Friday, May 24, 2013

Zoo News Digest 7th April - 23rd May 2013 (ZooNews 848)

Zoo News Digest 7th April - 23rd May 2013 (ZooNews 848)

Dear Colleagues,

The 'discovery' of the White Tiger gene is all over the internet and no doubt there will be more to come in the following days. It is all very interesting but also a bit stupid...stupid to suggest that they may return these freaks to the wild. No-one has ever doubted they have lived in the wild as naturally occurring mutations and I have no problem with that. To talk of returning them is ridiculous. Presently the occurrence of White Tigers and White Lions in captivity are the prime indicator of a Dysfunctional Zoo!

So Cuba are excited by the prospect of a White Lion. How sad.

What would you read into a heading "2 brown bears rescued from captivity in Kosovo"? To me it means that they were returned to the wild. Not so. They were sent to a 'Sanctuary'.....a sanctuary is still captivity regardless. It may or may not provide more space, it may or may not provide enrichment, better facilities and care but it is STILL captivity.

As I go through the stories on the internet which are released by different zoos I am often a little bit disturbed....and sometimes a lot. It is so easy to give substance to a lie if you repeat it enough times. Eventually it becomes the truth when actually it is a mile away from it. Sometimes it is deliberate and at others an accident. Politics plays its part as does ignorance. Never fully believe everything you read...I don't.

There has been a big delay between this issue and the last. I won't go into excuses. I have several and they are all genuine. So there has been news missed here. I have though done my best to include all the important stories on Facebook. Please check there. Notification of vacancies and meetings too.

My holiday back home in Pattaya was a good one, apart from going blind for a week that is. What a frightening experience. Good to be back in Dubai though. I am a lucky man. I love my work...but I also love my 'other' life which is a lot stranger than most.

For some very odd reason my HubPage article Hand Rearing Lion Cubs and Other Carnivores is getting an awful lot of hits today.

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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MAY 2013 | Vol. 5 | No. 8 | Pages 4129-4348
Date of Publication 18 May 2013 (online and print)

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright, Just One Gene To Make It White
White tigers were first recorded in India in the 1500s, but the last wild one was shot in 1958. Still, this spectral animal thrives in captivity. Its captivating white coat and blue eyes have made it a popular mainstay of zoos, and a small number of individuals have been repeatedly bred with each other to boost captive numbers. There were just a few dozen in the 1970s. Now, there are hundreds.

The white tiger isn’t a species in its own right, or even a subspecies. Instead, it’s a mutant version of the Bengal tiger, whose orange coat has whitened thanks to an extremely rare recessive gene. If a tiger inherits two copies of this recessive variant, one from each parent, it’s white. If it has even one normal copy, it’s orange.

Back in the 1970s, Roy Robinson suggested that the gene in question was tyrosinase (TYR). It’s involved in making melanin—a pigment responsible for black, brown, red and yellow colours. If individuals have faulty versions of TYR, they are born without melanin and have pale hair, skin and eyes—they’re called albinos.

The white tiger isn’t a true albino since it still has black pigment in its stripes and eyes. Instead, Robinson thought that it carries chinchilla—a version of the TYR gene that only removes the type of melanin behind yellow and red colours. Withou

Amid public backlash, zoo explains why snake was put down
The snake found on Tucker’s Point Golf Course was euthanized because it posed a ‘potentially devastating threat” to the island’s ecology.

Conservations Services Director, Drew Pettit, said experts had considered every possible option before deciding to humanely put down the Southern Black Racer that was found last week.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “Euthanizing animals is never an enjoyable task and is done at BAMZ only after careful consideration of multiple factors including the health status of the animal and,

Calgary Zoo forced to destroy penguin eggs
Two gentoo penguin pairs successfully laid three eggs at the Calgary Zoo this month — but all three eggs will have to be destroyed.

The gentoos are part of a species survival plan, a captive breeding program for endangered species.

The plan comes with specific breeding recommendations outlined by American zoo officials, which the Calgary Zoo must follow.

For the gentoos, part of the criteria is that the animal must have a traceable genetic background, otherwise it is excluded from breeding.

But despite the zoo’s best efforts, a female cleared for breeding mated with a male that wasn’t due to his murky genetic history, and they produced two eggs.

Another pair of gentoos, both with untraceable genetic pasts, also mated and produced an egg.

“Even though we all want to have penguin chicks, we take it very seriously that they are in captiv

Species Donated to Cuba by Serbian Zoo
As part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Cuba and Serbia, both nations announced the donation by Serbia of a couple of crocodiles and four flamingos.

In a press conference, Cuban Ambassador to Belgrade, Mercedes Martinez and the director of the Serbian zoo, Vuk Bojovi, gave information on the donation, for the joy of Cuban and Serbian visitors.

The animals have already adapted

Wildlife Middle East News Vol 6 Issue 4
March 2013
PDFs can be downloaded from:

Request for articles for future issues:
We are looking for contributions of articles from colleagues within the Middle East region for the next issue. Please contact the editors with any ideas that you may have.

Vol 6 Issue 4 Contents

  1. Editorial
  2. Arabia’s hidden valley - A unique habitat in Dhofar captures Arabia’s past
  3. Arabia’s hidden valley - A unique habitat in Dhofar captures Arabia’s past
  4. Arabia’s hidden valley - A unique habitat in Dhofar captures Arabia’s past
  5. On conserving the wild goat Capra aegagrus in Peramagroon and Qara Dagh Mountains, Iraq
  6. Breeding biology, threats and conservation of the Socotra Cormorant (Phalacrocorax nigrogularis) at Siniya Island, United Arab Emirates
  7. Biodiversity Conservation Arabian Peninsula  connecting people involved in the conservation of Arabias unique biota
  8. An increasing focus on field research, environmental education, and conservation in the Sultanate of Oman
  9. 14th Conservation Workshop for the Biodiversity of Arabia
    Whats new in the literature

Jury out on former owner of the Birds of Prey Centre in Newent, accused of owl thefts
JURORS are deciding whether the former boss of Newent's International Centre for Birds of Prey stole owls from zoos across Europe.
Keith Beaven, pictured, has denied four counts of theft of owls, as well three counts of fraud, one of falsely certifying black kites and another of selling the same bird, an endangered species.
During the week long trial, Gloucester Crown Court heard the 68-year-old, who ran the centre until February 2009, made false representations and conned international zoos into believing he still owned it.
The prosecution alleged he borrowed birds, pretending they were being used for breeding programmes, and then sold them on.
Beaven, of Corse, is accused of stealing two eagle owls from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, which had been seized by border officials, along with a ural owl, a spotted owl and a boobook owl from Dudley Zoo; a milky owl owned by Heidelberg Zoo in Germany and a strix uralen owl from Paignton Zoo in Devon.
He had admitted the theft of two surnia ulula hawk owls from the Ostrava Zoo in the Czech Republic and one count of fraud when he told them he was the owner of the majestic birds and gained £800.
Beaven told the court he genuinely believed he was the owner of some of the birds and made an administrative error with the kites.
Defending, Sarah Jenkins said Beaven had lost money while running the centre, but was an astute enough businessman to have sold it before he was in serious difficulties. She said: "There was never a suggestion he needed to engage in

Jumbo transport lands bridegroom in trouble
He had arrived at the wedding hall seated on an elephant, a violation of the Wildlife Act. Forest department sleuths who raided the premises have booked a case against the groom and the mahout
It was a big fat Indian wedding, with lots of noise, pomp and dazzle. The extravagance also landed the bridegroom in a soup — even before he tied the knot! Chandan Mal, better known as Manish, the bridegroom, had barely arrived at the Palace Grounds from his home in Sadashivanagar for his nuptials with Dimple when forest sleuths gatecrashed the party. Usually the bridegroom arrives on a horse, but Manish arrived on Rani, a 13-year-old female elephant. 

Using an elephant for commercial purposes is a violation of Central and state wildlife conservation rules. Forest sleuths have booked a case against both ‘giver’ and the ‘taker’ — Manish, who was ‘caught’ riding the elephant, and Hafiz, the mahout who had brought pachyderm to the city from the Sadguru Basavraj Deshi Kendra, a mutt in Airani, Haveri district. 

“This is sheer exhibition of the callous attitude of people to wildlife laws,” said Sharath R Babu, BBMP forest cell advisor. “Neither the mahout nor the bridegroom had the required permission to use the elephant. A wildlife volunteer had tipped us off and both BBMP forest cell sleuths and officials of the forest department raided the place. A case has been registered.”

Sleuths say the bridegroom, a member of the family which owns Sri Ganesh Diamonds and Jewellery, had travelled from his home sitting on the elephant and accompanied by a music band and a huge, noisy crowd. Sleuths say it was huge risk as elephants are sensitive to drums and crowds. Moreover, subjecting the animal to such treatment tantamount to an act of cruelty, they say. 

Sleuths say the elephant was brought in a Tata Acer (KA 25 C 3108) heavily chained for the entire 300-km journey from the mutt in Haveri. I

Plants are underappreciated. I am not concerned that their feelings are hurt, only that we are destroying plants so rapidly without realizing what we are losing. May’s links at (NEWS/Botanical News) provide lessons in plant appreciation:
·        Catapults, sling shots, major league pitcher’s arms; plants also have many techniques to propel ripe seeds as far as possible without animal seed dispersers. Industrial designers have caught on and are asking, “Why can’t we do that?”
·        As bedbugs again become a nuisance some are turning to old tricks for controlling them: like using kidney bean leaves to trap the pests. Is there a new product in that?
·        An Amazonian plant rich in omega-3 fatty acids could become a conservation cash crop, saving the forest and even us.
·        A sophisticated study of urban communities suggests that more greenery means less serious crime.
·        Educators change children’s attitudes about plants by showing how plants act to defend themselves. They have developed “The Fighting Plant Learning Unit.” You looking at ME?
If the bedbug story wasn’t enough, visit the “Parasite of the Day” website

Congratulations to the Blank Park Zoo on the opening of Phase 1 of “Jaame Kwa Africa”
Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter:  – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.


Man awarded for helping to breed endangered birds
Heizo Sugita, 61, a worker at the Tama Zoological Park, was recently presented with a national award of honor for his work in helping breed rare birds like the Japanese crested ibis and the Oriental stork.

Sugita, who has been raising birds at the zoo for 33 years, was given the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Silver Rays, a medal for public service.

Back in November 1980, just before the last remaining five wild Japanese crested ibises on Sado Island in Niigata Prefecture were caught for protection, Sugita visited the island to see the birds while they were still in their natural habitat. From a position above storied rice paddies on the eastern part of the island, he found himself transfixed by what he saw: the five birds, resting amongst dead pine trees around 300 meters in front of him.

After around an hour of observing the ibises, Sugita watched as they flew off to their nests. "I can never forget the vision of those beautiful birds flying against the blue sky of early winter," he says.

In the mid-1990s, a male Japanese crested ibis named Midori and a female bird from China named Feng-Feng successfully mated and produced eggs, but they were all unfertilized. Sugita, who was serving on a subcommittee on raising crested ibis and their reproduction, suggested cutting the feathers around the birds' cloacae to make it easier for fertilization to occur. This suggestion led to the first successful artificial birth of a Japanese crested ibis in Japan in 1999.

Apart from crested ibises, Sugita has also worke

Parents Sue Pittsburgh Zoo in Boy's Mauling Death
The parents of a 2-year-old boy who fell into a wild African dogs exhibit and was mauled to death last fall have sued the Pittsburgh zoo.

The lawsuit filed Thursday claims that officials had ample warning that parents routinely lifted children onto a rail overlooking the exhibit for a better view.

Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh seek unspecified damages in the Nov. 4 death of their son, Maddox. He fell from the wooden railing after his mother lifted him up to get a better

Israeli Zoo Animals Find New Home in Turkey
In early May, Turkish Airlines hosted an unusual group of passengers flying from Israel to Istanbul. A special group of wildlife animals from Israel’s Ramat Gan Safari and the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo were flown to Turkey on May 7.

Turkish zookeepers located at the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality Natural Life Park asked the Ramat Gan Safari to assist them in expanding their African section of animals. A total of 45 animals of seven different species were flown including three meerkats, six nyalas, three monkeys, six fruit bats, three zebras and several antelopes.

In addition, according to the Turkish Hurriyet Daily News, 20 sacred ibis, a species of long-legged birds, were brought from the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo (Tisch Family Zoological Garden). It was the the first time that the Izmir Natural Life Park had become home to some of these species, including the sacred ibis and fruit bats, sent from Israel.

The Turkish daily reported that the new guests were first brought to Istanbul by plane and following customs transactions, were then transported by a special truck to Izmir. Israeli zookeepers, veterinarians, an

Breakaway bear causes panic at zoo
f you thought the drama and excitement of a beast breaking free from its zoo cage and giving zookeepers and visitors a hard time was the stuff of movies only, an enterprising Himalayan bear and ill-equipped staff at Kanpur zoo just proved you wrong.

The female bear, Priya, not only broke through the wooden cage in which she was quarantined for treatment, but also managed to disappear for a while, bringing the anxious zoo authorities on their toes, and resulting in the closure of the zoo for a brief period on Wednesday morning.

The bear was finally found perched atop a tree, and refused to come down even though the zoo authorities offered it baits like jaggery and conveniences like, well, a ladder. With all their efforts going in vain, the zoo staff finally placed a log alongside the tree and adopted the wait-and-watch policy. All this while, a tranquiliser gun was kept handy just in case the bear got in a bad mood.

Meanwhile, visitors already present in the zoo were asked to leave and no new visitors were allowed entry into the zoo premises. Barricades were also erected on the road leading to the hospital.

As news of the breakaway bear spread, Nawabganj locals gathered at the main gate of the zoo, vying to catch a glimpse of the nervous scenes inside the zoo. This however led to some heated exchange of words between the congregation of the curious and the zoo staff.

Things finally returned to normal ar in May 2013

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



African Village at the West Midland Safari Park in Great Britain is a themed area where visitors can meet African breeds of goat and sheep in a walk-through paddock. A meerkat exhibit is integrated into the village scene and one of the "village huts" serves as their shelter and indoor exhibit. Adjacent to the "village" is Lemur Woods, a  walk-through exhibit where three species of lemurs are kept and bred. A keeper is always present for supervision since visitors are not allowed to feed or touch the lemurs.

We would like to thank Dave Powner and Angela Potter for preparing this presentation for the ZooLex Gallery:



Thanks to Eduardo Diaz Garcia we are able to offer the Spanish translation of the previously presented World of the Meerkat at the Cologne Zoo in Germany:

El Mundo del Suricata:


We keep working on ZooLex ...

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization is a non-profit organization
registered in Austria (ZVR-Zahl 933849053). ZooLex runs a professional
zoo design website and distributes this newsletter. More information and

French ex-leader Giscard d'Estaing reveals panda attack
Former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing has revealed he was once jumped on by a panda when he dared himself to enter its cage.

He said he had been visiting Vincennes Zoo in Paris, where his daughter was on work experience, when he decided to test his "presidential courage".

A panda leapt on him and staff had to free him from its claws, Mr Giscard d'Estaing, 87, told a conference.

An expert at Edinburgh Zoo told the BBC the ex-leader had had a lucky escape.

"Although they are vegetarian bears, obviously at the end of the day pandas are still very powerful and muscular bears with teeth and claws to match," Iain Valentine, director of giant pandas at th

2 brown bears rescued from captivity in Kosovo
Two brown bears have been released into a special sanctuary after being held in a 20-square-meter cage almost their entire lives to amuse visitors at a Kosovo restaurant.
Ari and Arina, both 10 years old, were taken to their new, much larger home, by the international animal charity group Four Paws, which helped sedate and transport them.

Kosovo does not allow private ownership of wild animals, a measure it hasn't always enforced. Police on Wednesday held back the restaurant's angry owners as the bears were taken away.

An Environment Ministry statement said the bears were happy with their new home, which lies outside the capital, Pristina.

What’s Eating ‘Keet,’ SeaWorld’s Captive Killer Whale?
The orca’s dorsal fin is in terrible condition—but did a virus or the bite of another killer whale cause the damage?
As if having his dorsal fin completely collapse weren’t enough, something—or someone—has been eating away at the back of the massive appendage of Keet, an exceedingly itinerant 20-year-old male orca, currently parked at SeaWorld San Diego.

In a video recently posted on YouTube, visitors captured a treatment session in the medical pool. Other witnesses reported similar medical procedures on Keet over the past few months.

In the video, Keet obediently moves into position before the pool bottom, partly covered in green algae, rises up to beach him. Next, a female veterinarian gingerly applies what looks like laser surgery, apparently to cauterize the ragged flesh of his fin. At times you can see bits of his folded dorsal light up in orange as the laser burns away rotted tissue. The curator, heard on tape, is clueless as to what is going on.

I don’t how much pain, if any, the 7,000-pound killer whale is experiencing—he doesn’t seem to flinch. But it’s still a bit hard to watch. And one immediately walks away

Growing Siberian tiger population poses new challenges
While the growth of the Siberian tiger population has provided some comfort to animal protection experts, increasing human-tiger conflicts in northeast China have created new challenges.

Lang Jianmin, an expert and official from the Hunchun National Siberian Tiger Nature Reserve in northeast China's Jilin Province, said the tigers have been frequently spotted in residential areas and have also preyed on livestock.

"Eating livestock may cause the tigers to become more domesticated and ruin their relationship with local residents. If one of them eats sickened livestock, the entire species could be harmed," Lang said.

Lang said that while expanding the species' population has been no easy task, the challenges ahead will be equally daunting.

The State Forestry Administration announced on Tuesday that the number of wild Siberian tigers had increased to 18 to 22. The government has a goal of bringing the number to 40 by 2022.

According to data from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, only 12 to 16 tigers

Habitat loss and poaching threatens survival of Sun Bears
Habitat loss and poaching have led to a decline of up to 30 per cent of the Malayan sun bear population in the last three decades, according to the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre (BSBCC).
In Borneo, this smallest of the world’s eight bear species is also seeing a drop in numbers following their illegal capture for the pet trade and when they are wrongly perceived as pests and gunned down, said BSBCC founder and chief executive officer Wong Siew Te.      
The Polar Bear, Brown Bear, American Black Bear, Spectacled Bear, Sloth Bear, Giant Panda and Asiatic Black Bear are other better known bear species.     
Found throughout mainland Asia, Sumatra in Indonesia and Borneo, the exact number of sun bears in the wild is unknown, making it even more pressing toreduce pressure on a species that is classified as “vulnerable” on the IUCN(International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, and at risk of becoming endangered unless circumstances threatening their survival improve.     
Sun bears are also classified as a totally protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Ena

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


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