Saturday, February 9, 2013

Zoo News Digest 27th January - 9th February 2013 (ZooNews 842)

Zoo News Digest 27th January - 9th February 2013 (ZooNews 842)

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Dear Colleagues,

Happy New Year of the Water Snake. Right now I am toying with the idea of going out to celebrate. I should really. It is cause to celebrate. I have learnt more of China, Chinese customs and the importance of 'face' during this past year than I dreamed possible.....but I do feel sorry for the snakes. Even the BBC made a blunder by mentioning that it was believed a snakeskin wallet could help your money this year. Okay it was just in passing but I wonder how many snakes will die because of it. There was a big confiscation of snakes by Thailand customs a week ago. Tip of the iceberg...destined for China. I reckon more snakes will die in this year of the snake than have ever died before.

I was delighted to see the UAE has banned the import of some exotic pets. So Lions, Tigers and Cheetahs are on the No No list. Kangaroos are not? One wonders why as they need specialised care. Even the specialists fail so I think the amateurs will make a real botch of it. I now wait to see how many local Cheetah Farms are set up.

Rhinos....doesn't look promising. Averaging two 'poached' a day right now....and I still believe that a goodly percentage of these are not 'poached' in the true sense of the word. Now the 'Indian' rhinos are feeling the pinch as well. It is not going to be a good year for Rhinos or Snakes.

Suing for unpaid overtime? That was a shock. Can you? There must be thousands of zookeepers doing hundreds of thousands of hours of unpaid overtime each and every month. 99% of these look on it as 'nature of work' and something they do for the love of the job. I don't suppose the idea of suing anybody ever enters their head. Don't like it....go and work in an office. True enough I hate exploitation of staff and that really has to be stopped but a line has to be drawn too.

Read about the solar powered vertebrate.....fascinating!!

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


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Sin to keep zoo animals hungry, says Mamata
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged employees of Alipore Zoological Gardens here on Thursday to look after the animals and birds, saying that it was a “sin” to keep them hungry while the employees engaged in trade union activities.
“There should be a difference between what trade union activities mean at other places and what it means in the zoo. The animals and birds here cannot speak. You can only indulge in trade union activities keeping in mind the concern for these animals and birds,” said Ms. Banerjee at an event organised at the zoo.
In the past there have been occasions where the zoo’s animals had to go without food because of strikes called by the workers’ union affiliated to the Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC), the labour arm of the Congress.
“Consider these animals as a part of your family. There can be no greater sin than to keep the animals hungry while you participate in trade union activities,” she said, directing her remarks at the zoo employees.
Stating that over 24 lakh tourists have visited the zoological garden in the last year, she called for making the zoo more attractive to children.
“Within six months I want the zoo renovated and

UAE bans import of exotic animals as pets
You can no longer ship in a big cat for your back yard, but a kangaroo is fine under a new federal decree governing the importation of rare animals.
The rules, issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water, mean permits will no longer be issued to import animals for personal or commercial use.

Only breeding centres, universities, zoos and public authorities that are licensed by the ministry are allowed to bring any of the animals covered by the legislation into the country - provided they meet a number of conditions.

The regulations are contained in a ministerial decree that was issued in July last year with very little fanfare. The document includes a list of animals

Oregon Zoo pays $400K for elephants Lily and Tusko
The Oregon Zoo announced late Thursday that Lily, the baby elephant born at the Oregon Zoo in November, has a permanent home in Oregon.

The zoo has purchased Lily and her father Tusko for $400,000 from the Calif-based elephant rental outfit Have Trunk Will Travel. A 2005 breeding loan agreement stipulated that Tusko's second (that would be Lily), fourth and sixth offspring would be owned by Have Trunk Will Travel, which previously owned Tusko.

Following public outrage at the notion that Lily would be wrenched from her mother, Rose-Tu, and her Portland home, the zoo made clear that the agreement didn't mean that Lily would be heading

World’s oldest known living wild bird gives birth at age 62
The oldest known living wild bird in the world has given birth to a healthy hatchling. The 62-year-old bird, “Wisdom,” last made headlines in 2011, when the albatross survived the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami.
Wisdom has defied the odds in many aspects: She’s already lived nearly twice as long as the average Laysan albatross. She was given her name after being tagged by a U.S. Geological Survey researcher in 1956. The USGS said in a statement that since being tagged, Wisdom has flown an estimated 2 million to 3 million miles, or “four to six trips from the Earth to the Moon and back again with plenty of miles to spare.”
“To know that she can still successfully raise young at age 60-plus, that is beyond words,” USGS bird banding program chief Bruce Peterjohn said. “While the process of banding a bird has not changed greatly during the past century, the information provided by birds marked with a simple numbered metal band has transformed our knowledge of birds.”
And while there have been other albatross birds spotted in the wild who are estimated to be around 50 years old, Wisdom is the only one on record to have given birth at such an advanced age. Though, some scientists

Former Great Plains Zoo employee suing for unpaid overtime
A former employee alleges the Great Plains Zoo owes her three years of overtime pay.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sioux Falls, Shelley Harpster claims that she worked an average of 50 hours per week since 2010 as a vet tech but only was paid for 40.

Harpster was hired in 2006 and worked at the zoo until last month, according to the lawsuit.

The amount sought is to be determined at trial, according to the lawsuit.

“The Zoo has not been made

Pair of capercaillies welcomed to Galloway
KIRKCUDBRIGHT’S Wildlife Conservation Park has welcomed the arrival of a pair of capercaillies.

The largest member of the grouse family, resembling a turkey to some, is beginning to spread its habitat from the Cairngorms and it is hoped the park in Galloway can help.
With blackish grey feathers and a fan-shaped tail, the male has a curved whitish yellow beak with a beard of stiff feathers underneath, whilst the female is less colourful.
The adult’s diet is needle-rich, with chicks getting a protein boost from eating moth caterpillars on the woodland floor. Both adults and young relish berries such as blaeberry (also known as bilberry).
John Denerley of the park said: “Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park would hope

Andrew Derocher refuses to accept that polar bears have been saved
Andrew Derocher, an known polar bear advocate, has been making headlines again, this time promoting a new “policy paper” he is lead author on that has just been accepted for publication. He and his colleagues simply refuse to accept that the polar bear has been saved (population numbers have rebounded dramatically since protective legislation was introduced in 1973) and it seems all they can think of to do now is press for ever more restrictive regulations.

The timing of the release of this paper is very convenient: Fish and Wildlife biologists and polar bear activists worldwide are actively campaigning to get CITES, at their meeting next month, to make it illegal to trade in legally harvested polar bear parts (see previous post here). Canada is also under international pressure to up-list the status of the polar bear to “threatened,” see post here.

The article itself is behind a paywall (abstract and co-author list below), so it is unlikely that many people outside the choir of conservation advocate subscribers


Zoo keeps food smells away from bears
Officials at a Manitoba zoo said steps are being taken to ensure food smells from a cafe opening Friday do not waft into the polar bear area.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg said the Tundra Grill and Polar Playground, which opened its doors Friday, includes a high-tech ventilation system employing pollution scrubbers and ultraviolet lights to keep the food smells from being picked up by the polar

PANTHERA - January 2013 Newsletter

Eating habits in south China driving endangered animals to extinction
It’s not yet light, but Mr Qiu of Foshan in Guangdong is busy transferring king ratsnakes from a cage into a sack. He then tips them into a boiling pot.

He’s been running his snake-soup shop for over a decade.

In winter, residents of Guangdong province, south China, pay particular attention to diet and nutrition, meaning the shop is constantly busy. A bowl of piping hot snake soup is a breakfast favourite for many locals looking to ward off the cold. “We Cantonese have always believed that snake meat can treat illnesses, plus its nutritious and keeps out the cold,” Qiu says.

See also: what's behind the killing of migratory birds in northern China?

The market for meat from wild animals is on the increase, with restaurants doing good – if under the table – business. Protected animals such as monitor lizards and pangolins are hunted and traded illegally, eventually ending up on diners’ plates.

The reputation the Cantonese have for eating wild animals is well-deserved: the long-standing tradition is a part of the culture in Lingnan (the area covering Guangdong and surrounding provinces). An employee with the Wildlife Conservation Society’s China office said that the Cantonese “will eat anything” – and the most sought-after delicacies are endangered species.
 Among the most regularly eaten in Guangdong are: the pangolin, the monitor lizard, the giant salamander, wild


No wonder they tell you not to feed the animals! Zoo's historic ledger books reveal how too much food killed some of its attractions
It's no wonder zoos tell visitors not to feed the animals.
A dusty old ledger has revealed that some captive creatures at a Manchester zoo died from overfeeding by the public.
The fascinating record from Belle Vue in Manchester details the sex, life expectancy and cause of death for creatures living at the zoo between 1938 and 1971.
These range from 'senile decay' to 'killed by dog' to 'overfed by public'.
The wallabies suffered even more unpleasant ends, the ledger - which is being auctioned off in Wales on Tuesday - shows.

Some were listed as 'killed by dog', while others were babies that were 'thrown out of pouch'.
Polecats and coypus were killed by vandals, while nine cockatiels and eight Barbary doves were presumed stolen, the latter from the children's zoo.
Twenty-four grass snakes meet end in 1961 by being fed to a cobra, while a speckled caiman died mysteriously in 1963 while 'on loan to firm for window display'.
Mona, a Guenon monkey, was shot dead in an attempt

Zoologger: The first solar-powered vertebrate
When you think about it, animals are weird. They ignore the abundant source of energy above their heads – the sun – and choose instead to invest vast amounts of energy in cumbersome equipment for eating and digesting food. Why don't they do what plants do, and get their energy straight from sunlight?
The short answer is that many do. Corals are animals but have algae living in them that use sunlight to make sugar. Many other animals, from sponges to sea slugs, pull the same trick. One species of hornet can convert sunlight into electricity. There are also suggestions that aphids can harness sunlight, although most biologists are unconvinced.
But all these creatures are only distantly related to us. No backboned animal has been found that can harness the sun – until now. It has long been suspected, and now there is hard evidence: the spotted salamander is solar-powered.
Plants make food using photosynthesis, absorbing light to power a chemical reaction that converts carbon dioxide and water into glucose and releases oxygen. Corals profit from this reaction by housing photosynthetic algae inside

Eco-Comedy Video Competition 2013

Edinburgh Zoo Strikes Gold and Double Silver In Giant Panda Zoo Awards 2012

Announced just this morning, Edinburgh Zoo has scooped three awards in the first ever Giant Panda Zoo Awards:

Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Pandas at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) won gold for the ‘Human Panda Personality’.
Yang Guang (Sunshine) picked up silver for ‘Favourite Pandas Outside China’.
The PR campaign for the first ever giant panda breeding season at Edinburgh Zoo also brought in a silver award.

Panda fans and enthusiasts from all over the world have been voting across ten different panda related categories for the first ever Giant Panda Zoo Awards 2012.

Run by giant panda fan Jeroen Jacobs for panda fans all over the world, Giant Panda Zoo aims to spread the word about giant pandas in captivity and to make a difference in panda conservation.

Iain Valentine, Director of Giant Panda Project & Strategic Innovations at Edinburgh Zoo, said:

“For Edinburgh Zoo to have been nominated and shortlisted was alone a great privilege, but to have been voted for by panda fans across the world to win an award in all three categories is truly special.

“We’re delighted that our male, Yang Guang, is so popular with people in the UK and also internationally. With an outgoing character that actually seems to love an audience, the fact he has received this award after only being at Edinburgh Zoo for 12 months is very special. We’re also pleased that it’s Yang Guang’s turn for recognition now, after our female Tian Tian scooped one of the BBC’s Women of the Year back in 2011.

“I was lucky enough to pick up the gold award for Human Panda Personality; a great privilege for me and the wider team that I’m part of at Edinburgh Zoo; it’s very encouraging to think that our profile and work with giant pandas is hopefully raising the awareness of global giant panda conservation. The fact our PR campaign for the giant panda breeding season in spring 2012, that reached over 930 million people in 18 different countries, was also awarded a silver win also backs this up.

“Not only a wonderful first for Edinburgh Zoo, the Giant Panda Zoo Awards are a fun and engaging concept from Jeroen whose website and newsletters act as a great platform to pull focus to and increase awareness of the important conservation work for these iconic animals.”

For the full list of results please visit

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