Saturday, July 20, 2013

Zoo News Digest 17th - 20th July 2013 (ZooNews 867)

Zoo News Digest 17th - 20th July 2013 (ZooNews 867)

Dear Colleagues,

There are whispers that Medan Zoo is making 'improvements' and building enclosures to receive animals from Surabaya Zoo. Meanwhile still more animals are being seized from Malang Recreation Park. Does this mean that Indonesian Zoos are finally getting their act together? I would like to think so. Moving some of the animals out of Surabaya is a good idea because a lot of their problems are due to space. If you take a look at the link 'Latest News from Surabaya Zoo' you will see that the picture there is not as bad is being painted by the AR's and those without any zoo expertise. I am pleased that the Surabaya animals are not, as far as I am currently aware destined for any commercial zoo....apart from the tiger of course, which has already moved on.

I have include two recent videos of African Zoos. The first will probably shock you, and rightly so. The second will show you what can be done if the money and expertise are available.

The documentary 'Blackfish' is certainly making waves. I included links to articles commenting in the last Zoo News Digest and include some more here. Whatever your opinion it is well worth reading these.

'Mental Time Travel' in apes is interesting. Why not? It works for you and I and yet 'smelling' in animals is a much more enhanced sense. Seems logical at the end of the day.

The story of Mali in Manila Zoo seems like it is going to rumble on. Again I carried this in the last Zoo News Digest. Now Paul McCartney is having his say and why not? At the same time why should his opinion be worth more then any average Joe? It shouldn't and yet it will. The luvvies, the musicians, the bambi brigade should stick to what they know about and stop interfering in zoos like Manila or Surabaya.....and why not look closer to home before moving abroad?

The get together of The Animal Keepers, Trainers and Wildlife Professionals of the UAE went down very well the other night. Of our 114 members perhaps forty or so turned up. Members came to meet in Longs Bar in Dubai from Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujaira and Dubai itself. The bar itself was so busy that night (I estimate about 800+ people) and so crowded that I have a nasty feeling that there were others turned up as well that we did not find each other. Still it was a great chance to meet, make new acquaintances and renew old ones and chew the fat.

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Poor Facilities at Indonesian Zoo Spark Rare Animal Seizure
After filing a recommendation more than a year ago, wildlife conservation authorities in Malang, East Java, are awaiting final approval for a rescue mission to relocate dozens of rare animals from a poorly maintained municipal zoo, an official said on Tuesday.
Dedi Sudiana, the head of the Malang Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said his office had issued a recommendation to the Forestry Ministry to allow it to seize the animals from the Malang Recreation Park (Tareko), and was now just awaiting written confirmation before swooping in.
He said that among the animals to be confiscated were two rare primates — a critically endangered Sulawesi crested macaque and a siamang — and several exotic birds. These include a pair of cassowaries, a hornbill, a crested hawk-eagle and a Javan hawk-eagle — the national bird of Indonesia. Dozens of other animals, mostly birds of paradise, are also on the list for seizure by the BKSDA.
Dedi said the the seizure, which the BKSDA had recommended since June 2012, comes amid concerns about the animals’ welfare in the facility, which is part of the Malang City Hall complex in the middle of the city.
He also said the park did not have enough qualified staff to look after the animals properly.“It takes a lot of money to look after the animals, but the park doesn’t charge an entry fee, so the animals’ welfare is being compromised,” he said.
“Hence this seizure is being carried out in the best

Zoo's Who? - Jamie, Park Birds Keeper

Scientists across the globe make case for shark conservation, says Birch Aquarium marine biologist in La Jolla
The phrase “marine conservation” evokes images of an energetic dolphin, a fluffy seal pup or a majestic whale. The phrase “shark conservation” is apt to evoke puzzlement. Why conserve something that most of us find downright frightening?
Unfortunately, it is fear based on misinformation, media overreaction and manipulative movie plots, according to Andrew P. Nosal, Ph.D., the Birch Aquarium’s DeLaCour Postdoctoral Fellow in Ecology and Conservation.
Nosal, whose research is focused on La Jolla’s near-shore population of docile leopard sharks, is concerned about the negative public perception of sharks in light of precipitous species declines, with some open-ocean populations down 90 percent. Nosal separated fact from fiction during a public lecture titled “Shark Conservation: 
Safeguarding the Future of Our Oceans,” held July 8 as part of the aquarium’s ongoing Perspectives of Ocean Science Lecture Series.
There are more than 400 shark species, displaying a wide assortment of form, feeding habits, range of movement and use of habitat.
“When you hear the word ‘shark,’ I want you to think first of their diversity,” Nosal told the audience.
Over-fishing, increased demand for shark products and poor fisheries management are pushing many 
species toward

Killer octopus not seen posing threat to swimmers
As the hot, humid days lure people to the beaches, some may worry about the deadly octopuses that have been spotted in the Kanto region. To the relief of many, experts say few of them are still alive and beach-goers don’t need to worry about the possibility of being bit by the venomous little critters.
Blue-ringed octopi, with a highly venomous bite, were first seen near the town of Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in May. They were then observed last month in a port area in Chigasaki, Kanagawa.
Each one carries the potentially fatal poison tetrodotoxin, the same toxin possessed by fugu, or puffer fish. A bite from the octopus can cause respiratory failure.
Although the pint-sized octopus has long inhabited the region, the rare sightings in May and June made headlines across the nation and raised public safety concerns.
But an expert at Enoshima Aquarium in Kanagawa Prefecture says their lifespan is just one year, and once they finish laying their eggs from April through June most will die off, meaning

A lost frog in the lost world?
Ecotourism and Conservation - Can it work? In the context of a study in the forests of Central Guyana, a team of scientists from the Senckenberg Research Institute in Dresden investigated this very question and by chance found a previously undiscovered species of frog that only exists in a very confined area of the so-called Iwokrama Forest. The related study was published in the scientific journal "Organisms, Diversity and Evolution".
The Lost World, a famous novel released by the renowned British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in 1912, is set in to what, even today, is still a virtually forgotten and neglected area of our planet, the Guiana Shield in the north of South America.
The region accounts for more than 25 percent of the world's tropical rain forests, and is one of the four remaining extensive pristine forested areas left in the world (Amazon, Congo, Papua New Guinea and Guiana Shield).
In a study sponsored by the Stiftung Artenschutz [Species Conservation Foundation] and the Verband Deutscher Zoodirektoren [Association of German Zoo Directors], the Dresden team, led by biologists Dr. Raffael Ernst and Monique Hölting investigated whether conservation of amphibians and ecotourism can be reconciled in the forests of Guyana. The investigations are being carried out in close co-operation with the international not-for-profit organization Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development. Their idea is to test the concept of a truly sustainable forest, where conservation, biodiversity safeguarding, environmental balance and economic use can be mutually reinforcing. Beside forms of sustainable forest management, ecotourism concepts are also being tested. This is also true

Zoo di hann a Dakar - Senegal

 Bamako zoo reopens doors to the public

Do captive whales turn into killers?
On February 24 2010, news channels around the world reported that Dawn Brancheau, an experienced trainer of killer whales at SeaWorld Orlando, had been found dead in the pool. A huge male orca, Tilikum, had leapt out of the water as Brancheau had been talking about the creature to a group of visitors, grabbed her with its jaws and dragged her under the water, where she drowned. Initially, there were calls for the “rogue” whale to be put down. But as the facts began to emerge, the story grew darker and more complicated, as revealed by Gabriela -Cowperthwaite’s astonishing new documentary, Blackfish. “I first heard about the story on the news,” the director told me, on a visit to London. “I didn’t understand it. I had a lot of questions.” Those questions led Cowperthwaite to an extraordinary human drama, framed by the greater drama of our troubled relationship with animals that we claim to love, yet which we allow to be treated in appalling ways.
Brancheau was a marathon runner; she’d been growing her hair to donate as wigs for cancer sufferers. Tied in a ponytail that day, her hair became a toy to Tilikum. As the whale grabbed it, Brancheau broke free. But he grabbed her again, dragging her to the bottom of the pool. The audience were quickly led away as the horror played out.
Tilikum scalped Brancheau. Her fellow trainers had to prise open the whale’s jaws to release her body. Part of her arm came off in the animal’s mouth, which he then swallowed. It was a terrible scene. SeaWorld reported it as a tragic accident. But Cowperthwaite’s film suggests it was more than that.
I saw my first whale in the unlikely surroundings of Windsor Safari Park in the early 1970s. In those days of the “Save the Whale” campaigns, my sisters and I had become obsessed with whales, and pestered our parents to take us to Windsor. We arrived in time to watch the opening act, a troupe of bottlenose dolphins. I remember feeling uneasy as they balanced balls on their beaks, jumped through hoops, and caught their reward, a fresh fish. The sight of these wild animals in what amounted to an overgrown municipal pool disturbed me. But not as much as what came next. A big black gate opened up at one end of the pool, and in swam Ramu.
The killer whale - or orca - is a truly magnificent creature. It can reach 30 feet in length, and with its black-and-white markings and conical, sharp teeth, it is a beautiful, highly intelligent and social animal. In the wild, orcas swim in close-knit family pods. Their society is matriarchal; males stay with their mothers all their lives, and females may outlive males by two decades, reaching 80 or more.
As my sisters and I watched, this alpha predator patrolled the pool. Then it went through the same routine as the dolphins: jumping through a hoop, balancing a ball on its nose, catching fish in its fearsome mouth. Most pathetic of all, Ramu’s 6-foot dorsal fin flopped over its back, a symbol of its emasculation. In the wild, only one per cent of males suffer dorsal collapse; in captivity, 100 per cent do.
The orca trade
As Tim Zimmermann, who wrote the screenplay for Blackfish, notes, the trade in orcas began in 1965 when Ted Griffin of Seattle Marine Aquarium spent $8,000 on a 22-foot killer whale that had been accidentally caught in fishing nets off Namu, B.C. As Griffin and his team towed “Namu” south in a floating pen, the rest of the whale’s pod, including his mother, followed behind. 
Young whales were taken because they were easier to manage. In Cowperthwaite’s film, men who took part in similar “kidnappings” weep on camera as they recall separating young whales from their families. Later, in an even more upsetting scene, an infant orca born at SeaWorld is taken from its mother, who then begins to make sounds never heard before. Analysed by experts, they were found to be long-distance calls: she was trying to reach her calf, now hundreds of miles away in another oceanarium.
Namu died within a year, but that did not deter Don Goldsberry, Griffin’s partner. “A blunt, hard-driving man”, he saw a business opportunity. Setting up his operation in the North-West Pacific, he trapped 15 orcas in Puget Sound, selling one female, named Shamu, to SeaWorld in San Diego for $70,000.
Goldsberry’s trade “helped SeaWorld turn killer whales into killer profits”, says Zimmermann. But the dealer went too far when he used explosives to drive orcas into his nets at Olympia, Wash., in 1976. Public outcry at reports of the terrified whales and their screams led to a lawsuit, filed by the State of Washington, contending that Goldsberry and SeaWorld had violated permits that required humane capture and, as the bad publicity built, Goldsberry switched operations to Iceland, where killer whales were plentiful. It was there, in

Death turns a regular visitor to city zoo
At first glance, things appear normal in the City Zoo, which draws lakhs of tourists every year. But a closer look reveals an alarming statistic. In the last ten days alone, as many as 11 of the inmates have died owing to various causes.
 The zoo authorities attribute this to inadequate infrastructure; lack of veterinary personnel and unscientific enclosures are among other factors. Moreover, monsoon is not a healthy phase for zoo animals. As many as 10-15 spotted deer were found to be suffering from foot-rot infection, which is also contagious in nature. Also, aged animals had a bout of pneumonia. The only vet in the zoo had to work round-the-clock to save the animals.
 The deaths recorded in the last ten days include those of four spotted deer, two Sambar, two pig-deer, one Malabar Giant Squirrel, one leopard cub and a 13-day-old baby hippo.
These casualties reflect the condition in which the inmates  of the City Zoo survive. “I have let the authorities concerned know the importance of more veterinary backup in the wake of the outbreak of diseases,” said Zoo Veterinarian Jacob Alexander. Luckily, an additional vet has been posted for the time being in view of the present scenario, giving a big relief to the zoo vet.
 “We have limited space in the zoo. So, no more animals can be brought in. But we are trying to do our best for the animals we already have, even though many died,” said the zoo vet.
 According to sources, around Rs 1.5 crore was recently spent for giving a new look to the Zoo and museum. This was done to make the tourist experience better with a new ent

Will Byculla Zoo shift to suburbs?
If the tourism development plan prepared by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) comes into existence, then we might see the Byculla Zoo being shifted to Aarey Milk Colony in Goregaon or the Borivali National Park.
The plan has been prepared for the city by MTDC’s special committee, which had appointed a consultant M/s Fortress Infrastructure Advisory Services for assessment and preparation of a detailed report for the development of various tourism projects in Mumbai.
Among its several suggestions to develop tourism in the city, the committee has suggested that Byculla Zoo be shifted to the more spacious Aarey Colony or Borivali National Park. “The area of the national park is 10,400 hectares and that of Byculla Zoo is 19 hectares. Hence there is ample space to construct a world-class zoo there. The Byculla Zoo must be conserved as a botanical garden,” said the proposal.
The development plan is ready and has been uploaded on the MTDC’s website for suggestions and objections from the public.However, the BMC has opposed the suggestion of shifting the zoo, maintaining that the makeover plans for Byculla zoo is already afoot.
“Byculla zoo has been in existence for the last 150 years and is a matter of pride for Mumbaikars. We have objected to the suggestion of shifting the zoo put forth by the tourism committee as all the procedures and permissions to develop the zoo have been put in place,” said standing committee chairman Rahul Shewale.
The BMC has earmarked `150 crore to redevelo

A Cinderella story: Siberian tiger released

Zoos and Field Conservationists Call for Worldwide Action to Stop Illegal Killing of Wildlife
More than 200 conservationists representing over 40 zoos as well as wildlife programs in 36 countries have called on governments around the world to immediately increase the resources needed to combat the alarming rise in the illegal wildlife trade.  Meeting in Des Moines, Iowa, earlier this month, zoo officials, scientists, and wildlife experts with the 9th Zoos and Aquariums Committing to Conservation Conference (ZACC) agreed that urgent action is needed to combat the well-organized and heavily armed criminals who are draining the world’s ecosystems of wildlife and threatening human populations.  The Okapi Conservation Project was represented by John Lukas, who gave a keynote presentation at the conference about the challenges to wildlife conservation in the DR Congo.
On the heels of the U.S. government’s recent announcement of $10 million to assist African countries with anti-poaching efforts to protect elephants, rhinos and other wildlife, the ZACC delegates urged all governments and international groups to launch sustained campaigns to stop the illegal killing of wildlife, including increased law enforcement with prompt and serious punishments for wildlife crime, more cooperation between governments to combat cross-border activity, and campaigns to raise awareness among consumers about the illegal wildlife trade.
ZACC delegates also noted that the wildlife trade was devastating imperiled species on several continents including the world’s most iconic species such as big cats and great apes, sharks and rays, countless birds, turtles and other reptiles.  Information is emerging documenting a dramatic decline in forest elephants and we are even seeing okapi populations in the DR Congo begin to tumble as a result of this enormous pressure.
The illegal wildlife trade is not a subsistence activity, but rather an industry based on organized crime worth multibillions of dollars annually.  In addition to decimating animal populations worldwide and robbing current and future generations of their irreplaceable natural heritage, the illegal wildlife trade has been linke

Apes Capable of 'Mental Time Travel'
A single cue—the taste of a madeleine, a small cake, dipped in lime tea—was all Marcel Proust needed to be transported down memory lane. He had what scientists term an autobiographical memory of the events, a type of memory that many researchers consider unique to humans. Now, a new study argues that at least two species of great apes, chimpanzees and orangutans, have a similar ability; in zoo experiments, the animals drew on 3-year-old memories to solve a problem. Their findings are the first report of such a long-lasting memory in nonhuman animals. The work supports the idea that autobiographical memory may have evolved as a problem-solving aid, but researchers caution that the type of memory system the apes used remains an open question.
Elephants can remember, they say, but many scientists think that animals have a very different kind of memory than our own. Many can recall details about their environment and routes they've traveled. But having explicit autobiographical memories of things "I" did, or remembering events that occurred in the past, or imagining those in the future—so-called mental time travel—are considered by many psychologists to be uniquely human skills.
Until recently, scientists argued that animals are stuck in time, meaning that they have no sense of the past or future and that they aren't able to recall specific events from their lives—that is, they don't have episodic memories, the what-where-when of an event that happened.
Yet, several studies have shown that even jays have something like episodic memory, remembering when and where they've hidden food, and that rats recall their journeys through mazes, and use these to imagine future maze-travels. "There is good evidence challenging the idea that nonhuman animals are stuck in time," says Gema Martin-Ordas, a comparative psychologist at Aarhus University in Denmark and the lead author of the new study. But trying to show that apes also have a conscious recollection of autobiographical events is "the tricky part," Martin-Ordas admits.
To see if chimpanzees and orangutans have autobiographical memories that can later be triggered with a cue (as were Proust's by eating the pastry), Martin-Ordas and two other researchers devised a memorable event for the apes at the Leipzig Zoo. In 2009, eight chimps and four orangutans individually watched Martin-Ordas place a piece of a banana on a platform attached to t

Elephants Never Forget - I thought I would include this as we are just reading about animals memories

In 1986, Mkele Mbembe was on holiday in Kenya after graduating from Northwestern University.
On a hike through the bush, he came across a young bull elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed, so Mbembe approached it very carefully.
He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot and found a large piece of wood deeply embedded in it.
As carefully and as gently as he could, Mbembe worked the wood out with his hunting knife, after which the elephant gingerly put down its foot.
The elephant turned to face the man, and with a rather curious look on its face, stared at him for several tense moments.
Mbembe stood frozen, thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned, and walked away.
Mbembe never forgot that elephant or the events of that day.
Twenty years later, Mbembe was walking through the Chicago Zoo with his teenaged son.
As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to near where Mbembe and his son Tapu were standing.
The large bull elephant stared at Mbembe, lifted its front foot off the ground, then put it down. The elephant did that several times then trumpeted loudly, all the while staring at the man.
Remembering the encounter in 1986, Mbembe couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant.
Mbembe summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. The elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of Mbembe' s legs and slammed him against the railing, killing him instantly .
Probably wasn't the same elephant.

Taronga Zoo sustainability accolade roars for SITA
Resource and waste management company SITA has collected a key environmental sustainability award for tailoring a waste management program for Sydney’s Taronga Zoo to boost its recycling output to divert rubbish away from landfill.
The company has been recognised at the 2013 Australian Business Awards where the company took out the Environmental Sustainability category for its initiative with Sydney’s iconic tourist landmark to help Taronga create its own plan to optimise its waste management and recycling .
The Australian Business Awards is a national awards program that primarily recognises organisations on the basis of their “business excellence, product excellence, sustainability and responsibility”.
The issue of waste management and recycling is particularly important for prominent attractions like Taronga because visitors there are highly aware of the environmental consequences of poor waste manag

Working with Elephants at the Toledo Zoo

Paul McCartney writes to PNoy: Free Mali now
Music icon Paul McCartney of the legendary band The Beatles has joined the call to free Mali the elephant from the Manila Zoo, after writing a supposed letter to President Benigno Aquino III to voice out his cause.
In his supposed letter to Aquino circulated by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), McCartney urged the President to transfer Mali from the Manila Zoo to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
"I am writing to add my voice to the many others who are supporting the transfer of Mali, the lonely elephant currently being held at the Manila Zoo, to a sanctuary in Thailand as soon as possible. I respectfully urge you to use your good offices to expedite the transfer as, with every single day that she remains in the zoo, Mali suffers," the music icon said.
McCartney lamented the reports that Mali's health is deteriorating in the Manila Zoo.He described a video footage of Mali as "heartbreaking" while pointing out the elephant's "debilitating foot problems and the unimaginable loneliness of a herd animal kept alone.""Action must be taken for this ailing elephant, and you hold the key," McCartney told Aquino in the letter. "With the stroke of a pen, you can bring an end to her suffering, and

ReThink Review: Blackfish -- The Dark, Wild Side of Free Willy
I'm a lifelong animal lover, but I don't like going to zoos. They feel like animal jails to me, and even if the animals were rescued from circuses or the black market, I feel sad seeing them confined to a small area away from the freedom of their natural habitat. However, their saving grace is that zoos are a great way for kids to learn about animals and the environment, hopefully sparking an interest in and affection for the natural world that could last a lifetime. Hopefully this will help a child understand why animals and their homes should be protected. For this reason, I can understand why zoos exist and can imagine taking my nephew there, despite my reservations.
The same can arguably be said of sea parks like SeaWorld, which families flock to so they can see seals, dolphins, and the main attraction, killer whales (orcas) like Shamu. But there's a big difference -- cetaceans like dolphins and orcas are used to having the entire open ocean to range. And unlike their zoo counterparts, many sea park animals are made to perform for audiences, doing tricks (known as "behaviors") that they would never do in the wild, decreasing the educational value for kids who may see these animals as friendly, trainable pets, not wild animals.
Gabriela Cowperthwaite's riveting documentary Blackfish is about orcas in captivity at sea parks and, in particular, an orca named Tilikum who has killed three people but has continued to perform and sire dozens of offspring thr

Wellington Zoo chosen as ‘world’s best and most fascinating’
Wellington Zoo is has gone up in the world – to the top. No longer only ‘the best little zoo in the world’, New Zealand’s first zoo has recently ranked number one in a online guide showcasing the top ten ‘Best and Most Fascinating Zoos in the World’, collated by popular destination website 
Wellington Zoo came out on top, defeating Australia Zoo (#3), Bronx Zoo (#8) and San Diego Zoo (#9) for the winning title.
Author Anna Fleet praised Wellington Zoo as a rare champion of animal conservation, wildlife protection, breeding of endangered species, and general community education and awareness around the importance of animal preservation.
The article also recognised Wellington Zoo’s involvement with the Free the Bears Fund, and dedication to “quality, sustainable enclosures for its population, which include solar heating and power, and intimate one-on-one encounters with the animals to educate on the importance of natural preservation.”
“I’m absolutely thrilled that Wellington Zoo has been recognised and ranked number one in the world,” said Chief Executive, Karen Fifield.
“It’s wonderful to see the Zoo so hig

USDA: Monroe zoo must make changes
Louisiana Purchase Gardens & Zoo must make several improves following a U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection earlier this month.
The News-Star reports ( a recent inspection found Monroe's zoo needs to construct eight new primate holding pens and remodel the kitchen used for preparing food for the animals.
Zoo director Joe Clawson said officials are getting cost estimates for replacing the primate holding pens. He said that project can be accomplished in-house by using some of the zoo's maintenance budget. There's approximately $80,000 budgeted for maintenance this year.
"I think we can do the projects for the primate holding pens in-house and within our budget," Clawson said.
The kitchen remodeling project will have to go before the City Council in order for bids to be accepted and a contractor selected. A cost estimate is not known at this time, but USDA inspectors said the kitchen needed stainless steel counters and cabinets.
"Those are not cheap," Clawson said. "It could be $40,000, but I don't k

World experts: all pangolin species at risk from illegal trade
A recent gathering of global pangolin experts has concluded the scaly mammals are more threatened now than ever, with all eight species threatened by illegal trade for their meat and medicinal use of their scales. 
Currently international trade in the four species of Asian pangolin is not permitted under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), while international trade in the four African species is only allowed provided the correct CITES permits accompany shipments—however, this is rarely the case. 
The landmark meeting on the conservation of pangolins was organized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature—Species Survival Commission (IUCN-SSC) Pangolin Specialist Group and Wildlife Reserves Singapore. 
The conference noted that at least 218,100 pangolins had been seized between 2000 and 2012—a figure likely to represent only a fraction of those being illegally traded. Ninety per cent of these were seized from mainland China, Hong Kong, and four South-East Asian nations—Indonesia, Malaysia, Viet Nam and Thailand. Live animals and meat represented some 60% of all pangolins seizures, while the rest included scales and whole carcasses.
It saw the gathering of Asian and African pangolin experts, who kick-started the process of re-assessing the status of the world’s eight pangolins species for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List is recognized as

Can we afford to experiment with rhinos?
The recent announcement by the South African Minster of Environment, expressing the South African Government’s endorsement of a proposal to sell rhino horn, is disconcerting, albeit not 
surprising.  The government’s international lobby started at the 16th meeting of the Conference 
of the Parties (CoP16) to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)
where there was a directed lobby to try and sensitise other governments around their intent to 
request a rhino horn stockpile sale and subsequent regulated trade at the next CITES CoP(17), 
which South Africa will be hosting in 2016. In a nutshell, the South African government argues 
legalising trade will allow markets to be flooded with horn and will stem the tide of poaching.
A fallacious argument and a very dangerous experiment indeed!
The most disturbing thing about this proposal is in its naïve economic simplicity. Selling 
stockpiled horn might make financial sense in the short-term, but is left wanting, and significantly so, when you dig deeper and when you consider biological and animal welfare consequences. Even from an economic perspective, arguments are seriously flawed.
The reality is that no one understands the nature and extent of potential demand for rhino horn, especially where China is a significant player. How can we even begin to talk about satisfying demand, let alone flooding markets, when we have absolutely no idea of what demand is, especially given recent trends in consumption as well as the fact that rhino horn is being stockpiled in China for future investment purposes?  Essentially, the illegal trade alone is hedging rhinos to extinction, let alone the potential impact of further market stimulation through legalised trade. And then there is this (again fallacious) notion that a legal trade will be able to be controlled/regulated. The experimental trade in stoc

Zoo and Aquarium Video Archive Project

Fourth big cat dies of distemper at Wylie sanctuary
A fourth big cat at In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie — a white tiger named Harley — died Wednesday of distemper. The sanctuary's Facebook page reported the tiger had been sick for weeks, and they had decided to put him down.
About 45 minutes before a vet was scheduled to arrive, Harley died peacefully. The North Texas animal sanctuary has reported an outbreak of canine distemper that previously took the lives of three big cats.
Also dead are Abrams and Apollo, two 12-year-old Bengal tigers; and an African lioness called Layla who would have been 18 years old on Wednesday.
Officials with In-Sync Exotics Wildlife Rescue and Education Center in Wylie say about 20 other big cats have shown symptoms, but the exact number suffering from distemper is not known because all of the blood test results have not come back.
Details on the group's website indicate

It is with deep regret that we announce the cancellation by Frankfurt Zoo to move two black rhinos (Kalusho and Tsororo) to the Mkhaya  Game Reserve in the Kingdom of Swaziland.
These precious animals are sub species Diceros bicornis minor that originate from the Zambezi valley in Zimbabwe. There is no breeding program for these animals in Europe so they will spend the rest of their lives in captivity with no opportunity to play a positive conservation role for the species. Their Zambezi genes are critical in the Swaziland black rhino conservation effort.
The negotiations were fraught with indecision by the zoo from the start. Frankfurt cancelled the project on many occasions. An official statement was issued by the zoo director Prof Manfred Niekisch in November 2012 which stated, “there is no change whatsoever with regard to our continuing commitment to this project and the specifications as laid down in the MOU signed by Mick Reilly (Big Game Parks Swaziland), Hamish Currie (Back to Africa), James Marshal (sponsor) and myself in 2012”.
This resulted in a boma facility being built specifically for the habituation of zoo rhinos in Swaziland at the cost of thousands of US dollars. Habituating rhinos held in captive facilities for an extended period requires considerable expertise and infrastructure to guarantee a successful reintroduction. Back to Africa also incurred considerable expense and time during the course of the negotiations. The zoo refuses to offer compensation to the affected parties.
The translocation of these rhinos to Africa would not only have supplemented a worthy conservation project but also e

David Attenborough Says Humans Are A 'Plague On Earth' Who Need To Stop Breeding
David Attenborough has described humans as a "plague on Earth" that need to slow down breeding to stop the world's population being reduced by more brutal means.
Speaking to the Radio Times, the beloved naturalist said the impact of the rapidly increasing population "will come home to roost over the next 50 years or so."
Finding food for the human 'hordes' is as just big a threat to survival as global warming, he said.
“It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde," he told the magazine.
“Either we limit our populatio

Florida's Most Famous Manatee Celebrates 65th Birthday
The oldest manatee ever to be held in captivity is celebrating its 65th birthday this Sunday.
In what was one of the first recorded births in captivity, Snooty was born at the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company on July 21, 1948. In 1949, he was transferred to the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, where he has been living comfortably ever since.
To celebrate the occasion, the museum will be holding a free birthday party.
Over the years, Snooty has proven to be invaluable in teaching scientists about conservation and education of the state's marine life.
And as the AP reports, he has not been slowing down his

“Blackfish” director: “Using animals for entertainment is the bottom of the ethical totem pole”
Even before “Blackfish” came out, it had already become a lightning rod.
The new documentary calls out SeaWorld for keeping killer whales penned up and forcing them to perform for our entertainment; it hinges, as does director Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s curiosity about the subject, upon killer whale Tilikum’s lethal attack on one of his trainers in 2010, one that followed previous attacks by that same orca.
SeaWorld has contested the allegations made in “Blackfish” about how unsuited killer whales, by their nature loving and compassionate to one another, are to living in the pens. The theme park’s statement read in part: “To promote its bias that killer whales should not be maintained in a zoological setting, the film paints a distorted picture that withholds from viewers key facts about SeaWorld – among them, that SeaWorld is one of the world’s most respected zoological institutions.”
Cowperthwaite says she expected SeaWorld’s response, and that she repeatedly asked for and was denied comment for her film. She spoke to Salon about her evolving interest in orcas, what we know about their brains and capacity for pain and empathy, the ethics of animal captivity, and why SeaWorld isn’t more rigorously regulated.
How’d you become interested in this?
I don’t come from animal activism at all; I’m a mother who took her daughter to SeaWorld. I, in fact, remember seeing primates in certain zoos and thinking that they looked depressed. It was hard for me to watch — I couldn’t look at them. It’s embarrassing for me to admit, but I thought to myself that if I had to be an animal in captivity, I’d be an animal at SeaWorld. It’s clean, there’s room to maneuver, they were so clearly loved and paid attention to by the trainers. I came from the opposite end of the spectrum. The p


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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