I have warned about it often enough. It was ineviable it was going to happen, just a matter of time as to when. Thieves have started targetting Rhinos in British Zoos. Be on your guard folks. This is no time for dummy cameras. Do something to really protect. The returns are large here so lives are at stake. Human as well as animal. Take care.
I would like to have been a fly on the wall at the recent European Association for Aquatic Mammals (E.A.A.M.) conference in Europe. I am told that there was much critique of the collections in the United Arab Emirates and particularly in relation to their conservation message. Well, speaking personally I cannot say anything about the other collections but I believe that the Penguin Encounter in Ski Dubai is setting the standard that all others need to follow. Those who know me are only too aware that whereas I appreciate the need to make money that I am against crass money grabbing commercialism and wholly for high standards of husbandry.
I read the Press reports on Tayto Park with interest. When I got to "The park ran into difficulty last summer when it applied for a licence to import four white lion cubs from South Africa."....my thought processes immediately changed. Yet another Dysfunctional Zoo. Why White Lions? What is the point? More candidates for the circus.
Exactly the same sentiments apply to Buenos Aires zoo's jubilation over the birth of their White Tiger cubs. Why? Breeding them is purely and simply wrong. There is no arguement about it....and no, these 'freaks' are not rare. There are thousands of them, more bred daily, taking up space that could be used for genuine sincere conservation programmes. My argument is not with the staff who work with these animals or the animals themselves (which are beautiful) but with that tier of management who make the decision to breed or purchase these freaks. They either haven't got a clue or care even less. I am sure....I am 100% sure that these people would breed or purchase white chimpanzees if they could. Just so they could pull the bucks through the door. Then again if the White Lions or White Tigers fail to draw the public in they could always try Giant Pandas....some places do of course.
This has been a difficult couple of weeks for me in my personal life. The Mah Fiyah have long arms and powerful friends. Happily things appear to be getting back on track. I hope.
Over the last few months there have been a number of issues arisen with my postal address. Mail has just not reached me. This could have been magazines, books for review or cheques or cash. I have no way of knowing. The problem is now resolved so..............
VERY IMPORTANT (I will repeat this several times over coming weeks as I know some people do not read every issue)- After several years my postal address has changed. It is now:
7 Hunter Street
I looked through the list of 100 Best Jobs with interest. Never a mention of a Zoo Keeper. To be honest I only half expected to find it. The trouble with these 'best' lists is that they are nearly always money related. Perhaps if job satisfaction were the highest consideration the score card would be a lot different. I still maintain that being a zoo keeper in a good zoo is the best job in the world.
There was something about the story of moving the Yangon Zoological Gardens which had a ring of familiarity to it. It very quickly dawned. This is the Surabaya Zoo story all over again. Prime location in the centre of a city. I am willing to bet, without knowing all the facts that corrupt big business is at play behind the scenes, lobbying the government, underhand deals. If the zoo goes, and of course it shouldn't, then some nasty hotel or apartment blocks are going to take it's place. So, save Yangon Zoo I say.
Which brings me on to Dubai Zoo. Before too long the 'Dubai Safari' will be up and running (or so they say). The animals will be relocated. Should Dubai Zoo then close? No, I most definitely believe it should not. Dubai Zoo is also in a prime location and as such recieves a large number of visitors each week. It is a very popular collection. It has faults of course, dozens of them but all of these could be put right with less animals. The whole site could be easily redeveloped to make it the Gem it should be. Much less of a chance of corrupt big business coming into play in Dubai but nonetheless it does not mean that they will not try. I will be amongst the first to join the 'Save Dubai Zoo' lobby. We need more zoos, not less. More good zoos that is.
Sorry to learn about the Quebec Keeper. I hope they make a speedy recovery soon.
I saw with interest that I have been quoted in the latest CAPS campaign against pinioning. I just wish they had got my name right. If they got that wrong then it sort of discredits everything else they have to say. It is an emotive subject and affects many who work in the zoo industry.
You can read my opinion in 'An opinion on to pinion or not to pinion' and the CAPS article(s) Here. Actually the articles make an interesting read....
'An opinion on to pinion or not to pinion'
Mutilated for your viewing pleasure
Last in the pecking order
I am posting the following question on behalf of someone who wishes to remain anonymous. I would value your thoughts
"has anybody heard of the 10% rule; it is acceptible to have 10% of you animals die over the winter period, no matter what the cause (cold/food etc)? Any thoughts on this in general?"
This generated a lot of comments on the ZooNews Digest Facebook Page. Have your say here:
The internet being an utter pain once again. Sorry if this is a little incomplete.
I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
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April Fool in the Zoo
Poachers target rhinos at Kent wildlife park
A wildlife park in Kent is being targeted by animal poachers. The Aspinall Foundation which runs the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park says they've recieved a warning from the police over their world famous herds of black rhino.
The park is home to the most important collection of black rhinos, outside Africa. It's believed to be the first time that poachers have plotted raids in the UK.
Are animals born free or in captivity the key to saving species?
In your leader (23 March) you implied that animals of wild species which had been bred in captivity cannot survive in the wild. Relocation into wild habitats
has been achieved in many cases already. True, it requires great care and a lot of ongoing effort. What makes the process now an impossibility for many
species is nothing to do with the genes of the captive-bred animals. It is to do with the state of the wild. Wild habitats are being reduced at alarming
rates, over-populating what is left. The short-term prospect, until such time as our own species stops trashing the planet by its own gross over-population,
is bleak, but it is not hopeless.
The problem facing all wild species
Penguins and trainers break the ice at Ski Dubai
Teachers at Ski Dubai love their pupils and their sunny disposition
Despite the sub-zero temperature inside their winter home at Ski Dubai, the special bond between the 20 Snow Penguins and their trainers, Amy Barr and
Claudia van Klingeren, seems to be enough to keep the latter warm.
Physical contact — a stroke here, a tickle there, and lots and lots of cuddles — abound between the trainers and their eager students.
“ Communicating to the penguins was initially a challenge. Eventually, they learned to understand one-word sentences and hand gestures. They also learned to
react when their names were called.”
All 20 penguins — 10 King Penguins and 10 Gentoos — were flown into the region’s first indoor ski resort a year ago for the Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai
programme. Born and bred in captivity, these penguins are part of a multi-generational conservation breeding programme at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas.
“What we did when they arrived was we just sat down in their bedroom, and we just waited until they came over to us to meet us,” Van Klingeren, 26, from the
Netherlands, who is one of the 13 penguin trainers at Ski Dubai, told Gulf News.
Van Klingeren said it did not take long for the penguins to break the ice.
“Jumeirah was one of the first, together with Squeaky and McFatty, to come over to the trainers for cuddles. So
Ski Dubai’s Snow Penguins, they’re a cool lot
Crowd pullers win international award within an year of arriving in UAE
The 20 Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai have not only won the hearts of their Dubai friends and tourists but recently won an international award, just one year
after the programe was launched.
“Ski Dubai has been awarded second place in the People’s Choice Award’s category at the International Marine Animal Trainers Association [Imata] annual
conference for its Snow Penguin programme, making history by being the only first-time participant in the 40-year history of the Imata to win this award,”
Sharif Hashem, Marketing Manager of Ski Dubai
Sentoria to open largest safari park by mid-2013
Sentoria Group Bhd, the operator of Bukit Gambang Resort City has opened three sections of the largest safari park in Malaysia, the Bukit Gambang Safari
In a statement on Friday, the group said the safari park is targeted to be fully opened by mid-2013.
The safari park spans over 138 acres of land and will feature a total of eight dedicated sections namely Forest Land, Primate Trail, Bird Valley, Land of
Predators, and Wild Savannah.
“Given the tremendous response for our first theme park, we are very excited to add this new attraction to Bukit Gambang Resort City. We are positive that
once it is fully opened in mid-2013, it will not only draw Malaysian tourists to Kuantan but also
Panda-monium or public relations? (Interesting letters)
The Star writes: “Given the cost of hosting these animals, including a $1-million annual fee paid to China, the creatures may not generate much profit. On
the other hand, if they are successfully bred and deliver a healthy baby panda, there could be extra visitor interest.”
In other words, we have put a colossal sum of taxpayers’ money into a venture whose success depends on the amatory prowess of two Chinese bears, both members
of a species that is famously standoffish.
Needless to say, as a public investment, this represents no departure from the present government’s long, hideous track record. Still, one wonders what
guarantees have been obtained.
Have the pandas received the necessary technical training? Have they been given reading material (Fifty Shades of Black-and-White) that might inspire them to
get on with the thing? Do we have evidence adorable Kung Pao and identically adorable Lo Mein actually like one another? Any coy glances, furtive paw-
holding, anxious exchanging of telephone numbers?
Fellow citizens, merely to ask these questions is to sense the awful truth. We have been had.
One could even say — bamboozled.
Orlando Manti, Ottawa
Journalists have been hoodwinked by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s panda ploy. By failing to inform Canadians of the full significance of the Sino-Canadian
deal underlying the panda distraction, journalists have demonstrated how easily Harper outmanoeuvres them.
Canada secured the pandas’ visit only after agreeing in February 2012 to reduce our controls on uranium exports to China. China insisted on this, as it did
in a similar agreement with Australia in 2008 — an agreement that attracted criticism from Harper’s government then, but
Da Mao’s Dear Diary: ‘Me, I pretty much just eat bamboo’
They know pandas have sensitive hearing, and yet they insist on bringing along a damned brass band to the arrival ceremony. And, predictably, moments after
my plane had touched down in Canada, some schmuck in a suit mounts a podium and belted out the same speech we caged pandas always seem to inspire, “blah,
blah ‘deepening relationship’ blah blah ‘mutual respect’ blah blah ‘growing collaboration.’” As a gaggle of slack-jawed gawkers pressed in to bombard me with
camera flashes, I overheard someone mention that I was “far from my
The March 2013 issue of ZOO’s PRINT Magazine (Vol. XXVIII, No. 3) is online at <www.zoosprint.org> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular
If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <www.zoosprint.org/showMagazine.asp>
ISSN 0973-2543 (online)
March 2013 | Vol. XXVIII | No. 3 | Date of Publication 21 March 2013
Miranda Stevenson, OBE, a friend of South Asian conservation
-- Sally Walker, Pp. 1-7
Follow up of the Sahyadri Freshwater Biodiversity Assessment Project: Conservation through education and training
-- B.A. Daniel, Pp. 8-11
Prague Zoo - African House: Giraffes from zoolex
Media Workshop on Human Animal Conflict and Wildlife Trade at Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, Muthanga
-- B.A. Daniel, P. 15
Hybanthus verticillatus (Ortega) Baill.- Violaceae : a new record for India
-- G. Francisca, A. Rajendran and M. Parthipan, Pp. 16-17
Microbial identification, its antibiogram and therapeutic interventions in an elephant with multiple abscesses
-- Deepti Chachra, Gurpreet Kaur, Mudit Chandra, Kiran Vasudeva, Kuldip Gupta, Vandana Sangwan, Ashwani Kumar and J. Mohindroo, Pp. 18-20
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) requires Researchers
Animal Welfare Fortnight 2013 - Education Reports
Other Education Reports
HECx Follow Up…….Programmes by the participants
The Unexpected Return of the Asiatic Wild Ass
Scientist know now that there are at least 250 of these hard-to-track beasts alive in the Israeli desert—and they seem to be doing just great.
Don’t be deceived by its everyday equine exterior—the Asiatic wild ass is no horse or run-of-the-mill donkey. It is the notoriously untamable ungulate of the
Mongolian desert steppes, the Arabian Peninsula and remote regions of Russia, whose Greek name simply means “wild.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, a small group of asses was reintroduced to one of its favorite stomping grounds in the Negev desert of southern Israel from a zoo in
Unfortunately, for concerned conservationists trying to track its progress, the ass lived up to its name and disappeared back into the wild. Until recently,
no one had any idea how the wild asses were doing or even how many had survived.
Thanks to new techniques to extract DNA from dung and the help of a dart-shooting prodigy from Australia, scientist
Man presumptuously kidnaps 13 percent of an entire turtle species
There are only 400 — that’s 400, a number you can count to in less than five minutes — turtles in the whole entire world that can call themselves Astrochelys
yniphora, or ploughshare turtles (if turtles could speak, or could in fact do anything other than eat lettuce with stupid expressions on their faces). So
naturally, since humans are perhaps even dumber than how dumb turtles look eating, a man took it upon himself to try to smuggle 54 of these turtles through
the Bangkok airport. That’s 13 percent of the ploughshare turtles in the world.
The man seems to have been in cahoots with a woman who traveled from Madagascar to Thailand with the turtles. She brought them in, he picked them up, and,
just in case later on you want to cast the movie Stupid Turtle Stealers at some point, she is 25 and he is 38.
There used to be millions of ploughshare turtles, which are found only in Madagascar. But
Situation of Egypt's Giza Zoo Needs Improvement
For Egyptian families, the Giza Zoo is an affordable place to take the children and see the animals. For tourists it is a place to while away the hours and
see the lions. But with Egypt's tourism dwindling, now the animals in Giza Zoo are being affected.
They say an elephant never forgets. And at Giza Zoo, feeding the elephants no doubt provides a memorable experience for children. The two old elephants at
Giza Zoo are perhaps the most iconic creatures there and are at least 60 years old.
Built in 1891, the zoo is based on the design of London Zoo. Located on the western side of the River Nile, the zoo covers about 80 acres of green land, and
is home to many rare animals and plant species.
The zoo contains about 175 different species of mammals, birds and reptiles. It is a popular place for Egyptian families despite the decline in Egypt's
tourism. Sayed Hussein is a visitor at the zoo.
"My children's favorite animals are the monkeys, lions, elephants and the seals. I guess they are loved by all children."
And while the zoo remains popular with families, activists say the conditions at the zoo are getting worse. Some of the animal enclosures are in need of
upgrading and more should be done to improve animal welfare.
Giza Zoo recently introduced some new animals to the Zoo such as a rare Asian white lion and three African giraffes replacing the late African giraffe that
died back in 2002.
But activists such as Dina Zulfakar say the zoo should focus on upgrading the enclosures for its existing animals, and not spending limited resources on new
"Some enclosures, they need urgent attention, the elephants enclosure, the chimps enclosure, the bears enclosure. They have to be rebuilt, or making new
enclosures, it's out of the question in Giza priorities. Why spend the money on new arrivals when we didn't fix the problems we had before?"
The zoo lost its membership of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums when a polar bear died in 2004 after it was unable to cope with Cairo's hot
The zoo's Brown Bear died in 2008, and now the zoo is restricted to only keeping Black American Bears.
Zulfakar says the cages for the animals are too small, and the cooling system for the bears does not work properly.
But the zoo says that more than 35 veterinary physicians take care of the health program designed for the animals.
Director of the zoo, Dr. Fatma Tammam says that while the zoo is not regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, it is still unique.
"People are always misled in the ranking of Giza Zoo amongst the international zoos. First of all, there is no international ranking for zoos. The
international zoos are classified due to their own design and architecture. Giza Zoo takes second place amongst all zoos in the world after the London Zoo
for its unique design; followed by an American zoo that has the same design as both London and Giza zoos. Giza zoo takes the British Victorian style as its
design. Here in Egypt, people think that this means that we are the second best zoo in the world which is completely false. There are lots of open zoos,
safaris and other wonderful wild places. But Giza Zoo remains unique for its history - it opened in 1891. "
Giza Zoo, a zoological garden in Giza, Egypt, is one of the few green areas in the city, and includes Giza's largest park. As well as being home to many
endangered species, the zoo also has a wide selection of endemic fauna.
Rare species have been successfully bred in
Man caught after rare £2k tortoise stolen from Woburn Safari Park and sold on Facebook for £30
A MAN who sold an endangered tortoise he stole from a safari park on Facebook was caught after his DNA matched saliva on a beer can left at the scene.
Eighteen-year-old Adam Steff initially tried to flog the reptile named Flo for how much she was worth - £2,000 - but accepted an offer of £30.
The two stone Aldabran Giant tortoise, which Steff of Highfield Road, Flitton, nicked from Woburn Safari Park overnight between January 4-5, was sold to 19-
year-old Aiden Mckinstery.
On Tuesday, Bedford Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Mckinstery received a call from Steff in the early hours of the morning to say he was outside with the
Mr Mckinstery, who claimed he had no idea the animal had been stolen, posted a picture of it on Facebook asking for name suggestions for his new pet.
However this was seen by a member of staff at the park who realised it was Flo. On Tuesday prosecutor Camille
The 57th issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa is published online at <www.threatenedtaxa.org>. We thank all the subject editors, reviewers, language
editors and authors for their contributions in producing this issue.
Journal of Threatened Taxa
ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)
March 2013 | Vol. 5 | No. 5 | Pages 3921-3992
Date of Publication 26 March 2013 (online & print)
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Balitora jalpalli, a new species of stone loach (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Balitoridae) from Silent Valley, southern Western Ghats, India
-- Rajeev Raghavan, Josin Tharian, Anvar Ali, Shrikant Jadhav & Neelesh Dahanukar, Pp. 3921–3934
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Status review of Rocky plateaus in the northern Western Ghats and Konkan region of Maharashtra, India with recommendations for conservation and management
-- Aparna Watve, Pp. 3935–3962
Travel adaptations of Bornean Agile Gibbons Hylobates albibarbis (Primates: Hylobatidae) in a degraded secondary forest, Indonesia
-- Susan M. Cheyne, Claire J.H. Thompson & David J. Chivers, Pp. 3963–3968
Status of wetland birds of Chhilchhila Wildlife Sanctuary, Haryana, India
-- Parmesh Kumar & S.K. Gupta, Pp. 3969–3976
New black mildews (Ascomycetes) from Kerala State, India
-- V.B. Hosagoudar & A. Sabeena, Pp. 3977–3980
Four Helvella (Ascomycota: Pezizales: Helvellaceae) species from the Cold Desert of Leh, Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, India
-- Konchok Dorjey, Sanjeev Kumar & Yash Pal Sharma, Pp. 3981–3984
On the Basket Stinkhorn Mushroom Phallus merulinus (Phallaceae) in Mangalore, Karnataka, India
-- K.R. Sridhar & N.C. Karun, Pp. 3985–3988
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Activity pattern of Sloth Bear Melursus ursinus (Mammalia: Ursidae) in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Western Ghats, India
-- Tharmalingam Ramesh, Riddhika Kalle, Kalyanasundaram Sankar & Qamar Qureshi, Pp. 3989–3992
Peaceful zoo protest set to take place over Easter
A PEACEFUL protest is set to take place at Twycross Zoo over the bank holiday weekend urging an end to keeping animals in captivity.
Leicester and Derby Animal Rights will be on hand with signs and banners outside the popular tourist attraction as part of ‘Zoo Awareness Weekend’ event,
organised by the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS).
The group will be aiming to raise awareness and encourage people to withdraw support for captive animal entertainment facilities such as Twycross Zoo.
CAPS director Liz Tyson questioned the educational merit of zoos and wildlife parks when quizzed by the Mail.
She said: “Zoos teach visitors, and particularly children, that humans can control nature.
“They demonstrate that if an irreplaceable natural habitat is destroyed by our actions, we can pluck individual animals out of the destruction, manipulate
their breeding habits and produce more of them to live in city centre zoos or safari parks thereby ‘saving’ the species.
“In my opinion, the idea of future generations buying into this premise is a very frightening prospect.”
Zoo Awareness Weekend was first started in the early 1990s by CAPS in order to create better understanding of the animal rights and conservation issues
A spokesman for CAPS said: “The concept of holding animals captive in zoos is increasingly under question as our
New worrying information about the situation of the Bali Starlings in Nusa Penida has come to our attention and has to be dealt with immediately. There is
trapping going on in this island and it seems too many folk on site are turning a blind eye to this serious problem.
There are rumors all over Bali and Nusa Penida about the trapping of the starlings that is decreasing the population status on this once so-called haven for
the species. We wanted to verify if any of these rumors are true. We conducted a short visit to the island on the 30th and 31st January hoping to find some
proof that support this disgraceful horrible act of pure sabotage of the successful recovery program of the Bali starlings.
We have had our suspicions about this as the population of the Bali Starlings, from the results of our continuous monitoring on this and Nusa Lambongan
islands doesn’t seem to increase the way it should be. The birds were breeding successfully for many years now and considering the number of the active
nests, the population is the same or diminishing. Some threats are causing this and it cannot be coming only from other wildlife such as snakes, lizards and
raptors as on Nusa Penida they aren’t that common.
Checking information wasn’t an easy task as one cannot get any information from the locals. We started visiting the sites where the starlings have been
present in the previous trips and the nesting trees that are active. When we got to Br. Baiung where we have seen a nest that has been active for many years
we found a blue nylon rope with knots hanging from above the nest and down and the hole of the nest ad been enlarged even though the starlings during the
previous breeding seasons didn’t have problems getting in or out of this nest.
The obvious question arose: Why????
We tried to figure out a logical reason for this but we couldn’t come up with one. The hole was made bigger so that the arm of a person can get inside and
take the chicks.
We started talking to a local person that was present close to this nesting tree; he started telling us some really impressive and unbelievable stories. He
told us that there is a big owl that visits the nesting tree when the Bali starling chicks are about to come out and then it attacks them. I thought that his
information just makes no sense at all; making the nest cavity bigger will give the owl better access to the young starlings.
We couldn’t argue with that person because we didn’t think that it was the right time or place to do so. We took photographs and left the site without
creating a scene.
When we got back to Bali we visited the BKSDA office (Forestry department) and discussed our findings with them with the help of the photographs that we
They (BKSDA staff) will visit Nusa Penida to investigate further so we are hoping that we will solve this. Our Field Officer has spoken to the village chief
and the cultural chief to ensure that the rope is removed. Another solution that we will undertake is to organize a ceremony to insure that the starlings
belong to the Gods and that human aren’t allowed to capture or own them from this specific tree.
We are determined that we will put an end to any attempt to capture or trade our Bali starlings in Nusa Penida, Nusa Lambongan or anywhere else. These birds
are not for sale or to decorate private people’s homes. They represent a vital part in the eco-system that we are trying desperately to preserve for future
generation and that is our duty.
We have revisited the tree, the rope was gone – another story in itself to come – its history, its place in the village and its future blessings.
On the 17th of Mars we organised a ceremony in the village where the tree is (Baiung) just a reminder that the starlings belong to the Gods and that no human
is allowed to capture, own or sell any of them.
The whole village is supporting our cause and they showed us their determination to insure a safe haven for the starlings in their region.
Myanmar: ‘Save Our Zoo’ Campaign
The government of Myanmar wants to relocate the Yangon Zoological Gardens which has been a city landmark since 1906. In fact, about 450 animals were already
transferred to another zoo in Nay Pyi Taw, the country's new capital. Minister Soe Thein argued that the zoo is already a health threat for residents in the
city. He added that the zoo can be transferred to Hlaw Kar National Wildlife Park which is outside of Yangon.
Netizens have launched an online campaign to block the relocation. Mahar Kyaung, who posted the “Save Our Zoo” photo
Tayto Park banned from bringing in new animals to zoo for five months
A POPULAR theme park was banned from adding to its wildlife collection after zoo inspectors found it had a number of "inadequate" enclosures and "high levels
of aggression and stress among animals".
Tayto Park in Co Meath, owned by crisp manufacturer Largo Foods, was ordered not to introduce any new animals by the National Parks and Wildlife Service
(NPWS) until it complied with a number of stringent conditions.
Inspectors from the NPWS ordered the ban after a series of worrying findings.
Records seen by the Irish Independent reveal:
• NPWS inspectors found staff levels, experience, and qualifications were "not considered adequate for (the) animal collection"
Argentine zoo shows 4 recently born white tiger cubs
Buenos Aires zoo is showing off four new white tiger cubs.
Zoo officials say the blue-eyed cubs with coats of black stripes on white were born there two months ago and bring the number at the zoo to nine. They say the cubs will soon be able to eat meat.
White Bengal tigers have a rare genetic anamoly and have always been extremely rare in the wild. Several hundred white tigers have been bred in zoos and wild animal parks around the world, though many conservationists say efforts should be focused on less inbred tiger varieties
The U.S. Association of Zoos and
Will we kill off today's animals if we revive extinct ones?
De-extinction hopes to revive mammoths, gastric frogs and other missing species, but it might undermine the conservation of creatures that still survive.
The rebirth of an extinct frog species may come from the freezer, not the stomach. The gastric brooding frog, when it existed on Earth, swallowed its eggs, transformed its stomach into a womb and vomited up its young once sufficiently grown. But the frog disappeared from the mountains of southern Australia shortly after it was discovered in the 1970s, persisting only as a few frozen specimens in the bottom of a scientist's freezer.
The cells in those tissues should have been ruptured by the swelling ice crystals that formed within and around them. But some of the cells remained reasonably intact, according to paleontologist Michael Archer of the University of New South Wales in Australia, who is attempting to resurrect the species via his Lazarus Project. He and his colleagues transplanted the nucleus of that cell and others like it into hundreds of eggs fr
Resurrected mammoths and dodos? Don't count on it
Let's focus on conserving living animals, not on an expensive quest to bring back extinct ones – or some variation of them
I recently spoke at Revive & Restore's TEDx DeExtinction event at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC. Most of the speakers were brilliant
geneticists working on ways to revive species that no longer live on earth by injecting DNA from extinct species into eggs of living relatives. The atmosphere was electric with the hopes and claims of top scientists bent on bringing back the woolly mammoth, the passenger pigeon, and other vanished species. I was the invited skeptic, and here's what I told them, more or less.
The poster child for de-extinction is the passenger pigeon. The first European visitors to North America saw flocks so huge that they darkened the skies from horizon to horizon. Even in the 19th century, when the pigeons were starting to decline, observers estimated over a billion birds in some flocks. A market hunter with a shotgun could kill 50 or 100 with a single shot. The combined weight of the pigeons could bring down giant tree limbs with a sound like cannon fire. Yet the last passenger pigeon, a bird named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.
What happened? The easy answer is that it was probably a combination of forest loss and market hunting. But in the late 1800s, there were still thousands of pigeons left, some in protected areas, so why didn't any populations rebound? The likely answer is that the birds, which laid only one egg each, needed hundreds of thousands of other pigeons around to properly mate and nest, and to overwhelm their predators. This is a well-known phenomenon, which biologists call the Allee Effect.
So the de-extinction experts are going to try to revive one the most social birds in history, at great cost, and will bring back four, five or even 50? Even though they might go extinct again?
Another problem, which applies to many of the proposed de-extinction animals, including the woolly mammoth, Tasmanian tiger, and passenger pigeon, is what
animal will mother the babies. It would have to be a similar species, like a band-tailed pigeon for the passenger pigeon, but we know that each behaves very differently: they fly and mate differently; they eat different foods; and they have different calls. Maternal care is critically important for an infant's normal development. That baby bird will live in a cage labeled "passenger pigeon", but it might not be a real passenger pigeon, and it isn't going to bring them back from extinction.
And genetics might prevent this from even being a passenger pigeon. In the first college course I took in molecular biology, taught by Francis Crick, we learned that DNA is a book of instructions, telling us how to make a specific organism. "DNA makes RNA makes protein" was the mantra. But a half-century later, we now know that things are not so simple. A DNA strand doesn't tell you how to make an organism – it's more like a database, or a dictionary, than a book of instructions. All the words in Hamlet are in my dictionary, but if I scan my dictionary, Hamlet doesn't fall out.
The emerging science of epigenetics tells us that a strand of DNA can be read in hundreds, maybe thousands of ways. The internal and external environments of
an egg cell can te
Bobcat attacks 3-year-old boy at Carlsbad's Living Desert Zoo
When 3-year-old Ethan Kennedy begins to tell people the story of being rescued from the mouth of a bobcat, it's not his active imagination. The youngster
really did have a scary encounter with the wildcat.
He is recovering at home with a laceration to his eye and stitches to his skull, his mother, Courtney, said.
On Monday, Ethan, his mother and uncle, all from Carlsbad, visited the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. The mother refuted allegations that they
crossed the double safety barrier and got too close to the bobcat's wire fence enclosure, allowing the animal to reach for Ethan.
"Ethan was in my arms and we were at the barrier. But we leaned over the barrier to look at the bobcat," she said. "I turned my head for a second and heard a
noise and about the same time, my brother heard it. It happened real quick. The bobcat ripped Ethan out of my arms
Zoo to get cheetahs, lions
The Nehru Zoological Park in the city would soon get a pair each of African Cheetahs and lions.
Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al Saud had promised to gift these animals to the Nehru zoo during his visit in connection with the recently-held
CoP-11. Following this, officials from Saudi Arabia sent a message a few days ago to the zoo authorities, requesting them to complete formalities for handing
over the animals.
“We will discuss the issue during the
Don't let good zoos go extinct
Ruth Padel argues that good zoos, such as London Zoo, are not about entertainment but conservation
'You must see Jae Jae, Sumatran star of London Zoo's Tiger Territory," I said. "Charging past you three feet away, in a huge enclosure full of trees –
breathtaking!" (The Tiger Territories has just opened.) "I don't agree," my friend said, "with keeping wild animals in a capital city for entertainment."
But their wild homes are vanishing, they're not there for entertainment and the aim of good zoos today is conservation.
Most zoo animals are born in zoos. The days of whisking them from the wild are long gone. Zoos breed wild animals co-operatively, internationally. Genetic software – ensuring diversity, building a hedge against extinction in the wild – decides which tigers meet up. Jae Jae comes from Ohio; his mate from Australia. Jae Jae wouldn't last a week in a Sumatran jungle. He doesn't know about kraits, cobras and poisonous lianas or how to catch live food. He'd be done in by another male if he didn't starve first. What he's doing in London is supporting the world's 3,000-odd wild tigers.
Since the 1970s wild animals' habitats have disappeared. Responsible zoos have become places of education and science whose prime concern is conserving the
wild. They house animals in the social groups and habitats they like. London's famous modernist Penguin Pool is an example of how not to house wild animals – as art. The design was egg-inspired, but no penguin eggs appeared. Today, London's penguins breed in a pool that reproduces their natural habitat. Tiger
Territory does the same, minus kraits and cobras.
"Nature" is an emotive word: many people who only associate it with the word "free" don't see the whole picture. Today, everywhere, nature is enclosed.
"Natural" is not "unboundaried". From the Amazon to Camley Street Natural Park in King's Cross, London, nature survives in islands squeezed by the default environment – human habitation. Zoos are a concentrated image of the way nature has to survive in our world now, because of us. Tigers have lost their forest homes to coffee plantations in Sumatra; bauxite mines in Orissa in central India where the aluminium in your mobile phone comes from; and to paddy-fields for basmati rice.
"In wilderness," said Thoreau, "is the preservation of the world." But with 7 billion of us here too, wilderness has to be legislated for, managed and protected by field projects that implement environmental legislation, work with governments, local communities or industry, and tackle illegal logging, mining and poaching. Jae Jae's wild cousins are the frontline of today's terrifying hike in wildlife crime. Last year, just in Sumatra, poachers killed at least 32 tigers.
Between 1998 and 2005, 12% of dedicated tiger conservation funds came through zoos. London Zoo is run by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), a charity
dedicated to conserving wild animals and where they live. Ten per cent of what ZSL invests in displaying gorillas and tigers goes to protect the same animals in the wild.
Zoo breeding means that some species, such as Prezwalski's horse, can be successfully reintroduced to the wild. But you need the right habitat with enough food, and reintroducing large animals that endanger people is politically delicate, so conservation breeding programmes not only act as a backup (if wild tigers go extinct they can be replaced by zoo-bred tigers) but also generate support, directly and indirectly, for wild programmes.
ZSL spearheads this interplay of breeding, advocacy and conservation. Zoo entry fees underpin its conservation projects in 50 countries. Its Institute of
Zoology, a world-renowned centre for conservation biology, makes sure that these are based on sound science. Scientists in its Wild Animal Health programme,
for example, research and monitor infectious diseases in wild animals and assess risks of infection in moving or reintroducing them to the wild.
Scientists learn from zoo animals how to protect their wild cousins better. Some wild tigers, for instance, need to be anaesthetised, to be radio-collared, healed or (if endangering human lives) relocated. But anaesthetics can be dangerous and tigers used to humans help vets decide the correct dose. But, above all, zoo animals support their wild relations indirectly as ambassadors: through education and the inspiration that comes from direct contact. TV is not enough. In 1838, Charles Darwin spent days in London Zoo with an orangutan: their interaction was fundamental to his insight into evolution and animal expressions.
A recent National Trust report said that children suffer more in Britain than other developed countries from "nature-deficit disorder". As I've written elsewhere, a friend of mine once took a class of inner-city seven-year-olds to London Zoo. They exhausted the school's supply of black and yellow crayons
beforehand; they studied The Tiger Who Came to Tea. After gazing into a live tiger's eyes and seeing
Nong Nooch celebrates elephant day with call to end ivory trade
Nong Nooch Tropical Garden celebrated Thai Elephant Day with a call to stop the ivory trade.
Sattahip Mayor Phawat Lertmukda, Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Athapol Wannakij, and Chonburi livestock officials joined park General
Manager Phattanan Khantisukphan at the March 13 exhibition attended by students, tourists and government officials.
Nong Nooch organized an elephant parade and invited Jum Nhujan, 59, of Chaiyaphum to perform the “baisree” ceremony for elephants and to spray holy water
over mahouts and 52 pachyderms
Perth orangutans go back to Indonesia
Perth Zoo, the only zoo in the world that introduces orangutans born there to the wild, is planning to send their third to Indonesia.
And orangutan keeper Kylie Bullo recently reunited with Semeru, the second Perth-born male to be released into the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem in Sumatra.
It was an emotional reunion after 12 months apart, since Semeru's release in 2011.
"As soon as he saw me, he came straight down (from the trees) to visit, whimpering and held his arm out," Ms Bullo told reporters on Saturday.
"I gave him a good physical check and gave him some food treats, so it was a really happy reunion."
He was faring well, foraging and interacting with other orangutans, but was a little lazy with his nest-building - although that was
Peta's Ingrid Newkirk: making the fury fly
Ingrid Newkirk compares factory farming to the Holocaust and SeaWorld to slavery. Carole Cadwalladr crosses swords with the founder of Peta
My favourite story about Ingrid Newkirk, the founder and head of Peta, the animal-rights organisation, involves her storming the dining room of the Four Seasons hotel in New York, depositing a dead raccoon on Anna Wintour's dinner plate and calling the veteran editor of American Vogue a "fur hag". Wintour, a long-time Peta hate figure for her support of the fur industry, calmly covered it with a napkin and then ordered coffee.
There are no raccoons – living or dead – when I meet Newkirk in her office in Washington DC, though her evangelical zeal doesn't seem to have dimmed. At times it feels less like interviewing the CEO of a $30m-a-year-foundation, one which boasts 360 employees and thousands of volunteers, than arguing the toss in the sixth-form common room.
It's all so personal to her. Newkirk has been interviewed dozens of times over a 40-year-plus career. She's the head of the largest animal rights organisation in the world. And yet there's a quaver in her voice that on several occasions threatens to bring tears. There are accusations. There's more than a touch of suspicion. And, at times, outright hostility. This in response to asking what we in the journalistic trade call "questions". "Ingrid," I say at one point, "can we just leave
Rules for animals in captivity up for debate
Anyone who wants to have their say on the rules for keeping animals at zoology parks, aquaria and other facilities needs to hop to it.
At present there are different rules for keeping different types of animals.
The Zoo and Aquarium Association has made an application asking for one standard set of rules and guidelines, which it says will make life easier for keepers, auditors and inspectors.
The application also proposes 15 new rules including a requirement that the facility have a long term financial plan, and a plan for what will happen
Endangered Iberian Lynx Embryos Frozen
The embryos from two critically endangered Iberian lynx females were collected and frozen in February, scientists from Germany’s Liebniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) announced on Friday.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Wildlife red list, there are at most 143 adults of the species remaining in the wild. There may be as few as 84. And it gets worse, since the IUCN noted that there are probably only around 50 mature adults still capable of breeding.
Op-Ed: OSHA obligated to ensure SeaWorld's work environment is safe
The tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau killed by the orca Tilikum in 2010, captivated global media. Brancheau's death sparked a high profile
lawsuit between OSHA and SeaWorld, plus a book, then a movie. But where does OSHA stand now?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration initially went after SeaWorld with guns blazing. At the conclusion of OSHA versus SeaWorld 2012, Judge Ken
Welsch ruled that following the death of Brancheau (Feb. 2010), park staff and trainers had to be protected during their interactions with killer whales.
The ruling sidelined all orca-trainer interaction (called waterwork) during shows, and as the primary focus of SeaWorld's shows, the corporation wasn't
happy. The ruling has prompted the company to fight the case with appeals and other legal maneuvers. Still ongoing, SeaWorld's actions imply that it will
stop at nothing to get its shows back on track, and its trainers in the water.
With the passage of time, Brancheau's gruesome death
Jaipur Zoo gets male Royal Bengal tiger after two years
A seven-year-old Royal Bengal tiger today joined Jaipur Zoo under an exchange programme, for which a tigress from the zoo has been sent to Bhopal.
There was no male tiger at Jaipur Zoo since 2011 while there are three tigresses now.
After the tiger's arrival, the Jaipur Zoo will conduct tiger breeding which was on a halt for the last two years in absence of a male
Foreigner involved in fracas at Delhi zoo
There was high drama at the National Zoological Park on Sunday when the security guards near the ticket-checking gate tried to stop a woman, allegedly a
foreigner, from taking food into the zoo, resulting in a brawl.
Food items are banned inside the park, popular as the Delhi Zoo. The zoo administration claimed that the female visitor, accompanied by two men, wanted to
take food inside. The trouble started when these visitors were near the separate ticket window meant for foreigners (as they are charged Rs. 100 against the
regular Rs. 20 for Indians). Also, all bags, purses and containers are checked to prevent food items, cigarettes and other prohibited items
Egypt remains a hot spot for illegal chimp and ivory trade
In September, customs authorities at Cairo International Airport seized 17 endangered falcons. The following month, a man was caught smuggling a cobra in his hand luggage on a flight from Cairo to Kuwait, forcing an emergency landing. And most recently, in January, customs authorities confiscated two shipments of ivory at the airport.
These latest confiscations are a smaller piece of a much larger, problematic picture: the increased demand for “exotic” wildlife in Egypt, and around the world, is fueling the illicit trade of wildlife.
In recent years, the world has witnessed a dramatic spike in the illegal trade of wildlife. It is an incredibly lucrative business, worth an estimated US$19 billion, on a scale comparable to drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking, yet it receives a fraction of the attention.
CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is tasked with setting the global controls for trade of endangered wildlife and wildlife parts. Countries that ratify the treaty are then responsible for monitoring and enforcing its regulations. With 178 member states, CITES is the largest international conservation treaty in the world.
Egypt has been a signatory to CITES since 1978, but its long track record of flagrant violations leaves little room to deny that Egypt has played, and continues to play, a complicit role in this growing illegal trade.
Ivory and apes
Faced with dwindling elephant populations across Africa and Asia, an international ban on the trade of ivory was established in 1990. But Egypt’s history as an important center for ivory trading and carving goes back thousands of years.
Consequently, more than 30 years after the ban, Egypt remains Africa’s third-largest illegal market for ivory, as cited in a January 2012 TRAFFIC report on illegal ivory in Egypt.
The ivory arrives in the workshops of craftsmen, centered in Khan al-Khalili souq, after being smuggled into the country through Sudan, and is often traced back to Kenya, Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire, in addition to Sudan, the report notes.
Even more concerning, the report found, is that since the revolution, the situation has deteriorated. A lack of law enforcement created a security vacuum enabling the illegal ivory trade to once again flourish.
Previously, top buyers of ivory products from Egypt were of Spanish, Italian and American origin. Now, however, Chinese buyers account for more than 50 percent of illegal ivory sold in Egypt, a trend that mirrors the alarming rise in demand from East Asia for wildlife and wildlife products, long revered for their medicinal and spiritual use.
Egypt’s involvement with the trafficking of great
Boss aims to buy zoo again to create £6m animal research centre
Dartmoor Zoological Park boss Ben Mee is planning to invest up to £6 million to build a top-class research centre and secure the future of the business.
Mr Mee also wants to create enclosures for elephants and orangutans, the most intelligent animals allowed in captivity, so scientists can study their minds
Architects have already met him to discuss the ambitious plans, which would also involve turning the zoo's operating company into a charity.
He could then look to access research grants from various sources, including Europe, and take advantage of tax breaks too.
Mr Mee took over the 30-acre attraction at Sparkwell, near Plymouth, in 2006, but in 2010 had to put his house on the market to fund investment after the
operating company went into liquidation.
A new company was set up, and the zoo has seen visitor numbers swell from 80,000 a year to 120,000, and last year saw turnover double on the back of the hit
Hollywood movie We Bought A Zoo, staring Matt Damon as Mr Mee.
But Mr Mee said despite this the business, like many in the visitor economy, is facing severe challenges.
"The future of the place has to be through research," he said. "Education is its raison d'etre. There's a possibility of building an animal research centre.
It's hugely ambitious but achievable. I'd say that within five years we could have this.
"It will safeguard the future of the place. It's never been safe and is still under threat."
Mr Mee first needs to buy the zoo from his mother Amelia. He is talking to a consortium of wealthy individuals about securing the cash to do this. Until he
owns the zoo he can't progress with his research centre plans, but once he owns the land he could also look to turn the house into accommodation for research
He is already building the zoo's reputation as a research facility, working with students and graduates from 10 universities including Plymouth and Exeter.
"Two years ago we had two research projects – this year we have 54," he said.
Mr Mee, who worked as a science journ
WWF finds traces of supposedly extinct rhinos on Borneo
Footprints thought to be from the critically endangered Sumatran rhino have been found on Borneo island, where the species was believed to have been extinct for 20 years, environmental group WWF said Thursday.
The Sumatran rhino population has dropped by 50 percent over the past two decades and there are now believed to be fewer than 200 left in the world.
A team from WWF-Indonesia in February found several fresh footprints, mudpools and other evidence in West Kutai district, East Kalimantan province, suggesting the species is roaming Borneo, an island Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei.
"The findings are a breath of fresh air since the Sumatran rhino in Kalimantan was believed to be extinct since the 1990s," WWF said in a statement.
Experts at Mulawarman University in
Quebec zookeeper expected to live after tiger attack
The Quebec zookeeper who was attacked by a Siberian tiger at a Lac-St-Jean area zoo this morning is expected to live.
“Right now he's at the hospital. His life is not in danger,” said Christine Gagnon, the zoo’s director of conservation and education.
“We are really lucky for that.”
The 51-year-old man was cleaning the inside of the enclosure before 9 a.m. Thursday when a female tiger at the St-Félicien wild zoo attacked him.
He sustained injuries to his neck but was conscious when he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Roberval, about 25 minutes south of St-Félicien.
Normally, the zoo’s Siberian tigers — two males, one female and two cubs — are kept in their nighttime enclosure whil