Saturday, March 16, 2013

Zoo News Digest 26th February - 16th March 2013 (ZooNews 845)

Zoo News Digest 26th February - 16th March 2013 (ZooNews 845)

Dear Colleagues,

I have been thinking a lot about the story "INTERVIEW: Navy SEAL leads team to save South Africa’s rhinos". I followed up a few other articles and even watched a couple of video clips but am none the wiser. Were these guys just hired for the six weeks of the Animal Planet filming? If so then their contribution is not going to make a half cents difference to Rhino Poaching. If it is for longer then the heading should probably be a bit different...more like "Mercenaries hired to protect horn investment of pseudo Rhino Conservationists". I doubt any National Park would be in a position to afford them. Tell me if I am wrong.

The biggest story of the week has to be that of the unfortunate young woman killed by the lion. I freely admit that I had assumed that she was working in with the animal. It seems not. Apparently the lion lifted a catch and got in with her. Tragic. I genuinely grieve for her, her family friends and colleagues. In spite of the stories in the press I don't believe we will ever really know what happened.

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


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'He was just being a lion': Co-worker of 24-year-old intern killed by a lion says the animal was not to blame as she reveals new details about the tragedy 
The headkeeper at a Central California big cat sanctuary where an intern was killed by a lion last week spoke out for the first time about the tragedy,
saying that the 24-year-old woman’s death was an accident.
Cat Haven employee Meg Pauls, 27, was making her regular rounds feeding the animals and cleaning enclosures with Dianna Hanson just moments before the young
volunteer was killed.

Speaking to ABC News this week, Pauls explained that she and Hanson took separate trails. When the headkeeper got to the end of her pathway, however, she
became alarmed because Hanson did not make it to their usual meeting

Qatar’s efforts lift hopes for rare bird
Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, Qatar’s globally-recognised conservation organisation, has reaped yet another success by breeding Bulwer’s pheasant,
classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Established by Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali al-Thani in central Qatar, Al Wabra has earlier been credited for the stellar conservation work on the Spix’s
macaw, Beira antelope, Somali wild ass and the Birds of Paradise.

“Naturally occurring in the lower montane forests of Borneo, Indonesia, the Bulwer’s pheasants are extremely difficult to breed and have not successfully
bred in several decades in captivity,” Al Wabra’s director Dr Tim Bouts told Gulf Times.

The efforts of the bird team have been rewarded by the hatching of two Bulwer’s pheasant chicks, a first for Al Wabra, and their successful rearing.

“Breeding behaviour was observed and afterwards the female laid three eggs,” Dr Bouts recalled. Once candling revealed that two eggs were fertile, they were
moved to the incubation room just before hatching.

The chicks, both males, barely weighed 35 grams when hatched. Raj, one of the bird keepers, taught them to eat by pecking towards the food with a small paint

“It was amazing to see how the chicks immediately followed

INTERVIEW: Navy SEAL leads team to save South Africa’s rhinos
Craig Sawyer is too cool to be called anything but “Saw.” He’s a former Navy SEAL who seems to eat tactical jargon for breakfast. Determination? Check.
Dedication? Check. Driven? Check.
Now, let’s go save some rhinos.
Sawyer and a team of fellow Special Ops members, including two other SEALs and a Green Beret, are the subject of Animal Planet’s new three-part
miniseriesBattleground: Rhino Wars, an up-close look at the deadly issue of rhino poaching in South Africa.
“I understood that there was a crisis and an issue with it, but I didn’t understand the full extent of it,” Sawyer said recently during a phone interview.
“And the head of the production company out of South Africa contacted me about it, and that’s when I started studying a little more and realizing just how
pressing this issue really is.”
When contracted for the job, Sawyer began rounding up his team members, men he’s worked with over the course of his accomplished military career. He wanted
to know whether his friends shared his passion for wildlife, his desire to help distressed animals an ocean away.
For six weeks, the team members “immersed” themselves in the daily struggle of the rhino wars. The group

Zoo owner to live with lions for a year
A zoo owner has pledged to live with lions for a year.
Alexander Pylyshenko will join the lions at his Ukrainian zoo to raise funds for the construction of a rehabilitation centre for lions and other big cats.
He hopes to raise around 365,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (£30,000), reports Oddity Central.
Pylyshenko holds the Ukrainian record for the most time living with lions after he spent 35 days in a big cat enclosure in 2011. During the stint, he stayed
in the cage the whole time, only eating the raw meat that was passed through the bars.
Due to the longer time period of the new challenge, he and the animals will split their time between the lions' den and his country house in March 2013
~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~
Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!
The 'Mkomazi National Park' Painted Dog Exhibit at Chester Zoo in Great Britain intends to immerse visitors into the atmosphere of a camp for conservation
work with painted dogs in the field in Tanzania. Visitors can get informed on how conflicts between painted dogs and local communities may be reduced and can
support such conservation projects:
Thanks to Eduardo Diaz Garcia we are able to offer the Spanish translation of the previously presented exhibit of Giraffes at the Prague Zoo in the Czech
Casa Africana: Jirafas
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We keep working on ZooLex ...
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Calgary zookeeper fired for letting gorillas into kitchen wants his job back
A keeper at the Calgary Zoo who was fired after leaving a door unlatched, allowing several gorillas to escape into an off-limits kitchen, says he wants his
job back.

Garth Irvine, 49, told Metro Calgary he has been doing regular tasks at the zoo for nearly 25 years, but last week he encountered a situation unlike any

He went into a staff kitchen area next to the gorilla enclosure to find three female apes inside. He said he moved quickly to usher them out, but startled
the troop’s biggest gorilla — a roughly 205-kilogram silverback named Kakinga.

“He charged — and I had played it out in my mind a million times what would happen in a situation like that. He did exactly what I always thought he would do
… He pinned me down. He gave me a small bite. He flipped me over and dragged me about six feet and then he ran away,” Irvine told Metro.

He managed to get to his feet and radioed for help. Irvine

How the Internet is speeding up the extinction of elephants, rhinos
What is the connection between African ivory, rhino horns and the Internet?
According to conservationists, the Internet is the new threat to the survival of Africa’s endangered wildlife.
Illegal tusks and rhino horns are being traded on countless website forums, including Google, with increasing frequency, according to activists. Wildlife groups attending the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok this week are calling on global law enforcement agencies to do something about it.  

“The Internet is anonymous, it is open 24 hours a day for business, and selling illegal ivory online is a low-risk, high-profit activity for criminals,” Tania McCrea-Steele of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told The Associated Press.
Ivory is often advertised with code words like “ox-bone,” “'white gold,” “'unburnable bone,” or “cold to the touch,” and

The extremely endearing, scary, and gross lengths zookeepers go for the their animals
Dressing up in urine-soaked panda costumes is not even the worst of it

Ever wonder what it's like to be a zookeeper? Do you ever think, as I do, how lucky they are to spend their days ogling adorable animals? Well, my friends, you don't know the half of it. Sure, the proximity to cute newborns is a perk, but when giant poop patrol isn't keeping these dedicated workers busy, zookeepers can often be found risking their lives, pride, and settled stomachs to ensure their charges are healthy and safe. Here, 6 examples of zookeepers going to extreme lengths for their animals:

Private zoo owners decry pressure from DENR 7
We love our animals so much. This is an extension of our home.”
This was the statement of the owner of BG Rainforest Park Cebu, Butch Guillen who talked to the media together with his family to vehemently deny maltreating their animals displayed in their mini zoo as they consider them their babies, including four Green Sea turtles which will be released to the wild today.
“We know they can’t propagate here. Even before we were called for a technical conference, we really intended to release them to the wild once their shells (carapace) are hard enough. We are willing to release it. But now we feel harassed, Guillen said in a press conference.
He said the allegations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and environment advocates are baseless, biased and unjust because they have been taking good care of these animals hiring three caretakers, a veterinarian and an aquarist who maintains the sanitation and health of the water in their aquariums.
BG Rainforest Park Cebu was opened more than a year ago after their family decided to venture in this kind of business. They started as a restaurant and then later decided to make it into a park.
“We are animal lovers. We have a lot of animals at home, said Tara Guillen, vice president for marketing.
Everyday they get to entertain 300 to 500 guests on a weekday and higher on weekends.
The park includes the Oceanarium Restaurant, Amazon’s Aviary and Tarzan’s House, Jungle Adventures, Oasis Spa and Salon, Zoofari Cafe, Tribe’s Bar and the Rainforest Gift Shop all located in a 3,000 square meter leased property.
Tara said approximately 32,100 students from 214 different schools in Cebu have visited their park since they opened in August 18, 2011.
The park was recognized as the Best Park in 2012 by the Business Achievement and Recognition Awards and was told to receive the same recognition on April 2013 by the same award-giving body.
“The main purpose of this establishment is to create educational awareness pursuant to the Wildlife Act of the Philippines. Our primary intention is to campaign

The last day for early bird (ie cheap!) registration for the 2013 ABMA conference is March 24th!  This year’s conference is being held in Toronto, hosted by the Toronto Zoo.  Our Key Note Speaker is Ian Sterling from Polar Bear International.  We also have Ken Ramirez presenting an exciting workshop!  Check out the ABMA’s website and click on the conference tab for more information.

Keeper injured as Calgary Zoo gorillas invade kitchen
A zookeeper was injured Friday while trying to corral some gorillas that managed to get into a kitchen at the Calgary Zoo.

Malu Celli, a zoo curator, said the man was treated in hospital for undisclosed minor injuries and released.

“The public was never at risk and the zoo’s emergency response team was very quick on the scene,” she said. “They prevented the situation from becoming serious.”

Celli said staff are not sure how many of the western lowland

Info on PAWS Sanctuary

OSPCA failed to investigate animal mistreatment, say ex-zoo employees
A member of Ontario’s Society for the Protection of Animals did not investigate complaints that would have revealed animal mistreatment at Papanack Park Zoo in Wendover, Ontario, according to former employees.
Kent Allen, who worked at the zoo from the summer of 2010 to February 2011, says that a member of the OSPCA failed to return to Papanack Park Zoo after Allen warned that they had been misled by the zoo’s owner, Keith


Coroner: Zoo Intern May Have Been Killed After Lion Lifted Cage Handle
A woman killed by a 550-pound male lion at a conservancy near Fresno, Calif., earlier this week may have been caught by surprise after the animal escaped its cage, investigators say.
According to a preliminary autopsy, Dianna Hanson, a 24-year-old intern for Cat Haven, was killed Wednesday when the lion snapped her neck.
Hanson, whose father has described her as a "fearless" lover of big cats, died quickly from a fractured neck and "some suffocation," said Fresno County Coroner David Hadden. The body had "numerous claw marks and bite damage" elsewhere, probably inflicted after the initial swipe, he said.
The 5-year-old lion, named Cous Cous, apparently escaped from a feeding cage while Hanson was cleaning its main enclosure. Hanson was talking with a co-worker on her cellphone moments before she was killed, the coroner said. The co-worker called authorities when the conversation ended abruptly and Hanson failed to call back, he said.
"The lion had been fed, the young woman was cleaning the large enclosure, and the lion was in the small cage. The

Virginia Zoo bars volunteers from exotic animals
Because of safety and liability concerns, the Virginia Zoo has barred volunteers from working with exotic exhibit animals.

Two weeks ago, the zoo discontinued its Keeper Aide program, which allowed volunteers to have behind-the scenes access to all of the zoo's animals. Those 35 volunteers helped prepare meals and feed animals, including tigers, bears and giraffes. The volunteers also helped clean habitats and shift large animals between exhibits and holding cells by using special protective gates and barriers.

Now, volunteers will be allowed to work only with small, mostly domestic animals. Two participants have left the program since the zoo implemented the new rules.

The changes come on the heels of a December inspection

Port Lympne Park posters 'risk wildlife'
THE "desperate" request from Port Lympne for dead animals to feed carnivores could affect populations and cause safety issues, according to a concerned resident.

The wild animal park has printed posters, headed "Urgent!", asking anyone who shoots rabbits or pigeons to get in touch, offering to pay £1 per head for fresh or frozen meat.

Half of the world's penguin species threatened by global warming
The future of half of the world's 18 penguin species is in doubt, according to a new study in the Journal of Science.

Warming temperatures are causing a decline in their number one food source: Krill, tiny crustaceans found in the southern ocean supported by ice and frigid waters. 
West Antarctica  - a major penguin habitat - is one of the regions hardest hit by climate change. The average temperature there has risen by 4.4 degrees in the past 40 years - three times the overall rate of global warming.
Worldwide, temperatures are warmer now than any other time in the past 4,000 years.
For more information, take a look at

Calgary Zoo fires keeper after gorillas escape enclosure, invade kitchen
A zookeeper has been shown the door after being found responsible for the escape of some gorillas at the Calgary Zoo.

Last Friday, several western lowland apes — which can weigh as much as 270 kilograms — got into what is known as the gorilla kitchen from their enclosure in the rainforest exhibit.

The zoo says a review of what happened determined a keeper, who received a minor injury during a confrontation with one of the gorillas, failed to properly latch a door.

“There could have been terribly tragic consequences,” said curator

British Zoo Sends 6 Endangered Macaws to Bolivia
Six endangered macaws have been flown from Britain to Bolivia in hopes that they can help save a species devastated by the trade in wild animals, international conservation experts said Tuesday.

The birds, with blue wings and a yellow breast, arrived last week at a conservation center in northeastern Bolivia, close to their natural habitat, and the local Noel Kempff Foundation said it hopes to breed or release them.

The birds were long captured for sale as pets and no more than 130 of the blue-throated macaws are believed to still exist in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which lists the birds as a critically endangered species.

"Thousands of the birds were taken from the wild in the '70s and '80s," said Alison Hales, director of the Paradise Park zoo in Hayle, a town in England's Cornwall district that bred

Costa Rican Zoo Welcomes First King Vulture Born in Captivity
Costa Rica’s Zoo Ave has managed the first birth in captivity in Latin America of a king vulture, the zoological park said Wednesday.
Zoo Ave, a respected animal rescue center, operates a zoological park located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.
The king vulture chick emerged from its egg on Tuesday at the zoo, which had been trying to hatch one of the birds in captivity for 20 years.
This is one of the few successful hatchings of king vultures in captivity in the world, Zoo Ave scientists said.
“The animal was incubated by both parents. A day before it was born, it was taken to the incubator. There it received an adequate temperature that allowed the chick to break through the egg,” Zoo Ave spokesman Ronald Sibaja said.
The chick will remain with its parents at the wildlife

Chester Zoo efforts help rare bird’s survival hopes
THE FUTURE of one of the world’s rarest birds looks brighter after conservationists from Chester Zoo helped to release eight Bali starlings back into central Bali for the very first time.
Four pairs of the birds, classed by conservation organisations as critically endangered, were released into a carefully selected area in the heart of the Indonesian island.
Illegal poaching reduced numbers to a critically low level in 2001, when the wild population was estimated at just six birds, but conservation breeding efforts have since seen a small recovery to between 50 and 115.
This number is still perilously

Gang trafficking of endangered great apes prompts global action
The illegal trafficking of great apes by organized crime gangs and others prompted international action Wednesday that was hailed by experts as a major step toward saving them from extinction.
For the first time, governments agreed to set up a global reporting system in a bid to establish how many of the animals are being taken from the wild to perform in theme parks or to be shown off by wealthy collectors.
The decision was made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, which has 177 member countries, including the United States

Can you worry about an animal you’ve never seen? The role of the zoo in education and conservation.
“He had black fur and a horn on his head,” my sister said. She came to DC for a few weeks and spent many afternoons visiting the National Zoo. After one of those visits,  she hurried to Google Chat to report that a big tall bird was chasing her behind the fence of his enclosure. My sister described the bird as having long fur-like feathers and a horn. She has never seen anything like that before and was genuinely curious. She was familiar with the belligerent bird’s neighbors, the rheas (ratite birds like ostriches and extinct moas). Rheas are native to South America, as are we, and we’ve seen them before while growing up in south Brazil. “Mystery bird” was about to become a perfect example

Former handling of zoo elephants draws criticism
A former Virginia Zoo volunteer is criticizing what he said was the zoo’s longtime practice, ended last year, of striking elephants with a metal rod called a bullhook, or ankus.

Dave MacDougall came forward with the claims after being terminated from one of the zoo’s volunteer programs last month. The 65-year-old Navy veteran volunteered for 4½ years and has donated money to zoo projects. He is a member of the international nonprofit Elephant Managers Association.

Zoo officials acknowledge using the tool on elephants for years, saying it is a common industry practice.

At issue is the manner and force with which the tool is used. MacDougall alleges that it inflicted pain. Zoo officials say there is no evidence of abuse.

Zoo leaders looked into MacDougall’s claims last year. Following the inquiry, executive director Greg Bockheim issued a memo instituting a new policy.

“Striking an elephant with an ankus or any similar object is now forbidden,” he wrote. “It is not acceptable to strike an elephant as a form of positive punishment or to establish a dominance based relationship.”

“Positive punishment” is a disciplinary technique that uses a stimulus to produce a desired behavior, assistant zoo director Roger Sweeney said. At the Virginia Zoo, an ankus had been used as a stimulus.

“Historically, in zoos, including this one, it’s been used as a punishment to tap an animal,” Sweeney said. “It’s a psychological impact more than a physical impact, and we’ve never had any sort of injury.”

The policy now states that an ankus can be used only as a cue “to communicate a requested behavior from an elephant in the form of pushing, tapping or pulling without excessive force.”

During the inquiry last year, MacDougall alleged that during one of his volunteer shifts in 2010, Cita, one of the zoo’s two elephants, was tethered with a chain and rope after a keeper reported to elephant manager Jody Watkins that the animal wasn’t following her bath routine.

According to minutes from a meeting called to discuss the issue, MacDougall said that “Jody screamed a command to the elephant and then hit her with an ankus as hard as he could on the midsection. This was repeated several times.”

At the meeting, Watkins denied the allegation.

“Jody said we never beat our elephants and they are never hit while laying on their side. When tethered there is always enough slack so that the elephant can move freely,” the minutes state.

Zoo officials said the inquiry into MacDougall’s allegations provided an opportunity to bring the elephant program’s manual more in line with the zoo’s philosophy of using nonphysical techniques. They also said the new policy conforms with recently revised elephant-handling guidelines set by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, through which the zoo is accredited.

“If the elephant doesn’t do what you want and you hit it, we don’t think that is acceptable anymore,” Sweeney said. “We think we can do better than that.”

David Sacks, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which inspects the zoo, said no complaints had been filed regarding the elephant program.

Norfolk spokeswoman Lori Crouch said the city, which runs the zoo through a public-private partnership, has received no complaints about Watkins’ elephant-handling techniques.

Watkins left the zoo in January for a similar job in Pittsburgh. He did not respond to messages seeking comment.

“Jody came here on extremely good terms, and we’re extremely pleased with his work,” said Barbara Baker, president and CEO of the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium.

Virginia Zoo officials said they’re interviewing for the elephant-manager position and hope to add more elephants.

MacDougall said he initially shared his concerns only with zoo staff. He said he believes he was let go as a volunteer because of his outspokenness about the elephants, as well as the recent dissolution of the zoo’s Keeper Ai

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