Saturday, August 31, 2013

Zoo News Digest 25th - 31st August 2013 (ZooNews 873)

Zoo News Digest 25th - 31st August 2013 (ZooNews 873)

Dear Colleagues,

The poisoning of the animals in Taman Rimbo Zoo is a bit sickening. It may of course be entirely accidental or part of a two part plan. I would be inclined to see that the bodies are completely and utterly destroyed after investigations are over because dead tigers are worth more than live ones. You may recall that it was in Taman Rimbo Zoo that someone sneaked in one night, killed a tiger and made off with the skin.
Then again there are some very sick people out there who get their kicks in the oddest ways. In my personal career I can recall animals being shot by visitors, being fed drugs, given razor blades or knives to play with. I remember with disgust a Gerenuk being raped and murdered. I could go on but won't. We should watch all of our visitors all of the time.

 The Toronto Zoo Elephant saga rumbles on. In the links below there is a lengthy article which outlines all the information as we have it. I encourage you to read it. You should keep an open mind….always.

So, yet another Tiger Attack at the infamous Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi. Seemingly it took place about two months ago but has only just hit the news. One wonders how many other attacks never get reported at all. Going in with or walking with big cats is always an accident waiting to happen. It isn't necessary to have this close contact. The trouble is we are never going to stop it in places like Thailand when places in Australia and elsewhere still carry it out.

The article on Dhaka zoo took my attention when it stated "Moreover, the zoo does not have equipment to check the quantity of formalin in the food supplied to animals". What a curious thing to say. Made me wonder. No place I have ever worked has tested for formalin so I wondered why it should be necessary. How about you? Do you test for formalin?

Two Rhino bites in quick succession…unusual. It happens of course. Painful too.

I am heading off to Bristol in the UK tonight to attend the Penguin Conference. Looking forward to it.


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OPINION: Enforce laws that target animal-rights terrorists
The burglary last week at a Riverside pheasant farm by the Animal Liberation Front is a reminder that animal-rights terrorism, described a decade ago by the FBI as a top domestic terror threat, is still in our midst. From burglaries to bombs, businesses, their employees, and even family members have been targets of animal-rights terror campaigns.
The crimes in Riverside follow an attempted firebombing of a police car in Vancouver, computer hacking of a New York business, a mink-farm burglary in Idaho, vandalism at a San Diego fur store and threats from a terror group to “destroy” farms across Utah, all in 2013 alone. And unfortunately, this coincides with a misguided movement under the mask of “free speech” to roll back anti-terrorism laws.
The New York City Bar Association is encouraging the American Bar Association to push for a repeal of recent terrorism laws that help fight self-anointed vigilantes. The NYC Bar is targeting the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, passed in 2006 to stiffen the 1992 Animal Enterprise Protection Act, and wants the American Bar Association to pressure the Justice Department to cease enforcing the law.
Congress passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act following the arrests of animal activists with a New Jersey-based group called “Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty,” a group opposed to necessary research involving animals. The group used tactics ranging from death threats to computer attacks to intimidate not just its target company, Huntingdon Life Sciences, but affiliate companies, their employees, and family members. Ultimately, six of the group’s activists were convicted and sent to federal prison with sentences ranging from one to six years.
The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act was a needed upgrade that made moderate changes to the law by giving federal law enforcement authorities more power to go after terrorists. The act expanded the definition of “animal enterprise” to include intimidating or threatening people or their family members who are involved in animal enterprise, ranging from medical research and agriculture to pet stores. Importantly, the act has an explicit provision that protects the First Amendment rights of the activists.
One of the convicted felons of the animal-rights group filed a lawsuit in 2011 against the act, claiming she felt restrained and was joined by four oth

The Toronto Zoo Elephant Saga – The Whole Truth and Nothing but the Truth
Truth For Toronto Zoo Elephants – What you won’t read in mainstream media

The group Zoos Matter has fought tirelessly to stop the proposed transfer of the Toronto Zoo elephants to the PAWS sanctuary. If you do not know of the story please sit back and prepare yourself because the truth about the Toronto Zoo elephants is the most despicable act of animal exploitation at the expense of true animal welfare.

Upon arrival to his new job as CEO of the zoo John Tracogna’s first act was to phase out our African elephant exhibit. The issue cited was money, not enough to do the necessary upgrades.

Toronto had several elephant deaths prior to this decision and by May of 2011 and facilities upgrades were badly needed. Further the AZA had laid out new guidelines for its accredited facilities on the keeping of elephants. All of this meant more money. In 2009 it appeared as if the zoo board was prepared to make these changes but by 2010 and John Tracogna’s arrival this plan had changed. What remained of the zoo’s herd were three healthy and spectacular female African elephants, Iringa (44) and Toka (43) who have lived at our zoo since they were young calves and Thika (32) who was born

Land's End to John O'Groats cycle challenge

Rupert Beck and Dominic Wormell are planning to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats at the end of August to raise much needed funds in support of the Orangutan Land Trust and Earth 4 Orangutans.
We both have a strong passion for wildlife conservation, and the red ape in particular; Rupert as a former orangutan keeper at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey Zoo) and Dom as the current head of the Mammal Department at Durrell Wildlife.

This somewhat gruelling prospect will involve cycling an average of 120 
miles a day over eight or nine days and covering roughly 1000 miles 
(depending on the exact route taken) - all quite daunting considering 
our limited cycling pedigree!

Land's End to John O'Groats cycle challenge

As many are aware Sumatra’s orangutans are on the cusp of extinction (along with a myriad of other species) through the loss of their rainforest habitat in northern Sumatra.

We are raising funds through the Orangutan Land Trust for the project that is Earth 4 Orangutans. 100% of all donations goes directly to Earth 4 Orangutans.
This project in conjunction with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, will involve the construction of a dedicated Orangutan Haven and Wildlife Conservation Centre in northern Sumatra, primarily to care for the long term needs of orangutans that cannot be returned to the wild and to serve as an important wildlife conservation and education centre.

For more details and info on the orangutan haven see/copy the following link:


Event date:

29-August-2013 12:00  -
07-September-2013 12:00

Event type:

Event already started

Click HERE to donate

Student, 19, mauled by 400lb tiger in Thailand at popular tourist attraction
Enjoying the trip of a lifetime to Thailand, university student Isabelle Brennan strokes a young tiger at a popular tourist attraction – one of the few places in the world where you can pet the deadly animals while they sleep.
But just minutes after this photo was taken, another 400lb tiger leapt into the frame, knocking the 19-year-old to the ground with its paw and sinking its teeth into her thigh.
She was saved when keepers at the Tiger Temple sanctuary in West Thailand jumped between her and the animal, while her sister and travelling companion Georgie, 21, dragged her to safety.
Eight weeks on, Miss Brennan is recovering at home in Harrogate, North Yorkshire, but cannot walk unaided, while doctors said the four-inch wound will leave her scarred for life.
The University College London student wants to warn others of the dangers of approaching the orphaned tigers, which are hand-reared by Buddhist m


Op-Ed: Is SeaWorld running scared? You decide
SeaWorld executives rarely respond to criticism beyond a sentence or two. But today, the vice president of zoological operations for SeaWorld San Diego, Mike Scarpuzzi, published an entire editorial in the U-T San Diego.
SeaWorld's reticence is notoriously well known. Whenever the corporation has been criticized in the past, its response has never progressed beyond two sentences. Their rebuttals inevitably include two standard phrases, "SeaWorld educates" and, "SeaWorld cares for its animals."
So it was rather a shock when SeaWorld initially broke its silence over the documentary Blackfish, a film that is making as many waves as SeaWorld's own killer whales. Recently, a former SeaWorld pass holder was so disturbed by the film that he cut up his season pass and declared that he would never visit the park again.
In its initial rebuttal to the movie, the corporation refused to address the issue publicly. It chose to target around 50 film critics instead, with an e-mail that described the movie as, "egregious and untrue."
Now for the first time, the vice president of zoological operations for SeaWorld San Diego, Mike Scarpuzzi, has published an open editorial in the U-T San Diego. Yet again, it focused more on the educational value of the facility for the public, and less abo

Dhaka Zoo not in safe hands: Committee
Get those who know animals and their food habits to run the Dhaka Zoo is the advice given by the parliamentary committee of the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock.
Or else the Dhaka Zoo will suffer much, they said in a report.

At the moment, the zoo is being run by those who lack knowledge of food for animals, with the result that poor quality of food is being supplied to them, the committee observed.

A sub-committee was formed on Feb 17 to probe the irregularities plaguing the zoo which submitted its report to the panel on Thursday.

The zoo authorities do not maintain a chart on food fed to animals and its quantity does not meet global standards, the report said. has a copy of the report.

Moreover, the zoo does not have equipment to check the quantity of formalin in the food supplied to animals.

Formalin is extremely hazardous preservative that can damage the animals.

The report quotes Deputy Curator of the zoo Masudul Hasan as saying that the animals are given inadequate food.

Asked why, the sub-committee convenor Zafar Iqbal Siddique said the animals brought from abroad are supplied with food based on their ‘purchase time age’, meaning what was applicable when they animals were brought.

“But the animals need additional food and nutrition with age and that is being ignored,” he told

However, zoo Curator Enayet Hossain has brushed of

Injured Cheetah snips off Zoo-keeper’s finger
An animal keeper Basavaraj was attacked by a Hunting Cheetah at the city Zoo yesterday, resulting in the former losing a part of a finger of his left hand.

The Cheetah was said to have had an injury on one of its legs and three Zoo-keepers, including Basavaraj, were reportedly applying ointment on the injury in its enclosure under the watch of the supervisor K.R. Uthappa.

At that moment, the rather agitated Cheetah bit the tip of the finger of Basavaraj who was immediately rushed to Shantaveri Gopalgowda Hospital.

Meanwhile, doctors of the hospital said cross finger slap surgery had been performed on Basavaraj’s finger and is recovering.

It is also reported that the zoo-keepers had entered the Cheetah’s enclosure to tend to its injury without first sedating the animal.

Never Say No To A Panda

A FOUR-year saga came to an end yesterday when the South Lakes Wild Animal Park was given the go ahead to expand.
The zoo is set to celebrate its 18th birthday in style after plans for the park to grow by almost three times were given the green light.

Fifteen new jobs are set to be created and park owner, David Gill, has pledged to use only local contractors to carry out the £4m development.

Speaking from his ranch in Wyoming, Mr Gill said the expansion would see some ‘major new arrivals’, with the zoo becoming a ‘flagship attraction’.

He said: “I’m very happy, it’s been a long time in the planning.

“I think the first plans were originally drawn up about four years ago.

“I have an enormous feeling of relief and am so glad that common sense has prevailed.

“There will be a minimum of £4m being spent, and this will go into the local economy.

“All of our contractors are local and they will then obviously spend that money locally.”

National body the Planning Inspectorate yesterday chose to grant planning permission to extend the Dalton zoo.

In July last year, the plans were initially rejected by Barrow Borough Council’s planning committee.

The committee chose to turn down the proposals as they had concerns about the size and character of the development, and about traffic problems which they believed would occur if traffic had to access the park from the proposed new entrance, the U6097, which leads to Melton Terrace.

However, Mr Gill appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, which ruled in his favour.

Independent inspector Paul Dignan ruled the council’s concern that such a large development would have a negative impact on a rural area was outweighed by the benefits of any ‘limited harm’ that would be caused.

He said: “On the matter of noise and disturbance, I accept that there is likely to be an impact on

Orangutan Vocalisation Survey

Denver Zoo visitor bitten by rhino during zoo's rhino encounter program
 A Denver Zoo visitor was bitten by a rhino during the feeding portion of the "rhino encounter" program on Wednesday, the Denver Zoo said.

The woman was bitten on the finger by Mshindi, a black rhinoceros, around 12:30 p.m. and was transported to the hospital by ambulance.

"This is a terrible accident. We feel horrible for the woman involved," said Denver Zoo Vice President for Animal Care Brian Aucone in a news release. "Mshindi is a gentle animal. We believe this was an accident and that he was not trying to hurt anyone."

Mshindi has been removed from his exhibit and the zoo's rhino encounter program has been suspended indefinitely pending full review of its procedures.

"Mshindi has been hand fed safely thousands of times at Denver Zoo. Mshindi's primary keeper with more than 20 years experience was supervising the program. We are reviewing all the protocols related to the program thoroughly to ensure this never happens again," Aucone said.

The zoo began offering rhino experiences for purchase earlier this year, a feature that has been safely conducted at other zoos for years. The rhino encounter is h

Zoos rethink role as matchmaker for endangered species
Like an online dating site for endangered species, many zoos use computerized matchmaking to mate animals in captivity in hopes of saving some of the world's most vulnerable creatures.

The tools of the trade range from frozen panda sperm, to genetic databases to ultrasounds for hefty rhinoceroses.

But like dating everywhere, it gets expensive, complicated and doesn't always work.

After more than three decades of efforts, some experts are taking a fresh look at modern-day breeding tactics. Zoos, they say, cannot keep pace with the high costs of shipping animals from one facility to another, as the loss of wild habitat pushes more and more creatures to the brink of extinction.

A movement to improve captive breeding began in the late 1970s when scientists realized that some zoo-held baby giraffes, gazelles and deer were more likely to die if inbred.

"That really caused a sea change in zoos because they realized they had to be better at managing captive populations," recalled David Wildt, head of the Center for Species Survival at the Smithsonian National Zoo.

Today, survival plans exist for more than 500 species, including cheetahs, Asian elephants and black-footed ferrets.

The genetic data of captive specimens is fed into computers so scientists can determine the most diverse matches for each individual.

Sometimes the plans work, as for the scimitar-horned oryx, a graceful type of African antelope that was declared extinct in the wild in 2000 due to overhunting and habitat loss.

Thousands have been bred in captivity. Some have already been reintroduced in Tunisia and there are plans to release more soon, according to the Sahara Conservation Fund.

China's giant panda breeding program has also been "extraordinarily successful," said Wildt.

Beijing maintains a core population of captive pandas and rents some out to mate in zoos around the world, with the caveat that the animals must eventually return home.

"They only have one shot per year," said Pierre Comizzoli, a research scientist who works with the solitary bears at the National Zoo in Washington.

The 220-250 pound (100-114 kilogr

Wildlife Crime - Vietnam in August 2013

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The polar bear exhibit at Munich Zoo Hellabrunn was built in 1975 in a sterile style dominated by plain concrete. This exhibit was recently renovated and enlarged to include the previous musk ox exhibit with natural ground and vegetation. Now the bears have more space and various substrates to use. The exhibit also allows the animal management team to provide better care for the polar bears and the visitors to enjoy a more interesting experience in a more naturalistic setting.

Here is the German original text:

We would like to thank Beatrix Köhler from Zoo Hellabrunn and our intern Hannah Gaengler for presenting this exhibit.



In their book "Zoo Animal Welfare" Terry L Maple and Bonnie M. Perdue give an overview of the state of the art in zoo animal welfare and how to measure it. They also offer a vision of desirable developments in the field. While achievement of the five freedoms for animals can be considered the basis of animal welfare, the authors advocate for animal wellness as the new goal. Scientific research methods need to be refined for measurements of positive effects of animal management beyond physical health, reproduction and longevity. The authors suggest natural behavior, choice and dignity as important additional criteria for evaluating zoo animal welfare.

MAPLE, Terry L., PERDUE, Bonnie M. (2013) Zoo Animal Welfare. Springer, Heidelberg. 209 pages, 66 illustrations, 58 illustrations in colour.
ISBN: 978-3-642-35954-5 (Print) 978-3-642-35955-2 (PDF)


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Belfast Zoo's oldest Asian elephant, Jenny, dies
Belfast Zoo's oldest Asian elephant, Jenny, has died aged 53.

Jenny joined Belfast Zoo's elephant sanctuary, for elderly non-breeding females, in April 2009.

The elephant which was born in 1960 once lived in an Italian circus before being re-homed at the zoo before passing away on Friday.

Belfast Zoo said they were deeply saddened by the death and had temporarily closed the elephant enclosure.

Belfast Zoo vet, Michael Griffith, spent a lot of time with Jenny during her time at the zoo.

"Jenny once lived in an Italian circus and during her time there she accidentally stood on a tent pole, causing damage to one of her feet," he said.

"Since her arrival at Belfast Zoo, we have bee

Japanese scientists create sperm bank of endangered animals ‘to colonise other planets’
A Japanese university and zoo are creating a sperm bank for endangered animals that could one day be used to bring extinct species back to life and even help to colonise other planets with Earth’s rarest creatures.
To date, scientists at Kyoto University’s Graduate School of Medicine and the city’s zoo have managed to freeze dry the sperm of chimpanzees and a Sunda slow loris, both of which are listed as primates at risk, as well as giraffes.
Takehito Kaneko, an associate professor at the university, spent a decade perfecting a method of incorporating a buffer solution in the freeze-drying process to preserve the sperm at the same time as protecting the genetic information within the sample.
The scientists were able to bring the sperm back to life by thawing it gently in water.
This method preserves the sperm samples very well and technically we believe it is possible to store them for decades or even longer into the future,” he told The Daily Telegraph.
“After they have been preserved, we want to continually examine the condition of the genetic infor

Is 'Blackfish' documentary hurting SeaWorld attendance?
Attendance at SeaWorld parks across the country has dropped 6% in the first half of the year, but is the decline due to bad publicity or bad weather?

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. has endured some harsh publicity lately with the debut this summer of "Blackfish," a documentary about the treatment of orca whales in captivity.

In its latest financial report, SeaWorld Entertainment reported attendance of 10.1 million in its 11 parks in the first half of the year, down from 10.7 million in the same period in 2012.
Although overall revenues for the first six months of the year grew by 2%, the company reported a net loss of $56.2 million, or $0.66 per share.

Still, representatives for the Orlando-based company reject suggestions that the movie has played a role in reducing attendance. They also say they are not reducing admission prices in response to the drop in attendance.

For example, an offer to let children (ages 3 to 9) enter SeaWorld San Diego for free with a paying adult in October was part of a citywide promotion supported by about 100 other businesses, including the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld officials said.

"We are not slashing prices, period," Fred Jacobs, vice president of communications for SeaWorld, said in an email. "'Blackfish' has had no attendance impact."

Other discounts recently offered, the park said, are part of a typical theme park effort to increase attendance during the slower fall tourist season.

SeaWorld blames the drop in attendance this year to bad weather at SeaWorld parks in Florida and Virginia and the timing of Easter, which fell on

Indonesian Investigators Probe Apparent Zoo Poisoning Deaths
Indonesian authorities are trying to figure out who apparently poisoned a Sumatran tiger and two African lions in a zoo in southern island of Sumatra – and why.
The three animals are believed to have died of strychnine poisoning on Aug. 17 at Taman Rimbo Zoo in Jambi. The zoo is a popular tourist site.

Authorities have been talking to meat suppliers, zookeepers, a watchman and a lab expert for help in figuring out what happened to the animals. A two-year old Sumatran tiger was also poisoned but may survive.

“We’re still trying to develop the case by strengthening the lab result [indicating]that they were poisoned by strychnine,”  said Nurazman, the head of Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Agency, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name.

The agency is being aided in the investigation by Jambi police and a local government investigator.

Strychnine is very tightly controlled in Indonesia. The government uses it to kill stray dogs to reduce the incidence of rabies. Strychnine is not available to the general public.

“We can’t imagine that someone wanted to kill th


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


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