Saturday, August 17, 2013

Zoo News Digest 8th - 17th August 2013 (ZooNews 871)

Zoo News Digest 8th - 17th August 2013 (ZooNews 871)

Pezoporus occidentalis

Dear Colleagues,

I saw the story of a Chinese Zoo exhibiting a Tibetan Mastiff in a cage labelled 'Lion' when it first appeared.  So what? I thought. Zoos often move animals around temporarily and dogs are frequently in zoo displays outside of the UK. The story did not appear anywhere else. Not to be taken seriously. Besides there were rats in an exhibit that was labelled 'Snakes'. No-one could be so stupid. Obvious to me that the rats were either wild or were intentionally there for the snakes to eat. Mind you in the photo I saw, though unclear, the rats looked larger than the norm (and I have seen huge rats in Asia) and may be something just a bit different….not your ordinary rat.  Again a case of utilising space for an alternative species without changing the sign…I'll bet every zoo has done it at least once. 
So to me this was a non-story and not really worth reporting. It shortly became clear I was wrong because every newspaper and its cousin on planet earth have picked up on this. The public love it….Not Peta of course. They use the opportunity to make blanket statements like "Pretending to be a lion is about as good as it gets for any animal in the grim reality of everyday life in a zoo," a spokesman said, stating "deception is the norm at many zoos." 
The various newspaper headlines varied from the ordinary to the amusing but whereas I am in no way defending Luohe Zoo I think the header "World’s worst zoo" bestowed upon it by 'Metro' was not just cruel but ignorant. Come to think of it there are too many worst zoo lists compiled by people who really know nothing about zoos. If however the video clip I saw related to the Luohe Zoo in Henan was all shot in that zoo then I have a number of questions which need to be asked. Did not look good at all. Take a look at Forget About Dogs Dressed as Lions - Consider Extreme Tiger Abuse to see what I mean.

I am delighted to see the new translocation guidelines from the IUCN. As 'new' I hope that more people will read them. Sadly, there are a number of zoos out there which release 'surplus' animals without giving a second thought to the damage they may be doing. They seem to believe that what they are doing is clever. It isn't. There are a host of important things to consider first.

I would expect no less from CAPS. They like to kick zoos in the crotch when we have something go wrong and now they pour boiling water on us when we do right.

World's Oldest Penguin is 36. It appears to be a good claim. Can anyone come up with an older one I wonder?

10 Rhinoceros to Cuba….a goodly number.

In a few weeks I will be attending the International Penguin Conference. Really looking forward to it.


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

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Scientists breed endangered Panamanian golden frogs in captivity

Determined scientific efforts to preserve the tiny Panamanian golden frog from extinction due to the spread of a deadly fungus have begun to pay off with its successful reproduction in captivity.

The rescue project of the El Valle Amphibian Conservation Center, or EVACC, with the participation of both Panamanian and foreign scientists, announced this month that it has managed to breed 42 healthy Panamanian golden frogs.

Project director Heidi Ross told Efe that this is the first time since 2006, when the project began, that the golden frog could be added to the list of other amphibian species bred in capti

Namibia to send 10 rhinoceros, five elephants to Cuba zoo

Namibia will airlift 10 rhinoceros and five elephants to Cuba in September, concluding a massive translocation project of 135 animals taken from its national parks, the environment ministry said Wednesday.

The 15 animals will be captured from the Etosha National Park in northern Namibia – one of the country's major tourist attractions – plus a nearby smaller game reserve, the Waterberg Plateau, environment and tourism deputy-minister Pohamba Shifeta told AFP.

The ambitious project, dubbed Noah's Ark II, has populated Cuba's 342-hectare National Zoo outside Havana.

A total of 120 animals of 23 species – including endangered black and white rhinos, cheetahs, leopards and lions – were already transported to the Caribbean island nation in November.

Animal rights groups have protested the capture of wild animals.

But Shifeta defended the translocation as Namibia's "token of appreciation" to Cuba for its support.

Cuba gave the southern African country political and military backing during its struggle for independence from South Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Cuban people were not complaining when their government was supporting us," Shifeta told AFP.

The donation is also aimed at helping Cuba establish a "proper wildlife programme", he added.

China's People's Park claimed dogs, foxes and rats were more exotic species

A CHINESE zoo that used a large, hairy dog to impersonate a lion was rumbled when the 'big cat' started barking.

The People's Park in Luohe, Henan, also tried to pass off a fox as a leopard and used another dog to impersonate a wolf. The zoo's most creative feat was labelling a pair of rats as snakes.

The chief of the park's animal department told Chinese media its real lion had been sent to a breeding facility. Not wanting to disappoint the public, a Tibetan Mastiff belonging to a member of staff was used as a substitute.

One woman told the local newspaper Dahe Daily: "I had my young son with me so I tried to play along and told him it was a special kind of lion. But then the dog barked and he knew straight away what it was and that I'd lied to him."

A spokesperson for the zoo explained that it had put domestic animals in some of its cages because it

Saving species by translocation – new IUCN Guidelines

A new publication by IUCN has set a precedent for deliberately moving plants and animals for conservation purposes around the world. Based on 30 years of experience and pioneering reintroductions such as the Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) in Oman, the Golden Lion Tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) in Brazil and the Red Wolf (Canis rufus) in the USA, and many other plants and animals subsequently, this publication is an essential guide to the contentious but increasingly necessary action of translocating species.
Published by the Reintroduction Specialist Group (RSG) and Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG) of the IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC); ‘Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations’ explores the biological, social, and political aspects of translocating species, and provides a starting point for risk assessment and feasibility studies. It is envisaged that by incorporating these guidelines into wider conservation strategies, conservationists will be ever-more prepared to intervene and save species, should extrinsic pressures require it.
“Adoption of the new Guidelines has been swift, a few weeks ago the Spanish national government’s Wild Fauna and Flora Committee proposed a new national code for conservation translocations, based in detail on the new IUCN guidelines” says Dr Emilio Laguna, senior officer in the Wildlife Service, Valencia, Spain.
Humans have moved organisms between sites for their own purposes for millennia, and this has yielded benefits for human kind, but in some cases has led to disastrous impacts. Most invasive alien species are the result of non-conservation related movements, and in some cases invasive species have been introduced due to mistaken conservation efforts. The Canadian Beaver (Castor canadensis) for example, was mistaken for the Eurasian Beaver (Castor fiber) and released into Finland in the early 20th Century, where it now out-competes the native species, and the Cane Toad (Rhinella marina) originally introduced to Australia to control sugar cane pests, has caused wide ecological disruption across the country.
“Any conservation translocation must be justified, with development of clear objectives, identification and assessment of risks, and with measures of performance. These Guidelines are an essential tool for any proposed conservation translocation; they are based on principle rather than example, and offer a platform to make an informed decision about this increasingly common conservation intervention” says Dr Mark Stanley Price, Chair of the IUCN SSC Sub-Committee for Species Conservation Planning.
Translocation is usually considered a last resort by wildlife conservationists, but as the world’s biodiversity faces the incessant threats of habitat loss, invasive species and climate change, this type of conservation intervention will become more frequent all over the world. The Council of Europe has based its November 2012 Recommendation No. 158 (2012) of the Standing Committee of the Bern Convention on “Conservation translocations under changing climatic conditions” on the new IUCN Guidelines. Further, the Turner Endangered Species Fund of the USA and the UK’s Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have already used the Guidelines for their own planning purposes.

About the Guidelines
These Guidelines and their Annexes were developed by a Task Force of the Reintroduction and Invasive Species Specialist Groups, working between 2010 and 2012. The Chair of the Species Survival Commission, Dr Simon Stuart, appreciated that IUCN’s 1998 Guidelines for Reintroductions needed review and revision and the Chair of the Reintroduction Specialist Group, Dr Frédéric Launay, offered the resources of the Reintroduction Specialist Group to carry out this task. He, in turn, invited Dr Mark Stanley Price to assemble and manage a small Task Force for the work. It soon became evident that the Invasive Species Specialist Group contained expertise of direct relevance to the work, and its Chair, Dr Piero Genovesi, wholeheartedly brought in his Specialist Group. The Guidelines can be downloaded here:
For more information contact:
Lynne Labanne, IUCN Global Species Programme ; t +41 229990153,
Jonathan Hulson, IUCN Global Species Programme; t +41 229990154,

Conservationists’ anger at list of animals “reliant for survival on zoos”

Conservationists who have dedicated their lives to ensure a safe future for endangered species of primates and their habitat have today hit out at a report published by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). The report entitled “Top Ten Mammal Species Reliant on Zoos” names ten animals which, BIAZA claims, “may be lost to extinction forever” if it were not for the work of their member zoos.

Inmates raising fish to feed Columbus Zoo’s penguins

A partnership between a state prison and the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium that will teach inmates how to raise rainbow trout for penguin feedings started with a splash yesterday.

Inmates at the Southeastern Correctional Institution, about 35 miles southeast of Columbus, opened the prison’s new fish hatchery by tilting into the water a cascade of 5,000 fingerlings, or baby trout. This first batch will take 180 days to raise, and then the fish will be flash-frozen and delivered to the zoo.

Penguins love to eat trout. Otters and polar bears do, too, and may be added later to the zoo animals fed with prison-raised fish.

Warden Sheri Duffey came up with the idea earlier this year and contacted the zoo. Zookeepers had been buying all the penguins’ trout from an Idaho supplier and welcomed the chance to buy locally, less expensively and from a prison.

“The main focus was to help them reduce their cost and provide an education to inmates,” Duffey said.

How much the zoo will pay the prison for the fish is among the details still being worked out. This first batch of baby trout came from a supplier in Knox County.

Sgt. Dan Kinsel and inmates built the hatchery inside a large out-building on the prison grounds, using recycled concrete blocks and other construction materials salvaged from the institution.

It will operate without tax dollars. Instead, some of the money the prison earns from collecting, baling and selling all its recycled plastic, aluminum, paper and cardboard to a Columbus compan

Forget doggy paddle – apes prefer breaststroke

Different strokes for different folks? Not when it comes to the aquatic ape: the first detailed observations of swimming chimpanzees and orang-utans suggest that they, like us, tend to swim using a form of breaststroke. The findings imply that we may owe our swimming style to our evolutionary past.

Apart from humans, great apes usually avoid deep water for fear of unseen predators that might be lurking there, but anecdotal evidence shows that they will go for a dip if they feel safe enough.

Cooper the chimpanzee and Suryia the orang-utan are extreme examples of this. These two captive apes, raised respectively in Missouri and South Carolina, have thrown off any instinctive fear and taught themselves to swim in a swimming pool.

Footage taken by Renato Bender at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, shows that both of the apes instinctively opted for a version of breaststroke to keep afloat – that is, they moved their limbs out sideways from their bodies, roughly parallel to the water's surface. Suryia's limbs moved mostly alternately (see video) but Cooper often kicked with both hind limbs simultaneously, mo

Moments of horror at the zoo!

Child, 2, seriously injured in tapir mauling at Dublin Zoo

A two-year-old child is in a serious condition in hospital after a shock attack by a tapir at Dublin Zoo ripped muscles from its arm.
The incident, which occurred yesterday afternoon, is understood to have left the child unconscious, and with deep stomach and arm injuries caused by the animal’s powerful jaw.

The child’s mother was also wounded after attempting to bring a halt to the extremely rare attack from the usually docile creature, which occurred during a supervised “encounter” visit to the Brazilian tapir enclosure.

The child was last night continuing to receive treatment from surgeons at Temple Street Children’s Hospital, while the two-year-old’s mother was cared for at the Mater.

The Irish Examiner understands the incident took place after zoo keepers agreed to allow the family to view the tapirs from a closer site than most visitors — a step that is usually closely monitored by expert workers.

However, after entering the second site it is understood one of the zoo’s two adult tapirs — a female called Rio, whose weeks-old baby was also in the location — became agitated.

An attack followed, resulting in the child suffering serious injuries after being mauled by the animal.

A Dublin Zoo spokeswoman confirmed there was “an unfortunate accident involving a mother and her child in the Brazilian tapir area” during one of the facility’s “regular supervised animal visits”.

She said zoo managers have launched an investigation into exactly what happened and, as a result of the incident, are “reviewing all procedures with respect to supervised animal visits”.

“Dublin Zoo would like to underline this was very much an isolated incident. We would also like to emphasise that our immedi

Foreign zoos present endemic turtles to Vietnam

VietNamNet Bridge – On August 16, the Cuc Phuong National Park will receive 71 Vietnamese pond turtles from the zoo of the Rotterdam Zoo in the Netherlands and the Munster Zoo in Germany, said Mr. Bui Dang Phong, director of the Cuc Phuong Turtle Conservation Center.
The Vietnamese pond turtle is an endemic freshwater turtle species in Vietnam, which is included in the list of critically endangered wildlife.
Endemic to a small area in central Vietnam, it was reportedly abundant in the 1930s, but all field surveys after 1941 had failed to locate any individuals in the wild. As it was occasionally seen traded as food, it was not yet extinct in the wild however. In 2006, a wild population of Vietnamese pond turtles was found in Quang Nam Province.
Currently, the number of Vietnamese pond turtles in the wild is rapidly declining due to poaching, illegal trade and habitat loss.
Cuc Phuong National Park is located in Ninh Binh Province. It is Vietnam's first national park and is the country's largest nature reserve. The park is one of the most important sites for biodiversity in Vietnam.
The turtle conservation center was established

Edinburgh Zoo Keeper reveals what panda pregnancy would mean to t

CNN Anchor Says Zoos 'Feel Like a Stone Age Thing': They Had Zoos Then?

CNN anchor Erin Burnett ended her evening news show Upfront on Thursday night with a commentary suggesting America should close its zoos. "It feels absolutely wrong to cage" animals. "It feels like a Stone Age thing."

They had zoos in the Stone Age? Isn't it more likely they just killed and ate animals rather than put them on display? She began her commentary by relaying how a Sumatran tiger had cubs at the National Zoo in D.C., but then shifted to the zoo-cruelty line:

BURNETT: Costa Rica, known for its incredible biodiversity, is closing its zoos because cages are bad for animals.Costa Rica's minister of the environm

Court action being considered in elephant cruelty case

Police investigating allegations of cruelty to elephants at Twycross Zoo have handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider court action.
Three workers at the Leicestershire zoo were sacked and arrested after allegedly causing unnecessary suffering to two animals in September last year.

The hit documentary Blackfish has a message as dubious as its methods

A current hit on the arthouse circuit, Blackfish is the type of documentary that covers over its flaws in argumentation with the sort of trickery you'd expect to see in negative political campaigning: decontextualized video footage presented in slow motion, with a voiceover offering the most damning possible explanation of its meaning, while the soundtrack strikes gut-churning minor chords. Through interviews with former whale trainers, an OSHA expert with an ax to grind against Sea World, and copious video footage, the film attempts to make several cases at once while dishonestly withholding its ultimate message.

First, by focusing on the tragic death of expert Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau while working with the 12,000-point bull orca Tilikum in 2010, director Gabriela Cowperthwaite and her witnesses argue that Tilikum was a violent whale, a ticking time bomb who had already racked up two prior kills. (The film practically uses obscene serial-killer psychology to discuss Tilikum, mostly for cheap dramatic effect.) Second, the film argues that whales are sufficiently intelligent that keeping them prisoner for human amusement is unethical and cruel. Third, whales are wild animals, uncontrollable and dangerous.

As braided throughout the film, these three propositions are increasingly incompatible. We are supposed to understand that orcas are both sensitive and vicious, that they cannot adapt to life around humans but must be rescued due to their immense capacity for empathy. For much of the film, Blackfish's rhetoric and argumentative structure are so muddled that there are very few things we can discern from it with certainty. We can clearly tell that its makers consider the owners of Sea World aquatic parks to be irresponsible profiteers. We can clearly tell that Blackfish is against holding whales in captivity.

But it's only in the final 10 minutes that Blackfish discloses its actual agenda. What Cowperthwaite and company hold back, as their "big reveal," is that they believe sea parks should return their current stock of whales to the oceans, either in cordoned-off "sea pens" or in a wholesale effort to reintroduce whales, wild-caught or otherwise, to their pods. At least this is what we could glean from two careful viewings, since even this take-away message remains quite muddled and inarticulate.

There are difficult issues at stake, some practical and some philosophical. For one thing, it has proven almost impossible to return orcas to the ocean after years of captivity. Keiko, the star of Free Willy, was the subject of a massive rehabilitation effo

Hundreds of people streak through London Zoo completely naked for t

Zoo Photos Capture Caged Animals’ Melancholy

Photographer Gaston Lacombe doesn’t hate zoos. He just thinks some of them need improving.

For the past four years, he’s been trying to make that point with a series of photos called Captive. All of the photos are shot from regular, public viewing areas and are meant to highlight the poor or unnatural conditions some animals live in when they’re removed from their normal habitat.

“Even in the very best of zoos you still find animals placed in horrible cement enclosures or little glass boxes,” says Lacombe, who was born in Canada but now lives in Washington D.C.

Captive shows zoos from nine different countries on five different continents. Lacombe’s images have a melancholy feel to them — not overly dramatic, just real. They’re an anthropological study of humans encaging animals to be viewed safely and leisurely.

People love zoos. And the people running them say it’s unfair to judge them just by what’s visible. Steve Feldman, spokesperson for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, says he knows some of the enclosures at zoos might not look natural, but that there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes at AZA zoos to ensure that all animals’ physical, social and psychological needs are met and that AZA zoos and aquariums “don’t engage in practices that are bad for the animals.”
All 212 zoos accredited by the AZA in the U.S. encour

The Zoo is Alive (In Japanese but interesting behind the scenes)
AND then

Sad Animals in Zoos
“Aw, that polar looks so sad. He doesn’t like this cage”. “Poor monkey, so bored with nothing to do”.
 Have you ever made a comment like this? Have you ever heard someone say this at a public zoo or petstore? The answer is likely to be yes. Despite unfamiliarity with the species in question, or even that animal as an individual, this is a common occurrence and a blatant example of the conflict with anthropomorphism.

DNA confirms elusive Night Parrot found

Work at the Western Australian Museum’s recently acquired DNA laboratory has proved conclusively the Night Parrot – often referred to as the Holy Grail of ornithology – is not extinct.

Queensland bird enthusiast John Young, who has been searching for the Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) for nearly 15 years, sent five feathers from a roost site he found within the Lake Eyre Basin to the Museum’s Molecular Systematics Unit for testing, convinced the birds he had been watching were indeed the elusive parrot.

The feathers were found to be 100 per cent identical to Pezoporus occidentalis, listed as extinct in New South Wales, regionally extinct in Victoria, critically endangered in Western Australia and the Northern Territory, and endangered in Queensland and South Australia.

WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said this was an incredibly significant discovery and one the Museum was very excited to be part of.

“The Night Parrot is a bird many people believed to be extinct up until 1990, and the WA Museum is very pleased to have been asked

Look into the eyes of a caged tiger and you will see the zombie victim of 'zoochosis':

A passionate plea by conservationist who breeds big cats to return them to wild It is more than 180 years since the first zoos opened in Britain. To put that in perspective, the electric telegraph hadn’t been invented, never mind the telephone, and passenger railways had only just come  into existence.
People rarely travelled far, hardly ever abroad, so imagine their delight when they visited menageries filled with chimpanzees, oryx and orangutans.
I can also understand why so many of you today want to take your children to see an elephant or giraffe or gorilla close up.
But I think the time has come to re-evaluate the role of zoos. I know it’s not practical to close all zoos today. Nor am I suggesting that all zoos can be closed tomorrow. But I am proposing that we phase them out over the next 20 to 30 years.
If you are going to the zoo today, I urge you to look closely. In the wild, these creatures roam hundreds of miles. They hunt their prey, raise their offspring and enjoy complex social relationships. So think how it must feel to be

After a Whale Trainer Is Injured, Man Who Videotaped It Stands by Marineland

A trainer at the park was injured during a whale show this week, prompting another backlash against the park from animal activists.
Last month, TakePart reported on a Tampa father, Carlo De Leonibus, who brought his family to SeaWorld Orlando, only to witness and videotape a juvenile pilot whale stuck in the concrete slide-out, struggling to free itself.

The video went global and overnight De Leonibus became and anti-captivity activist. His young daughter Cat no longer wants to be a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld—she now wants to be a marine biolgist.

And just yesterday, TakePart reported on another young father, this time from Ontario, Canada, named Tom Blake, who brought his own family, including two children ages two and five, to see the shows at Marineland, near Niagara Falls.

During a segment in which two trainers performed in the water with two belugas, the beguiling white whales known for their docility, the young female trainer was injured and hauled up on the slide-out area by her colleague, writhing in pain.

It would appear that the whale may have bitten down on her knee, though Marineland has not responded to requests f

Tapir attacks past, present, but hopefully not future

Last Thursday (August 8th, 2013) a Brazilian or Lowland tapir Tapirus terrestris at Dublin Zoo (Ireland) seriously attacked and injured a two-year-old girl that, believe it or don’t, was taken into the tapir’s enclosure. The child’s mother was injured as she tried to rescue (or, rescued) the little girl. The girl reportedly received “deep abdomen and arm injuries” that involved arterial damage and de-gloving of hand and arm skin (yes, this is exactly what it sounds like).

Reparative surgery has occurred in hospital. It may not surprise you to know that the tapir was a mother with a young calf (you may have seen this case being much discussed on facebook and twitter: I tweet @TetZoo). The story broke about two days ago and features worldwide in online and printed media to


Sabah in no rush to send rhinos overseas for breeding

Sabah is in no rush to send its rhinos to zoos abroad for breeding amid fears that the animal faces extinction in Borneo, said state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun.

He said it would be the state’s last resort to send rhinos overseas for breeding.

“We are looking at all available options and the most important thing is to ensure that these animals will not become extinct,” he said.

“However, to send them overseas will be our last resort,” he said at the Sabah Muslim Cabinet ministers’ Hari Raya open house at Likas Sports Complex on Saturday.

Asked about the growing calls for the near extinct rhinos to be sent to a US zoo for breeding purposes, Masidi said that it was hard to get rhinos to mate due to geographical factors.

“Rhinos are loners. They don’t really move in packs. It makes it much ,more difficult fo


Saudi gift to city zoo accepted

The state government has approved the request of Saudi Arabia’s Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Mohammed Al Saud to gift cheetahs and African lions to the city’s Nehru Zoological Park.

“The state government has agreed to accept the gift and the wild animals will soon be brought to the city zoo,” said chief wildlife warden A.V. Joseph. “Apart from cheetahs and African lions, several other wild animals like squirrel monkeys, black swan etc., will also be brought in from Saudi Arabia”, he said.

Joseph said the new animals would join the city zoo as part of its soon-to-be-celebrated golden jubilee. Meanwhile, the footfalls in the Nehru Zoological Park have  increased in the weekends following Id-ul-Fitr.

On Saturday and Sunday over 52,000 people visited the zoo, for which the zoo officials had to set up additional ticket counters. The zoo has ac

Manila Elephant to Stay Put, Despite Push by Powerful Pals

 Mali, a 39-year-old elephant in a Manila zoo, has very powerful friends. Including the ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.
But a push by McCartney and many other animal lovers hasn’t succeeded in persuading the mayor of Manila to send Mali to a Thai sanctuary, which has already said she’s welcome and would have elephant friends. One animal rights group has even offered to spring for her plane ticket.

Instead, Mali will stay at the Manila Zoo, with the goal of bringing two elephant friends in, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada has decided. Plus the zoo is going to be renovated so Mali – who will continue to be a star attraction – will have better digs.

Still, Mali – short for Vishwa Maali, which means “world” and “lady” in Thai — might get a vacation from the zoo she’s called home for 30 years. Manila’s zoo is getting ready to have a big renovation. That means Mali may get to go temporarily to the 50-hectare Zoobic Safari in Subic, about 100 kilometers northwest of Manila Bay.

Mali arrived in the Philippines at age three, as a gift from Sri Lanka to then-First Lady Imelda Marcos.

Since then, Mali has proven to be wildly popular. She is the only elephant at the zoo. She spends her days picking peanuts and bananas from visitor’s hands and being cooled off by water squirted by them at her.

But her living conditions aren’t like in the Sri Lanka jungle. Instead, she spends her days in a cramped enclosure at the Manila Zoo.

Animal rights groups led by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) have been trying to get the Philippine government to transfer Mali to Boon Lott’s Elephant Sanctuary (BLES) in Thailand. PETA says it intends to continue pushing for Mali’s move to Thailand despite the apparent final denial by the mayor.

“Mali has been alone for over three decades, and she is undeniably lonely. Continuing to deprive her of the socialization with others of her own kind, which is so fundamental to her well-being, amounts to mental abuse,” PETA Campaign Manager Rochelle Regodon said, adding the group would pay for her travel.

At the sanctuary, Mali would enjoy “acres to roam, rivers to bathe in, fresh vegetation to eat, foraging opportunities, the company of many other elephants, and, of course, the care of elephant experts 24 hours a day,” says Ms. Regodon.

Instead, Mali will stay at the 54-year-old Manila Zoo, which is home to about 700 animals from 104 species. New elephants, under the plan, will be brought in for Mali from Sri Lanka.

Dr. Donald Manalastas, Manila Zoo’s resident zoologist, welcomes the plan, but adds, “Mali’s living space should be improved first before accepting the additional elephants.”

Experts are at odds over what would be best for Mali.

World-renowned elephant expert Dr. Henry Richardson gave Mali her first thorough check-up in May of 2012, and concluded the only threat to her health is her confinement. The long years of confinement have led to severe foot problems – the leading cause of death among captive elephants.

In his published report in November of last year,  he stated, ”I am absolutely certain Mali has pain in her front limbs and feet. Elephants carry the majority of their weight on their front legs and so it is expected that elephants living in ill-conceived, unimaginative, and abusive environments like Mali’s at the Manila Zoo would suffer the most in their front end.” Dr. Richardson has been involved in assisting with numerous elephant moves.

Another expert said she looks well cared.

Dr. Nikorn Thongtip of Kasetsart University’s Department of Large Animal and Wildlife Clinical Sciences came to Manila in June, at the request of the Department of Environment and Natural Resource’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau, to check Mali and evaluate whether she was fit enough to move to Thailand.

Dr. Thongtip said a more thorough examination would be needed before a decision could be made about moving Mali.

“She looked healthy …. The color of the mouth is pink. It’s a good color. And her skin is healthy, no wound. From her blood profiles and external signs, I have not found remarkable abnormal signs. She only needs to slim down,” Dr. Thongtip said in an email to The Wall Street Journal.

But Heinrich Domingo, the senior veterinarian at the Manila Zoo, has his doubts that Mali could survive a journey to Thailand. Noting the lifespan of an elephant in captivity is 42 years, Mali, at 39,  is an old lady.  (Asian elephants in the wild can live up to 80 years.) A trip to Thailand would put her under a lot of stress — she would be placed in a crate, loaded on a plane and quarantined, Mr. Domingo said.

“If Mali left the country, there is a big chance that she will not reach Thailand safely,” Mr. Domingo said.

Another question remains.

Now that it looks to be decided that she is staying in Manila, after not seeing another elephant in 33 years, does Mali even want elephant friends?

If the plan to add two more elephants pushes through, the next step would be to determine whether or not Mali will get along with them.

“The two additional elephants will be temporarily placed inside a vacant horse pen if Mali would be uncomfortable with them,” Dr. Manalastas said.

Regardless of how she feels about fellow elephants, she has many human friends. British pop star Steven Patrick Morrissey, 2003 Nobel laureate in literature J.M. Coetzee and animal welfare campaigner Jane Goodall all wrote letters to the Philippine government asking for Mali to be transferred.

And Noel Co, Mali’s caretaker for nine years, s

World’s oldest penguin reaches 36

MISSY the penguin has waddled forward to claim the crown as the oldest in the world after reaching 36 years old – a staggering 108 in human years.
King penguin Missy arrived at the Birdland wildlife park in Gloucestershire when she was at least five years old in 1982. And despite losing the vision in one eye she is still the leader of the colony today.

Despite her age her keepers had no idea that she was the world’s oldest until a zoo in Denmark claimed the title with a Gentoo penguin two years younger than Missy. Staff at the park in Bourton-on-the-Water are now planning to send her details to Guinness World Records to prove her claim to the title.

King penguins – Aptenodytes patagonicus in Latin – are only expected to live up to 26 years in captivity, much more than their 15-20 years life expectancy in the wild.

Missy spends most of her time with her partner of 18 years, Seth, who is thought to be 34 years old and had a starring role in the 1992 film Batman Returns.

Simon Blackwell, park manager, said: “The Danish zoo recently announced they believed that a Gentoo penguin there was the world’s oldest living penguin having reached the age of 34 in May.

Although we cannot categorically age Missy we do know she was an adult when she came to Birdland and king penguins take five years to become fully mature.

“Therefore she must be, at the very least, 36 and she could

Tiger Farms

South Africa’s trophy hunt industry linked to rhino horn trafficking … AGAIN

The July 2013 seizure of 24 rhino horns and arrest of 16 suspects in the Czech Republic points yet again to South Africa’s failure to properly monitor its own trophy hunt industry.

The “hunters” were said to have been hired by an “international criminal gang” to legally kill rhinos in South Africa. This is in order to use the CITES permit loophole which allows for the import of “legally” sourced rhino horns into the Czech Republic. Customs officials at Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport became suspicious and contacted the police, according to Radio Prague. Although no names were released due to the ongoing investigation, among those arrested were Czech as well as foreign nationals. The operation was conducted in conjunction with


South Africa’s trophy hunt industry has been at the center of rhino horn trafficking for quite some time. The first Vietnamese “pseudo-hunt” apparently took place in 2003, and in November 2009, the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC warned in its report ahead of CITES CoP15 that these bogus hunts had already been taking place on “the same game ranches repeatedly”.

Meanwhile, several professional hunters were arrested more than once between 2006 and 2010 forrhino crimes:

Professional hunter Peter Thormahlen was hit with a “token fine” in 2006 for illegally hunting a rhino (on behalf of a Vietnamese client), before he was brought to court again two years later on identical charges. It is worth noting that Thormahlen’s rhino hunts have frequently taken place on Mauricedale Game Reserve.
Professional hunter Christaan van Wyk had already been twice convicted of rhino horn offenses when he was found guilty of illegally hunting a rhino (also on behalf of his Vietnamese client) in 2010.
Prior to the 2011 arrest of professional hunter and game farmer Hugo Ras for unlawful possession of scheduled veterinary drugs and an unlicensed firearm, he had thrice been fined for assault and “crimen injuria” convictions, as well as for contravening conservation and customs laws.
Suspected syndicate mastermind Dawie Groenewald’s criminal history is remarkably extensive —including a long list of international complaints, lawsuits, and criminal allegations and convictions — and far pre-dates his 2010 rhino-related arrest. Among other things, he was terminated from his job as a police officer for involvement in an organized crime ring that was smuggling stolen cars into Zimbabwe and also has a felony conviction in the US for unlawfully

12 years until elephants are all wiped out as one dies every 15 minutes

12 years until elephants are all wiped out
Elephants could be extinct within 12 years because poachers are killing one every 15 minutes, a charity warns.

About 36,000 of them were slaughtered last year in Africa, the Kenya-based David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust claims in a report today.

‘A world without elephants is hard to comprehend but it is a real possibility,’ said Dame Daphne Sheldrick.

‘Elephants have walked the earth for 50million years but against a sub-machine gun or poacher armed with a spear, they stand little chance.’

The 4.5 tonnes of ivory seized in Hong Kong last month was a tiny fraction of the amount smuggled each year, says the trust which rescues and rears orphaned elephants.

Only about a tenth of the tusks transported are detected by customs officials, the charity estimates.

In Kenya so far this year, 162 elephants out of a population of about 35,000 have been killed, it adds in the report timed to coincide with World Elephant Day.

Dame Daphne, who said the trade put money in the hands of criminal gangs and terrorists, called for a ban on dealing in ivory of any kind, including antiques.

‘Buying ivory only serves to fuel a trade which results in more senseless deaths of these beautiful animals,’ she said. ‘We can’t let man-made extinction be the end of this iconic species.’

About a third of all ivory seizures worldwide are made in Europe, with Britain, Belgium, France and Portugal acting as transit routes, the trust says.

London is a ‘major hub’ for the illegal ivory trade, it claims.It will protest against the trade by staging an i

Judge rules SeaWorld made good faith effort to protect trainers

SeaWorld scores significant legal victory in ongoing battle with OSHA
An administrative law judge has ruled that SeaWorld has made a good faith effort to protect its trainers from the dangers posed by working with killer whales.

The judge also indicated that SeaWorld has more expertise than the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in determining how close trainers can safely work alongside killer whales.

However, OSHA investigators still have concerns the marine park is jeopardizing the safety of its employees.

Following the 2010 death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau, who was drowned by a killer whale named Tilikum, OSHA issued citations against SeaWorld and ordered the company to take steps to better protect its employees. Last summer, Judge Kenneth Welsch ordered the company to pay a $12,000 fine and abate the hazards. OSHA recommended that trainers be kept behind barriers or remain a safe distance away from killer whales during show

Close call for zoo worker bitten by Russell viper hatchling

In what could be considered exuberance or sheer carelessness, a 60 plus man working at the corporation zoo for nearly two decades came close to death after a Russell viper hatchling bit him on the base of his left hand index finger on Monday afternoon. A Russell viper snake at the Corporation Zoo here in the city had 22 hatchlings today and it was one of these hatchlings that decided to bite Singaraj's finger. The incident occurred when Singaraj was showcasing the batch of hatchlings, as per instructions of zoo director K Asokan, to be photographed and passed on to local media houses for publication.

"He is an experienced man and has been handling snakes for more than 20 years. I asked him if he wants any medication but he said he was fine. We have gloves and tongs to handle snakes but these workers do not use them," said K Asokan.

TOI tracked down Singaraj outside his residence in Nagarajapuram with his swollen left hand. Narrating the sequence of events, Singaraj told us that he was holding the hatchlings in his palm when one of them bit him close to the base of his index f

Kangaroo meat issue not about contamination or quality

THE kangaroo meat trade has suffered another blow, with Russian authorities questioning an export bungle that threatens the $180 million industry.

Australian exports of kangaroo meat to a region that includes Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are a sensitive issue after the market was closed in 2009 following lobbying by Animal Liberation.

The Russian quarantine authority Rosselkhoznadzor partially lifted the ban in December, granting sole access to South Australian processor Macro Meats.

Yesterday, animal rights group Voiceless claimed Russia had reinstated the ban after the discovery of unauthorised shipments. It quoted news agency RIA Novosti as reporting Rosselkhoznadzor had acted after seizing an 18.6-tonne shipment.

"Rosselkhoznadzor notified Australia's veterinary service of the necessity to suspend certification of Macro Investments products for the market of the Customs union states," the authority reportedly said in a statement. But the Department of Agri

UAE conservation fund helps hundreds of endangered species

Almost 200 endangered species benefited from grants worth Dh5.5 million from the Mohammed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund in 2012.
The fund supported 250 projects in 75 countries during the year, contributing to the survival of 185 endangered species - 101 of which are critically endangered - and 27 other species.
Among the species the fund helped to preserve is Morocco's Bald Ibis, a bird classed as critically endangered.
According to the fund's annual report, six Arab countries received funding for conservation projects in 2012.
Almost half the fund's grants, 43 per cent, were allocated to projects in Asia, 27 per cent in Africa, 15 per cent in South America, 9 per cent in North America, 4 per cent in Europe and 2 per cent in Oceania.
In terms of species, 41 per cent of the funding went to mammals, 16 per cent to birds, 12 per cent to reptiles, 8 per cent to plants, 8 per cent each to fish and amphibians, 5 per cent to invertebrates and 2 per cent to fungi.
In addition to supporting endangered species, the fund, chaired by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, also helps species that are as yet unclassified or insufficiently documented.
Since its est


Zoo animals recover after Ivory Coast civil war

During Ivory Coast's civil war in 2011, Abidjan's only zoo fell into disrepair and many animals died. Now, the facility is getting a makeover, and wants to become a center for conservation excellence in West Africa.
Ivory Coast's zoo - in the heart of the country's biggest city, Abidjan - almost ceased to exist during the country's 2011 civil war. During the conflict, which killed at least 3,000 people, more than a quarter of the animals at the zoo died of starvation.
Violence that erupted after the 2010 presidential elections turned parts of the city into no-go areas. Fearing for their lives, people stayed indoors, and food wasn't delivered to the zoo for months. Those animals who could survive on vegetation grew painfully thin. Others, including a pack of lions, starved to death.
Cages became filthy, with many animals living in their own feces. In the stifling heat, infections and disease spread easily. Zookeepers ran out of funding, and those that ventured onto the site could do little more than watch the animals starve.

"For human beings, it is difficult, but for animals, it's worse," said head zookeeper Lama Tia. "I can run away, but where will the animals go?"
He described the violence which consumed the city, making it impossible for zookeepers to care for the caged creatures. "Thank God no wardens were killed or shot," Tia recalled. "There was fighting right in front of the zoo."
Rotting cages
Abidjan Zoo opened in 1930, but years of neglect during the past decade of instability, along with two civil wars, have taken their toll. Cages became outdated and some of th

Zoo acquires rare white lion from South Africa

The Hodonin zoo is the first in the Czech Republic to acquire a South African lion, a rare species widely dubbed "white lion" for its fur of a butter colour, the zoo spokeswoman Bohuna Mikulicova told CTK yesterday.

The zoo gained the seven-month-old male lion from the Lory Park, South Africa, in exchange for other animals.

Now it plans to acquire a female to form a couple.

"We want to secure a female either from Ukraine's Belogorsk zoo, which specialises in breeding South African lions, or from Yalta," Hodonin zoo director Martin Krug said.

Besides its light colour of fur, the South African lion

Chile investigates condor deaths

Health authorities are trying to find out what poisoned at least 20 condors in the Andes mountain range between Chile and Argentina.

The huge endangered birds, with a wingspan of up to 3m, were found near the town of Los Andes, about 80km east of the Chilean capital, Santiago.

The authorities say two birds died, but 18 are recovering at a clinic.

Mauricio Fabry, director of Metropolitan Zoo, told re

'Slow loris tickling' video points to online peril for endangered species

Study follows arc of public opinion as awareness grew of pygmy slow loris's endangered status and lethal properties
New research suggests that viral videos can have a devastating effect on the populations of endangered species and that a mechanism is urgently needed to report images of them online.

Picture the scene: people clustered around a computer screen, cooing over the latest cute baby-animal video. A grinning, umbrella-toting slow loris is entrancing them and the video views pile up.
But the work of Professor Anne Nekaris points to a darker side to this internet fame, as it has led to slow lorises, an endangered species, being targeted by vendors exploiting the public perception of the species as the ideal pets – despite their being potentially lethal to humans.

The primates are transported miles from their original homes in China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, to be sold for as little as £10.

Nekaris's study is based on a video of a pygmy slow loris called Sonya, uploaded in 2009, two years after the species was designated as endangered by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites). Nekaris and her researchers analysed user interaction with the video, noting how perceptions of slow lorises changed in response to media coverage and the awareness campaigns of wildlife pressure groups.

They collected data from a 33-month period, examining trends within the 12,411 comments posted. What the scientists found was encouraging: toward the end of the comment thread the desire among users to own the animals as pets decreased sharply. The data in the study suggested that by February 2012 more viewers were aware that slow lorises are poisonous.

The proportion increased when a related article appeared in the Daily Mail after the study was concluded. Graphs report a dramatic spike in comments after the BBC br

From bats to tigers, zoos lead the fight against extinction

ONE of the most powerful predators on Earth and a bat that loves figs are among the top 10 mammals beating extinction thanks to zoos around the British Isles, it was claimed yesterday.
The critically endangered Sumatran tiger – of which fewer than 400 remain in the wild – is being helped by an international breeding programme, said the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The endangered Livingstone’s fruit bat, from the Comoros Islands, is being helped by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust on Jersey and by Bristol and Chester zoos.

Others include the scimitar-horned oryx, Peru’s San Martin titi monkey and Madagascar’s blue-eyed black lemur.

Western lowland gorillas are being helped by zoos including Port Lympne Wild Animal Park in Kent which has released 21 into rainforest.

The Case for Closing Every American Zoo

In a surprising announcement last week, Costa Rica will be closing down two of its most popular zoos by next year, with hopes to bring the country to a new environmental standpoint: "No cages." The Simon Bolivar Zoo and the Santa Ana Conservation Center will become a botanical garden and a park, respectively, with the animals either released into the wild or sent to rescue facilities and wildlife reserves. The administration hopes to close all public zoos under this new guidance. The decision is already fraught with controversy in Costa Rica — legal, economic, environmental, and political issues are all playing parts.

The event brings a new question into the U.S. as well: Should America close its zoos?


Costa Rica's decision is bold and inspiring: their new environmental creed of 'No cages' is one that people around the world ought to listen to. Wild animals belong in the wild, and anything less is not enough.

The U.S. is home to over 200 zoos recognized by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and has some of the most famous in the world, including the San Diego Zoo, the Columbus Zoo and even Disney's Animal Kingdom. Each and every one of these facilities has been credited with priceless benefits: wildlife conservation, public education, breeding programs, family values, animal rehabilitation, and more. Most of all, these zoos provide visitors with the chance to personally experience and connect with animals, in a way that they cannot through documentaries and literature. Each trip to the zoo can inspire a new generation of animal lovers.  Without this tangible connection, how can advocates and environmentalists fight for the safety and health of these animals?

Easily, that's how. Wild animals are cha


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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