Monday, February 25, 2013

Zoo News Digest 17th - 25th February 2013 (ZooNews 844)

Zoo News Digest 17th - 25th February 2013 (ZooNews 844)

I don't believe that any zoo anywhere should be breeding
The above photo shows just one of the reasons why I feel this way

Dear Colleagues,

230 animals go missing??!! This is a bit of a worry. A few animals being moved out when a zoo changes hands is not unusual but such a big number is a little disturbing. This appears to be a story within a story so if anyone can tell me more of what is going on then I would greatly appreciate it.

Zoo licence move 'killed animals'- A very emotive statement and one I do not believe....unless the move was carried out by people who had not a clue about what they were doing. Sad of course.

The story about Guangzhou Zoo hiring Marxist Keepers amused me. Not so very strange as I recollect a UK zoo insisting that its staff were non-smoking vegetarian socialists. Things may have changed of course but there are still collections out there who make some very odd requirements of the personnel they employ.

It may not seem zoo related but it is fish in captivity or 'in human care' in Seaworld speak, but the oddest thing this morning. My hub 'Is the Fish Spa a Con or a Cure?
got an astonishingly high number of visits. I went into the stats to see where the visitors were linking from. It wasn't Google but another site. I moved on to investigate. Unfortunately it was one which is banned in the UAE. I will be none the wiser for a while then.

In the last Zoo News Digest I mentioned Shedd Aquarium and their energy saving. This brought a letter from Andrew Swales of Hamerton Zoo....please see this below. This is what all zoos should be doing. We talk about conservation but surely that applies to conservation of energy too? We need to set an example to our visitors. Hamerton is only a small place but is doing more than the majority of large zoos...indeed some are doing nothing at all.

Which leads me straight on to aquariums. I believe that every aquarium which exhibits sharks needs to have massive space dedicated to the threats they are facing in the wild from shark finning.....and every last one of these aquariums needs to take their 'Jaws' displays and dump them in the rubbish. Let us stop promoting fear and folklore. Aquariums need to actually help the species they keep.

The article 'Research Aimed at Big Cat Comfort' I found especially interesting. I think you will too.

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


Please Think About This
Take two minutes to make a small annual donation to ensure the continuation of Zoo News Digest. Click HERE or on the donate button at the top of the Blog page. Quick easy and simple to do. Donations of any size, small to large are appreciated. In return you will recieve more than 400 important or interesting zoo related postings per year plus notification of vacancies and meetings and symposia.

Looking for a job?
Several new vacancies online
Check out
Got one to advertise? email me

This blog has readers from 154+ countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eire, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lapland, Lao, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Montenegro, Montserrat, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Wales, Yemen, Zambia. 

Is your meeting/conference/symposium listed here?
If not why not? You want people to attend, don't you? ZooNews Digest is read by more zoo people than any other similar publication. I will advertise up till the event.

Please visit the
if you are looking for books for yourself or as gifts.


Letter From Hamerton Zoo:

Good Evening

It is interesting that you draw attention to the Shedd Aquarium piece regarding the saving of US$7000 per annum by changing light bulbs.

At Hamerton Zoo Park, UK in November 2012 we installed 2 wind turbines which will produce around half a million kW hours of electricity each year, wiping out our entire electricity bill of UK£30,000 per annum at one stroke and making us a net producer of electricity, as the Park will only use part of the turbines production.

In just the first 2 months, Hamerton Zoo Parks turbines produced enough electricity to power 25 family homes for a year, and saved enough carbon to equal running 12 cars for a year, taking 4 around the world flights and producing 20,000 newspapers.

Plans are in hand to add a further 50 kW of production this spring in the form of a solar-pv installation, a technology which neatly compliments wind power by producing most of its energy at times when wind speed is naturally lower.

Andrew Swales

Zoo saga takes new twist as 230 animals go missing
The case involving the deaths of a sun bear and a stallion at the Malacca Zoo and Night Safari took a new twist when it was alleged that some 230 zoo animals were “unaccounted” for.

The discovery was made on Jan 1 in a stock list when the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) handed over management of the menagerie to a private consortium, said a zoologist.

Dr Razeem Mazlan Abdullah, who is the animal welfare and ethics sub-committee chairman of the zoo operators, breeders, pet and wildlife traders association (P4PHM), said the list of missing animals included several mammals, reptiles and birds that vanished in just two weeks after the first listing was completed on Dec 20.

“A big question mark is what had happened to all of them and where have they been placed or transferred to,” he said yesterday.

The P4PHM has a membership base close to 4,000 individuals.

Dr Razeem, who has more than two decades of zoology experience, believed the animals were probably handed over to other zoos and individuals without abiding by the required procedures.

“To my knowledge, protected and endangered species should not be handed over to anyone by Govern-ment zoos without approval from the Natural Resources and Environment Minister,” he said, adding that the discrepancy appeared before the handing

New chimpanzee arrives at the Oregon Zoo, only to find an old friend
She's 35.
He's 42.
When she moves -- so far, anyhow -- he follows.
The separations in between, though, must make the guy pine. The evidence: Last time they were split and he finally relocated to her town, the moving truck's doors opened, he saw her standing there and he burst into applause.
This time, only last month, when he transferred from Oklahoma City to Portland and caught sight of her again, he erupted with excitement, vocalizing, gesturing and reaching out to groom her ... because that's the chimpanzee way.
His name is Jackson.
Her's is Jennifer Davis. Since December 2011, she's worked as the Oregon Zoo's curator of primates and Africa.
By chance, choice and good fortune, the chimp and zookeeper have kept company on and off since 2001, when she studied zoology at University of Florida and volunteered with primates at the Jacksonville Zoo. She planned to enroll in veterinary school but the apes, with their complex brains, intricate social systems and charismatic personalities, hooked her, she says. She's worked with them ever since.
Jackson, the first male chimp at the Oregon Zoo since Charlie died in 2009, and introduced this week to the zoo's females, was born in the wild in Africa. He was captured and sent to the Jacksonville Zoo when he was 1 or younger, which must have been traumatic for him, Davis says. Same with his early years -- an era before zoos built naturalistic exhibits, held groups of chimps instead of solitary animals, and adopted hands-off handling techniques, letting apes be apes.
For years, Jackson never saw another chimp, Davis says. Humans fed him, watered him, played with him and disciplined him in ways, she says, that often were harsh.
By the time she met him he was 30 and lived with a small group of female chimps that also had come from unfortunate situations. "They were loveable misfits," she says.
In 2005, Davis moved to the Oklahoma City Zoo, which had four chimps but wanted more. By 2007, while still with the zoo, she joined the Association of Zoos & Aquariums' Species Survival Plan for chimpanzees, which manages the chimp population in AZA-accredited operations across North America. Davis was among the first to know when zoos wanted to move chimps in or send them elsewhere, so she heard right off that Jacksonville planned to phase out its chimpa

Last wartime letters of Peter Falwasser, Chester Zoo aquarist 1916 -1942
Arriving at the office in Oakfield House in Chester Zoo  70 years ago this week, the first week of February 1943, the wartime postman (or more likely postwoman) carried  some sad news.  One letter was  postmarked Manchester 31 Jan 1943 (about the time and date that I draft this blog 70 years on) and stamped with an attractive orange  2d and green 1/2d stamp bearing the portrait of the Queen’s father George VIth. Within was a short handwritten letter on one piece of paper:

Leopard, pair of zebras to join Mandalay’s zoo
Two new zebras and a rare leopard will soon be added to the collection of animals in Mandalay’s Yadanabon Zoological Garden, a zoo administrator said.

The decision to add a leopard follows the death last Friday of a female leopard at the zoo.

“A female leopard died a natural death because of its age. We have cleaned and sterilised the cage.

An eight-month clouded leopard will arrive after it is checked by veterinarians,” a zoo keeper said. He said the zoo was also adding a pair of zebras, a species it does not have at present.

The cat was donated to the zoo by a monk last July. The clouded leopard, whose scientific name is Neofelis nebulosa, is an endangered species protected by law in Myanmar. 

Yadanabon zoo, established in 1989, is located

Zoo licence move 'killed animals'
RESCUE animals have died from stress according to owners who were forced to move them because they didn’t have the right paperwork.

Mistley Place Park is facing up to the sad conclusion of a mix up with their licence.

The animal sanctuary was told it needed a zoo licence to stay open after inspectors said wild animals were not allowed to be on public display.

Owners Maureen and Michael Taylor said the licence would cost them £10,000 and force them to shut the park, so instead set about rehoming the animals and moving

Almost a fifth of world's reptiles on brink of extinction
It has been estimated that 19% of the world’s reptiles are threatened with extinction.
The claim is made in a paper published last week by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) in conjunction with experts from the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC).
Printed in the journal Biological Conservation, more than 200 world renowned experts worked on the study, which assessed the extinction risk of 1,500 randomly selected reptiles from across the globe.
Out of the estimated 19% of reptiles threatened with extinction, 12% classified as critically endangered, 41% endangered and 47% were classed as vulnerable.
Three critically endangered species were also highlighted as possibly extinct. One of these, a jungle runner lizard Ameiva vittata, has only ever been recorded in one part of Bolivia.
Levels of threat remain particularly high in tropical regions, mainly as a result of habitat conversion for agriculture and logging. With the lizard's habitat virtually destroyed, two recent searches for the species have been unsuccessful.
Dr Monika Böhm, lead author on the paper, said

This little YouTube video has apparently gone viral. INCREDIBLE battle cat Vs

Interesting yes. But you might like to read my article Cat Hero
More fantastic domestic cat Heroes.


Winter here in the north lets the mind ponder the wonder of trees. Sure they provide shade in the heat, sculptural beauty in winter, homes to wildlife and more or less renewable resources to humanity, but what else is going on? February’s links at (NEWS/Botanical News) consider a variety of research on trees and human communities :

· In the spirit of turning lemons into lemonade: the massive loss of trees to Emerald Ash Borer presented researchers with a rare opportunity to study what happens to human communities that lose their urban forest. The causality is unclear but the results are startling: a serious decline in human health.

· Deforestation in Uganda and subsequent government reforestation programs have offered other interesting research insights. A tree is not a tree. Although there are now trees again, the ecosystem and the human communities are impoverished by the non-native forests. Only industry is happy.

· Cloud forests are found in many parts of the world from Central American mountains to Middle East deserts. These ecosystems developed to take advantage of particular weather conditions. Climate change is the latest in a line of devastating events. Can researchers learn about these ecosystems before they disappear?

· Last month we shared an article criticizing biofuels as poor contributors to real sustainability. Now leaked government documents reveal that biodiesel from palms and some other sources rival oil as generators of pollution.

· Plants are resilient, though. Not passive travelers on Earth’s surface, some plants reshape the planet to benefit their community. Research on marsh plants shows how some species reshape the land to suit their needs.

Considering the recent run-ins with asteroids and meteors, it seems a good time to visit this site and understand the world we live in:

Enjoy the trip!

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter: – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.


Tigers’ inbreeding taking its toll
The chronic issue of inbreeding the Punjab Wildlife is confronted with for several years took the life of a four-and-a-half-month white tiger cub (Zona) on Sunday night at the Lahore zoo, officials told Dawn.

In the past too, the inbreeding resulted in the deaths of several tigers at the zoo and other wildlife parks.

Officials say the present zoo administration, however, has taken some practical steps to tackle the issue of inbreeding. It has also consulted national and international wildlife experts.

On the direction of the Punjab Wildlife Department director-general, a three-member committee has been constituted to probe into facts behind the death of Zona.

The committee is consisted of Wildlife director Abdul Qadeer Mahal, Biodiversity World Wide Fund for Nature director Uzma Khan and Zoo Management Committee member Dr Riffat Suleman Butt.

The committee will submit its report within three days while it will hold its meeting on Sept 29.

White tiger cub (Zona) was suffering from congenital deformities like brittle bones (suspected rickets). X-Rays show the fracturing of long bone of distal condyles.

Zoo veterinarians, who attended the postmortem at the University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Lahore, reported that many bones fractured previously got healed but the process of fracture was continuous due to weak bone.

A zoo high official told Dawn that all possible measures were adopted to save the animal and national and international experts were consulted, but the cub could not survive.

Giving the background of cub’s death, the official said that brown Bengal tigress (Rozi) had given birth to four cubs in April, 2010. The white Bengal tiger (Sam) was the father of these cubs who is related to the same bloodline of brown Bengal tigress (Rozi).
 Two were stillbirths and one was born weak who died the next day. Since the tigress was unable to feed her cub, Zona was provided feeding through formula milk (Esbilac & KMR) for three months.

The cub started meat consumption and gradually reduced the milk intake. The body weight and other activities were normal, but the cub suddenly developed paraplegia of hind limbs on Aug 23. The recessive gene present in the white tigers causes paraplegia and immune deficiency. The inbreeding makes survival of white tigers difficult.

Quoting certain examples, the official said that a brown Bengal tigress had given birth to four cubs in Lahore Zoo Safari in April 2009. The father of these cubs was brown Bengal tiger and was shifted from the Bahawalpur Zoo. He was also of the same bloodline of

Guangzhou Zoo to Hire Marxist Keepers
A zoo in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou has specified a good grasp of Marxist theory as a requirement for its newly advertised keeper vacancies, sparking widespread satirical humor online.

Duties of a zookeeper include feeding the animals, inspecting their droppings, cleaning their cages, and giving out basic information about them, the advertisement recently posted on the zoo's website said.

"Applicants should possess relevant professional knowledge of zookeeping, including: an understanding of the principles of Marxist philosophy and of Mao Zedong Thought and socialism with Chinese characteristics," the ad said.

An employee who answered the phone at the zoo confirmed that these were among the criteria for selection.

"Our criteria are based on the public knowledge base, which isn't something decided by us," the employee said.

Online satire

The advertisement was rapidly passed around on China's popular microblogging services, where netizens joked about how knowledge of the ruling Chinese Communist Party's ideology might apply to the vocation of zookeeper.

On Sina Weibo, user @braveNikkita asked: "So, what, are they going to brainwash the monkeys now? Are they afraid of a rebellion?"

User @runde88 quipped: "The animals in the zoo have it better

65-year-old businessman nabbed over poisoning at zoo
Police have detained a 65-year-old businessman from Kulai Besar, Johor, over the poisoning of a Malayan Sun Bear and an Arabian stallion at Malacca Zoo and Night Safari on Sunday.

Sources told The Star that investigating officers launched an operation codenamed “Vendetta 172” after CCTV footage showed the man in the zoo premises with food packages before feeding time.

He is said to have fed the animals with poison as revenge against the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) which had seized 60 animals from a zoo he owned two years ago.

A special investigation team headed by State Deputy CID chief Superintendent P.R. Gunarajan identified the man through a CCTV footage with the food packages before feeding time at 5.30pm on the day.

Police detained the man at his home yesterday at 1am.

State CID chief Assistant Commissioner Raja Sharom Raja Abdullah said police also confiscated a vehicle and several other items from the man.

“The suspect admitted to being involved in the case, but it is too early to reveal his motive,” he said.

ACP Raja Sharom said police were investigating the case under Section 429 which carries a jail term of five

Bristol Zoo's new wildlife park will open in July - despite lack of funding
BRISTOL Zoo plans to open a new wildlife park on the edge of the city this summer.

The zoo is pushing ahead with its ambitious plans despite failing to find the finance needed for the £70 million project.
Zebras and antelopes will be among the first occupants of the park, which the zoo hopes to open by July.

Planning permission to open an "eco-zoo" on part of a 136-acre site near Cribbs Causeway has been in place for three years and the Bristol, Clifton and West of England Zoological Society has owned the land for nearly 50. Plans for the country's first national wildlife conservation park at the Hollywood Tower Estate were first announced in 1999 and it was originally intended to open

Pat Derby dies at 70; rescuer of exotic and performing animals
Derby, a former Hollywood animal trainer turned activist, and her partner, Ed Stewart, operated a 2,300-acre sanctuary near Sacramento.
Pat Derby could coax Willie the bear with a handful of jelly beans, make Christopher the cougar twitch his tail on command, and even kissed Rijo the tiger.

But when it came to Walt Disney, she had less patience. Derby, a Hollywood animal trainer turned animal rights activist, once walked out on him in the middle of filming for "Disney's Wonderful World of Color" after he subjected her bear cub to two hours of retakes under the hot studio lights.

She always got along better with animals than people, anyway, she often said. "I am not a natural at public relations," she once wrote.
Derby, who later devoted her life to protecting and rescuing exotic and performing animals, died Friday after a long battle with throat cancer, said her longtime partner, Ed Stewart. She was 70 and died at their home in San Andreas, southeast of Sacramento and the site of a sprawling, 2,300-acre animal sanctuary they established in 2000.

In the 1960s and '70s, Derby was known in Hollywood circles as a trainer of anteaters, tigers and grizzly bears. She worked on the TV shows "Flipper," "Lassie" and "Gunsmoke" but later quit to become one of the most vocal critics of the abuse of animals in show business.

Her 1976 book, "The Lady and Her Tiger," was a stinging expose of the industry's practices and angered much of the Hollywood elite. Her organization, the Performing Animals Welfare Society, or PAWS, became a leading voice calling attention to the plight of animals,0,1066989.story

At the National Zoo, work will go on
If deep federal budget cuts go into effect, curators will stay on the job and animals will be fed. But sequestration could mean fewer exhibits and less time for research
Rebecca Miller, an animal keeper on the National Zoo’s American Trail, feeds Calli, a sea lion. Miller works with four other keepers at the exhibit, which includes beavers, wolves, ravens and more. Officials are scrambling to make sure the care at the zoo keeps flowing, even as potential deep spending cuts known as sequestration threaten to put the squeeze on other functions, including education, research and administration.

Fellsmere's National Elephant Center ready to take animals | Photo gallery
The National Elephant Center, which was a dream for 20 years and a building plan for 10 months, is no longer just a dream or a plan.
“We are a facility capable now of taking elephants,” Executive Director John Lehnhardt said Wednesday, after celebrating the completion of the 30-acre first phase.
Some 50 Fellsmere city officials, Indian River County officials, local business and community leaders and board members of the center gathered to hail the project so far and look to future phases.
“I’m always asked when the elephants are coming,” new board Chairman Keith Winsten told the crowd. “And the answer is we can’t give you a real date.”
While the month of April has been discussed, Lehnhardt would only say “by late spring.” He said he has had numerous discussions with various zoo officials, but said he doesn’t have any agreements.
Now, however, he said, the discussions will become more serious and lead to agreements because he has a facility to offer.
The center occupies 225 acres on Fellsmere Grade, about 3 miles north of downtown Fellsmere. It’s a collaboration of 73 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
The center is planned to provide a place for aging elephants, transient animals being relocated from one zoo to another and permanent elephants whose original zoos no longer can keep them.
Melbourne’s M.H. Williams Construction Inc. broke ground in April on the first phase, with the keeper’s station, an all-metal barn and four paddocks and enough pasture and ponds for up to nine elephants.
“I am so impressed with the size,” Phil Flynn, executive director of Fort Pierce’s Save the Chimps sanctuary, said as he gazed around the barn. “With chimps, everything is smaller, but this is so huge.”
In fact, figures show the 13,000-square-foot structure, open to the air, rises to a roof peak at 30 feet high.
Lehnhardt said the new elephants will arrive in the barn and be kept in quarantine for a week or so — unless their individual health calls for a longer stay — while staffers outside the bars feed them various elephant grasses, scoop up waste, go over their records, introduce them to any resident elephants, shower them and teach them how to respond to positive reinforcement.
Jeff Bolling, the center’s chief operating officer, said the walls in the barn will be movable so elephants can meet or be kept apart

Dead Mice Are Going To Be Dropped On Guam From Helicopters (Really)
Here's the latest plan scientists have come up with to kill some of the estimated 2 million brown
tree snakes that have wiped out many other animals on Guam:
In April or May they're going to lace dead mice with painkillers, attach them to little
parachutes, drop them from helicopters and hope that they get snagged in the jungle foliage.
Then, if all goes well, the snakes — which as their name implies hang out in trees — will eat the
mice and die from ingesting the painkillers' active ingredients.
We aren't kidding. That's what The Associated Press is reporting from Guam's Andersen Air Force
Base, near where this experimental airdrop will happen.
To work, the snakes are going to have to discover their snacks from the sky fairly quickly.
According to the Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service:

Forest staff stir hits zoo services
Animal care services at Nandankanan Zoological Park here were partially affected on Friday following separate strikes by forest staff and temporary zoo workers.

Around 100 temporary zoo workers staged a dharna demanding wage hike and permanent jobs. The agitation coincided with the statewide indefinite strike by deputy rangers, foresters, forest guards in support of their demands beginning from Friday. Since Nandankan has around 30 such staff, around 130 abstained from work adversely affecting feeding and care of animals, zoo sources said.

Zoo authorities, however, asserted that the strike had minimal effect. "Around 40% staff were on strike and there was hardly any impact on the zoo's functioning," Nandankanan assistant director Kamal Purohit told TOI. After a poor turnout for two consecutive days due to the nationwide bandh observed by trade unions, the zoo received 20,000 visitors on Friday, he added.

The around 8,000 forest staff, under the banner of Ungazetted Bana Seva Sangha, are pressing for their three major demands. They have been demanding salary according to the Sixth Pay Commission recommendations, regularisation of around 475 contractual foresters and forest guards and a promotion policy for them.

"Our intention is not to create inconvenience

Slam-dunking otter sparks questions about training zoo animals
A popular online video of a sea otter playing basketball has opened an ethical debate over how appropriate it is to train zoo animals to behave in certain ways.

While Eddie's antics seem like fun and games, officials at the Oregon Zoo have said the slam-dunking is actually helping the aging animal exercise its arthritic joints.

Tim Sinclair-Smith, director of zoological operations at Winnipeg's Assiniboine Park Zoo, spoke to CBC's Information Radio on Friday about the ethics of training wild animals being kept in captivity.

In the case of Eddie, Sinclair-Smith said the Oregon Zoo has found a unique way to help the sea otter deal with its medical issue.

But he said the Assiniboine Park Zoo would not do what an aquarium in Sebastopol, Ukraine, did recently, training a dolphin to come out of its pool and crawl on its belly across the deck as a trainer leads it along.

Sinclair-Smith said the Winnipeg zoo prefers to let animals behave naturally, or in ways that would benefit

Are giant pandas worth saving?
Who wouldn’t want to fly across the world and spend a week with giant pandas? They are undeniably cute. Everyone is obsessed with those black and white fuzzy faces. We celebrate when one is born at a zoo. We know their names. We’ll watch a YouTube video of them over and over again. This one, which shows a baby panda sneezing, has more than 150 million hits. I dare you not to click the link.
For this story, we traveled to Chengdu, China, a city of 14 million people. It’s the capital of the Sichuan province in southwest China. Chengdu is known for spicy Sichuan chili dishes that make your tongue go numb, but also for being the hometown of the giant panda. Back in 1987, when it became apparent that pandas were seriously endangered in the wild, the Chinese created the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Starting with just six pandas from the wild, they’ve successfully bred more than 100 pandas.
Here, female pandas are monitored constantly to pinpoint the one day of the year – or the few hours -- when they’ll be able to conceive. They are typically artificially inseminated. Test tubes of panda sperm are kept in vats of liquid nitrogen. Mothers stay with their babies for a while but they’re eventually put back on the breeding program so the cycle can start again.
Sarah Bexell, an American who has worked at Chengdu for 13 years, says the lives of the staff revolve around the fertility cycle of the female pandas. “When our cubs are about to arrive, some of our staff live there 24-7,” she said.  She’s also a coauthor of a new book called, “Giant Pandas: Born Survivors.”
The cubs I saw on this visit were four months old and just learning to walk. Their fur was soft as silk.
Too much for one species?
The work done at Chengdu and other breeding centers costs millions of dollars a year. Experts believe more money is probably being spent to save the giant panda than any other species in the world.
But is that a good idea? 
While this may sound like heresy to panda lovers, is it possible that we’re spending too much to save the giant panda?
“I think we have to make tough choices,” British wildlife expert, Chris Packham, said. “I think that, ultimately, we have to be pragmatic as well as sentimental. You know, we can't allow our heart to rule our conservation head…  And if we channel this much into just one species, then many others, which could be far better helped, many other not just species, but communities and ecosystems, could be better protected at the expense of one fluffy, cuddly bear.”

Packham is in the minority here, but a growing number of scientists agree.
Bexell and her colleagues at Chengdu’s breeding center are not among them. They firmly believe the panda is worth saving. And they worry that without the panda as a symbol for the conservation movement, people

How the Life of a Chipmunk in Michigan Came to Save Elephants and a Million Acres in Cambodia
Cambodia, the first Asian nation to join the IUCN in 1958 is also a significant signatory to the United Nations global Convention on Biological Diversity mandating that member nations draw up sustainable Biodiversity Action Plans. Cambodia’s recent 2010 plan, by any standards, represents a remarkable aspiration towards nation-wide ecological sustainability, indigenous human rights and biodiversity conservation.
Cambodia’s prospects for sustainable agriculture and for enlarging her protected area network, ensuring the sanctity of more and more precious
habitat, encouraging eco-tourism and training the next generation of young ecologists are extremely promising. Currently, “Cambodia’s protected areas system includes 7 national parks (742,250 ha), 10 wildlife sanctuaries (2,030,000 ha), 3 protected landscapes (9,700 ha), 3 multiple use areas (403,950 ha), 6 protection forests (1,350,000 ha), and 8 fish sanctuaries (23,544 ha).”

5 rhino horns seized in The Netherlands
 Remarkable seizure in The Netherlands illustrates extent of illegal rhino horn trade
On 21 February 2013 a remarkable seizure took place in The Netherlands, showing that the illegal rhino horn trade is stretching far beyond the African countries where rhinos are killed for their horns and those countries where they are consumed, particularly Vietnam and China.
Inspectors of the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority seized 5 rhino horns in an industrial building in Diemen, near Amsterdam. The horns belonged to a man and woman from Almere who had offered the horns for sale. The couple has been taken into custody for questioning. The criminal investigation is being conducted by the Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority and the police, and led by the Dutch public prosecutors office.

No information is yet available on the origins of the horns. They could be smuggled from Africa or have been acquired (bought or stolen) in the EU, either from a private collection or a museum or auction house.
Thefts of rhino horns have been rampant across the EU over the last few years. Given the fact that rhino horn is currently worth more than its

Les Zoos dans le Monde
Research Aimed at Big Cat Comfort
Thermal imaging could help zoos design better enclosures
The temperature is five degrees below zero. Animal science PhD student Judy Stryker says she’s freezing, but the Siberian tiger she’s observing in a zoo is panting. For him the weather is almost too warm, and he’s panting just a little because that’s the way tigers stay comfortable.

The lions in another enclosure – Stryker says they’re brothers – sit together on a heated pad set in the ground. Unlike their tiger cousins, they find this weather a little cool and enjoy relaxing in the heated area.

Stryker says zoo designers are giving more thought to the comfort and well-being of the animals living there than in past years, when their goal was to make the animal habitats interesting for the people who come to visit. Her research encourages that shift by giving zoos one more factor to consider: thermo-regulation, or how the animals maintain a comfortable body temperature.

“I’m looking at the big cats and trying to compare the different species,” she explains. She studies jaguars, lions, pumas, snow leopards and Siberian tigers and uses a thermal camera to produce images that translate temperature into colour. The results are what Stryker calls “some pretty neat technicolour pictures of animals.”

Her research has a number of goals. One is to develop an understanding of how these animals behave throughout the day in a zoo environment. Her results so far will seem familiar to owners of domestic cats: they sleep a lot. Stryker also says the big cats may be crepuscular, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk and less active during the day and night, although more work is needed to confirm this.

She’s also hoping to validate the use of the thermal camera to determine the actual body temperatures of the animals. Earlier this year, Stryker and others in a research group led by Prof. Esther Finegan visited a zoo with nine Bengal tigers, where the staff are trying to train their tigers to tolerate rectal thermometers. If the training is successful, one of the zoo keepers will take rectal temperatures while Stryker is taking thermal images. This will allow her to more accurately calibrate the connection between the animals’ core temperatures and the external temperatures captured by the thermal camera: eyes, inner ears, urine and fecal matter as it is voided.

If the thermal camera can provide an accurate way to determine an animal’s internal body temperature, it could provide a non-invasive method of assessing the animal’s health, says Stryker. “We often don’t know that a dangerous carnivore is sick until we see obvious behaviours. This technique could detect a fever or elevated temperature and help us recognize illness sooner.”

Thermoregulation can be a challenge for these big cats. They don’t sweat the way we do, so they pant to get rid of excess heat. Many will lie spread-eagled on their backs, to expose the stomach – where they have the least fur – to the air. They may also seek out shady areas as the day heats up.

“A tiger might be sleeping under a tree for five hours, but he’ll move a little bit every 15 minutes as the shade patch moves, so that he remains in the shade patch,” says Stryker.

When they have access to water, tigers will swim or sit in the water on hot days. So will jaguars, but not as much. At the Toronto Zoo, most of the large cats can be sprayed with misters in the summer to help them cool off.

Some cats, including the Siberian tiger and the snow leopard, grow thick winter fur and are well-adapted to the cold. Others, like the lions and jaguars who live naturally in warmer climates, are comfortable in the warm Toronto summers but curl up together in cool weather and spend time in the cave shelters in their exhibit area. In really cold weather, the Toronto Zoo moves them into heated indoor enclosures.

“Keeping warm uses up a lot of energy for an animal,” points out Stryker, and not being able to reach a comfortable temperature can be stressful for them. But it is overheating that is actually more dangerous since it can cause brain damage or even death.

The next step in Stryker’s work will be to apply this research to exhibit design. “There is so much that goes into the design of zoo enclosures, and now I hope we can add something else: thermal comfort.”

Some of the design elements are simple, she says: making sure the animals have access to sufficient shad

The Zoo Biology Group is concerned with all disciplines involved in the running of a Zoological Garden. Captive breeding, husbandry,cage design and construction, diets, enrichment, man management,record keeping, etc etc


Join Zoo News Digest Facebook Page

updated daily


Follow me on

(Click on Follow at the top of the Hubpage)


No comments:

Post a Comment