Saturday, May 25, 2013

Zoo News Digest 24th May 2013 (ZooNews 849)

Zoo News Digest 24th May 2013 (ZooNews 849)

Dear Colleagues,

The tragic and sad death of Sarah McClay at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park is being much discussed on line. Lots of conclusions being jumped to. Before I give my own I would like to offer my deep and sincere condolences to Sarah's family, friends and work colleagues. Any death is hard to deal with and in such circumstances especially so. Staff do not enter enclosures with Tigers at South Lakes. They do enter the enclosures for cleaning and to hang meat on the feeding poles. As the accident occurred in the afternoon then it is easy to rule out cleaning. I believe that Sarah was in the enclosure to hang meat on the poles. Whereas this could be carried out by one keeper it is likely another was involved. The operation involves calling the tigers into the dens and securing them there. The keeper then enters the enclosure and hangs the meat. This done they egress and the cats are let back into the enclosure. They move very very fast. So, somewhere along the way a door was not secured properly or the cats were given access before Sarah left the enclosure. Whichever way you look at it, it was keeper error. In many ways it will be even more of a tragedy if it was not Sarah who made the error.

Another very sad aspect to this accident is that South Lakes will see a hike in visitor numbers in the coming months. The gawkers.

Good news for the Toronto elephants. It gives a bit more time for the people at the top to re- think. The move to PAWS is unquestionably a mistake.

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:

Peter Dickinson
Suite 201,
Westminster Chambers
7 Hunter Street

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


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EMERGENCY services have been called to the South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton in Cumbria after a member of staff was attacked by a tiger.

THE death of a Barrow woman who was attacked by a tiger at South Lakes Wild Animal Park at Dalton in Cumbria has been described as 'inexplicable'. Cumbria Police have confirmed the identity of the 24-year-old woman who died as Sarah McClay from the Barrow area. She was attacked by a tiger within its enclosure yesterday afternoon and died about 8pm last night. Miss McClay was taken by air ambulance to Royal Preston Hospital following the attack. Police and Barrow Borough Council are continuing to investigate the circumstances that led to the incident. Miss McClay’s family are very shocked and distressed and have requested that they have privacy as they try to come to terms with their loss. A spokeswoman for the North West Ambulance service described Sarah's injuries as the result of being 'mauled' by the tiger. David Gill, the owner and founder of South Lakes Wild Animal Park, said Ms McClay was very experienced in looking after big cats and that he had no explanation as to why she may have entered the enclosure. He said: "After investigation by the authorities here and the police, it does seem that she just basically failed to follow the correct procedures. "For some unknown reason, an inexplicable reason, because there is no reason for why she did it, she opened the door and went into the tiger enclosure and straight into the tigers, and now we'll never know why." Mr Gill said Miss McClay had worked at the wildlife park for a number of years and was "very proficient" in her work with big cats. He said that it was against strict safety protocols to walk into the tiger's cage, adding that the zoo had passed a major inspection on Monday, in which it was praised

Toronto Zoo elephants won’t fly south earlier than fall, says Canadian military 
Zoocheck, coordinating the move to the California PAWS sanctuary, is disappointed National Defence can’t say when or if it will supply a cargo plane. National Defence officials in Ottawa have given the thumbs down — for now at least — to providing a transport plane to fly three of the Toronto Zoo’s elephants to California, saying the earliest a move could happen would be the fall. The statement, issued late Friday evening, came as disappointing news to Zoocheck Canada, the organization working to get the zoo’s three remaining elephants, Toka, Thika and Iringa, to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California. “It has been so frustrating, as we waited a full year while (Toronto) zoo staff stalled under the guise of due diligence, and now these further delays are not in the best interest of the animals,’’ said Julie Woodyer, a Zoocheck director. Zoocheck, an animal rights organization, is working alongside PAWS to facilitate the move. The organizations approached the defence department earlier this year to borrow a military transport plane for the move. The zoo opposed the idea of the animals going to PAWS, in large part because the sanctuary isn’t accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo also has concerns about how PAWS has managed tuberculosis among Asian elephants at the sanctuary, but PAWS and Zoocheck say the matter is under control, and Toronto’s African elephants won’t come into contact with the illness. The zoo was forced to go along with the move to PAWS after Toronto city council voted twice to have the animals sent there. The zoo has handed over responsibility of shipping its elephants to Zoocheck, which is why the organization turned to the Canadian military a few months ago. Former Price is Right game show host and animal advocate Bob Barker is financing the move. But there was a time factor: It isn’t safe to move the pachyderms in hot weather, and the latest they could go was mid- to late June, Zoocheck said. In its statement Friday, National Defence said, “We have been unable to resolve issues to allow for their move befor

India Calls Dolphins ‘Non-Human Persons’, Bans In-Captivity Shows
India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests, has banned public entertainment shows by captive dolphins calling it morally unacceptable. In a statement by the Central Zoo Authority, the Government of India has advised all state governments in the country to reject any proposal to establish a dolphinarium “by any person / persons, organizations, government agencies, private or public enterprises that involves the import [and] capture of cetacean species to [use] for commercial entertainment, private or public exhibition and [other] interaction purposes whatsoever.” Avinash Basker, Legal Consultant at the Wildlife Protection Society of India said: “As far as Dolphins in captivity are concerned, it’s a great step. Dolphins hunting is illegal in India and those in captivity in the country would have been captured elsewhere in the world. Thus, it’s good for Dolphins globally.” Basker, however, mentions that there are other challenges about Dolphin Conservation in the country. “There are sporadic reports on Dolphin meat consumption in southern Indian states. The Extent of this problem is … not known as the fishing industry is not well regulated here.” In India, Dolphins are protected

Story of a Zookeeper 
Ethan Anderson, 24, communes with the animals as a Central Florida Zoo hoof stock keeper. “I was always fascinated with nature as a young boy. Animals that are born in zoos don’t know a life other than that. By working in animal care management, I wanted to give animals the best possible life, given the circumstances.” By the time Anderson was 18, he had researched careers in wildlife biology and field studies. After interning at Zoo Boise in Idaho, where he grew up, Anderson got his two-year degree in zookeeping from Pikes Peak Community College in Colorado. Then he had the chance to intern at the Central Florida Zoo, where he was hired full time last year. “I like working with the camel (Sir Gus Jr., shown) right now. He’s very intuitive and motivated; he’s got a great personality. Animals can teach you so much just from their body language.” “My most memorable moment this year was hand-feeding one of the kangaroos. They kind of grab your hand with their paws, and it’s a form of kinship with the animal and respect for you in being their caretaker. It’s an enlightening feeling.” “There are still moments when I get scared. Anything can happen. Sometimes you get in positions where the animal does get the better of you—that’s just part of the job. You can’t hold it against the animal; they’re just being a wild animal.” “It happened to me with a kangaroo. We were restraining him to give him some medication. They don’t like being contained or held down, and when we finally got him and injected the medic

Turtles get unusual treatment: acupuncture 
Two rescued sea turtles are getting help easing back into the wild — from an acupuncturist. Dexter and Fletcher Moon, sea turtles stuck on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, get pricks from tiny needles in a therapy called acupuncture, which is used mostly on humans to relieve pain or treat disease.

Anteater’s Surprise Pregnancy: Virgin Birth Explained 
Who’s Your Daddy?
Archie the giant anteater may have a hard time answering that question. Born to mom Armani at the LEO Zoological Center in Greenwich, Connecticut, Archie seems perfectly normal except for one small detail: Zookeepers have no idea how he came into being. Armani had previously given birth to a baby named Alice after a romantic rendezvous with Alf, a male anteater also at LEO. But this wasn’t an episode of Leave it to Beaver. Male anteaters are known to kill and eat their offspring, so the zoo’s staff kept Alf separate from Armani and Alice for several months. Before the anteater family was reunited, however, Armani somehow got pregnant with Archie, according to the Connecticut newspaper Greenwich Time. (Related post: “Weird Animal Courtship and Mating Rituals.”) This pregnancy mystery immediately triggered thoughts of virgin birth, a.k.a. parthenogenesis. Animals conceived via parthenogenesis don’t actually have a father. Instead, the embryo grows and develops in the absence of fertilization. It sounds unusual—some might even say miraculous—but it’s a surprisingly common occurrence in the animal kingdom. Researchers believe that an absence of available males likely drives the phenomenon. Although a variety of different animals have been found to reproduce via parthenogenesis, it is most common in invertebrates (such as water fleas, parasitic wasps, and bees) and certain types of vertebrates (fish, amphibians, and occasionally birds). Although the exact mechanisms of parthenogenetic reproduction can vary from species to species, all parthenogenesis produces normal, healthy offspring. Check out the wide range of spe 

Penguin exhibit at Florida's SeaWorld will get 10 tons of snow daily
SeaWorld Orlando opened its "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins" on Friday, a new attraction that will be coated with 10 tons of fresh snow each day. To recreate a cold, dry climate suitable for penguins in hot, humid Florida, designers used airtight doors, humidifiers and air purifiers, SeaWorld said. Icicles and glittering ice crystals were created out of hand-blown Pyrex and glass. Housed in a facility kept at 30 degrees, it is the coldest exhibit ever featured at Florida's major theme parks, which include Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. The attraction features almost 250 so-called "flippered flyers" from such penguin varieties as Gentoo, Adelie and Rockhopper and

Tokyo Sea Life exhibits rare larvae 
Tokyo Sea Life Park has begun exhibiting fry of the unique ocellated icefish, after successfully hatching eggs from a pair of the rare creatures for the first time in the world earlier this month. Put on display Thursday at the aquarium in Edogawa Ward are three larvae of the Antarctic Ocean- dwelling fish, the only vertebrate whose blood is transparent. The larvae are 2.2 to 2.5 cm in length, according to sea life spokesman Satoshi Tada. On Tuesday, the aquarium announced it had managed to hatch the occellated icefish eggs May 7. As of Monday, about 20 larval fish had emerged from several hundred eg

Feds won't prosecute wind farm if turbine blades kill a condor 
Federal wildlife officials on Friday for the first time agreed not to prosecute a developer if an endangered California condor is struck and killed by turbine blades at its proposed wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles. In granting a right-of-way, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, with approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will shield Alta Windpower Development from prosecution if a condor is fatally injured at its 2,300-acre site near the high-desert town of Mojave during the projected 30-year lifetime of the project. The Fish and Wildlife Service believes that the likelihood of a condor being killed at the 153- megawatt project, a subsidiary of Terra-Gen Power, is low because site is outside the bird’s historic range and on the leeward slopes all but devoid of thermal updrafts the majestic scavengers with 10-foot wingspans need to gain altitude and soar. Also, Terra-Gen plans to install a detection system designed to switch off its 456-foot-t,0,3874393.story

Interactive Galapagos 

Scientists Announce Top 10 New Species 
An amazing glow-in-the-dark cockroach, a harp-shaped carnivorous sponge and the smallest vertebrate on Earth are just three of the newly discovered top 10 species selected by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. A global committee of taxonomists— scientists responsible for species exploration and classification— announced its list of top 10 species from 2012. The announcement, now in its sixth year, coincides with the anniversary of the birth of Carolus Linnaeus— the 18th century Swedish botanist responsible for the modern system of scientific names and classifications. Also slithering its way onto this year’s top 10 is a snail-eating false coral snake, as well as flowering bushes from a disappearing forest in Madagascar, a green lacewing that was discovered through social media and hangingflies that perfectly mimicked ginkgo tree leaves 165 million years ago. Rounding out the list is a new monkey with a blue-colored behind and human-like eyes, a tiny violet and a black staining fungus that threatens rare Paleolithic cave paintings in France. “We have identified only about two million of an estimat

Green tape fails to ground airborne ark 
LIKE a new-age Noah, Tim Husband is counting them off: 23 lions, two Bengal tigers, a pair of pygmy hippos, one rhinoceros. White. Spider monkeys, brown bears, ostriches, hippopotami and ringtailed lemurs are being loaded on the chartered Boeing 474 to take them from Cairns to a new home in Indonesia. Nothing has been left to chance in this airlift, the biggest of its kind to be mounted from Australia. Customised travel boxes have been built for each of the 38 exotic animals. For a month, Mr Husband and his team have been walking them in and out of the crates to get them used to the confines. The tawny African lions, it turned out, wer

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