Friday, July 12, 2013

Zoo News Digest 8th - 12th July 2013 (ZooNews 865)

Zoo News Digest 8th - 12th July 2013 (ZooNews 865)  

Dear Colleagues,

"International law specifies the quality of cage and the requirements related to space and human resource," (Mentioned in links below). I keep coming across remarks like this. "International Zoo Standards" is another. Just where are they? Who wrote them? If they do exist then why are they not being followed?

I find the following disturbing..."and dining on “the rarest oceanic fish species” in the restaurants". Perhaps it lost something in the translation, at least I hope so.

Whereas zoos are my main interest they are not the one and only. I am always keen to learn and experience other things. Some of my most visited articles on zoos and other totally unrelated subjects this week were:

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Central Zoo deprived of lion for failing to meet international standards
The Central Zoo in Jawalakhel, Kathmandu has not had a lion since the past 15 years. “We have had three lions in the zoo in the past. They lived their full life and died because of natural causes. I still remember how we gave the last of the lions a respectful burial, performing all the rituals,” said Radhakrishna Gharti, a zoo staff for the last 25 years. 
“That was a male lion. It had grown so old and fragile in the last days that we had to shift it to an isolated place to keep it away from the visitors as it disliked noise and disturbance.”
According to Juddha Bahadur Gurung, who recently signed an MoU with the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) of India in capacity of the member secretary of National Trust for Nature Conservation (NTNC), the body that oversees the zoo, "a zoo without lion is simply incomplete." 
Gurung informed that India is ready to gift the creature to Nepal if we can meet the criteria for the zoo. 
“However, the fact is we do not meet the international standard for keeping a lion. International law specifies the quality of cage and the requirements related to space and human resource,” said Gurung. 
“International law does not allow anyone to just gift an animal until the giver and taker are sure that all the standards are met. Actually, the responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of the animal is more on the giver,” said Gurung. “Or else, we would have got a lion from India long time back.” 
He added that the zoo would also love to get a zebra, another animal the zoo has been deprived of for a decade. “Both lion and zebra are very beautiful and much sought after animals, but they have been absent for a very long time now.”
As both are not found in Nepal, the zoo can have them only if another country which has them presents it to us, Gurung explains. 
Sarita Gyanwali, a program officer at the zoo, adds that the lack of space has indeed limited the zoo´s capacity for adding more species. “It is true that we do not have sufficient space to accom

Whipsnade Zoo chimpanzees fitted with heart monitors
A pair of chimpanzees have been fitted with under-the-skin heart monitors at their Bedfordshire zoo.
Vets at Whipsnade are carrying out research into heart defects in apes.
Two males called Phil and Nikki were chosen because they are closely related to two other males diagnosed with cardiovascular abnormalities.
Data will be collected from the monitors, which have been implanted on the backs of the pair by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) team.
They will allow researchers to monitor heart rates while the animals are awake, whereas before they have only been able to monitor them when they have been sedated.
The team said it would be able to train Phil and Nikki to present their backs to them so that data ca

Why the aquarium trade is the real dolphin killer behind 'The Cove'
On Tuesday the International Court of Justice will hear arguments on 'scientific whaling' and the dispute between Australia and Japan. But what about that other killing scandal—the dolphin fishing in Taiji made notorious in the film The Cove? Goldman Sachs banker Alastair Lucas has travelled to Japan to break down the economics of dolphin hunting, and campaign against the practice.
I had a vague knowledge of [dolphin fishing] through The Cove, a wonderful film I recommend to 
everyone—it won an Academy Award.
I hadn't seen the film in full and my daughter brought it to my attention, and that led to her deciding to go to Taiji to see these killings. I decided to go with her.
I spent, I have to say, the worst week of my life in the most horrible place in the world—this little town on the east coast of Japan. And we witnessed for a week these appalling atrocities.
The method through which the dolphins are killed is the cheapest way—that's the only conclusion that we can draw. Dolphins are large animals, it's quite hard to shoot them, and guns and bullets are expensive. The way they kill them is the most efficacious. This is a moneymaking operation—it's not traditional, it's not cultural, it's all about making money for a very small group of so-called fishermen in this town.
They herd the dolphins into this cove in a very traumatic way, using a wall of sound that confuses the animals. They keep them overnight, it's hard to know quite why they keep them overnight, but obviously they can't eat during this period, so they are disorientated and very hungry. Then you watch the buyers come. Buyers come from aquariums in Japan and China—we believe also the Middle East.
And the handsome ones, the juveniles who look good, not the babies and not the older ones, not the ordinary ones, but the handsome ones are bought for aquariums. And it may be that they are the unlucky ones, they get to live and they go in unregulated aquariums in those places. Of course Australian and American aquariums have long since banned buying a dolphin from Taiji. The rest, those that aren't bought for aquariums, are butchered in a very traumatic way.
It's terrible to watch and it's actually terrible to listen to. They use a metal rod. It's based on pithing—we can all remember having to pith frogs in biology class. They seem to think that this is a humane way, they have argued that it is. What it involves is forcing a metal rod into the top of the dolphin, just behind the blowhole. They hold the tail, hold

Dolphin Show = Dolphin Kill? An Investigation of The Cove Part 1

Pity Part 2 is no longer available. Some people just do not like YOU to hear the truth

Gorillas on theme at Sea World
GOLD Coast theme park Sea World is branching from marine to extreme with a new multimillion-dollar jungle-themed attraction featuring Queensland's first gorillas.
The exhibit, to open in 2015, will include gorillas, hippos, crocodiles and other animals as part of an African encounter attraction.
The gorillas would be sourced from an international breeding program designed to shore up populations of the primate.
Sea World officials were yesterday tightlipped about the project, which is the park's latest foray away from traditional marine-themed attractions.
An interactive dinosaur attraction was added this year.
A Sea World spokesman said the African safari-style attraction would be an exciting addition to the theme park, which forged its name on dolphin shows and aquarium exhibits."We are all excited about a wonderful new attraction which will

Editorial: It’s all happening at the zoo
To say that the Guzoo animal farm near Three Hills has been a lightning rod for complaints over the years is like pointing out that it’s been a bit damp of late in Calgary and Toronto.
One of Canada’s largest private zoos is once again in the news, this time over a video posted on YouTube that appears to depict negligent conditions at the family-owned facility. A self-described whistleblower claims to have secretly shot the video over the Canada Day weekend.
Guzoo owner Lynn Gustafson has shrugged off this latest animal-abuse allegation as the work of “domestic terrorists” but he appears to be reaching something of a breaking point. A zookeeper who has faced his own share of regulatory ultimatums has responded with one of his own: the Redford government has six months to get animal welfare critics off his back or he will close the operation to the public and maintain Guzoo strictly for family and friends.
No matter whose side you take in this relentless dispute, at this point that just might be the best possible outcome.
It’s certainly far preferable to the action Gustafson threatened two years ago when the provincial government began taking steps to shut him down. Back then, before authorities backed off plans to decommission Guzoo, Gustafson mused darkly about euthanizing his menagerie, or having them stuffed.
There’s no question that many of the 400-odd animals in his care, including a lion, tiger, camels, bears and lemurs, would have been put down long ago were it not for Gustafson’s caring heart. Since Guzoo first obtained a zoo permit in 1990, the farm has taken in dozens of unwanted pets and rescue animals that would otherwise have had no place to go.
Still, you don’t need to be an animal rights extremist to have serious qualms about roadside zoos — a phenomenon that is thankfully far less common in Canada than it is in the United States. Some estimates suggest there could be as many as 6,000 tigers living in private hands south of the border, where

Zoo Visitors Watch Mating Rituals Of Ice Cream Shop Staff - Spoof!
Describing the behavior as bizarre yet captivating, dozens of visitors to the Saint Louis Zoo reportedly looked on in fascination Saturday as the ice cream shop’s staff engaged in their unique mating rituals.
According to eyewitnesses, the four males housed in the park’s Polar Bear Cafe enclosure performed an elaborate routine of posturing and vocalizations, at points engaging in combative clashes with one another in an effort to win procreative rights over their two young and fertile female counterparts.
“There was a real big one by the front glass who was definitely the alpha male, and you could see he was trying to assert his dominance in front of the females,” said onlooker Audrey Trumbull, describing a hulking 250-pound specimen known to zoo personnel as “Derek,” who is reportedly identifiable by his broad forelimbs and distinctive black wraparound Oakley sunglasses. “I think he was trying to show that he would be a healthy mate, because he kept puffing out his chest and making these loud, frequent roars about his workout routine while he scooped out ice cream.”
“And it looked like the little yellow-haired one was really receptive, because she responded with these instinctive, chirping giggles every time he called out to her,” Trumbull added. “It definitely seemed like they were going to pair off and mate, probably when their shift ended at five.”
Visitors stated that a second male with a thick,33058/

Auckland zoo says Sri Lankan elephants could be quarantined on Niue
Auckland Zoo, which wants to bring in elephants from Sri Lanka, says they could be quarantined on Niue.
The head of marketing for the zoo, Ben Hutton, says nothing has been finalised, both in terms of securing the elephants or just where they might be quarantined.
But he says a requirement of the importation of Asian elephants is that they spend 3 months in quarantine in a third country and Niue is one of the places being considered.
Niue has successfully serv

Imaging techniques can improve management and husbandry of rhinoceroses
High-resolution computed tomography and digital radiography in captive rhinos reveal that bone pathologies in the feet of these pachyderms are highly prevalent and diverse.
Chronic foot disease is a common and severe orthopeadic disorder in captive Indian rhinoceros. It is a clinical challenge, poses a threat to the general health of the animal, affects its breeding ability and sometimes has fatal consequences. "It was surprising to find such a wide spectrum of bone pathology in terms of types and severity, affecting almost 30 % of bones at 95 sites," says Gabriela Galateanu of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) who led this scientific study, just published online in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
To shed light on chronic foot diseases and find underlying causes in rhinoceroses, an international team of scientists from Germany and three zoos from France launched a high-resolution computed tomographic study.
Zoological institutions are making a considerable effort to resolve chronic foot diseases in large mammals by continuously improving management and husbandry conditions as well as treatment procedures. In this field, hoof disorders are assumed to being confined to soft tissues only, bone pathology often being overlooked, and therefore radiographic diagnoses are rarely performed. 
Over the past 40 years, scientists reported only two kinds of bone pathology in three rhinoceroses (two black and one Indian rhinoceros). Foot pathology in soft tissues is widely reported in captive Indian rhinoceroses, affecting practically all breeding males from European collections. Intriguingly enough, captive elephants, who also suffer from chronic foot disease, display a wide variety of both soft tissue and bone pathologies, with over 20 osteopathologies reported to date. It has been unclear h

Animal keepers challenge draft rules
An association which represents the interests of animal keepers including zoos, bird and other animal parks has expressed frustration at proposed permit conditions for keeping wild animals captive, vowing legal action if it found irregularities.
Professor Jeremy Ridl, attorney for the Animal Interest Alliance, has questioned the legality of the conditions proposed by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife for the permits, which were put out for public comment on Monday.
Ridl said permits and licences for keeping wild animals may be issued only under the Natal Nature Conservation Ordinance 15 of 1974 and the Threatened or Protected Species Regulations to the National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act of 2004.
“Not only is Ezemvelo empowered by this legislation, its powers are limited by its terms. On the face of it, the proposed standard terms and conditions include provisions that exceed the powers conferred upon Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife by the ordinance. These powers will be considered carefully and if Ezemvelo is acting outside of its statutory mandate, its actions will be challenged in court,” he said.
Dr Jean Harris, head of Ezemvelo Wildlife Scientific Services, had earlier emphasised that Ezemvelo was fulfilling its mandate under the KZN Nature Conservation Act under which it is compelled to establish such conditions and establish norms and standards.
Ridl said he could not yet comment on whether the proposed conditions were reasonable.
New permit conditions circulated by Ezemvelo included provision of clean drinking water, appropriate and sufficient food, no physical punishment, no solitary confinement of social species, specification of minimum enclosure size and design, minimum furnishings for animals’ behavioural needs and prevention of over-crowding.
These were the revised conditions after the draft in 2010. Harris said some of the revisions had been reconsideration for individuals with small collections of animals, and enclosure sizes for bird collectors.
Harris said the conditions were open for comment from affected parties this month. She felt the new draft met the contemporary standard and had to take international standards into consideration.
But alliance chairman, William Horsfield, felt affected parties were not adequately consulted in the drafting of the documents. He said Ezemvelo had put standards on the table before and they had just been expected to comply, but after going through the proposed legislation they realised Ezemvelo had set impossible standards.
Harris said parties could apply for a slight deviation from some conditions of the permit, but they would have to motivate why their circumstances needed special consideration.
The permits are expected to come into force next year, and will be the first devised in South Africa for wild animals in captivity.
Ridl said: “Some members of the Animal Interest Alliance view this latest action by Ezemvelo as a revival of its futile attempt at the end of 2010 to “legislate through the back door” a similar process.
The legality of the appointment of the current board of Ezemvelo had not yet been accepted by the alliance.
“Certain irregularities in this regard and the suitability of certain members to serve on the board are being investigated and may result in a challenge of the legality of the current board,” he said.
The alliance had been involved in a court action against the wildlife body last year (since 2006) in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, where the alliance raised the validity of the Ezemvelo board. 
It claimed the appointment of Ezemvelo’s board members

Will rhino horn auction work?
Both analysts and the public divided over government’s announcement that it is planning to auction off massive stockpiles of rhino horn.
Government on Wednesday said it was considering a once-off sale of over 16,000 kilograms (kg) of rhino horn it had in stockpiles.
More than 2,000kg is in private hands.The move is aimed at reducing the incentive behind rhino poaching, which has become a major concern for the country.
Rhino populations in South Africa dwindled to around 20,000.
In a poll conducted on Eyewitness News Online, readers were asked if the country should auction off rhino horns.Results at 7pm showed 52 percent of people were in favour, while 48 percent were opposed to the idea.
Independent economic consultant Keith Lockwood outlined the theory behind the plan. But he was unable to say whether he fully agreed with it.
Essentially, the theory is if the market for rhino horn is flooded by auctioning off the country’s stockpiles, the price will drop and the incentive to poach will decrease.
Lockwood’s first concern was that the condition of the stockpiles was unknown, meaning the actual 
amount that might be available for sale could be a lot less than hoped. “Rhino horn deteriorates over time and can be infested with bugs, which might make some of it unsalable.”
He also noted that there are no legal provisions for trade in rhino horn, referencing the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites).
However, South Africa will host the next Cites conference in 2016 where the idea will be presented to all members.
This could lead to the development of such provisions.
Lockwood says another objection to going ahead is that we can’t be sure what would actually happen.
He said there was simply not enough information and there was “ignorance of market dynamics” in relation to rhino trade.
The economist said it was possible that flooding the market would in fact create a new, expanded market.
However, the main concern is one or two entities buying up the entire stockpile and then gaining control of the broader market. 
They could easily cause prices to rise sharply again by limiting supply, which would give the incentive back to poachers to sell on the black market.
Lockwood added, “We have to be careful about managing expectations. We’re not saying that the criminal syndicates would disapp

THIS is why I am against the trade in Rhino Horn. THIS is why I care. THIS is why I am against all the corrupt Rhino Farmers and so called conservationists who are calling for the trade to be legalised. Be WARNED. This is difficult to watch. WARNING: The Real Face Of Rhino Poaching

So, what do you think? Should trade in Rhino Horn be legalised? In theory it would prevent the above.
Please comment following this link on the Zoo News Digest Facebook page. I am interested to know your opinion either way. Go to

Sumatran orangutans: Meeting the refugees of the lost rainforest
Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust was set up by Gerald Durrell with the aim of saving species worldwide. Harriet Bradshaw has been looking at the work they are doing with one particular species - the Sumatran Orangutan.
In the early hours of a morning in June my phone rings. The high pitch shrill wakes me up. I have been waiting for this call. The crackly voice on the speaker sounds strained.
"Harriet? It's Rick. I've got news about Dana…"
I'm only six months older than Dana. When I look into her eyes she stares back with intelligence.
We are alike. We share 97% the same DNA and we are both female.
Neil MacLachlan, a consultant from Jersey's General Hospital, tells me her anatomy is so similar
to mine it is relatively straight forward for surgeons such as him to operate on her.
But, for all the similarities, Dana and I are very different. From the small things like her two missing fingers that were bitten off in a fight, to the dramatic tragedy she faced four years ago when she was bleeding to death after giving bi

Free the tigers – put them in a zoo
According to one school of thought, a tiger in a zoo is free and a tiger in the wilds of a jungle is actually captive.
The reasoning is that a tiger in a zoo has freedom from fear. The zoo provides food, water, shelter, an outdoor area, medical care and security. There is seldom anything that could be considered real danger.
The zoo tiger is given exactly the kind and amount of food needed for a sound diet. The water it
is given is clean. The inside shelter which is provided has what is needed for private time and sleeping, if the tiger doesn't mind the usual cameras for the keepers and those viewers on the internet to watch. The outdoor area given to the tiger is usually equipped with toys or other items for exercise, play and resting, again with cameras. Sometimes the outdoor area mimics a natural habitat.
The health of the tiger is watched over with frequent checkups, medical treatment including surgery or medication and whatever vaccinations the governing body of the zoo believes is necessary.
Most important of all, there is complete security. Often the tiger lives not alone but in a “gated community” with bars to keep out unwanted intruders. And there are often security cameras everywhere.
The proof of the superiority of zoo life is that a zoo tiger can live up to 26 years. A tiger in the wild lives a maximum of about 15 years.
So, as far as “quantity of life” is concerned, the zoo tiger has it all. But what about the “quality of life” in the zoo?
Does the tiger who lives in the comfort of a totally secure place where everything needed is provided have a life which is interesting, stimulating and fulfilling? Take the food, for instance.
According to an internet source, the zoo tige

Mammals can 'choose' sex of offspring, Stanford-led study finds
A new study led by a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine shows that mammalian species can "choose" the sex of their offspring in order to beat the odds and produce extra grandchildren.
In analyzing 90 years of breeding records from the San Diego Zoo, the researchers were able to prove for the first time what has been a fundamental theory of evolutionary biology: that mammals rely on some unknown physiologic mechanism to manipulate the sex ratios of their offspring as part of a highly adaptive evolutionary strategy.
"This is one of the holy grails of modern evolutionary biology — finding the data which definitively show that when females choose the sex of their offspring, they are doing so strategically to produce more grandchildren," said Joseph Garner, PhD, associate professor of comparative medicine and senior author of the study, to be published July 10 in PLOS ONE. The results applied across 198 different species.
The scientists assembled three-generation pedigrees of more than 2,300 animals and found that grandmothers and grandfathers were able to strategically choose to give birth to sons, if those sons would be high-quality and in turn reward them with more grandchildren. The process is believed to be largely controlled by the females, Garner said.
"You can think of this as being girl power at work in the animal kingdom," he said. "We like to think of reproduction as being all about the males competing for females, with females dutifully picking the winner. But in reality females have much more invested than males, and they are making highly strategic decisions about their reproduction based on the environment, their condition and the quality of their mate. Amazingly, the female is somehow picking the sperm that will produce the sex that will serve her interests the most: The sperm are really just pawns in a game that plays out over generations."
The study builds on a classic theory first proposed in a 1973 paper by scientists Robert Trivers and Dan Willard, founders of the field of evolutionary sociobiology. They challenged the conventional wisdom that sex determination in mammals is random, with parents investing equally in their offspring to generate a 50-50 sex ratio in the population. Instead, they hypothesized that mammals are selfish creatures, manipulating the sex of their offspring in order to maximize their own reproductive success. Thus, parents in good condition, based on health, size, dominance or other traits, would invest more in producing sons, whose inherited strength and bulk could help them better compete in the mating market and give them greater opportunities to produce more offspring. Conversely, mothers in poor condition would likely play it safe, producing more daughters, whose productivity is physiologically limited. Other hypotheses make similar predictions — that females who choose mates with particularly "good genes" (e.g. for attractiveness) should produce so called "sexy sons" as a result, Garner said.
The hypothesis was reinforced in 1984 in a seminal Nature paper by T.H. Clutton-Brock at the University of Cambridge, who found that among wild red deer, dominant mothers produced significantly more sons than deer who held a subordinate position within the herd.
"This paper was a huge leap forward, providing the first suggestion that the idea might work in mammals," Garner said. "But because it relied on data from only two generations, it couldn't show whether females that produced more sons also gained more grandchildren from those sons." In fact, this key prediction of the hypothesis has remained untested, because complete three-generation pedigrees are so hard to obtain in the wild, Garner said. Yet Garner and his colleagues were able to advance the research by reconstructing three-
generation pedigrees of multiple species. They turned to the San Diego Zoo, enlisting the help of animal-care supervisor Greg Vicino in combing through d

Pangolin Release attempt no. 2
In preparation for the next two pangolin releases veterinary staff from Animals Asia Foundation came down to the CPCP centre at Cuc Phuong National Park to attach the transmitter to the next female pangolin (P34) to be released.
As well as attaching the transmitter the pangolin had a final health check. This was a very basic check of general condition as a more comprehensive health check had previously been done last year. In these health checks all pangolins had blood and faecal samples taken to check for parasites. This was not only for the health of the released individuals but to ensure that their release would not have a negative impact on a

Rare Primate Species Needs Habitat Help to Survive
The population of the critically endangered large primate known as the drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) has been largely reduced to a few critical habitat areas in Cameroon, according to a recently published study by researchers with the San Diego Zoo's Institute for Conservation Research. The study highlights the challenges faced by this species as its living area becomes ever more fragmented by human disturbance. In addition, the report directs conservation efforts towards key areas where the populations continue to s

Passenger pigeons may come back from the dead
It is often said that the passenger pigeon, once among the most abundant birds in North America, traveled in flocks so enormous that they darkened the skies for hours as they passed. The idea that the bird, which numbered in the billions, might disappear seemed as absurd as losing the cockroach. And yet hunting and habitat destruction pushed the animal to extinction. Martha, the last known passenger pigeon, died in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo.
Plans are afoot to bring back the bird by using a weird-science process called de-extinction. The work is being spearheaded by Ben Novak, a young biologist who is backed by some big names, including Harvard geneticist George Church. The idea was recently promoted at a TEDx meeting in Washington, D.C., and is being funded by Revive and Restore, a group dedicated to the de-extinction of recently lost species. (Other candidates include the woolly mammoth and the dodo.)
Novak’s idea takes a page from Jurassic Park, in which dinosaur DNA was filled in with corresponding fragments from living amphibians, birds and reptiles. Working with Church’s lab and Beth Shapiro, an evolutionary biologist at the University of California at Santa Cruz, Novak plans to use passenger pigeon DNA taken from museum specimens and fill in the blanks with fragments from the band-tailed pigeon. This reconstituted genome would be inserted into a band-tailed pigeon stem cell, which would transform into a germ cell, the precursor of egg and sperm.
The scientists would inject these germ cells into developing band-tailed pigeons. As those birds mate, their eventual offspring would express the passenger pigeon genes, coming as close to being passenger pigeons as the available genetic material allows.
The process is not the same as cloning. Novak’s approach would use a mishmash of genes recovered from different passenger pigeons, resulting in birds as unique as any from the original flocks. Most pigeons mature and reproduce quickly enough that the de-extinction process could be completed in less than a year. Producing a flock large enough to release into the wild would take at least another

Panel set up to conserve the endangered bustard
The Nashik forest department range has set up a Bustard Conservation Committee and has forwarded a proposal of the plan to the state government, based on the Centre's guidelines for preparation of a state action plan for the Great Indian Bustards' (GIB) recovery programme.
The Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps) is a large bird that was once abundant on dry plains, over large expanses of grassland and scrub. Weighing upto 15kg, the Bustard is among the heaviest of the flying birds in India. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) recognised the bird as being critically endangered, with a 2011 estimate putting the total number of mature individuals at 250.
As per the Centre's directions, each forest range in the states where the bustard is spotted will have a committee chaired by the chief conservator of forests (CCF). The committee is to comprise of representatives of a scientific institution working on bustard ecology and conservation or in a related field/an ecologist or conservation biologist in the vicinity of the project area, a representative from a local NGO well-versed with the socio-ecological issues in the vicinity of the project, representative(s) from the local Panchayat(s), member, officer in-charge of the project and member secretary. The chairman can also add additional members.
The Nashik range committee has members from the Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS), veterinarian and wildlife experts, members of the NGO Nature Conservation Society of Nashik (NCSN), a retired range forest officer, a bir

Mysterious new virus found in sick dolphin
In October 2010, the body of a young short-beaked common dolphin was found stranded on a beach in San Diego, Calif. The sickly female had lesions in its airway, and a necropsy showed that it died of so-called tracheal bronchitis, likely due to an infection.
Now, further investigation has revealed the dolphin's malaise was caused by a virus that scientists had never seen before, according to a new study. The pathogen, which researchers propose should be named Dolphin polyomavirus 1, or DPyV-1, is still quite mysterious. Scientists say they don't know where it came from, how common it might be, or what threat it poses to

PG Tips chimp Louie dies aged 37 at Twycross Zoo
Louis the chimpanzee, who starred as 007 in one of the most famous TV ads, passed away aged 37
One of the original PG Tips advert chimps has died, his keepers revealed today.
Louis the chimpanzee, who starred as 007 in one of the most famous TV ads, passed away on Monday aged 37.
The animal introduced himself to millions of television viewers with the immortal line: “The name’s Bond, Brooke Bond”.
Louis - part of the so-called Tipps Family of chimps - spent his entire life at Twycross Zoo in Leicestershire.
In a statement, the zoo said: “His loss will be felt among keepers and staff, both past and present.
“Although gone, Louis will never be forgotten. He will always be a member of our Twycross Zoo family.”
The chimps first appeared on screen in 1956, using the voices of stars including Peter Sellers and Bob Monkhouse.
They also parodied Tour de France cyclists, removal

Turtle Back Zoo Sets the Record Straight on PETA Allegations
Brint Spencer, Acting Director of Turtle Back Zoo in West Orange, wants to set the record straight.  Turtle Back Zoo has been part of the American Zoo Association since 2006, and is not a ‘roadside zoo’ as characterized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
PETA implicated Turtle Back Zoo in a lawsuit they filed against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and in a press release dated June 27, 2013, stated that “birds at Turtle Back Zoo covered by the Animal Welfare Act since 2002 have been neglected and found suffering from injuries and illness, filthy enclosures, and contaminated water, among other violations. In the case of the Turtle Back Zoo.  PETA investigated and, on July 1, 2010, wrote to the USDA regarding the more than 500 budgerigars (parakeets) who had died in the span of approximately two years from starvation or parasites and a penguin who died after being featherless for two years, among other incidents."
The USDA's July 20 and 21, 2010, responses to each bird-related allegation mentioned in PETA's complaint stated, "Not under our jurisdiction. (Non Regulated Species)."
The charges reflect an ongoing battle between the USDA and PETA, who have been demanding that the
USDA inspect bird/poultry facilities on a yearly basis as they do with mammals. Turtle Back Zoo receives a surprise inspection each year from the USDA for its mammals, but not its birds.
However, Spencer noted that Turtle Back Zoo has the coveted Association of Zoos accreditation, and that “we adhere to the same standards as the San Diego Zoo."
Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo was irate in his response to the implications, stating “While we respect PETA’s mission to protect animals, we are outraged that they would characterize Turtle Back Z

Antarctic krill face unhappy Hollywood ending if fossil fuel emissions keep rising
Australian study finds keystone Antarctic krill species struggle to hatch in more acidic oceans
I've no idea if anyone has ever done a study to find out if people care more about a particular creature once it's featured in one of those Hollywood computer animated movies.
But let's presume that people do and that the fan base for penguins (Happy Feet), clownfish (Finding Nemo) and ants (Ants) is now considerably larger than it once was.
This would mean that we're all bothered about that cutest of all the cuddly crustaceans, the krill, since actors Matt Damon and Brad Pitt loaned their voices to two of them for the film Happy Feet Two a couple of years ago, So with sarcasm switch turned on, we are all now obviously right across new research, just published in the journal Nature Climate Change called Risk maps for Antarctic krill under projected Southern Ocean acidification, warning that as oceans become more acidic due to the burning of fossil fuels, krill numbe

Wolf Bit Off Nine-Year-Old Boy’s Finger In The Belgrade ZOO
A nine-year-old boy was injured today in the Belgrade ZOO when a wolf bit off his finger. The accident happened in the afternoon, and the boy was transported to the hospital where doctors are trying to repair the injury, reported Serbian daily Kurir.
As Kurir learned, the boy came to the ZOO with his parents. At one moment he was left alone and then he pushed his hand through t

French elephants spared death head to new royal home
Two elephants saved from euthanasia after an outcry in France left a zoo in Lyon on Thursday for their new home at a ranch belonging to Monaco's royal family.
Princess Stephanie of Monaco looked on as Baby and Nepal, who had been ordered killed over suspected tuberculosis, were loaded into containers and lifted onto a truck for the eight-hour journey to the principality.
The princess has agreed to host the two elephants, aged 42 and 43, at the royal family's Roc Agel ranch in the Alpes-Maritimes region in the southeastern corner of France.
"Everything went really well," zoo director Xavier Vaillant told AFP after the elephants' departure.
"They will live in a place where there will be no risk to the public," he said, adding that the animals will soon be retested. The elephants were to be put down in December, when municipal officials in Lyon decided they had almost certainly been infected with TB and warned they could be a threat to the health of other animals and visitors to the Tete d'Or zoo in the city. Authorities later lifted the threat of execution after an outcry that saw film-star-turned-animal-rights campaigner Brigitte Bardot threaten to

Dolphin Makes Early Break for Freedom From Korean Rehab Facility
After four years behind bars, Sampal escaped her sea pen in Korea and found her family in the open ocean.
This is the story of a dolphin named Sampal.
Sampal is a creature that spent the first decade of her life in the waters around Jeju Island, off the coast of South Korea. Sadly, abuse and exploitation have featured heavily in her life.
But her story also has a happy development, one that should give us pause when considering how we treat these beings of the sea.
When Sampal was about ten years old, she was accidentally captured in one of the numerous fishing nets in the waters around the island. Rather than being released, she was illegally sold to the Pacific Land Aquarium, where she spent roughly three years confined to a tiny subterranean pool.
Kept hungry, she was forced to perform daily by doing tricks that would be rewarded with food, as is routine

Six UK-Born Javan Langurs Moved to Batu
Six Javan Langurs monkeys born in captivity in British zoos have been moved to a rehabilitation center in Batu, East Java, to prepare them for their release into the wild, an official at the center said on Thursday. “In February, these Langurs were sent from England to Patuha for quarantine,” said Iwan Kurniawan, the project manager for the Javan Langur Center. “After they adapted to the Indonesian climate in Bandung, they were sent by train to Batu on Wednesday.”
The monkeys, from the Trachypithecus auratus species, were born at the Port Lympne Zoo and Howletts Zoo, both in southeast England, to parents that were part of an animal-exchange program with Jakarta’s Ragunan Zoo.
Patuha, in West Java, is home to the Java Primate Rehabilitation Center, while the Java Langur Center is in Batu.
Tango, Diamond, Tequila, Dwel, Linseed and Adzuki, all around five years old, were put in three of the four large cages at the center, mixed with other Javan Langurs.
Iwan said that the newcomers were able to quickly blend with the six other monkeys at the center. He said that to adjust to the langur community str

Thai expert’s findings on Mali ‘inaccurate’
A veterinarian for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) has disputed the findings of an elephant expert from Thailand who said that Mali, the 38-year-old elephant in Manila Zoo, looked healthy and well-cared for.
“Properly cared for elephants of the same age as Mali do not have cracked foot pads and nails or overgrown cuticles,” Peta Asia’s veterinary affairs consultant Dr. Manilal Valliyate said in his July 5 letter addressed to the director of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB). Valliyate noted that Mali’s “favoring” behavior—repeatedly shifting her weight from one leg to the other and leaning on the walls of her enclosure—indicated a problem and constant pain in the limbs and joints.
The animal rights group has been calling for Mali’s transfer to an elephant sanctuary in Thailand.
Valliyate claimed that Peta had received calls from veterinarians worldwide who were outraged by the “inaccurate, ambiguous and superficial statements that Dr. Nikorn Thongtip made to the media.”
“Dr. Thongtip confuses Mali’s mental suffering—stemming from her loneliness and boredom—with stress. To suggest performing a hormone or hydrocortisone test shows a lack of understanding regarding what the problem is,” Valliyate said.
“Numerous scientific studies have r

Welcome to the pleasure dome: China opens the world's largest building
WHEN does a building become a town? As the world’s biggest freestanding edifice opens to the public in China this has become a serious question.
The New Century Global Centre in Chengdu in Sichuan Province is a building in the sense that it is a space enclosed within four walls and a roof. But inside that space are other ­full-size structures including a replica Medi­terranean village and a holiday resort complete with beach and pirate ships.
We know about Chinese .......The many visitors will be watching the shows and shopping in the 400,000sqm of high-end boutiques and dining on “the rarest oceanic fish species” in the restaurants.......inspired by “sailing seagulls and undulating waves”. In the lobby artificial sea breezes waft through the 18-storey atrium and an entire wall is taken up with an aquarium which houses ocean fish and coral reefs.

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
While we sit at our computers reading emails, the plants, animals and insects outside are keeping busy. The horror is: we barely know what they are doing! Good for us biologists are on the case.  July’s links at (NEWS/Botanical News) open up more natural secrets:
·        Rafflesias – the giant stink parasite flowers of the Pacific – so well known to all zoo and aquarium educators, but do we really know them at all? Head out into the Philippine jungle with a botanist who wants to know them better.

·        Just what are the ants up to? When they visit flowers for nectar they bring sugar-transforming yeasts that re-design the nectar. What’s their game?

·        Many plants reward ants for protection from other herbivores. But why doesn’t anyone else steal the rewards and so sabotage this transaction?

·        Yes, yes, orchids mimic other flowers, promising rewards for pollinators that never materialize. But the deception is more complicated than mere visual resemblance.

·        When birds eat a fruit and transport the seed, is the taxi ride all that the plant got out of it? Oh no, that’s not even the most valuable service the bird provides.

My video tour of the Bronx Zoo’s “Congo Gorilla Forest” for the Martha Stewart Show (1999) is again available on-line. See what this amazing exhibit looked like when it was fresh and new (to view, turn off any ad blocking applications)

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.


Creative Commons


I am writing to ask for your participation in a North American Orangutan SSP and BIAZA endorsed project to compile and catalogue existing dental emergence (both deciduous and permanent as well as natural exfoliation of deciduous teeth) from captive orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus, Pongo abelii) Pongo pygmaeus x abelii hybrid data will also be collected, as it may be informative especially if there appears to be differences between the species.

This project builds synergy between zoos, field conservation partners and rehabilitation facilities to work together for conservation of Asia’s only great ape, whereby zoo orangutans contribute data that are very difficult to obtain from wild individuals to benefit all orangutans.


All orangutans, especially those with a known date of birth (born in captivity) are a valuable resource for these data, and each data point will add to the reliability of this study.
Though we are, of course, interested in deciduous teeth (about 6 -18 months) we are particularly interested, due to lack of data, in permanent emergence, so individuals up to at least 15 years of age are especially important. However, we are also interested to know if all adults whether wild or captive born have 3 or 4 molars.

There are three main sources for data collection; opportunistic dental examination, historical records, and dated photographs and/or x-rays of upper and lower jaws if available from medical records collected for other purposes. Dated photographs are particularly useful.
All SSP and BIAZA member zoo conservation and/or primate heads should have already received information on this project.  But we welcome participation from all collections (We do have different codes for conditions such as maternally or hand- raised etc…but at this point we are unsure if these differences are significant with respect to tooth emergence– see Why ? below –

This is another question we are seeking to answer….)

Please contact me and/or Shauna Tay,(cced)  a Malaysian BSc student helping to compile these data for her undergraduate thesis for data collection forms and questions etc.


The initial goal is to get at get 5 – 10 data points per tooth per species this year (December 2013) but the more the better!  Then we will next target specific data deficiencies ongoing. We hope to have a good update for the next OVAG meeting in Jakarta July 2014.


The specific primary objective is to provide a comprehensive updated tooth emergence chart for both species.  Veterinarians working in confiscation holding facilities in Borneo and Sumatra request this revised resource through the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group (OVAG).

The need is for more consistent and specific age assignment to better serve husbandry and rehabilitation of orphans and to help build stronger cases for enforcement of existing laws that protect these endangered species in range countries.

Additionally this will provide zoos with a useful updated resource of baseline normals for tooth emergence. Since orangutans are a slow-growing long-lived species of a semi-solitary nature many zoos hold only a few individuals so the benefit of accumulated knowledge in a simple format will be useful for husbandry and veterinary care of zoo residents.

Additional BENEFITS

This work may also inform developmental milestones to independence in wild free-living populations. While life history knowledge of these species have expanded considerably in the past 25 years understanding of growth and development in the wild still remains scant (van Noordwijk et al. 2009). Yet this information may be key to effective management of wild populations living in increasingly compressed and fragmented forest habitats..

These results will also benefit academic research by serving to test whether late emergence of dentition in orangutans indeed differentiates Asian and African apes with respect to normal growth and development.


1.     Very little published data on dental emergence in orangutans, especially of known-age individuals, exists in scientific literature (Swindler 2002). Most data that have been published come from dead wild-born specimens where precise age information was unknown (Schulz 1935, Smith 1989).

2.     What is published for orangutans either predates current advances in taxonomy (knowledge of the two species distinction) or are lumped together due to small sample size (Schulz 1935, Fooden & Izor 1983, Smith 1989, Smith et al. 1994, Swindler 2002)  

3.     Additionally orangutan dental emergence sequencing and timing is commonly assumed to closely parallel chimpanzees. However, recent published data as well as empirical observations by keepers and veterinarians indicate it appears significantly slower than chimpanzees and actually more closely parallel humans (Kelley & Schwartz 2010).

Thank you

Felicity Oram
Project Supervisor
MSc Primate Conservation
PhD candidate - Universiti Malaysia Sabah.
Programme Development Advisor
HUTAN – Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Programme

In addition to myself and Shauna Tay this project is a collaboration between Steve Unwin, Chester Zoo veterinary Officer and director of the Orangutan Veterinary Advisory Group, Tatyana Humle PhD Lecturer at University of Kent, Canterbury-Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), Isabelle Lackman PhD and Marc Ancrenaz DVM of HUTAN-KOCP

'It was a miracle that I survived':
Canadian teen suffers 'huge rips' in her body after trying to KISS a lion
Lauren Fagen was volunteering at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre in South Africa
A Canadian teen got a little too close for comfort to a lion she was helping care for in a South African rehabilitation facility when the beast tried to drag her into its cage by the legs.
Lauren Fagen, 18, was volunteering at the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre when she leaned in to kiss the beast's fur.
The Montreal girl was then pulled into the animal's cage, her legs gnawed and gashed by the lionand its mate, before she was finally dragged away by a lifesaving fellow


Durrell’s international training programme has been designed to support conservation professionals throughout their career. We run a range of courses from introductions to conservation biology theory and practice to the leadership and management of conservation programmes. Our courses sit within the following three categories:

Level 1 - Introduction to conservation theory and practice
​Ideal for anyone seeking a grounding in conservation biology and an understanding of how this relates to saving species from extinction.

Level 2 - Specialisms in conservation practice
​Designed for zoo and other conservation professionals, and undergraduate or postgraduate students seeking continuing professional development within their field of interest.

Level 3 - Conservation management and leadership
​Designed for conservation professionals who have management responsibility for other staff or for projects, who are seeking to enhance their human and financial resource management and decision-making skills.

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