Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Zoo News Digest 2nd - 4th June 2013 (ZooNews 854)

Zoo News Digest 2nd - 4th  June 2013 (ZooNews 854)

P. Tansom - Traffic


Dear Colleagues,

Very disappointed to see that the Tiger Kingdom is opening a branch in Phuket. In spite of all the hype and dressing this will be yet another branch of a highly exploitative purely commercial operation that does nothing at all for conservation. Like the Chiang Mai operation it will make buckets of money.

The story 'Killer tiger on the loose, prowling forest in India after zoo escape' is a prime example of why you should not believe the press. This tiger has killed nobody. In fact it is a mix of stories. What was the journalist drinking?

Putting Lynx into Scotland? I'm unsure about that one. Interesting idea. I cannot see why the author had to take the opportunity to dig at Edinburgh Zoo which has no relevance to the story.

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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Conservation charity vets head to Thailand following the largest ever seizure of ploughshare tortoises – the most threatened tortoise in the world.

This week Tsanta Fiderana, Malagasy veterinary officer for Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust will travel to Bangkok on behalf of the Madagascar CITES management body as part of a joint mission with Dr. Paul Gibbons and Maurice Rodrigues of the Turtle Conservancy to assess the health of ploughshare tortoises recently trafficked out of Madagascar in a suitcase.  In addition to tending to the health of the confiscated tortoises, the team will also be creating new enclosures that can be used for future confiscations of turtles and tortoises.  

The ploughshare is the most threatened tortoise in the world and is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is on Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), forbidding any trade in the species. However the tortoise is highly prized as a pet, especially in South East Asia, and illegal trade is now the biggest threat to the species’ survival.

Fifty-four ploughshare tortoises and 21 radiated tortoises were found by Thai police in a suitcase at Bangkok International Airport on 15th March 2013.  This is the largest ever seizure of ploughshare tortoises made up of 53 juveniles and one sub-adult tortoise.  A Thai man and a Malagasy woman were arrested.

Since their seizure in Bangkok, they have been kept at a rescue centre, where it is difficult to provide the specific conditions they need. The tortoises are reported to be in poor health and there have been a number of deaths most likely due to the inadequate care they received from smugglers during the long journey from their home in north-western Madagascar.

Fiderana is hugely experienced in caring for sick ploughshare tortoises. As well as being responsible for ensuring the health of the tortoises in the captive breeding and reintroduction programme Durrell runs for the Malagasy government, she also cares for confiscated animals placed in quarantine with Durrell.

Dr. Paul Gibbons and Maurice Rodrigues both have extensive experience with tortoise husbandry and veterinary care.  In addition to partnering with Durrell on their work with ploughshare tortoises in Madagascar, the Turtle Conservancy also maintains an assurance colony of ploughshares at their captive breeding centre in the US. 

Fiderana explained: “After smuggling attempts the tortoises are often very sick and in a state of shock, so they need special care. We don’t know what sort of conditions and treatment they experienced during their journeys, and they may have been exposed to diseases and parasites. My first priority when I get to Thailand is to work with the Thai veterinary team and our partners the Turtle Conservancy to evaluate the health of the tortoises through a thorough examination, and then to give them the care they need to re-establish their health.”

Richard Lewis, Programme director for Durrell in Madagascar said: “the ploughshare tortoise is perilously close to extinction. We think there are fewer than 400 adults left in their natural habitat. Even though the seized animals were mainly babies, losing 54 individuals from the wild represents a huge blow to the population, which is why we are doing everything we can to ensure their health and bring them back to Madagascar.”

Sahondra Rabesihanaka, of the Madagascar Forestry Department, said: “By adhering to CITES, the Government of Madagascar through the management committee, is aware that the loss of any species disrupts the whole country's biodiversity. We are making every effort to avoid this. The support of all stakeholders is necessary for us, including agencies at the national level as well as other members of CITES. It is in this spirit that Madagascar is currently developing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Thailand for the repatriation of Malagasy tortoises seized there.”

Durrell has led conservation efforts for the ploughshare tortoise in Madagascar for the past 25 years. The programme now encompasses a broad range of responses including a dedicated captive breeding and release programme, community-based patrols, local small-scale development projects with villages around the tortoise habitats, and extensive field research to better understand and monitor the remaining wild animals.

Durrell is also part of a strong international partnership of NGOs working to fight the illegal trade in ploughshares and Madagascar’s other threatened tortoise species.

Halting the illegal trade in species such as the ploughshare tortoise is now one of the world’s most pressing species conservation challenges. Coordinated action is needed to tackle both supply – reducing incentives to poach animals and increasing law enforcement efforts; and to break smuggling networks in countries such as Thailand, where so many animals end up in illegal markets.

Tiger Kingdom Tourist Attraction Set to Roar on Phuket
A branch of the popular Tiger Kingdom tourist attraction is preparing to open on Phuket, possibly as soon as June 19, Phuketwan has learned.

In Chiang Mai, tourists pet and pat tigers at the Tiger Kindom that opened 10 kilometres from the city in 2008.

On Phuket a large ''TIGER KINGDOM'' sign is now visible from Phrabaramee Road, in Kathu, behind the go kart track. There's a substantial building beneath it.

The opening of a Tiger Kingdom branch on Phuket would provide Phuket with one more reason for tourists to come to Phuket and one less reason for them to travel to other parts of Thailand.

It's believed the Tiger Kingdom in Chiang Mai has been very successful. Patrons are offered the choice of admission to enclosures with newborn, small tigers, medium tigers and big cats. Prices are higher for the younger animals.

Although there are constant concerns from environmentalists about the welfare of tigers in captivity in Thailand, the Tiger Kingdom says none of their tigers are drugged or tranquilised, and that chains and restraints are not used.

It's believed the Trakarn Zoo in Ubon Ratchathani province has supplied the tigers for the Chiang Mai venture and the zoo currently holds about 70 tigers.

The Phuket branch - at a cost of about 100 million baht - would most likely open similar hours, from 9am to 6pm, on the 10 rai site behind the go kart track.

Photos of tourists with tigers are popular and there's also a restaurant at the Tiger Kingdom i

The relentless exploitation of Asian Giant Lizards
A new study reveals that the illegal harvesting and trading of Southeast Asian monitor lizards – valued for their skins and as pets – continues.

A team of German and Indonesian scientists recently published the first comprehensive study on the conservation and threatened status of all Southeast Asian species of monitor lizards. The authors conclude that several of these fascinating giant lizard species are obviously being exploited at unsustainable levels, even though national and international regulations and laws are in place. This critical study was published in the well-known online journal “Herpetological Conservation and Biology”.

Southeast Asian Monitor Lizards: current harvest levels are underestimated

Besides the demand for the pet trade (where particular species are targeted), the commercial trade in skins must be understood as a major threat for some species and populations. Next to crocodilians and giant snakes, monitor lizards are the species group of lizards that are exploited most frequently within the skin trade. Annually, Indonesia documents the legal export of 450,000 skins of the water monitor lizard (Varanus salvator) for the manufacture of e.g. handbags and watch straps, the latter of these then being marketed in Germany as “lizard straps”. Dr. Andre Koch of the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig in Bonn has strong reservations and states: “Especially, the poorly monitored trade in island species and populations must be feared detrimentally, if current trade levels continue; here over-exploitation and extinction are closely linked.” Since many years, and alike his co-authors, Dr. Koch is engaged in research on the monitor lizards of Southeast Asia specifically regarding their underestima

The Economics Of The Illegal Wildlife Trade
The illegal trade of animals or animal parts has become one of the most lucrative black market activities in the world. Driven by the promise of high profit margins, poachers in Africa – namely militias, armed groups, and insurgent groups – have driven rhinos and elephants close to extinction, while murdering hundreds of park rangers in the process. NGOs and governments now face a race against time to reduce demand for wildlife trade, particularly in Asia, as well as to equip those on the front-line to fight a well-armed enemy.
Even going by the lowest estimates, wildlife crime is currently the 5th largest illicit transnational activity in the world, after counterfeiting and the illegal trafficking of drugs, people, and oil. The illicit sale of animals or animal parts is such big business that it attracts large criminal syndicates, as well as militia armed to the teeth. Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, estimates that illegal wildlife trade is worth US$8-10 billion per year, although a 2008 report for the US Congress says it could be closer to US$20 billion.

In Africa, the situation is so dire that animals such as elephants and rhinos are being driven to the brink of extinction. Besides stealing the animals’ horns and tusks, poachers have killed hundreds of rangers who tried to get in their way. A substantial portion of the illegal goods are then shipped to Asia, where demand is driven by the need for specific animal parts to practice traditional Asian medicine, for human consumption, and as symbols of wealth.

According to Dr Richard Thomas, the Global Communications Coordinator for Traffic, the demand for rhino horn, for instance, was mainly coming from Vietnam.

“Demand kicked off in the mid-2000s when rumors spread about its medicinal properties. It’s become the recreational drug for the nouveau riche to flaunt their wealth. It’s supposed to cure hangovers, enhance virility and even cure cancer. There’s no medical evidence whatsoever for any of that. Rhino horn is made of keratin, the same stuff as human fingernails,” he said.
Dr. Thomas says that the Vietnam black market is largely responsible for the rapid increase in poaching rhinos in Africa, particularly in South Africa, where 75 percent of them live. The figures for poached animals in South Africa climbed from 13 in 2007 to 668 last year. This year, the figure is likely to be even higher, around 800.

“These are catastrophic figures getting close to the tipping point

 Journal of Threatened Taxa
The International Journal on Conservation & Taxonomy
ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)
 May 2013 | Vol. 5 | No. 9 | Pages 4349-4440
Date of Publication 26 May 2013 (online & print)

Oregon Zoo: Asian elephant has tuberculosis; staff says public not at risk
For the first time, an elephant at the Oregon Zoo has developed tuberculosis.
Rama, a 30-year-old Asian elephant who was born at the zoo, shows no symptoms but as soon as the test result came in Friday, staff put him in quarantine.

He's posed no threat to visitors, they said, but the zoo has suspended behind-the-scene tours of the elephant area.

Zoo staff expect the middle-age pachyderm to make a full recovery.

"We're confident Rama is going to be fine," said Kim Smith, zoo director. "It's a very treatable disease. We've caught it early with Rama. We feel very good about this."

But treatment with drugs is expensive, costing more than $50,000, and involves intensive monitoring. Some elephants that have not tolerated the regime have had to be euthanized.

Born in 1983 to Rosy and Packy, Rama is the smallest of the adult bull elephants at the zoo, weighing 9,000 pounds. He's curious and inquisitive and connects easily to people. Unlike Packy, who's sired seven calves, Rama has none. But he

'Canned hunting': the lions bred for slaughter
Canned hunting is a fast-growing business in South Africa, where thousands of lions are being bred on farms to be shot by wealthy foreign trophy-hunters
They are adorably cute, with grubby brown fur so soft it seems to slip through my fingers like flour. It is only when one of the nine-week-old cubs playfully grabs my arm with its teeth and squeezes with an agonising grip that I remember – this is a lion, a wild animal. These four cubs are not wild, however. They are kept in a small pen behind the Lion's Den, a pub on a ranch in desolate countryside 75 miles south of Johannesburg. Tourists stop to pet them but most visitors do not venture over the hill, where the ranch has pens holding nearly 50 juvenile and fully-grown lions, and two tigers.

Moreson ranch is one of more than 160 such farms legally breeding big cats in South Africa. There are now more lions held in captivity (upwards of 5,000) in the country than live wild (about 2,000). While the owners of this ranch insist they do not hunt and kill their lions, animal welfare groups say most breeders sell their stock to be shot dead by wealthy trophy-hunters from Europe and North America, or for traditional medicine in Asia. The easy slaughter of animals in fenced areas is called "canned hunting", perhaps because it's rather like shooting fish in a barrel. A fully-grown, captive-bred lion is taken from its pen to an enclosed area where it wanders listlessly for some hours before being shot dead by a man with a shotgun, hand-gun or even a crossbow, standing safely on the back of a truck. forHe pays anything from £5,000 to £25,000, and it is all completely legal.

Like other tourists and daytrippers from Jo'burg, I pay a more modest £3.50 to hug the lions at Moreson, a game ranch which on its website invites tourists to come and enjoy the canned hunting of everything from pretty blesbok and springbok – South Africa's national symbol – to lions and crocodiles. After a cuddle with the cubs, I go on a "game drive" through the 2,000 hectare estate. Herds of blue wildebeest, red hartebeest and eland run from the truck, then stop and watch us, warily: according to the guides, the animals seem to know when visitors are not carrying guns. At the far end of the property is an abandoned farm, surrounded by pens of lethargic-looking big cats. One pair mate in front of us. Two healthy looking tigers tear at chicken carcasses rapidly rotting in the African sun.

The animals look well cared for. But Cathleen Benade, a ranch assistant who is studying wildlife photography and is devoted to the cubs, reveals that they were taken away from their mothers just an hour after birth and bottle-fed by humans for the first eight weeks of their life. After dark, as the lions roar in the cages below the pub veranda, Maryke Van Der Merwe, the manager of Lion's Den and daughter of the ranch owner, explains that if the cubs weren't separated from their mother – by blowing a horn to scare the adult lion away – the young lions would starve to death, because their mother had no milk. She says the mother is not distressed: "She's looking for the cubs for a few hours but it's not like she's sad. After a day or two I don't think she remembered that she had cubs."

Animal welfare experts disagree, however. They say breeders remove the cubs from their mother so that the lioness will quickly become fertile again, as they squeeze as many cubs from their adults as possible – five litters every two years. For an animal that is usually weaned at six months, missing out on the crucial colostrum, or first milk, can cause ill-health. "These breeders tell you they removed the cubs because the mother had no milk; I've never seen that in the wild," says Pieter Kat, an evolutionary biologist who has worked with wild lions in Kenya and Botswana. "Lions and tigers in captivity may kill their young because they are under a lot of stress. But the main reason breeders separate the young from their mother is because they don't want them to be dependant on their moth

Private zoo houses world’s threatened species
90% of the animals at the 17-hectare privately owned Al Bustan Zoological Centre are endangered
Imagine mingling with jaguars, extremely rare King cheetahs, bongos, and some of the world’s endangered and critically endangered species right in your backyard.
You may think you’re somewhere in Africa, but this piece of paradise can be found right in Sharjah emirate.
Al Bustan Zoological Centre is a 17-hectare privately owned zoo located on the road to Kalba that houses 856 animals of 101 species from around the world. About 90 per cent of the animal collection is endangered or critically endangered.
A non-commercial zoo, Al B

Who you calling ugly? Zoos prefer cute animals to less attractive species, research shows
Zoos are no place for ugly ducklings. Big, intelligent, good-looking animals are more likely to be found in zoos, irrespective of conservation needs, according to new research. While the red panda, big cats, elephants and giraffes are found in most zoos, there's no place for the pika, the golden mole or the rat kangaroo.

Researchers warn that the focus on attractive species that appeal to paying visitors could have detrimental effects on conservation, with the mammal rated the least attractive, the endangered marsupial mole, not found in any zoo.

"Selection of species into world zoos is determined by decisions made by humans, and intelligent and beautiful animals seem to be favoured," the researchers say.

More than seven million animals are kept in 872 zoos and aquariums worldwide. Zoologists from Prague's Charles University investigated the range of mammals kept and which were left out. Out of 5,334 mammalian species, only 1,048 of them, or 16 per cent, were found in the world zoo collection. The team used data on brain size and attractiveness to humans to see why some species were being left ou

Why the lynx effect would send Scotland wild
Rather than spending millions on pandas, we need to save the wild animals that are integral to the Highlands' character
As Edinburgh Zoo's panda freakshow continues to captivate the witless and the infantile, a real Scottish animal has been allowed to die. Under the noses of Scottish Natural Heritage, which likes to be known as the nation's leading conservation body, the Scottish wildcat has all but been extinguished from the Highlands. The importance of this news may be deemed worthy of a mere footnote on the schedule of important issues with which Scotland is grappling but it ought to rank much higher. For the wildcat's demise seems to be part of the neutering and emasculating of our wildest places. That which was previously held to be a quintessential part of what Scotland was originally meant to look like and smell like and sound like is now, it seems, unimportant.

Thus we allow golden eagles and our other great predators routinely to be executed by gamekeepers and farmers all over the Highlands. These wildlife crimes carry stiff penalties but no prosecutions are ever brought. After all, there are vast country estates to protect, mainly to ensure that Scotland remains the favourite country theme park of Europe's aristocracy. And a decade after their filthy feeding methods gave the country foot and mouth disease

Marine Land Witnessed the Death of Two beluga whale
The death of two young beluga whales was confirmed by the Marine Lands.

The spokesman of the park, John Beattie, said that the young animals died at some time in the aquarium and in wild which was a sad scenario. The spokesman e-mailed the respond to the deaths' queries by the Review.

The Review asked about the death dates of the whales to which the spokesman said that beluga Charlotte dies in year 2012, however, Luna died on some date in the present year. He didn't provide with any specific dates of death in his email responses.

The enquiry into the deaths of the whales was initiated by local animal activists and the aquatic inventory website Ceta-Base. com that keeps the records of currently existing beluga whales on the site at the Marine Land.

One of the activists, Alex Louise Dorer from the group of Occupy Marine Land said that in-accordance to the available space, Marine Land has too many belugas li

Qatar efforts give hope to rare parrot species
Pioneering efforts by Qatar’s Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation to conserve the extinct-in-the-wild Spix’s macaw have achieved a key milestone with the world’s first artificial insemination in the parrot species native to Brazil, under a partnership with a German firm. 
Founded by Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali al-Thani, AWWP, which has been a champion in Spix’s macaw conservation for over a decade, holds over 77% (64 out of 83) of the world population of the bird and is actively involved in grassroots conservation in its home country.
Given that a narrow genetic pool is one of the biggest problems for the worldwide breeding programme, as it causes suboptimal fertility in the population, researchers from AWWP together with Parrot Reproduction Consulting from Germany decided to help the species through artificial insemination.
As soon as a female laid her first egg, the team took sperm from a male and immediately deposited it by micro-capillary tube into the oviduct of the female Spix hoping to fertilise the next egg to be laid before the egg shell would be formed.
“This process was repeated after the second and third eggs were laid as Spix are known to often lay four eggs in a clutch,” Dr Tim Bouts, director of AWWP told Gulf Times.
After seven days the eggs were candled to see if they were fertile. Two - out of the seven artificially inseminated - proved to be fertile and developed well in the incubator.
The eggs were checked daily for development and as the chicks were growing their heart rates monitored in the egg until they hatched after 26 days.
The first chick to hatch was called ‘Neumann,’ named after veterinarian Daniel Neumann, from Parrot Reproduction Consulting, the executor of the first successful artificial insemination in Spix.
“I have performed many artificial inseminations in parrots over the years but none have been as special as the ones in the Spix,” he said while recalling that as a boy, following the sad story of the disappearance of the Spix’s macaw in the wild, he dreamt about becoming involved in its conservation.
This success story is hopefully the beginning of the recovery of the species in the wild as successful breeding in captivity with a wide genetic pool will be the most important tool for its survival.
The blue macaw co-ordinator in AWWP, Dr Cromwell Purchase, said: “Since we know that artificial insemination is possible in this species, we have a lot more possibilities for breed

The Story Of Moby Doll
If you want to know how the whole raking-in-the-bucks-by-putting-killer-whales-on-public-display thing really got rolling, you need to know the sad and enraging story of Moby Doll.

Recently, there was a gathering to reflect on the (almost) 50-year anniversary of Moby Doll’s capture, and all that followed:

Elephants' pudgy posteriors is focus of Lincoln zoo research
Kari Morfeld’s desk is littered with hundreds of 8-by-10 glossy photographs — each a close-up of an elephant’s derriere.

Her vast collection includes butts from South Africa and from the 290 elephants living in 74 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Morfeld is a wildlife endocrinologist and head of the new Wildlife Conservation Research Center at the Lincoln Children’s Zoo — the world’s first facility to focus on the metabolic health of zoo animals.

Her research on pachyderm posteriors — and blood — holds far-reaching implications for the future of elephants.

Perhaps all other animal species.

The work is a collaboration of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, Nebraska Wesleyan University, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo and her doctoral dissertation at George Mason University.

In a nutshell, Morfeld’s research finds that elephants in American zoos are facing the same health crisis as American Homo sapiens -- cardiac disease, arthritis and infertility -- all brought on by the

Killer tiger on the loose, prowling forest in India after zoo escape
Remember last year when a penguin somehow scaled a fence at a Japanese zoo and went missing? Well, the same thing is happening now at India's Nadankanan Zoological Park, except that instead of a fugitive penguin, it’s a fugitive tiger. The same tiger, curiously enough, had wandered into the zoo this spring, causing a debate over whether it should be returned to the wild or kept. The tiger stayed six weeks at Nadankanan, during which it "ate heartily," but then apparently lost interest in zoo life and scaled an 18-foot wall before fleeing to a nearby forest. Tragically, the tiger's stay came at a cost of human life; during the tiger's escape, it crossed paths with a

Woman to face judge in theft of $800k from Monterey Aquarium Institute
A federal grand jury in San Jose has indicted a former payroll employee of an aquatics research facility at Moss Landing, Calif. in the embezzlement of about $800,000 from 2005 to 2012, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Lisa McMahon, of Mountain View, is set to appear in federal court in San Jose on Thursday to face charges of wire fraud and theft from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute following her indictment Wednesday, the office reported.
U.S. Judge Paul S. Grewal will preside at the 10:30 a.m. hearing, at the United States District Court, Northern District of California,  280 S. First St. in San Jose.
The indictment alleged that McMahon defrauded the institute of the $800,000 over seven years by altering payroll and 401(k) investment records to conceal the transfer of funds to her personal accounts, federal officials said.
McMahon had been working for the institute as a payroll specialist re

Sirens of the Aquarium
Donghu Sea World in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, sees a group of young girls act as "mermaids," presenting fancy shows for the delight of the audience.

The mermaid show is the most popular of the various offerings Donghu puts on, and attracts lots of tourists, especially during weekends and holidays. As the rainbow-clad mermaids perform acrobatics, children gather at the glass to get closer as they scream with delight.

Taping the show is a must for many tourists, and a wall of screens capturing the event can be seen in the stands.

Li Qingqing, 19, is one of the mermaids. Originally working as a tour guide, she became fascinated and signed up last March.

This proved a daunting effort for Li as she couldn't even swim in the beginning. She had to learn various strokes, dives and acrobatics while meters under the surface, as well as how to deal with marine animals.

"The naughtiest creatures are the turtles. They love us, and they try to hug us as they are performing. They're not very gentle and our bodies get covered in bruises from their affections," said Li, pointing to several on her body.

The situation is the same for other mermaids. Li's colleague, 30-year-old Wang Liqin, has many scars on he

Tigers moved from Prague zoo in flood alert
Four people have died and at least eight are missing as torrential rains in central Europe caused landslides and took rivers to dangerously high levels.

Emergency operations are under way in Austria, Germany and the Czech Republic to deal with record levels of flooding in some places.

The Czech capital, Prague, is on high alert amid fears that floodwater could swamp its historic centre.

Animals housed in the lower part of Prague zoo have

Wild tiger puts forest department in a fix
The State Forest and Environment department is in a fix like never before. It has no clue as per what to do with the wild tiger that just slipped out of Nandankanan Zoological Park.

Should it try and capture it and release back into the wild? Or should it just sit tight and do nothing? For the tiger is in the forest area of Nandankanan which is a notified sanctuary in itself.

A day after the five-year-old Royal Bengal Tiger scaled the 18 feet wall of an enclosure to seek freedom, the Wildlife Wing was wondering its next course of action. Forest and Environment Minister Bijoyshree Routray visited the zoo in the morning and inspected the enclosure in question. He could only marvel at the tiger’s climbing ability which zoo officials said was one-of-its kind incident in the history of Indian zoos, at least.

For the department, the problem was much more complicated. While Chief Wildlife Warden J D Sharma sat over the matter by seeking feedbacks from National Tiger Conservation Authority, the tiger escape has posed a queer problem. Now that the large cat is out of the zoo premises, the the tiger is neither under its jurisdiction nor its responsibility anymore.

“Since it is in the forests of the sanctuary, the Wildlife Wing has to take call on whether to leave it there assuming that the feline will find its way or to capture it and make a fres

Council called for review of tiger enclosure seven years ago
THE owner of a wildlife park where a Scots zookeeper was killed by a tiger had amassed fines totalling almost £20,000 following a series of issues relating to escaping animals.

A council licensing committee had ordered a review of the design of the tiger enclosure seven years ago due to concerns animals could escape at South Lakes Wild Animal Park, in Dalton-in-Furness in Cumbria.

Enclosure issues are currently being investigated after the death of Sarah McClay, 24, who was originally from Glasgow, after she was mauled by a tiger.

It has now emerged the park's owner, David Gill, was fined by authorities over escaped animals at his Mareeba Wild Animal Park in Australia before leaving the country as his business failed with debts of £2 million.

Police are working on the assumption human error or mechanical failure allowed the Sumatran tiger to escape from its pen at South Lakes.

There were said to be strict controls in place at the enclosure building, which has four animal pens accessible from a staff area where, among other things, cleaning equipment is stored.

Mr Gill has been criticised for claiming Ms McClay died because she broke the park's protocols by walking into the tiger's cage.

But police later said Ms McClay was in the staff area when the tiger first confronted her and it had not been established it was down to her error.

The wildlife park has been at the centre of a number of licence reviews following health and safety issues raised by inspectors.

Council papers show a review of enclosure design was requested in 2006 after "safety concerns" over a condor and vulture aviary and a new bat enclosure.

Escapes of ring-tailed lemur and coati had also raised a number of complaints.

A chief environmental officer's report called for a review of enclosure design to be undertaken "to ensure that animals contained therein may reasonably be contained within the zoo and if an escape were to take place, that the perimeter fence may adequately deter their future escape".

Two years later, a written warning threatening "formal action" was issued following the escape of lemurs.

Mr Gill left Australia after his park in Cairns in Queensland was accused of breaching permit conditions. He said at the time that he left quickly "under deep fear for both my family and my safety and freedom".

He was charged, convicted and fined more than £6000 for three breaches of the Land Protection Act in his absence, two of those involving the escape of a lemur and cheetah and the unreported death of a lemur in October, 2004.

After being fined he said: "It was pure ig

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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