Saturday, October 6, 2012

Zoo News Digest 1st - 6th October 2012 (Zoo News 833)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 6th October 2012 (Zoo News 833)



Dear Colleagues,

I'm not too sure how I feel about the new wildlife park planned for North Vietnam. The area around Ninh Binh for where this is planned is the most beautiful of places I have visited in Asia. I would hate to see it spoiled in any way. Perhaps I'm selfish.

The stories about Zion Wildlife Park inquest make a sad but interesting read. I still maintain it is completely unnecessary to enter enclosures with any big cat. It isn't clever or brave just unnecessary and always an accident waiting to happen....wherever it takes place. See Zoo News Digest for similar inevitable accidents that have taken place elsewhere. The big one is just around the corner....and management know it or are just so blinkered....or should that be 'blinded by cash' to care. Reading further on Zion I see mention of a cattle prod. Unusual that and I wonder if the use of these are in use elewhere? I did see one video clip of another 'Lion Whisperer' (what the ...?) where when he got into a little difficulty a taser suddenly appreared. Not so clever or gifted after all.

'Arizona Tiger Handler Defies Critics to Swim With 450-Pound Felines' I said, an accident waiting to happen. Here in the story we come across the following statement "Zoo experts say there is nothing wrong with how Out of Africa interacts with its animals, but reiterate that the handlers are trained professionals."....sorry....zoo experts? I am immediately reminded that 'ex' is a 'has been' and 'spurt' is gas under pressure....hence expert......just who are these people? I can easily guess. I would not take their advice on how to care for a hamster.

How much was really said and how much invented by the newspaper? Here I refer to 'Bogor zoo to swap komodos for pandas' and "We are sure about the exchange because we have solid experience in conserving several species of white and polar bears, whose handling is quite similar to that of pandas." Certainly got me thinking...I must have missed something somewhere.

Atlas lions? I don't think so. Prove it to me. I find the statement "who personally supervised the birth of the three cubs" especially disturbing in terms of proper husbandry. See Hand Rearing Lion Cubs and Other Carnivores

The Birthday Party Part II went off very well. Another year gone and time to reflect. I do wonder how it takes so long in life to meet the most important people. This last year one of, if not the best, years of my life.

Birthday Party II

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.


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Tug-of-paw: Tigers take on keepers in rope war at Chinese zoo
Zoo keepers test their strength against a whole pack of tigers in the fiercest tug of war competition you're ever likely to see.
Staff at Jiufeng Forest Zoo, in Wuhan, Henan province, China, dressed in tiger costumes before cajoling the big cats into action by poking them through a wire fence with a pole.
The ferocious animals, which can weight up to 500lbs, appeared to have understood the rules, grabbing hold of the rope with their teeth and paws before heaving away.
After the keepers conceded defeat, members of the public were then invited to join in the stunt which was staged to mark the country's Moon Festival -  China's autumn national holiday.
But it infuriated animal rights campaigners who said it was wrong to taunt the tigers.
One wildlife campaigner told local media: 'It is degrading to tease magnificent animals like this. They wouldn't think it was so much

Bogor zoo to swap komodos for pandas
Taman Safari Indonesia Zoo in Bogor, West Java, says it has arranged to swap a pair of Komodo dragons for a pair of Chinese pandas.
“The exchange is part of the Chinese and Indonesian governments cooperation in conservation,” zoo director Frans Manansang told reporters on Saturday at the zoo.
Frans said that Indonesia was “lucky” as the Chinese have been reluctant to exchange pandas despite numerous requests.
“We are sure about the exchange because we have solid experience in conserving several species of white and polar bears, whose handling is quite similar to that of pandas,” he said.
The zoo plans to send several animal keepers to China to study how to care for the pandas, who will arrive in October 2013.
Frans said that the swap came with a special request, however.
“The Chinese government wants the pandas

Taman Safari Indonesia

Red squirrel populations wiped out in northern Italy
Scientists say there are no red squirrels in a 1,150 sq km area of Piedmont after invasive greys took hold in the region
Red squirrels have been wiped out from a large swath of northern Italy, threatening a further biodiversity crisis for the species on a par with its near extinction in the British Isles.
There are now no red squirrels left in an area of more than 1,150 square kilometres (sq km) in Piedmont, according to research from the universities of Turin, Genoa and Varese. On the edge of this large region, the species is also under threat from the incursions of grey squirrels.
If the spread of the grey squirrel continues unchecked, the species could spread as far as France, the scientists fear. They are calling for more research and control and conservation measures aimed at preserving the remaining red squirrel populations and containing the spread of the greys.
Grey squirrels were introduced into Italy relatively recently, in 1948. They were a gift from the US ambassador

SL to send two elephants to Prague zoo
Sri Lanka has donated two young female Indian elephants to the Prague zoo, where they will arrive on Saturday, flown to the Czech Republic by a Sri Lankan military plane, Prague zoo director Miroslav Bobek has told the media.
The elephants, eight-year-old Janita and seven-year-old Tamara, come from the elephant zoo in Pinnawale.
"The Hercules C-130 with them is to take off on Saturday at 01:00 the local time," Bobek, who is staying in Colombo, said.
In return, the Prague zoo will send two comodo dragons, two Przewalski horses and two young hippopotamuses to the Colombo zoo.
Nevertheless, the elephant acquisition is Sri Lanka's gift to the Czech Republic rather than routine exchange of animals between zoos, Bobek said. 
Prague zoo deputy director Jaroslav Simek said it is a unique project that will largely help extend the genetic base of the European breeding of Indian elephants.
"The elephant acquisition is the result of long-lasting efforts of [Czech] ambassador Miloslav Stasek and other officials from the Czech diplomatic mission to New Delhi, of the Czech Foreign Ministry and also of the fans of the Prague zoo," Bobek said.
Owing to Sri Lanka's offer to use its own plane to transfer the animals the Prague zoo will save money for the costly transfer.
The whole project that has been prepared for two years will cost the zoo 4.5 million crowns.
The newcomer elephants will be accommodated in a new pavilion

Sad hubby jumps into lion's enclosure
Saddened after a quarrel with his wife, a man tried to commit suicide by entering a lion's enclosure at Nandankanan Zoo here on Friday. He was mauled by two lions, but rescued alive. Doctors said he may survive.
Surya Narayan Das (35), a resident of Chhatrapur in Ganjam district, reached the zoo early on Friday morning and purchased an entry ticket. Around 1.10 pm, he went near an enclosure for lions (no 29-B) and started removing his shirt and trousers. Visitors at the spot, however, could not fathom his intention. The man then prostrated in front of a woman tourist and started climbing the iron mesh. "I was standing near the lion's enclosure when the man came near me and touched my feet. I was taken aback. I thought he was

We bought a zoo - Aussies intervene to save animals from a cruel fate
IT was the zoo from hell, a contender for the world's worst. The tigers were fed rice and an elephant became so emaciated it could squeeze between the bars of its cage.
But now, because a Sydney expatriate couple living in Cambodia and their supporters decided to do something about it, the 134 animals of the Teuk Chhou Zoo are beginning to thrive.
Rory and Melita Hunter, who operate Cambodia's first island resort, learned about the zoo's horrific conditions in a local Phnom Penh newspaper last year.
The list of horrors was long. Street dogs would enter holes in the cages and kill animals or steal their food. Animals were kept in pairs, so they were forced to compete for the meagre food offerings. The weaker animal starved.
Eagles were in cages so small they could not stretch their wings. Many cages were open to the elements, exposing animals to harsh tropical sun or torrential rain. The staff was a handful of locals overwhelmed by the

Teuk Chhou Zoo

Grisly fight to death revealed
A big-cat handler killed by a tiger at Whangarei's world famous Zion Wildlife Park did not see a need to lock the animal away while cleaning its enclosure, an inquest into the man's death has heard.
Martin Ferreira was with headkeeper Dalu MnCube at Zion when the latter was killed while they were cleaning out a tiger enclosure at the park in May 2009.
The inquest into the death of Clifford (Dalu) Mncube is being heard before Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland at Whangarei District Court this week.
Mr MnCube, a 26-year-old born in Zimbabwean, was employed at the park - home of TV's The Lionman series - when he was killed by a white male Bengal tiger Abu on May 27, 2009.
Today Mr Ferreira said in hindsight, a taser or something lighter should have been made available in the big cat enclosure.
He was aware that Zion had a safety manual in place in terms of securing big cats but said the practice ceased between February and May 2009, even after a man was injured and attacked by the tiger named Abu that killed Mr MnCube.
After the attack prior to Mr MnCube's death, Mr Ferreira said it was a norm to lock Abu away but it was not done on that fateful day. He asked Mr MnCube prior to entering the enclosure whether Abu had been locked away.
"He (Mr MnCube) answered me like I know what I am doing,'' ,Mr Ferreira said.
He said he took Mr MnCube's word for it.
Then park operator Patricia Busch, mother of Lionman Craig Busch, who made the park famous around the world through the TV series The Lionman, also gave evidence today.
Craig Busch and his mother Patricia were involved in a bitter dispute over ownership of the park at the time of Mr Mncube's death and the park has been taken over by new owners after going into liquidation last year.
She rejected accusations by Mr Ferreira that Zion staff were told not to go into animal enclosures when the park was being visited by MAF officials or not to admit being bitten by big cats.
A staff member who was attacked and injured by Abu about a month before Mr MnCube was killed had suggested the use of tasers but Mrs Busch said she did not know whether they could even be used in New Zealand.
She admitted discussing matters pertaining to risks with Mr MnCube but said she did not tell him not to enter Abu's enclosure without first locking Abu up.
Coroner Shortland said he would reserve his findings in the case.
A big-cat handler has told a coroner how he tried to fight off a tiger with his fists and a stick before using a fire extinguisher as his colleague was being mauled to death at Whangarei's Zion Wildlife Park.
Handler Martin Ferreira described how he heard a male tiger named Abu crush the head of his colleague, Dalu MnCube, after the pair had entered its enclosure to clean it on May 27, 2009. He also revealed that Abu had attacked another man a month or so before the fatal attack.
Mr MnCube's death is being investigated by Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland this week, with Mr Ferreira the first to give evidence after the hearing started yesterday.
Mr Ferreira said he and Mr MnCube had that day given tourists a chance to interact with a young big cat, then went to clean the enclosure where male tiger Abu and a female, Rewa, were living.
He said as the pair entered, Mr MnCube said "Hello Abu" and when the tiger came out of its den it went towards Mr MnCube and grabbed him by the leg.
Mr Ferreira said Abu had been de-clawed, but it had got Mr MnCube by its mouth and was holding on.
"He said 'Mate help me' so I hit Abu in the head and nose with my fists. I was screaming Horror fight to death described
at Abu to let him go," he said.
Another staffer was showing the tourists around the park, so Mr Ferreira used a stick to try to get the tiger to release Mr MnCube, then used a fire extinguisher.
In the meantime the tiger continued to maul Mr MnCube.
"He [Dalu] again said 'Please help me, this is serious' and Abu was trying to drag him into his den ... He was dragging [Dalu] around and the other tiger started coming towards him as well.
"I yelled at her to move away and continued to hit Abu. Abu put him down, then dragged him by the shoulder, then Abu grabbed him by the head. Abu's whole mouth covered his head, his fangs were on his neck. While Abu had him by the head, he was biting down on it. I could hear Abu crushing his head."
Another staffer came with a cattle prod and eventually the tiger let go and walked off to sit by his pool, covered in Mr MnCube's blood.
Mr MnCube was put into the back of a ute and taken to the park's front gates, where an ambulance had arrived, but he could not be saved. Abu was then shot.
Mr Ferreira said Abu had attacked and injured another man at the park a month or so earlier. Mr MnCube had saved the man's life on that occasion. After that, Abu had not seemed as friendly.
Mr Ferreira, who came to New Zealand from South Africa, where he also worked in big-cat parks, said that with experience you got to tell when a big cat was happy or not.
He said he and other staff were told by the park's operator at the time, Patricia Busch, that they should not be seen cleaning the animal's enclosure when the park was being visited by MAF officials.
Mr Ferreira said that in the days before the tragedy, Lionman Craig Busch, who was in a dispute with his mother Patricia over control of the park, had threatened to expose Mr MnCube to Immigration, claiming the handler should not be in the country.
Mr Ferreira said this seemed to unsettle

Inquest hears of unsafe environment at Zion wildlife park
An inquest into the death of a wildlife handler three years ago has heard of a cover-up and disregard for safety at a Northland zoo.
Zimbabwe born animal handler Dalu Mncube, also known as Clifford, was killed by a tiger while cleaning its enclosure at the Zion Wildlife Gardens in Whangarei in May 2009.
Staff member Martin Ferreira, who was in the cage at the time of the incident, gave evidence today saying there was no written guidelines or procedures in place for emergencies
"Our safety procedures that we normally would follow would have been a fire extinguisher, that we would use first, and after that, maybe a stick."
Ferreira also recalled how Mncube had pleaded for help after the tiger grabbed him by his leg.
"Clifford responded to me by saying, 'mate help me'."
"I could see his skull was crushed and he had puncture marks on his neck."
Ferreira eventually fought the tiger with his bare hands and then with a piece of wood to try and save Mncube.
The court also heard how the previous owner of the park, Patricia Busch, told staff not to enter enclosures when inspectors were there, and to lie about any injuries they may have received from the animals.
It is believed Mncube had a variety of different aliases and entered the country on a false passport.
The court claims Craig was threatening the Zimbabwean over his immigration status.
In December the park escaped a fine but was ordered to pay $60,000 in reparation to Mncube's partner for

Three-year-old boy also mauled at Lion Man's Zion Wildlife Park
This week's inquest into a big cat handler mauled to death by a tiger has brought back painful memories for an Auckland family.
The Hughes family visited the Zion Wildlife Park six years ago. Their trip was organised after their dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and was supposed to be a special time for the family.
Instead they ended up at hospital after their three-year-old was mauled by a lion.
Ethan Hughes is an adventurous boy. He's into everything and not afraid of much, except lions and tigers.
“I don't like them,” he says, “because one attacked me.”
In 2006 his dad was diagnosed with a brain tumour and told he had less than a year to live, so he treated the family to a special day at the Zion Wildlife Park.
Ethan's mum and older brother signed up to pat the lions, filling out a safety waiver.
But then the zoo handler, Dalu Mncube, asked if Ethan wanted to pat a cub. Ethan tried but was scared, and asked his dad to pick him up.
“The cub swung around and grabbed Ethan with his front paws and pulled him to the ground,” says mother Nicola Hughes.
His dad didn't want to pull back too hard, fearing Ethan would lose his leg, so instead he crouched over his son while Mr Mncube and two co-workers – one armed with a spade – dragged the one-year-old lion away.
“I turned around, dropped everything, dove in and punched this thing in the mouth,” says Ms Hughes. “I got a tooth in my hand. But I just kept punching it.”
Ethan, oozing blood and flesh from his legs, was admitted to hospital and underwent surgery.
“Peter, who had just had a brain operation, was lying on the floor of the hospital beside Ethan's bed so he could look after him,” says Ms Hughes.
She says the park's owner at the time, 'Lion Man’ Craig Busch, was informed but they never heard from him or saw him.
Ms Hughes says that makes her feel “pretty angry”.
“And it has done since

Zion Wildlife Gardens safety ‘inadequate'
A man mauled by a tiger repeatedly told park management about his safety concerns in the weeks before his death, a court heard yesterday.
Clifford (Dalu) Mncube was killed by Bengal white tiger Abu on May 27, 2009, while cleaning out an enclosure at Zion Wildlife Gardens in Whangarei.
Giving evidence at the coroner's inquest in Whangarei District Court yesterday, Mr Mncube's fiancee, Sharon Arnott, said she met him in March 2007 and shortly afterwards asked to see the wildlife park to allay her fears. However, her visit only amplified them.
Mr Mncube asked her to be his lookout while he cleaned out an enclosure containing four lions.
When Ms Arnott asked him what to do in an emergency he told her she should use a fire extinguisher to scare the lion.
When she pointed out the nearest one was inside a nearby pen, he suggested instead that she run her hand along the fence to make a noise to distract any potential attacks.
“It's really amazing nothing happened sooner,” she told the court.
Away from work Mr Mncube told Ms Arnott the staff were not quite up to the task and he needed a capable “backup man”. But when he took his request to park director Patricia Busch, she told him there were no available funds.
Mr Mncube had a valid work permit but was in the country on a false passport, a fact known to both Ms Busch and the former operator of the park, her son Craig “Lion Man” Busch.
“His position was he did as he was told and if he didn't he would be deported,” Ms Arnott's lawyer, Juliet Golightly, said.
Immigration had been in touch with Mr Mncube in the weeks leading up to his death and it is understood he thought he would be deported.
Ms Golightly took aim at those Ms Arnott believed were respon

Fear of backlash kept wildlife park open, court told
Fears of an international backlash deterred the then Ministry of Agriculture from considering closing down Whangarei's Zion Wildlife Gardens, despite six attacks by the big cats in the park, a court has heard.
Dr Barry Wards, a specialist advisor to the ministry, yesterday told an inquest into the death of Clifford (Dalu) MnCube that the political backlash from supporters of Lion Man Craig Busch after he was sacked from the park reached the very top of Government, including Prime Minister John Key.
The ministry determined that based on the level of support Mr Busch had, revoking the park's operating license would seriously harm New Zealand's international reputation, he said.
A massive online campaign was launched, particularly by Mr Busch's UK-based supporters, to help him reunite with the big cats after he was sacked by his mother, Patricia, in 2008.
He returned to the park after new owners, Tracey McVerry and Ian Stevenson, took charge and re-named it Zion Wildlife Kingdom in February.
At the inquest, Dr Wards was questioned extensively by Anthony Jackson, lawyer for Mr MnCube's partner Sharon Arnott, on the ministry's concerns about safety and actions it took to remedy the situation.
He said closing the park would have put the welfare of 40 big cats at risk.
Mr Jackson said it was not the ministry's overriding duty to protect the animals but to ensure procedures around their containment were followed.
Dr Wards said politically, it would have been an extremely difficult decision for the Crown to make to either export, euthanise or transfer the animals elsewhere in New Zealand.
A contingency plan was drawn up and the then Minister for Agriculture, David Carter, who took an interest in matters pertaining to the park because of the constant stream of letters from Mr Busch's supporters, was briefed on its contents.
The view of his supporters, he said, was that Mr Busch was being removed from the animals he reared.
"If that decision (to close the park) was made, there would have been an outcry, particularly from his supporters and directed at the ministry," Dr Wards said.
Asked why the ministry did not issue an operator's license to Mrs Busch after Mr MnCube died, he said she was not fully aware of the requirements in relation to the operation and containment of animals.
Earlier, another specialist advisor to the ministry, Howard Hamilton, said there had been five animal attacks since January 2007 on either park staff or the public prior to Mr MnCube's death in May 2009.
In January 2007, a staff member was bitten by a lion but the ministry was not informed about it until June 2009, he said.
Closing the inquest, Northland Coroner Brandt Shortland indicated he

Craig Busch and Zion Wildlife Gardens

And here we of the next accidents waiting to happen....and it will.

Arizona Tiger Handler Defies Critics to Swim With 450-Pound Felines
It looks like a scene out of a box-office smash movie.
But for Jeff Harwell, 30, an animal handler at Arizona’s Out of Africa Wildlife Park in Camp Verde, Ariz., running at full speed, being chased by a full-grown tiger or waiting for the 450-pound animal to pounce is part of a normal day.
Every afternoon for 30 minutes, Harwell performs in the “Tiger Splash” arena where he plays, roughhouses and seemingly taunts the park’s tigers in a 50-foot swimming pool, all in front of a live audience.
“We’re just playing, having a good time, you know? All I see is her eyes and how intense they are, and trying to figure out what move I’m going to make that will make her spring,” Harwell told ABC News.
The show has been taking place since 1991 with no major injuries. But Harwell realizes how dangerous the job can be.
“If she wanted to me harm, there’s pretty much nothing I could do about it,” Harwell said.
Such a profession begs the question of whether Harwell gets scared on the job.   “Yes, I get scared all the time.” he said.
Zoo experts say there is nothing wrong with how Out of Africa interacts with its animals, but reiterate that the handlers are trained professionals.
But critics say that no matter how well-trained Harwell is, performing alongside wild predators doesn’t always lead to a happy ending.
“Eventually, somebody is going to get killed because they do this on a daily basis,” Adam Roberts, executive vice president of animal rights group Born Free USA, said. “It only takes one time for this to be a tragedy.”
It’s a harsh reality that visitors to exhibits promising up-close animal encounters have seen time and again.
A lion at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas lashed out at his trainers in front of stunned guests in 2010. And roadside animal attractions across America have experienced numerous attacks. One

Safari Park crime roadshow
Central Scotland Police and Blair Drummond Safari Park have teamed up in a bid to clamp-down on wildlife crime.
A roadshow will take place at the rural tourist attraction over three days later this month, aimed at educating park-goers on various issues to do with illicit activity involving creatures great and small.
The event will take place between 10am and 5pm on Monday, October 15, as well as

Greater Vancouver Zoo renews its accreditation with watchdog group
The Greater Vancouver Zoo received another stamp of approval from Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums, zoo staff announced this week.
The Aldergrove facility successfully renewed its accreditation with CAZA, after a process that involved a 60-page report and more than three days of inspections this past summer.
“Basically, it means we can continue to operate as a zoo in the province of B.C.,” said general manager Jody Henderson. “It just sets a higher standard.”
The process evaluates animal care and husbandry, zoo safety and educational programs. For more than two years now, the province has required all zoo-like facilities to be approved by CAZA.
“We’re the only province in Canada that requires it. We have the strictest and highest standards,” Henderson said.
The Greater Vancouver Zoo has held CAZA accreditation for about a decade, she said. Benefits of accreditation include easier exchange of animals for breeding between facilities.
CAZA is a charitable organization dedicated to animal welfare and conservation, and there are more than 100

Can elephants suffer in sanctuaries, as an effect of volonteers opinions?
A sanctuary by definition is any place of safety. The mission of sanctuaries is generally to be safe havens, where the animals receive the best care that the sanctuaries can provide. Animals are not bought, sold, or traded, nor are they used for animal testing. What distinguishes a sanctuary from other institutions is the philosophy that the residents come first. In a sanctuary, every action is scrutinized for any trace of human benefit at the expense of non-human residents. Sanctuaries act on behalf of the animals, and the caregivers work under the notion that all animals in the sanctuary, human and non-human, are of equal importance. The resident animals are given the opportunity to behave as naturally as possible in a protective environment. (wikipedia)
The world is not black and white, and sometimes its difficault to say who is the good guy, and who is the bad guy. So, in order to make this clear people use labels.
When we speak about religions, its not enough to speak about protestants and catholics, catholics believers are divided into Orthodox Catholic Church etc. Soon our various opinions makes us enemies in topic like religion and politics.
Our stone age mind demands that there is good and bad, friends and enemies, and that someone define this for us, so we can be politically correct.
Does it mean there are only bad and good choices? And is it easy to identify what is bad and what is good? Can you do it by Internet forum discussions?
And why is it so important to have opinions of a field where we actually lack personal reference?
How many people are actually prepared to study something for aperiod of at least 5 years before having an opinion at all?
Today, its very important to be politically correct, and if we want to be accepted, we must temporarily, until we know the other human, follow different codes of ethic and political correctness. Often based on hypcrisy, theres rules for the child naive impression that theres "good" and "bad" things.
And as with religions, the rules are not printed in law books, as a result of a democratic society,  they are forced upon other people, wrapped ...............

OMG Rhino Letter Writing Campaign
Dear Peter,
We wanted to reach out to you because of a new initiative our two young founders are working on in the event you may be able to help them out by spreading the word and getting more kids (and adults) involved.
One More Generation (OMG)  founders Olivia (age 10) and her brother Carter (age 11.5) are working on a letter writing campaign where they are trying to get 1,000 kids (and adults) from all over the world to send us letters addressed to the President of South Africa asking him to get more involved with stopping poaching of Rhino's for their horn.
Unless the South African government quickly gets involved, the Rhino species is guaranteed to go extinct in our lifetime. This is an amazing opportunity to show kids (and adults) of all ages that they can make a difference and if successful, they can someday tell their kids that they were instrumental in saving this species from extinction.
You can read more on our site at the link below. Our goal is to collect 1,000 letters and personally deliver them to President Zuma early next year. Carter and Olivia are already scheduling presentations at various schools now that they are back in session and we are also looking to reach out to churches and any other community group where we can address a large audience.
If you know of any organization who might be interested in receiving a copy of the presentation, please let us know and we can easily send it to them.
Dear President Zuma, (
Please let us know if you think you can help in any way. We also encourage you to send us your own letter because as you know, every voice counts.
Thanks for your support and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best regards from the entire OMG Team ;-)

A Special Symposium co-hosted by
The Canisius College Institute for the Study of Human-Animal Relations
and The Buffalo Zoological Gardens
February 10-11, 2012

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

Sometimes plants seem more like something from an old curiosity cabinet rather than the homely greenery around us. October’s links at (NEWS/Botanical News) are full of curiosities:
·       We’ve always believed that the biodiversity of the tropics selected towards greater specialization, even mutualism. Well, when it comes to seed dispersal we were wrong. Temperate birds are more finicky than tropical species.
·       Conservation biologists must look in strange places for inspiration. The future of a New Zealand plant may hang on what was discovered in fossilized pre-historic kakapo poo.
·       Bugs that sip plant juices must eliminate excess honeydew. Aphids secrete it gently so other species can collect it… but lanternbugs shoot it at high velocity. Does that mean other species miss this rich resource? High speed photography provides a clue.
·       I suppose too much honeydew could promote tooth decay. Researches are finding that coconut oil may save our teeth.
·       Many animals create iridescence: butterflies, jewel beetles, starlings. But the very shiniest living thing is the fruit of an African herb.
The Association of Zoological Horticulture is holding its 32d annual meeting next week, where I will be presenting the cutting edge site and botanical interpretive exhibits at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. You can get a look at the project here.
I hope to see you there.

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Wild bison bound into Germany's forest
The European bison was on the brink of extinction, but the shaggy creatures are making a comeback. Now, a small herd are to be released into Germany's forests - the first bison to roam here in nearly a century.
At first there were concerns about reintroducing the European bison into North Rhine-Westphalia. Hikers worried that the wild animals would attack them. Forester said the bison would damage the trees and soil. Farmers were terrified wild bison would wander into their pastures, mate with the cattle and create hybrids calves.
But bison wrangler Jochen Born waves off their concern. "Everybody's got a question or two when something new crops up," he told DW.
Born trains bison near the German town of Bad Berleburg. Right,,16254131,00.html

Zoo Cultivates Bamboo Plantation
A new bamboo plantation that explains the story of Tian Tian and Yang Guang’s favourite food has opened at Edinburgh Zoo.
Next to the famous giant panda enclosure, after visitors have met the black and white pair they can wander into the Zoo’s new bamboo nursery.  The small working nursery is packed with 250 bamboo plants and contains five different species of tried and tested bamboo species that are tried and tested to be Sunshine and Sweetie’s favourites.
Eventually the working nursery will feed the two giant pandas, although its main goal is as an extra panda visitor attraction for the thousands of visitors that flock to see them each week.  Incredibly it represents only 1% of the pandas total bamboo supply each year!  A larger off show bamboo nursery will be developed onsite next year that makes a much greater contribution to panda’s daily diets.
A beautiful feature, the garden explains the story of bamboo – from its many uses, to how it grows –as visitors tour around it.  A shrine to bamboo, and also recycling, the garden even includes left over bamboo chips underfoot and a perimeter fence of bamboo poles that pandas Sweetie and Sunshine have discarded.
Simon Jones, gardens manager for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said:
“This is a lovely wee nursery that converts an area of the Zoo into a place where people can get an idea of how much bamboo Giant Pandas consume, whilst being immersed with a feeling of seclusion from the rest of the Zoo.
“It represents the conclusion of the Panda experience as the visitor has been led through an area of Chinese plants, seeing our beautiful Giant Pandas up close, then culminating by walking through an area that shows their foodstuff, how it grows and a demonstration of the versatility of bamboo. It is a testament to the hard work of many individuals within the Zoo”

Toronto Zoo off the market
Mayor wants to look at sale, council says no
Toronto city councillors capped off a wild three-day meeting by cancelling the request for expressions of interest (REOI) in the sale, lease or operation of the Toronto Zoo. The vote kills the council approved REOI process that the city started on Monday.
Despite Mayor Rob Ford’s last-minute plea not to cancel the process, council voted 30-2 to do just that.
“I think we should keep all our doors open, look at what we can get,” Ford told council just before the vote. “I think it is a good idea if we can get the money for it, let’s try to sell the zoo and if we can’t that’s fine but I think we should keep all our avenues open.”
Ford and deputy mayor Doug Holyday were the only two votes for not cancelling the REOI.
Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti said he was “unequivocally” opposed to the sale of the zoo and warned councillors any move towards that would lead to China cancelling the deal to send two pandas here next year.
“If this council wants to get an immediate notice from the Chinese government that the pandas will not be coming to Canada or to Toronto then go ahead and proceed

Reston Zoo director to appeal animal cruelty conviction
‘The truth will come out,’ her attorney says
The director of the Reston Zoo is appealing her animal cruelty conviction after being sentenced Sept. 28 in Fairfax County General District Court.
An appeal date of Nov. 15 tentatively has been set for Meghan Mogensen, 26, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, according to her attorney, Caleb Kershner.
“We disagree in the outcome and are disappointed with the ruling,” Kershner said about last week’s sentencing.
On Jan. 26, after receiving a tip from then-zoo employee Ashley Rood, Fairfax County police opened an investigation relating to allegations of improper treatment of injured animals and improper use of euthanasia drugs. Rood has since resigned from her position at the zoo.
“This was a complex, five-month-long investigation that included both state and federal agencies,” Fairfax County police spokesperson Lucy Caldwell said at the time Mogensen was charged.
Mogensen was charged with animal cruelty by county police, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
According to court testimony and a Feb. 16 warrant filed in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Rood told police a sick wallaby was found dead in a trash receptacle

Simworx completes a unique 3D cinema experience for Woburn Safari Park, UK
UK based 4D effects theatre specialist Simworx has completed a unique project at the well-known Woburn Safari Park in Bedfordshire, England. 
The park re-opened its sea lion house, Sea Lion Cove, at the end of July following a major refurbishment, with the attraction now incorporating a brand new 320-seat 3D Safari Cinema Experience. It is the first time a safari park in the UK has combined a live action animal demonstration with state-of-the-art 3D cinema technology and the installation brings a new dimension to visitor entertainment at the venue.
The new Sea Lion Cove cinema showcases three live sea lion shows each day in addition to screenings of Safari Park Adventure 3D. This is a series filmed on location for the Discovery Channel in 2011 which goes behind the scenes at Woburn with the park’s animals and keepers. The show was a huge success on Sky 3D and the short feature length episodes take viewers into the lives of Kai the rhino as he meets his new mates and right inside the lion house with the pride of African lions.
Simworx has played a key role in helping to put guests right at the heart of the action in the cinema with the supply of a high definition, 3D projection system and surround sound technology. Additionally, the company has supplied a unique, electronically retracting screen on which the films are shown which comes out over the sea lion pool during

Canadian Zoo Association Releases Report on Marineland
We now know what the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums has to say after inspections of the Marineland park over the summer.
The group's report says there's no evidence of abuse or neglect.
But there are some lingering concerns about the water quality.
The group plans on a series of unannounced inspections over the next few weeks to make sure the water concerns are being taken care of.
Protests over conditions at Marineland took place outside the park last summer.
Here is the press release sent from the Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums:
The Accreditation Commission of Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums ( CAZA) has conducted a special investigation into allegations that the welfare of animals at Marineland Canada has been negatively affected by water quality problems and inadequate staffing levels and that these problems were not appropriately addressed over a period of time. A three person inspection team including two veterinary experts conducted a site inspection on August 23rd, and subsequently interviewed relevant witnesses and examined internal water logs and medical records.
The Commission has concluded that at the time of the site inspection the animals in question in the Marineland collection, including the marine mammals were in overall good health and there was no evidence of animal abuse, that water quality in all the pools was very good, and it appeared that staffing levels were adequate.
The Commission found that Marineland's veterinary program is comprehensive and includes regular veterinary inspections and treatment of animals where appropriate. The veterinarians are experienced, competent and assisted by specialists as needed.
Detailed examination of water quality logs and animal health records as well as interviews with some ex-employees, however, raise questions about how effectively the water quality systems in three of the pools are working. In examining the logs there were several times when levels exceeded industry standards and while each incident was brought under control, the Commission expects to see a solution that will maintain water quality in the longer term. While the water quality issues appeared in some instances to impact on the wellbeing of the animals in the pools in question, there was no evidence of animal abuse and the animals affected were under veterinary care and treatment.
The Commission and Marineland have agreed that Marineland will undertake an independent, external inspection of its water quality management systems for the pools in question. The engineering evaluation will be based partially on a thorough updating by Marineland of its water quality management protocols and is to be completed as soon as reasonably possible. CAZA is to be consulted regarding the qualifications of the evaluators, and is to be provided with a copy of the resulting report. Marineland has stated that they welcome this study and will use the

Zoo fights to save 'extinct' lion
It has been almost a century since a French colonial hunter is believed to have put a bullet in the last surviving Atlas lion living in the wild. Now, a Moroccan zoo is fighting to bring the fabled subspecies back from the brink of extinction.
This majestic mammal, also known as a Barbary lion, was once a very common sight across North Africa, but was eventually declared extinct after the hunt in 1922 that saw it vanish from its natural habitat.
Remarkably, a few dozen individuals were discovered to have survived in captivity. The newly opened Rabat zoo is now fighting to save the bloodline and raise numbers to a viable population.
Abderrahim Salhi, the zoo's head of operations, stated, “For a long time, it was thought that the species had disappeared. But it turned out that Sultan Mohammed V (the current king's grandfather) had some Atlas lions in his private park."
According to locals, the exotic park of the sultan, who became king at independence, was supplied by tribesmen who hunted and captured these mountain predators

24 Wildlife Park employees reinstated
Government of Punjab has decided to reinstate 24 contract employees of the Wildlife Park Loi Bher, who were also deprived of their salaries for the last seven months.
Deputy Director of the park, Raja Muhammad Javed said that the Punjab government had also started process to give the employees their seven months salaries, which they would get soon.
Sources in the Wildlife Park Loi Bher told that 24 contract

What does it take to train dangerous animals at Edinburgh Zoo?
It is a two-man job that takes skill, patience and nerves of steel. Face-to-face with a two-tonne beast, two keepers are about to attempt what you might consider something of a reckless escapade – giving a rhino a check-up armed with nothing more than his favourite food and a pair of calm voices.

During the session, the huge animal is “encouraged” to lie down so its sensitive feet can be checked for any painful sores. It is a remarkable sight.
“They do love the company,” says Karen Stiven, senior hoofstock keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, matter of factly.
“But you do have to watch because they are very large animals and they can move very fast.
“It’s a two-person job and you have to really trust the person who comes in with you.”
Indian rhinos Bertus and Samir are just two of the animals which need to be trained to be, well, less wild.
In September, one of the attraction’s most popular exhibits, Sofus the sea lion, hit the headlines after completing “crate training” to ensure his journey to a Polish zoo was more comfortable.
“Up until that point, Sofus had always come across as very nervous,” says carnivore keeper Andrew Laing. “In the end, he was an absolute star.”
While it might be expected that sea lions, often seen as the clowns of the animal world, are easily trainable, it may be more surprising that heavyweight jaguars and razor-toothed wolverines are also willing to take part.
Training the animals is a process which takes time.
“The animals seem to enjoy the training but if they decided they do not want to do it, or that they have had enough, that’s it,” said Andrew. “But it is very seldom that ­happens.”
Gone are the days when zoo creatures were trained for cheap tricks.
Everything the animals are taught is for their own wellbeing, allowing veterinary checks to be less invasive and reduce the risks involved.
For most species, training starts from the same crucial point.
Karen, who has built up a relationship with Bertus and Samir, says: “Bertus, who came from Rotterdam and Samir, from Stuttgart, have been with us for about four years.
“We use positive reinforcement to teach them how to do things.
“They learn how to touch a particular target, for which they are rewarded with food. Every time they do this correctly, we have a clicker. That becomes a noise that they recognise, so they know they have got it right.
“By teaching them to stand still, we are able to carry out an all-over body check. We have a look at their skin, we look in the eyes and ears.
“It saves the vet from having to sedate them, which at £500 is very expensive and because the rhinos are large animals, it can put pressure on their heart and lungs.”
The check-ups are important, as rhinos’ feet need good monitoring in captivity, with some known to get cracks in their nails.
Despite their power, Karen said she is not afraid at getting in the ­enclosure. The weighty animals reportedly kill several people each year in India and Nepal each year, having left over-burdened protected areas to forage for food in nearby villages.
Karen said: “Not a lot of zoos do this training from inside the enclosure, but you have to build up a relationship with them.
“I do think being inside with them helps build a bond between them and their keepers, although you always have to remember they are wild ­animals. But Bertus and Samir are fantastic animals – their characters are ­brilliant.”
At the carnivores section, training is carried out from a safe distance – outside the bars.
Animals including Amur leopards, jaguars, sun bears and wolverines are Andrew’s responsibility.
“With the carnivore section it is all protected contact,” he says.
“They are extremely dangerous ­animals. Target training is the first thing we get them to do.
“Once we have cemented that, we can start on other behaviours. It’s really important that we can get blood samples from the animals – you start by touching

Reg Bloom 1922-2012
He was born in Walton-on-the-Naze in 1922 into a famous Lifeboat Family.
He was the sixth of seven children and is the last of them to pass away.
He hated school and would much rather be out fishing with his father or taking wealthy London charter parties up the Stour and Orwell rivers.
When he was very young he took his father’s shotgun without permission and went out on the saltings and shot a goose but realising the goose would give the game away he left it. His Dad was waiting when he came back and beat him for taking the gun and then beat him again for not bringing back the goose!! 
He was a fine amateur cricketer and sailor and came back to sailing in later life getting tremendous enjoyment from just being on the water.
He fibbed about his age and joined the Navy serving in Minesweepers throughout the Second World War.
After the War he was a professional yacht skipper but then travelled to East Africa with his wartime captain for a lark as he didn’t fancy an English winter on the yacht.
They started a business collecting and transporting animals and birds back to Britain, Europe and the USA when Zoos were restocking after the war. They were pioneers of their day with their animals being caught from open moving trucks with rope lassoes on bamboo poles. But what fun they had and what stories he told!
Reg met Margaret in the Reptile House at London Zoo and after they married in 1953 she went out to Africa and spent the next three years alongside him. On their first night under canvas they collected the largest Puff Adder ever recorded which had sloughed its skin on their tent pole. It went back with a returning Colonial Officer the same day so arrived just 48 hours after Margaret had left the Zoo! Among their achievements they bought back the first White Rhinos, Jumping Hares and Naked Mole Rats and quite possibly saved the Mackinders Eagle Owl from extinction.
Reg had an instinctive empathy for the needs of wild animals and birds brought into human care. Couple this with a far sighted and practical approach to the design of their enclosures, based on his African experiences and observations, and you have the ingredients of his future working life.
Wanting to start a family they returned to England where he began life in the Zoo World by becoming Curator of Chester Zoo. Three children later they moved on to build and open Twycross Zoo in a partnership with Mollie Badham and then on to Flamingo Park Zoo in Yorkshire.
Reg relished starting new projects. He was a not an easy man to work for as he drove his staff as hard as he drove himself but if you did get through the first few months then you had, quite literally, a friend and mentor for life. None of this would have been possible without Margaret who was a perfect match for him. She calmed him down, ran the office, hand reared all the zoo’s orphaned and rejected babies, soothed the owners of the Zoo, and persuaded indignant staff to stay on even though Reg had repeatedly called them a lazy, useless so and so!
When Reg did try get away and take the whole family with him, those times were memorable… Like spending one whole summer camping on a beach in the Isle of Man while he laid out and built the Curraghs Wildlife Park. Not content with just sitting on the beach after work he had the whole family making long lines with about 50 fishhooks on each that were then set along the beach at low water. So successful was this fishing effort that all the locals were doing it within a week and you couldn’t walk safely on the beach anywhere below the high water mark!
Then there was the time he had the Zoo carpenters help him convert an old Fish and Chip van into a Camper. He then took the family on a gentle European Road trip covering 12 major Zoos in Holland, Belgium Germany and Switzerland in 12 days!
Wanting to work more with the family he went into partnership with the owner of Clacton Pier to convert their Olympic pool into a dolphinarium. This operated successfully for many years until a severe easterly gale cracked the pool and emptied the water into the sea. In a blizzard the Clacton Lifeboat crew helped evacuate a Killer Whale and the dolphins out of the empty pool, onto trucks, and away to safety.
With Peter and Anthony totally involved from the mid-1980’s Reg was able to step back but, of course, continue to benignly interfere. He kept his hand in by training Parrots and Macaws for Parrot Displays and bought a boat and start sailing regularly although his much abused body was starting to rebel and he suffered more and more from arthritis in his legs. Each decline in mobility was fought against but once the inevitable was grudgingly accepted then the new mode of transport was exploited and once again he would be seen around town. So legs gave way grudgingly to a bike then a trike then assorted motorised buggies and finally wheelchairs.
Reg and Margaret had a long and happy marriage and Margaret has been a rock in the last few years as Reg became increasingly lame and frustrated with his lack of mobility. Without her he could not have died at home which was very important to them both.

New wildlife park planned for north Vietnam
Authorities in the northern province of Ninh Binh have approved plans for a new 1,500 square-hectare wildlife park in the north-central province, the government website reported Thursday.
The park, to be located in Nho Quan District, will be divided into six main areas, including a theme park, and a center for wildlife study and care.
Further details about the project, however, have yet to be released.
Ninh Binh already boasts Cuc Phuong National Park, which is home to 2,000 species of plants, 110 species

Rare native spiders fostered by Bristol Zoo Gardens released into the wild
After ten weeks of careful husbandry at Bristol Zoo, 172 tiny fen raft spiderlings (Dolomedes plantarius) are set to be released into the wild.
The young spiders have been raised by keepers at Bristol Zoo as part of a conservation rearing project to help save this native species, which is one of Europe's largest but least common spiders.
The spiders are so rare that they are protected by law in the UK and have been classified as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. They are only found in three sites in Britain – Norfolk, East Sussex and South Wales.
The 12 week old spiderlings, which were just two millimetres in size when they arrived, received intensive care by experts in Bristol Zoo’s Bug World - a process that took several hours every day and included being hand-fed flies.
Carmen Solan, invertebrate keeper at Bristol Zoo said: “They have grown from tiny dots to 4-5mm long. It’s been an amazing project to have been involved in, we’re rather sad to see them go! ”
Mark Bushell, Assistant Curator of Invertebrates at the Zoo, added: “The aim was to give these little spiders the best possible start in life, which is something we’re very proud to have achieved. The spiders leaving us are healthy and strong, well equipped for a life in the wild.”
The young spiders will be released into wild fenland habitats in Norfolk to begin their adult lives. These semi-aquatic spiders can grow to approximately 7cm in leg span and live for around three years.
The Fen Raft Spider Species Recovery programme is a partnership led by Natural England to safeguard the future of this species, which is under threat from habitat destruction and drying out of their marshland homes.
Natural England’s head of profession for biodiversity, Dr Peter Brotherton said: “The spiders from the first release in 2010 are just starting to breed this year – this is an important milestone for the recovery programme and a clear indication we’re going in the right direction. If this species is to recover it still needs more help and the dedicated support from organisations such as Bristol Zoo is vital to the future of our biggest spider.”
Bristol Zoo Gardens is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

Carmen Solan with one of the Spiders

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