Thursday, August 8, 2013

Zoo News Digest 1st - 8th August 2013 (ZooNews 870)

Zoo News Digest 1st  -  8th August 2013 (ZooNews 870)

Dear Colleagues,

A week after the Baghdad Zoo excitedly declared that they had bred a White Tiger we have the Huachipa Zoo in Peru elated too. So sad that these places think they have done something clever whereas all they have really done is set themselves apart as Dysfunctional Zoos. They obviously haven't a clue. I note that at the Huachipa Zoo if you pay your money that you can play with the cub for an hour....doubles the damage.

The story about 'abandoned pet terrapins in Cumbrian rivers' reminds me that whilst climbing in Snowdonia I saw terrapins in high mountain lakes....and I once saw more than 100 basking round the boating lake in Rhyl on one of the rare sunny days. These little turtles seem to get everywhere.

The death of Wali in Mysore Zoo reminded me that this is where India's only Gorilla 'Polo' resides. I do hope that he does not end of his days without a companion. This is a zoo problem, a world zoo problem. There are some zoo people who need to get real and pull their fingers out and get these lonely Gorillas together.

I was extremely surprised to learn of the two young boys being strangled to death in their sleep by a python. When I first picked up on the story I did not believe it and ignored it. Then I saw the story somewhere else and again and again as the worlds press picked up on it. So I suppose it must be true....but it seems so very unlikely. I still have nagging doubts and I know I am not alone.

As it is World Lion Day in just a few days time there are a few links below about Lions. Please follow them up and refresh your memories as to the threats the king of the beasts is facing. They are likely to disappear in the wild in the lifetime of many of you.

There is more on 'Blackfish. This has really taken the worlds attention and so lots of different points of view. I advise you open your mind and read both. This article plus the comments makes for interesting reading.

Well done to Twycross Zoo for their efficient handling of what could have been an extremely difficult and dangerous situation. I have only had to deal with one Chimpanzee escape in my career. Not something to be taken lightly. Use what you have got....which is just what Twycross did. Not something to be sneered at as I have seen some do.

'Shooting Poachers in the zoo'....what do you think? Good idea or not. Would you or wouldn't you?

In the intro to the last but one Zoo News Digest ( I commented on Craig Busch new TV programme which stated:
""He also creates a haven for rare, endangered cats such as white Bengal Tigers, Barbary Lions and White Lions at a reserve near Johannesburg. Craig a". This got a lot of comment. I wondered who to contact to put the facts right. Now I know. Now you know Contact the Discovery Channel at: Michael Turner head of Legal at Discovery Communcations International

Not all of Zoo News Digest links and information appear here. Discover more with comments on the

Join me too on LinkedIn

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


Please Think About This

Take two minutes to make a small annual donation to ensure the continuation of Zoo News Digest. Click HERE or on the donate button at the top of the Blog page. Quick easy and simple to do. Donations of any size, small to large are appreciated. In return you will receive more than 400 important or interesting zoo related postings per year plus notification of vacancies and meetings and symposia.

Looking for a job?
Several new vacancies online
Check out
Got one to advertise? email me

This blog has readers from 154+ countries: Afghanistan, Algeria, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belarus, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cote D’Ivoire, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Eire, England, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Finland, France, French Guiana, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lapland, Lao, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Montenegro, Montserrat, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Northern Mariana Islands, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Reunion, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States, Uruguay, US Virgin Islands, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Wales, Yemen, Zambia.

Is your meeting/conference/symposium listed here?

If not why not? You want people to attend, don't you? Zoo News Digest is read by more zoo people than any other similar publication. I will advertise up till the event.

Please visit the
if you are looking for books for yourself or as gifts.
There is more than books there.

Follow me on


Franklin Zoo closure prompts rule changes
Wellington Zoo says new rules for keeping exotic animals will make it almost impossible to set up a wildlife facility such as Zion in Northland or Franklin Zoo.
New Zealand's four big zoos asked the Environmental Protection Authority to update its rules after they were forced to help relocate animals when Franklin Zoo near Auckland closed in 2012.
Wellington Zoo's general manager of operations Mauritz Basson said on Thursday that zoos throughout the region helped re-home more than 430 exotic animals when vet Helen Schofield was crushed to death by an elephant.
Mr Basson said it was expensive and unfair tha

Investigation after leopard's cage left open at zoo
Ceredigion County Council is investigating how a leopard nearly escaped, when a zookeeper left its cage open during feeding time.

A group of visitors watched on at Borth Animalarium, near Aberystwyth.
Owner Alan Mumbray forgot to shut an enclosure, but noticed just as Rajah the leopard was trying to get out, and used a stepladder to stop him.

Mr Mumbray has now suspended himself from duty while inquiries are carried out.

The Animalarium website says Rajah is an African leopard, who was born at Basildon zoo. He then went to a private owner, who wanted him as a pet - but he tried to kill that owner. That meant he was no longer wanted, so came to the Animalarium.

Safety experts from Ceredigion County Cou

Special Assignment - The Con in Conservation

National Rifle Association puts San Diego Zoo on its new ‘enemies list’
The San Diego Zoo is one of the organizations the National Rifle Association plans to target as part of its campaign to save lead ammunition.

The Huffington Post reported Monday that the gun lobby had created as part of its effort to block regulations on the use lead bullets. The website lists The Peregrine Fund, Ventana Wildlife Society, San Diego Zoo, California Condor Recovery Team, Raptor Education Group, Center for Biological Diversity, and Natural Resources Defense Council as non-governmental organizations it plans to “expose.”

A coalition of groups, led by the Center for Biological Diversity, urged the Environmental Protection Agency last year to ban hunters from using lead ammunition because of its effects on eagles, condors, swans and other birds. The National Park Service says that “lead poisoning is the biggest threat facing the successful recovery of the California condor.” California lawmakers are currently considering legislation, AB 711, that would prohibit the use of all l

First white tiger born in captivity in Peru revealed
The Huachipa Zoo in Lima welcomed the first white tiger born in captivity in the country. The baby is a female who already weighs more than 5 kilos , and has quickly become the star of the private zoo in ATE-Vitarte district.

She was born 41 days ago to a pair of tigers, Yunga and Clarita, who were also born in captivity in zoos in Argentina and Chile.

The new addition to the Huachipa Zoo will be on display beginning this week, when visitors can observe the young tigress in the baby station of the zoo, where she is currently being monitored and fed by a team of veterinarians.

The unnamed tiger was separated from her mother, Clarita, because the mother was not lactating properly. She will join her mother in about 6 month.

The zoo is encouraging its patrons to participate in naming the little tiger. You can submit your name recommendation by visiting the zoo this week between 9 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.

The winner and his/her family will get the chance to be photographed with the little white tiger and to play with her for an hour, according

Lake District terrapins 'bite legs off ducks'
Abandoned pet terrapins in Cumbrian rivers are posing a threat to native wildlife, with some even biting the legs off ducks, a rescue centre said.

Wetheriggs Animal Rescue and Conservation Centre said it had recovered 14 from the rivers Eden 
and Eamont in the past week.

Tony Bowes, from the centre, said the "tiny and cute" reptiles could grow to the size of a dinner plate.

Once too big for domestic tanks, they were often dumped into the wild.

'Common sense'
Mr Bowes said: "It's become a massive problem.

"They've got a nasty bite on them, they'll eat anything that moves basically. "It could be fish, it could be any sort of creature, including ducks, they'll even take the legs off ducks.

"One of the bigger ones, a snapper say, could definitely bite the finger off a toddler if it went in for a paddle."

He added that there was a limit to how many terrapins the centre could rescue and called for a "bit more

Keeper punches playful sea lion
Zoo worker 'KOs beast at weigh-in'
A SEA LION put up a fight when handlers tried to weigh it — and a zoo-keeper PUNCHED it.
The playful creature refused to co-operate as two staff attempted to lift it off the scales, resting a flipper on the machinery and ruining the calibration.

A shocked colleague claimed the senior keeper then lashed out at the mammal, forcing it to climb off.

Bosses at Bristol Zoo Gardens called in the head vet and suspended the keeper while they investigate the alleged attack. The sea lion has since gone back on show at the park, where it forms part of the main attraction for tourists.

A source told The Sun: “The keepers were weighing the sea lions. The senior keeper had taken one off the scales and put the next sea lion on — but the jun

Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast - BlackFish - Episode 9

52-year-old chimp Wali dies at Mysore Zoo
Tourists to Mysore Zoo will henceforth permanently miss the pranks played by one of their favourite animals, Chimpanzee Wali. An air of gloom enveloped Mysore Zoo as it lost one of its seniormost members and a major attraction who was popular among tourists.

“Wali was not keen on having food since the past few days and remained dull. Despite treatment, he succumbed in the early hours of Tuesday. In the wild, chimpanzees live for 35 to 40 years, but in captivity, the animal has led its maximum life and might have died due to senility. As per the post-mortem, he has died due to left ventricle hypertrophy (enlargement of heart),” Zoo Executive Director, B.P. Ravi said.

Born at Mysore Zoo to Max and Meena on December 1, 1962, Wali was one of the three seniormost members, after Elephant Padmalakshmi and Chimpanzee Ganga with whom he was close off late. Wali enthralled tourists by dancing, clapping and whistling.

“He was more like a human being, we invited professors from Mysore Medical College and JSS Medical College to examine him and during the post mortem, we found that most of his vital organs were similar to humans, except for his brain,” Ravi said.

Wali had two younger brothers, Sugreev and Kapil, named after Kapil Dev, as it was born on the day India won the World Cup in 1983. Sugreev died in 1985-86 while Kapil w

Zoonoses is Not to be Confused with Zoo Noses
The word zoonoses…. seeing that on my screen makes me wonder how many of us giggle at the idea of zoo noses. You know, like an elephant’s trunk or the orangutan’s smooshed up nose? But zoonoses doesn’t have a space in the middle and it is a really serious topic, especially for livestock farmers and ranchers. The World Health Organization gives a good definition for it:

A zoonosis is any disease or infection that is naturally transmissible from vertebrate animals to humans. Animals thus play an essential role in maintaining zoonotic infections in nature. 

Zoonoses may be bacterial, viral, or parasitic, or may involve unconventional agents. As well as being a public health problem, many of the major zoonotic diseases prevent the efficient production of food of animal origin and

Despite tough times, Saipan Zoo soldiers on
Cats may have nine lives but the three large cats the Saipan Zoo acquired from its counterpart in Guam seven years ago appears to have sustained the local zoo despite the hard economic times.
Tropical Gardens and Saipan Zoo owner Frank Aldan said like other businesses on island negatively affected by skyrocketing utility bills, high cost of gas, and increases in minimum wage, the local zoo in As Mahetog wasn’t spared and has also suffered but has fortunately remained open.
A certified plant and animal lover, Aldan said he and his two daughters just couldn’t stomach closing it, especially if they factor in the smiles and happiness the Saipan Zoo brings to children of all ages.
He said feeding the more than 60 animals at the zoo costs them $150 a day. “If you have only five or so visitors a day, it’s not enough and you have to pay out of pocket to meet the zoo’s needs,” Aldan said.
Fortunately there is hope on the horizon for Aldan and her daughters Oceana and Sunshine as 2013 appears to have the makings of a better year compared to the last couple of years. 
“We’ve been having a lot of locals visitor because it’s summer time and the parents come with their kids. Coming to the zoo is really on

Python that killed boys was house pet
Police reveal snake that strangled two Canadian brothers was kept in apartment, not pet store below
The python that strangled two young brothers in Canada had been kept in the pet store owner's apartment where the boys were sleeping and not with the other animals in the shop below, authorities have revealed.

Police are treating the deaths in Campbellton, New Brunswick, as a criminal case. Autopsies on Noah Barthe, 4, and his brother Connor Barthe, 6, were performed on Tuesday.

The brothers had been visiting the apartment of a friend whose father owned an exotic pet store on the floor below, Canadian police Sergeant Alain Tremblay said at a news conference in Campbellton. Tremblay said the African rock python, about 4.3 meters (14f) long and 45kg (100lb) in weight, had been kept inside the second-floor apartment, not inside the pet store as authorities had previously stated.

Tremblay said the snake was housed in a large glass enclosure that reached the ceiling of the apartmen. It escaped through a small hole in the ceiling connected to the ventilation system. He said the snake made its way through the ventilation system and moved towards the living room, where the boys were sleeping. The pipe collapsed and the snake fell into the room.

Steve Benteau, a spokesman for the provincial natural resources department, said no permit was issued for an African rock python and provincial authorities had not been aware it was being kept at the apartment. The department said the species was generally only permitted in accredited zoos unless there

De-Extinctions and Straw Men
In my feature on de-extinction in the April issue of National Geographic, I tried to capture the debate in the scientific community about whether we should try to bring vanished species back to Earth. It’s been gratifying to see a spirited, sustained conversation going on ever since. The prospect of de-extinction raises important issues that have to be grappled with. Is it better to spend money trying to revive a mammoth or to secure a vast swath of rain forest? Are objections to de-extinction driven by a flawed notion of what’s natural? Would it make more sense to use the emerging tools of biotechnology to prevent endangered species from disappearing, rather than attempting to bring back the extinct ones?

But I’m frustrated by a column by George Monbiot that just appeared in the Guardian, entitled, “Resurrecting woolly mammoths is exciting but it’s a fantasy.” Monbiot singles out National Geographic for scoffing, declaring, the double-page painting published by National Geographic in April, depicting tourists in safari vehicles photographing a herd of Siberian woolly mammoths roaming the Siberian steppes, is pure fantasy: the animals it shows are mumbo-jumbos.

(We Yanks use mumbo-jumbo to refer to gibberish, but after reading Monbiot’s piece, I did some dictionary-ing and discovered that the Brits use it to refer to a meaningless idol.)

It’s not Monbiot’s position that bothers me. In my article, I wrote about harsh critics of de-extinction as well as advocates. It’s the way he frames his argument at the outset: There is an obvious, fatal but widely overlooked problem with de-extinction. Wow! Both obvious and fatal. Not just obvious and fatal, but also widely overlooked! What could this problem be, a problem that conservation biologists and molecular biologists who are exploring de-extinction have somehow failed to notice, a problem that Monbiot is here–at last–to unveil?


The scarcely credible task of resurrection has to be conducted not once but hundreds of times,

How Lions go from the Petting Zoo to the Dinner Plate
It seems to be the way that human beings are wired, but as soon as something exists in all its natural magnificence, it becomes a desirable item to own. Sometimes even just a part of it will do to satisfy the customer.

In spring, colourful explosions of flowers are harvested by wanderers and merchants who wish to capture the beauty for themselves. The difference between the pickers is that one has a specific interest in making a profit out of the blooms. Dollar bills pop up with an inviting cha-ching and a market for the naturally occurring beauty is born.

The same concept is seen on an uglier, darker and a seemingly unstoppable scale in the trade of the African lion. The maned lion is celebrated worldwide and just like crystals, diamonds and exotic birds, it has become a hot commodity. The moneymakers lack heart and compassion for the creature; they are the traders who have pinpointed the demand and are holding the carrot in front of the donkey, knowing full well it will be gobbled up greedily.

The financial gain for South African lion farmers and breeders is large, making trading in the cats a lucrative business and one that has elicited the evil in some wildlife industries. It takes a specific kind of person to want to hunt and kill a lion. Whether it is a nomadic male roaming the wild or a drugged and disorientated lion in an enclosure, these people have a sick desire to want to watch it fall, especially when it is widely known that it is a species facing extinction. Others who are drawn to the cute factor of a cub or the thrill factor of a close encounter can pay money to get what they want. To have inquisitive baby lions rough and tumble on one’s lap is an experience that can now be bought, and is an activity that we are told ‘contributes to conservation’. Walking alongside these adult predators, being given permission to touch them and getting to take home the photograph is also an activity that has been labelled as ‘conservational’.

The nasty truth about the hunting, breeding, petting and walking with lions industries is that they are based on ugly lies. The bones of the cats are sought after as health and prestige products by a demanding mass market, most of whose members are unaware of the disastrous impact that their totally ineffective ‘tonics’ have on the lion species. The thousands of dollars fetched by this trade (around US$10,000 per skeleton) have lit fireworks on South African breeding farms. When hunters walk away with their trophy heads, leaving the rest of the animal to the metaphorical dogs, the farm owners greedily wrap them up and sell the carcasses for a vast profit to China, Vietnam and Laos. This insatiable market is only fed by the availabili

Opinion: Imagining a World Without Lions
A conservationist argues that it could happen in our lifetimes.
There will never be a time that we will be able to forget lions. Walk ten blocks in most of the world's cities and you'll see a dozen lion statues, small or large, icons of the most symbolic animal on Earth. (See an interactive experience on the Serengeti lion.)

Some of the more famous ones reside in front of the New York Public Library and in Trafalgar Square. On a recent walk around the four-block radius of National Geographic's Washington headquarters, I counted 26.

But will real lions survive in the wild beyond our generation? As someone who has studied the animals for 30 years, I'm not sure. (Read "The Short Happy Life of a Serengeti Lion" in National Geographic magazine.)

In the 1950s, when I was born, the best estimate of the world's lion population was 450,000. Today, studies point to 20,000 to 30,000 lions remaining. We've lost 95 percent of lions in the last 50 years.

The slaughter has a variety of causes: trophy hunting, habitat loss, communities killing lions in retaliation for cattle losses, and poaching, which fuels a bone market in the East built around bogus medicines and special-occasion wine. (Related: "Restaurant's Lion Tacos Renew Exotic Meat Debate.")

The Power of Lions Up Close

Recently, I was kneeling outside my vehicle here—a battered, doorless Land Cruiser—with my camera on the ground, filming a low-angle shot for a National Geographic Channel film about young nomadic male lions. I miscalculated.

Two very large lionesses walked much closer to me than I expected, and at three meters they rippled with power and predatory presence. Massive shoulders moved under tawny skin, ready to grab hold of a passing zebra or buffalo.

One looked at me and stopped, her eyes burning with alertness. I imagined her brain pondering: "Is this creature benign or threatening?" (Read "Living With Lions" in National Geographic magazine.)

After a long minute, the lioness paced on after the buffalo she'd been following. Despite my lingering fear, I was filled with hope and amazement.

Even with their thinning numbers, it's nonetheless something of a miracle that despite human firepower—from spears to carbofuran poison (a crop pesticide) to .375 rifles to wire snares—these murderous animals have managed to endure.

We have somehow tolerated them so far. Can we build on that tolerance to bring their numbers back and ensure their survival?

Surprising Reasons to Save Them

There are many reasons to save lions—ecological, financial, spiritual, and logical. That's beyond the basic argument that we don't have the right to exterminate them.

Ecologically, lions play a pivotal role

NOAA Fisheries denies application to import 18 beluga whales for public display
Following a number of public engagement efforts, NOAA Fisheries today announced it is denying the Georgia Aquarium’s request for a permit to import 18 beluga whales from Russia for public display in the United States. NOAA Fisheries based the decision on requirements of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA).

The MMPA allows marine mammals to be removed from the wild or imported for the purpose of public display, and provides a process for issuing permits. This is the first application for a permit to import recently caught wild marine mammals in more than 20 years.

“The Georgia Aquarium clearly worked hard to follow the required process and submit a thorough application, and we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we carefully considered this case,” said Sam Rauch, acting assistant NOAA administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “However, under the strict criteria of the law, we were unable to determine if the import of these belugas, combined with the active capture operation in Russia and other human activities, would have an adverse impact on this stock of wi

Gopher Tortoise Council’s
Donna J. Heinrich Environmental Education Grant

The GTC Environmental Education Grant was established to support educators and organizations committed to developing educational projects about the gopher tortoise and the fascinating world in which it lives.  The grant also honors Donna June Heinrich, an environmental educator, whose life was dedicated to conserving wildlife and their associated habitats.

Deadline for 2013 applications is August 31st.  Applications may be downloaded from our web site (  On the left hand side of the page click “Grants Program” and scroll down after the grants page loads.  Applications which contain the following will be given preference: 

· Projects that reach diverse and new audiences. 

· Projects that focus on the importance of the conservation of intact upland ecosystems. 

· Projects that encourage community involvement. 

· Projects that have matching funds. 

Please follow the instructions on the grants program page noting the requirements. 
For questions, please contact George L. Heinrich at


Microsoft co-founder pumps USD1m into DRC great ape conservation
The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation’s latest $6.87 million grant cycle will include USD1 million for Great Ape conservation in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, led by the Jane Goodall Institute.

The Foundation, launched by Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Paul G. Allen and Jody Allen in 1988, this week announced 49 grants in this round of funding.

More than 40% of the Foundation’s funding in this cycle will fuel scientific research projects that have international reach. Other key grants include a set of 3-year grants to researchers studying Human Accelerated Regions (HARs) at the University of Washington, Max Planck Institute and Boston Children’s Hospital.

 “The Foundation is not afraid to fund projects and groups that fall outside a traditional funder’s radar, and absorb some risk in order to jumpstart experimental programs and breakthroughs in the communities we are passionate about,” s

How to bear animal welfare in mind
Creating an appropriate captive environment for wild animals is no easy task, but we are getting better at it, writes Douglas Richardson

The individual who stimulated a modern, science-based approach to managing animals within a zoo environment was a Swiss called Heini Hediger. He coined the term “zoo biology” to encompass all aspects of the study and practice of zoos.

In his seminal text, Man and Animal in the Zoo: Zoo Biology, published in 1970, a significant chapter deals with what constitutes an appropriate captive environment for a wild animal, one that allows the occupants to display as wide a range of their behavioural repertoire as possible.

Hediger suggested that quality of space was far more important than quantity. For example, keeping a primate in an enclosure as large as a football pitch, but just as featureless, would be much less appropriate than an area an eighth of the size but with extensive opportunities to climb.

In principle he was correct, but there are other species where both a complex and also a very large area are an absolute requirement.

In 2009, I was tasked with designing a large natural polar bear enclosure, initially to house Edinburgh Zoo’s elderly female, Mercedes, but with a view to housing the species long term as part of the European Zoo Association’s managed breeding programme.

The vast majority of polar bear exhibits in zoos are multi-million pound projects that use a lot of concrete and steel. Due in part to the cost, they are often not particularly large.

The goal was to enclose an area of at least five acres of rugged Highland landscape, but as our budget was limited to a few hundred thousand pounds, we would need to address the problem from a quite different perspective.

Polar bear’s brain

The polar bear is the largest and most dangerous of the eight species of bear – an adult male polar bear can weigh almost a tonne and reach the height of four metres when standing on its hind legs.

Potentially, the polar bear’s most dangerous, and interesting, attribute is not its sheer size, strength or sharp claws and teeth – but its brain. Polar bears are incredibly intelligent, capable of solving problems, and if they had thumbs, they would be apes.

Their intelligence, and the fact that they can become quite stressed in smaller, unchallenging, traditional enclosures, has meant that the history of the species in captivity has been a chequered one.

However, the size and varied nature of the Highland Wildlife Park site made it a fairly straightforward process to identify a suitably large area that would expose polar bears to a wide range of terrains, with vegetation, places to swim and opportunities to seek shade, avoid visitors and enclosure mates when required.

The area was also of sufficient scale to allow for the introduction of a wide variety of objects, both natural and artificial, to stimulate play and the polar bear’s natural curiosity.

The problem was containing the area in a safe and affordable manner. Agricultural electric fencing technology has been used to create large secure spaces for a large number of species, including other bear species, and so I was fairly confident that a similar approach would work for polar bears.

Taking a range of ideas from a variety of sources, including a tourist camp on the edge of Hudson Bay in Canada, a combination of an inner electric fence with a tensioned deer fence behind to act as a buffer was the chosen approach.

To habituate the animals and so avoid stress or accidents, each bear was introduced carefully and in a controlled way to an electric

How Rhino Horns end up in Asian Jewellery shops
So your latest model Ferrari is parked in a prominent spot outside the top five-star hotel in the capital. You are meeting friends for a drink and since it is pleasantly warm you wear a short sleeve shirt so there is no way they can miss the golden Rolex on your left wrist – they will know it is the real thing. But what about your right arm? Maybe a rhino horn bangle worth the same as the wrist watch (about U$ 15 000) would make for a good conversation piece, not yet on the must have list of most of your friends.

The feeling when travelling through the key urban centers of Vietnam and China is that wealth is only really accepted when it can be presented in a conspicuous way. Status symbols and lifestyle products are what it is all about when competing for social status, and rhino horn jewelry and ivory have become part of this demand characteristic.

We have now visited a household which also serves as a store and workshop on three different occasions. It is about an hours drive from the Hanoi City Center. On all three occasions we saw and documented with hidden camera large amounts of raw and semi worked ivory including end product souvenir and jewelry items as well as rhino horn products. Even on our first visit, in 2011, we were offered a rhino horn prayer bead bracelet. We watched the demonstration by the owner shining a torch light through one of the beads and explaining how we could ensure it was the genuine article. Pushing open a door in the basement of the house we entered a bedroom with a wide range of cut up ivory pieces in cardboard boxes. Some of the ivory was already worked into finished bracelets.  Since we had arrived during a local holiday the workshop upstairs was closed, however we managed to film a group of Chinese tourists being brought in by their tour 
guide buying a number of chop stick sets as well as bracelets. All items were carefully measured with calipers which together with a digital scale were part of the paraphernalia used in each such sales transaction. When we asked to see some raw rhino horn an Iphone containing images of various horns was pushed into our hands.
On our second visit to the shop earlier this year the story was pretty much the same. This time there were Chinese clients buying the bottom half of a very large rhino horn. They gave their instructions on how to cut it, marking it first with pencil lines which were then followed with a band saw. They explained that these cuts would result in the highest yield of bangles. The cut out inner core would be worked into the beads which would then be shaped into prayer bracelets.
We asked where the horn came from and were told Mozambique (the chance being high that it was a Kruger rhino) via Kenya. This was not very surprising with Mozambique having lost its last rhino earlier in the year and this trade route being well established. We were also told which towns in China the shop owners could deliver to, so Chinese buyers did not have the risk of taking the illegal items across an international border. The carvers


Abidjan Zoo is turning the corner, with Local, National international sponsorship. The zoo is slowly being transformed with a new chimpanzee house just completed , through sponsorhip from GEOSEARCH a South African drilling company and new developments starting for the Leopard, Elephant and hyena.

The government has just approved a substantial financial support package and work starts in September. 

this support will allow us to transform the zoo within a year and deliver higher standards of animal welfare and husbandry, superb links to conservation, and an education facility and programme for the people of Cote d'Ivoire

for further details on supporting the zoo contact Richard Champion, Director Abidjan Zoo


A timeline of the desert tortoise’s slow and steady decline
Because the desert tortoise's Mojave range is largely on federal land, conservationists believe the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) should have better managed the animal's recovery once it was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1989. Instead, the species has steadily declined.

1976 Bureau of Land Management establishes 40-square-mile Desert Tortoise Natural Area in Kern County, Calif.

1980 Beaver Dam Slope colony of desert tortoises near St. George, Utah, listed as "threatened" with 26 square miles designated "critical habitat."

1984 BLM tortoise biologist Kristin Berry releases a report showing an up to 90 percent decline in tortoise numbers across the Mojave in the last century. Causes include military bases, housing, roads, off-road vehicles, predators, fire, invasive plants, guns and pet collection.

1989 Fish and Wildlife lists the species as "endangered" after an outbreak of upper respiratory tract disease, caused by a Mycoplasma bacterium, kills more than 600 animals at the Desert Tortoise Natural Area in Kern County.

1990 Entire Mojave population is listed as "threatened." "Incidental take" permits are granted to Clark County, Nev. developers in exchange for mitigation funding through a habitat conservation plan and creation of the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, a 222-acre Las Vegas holding facility for displaced tortoises.

1991 USFWS opposes expansion of Fort Irwin National Training Center

Lonesome zoo animals show abnormal behaviors
When it lost its partner a year ago to some illness, a male Hippopotamus in the Central Zoo in Jawalakhel refused to eat and remained dispirited for several days and was unresponsive even to its own calf. 

The zoo staff tried a few tricks to cheer up the animal, but its extreme penchant for solitude convinced them that only time could bring him back to normalcy. But the hippo continued to remain downcast and has not completely come out of the trauma yet. 

Though pampered a lot by its caretakers, a red panda, brought to the zoo five months ago, never seems to be in upbeat mood. According to Dr Bal Krishna Giri, senior veterinary doctor and the chief of animal rescue team at the zoo, the only reason why the panda is lacking in spirit is because of the absence of a company of its kind. “Though it eats well and its health has really improved since coming here, the loneliness really seems to bother him,” Giri said. “The animal feels good when it sees us around, but ultimately what it longs for is a company of the same species.” 

Very few animals out of the total 116 species in the zoo, including mammals, reptiles, birds and aquatic creatures, are single currently. 
However, the caretakers never fail to notice the lonesome ones that suffer from pangs of loneliness.

“As they live in enclosed space, zoo animals are already in stress. We try our best to keep them happy and normal, but it works better in case of animals that are pair or groups,” said Giri. 

“Single animals tend to be unhappy. Naturally, everyone needs company and some animals need it even more than others depending on their nature,” he added.

Radhakrishna Gharti, another zoo staff, reveled that single animals have been found to be more prone to disease and illness. According to him, such animals are more aggressive and do not enjoy eating. 

“Some animals come here in a pair or group and become alone at some point after others in its group die. But it is rare for a rescued animal to have a company already waiting in the zoo. So, they face loneliness from day one, like the panda.”

Chief of Natural History Museum Karan Shah adds that animals not only face psychological anxiety when they are alone bu

Register Now - Selling Out
Advancing Bear Care
2013 – Understanding Bears 

To secure a place at Advancing Bear Care 2013 we recommend that you register now as the conference is quickly selling out. Also we recommend that you book your hotel and airport transportation immediately.  Registration has been extended until August 31st or it until we are sold out.  

Join Us – Program

The packed agenda
includes an educational hike into wild bear habitat in New Jersey’s Waywayanda
State Park interpreted by state bear biologist Dr. Kelcey Burguess, husbandry
problem solving workshops, the Andean Bear Workshop hosted at the Queens Zoo, and
compelling presentations by bear experts from around the world. 

Confirmed Speakers

Dr. Heather Bacon –
Bear Veterinary Medicine

Dr. John Beecham –
Bear Rehabilitation for Release Research

Dr. Gay Bradshaw –
Bear Trauma, Psychological Rehabilitation

Dr. Kelcey Burguess –
American Black Bear/Human Living in New Jersey

Dr. Gabriella
Fredriksson – Sun Bear Educational Facility, Indonesia

Val Hare – Enrichment Bears,
Shape of Enrichment

Angelika Langen – Bear
Rehabilitation, Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter

Tracey Leaver – Bear Rehabilitation,
Woodlands Wildlife Refuge

Jason Pratte – Operant
Conditioning, Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo

Dr. Jill Robinson MBE –
Animals Asia Foundation

Charlie Russell – Wild
Brown Bear Behavior

Kartick Satyanarayan –
Rescuing the Last Dancing Bear Bears in India – Wildlife SOS

Dr. Geeta Seshamani –
Caring for Bears in India’s bear Sanctuary – Wildlife SOS

Post Conference

Enjoy a post
conference day trip to the famous Bronx Zoo. Roll up your sleeves at the
Woodlands Wildlife Refuge to help build capacity for black bear rehabilitation
and release.                                                                                                                                                                         


Grim reaper visits city zoo yet again
The City Zoo has turned a virtual graveyard of animals in the last couple of months. The death toll on Monday reached 13, with the death of a baby hippo that was  born last month.

According to the Zoo authorities, the calf was killed by its own mother.

“The death happened due to the carelessness of the mother hippo, that trampled the baby to death,” said Zoo and Museum Director B Joseph.

“Two keepers had been deputed specially to look after the calf. The calf and its mother were kept in a separate pond,” he said.

During the post-mortem examination, it was found that the ribs of the calf had broken and its kidney was damaged.

With the death of the calf, the Zoo now has six hippos. In July, it had lost a 13-day old hippo, Toto; it had died of pneumonia, the post-mortem had revealed.

In the previous month, the Zoo had also reported Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) among the leopards. Two  leopar


Smart, Social and Erratic in Captivity
Should some of the most social, intelligent and charismatic animals on the planet be kept in captivity by human beings?
That is a question asked more frequently than ever by both scientists and animal welfare advocates, sometimes about close human cousins like chimpanzees and other great apes, but also about another animal that is remarkable for its intelligence and complex social organization — the killer whale, or orca.
Killer whales, found in all the world’s oceans, were once as despised as wolves. But in the last half century these elegant black-and-white predators — a threat to seals and other prey as they cruise the oceans, but often friendly to humans in the wild — have joined the pantheon of adored wildlife, along with the familiar polar bears, elephants and lions.

With life spans that approach those of humans, orcas have strong family bonds, elaborate vocal communication and cooperative hunting strategies. And their beauty and power, combined with a willingness to work with humans, have made them legendary performers at marine parks since they 
were first captured and exhibited in the 1960s. They are no longer taken from the wild as young to be raised and trained, but are bred in captivity in the United States for public display at marine parks.

Some scientists and activists have argued for years against keeping them in artificial enclosures and training them for exhibition. They argue for more natural settings, like enclosed sea pens, as well as an end to captive breeding and to the orcas’ use in what opponents call entertainment and marine parks call education.

Now the issue has been raised with new intensity in the documentary film “Blackfish” and the book “Death at SeaWorld,” by David Kirby, just released in paperback.
The film and book both focus on the 2010 death of Dawn Brancheau, a trainer, at SeaWorld in Orlando, Fla. She was dragged underwater by a whale called Tilikum, who had been involved in two earlier deaths.

The event led to two citations for safety violations by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for an unsafe workplace, and an ongoing struggle over OSHA requirements that trainers be separated from killer whales. The most recent fine was in June, and SeaWorld is appealing both decisions.

Both the book and film argue that Tilikum’s actions were deliberate and that his behavior was a result of the psychological damage of captivity, not just at SeaWorld but also at another facility where he was first kept. SeaWorld has said the death was an accident, not a deliberate killing.

Beyond the death of Ms. Brancheau and the arguments over how SeaWorld manages its many facilities lies a fundamental disagreement about whether killer whales, and other cetaceans — the group of marine mammals that includes whales, dolphins and porpoises — should be held captive at all.
It is reminiscent in many ways of the movement to put all captive chimpanzees into sanctuaries, which recently scored two major successes when the National Institutes of Health decided to retire most of its chimpanzees and the Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing all chimps as endangered, raising new barriers to experimentation.

But the situation for killer whales is different. There are many fewer in captivity — a total of 45 worldwide, according to the organization Whale and Dolphin Conservation — and thousands of people have come to love them partly because of the very exhibitions in marine parks like SeaWorld that disturb those who oppose keeping the whales in captivity. A great deal of scientific study of marine mammals has also been done in these marine parks.
But even some scientists who have worked with captive dolphins set orcas apart because of their size, their range of movement in the wild,

The July 2013 issue of ZOO’s PRINT Magazine (Vol. 28, No. 7) is online at <> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.
If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <>

July 2013 | Vol. 28 | No. 7 | Date of Publication 25 July 2013
Feature articles
Pledge for Hedge-hogs! Research by ZOO/WILD Staff
-- Brawin Kumar and Priyanka Iyer, Pp. 1-3
The Science Express Biodiversity Special: a CEE Teaching Innovation
-- Meena Nareshwar, Pp. 4-5
Kabul Zoo Activity & New updates Report 2012- 2013
-- Aziz Gul Saqib, Pp. 6-10
They are ubiquitous and call for concerted action: Wetlands
-- Biba Jasmine, Pp. 11-13
IUCN-SSC Pangolin Specialist Group Conservation Conference, 24-27 June 2013 at Wildlife Reserves, Singapore
-- Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra, Pp. 14-16
ZOO LEX: Yorkshire Wildlife Park - Lion Country
Pp. 17-20
Technical articles
Habenaria barbata Wight ex Hook. f. - a new record for Central India
-- P.K Dash and P. Kumar, Pp. 21-22
Rescue of micro-bats in Bikaner, Rajasthan, India
-- Dau Lal Bohra and Shradha Vyas, Pp. 23-26
Education reports
World Environment Day 2013 Reports
Pp. 27-31
US Fish and Wildlife Service sponsored HECx programme participant’s report
P. 32

Bats: not just pests
At the famous Damnoen Saduak floating market in Thailand, where women ply their fresh flowers, sweets and meats from canoes, many tourists pile back into their buses clutching a ‘bat box’ keepsake – a framed box containing dead bats and insects.

‘We’re doing the locals a favour by helping them get rid of the bats,’ says one Australian. ‘Just think of all the diseases they spread – rabies, malaria, cholera, TB…’

A cursory check on eBay reveals a steady trade in bat boxes from Asia. It’s just one of many threats – ranging from habitat loss, pollution and pesticides – that are sending bat species into decline worldwide. Clearly, bats are misunderstood; clearly, bats are in trouble.

Slow reproducers, most bats give birth to one single offspring every year. This leaves them exceptionally vulnerable to extinction. Rob Mies, Executive Director of the Organization for Bat Conservation, estimates that about half of our 1,200 bat species may be lost over the next 100 years.

Bats’ sinister cultural baggage means it is often forgotten that some 500 agricultural plants, including bananas, avocados and mangos, rely on them for pollination and seed distribution.

Bat byproducts are also a major money spinner. Droppings or guano, a major source of nutrients for fish, salamanders and frogs, makes excellent fertilizer that is sold commercially and used by subsistence farmers across the developing world.

Insect-eating bats control pests and reduce the need for harmful chemicals; the bats in Khao Chong Pran cave in Thailand gobble up close to 20 tonnes of insects every night. Unbeknown to the ‘souvenir’ buyers at Damnoen Saduak, far from spreading malaria, many bats eat the mosquitoes that could otherwise infect humans.

But tourism is a double-edged sword. If h

How did Brian Morrow sell SeaWorld executives on building "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin" in Orlando? It started with some cardboard & glue
Do you remember how you used to do those projects in grade school? Where you'd sit at the kitchen table with a pair of safety scissors, a pile of cardboard, a bottle of Elmer's Glue and a shoebox? And then -- after an hour or so of cutting & gluing (and a little help from Mom) -- you'd wind up with a pretty crummy diorama of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Or a fairly lumpy relief map of South America.

Well, Brian Morrow -- the Creative Director for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment -- did something similar not all that long ago. He wanted to get the higher-ups at his company on board with the idea of building "Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin" in Orlando. But Brian felt that storyboards and/or a PowerPoint presentation just weren't going to be enough to seal the deal. Which is why Morrow decided


Escaped chimps cause Twycross Zoo closure
A Leicestershire zoo had to close when eight chimpanzees found their way into service corridors in their enclosure.

At 09:35 BST, the chimps at Twycross Zoo escaped into an area they were not meant to be, leading to safety concerns.

A police spokesperson later said "everything was now in order".
Twycross Zoo, which reopened two hours later, said the animals were encouraged back into their enclosure with ice cream and fizzy drinks.
'Cupboard fun'
A zoo spokeswoman said: "At no time were the public at risk, and no people or chimps were harmed during the incident, however it is part of our safety procedures that we close

Visitors stream to Taipei Zoo despite rabies outbreak
Taipei Zoo has not seen a drop in visitor numbers despite the outbreak of rabies across the nation, zoo officials said yesterday, adding that they have stepped up outbreak control measures to ensure visitors’ safety.
The zoo usually sees about 15,000 to 18,000 visitors during holidays, a number which has remained largely consistent even after the deadly disease was found spreading through wild animal populations last month, zoo spokesman Chao Ming-chieh (趙明杰) said.
Taiwan reported three confirmed cases of rabies infection to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) on July 17, ending its 52-year rabies-free status.
As of yesterday, Taiwan had 22 confirmed cases of rabies, comprised of 21 Formosan ferret-badgers and one Asian house shrew.
All carnivorous animals in the zoo have been vaccinated against rabies, Chao said, adding that there is no chance that the animals can come in dir

Edited by Dr Kees Rookmaaker

All about rhinoceros conservation, research, education – in all languages – on all subjects.

The total number of references in the database and collection of the RRC now stands at 17,988.
There are about 17,500 references available as PDF on the RRC website.

Please send us your contributions – articles on rhinos, pictures of rhinos.
Contact Information:

You can DONATE direct online, even 10 dollar or euro, when you have found the website useful. THANK YOU!

The RRC thanks the sponsors: International Rhino Foundation, SOS Rhino, WWF AREAS, Save the Rhino International and Rhino Carhire.


Poachers at Vandalur zoo to be shot
With endangered animals being trapped and killed, officials say they are taking no chances To deal with the increasing menace of poachers, authorities at the Arignar Anna Zoological park in Vandalur have been told to shoot anyone found trapping or killing a wild animal.

Field range officers at the zoo, which is spread over 602 hectares, have been given specific instructions by the State forest department to shoot poachers if they are spotted within the premises of the zoo or inside the Vandalur reserve forest area. The officers however, are to issue a warning to the poachers before they shoot.

The instruction comes in the wake of a series of cases of poachers trapping wild animals, especially deer, in the reserve forest area, part of which is used a free range zone for several animals.

On Monday, a five-year-old male spotted deer was critically injured in its legs and stomach after it was caught in an iron trap in the zoo’s fodder zone near the free range zone. A patrol team spotted it and took it to veterinary clinic at the zoo, where it is currently undergoing treatment.

A casual worker, who has been employed at the zoo for the past two years, has been questioned in connection with the incident.

The possession or killing of wild species, especi

When the Taliban regime fell in December of 2001, I rushed down from northern Afghanistan into Kabul with a handful of other journalists to report its demise. We hadn't expected the fighting to end so soon.

We scurried across the capital, gathering stories about the Taliban’s defeat and retreat while witnessing a return to normalcy. We saw women outside their homes. We heard music on street corners. And we listened to tales of repression, oppression, and executions. These stories filled our notepads, microphones, and videocassettes.

But the story that captured the imagination of my American audience had little to do with all of that. It was a story about an enduring lion in the Kabul Zoo.

It started like this:

Though his roar is more of a yawn these days, it was not so long ago when this lion, Marjan, used to be the king of Kabul’s urban jungle. A mujahedeen fighter who had survived combat with the Soviet Red Army was not so lucky when he jumped into the lion’s den to tease the beast. Marjan promptly ate him.

“The next day,” says zookeeper Sheraq Omar, “T



Shark Cull Announced By France Follows Second Fatal Attack Off Réunion Island This Year
Authorities on the Indian Ocean island of Réunion have announced a plan to kill 90 sharks along its coastline, in addition to 24 already killed over the past year, in response to five human deaths from shark attacks there since 2011.
George Burgess, director of shark research at Florida Natural History Museum and an expert on shark attacks, immediately denounced the killing program to and later, in an interview with TakePart, as “an archaic, knee-jerk reaction that seems more borne of vengeance than of science.”
Burgess warned that such revenge killings would do more to hurt the tourism trade on Réunion than the sharks themselves: “This likely will blow up in their faces because most visitors to Réunion have a more sophisticated conservation ethic than the authorities are apparently giving them credit for.”
At the same time, the authorities also announced a seasonal ban on surfing across much of the island, according to Surfer magazine, which broke the story. This measure has caused further outrage among surfers, many of whom had lobbied in the past for a shark culling program,
These controversial decisions came in the immediate aftermath of the latest killing. When 15-year-old Sarah Roperth decided to go snorkeling with a friend on a Monday afternoon two weeks ago, she chose a beach where she h

California condors hit a milestone -- a population of 405 -- after nearly going extinct
Good news for California condors: Their population just topped 400 -- 405 to be precise -- the most since the effort to save the species began 30 years ago as it teetered on extinction's edge.
An April 30 count found 226 of the enormous vultures flying free over California, Arizona and Baja, Mexico, and 179 living in zoos and four breeding centers, including the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, an Oregon Zoo-run operation in rural Clackamas County. 
That said, the species faces steep challenges, and the Oregon Zoo program, which has hatched 35 chicks altogether, has had a tough spring. 
Among eight eggs laid, three chicks have survived with one more due to hatch around June 9. One egg was infertile. One contained an air bubble that destroyed vesseling, so the embryo died. Two other late-stage chicks died despite efforts by zoo staff to help them hatch; the veterinarian sent tissue samples to a

Get with the beasts: a big game hunter's guide to modern Britain
Reports of a big cat going wild near Stroud only scratch the surface. Tom Peck and Joshua Carroll investigate
1. Cougar
When PC Chris Swallow, a Ministry of Defence dog handler, filmed a sleek, black, metre-long cat in Argyll, Scotland, in 2009, he was convinced it was a black panther.
But locals insisted that it was the Coulport Cougar, which is said to have been spotted several times in the area since 2005.

2. Lioness
In 2010, academic and former mountain ranger, Dr Bob Sharp, reported seeing a 5ft-long, beige-coloured creature prowling in the Kilsyth Hills in Stirlingshire. He concluded that the creature was a lioness. Experts said that this was “not impossible” as the hills are rich in prey, such as lamb and deer. There have been no further reported sightings.

3. Giant rats

In Bradford, West Yorkshire, 2½ ft-long rats have been spotted on the Ravenscliffe estate, even attracting hunters from outside the area. The Mammal Society claims they are in fact coypu - large South American ro

Op-Ed: Four deaths not enough, SeaWorld wants trainers back in the water
Not content with four deaths and numerous injuries to trainers by its killer whales, SeaWorld is rolling out a big shot lawyer in an attempt to get its trainers back into the water with captive orcas.
Four human deaths and 106 recorded attack incidents later, the majority of them occurring at SeaWorld facilities, the corporation is insistent on reintroducing trainer-killer whale interactions at its parks.
According to WKMG Local 6 news, SeaWorld in its fight against OSHA, "recently hired Washington D.C. attorney Eugene Scalia, a former Department of Labor solicitor who happens to be the son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia."
Brief legal history
Following the 2010 death of Dawn Brancheau, the fourth known human death attributed to SeaWorld's killer whales, the park was slapped by citations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA).
Discontent with the fines, SeaWorld appealed these citations and took the case to court. After reviewing all of the evidence, a federal judge sided with OSHA and ruled that trainers must be protected from orcas during showtimes by a physical barrier.
SeaWorld complied by removing its trainers from the water but continued to push the envelope by allowing them to interact with the whales on slideout areas. It was in one of these areas that Dawn Brancheau was standing when she was pulled into the water and subsequently killed by the park's prime bull orca, Tilikum.
As a result, last June, OSHA issued a "repeat violation" and a fine of $38,500 against SeaWorld Florida for ignoring the federal court order and for still exposing its employees to, "recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm."
Pushing for waterwork
Despite the smack on the wrist, SeaWorld never faltered, and has now retained Scalia, who just filed a briefing with the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington D.C., arguing that the company "brings profound public educational benefit."
To work at SeaWorld as a trainer who cares for the animals, performs medical checks on the animals and interacts with the animals, SeaWorld requires no degree. The only mandatory requirements to work as an animal trainer at its parks are SCUBA and CPR certificates, basic first aid, and the ability to pass a swim test. Everything else is taught in-house and on-the-job.
It is a scenario that implies that SeaWorld views itself as the absolute and leading authority on everything orca-related.
Take this statement for example made on SeaWorld's killer whale educational page: The question of animal intelligen

Opinion: SeaWorld vs. the Whale That Killed Its Trainer
The film Blackfish probes the case of an orca that killed its trainer. Blame is assigned to SeaWorld—rightly so, in my view.
The documentary Blackfish opened around the country on July 26, with more splash than usual for a small-budget production, thanks to a preemptive attack on the film by SeaWorld, the marine-park franchise, and the free publicity of the tempest that followed.
Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, the homicidal killer whale, and his most recent victim, Dawn Brancheau, the SeaWorld trainer he crushed, dismembered, and partially swallowed in 2010. 
The film is an indictment of SeaWorld, its safety practices, its animal husbandry, its mendacity, and its whole reason for being.
In the week before advance screenings in Los Angeles and New York, SeaWorld sent out a "Dear Film Critic" letter that castigated the documentary as "shamefully dishonest, deliberately misleading, and scientifically inaccurate." Journalists and bloggers around the world, never averse to controversy, pricked up their ears. If the film's producers ever worried about insufficient funds for advertising, they can lay that fear to rest.
In a theater a month ago, toward the end of a long series of trailers for movies my girlfriend and I resolved not to see, the Blackfish trailer began. I sat up in my seat. Within the first few frames, well before the identity of this particular "blackfish" came up on the screen, I knew which orca he would be. Tilikum is a whale whose career I have followed for 13 years. Like many familiar with his history, I had not been surprised by Dawn Brancheau's death. We all had wondered when Tilikum would kill again.
Good Twin, Evil Twin
Blackfish and its themes set me to thinking again about Orcinus orca, the killer whale, the sea's supreme predator, and our strange, ambivalent view of this animal and the narratives we impose on it.
Here's one: Tilikum had a sort of twin, Keiko, the killer whale who played "Willy" in the movies. Both were captured as two-year-old calves off Iceland, Keiko in 1979 and Tilikum in 1983; both were motherless males abused by other whales in Canadian marine parks; both were moved to facilities farther south; both, on maturing, suffered the collapse of the dorsal fin, the floppy trademark of all captive bull orcas.
One twin grew up to be the most famous whale in history, if you rule out Moby Dick and the whale that swallowed Jonah. This twin gave daily audiences to thousands of human pilgrims, played himself in his own documentary films, and was a regular on the television news. He was beloved by children all over the world, who sent him great stacks of misspelled mash notes, get-well cards, valentines, confidential personal updates, and whimsical, anatomically incorrect killer whale illustrations in crayon and poster paint.
Through intermediaries on his staff of 22 humans, this whale franchised "Free Willy" dolls, trading cards, music tapes, storybooks, and vinyl magnetic products. For sale in the gift shop of his $7.5 million Oregon facility—a palatial tank with adjoining offices, all built just for him—were Keiko toys, Keiko games, Keiko postcards, and Keiko clothing. A pilgrim, after shuffling in long lines up to the tank window for 10 or 12 minutes in the whale's presence, could buy Keiko Blend Coffee and Keiko clothing. The pilgrim's four-year-old, if she insisted, could finagle a "beautifully illustrated 100% cotton T-shirt with special ocean habitat pocket and an adorable, realistic, soft toy Keiko that lives in the pocket habitat or comes out to play!"
The other twin grew up to be the protagonist in a saltwater Othello, a tragedy in which the Moor weighs 12,000 pounds and Desdemona gets eaten.
I first encountered Tilikum, the evil twin, while doing fieldwork on the good one. I am Keiko's biographer. My 2005 book, Freeing Keiko: The Journey of a Killer Whale from Free Willy to the Wild, is an account of Keiko's life from his capture as a two-year-old through his Hollywood triumph to his semi-successful release to the wild. In the book I touch briefly on Tilikum.
Signs of Trouble
"Only once in history has a killer whale killed a human," I wrote. "That incident, in which Tillicum, a captive whale in British Columbia, pinned his trainer to the pool bottom, drowning her, is generally deemed to have been horseplay, just a misunderstanding, a simple failure of the whale to appreciate the difference between human breath-hold capacity and his own."
This was the explanation put forth by SeaWorld, which had bought Tilikum from Sealand of the Pacific after he killed that first trainer, 20-year-old Keltie Byrne. (Sealand, which immediately went out of

Preparing the way to return the native red squirrel to Cornish woods
Bringing back red squirrels to West Cornwall will succeed only when all the grey squirrels are cleared from the area. Project Co-ordinator Natasha Collings reports on progress.
The project to reintroduce the native red squirrel, founded in 2009, is using the naturally isolated geography of Cornwall to maximise the chances of this most enchanting mammal becoming successfully re-established.
But all this remains a future hope while grey squirrels remain established in the county. The first American grey squirrel was introduced to the UK in 1876 at Henbury Park in Cheshire, setting a trend among Victorian land owners which ensured that numerous releases of grey squirrels took place over the next sixty years.
Sadly legislation was slow to catch up, and only in 1937 was the importation and release of grey squirrels banned. By then the grey squirrel was well established in the UK, and in a frighteningly short space of time populations of native red squirrel dwindled. To start with the reason for the rapid loss of red squirrels was not understood, and many people thought it was just down to competition between the two species for food and

The Biggest Thing Out Of Thailand: An Elephant Orchestra

Bulgarian Bear Could Go Blind After Blue Paint Zoo Attack
A bulgarian bear could go blind after he was covered in blue paint by an unknown visitor to the zoo. The incident occurred at Varna Zoo, which is located near the coast of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Staff at the Zoo were alerted to the abuse by a group of children who were visiting Svoboda at the bear enclosure.
Zoo officials still don’t know who was behind the attack, or what their motive was, but fears are now growing that Svoboda might lose his eye. Vets are concerned that the liquid has damaged the eyesight in his left eye, as half of the brown bear’s face was coated in the paint. Vets looked to shave away the paint-encrusted fur that was around his eye, before they then examined the animal. Even though they have now shaved the bear, there are still clearly remnants of paint on his face, and the creature clearly looks weary after his ordeal. The bear now also has a large patch of bare skin on his face, where his fur was removed. However, the team behind the removal of the paint have stated that they’re hopeful that his eye has been cleaned out in time, and that there is no chance of any permanent damage to his e

Costa Rica announces plans to close its zoos, release animals from captivity
What the tropical nation of Costa Rica lacks in size, it more than makes up for in a wealth of biodiversity. Despite occupying just 0.03% of the planet’s surface, the county's lush forests are home to an incredible 500 thousand unique organisms -- representing over 4% of all the known species on Earth. For the hundreds of animals held captive in the country's zoos, however, that hotbed of life had been replaced by the cold bars of a cage.

But now, in a remarkable push to restore natural order for all its animal inhabitants, the Costa Rican government has announced plans to close its zoos, freeing creatures from their long captivity.

“We are getting rid of the cages and reinforcing the idea of interacting with biodiversity in botanical parks in a natural way,” said Environment Minister René Castro. “We don't want animals in captivity or enclosed in any way unless it is to rescue or save them.”

The closures will take effect in March 2014, when the government's contract with the organization that operates its two zoos is set to expire -- a move that Castro says reflects "a change of environmental conscience among Costa Ricans." The facilities which now house captive

Captive Breeding Program May Help Save Endangered Mount Graham Red Squirrels
A tiny red squirrel on the brink of extinction is keeping wildlife biologists busy.  Scientists are trying to catch some Mount Graham Red Squirrels for a breeding program, but doing that will not be easy. 
KJZZ's Steve Shadley recently caught up with the squirrel trapper to see how it's done.

To find the Mount Graham Red Squirrel you have to go to the Pinaleño Mountains outside of Safford in southeastern Arizona.

"My name is Marit Alanen and I’m a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service," Alanen said.

 I have met Alanen near the top of Mount Graham where she has been working for several months. This squirrel is on the endangered species list.  Twenty years ago there were 500 squirrels, but now only about half that number survive. 

"This is the only place its found in these mountains. They've been separated from other red squirrels for approximately 10,000 years basically since the last ice age,” said Alanen.

She said this species of red squirrel has some unique traits.  

“We did a genetic study that looked at this population compared to red squirrels on the Mogollon Rim which is in northern Arizona, and we found that they were pretty distinctly different. What we also found was that the population up here is about 90 percent related to each other which is on the order of identical twins.” said Alanen.

In other words these squirrels are inbred, and that can lead to high mortality rates. The squirrels’ habitat also is shrinking because of wildfires and beetle infestations that are killing pine trees. Alanen is ea

Australia opens ‘world’s smartest’ aquarium
A major research aquarium able to simulate ocean warming and carry out key studies on the deadly crown-of-thorns starfish devastating the Great Barrier Reef opened in Australia yesterday.
The AU$35 million (RM102.23 million) National Sea Simulator, or SeaSim, was unveiled in the northern city of Townsville by Industry Minister Kim Carr, who said it was a vital weapon in protecting the reef and Australia’s vast territorial waters.

The Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), where SeaSim is housed, has labelled it as the “world’s smartest aquarium”. It has an “awesome” array of technology on offer, according to AIMS principal research scientist

CBSG - Update

The Monthly Trumpet - Save The Elephants

Legacy Forest
A Biological Treasure and an Important Orangutan Refuge

Global Tiger Day special (Video - 22 minutes)

Snakebite Treatment in a Nasal Spray? It Could Happen
UC San Francisco medical doctor researching portable neostigmine nasal spray for snakebites.
A University of California, San Francisco medical doctor who hopes to limit the number of venomous snakebite deaths around the world has come across a way to produce an inexpensive and portable snakebite treatment that uses nasal sprays instead of the more cumbersome needles used to administer antivenom. According to NBCNews, Dr. Matt Lewin has performed a trial run on a treatment that uses neostigmine, a drug already in use to treat snakebites, but in a spray form that is portable and doesn't need refrigeration or needles to administer.
Lewin, director of the Center for Exploration and Travel Health at the California Academy of Sciences is currently in the early stages of his research, but so far things are looking positive. He has authored a paper in the journal Clinical Case Reports that describes his research using one volunteer, a 45-year-old man who was chemically paralyzed in the lab and then given Lewin's antidote. In 20 minutes, the paper said, the man's symptoms were reversed. The report said that a colleague of Lewin used the nasal spray to treat a woman in India who was bit by a krait. She had already gone through a full course of antivenom treatment, and after receiving a course of the neostigmine nasal spray, her paralysis was reversed in just 30 minutes, and within two weeks, was conducting her normal daily routine.

According to the report, Lewin came up with the idea for a portable snakebite solution as he was getting ready for a trip to the Philippines, which is home to four species of cobra (Naja sumatrana, Ophiophagus hannah, Naja samarensis, Naja philippinensis) four pit vipers (Tropidolaemus wagleri

Art for Apes

Breakthrough in efforts to conserve the Przewalski’s horse
Scientists are celebrating what they describe as a huge breakthrough in efforts to conserve the Przewalski’s horse, with the birth of the first foal born via artificial insemination.
Scientists at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) said the female foal was born on July 27.

SCBI reproductive physiologist Budhan Pukazhenthi and the Przewalski’s horse husbandry team spent seven years working closely with experts at The Wilds conservation center and Auburn University in Alabama to perfect the technique of assisted breeding for the species.

Both the filly and the first-time mother, Anne, are in good health and bonding, the scientists report.

“It seems reasonable to assume that reproduction for the Przewalski’s horse would be similar to domestic horses, but it simply isn’t the case,” Pukazhenthi explains.

“After all these years of persevering, I can honestly say I was elated to receive the call informing me that the foal had been born.

“I couldn’t wait to see her!

“This is a major accomplishment, and we hope our success will stimulate more interest in studying and conserving endangered equids around the world.”

Anne was born at the institute and is the daughter of a mare imported from Europe. Her father is the most genetically valuable stallion in the United States. His name is Agi an

Pet food firm 'sponsored bear-baiting'
Mars subsidiary Royal Canin provided prizes and branding for brutal 'competition' staged in Ukraine
The food giant Mars is under fire from animal welfare campaigners after it emerged that one of its subsidiaries has been sponsoring bear-baiting competitions. Pet food manufacturer Royal Canin said it was "horrified" to learn that it had sponsored a contest near Vinnytsia in Ukraine earlier this year.

Footage taken by Four Paws, an international animal welfare organisation, shows dogs being set on a chained brown bear over a two-hour period. As a small audience looks on, the dogs attack and bite the bear – which is unable to defend itself because its claws have been removed and it is chained to a tree.

Several men control the bear's movements using a chain, dragging it around a fight area demarcated with Royal Canin-branded plastic tape. An official awards points to the individual dogs and trophies carrying the Royal Canin logo are awarded to the owners.

Royal Canin, a French company bought by Mars a decade ago, makes food for cats and dogs. It promotes itself with the slogan "respecting the animal nature of dogs and cats". But Dr Amir Khalil, a vet and project leader at Four Paws – which has a memorandum of understanding with Ukraine's department of ecology to eradicate bear-baiting – questioned the company's animal welfare commitments.

"Royal Canin says it places animals' wellbeing at the centre of its philosophy," Khalil said. "By sponsoring appalling bear-baiting, Royal Canin is reducing wild animals like the brown bear to the rank of second-class animals."

The brown bear is protected by law in Ukraine, but the country has long faced accusations of cruelty towards bears, which are made to perform in the country's zoos and circuses. Khalil said a popular act involved getting bears drunk on beer.

Bear-baiting contests take place between four and six times a year, according to Four Paws, which says it has evidence Royal Canin sponsored more than one event. The charity estimates that there are between 15 and 20 baiting bears i

Slow Lorises: The Truth behind the Tickles
With just over 3 million views on YouTube, the chances are you may have seen the video entitled ‘Slow Loris loves getting tickled’. It’s an adorable video of a slow loris called Sonya that, as the name suggests, seems to enjoy being tickled. With its curiously human grin, it’s almost impossible not to attach happy, human emotions onto the small primate. Although this particular captive loris seems to be feeling far from threatened, it raises serious questions about conservation.
If you type ‘slow loris’ into YouTube, not a single video on the front page shows a Slow Loris in its natural habitat. Most videos show a Loris exhibiting ‘human’ traits; for instance one video of a Loris cowed into holding a cocktail umbrella above its head. However there are also one or two videos hinting at a far less glamorous side to these captive lorises – that of the illegal pet trade.

South East Asian Marine Mammal Stranding Network

A non-political, science based network dedicated to promoting the best practice of marine mammal stranding response and management through the open and free exchange of information, data, materials, methods and protocols in order to conserve marine mammals and their habitats in the South East Asian region.


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


Join Zoo News Digest Facebook Page

updated daily


Follow me on

(Click on Follow at the top of the Hubpage)


Peter Dickinson
Dubai: ++ 971 (0)50 4787 122

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address:
Peter Dickinson
Suite 201,
Westminster Chambers
7 Hunter Street
United Kingdom

"These are the best days of my life"

No comments:

Post a Comment