to treat animal injuries.
Also, zoos and other facilities must deliver vaccinations to all animals, “supply nutritious and adequate food, maintain cleanliness and keep a proper medical record of the animals, perform euthanasia when necessary, conduct wildlife shows involving the animals’ natural behavior
AK-47s, Quack Medicine, and Heaps of Cash: The Gruesome Rhino Horn Trade, Explained
Organized criminals, some operating in the US, are smuggling the valuable body part of the majestic creature.
The scene of a rhino crime
On a grassy expanse somewhere in South Africa's Kariega Game Reserve in March, a male rhinoceros struggled to its feet, hobbled several paces, and then thudded back down under its own weight. The beast's iconic horn had been macheted off by poachers, and all that remained was a mound of raw, mutilated flesh. Not too far off, the carnage was even worse. Sprawled beside a bush, a female rhino heaved for air on a patch of grass damp with her own blood. "I just thought surely we can't save this one," says wildlife veterinarian Dr. William Fowlds in the footage below, as he examines the bull's injuries and tends to the aftermath.
After making surprising steps toward recovery, the male rhino, Themba, drowned in a watering hole. Miraculously, the female, Thandi, fought against the odds and successfully survived her brutal skull hacking:
Wait, this is just an isolated incident, right?
Since the 1970s, rhino populations have declined by more than 90 percent. Due to increased law enforcement and conservation efforts, poaching in South Africa began to slow during the early 90s and through most of the next decade, with killings consistently in the single or low double digits. In 2008, however, a resurgence occurred. The number of poachings skyrocketed from 13 in 2007 to 83 in 2008. In 2010, the number shot up to 333. And then, last year, it hit a high of 448. The latest numbers (281) suggest that 2012 will edge out 2011. "Poaching levels are unsustainable," says John Scanlon, the secretary-general of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), in a recent documentary that premiered at the United Nations' Rio+20 conference. "This species will be driven to extinction in the wild if these trends continue." South Africa, which is home to 90 percent of the world's rhino population, hosts two species, the black rhino and the white rhino. The black rhino is
Rhino horn sale angers B.C. animal defence group
The sale of a rhinoceros horn at an auction in Victoria has raised the ire of one animal rights' group.
It is illegal to sell rhino horns taken after 1975, but the horn sold last night for $14,000 at Lunds auction house is believed to be legal, according to manager Peter Boyle.
“If we felt if there would be a problem with this thing, we wouldn't get involved. But we don't see a problem at all,” Boyle said.
But Marley Daviduk, a campaigner with the Vancouver Animal Defence League, said the age of the horn should not make a difference.
“I think it's glorifying an industry that's causing the extinction of species overseas,” Daviduk said. “It's time to make this connection to what's happening in Africa and have a no-tolerance policy for the trade in any kind of animal
Farming rhinos and legalising sale of their horns worth more than gold 'will save them from extinction', claims farmer
Rhinos could be saved from extinction by breeding them like cows in order to harvest their valuable horns, according to a controversial millionaire farmer.
Rhino breeder John Hume keeps nearly 800 beasts on his cattle-style ranches - while the creatures are almost extinct in the wild - and has a multimillion pound stockpile of their horns.
Last week South African government figures revealed a record 281 wild rhinos had been killed this year alone to supply an insatiable Far East market for illegal horn.
The animals are butchered in the bush for their precious horns which are formed from keratin, the same substance that occurs in human
Former Marineland staff ‘sickened’ by park’s explanations
Brendan Kelly left after his shift last week as MC of the stadium show at Marineland, and hasn’t gone back. The grinning guy in the bright red shirt who invited children to feed the dolphins couldn’t take it anymore.
“I can’t go back now. I just can’t face being that happy person, knowing what happens to the animals,” said Kelly.
Kelly’s last shift was last Tuesday. In a Star report on Wednesday, eight former Marineland employees told of recurring water problems at the park that left animals sick and suffering fur loss, skin conditions and eye problems, including blindness. The trainers blamed short-staffing for the death of Skoot, a baby beluga who died after an attack by adult male belugas over two hours on May 28, 2012.
In an interview, Kelly recounted incidents over six years (some of his time seasonal) as a marine mammal trainer, including a bad time with dolphins in October 2011. He was powerless, he said, to help five dolphins swimming in green water in the barn. After watching them breeching, chuffing (loudly exhaling) and “struggling to breathe,” he went to his supervisor, only to be told nothing