I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
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Talking of Dysfunctional Zoos...Watch the following video and weep. This is Hawler Zoo, Erbil in Kurdistan in 2012
Hwler Zoo 2012 from Waterkeeper on Vimeo.
Another Dysfunctional Zoo
Thailand Theme Park Continues to Host Orangutan Kickboxing Matches
Endangered primates still exploited for amusement despite years of protests by animal welfare activists and anti-trafficking crackdowns
I recently found out that Safari World, an animal theme park on the outskirts of Bangkok, hosts orangutan kickboxing matches. Captive orangutans, dressed in lurid satin shorts and boxing gloves, kick and punch each other until there is a knockout. The performances even feature female orangutans in bikinis holding up the round number. The matches last more than 30 minutes, after which the orangutans are returned to their dark cages. Video footage of the park shows tourists cheering the grotesque display.
Safari World insists that the orangutans are trained to pretend punch and feign knock-outs, however, animal rights activists say that the large animals could easily injure one another.
“The use of endangered species for sport and entertainment is appalling. These critically endangered orangutans do not exist for our entertainment; local indigenous populations should know this, and tourists must be sensitive to this. We as a species and global population did not develop to exploit animals for amusement,” Michael Muehlenbein, professor of anthropology at Indiana University told me via email. Muehlenbein has spent a lot of time in Borneo studying primate disease ecology and the potential negative effects of interactions between humans and wild animals
Back in 2004, after mounting pressure from animal rights groups, the Thai government cracked down on Safari World, taking custody of the orangutans. As wild orangutans are now only found in the jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia, Safari World claimed that their orangutans were the result of a successful domestic breeding program. DNA tests, however, proved that many were illegally traded from Indonesia. Eventually, nearly 50 smuggled orangutans were returned to their native Indonesia, after one of the world’s largest cases of great ape...
Safari World in Bangkok Thailand
And Then there are the less obvious ones
Just What Is The Point Mr Antle?
Tiger scales zoo wall, creates scare
The Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) on Sunday witnessed some tense moments when a tiger jumped out of its enclosure and scaled the wall.
However, alert guards cornered the tiger in the crawl area before it was tranquilised and taken back to its enclosure.
An eyewitness told Deccan Chronicle that the tiger tried to escape when it was about to be shifted to a treatment room for which it was being taken in a cage.
“The cage had no top cover as the tiger was still within the metal barriers in the crawl areas. The moment the tiger was brought in the open, it jumped outside the cage and used the cage to scale the wall.
Two other guards, who were present in the crawl area, ran for their lives and, at the same time, other guards kept the tiger’s attention engaged. After the tiger was confined to the crawl area, it was tranquilised,” the
Taronga Zoo elephant keeper Lucy Melo speaks for first time since being crushed
THE Taronga Zoo keeper who was crushed by an elephant on Friday was today able to speak to her family for the first time since the accident.
Northern beaches resident Lucy Melo, 40, is in a stable condition in Royal North Shore Hospital after the two-year-old Asian elephant calf Pathi Harn pinned her against a bollard on Friday morning.
Her heart stopped beating for five minutes after the incident.
While she has been able to write notes to her family, a zoo spokeswoman said she was "alert'' today and spoke for the first time since Friday.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) sent a letter to zoo director Cameron Kerr on Monday asking the zoo to use the incident to switch to a ``protected contact system'' of elephant handling, as the system did not use physical punishment and employed barriers ``to always separate elephants and handlers''.
A zoo spokesman said the zoo's success in its conservation programs for elephants had always been based on its keepers' use of "operant conditioning'', the rewarding of co-operative behaviours.
Taronga already manages its elephants in both free and protected contact depending on individual animal requirements, he said.
The spokesman said that following the incident it notified Work Cover, which is undertaking a detailed investigation.
"Taronga's procedures when interacting with the elephants are currently determined in concert with the Work Cover representatives until that investigation concludes,'' he said.
"The zoo is currently focusing on providing care and support to Lucy Melo and the other keepers, and to undertaking its own investigation
Tibetan mountain finch rediscovered after 80 years
It has been missing for 80 years but Sillem's Mountain Finch has now been rediscovered on the Tibetan plateau by a trekker who was too ill to leave camp.
The mountain finch has been an enigma ever since its discovery in 1929, not least because it wasn't identified until 1992.
Two specimens of the sparrow-sized grey and white bird with a russet head were collected by Dutch ornithologist Jerome Alexander Sillem on an expedition to the Karakoram mountain range in 1929.
Nowadays this is the disputed border region of China, India and Pakistan and a no-go area for birders.
The specimens were labelled as a race of Brandt's Mountain Finch (Leucosticte brandti) and consigned to a drawer in the Amsterdam Zoological Museum.
And there they remained until 1992 when a modern-day Dutch ornithologist, Kees Roselaar, opened
Plans to transfer two East Anglian zoos to charitable trust
Banham Zoo, near Attleborough, and Africa Alive, near Lowestoft, are set to undergo one of the biggest changes in their history with plans to move them into the management of a newly formed Zoological Society of East Anglia (ZSEA).
Visitors to the zoos, says managing director Martin Goymour, who founded Banham Zoo almost 45 years ago, will enjoy reduced ticket prices under plans to transfer the attraction to a charitable trust.
And he said the move, which would secure the future of both zoos, would be a “win-win’’ situation for visitors, staff and the animals.
He said no redundancies nor loss of staff were envisaged and that the move would enable the zoos to undertake more educational and conservation work
Nigeria: Benue Zoo Starves Lion, Other Animals to Death
Even as Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam has been importing pigs into the state, animals in the popular Makurdi Zoological Garden are being starved to death.
A lion was reported to have died of starvation in the zoo last week. Sunday Trust gathered that most of the animals kept in the state government-owned zoo located inside the Benue State University are dying due to starvation.
Only two weeks ago, the remaining two cheetahs died, one chimpanzee, a tortoise and others also died reducing the number of animals drastically.
The lioness which finally succumbed to death on Wednesday after battling with severe hunger left alone its male companion in the lair. They were said to be both feeding on 14kg of beef twice or thrice in a week.
"The meal was quite insufficient for them. Our animals are dying unless something urgent is done, the entire creatures will go extinct in this zoo," a staff who declined to give his name cried out.
Our correspondent, who visited the zoo, observed a case of abandonment as the dirt road leading to the place and the so-called gardens meant to house the animals in their different shades are over grown with weeds.
The zoo attendants were unwilling to answer questions. Neither the manager nor any
Belfast to host opera of Sheila the elephant
The two women in the photograph gaze affectionately and casually at the elephant as it siphons water from a bucket in their back yard.
The expressions on their faces show no more alarm or surprise than they might if they were watching a cat lap milk from a saucer.
The younger woman is Denise Austin, a zookeeper at Belfast zoo, and this moment, now frozen forever in black and white, was some time in April or May 1941.
The German bombing raids, which were to become known as the Belfast blitz, were bringing terror to the city - and not just to its human citizens.
At Belfast Zoo, Denise was looking after Sheila, an Asian elephant, and she was becoming increasingly anxious about the stress the terrible night-time raids were having on her charge.
David Ramsey is a Belfast-based
Endangered animals caught in the tourist trap
INDIA is home to the largest remaining wild populations of the tiger. Even so, there are estimated to be just 1500 to 2000 Bengal tigers left. They are the poster species of the country's tourism marketing - the face of its national pride. So no wonder a legal bid to ban visitors from the heart of conservation zones, with its potential impact on income, has reignited the debate over the connections between wildlife tourism and conservation.
The once far-flung realm of our planet's largest cat species has been squeezed to a few poorly connected areas - mainly public, protected zones. All are under pressure. Some subspecies are already extinct in the wild, and others risk going the same way.
All are the unrelenting target of poachers controlled by gangs that supply the trade in tiger parts for traditional "medicine" in China and South-East Asia.
In India, national and state governments and local and international conservation organisations have devoted considerable effort and funds to protect these animals. As a result, the total Bengal tiger population has recovered slowly during recent decades, even allowing for inaccuracies in counts.
Increasing awareness of the animal's plight is one component of conservation efforts, and tiger tourism is part of this. It started slowly, but has grown greatly. Tiger reserves receive tens to hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, which can cause crowds (though this pales in comparison with some wildlife parks in other countries, which get tens of millions of visitors). The animals are adversely affected by direct disturbance, new infrastructure and human in-migration.
Yet crucially, parks agencies and local communities have become dependent on tourism funding, and much of it pays for work that keeps poachers at bay - the key conservation concern for Bengal tigers. In the principal tiger state of Madhya Pradesh, which arguably leads the way in its management of nature reserves, tourism revenue is used to fund programmes for local villagers, who act as gatekeepers against poachers. These villagers also have an effect on tigers, but neither they nor the tourists are nearly as severe a threat as poaching. Revenues there also fund anti-poaching patrols, compensate villagers for livestock killed by tigers, and pay for fence construction and other programmes. One tour operator has also helped reintroduce tigers. In other states, however, parks do not receive tourism cash and suffer more severe impacts from hunters
Cubs bred for profit, torn from their mothers - and sent to die in the wild: The cruel truth of China's panda factories
It was a scene worthy of a Disney tear-jerker – and had a television audience to match. Leaving his mother behind, Tao Tao, the two-year-old giant panda, walked out of his cage and took his first uncertain steps to freedom in the mountain slopes of south-west China.
Behind him, the keepers who helped raise the cub from his birth in captivity watched as their young charge padded away into the bamboo-rich woodland where his fight to survive would begin.
No detail had been spared in the careful preparation for Tao Tao’s future. His keepers made a model leopard, complete with a roaring sound, to teach him about his potential predators.
When the model was put into his enclosure in June, he dutifully ran for cover. Staff at the breeding centre even dressed in panda outfits to prevent their young charge becoming too familiar with his human captors.
Images of Tao Tao’s release into the remote Liziping Nature Reserve in Sichuan ten days ago were broadcast around the world, just as the authorities intended, portraying an unusually humane side to the Chinese regime and demonstrating its absolute determination to save the giant panda, the national symbol, from extinction.
Today, Tao Tao is the only captive-bred giant panda in the wild. Officials boast that, if his release is a success, more young pandas will follow in his paw prints until the mountain forests of western China are once again home to a flourishing population.
If that is the vision served up to a credulous international audience, the reality is shockingly different. The truth is that wild pandas, their numbers already desperately low, are continuing to die out – their habitat disappearing beneath a tide of concrete as China’s economic juggernaut rolls on. It is entirely possible that there may be just a few hundred left.
Meanwhile the Chinese government
For 'de-programmed' elephants, return to wild is a slow, costly process
The Elephant Reintroduction Foundation (ERF) must shoulder not only the increasingly high cost of purchasing elephants, but also of preparing them for their return to the wild. In the meantime, it focuses on taking good care of the domesticated elephants in its custody, which is only a fraction of the number in the Kingdom that could potentially be released back into their natural habitat.
ERF secretary-general Siwaporn Thantharanont said that without the conservation efforts of the foundation and the National Elephant Institute (NEI), an estimated 2,500 to 2,800 domesticated elephants could die unnecessarily over the next 30 years.
Due to higher demand for elephants in the tourism business, where the pachyderms are put on show for tourists, plus begging on the streets of Bangkok, an elephant now costs up to Bt1.5 million, compared to Bt300,000 in recent years.
Reorienting a domesticated elephant for life in the wild once cost the ERF Bt300,000 to purchase the animal plus Bt200,000 in nurturing expenses, food and mahouts' fees. This later rose to Bt1 million: Bt700,000 to buy the elephant plus Bt300,000 in costs. A well-respected monk recently agreed to release two elephants to the wild, but the ERF could not obtain either elephant, because each would have cost between Bt1 million and Bt1.5 million, Siwaporn said.
Of the country's approximately 2,800 domesticated elephants, around 1,500 to 1,800 are in the custody of conservation dens in Ayutthaya, Chiang Mai, Lampang and Surin. The remainder are privately owned, either by individual mahouts, loggers who use them in their work, or zoos and tourist attractions. A 1998 estimate put the number of remaining wild elephants in Thailand at around 2,000.
The ERF now has 67 elephants undergoing reorientation for a return to the wild at three dens. Wild elephants, and those transformed and returned to the
Zoo cameras capture lead-up to accident
SECURITY cameras monitoring Taronga Zoo's elephant enclosure have captured crucial moments before and after a young male elephant crushed its keeper against a fence post during a morning bath.
Lucy Melo, 40 is in Royal North Shore Hospital's cardiothoracic intensive care unit after suffering horrific internal injuries when two-year-old elephant Pathi Harn nudged her against a bollard on Friday.
The Zoo today tweeted: "We’ve been advised that Lucy Melo remains stable in Royal North Shore Hospital. Elephants all well and spending time in paddock."
WorkCover investigators have seized surveillance footage of the moments leading up to the incident. Because of the position of the cameras, the whole incident was not captured on tape.
It is understood the elephant did not appear aggressive towards Ms Melo, or any other keeper in the pen at the time.
Ms Melo was giving the younger animals a bath when the accident happened about 11.30am.
She suffered critical crushing injuries to her chest, heart and lungs and went into cardiac arrest moments
The October 2012 issue of ZOO’s PRINT Magazine (Vol. XXVII, No. 10) is online at <www.zoosprint.org> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.
If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <www.zoosprint.org/showMagazine.asp>
October 2012 | Vol. XXVII | No. 10 | Date of Publication 21 October 2012
VORTEX author, Population Biology Scientist & Former CBSG Chair Awarded with U.S. Seal Award for Innovation at CBSG Annual meeting hosted by Melbourne Zoo
Alex Rubel, Director, Zoo Zurich and former President of WAZA honoured with WAZA’s Heini Hediger Award
Procedure and Process for acquiring animals from zoos abroad
-- Bipul Chakrabarty, Pp. 12-13
Announcement: Save Western Ghats Meet
Using scientific thinking process to promote Human elephant coexistence HECx in Tamil Nadu, S India
-- B.A. Daniel and R. Marimuthu, Pp. 14-15
International Congress on Zookeeping 2012
-- Rengasamy Marimuthu, P. 16
Role of Zookeepers in Conservation Education
-- Rengasamy Marimuthu and Sally Walker, Pp. 17-18
Changing Hearts, Minds and Ultimately Behaviours: Report of the IZE Conference 2012
-- B.A. Daniel, Pp. 19-20
Education Reports -- Vulture Awareness day
Captive Female Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) released to the Wild
-- Santosh Bhattarai, P. 22
Sphaeromorphaea australis (Less.) Kitam., an addition to the flora of Andhra Pradesh, India
-- Suman Halder & T.K.Paul, P. 23
Ascaridoid nematode infection in a reticulated python
-- V. Gnani Charitha, S. Dhilleswara Rao, Satya Prakash Arun and A. Prasanth Babu, Pp. 24-25
Butterfly diversity of Kakatiya University Campus, Vidhyaranyapuri, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh
-- Ch. Samatha, Ch. Sammaiah and N. Vijayakumar, Pp. 26-28
Announcement: 20th SEAZA Conference 2012, Taiping, Malaysia
Photo courteousy of Durrell
Round Island boa returned to native habitat for first time in 150 years
A group of Round Island boas are being reintroduced to one of their original habitats on another Mauritian island for the first time since the 1860s.
This historical step in a long-standing programme by Durrell and its partners to protect the threatened species from extinction will see up to 60 of the snakes released on an island, which is today a closed nature reserve and one on which a huge amount of work has been carried out to restore the natural ecosystem.
It is the first time that snakes have been relocated for conservation purposes within the region and once established, the second population should give the Round Island boa – which for over 150 years has been restricted to the Island it is named after - a much better long-term chance of survival.
The wild boas, which number about 1,000 in total, are currently being collected by hand by a specialist team of conservationists. Once the snakes have undergone a health check, their release onto their new island home is due to take place between 15th October and 1st November 2012.
Explaining why it has taken so long for the relocation to become a reality, Durrell’s Dr Nik Cole, who is leading the relocation through the Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme, said: “For about 150 years, the boas have been isolated to Round Island. It has been impossible to reintroduce them to their former range because of the damage caused by invasive predators, such as rats, which caused the loss of the boas natural prey and the boas. Furthermore, the damage caused by invasive herbivores on Round Island itself had reduced the boa population to a level where removing individuals for relocation may have been harmful to the survival of the species.
“However, the vision of Durrell and others in the 1970s to remove these problematic invaders from the islands has allowed the reptile populations on Round Island to recover and opened up other islands for the reintroduction of threatened species. For example in 2007 the Telfair’s skink was reintroduced, which like the boa had become restricted to Round Island. The newly established Telfair’s skink population is now robust enough to support boas, which require a healthy skink population to survive.”
The Mauritius Reptile Recovery Programme is part of an on-going collaborative conservation project by Durrell, the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the National Parks and Conservation Service, supported by the International Zoo Veterinary Group. Despite the work which has enabled the boa to recover its numbers on Round Island itself, having any species restricted to one small location is never ideal, with the potential risk of predator invasion and adverse weather conditions. Therefore establishing a second population is essential.
The programme’s snake collecting team has 219 hectares of steep terrain to cover across the whole of Round Island to ensure there is a wide genetic mix for release. A minimum of 40 snakes is required for the release to be a success and the team is aiming to collect at least 100 from which to select 60 suitable individuals.
The boa population and resident reptiles on the target island have undergone rigorous screening to determine any potential disease risks involved with the translocation. Once caught, the boas will be individually housed for up to four days in specially-designed holding units on Round Island, where they will be screened for any potential health problems. Dr Cole will then take the snakes to an awaiting team on the target island and each boa will be released at night at one of 60 locations that have been specially prepared.
The snakes will be closely monitored using night vision equipment once they are released. This work will be carried out by the field team, who are all local Mauritian staff, and only Dr Cole will move between two islands, with the assistance of the National Coast Guard, to reduce the risk of transferring any unwanted species between the islands.
Dr Cole said: “The boas’ chance of survival should be high as the cause of their original demise – the rats – has been removed from the island and their prey source – primarily the Telfair’s skink - is once again in abundance. Their reintroduction restores an apex predator in a natural system and having two populations of the species is certainly better than one and as such will greatly enhance the future survival of this unique animal.”
Urgent update, recent breaking media and call to action to save the Tripa Peat Swamp Forests
Your support has made our previous petition a historical success!
But with Tripa still being burned, cleared, destroyed and the Sumatran Orangutan still being pushed closer to extinction, we need to urgently double our efforts and keep up the pressure and action!
The Governor of Aceh has made history by finally revoked the license of one of the illegally operating companies thanks to the pressure generated by our first petitions. But with 5 more companies still destroying protected area inside Tripa, the fight has only just begun!
There are still companies with breaking the law in Tripa continuing to dig illegal drainage canals, clear protected forests and driving the local Sumatran Orangutan population closer to extinction. Urgent action is still required to save Tripa.
The national police needs to investigate and prosecute law-breakers, namely those who are breaking National Spatial Planning law 26/2007 Government Regulation 26/2008 which protects the 2.7 million hectare Leuser Ecosystem, home to critically endangered Orangutans, and also Sumatran Tigers, Elephants, Rhinos and countless other iconic species.
Community members filed a police report in November, now with the legal precedent of the first permit being revoked, it's the perfect time for the National Police to take action and bring this next case to the courts.
Together, we can take this next step, demand the police uphold Indonesian National Spatial Planning law 26/2007 & 26/2008, save Tripa, and set a huge precedent for the protection of ALL of Indonesian forests.
Please sign and share this petition!
Can we afford to save species from extinction?
Saving the world's endangered species will cost £50bn a year, estimates a coalition of conservationists and academics. But can we afford it?
Personally, I shudder at the notion that we might try to place endangered species within the confines of a spreadsheet. I don't instinctively like headline figures - as presented in this new study as being £50bn a year - suggesting a grand total price tag for saving all species. The reality is that hundreds of local projects and initiatives will be required to protect all the endangered species around the world. Such large sums could be used by some as a convenient device to argue it's far too much to consider attempting. I do think, though, that the process of auditing such costs on a "per species" basis is valid, if only to help those who might otherwise fail to focus on such issues.
More importantly, though, I think to view this simply as "saving species" is wrong-headed. I think it far wiser to talk in terms of protecting habitats rather than the species that reside within them. After all, when we talk about protecting species we are actually talking about protecting habitats. Why don't we just say this?
Can we "afford" it? As has already been said by others, it seems more pertinent to ask can we afford not to? These habitats also support - via that dreadful term "ecosystem services" - the one species that has the power, means and comprehension to decide
Shark finning hitting Gulf sharks hard
Armed with a clip board and wearing bright yellow waders, Rima Jabado looked the part of a government inspector at the Dubai fish market as workers sawed the fins off hundreds of dead sharks from Oman and bagged them for export to Asian restaurants.
But the 33-year-old Lebanese-Canadian doctoral student was not chatting with fisherman on the market's slippery floors and jotting down notes to monitor the lucrative and largely unregulated trade that has decimated stocks of certain sharks, but rather to document what species are being caught in the waters across the Persian Gulf. "The government will not react unless we give them actual data," said Jabado, as she raced to take genetic samples from the sharks before their carcasses were carted off and fins auctioned to the highest bidder. "The problem is that I'm the only one doing research. There is not enough being done in the UAE and the region," she said. "We know shark populations are depleting around the world so we are kind of racing against time to see what is going on." Fishermen across the globe kill as many as 70 million sharks each year for their fins, which can sell for $700 a pound (450 grams), while the soup prized for Chinese banquets and weddings can cost $100 a bowl. The fin trade has devastated several species including hammerheads, oceanic whitetip, blue, threshers and silky and contributed to 181 shark and ray species being
Zimbabwe weighs cost of too many elephants
With the elephant population ballooning, wildlife authorities have resorted to using 45 generators, each consuming 200 litres (52 gallons) of diesel a week from June to November, to ensure the animals can get water. The strategy appears to be working. So far this year around 17 elephants have died in the area due to the extreme heat and lack of water, compared to 77 last year. "The elephants drink close to 90 percent of all the water (pumped) here," said Edwin Makuwe, an ecologist with the Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority, "I think elephants now know that when they hear an engine running, chances are that there is water close by." But the water, while life-preserving, may be running against the flow of nature. The 14,600-square-kilometre (5,600-square-mile) reserve is home to between 35,000 to 40,000 elephants, twice its capacity. The increase in the elephant population has led to higher demand for water at the park, home to over 100 different species of animals including the "Big Five": elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and the endangered rhinoceros. Makuwe said the rise in the elephant population at the game reserve, established in 1949, had also led to the destruction of the environment. "There is so much activity by the elephants that the vegetation has been affected negatively, the trees are no longer growing as fast as they should." "(The trees) are no longer producing as many seeds as they should. In the long term this will have a negative effect on the entire habitat of Hwange." He said the quality of the forage had gone down, with elephants stripping tree barks and digging roots for food. "The African savanna is supposed to be a mosaic of trees and grasses. The moment you start to have more grasslands than trees it is not functioning as African savanna." Makuwe fears small animals and insects who live in the trees risk extinction. "If you lose the trees and you are left with the grasslands, then definitely some of the species will be lost," he said. The authorities are yet to find a solution. "Some people advocate to let nature take its course ... (but) we are yet to find a method which can convince all the people to accept and bring down the (elephant) population," Makuwe added. With tourists, who have shunned the country over the years, slowly returning, there is little incentive to cull the main attraction. In the meantime, Tom Milliken, of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), said elephants in Hwange were suffering greatly due to the w
FrogLog, Conservation news for the herpetological community. This edition focuses on Asia, Russia and Oceania