Saturday, October 12, 2013

Zoo News Digest 10th - 12th October 2013 (ZooNews 877)

Zoo News Digest 10th - 12th October 2013 (ZooNews 877)

Dear Colleagues,

So sorry to learn of the tragic death of another elephant keeper. Not just an ordinary man but someone who had been caring for these animals for many years. Those who knew him better will no doubt write about his life. I would however like to send my sincere condolences to his colleagues, friends and family. When things like this happen I always think 'there but for the grace of God go I'. I never worked with elephants in protected contact, my experience was all 'hands on'.

I am against live feeding of zoo animals. My very few exceptions are when animals are to be re-wilded. I can see the necessity there. Why is it then that I am really bothered by the deer from Mahararajbagh Zoo. Surely the prey animal needs to be re-wilded first? I would be interested what others thought.

I include a link to a story about Ripley's Aquarium. Take a look at it and run down the photos to that of a shoal of Clown fish. Is this natural? I don't recollect seeing anything similar before. If it isn't natural then is it right? A couple of weeks ago I posed the question on the ZooNews Digest Facebook Page "Seriously now, what percentage of your marine aquaria fish are captive bred (those more than 12 months old)?"  There were only two replies and they didn't answer the question.

My mail box is just not working out. Mail is going astray. Even lost my last but one passport for a while. So for now please send all paper mail, books for review etc to :

Peter Dickinson
10 Cheshire View
Appleyards Lane

My mail will be forwarded to me wherever I am from there. My contact phone number remains the same:

00971 (0)50 4787 122


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

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 Zookeeper Killed While Feeding Elephants
A veteran zookeeper at Springfield's Dickerson Park Zoo was killed this morning while feeding the animals, police say.

The incident happened about 8:44 a.m. when elephant manager John Bradford was with the animals in the elephant barn.
Zoo officials say on a typical morning, Bradford feeds the 6,000 pound animals around 9:00 a.m.

Today, he was performing that routine chore, but one of the female elephants became aggressive, charged him, and Bradford was killed as the result of injuries he suffered.

Bradford, 62, had been with Dickerson Park Zoo for 25 years, as supervisor of the Asian area of the zoo, where the elephants live.

Officials say at the time of the charge, other zoo workers were also in the barn.

The female, Patience, is 41 years old.  She has been at Dickerson Park Zoo since 1990.  Zoo officials say no decisions have been made about her future at the zoo. 
It is the second major tragedy at the Zoo this week involving the elephants.    Saturday,  the matriarch elephant, Connie - known to most as Pinky - was euthanized.
Connie had been in failing health since August and her health had rapidly declined. 

Dickerson Park Zoo had been Connie’s home since 1981, when she moved th

Zookeeper Followed Correct AZA Procedures
The city of Springfield was shocked Friday when a zookeeper was killed while working with elephants he has worked with for nearly 30 years. But, the death today isn’t the first of its kind.

In 2011, a Knoxville Zoo worker was killed by an elephant.

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has specific guidelines for protecting zookeepers from large animals.

They require zoos to use what they call a “protective contact” to keep the person physically away from the elephant.

The AZA Procedure Manual says “All institutions must have in place adequate infrastructure to manage and care for elephants with barriers and/or restraints in place to increase employee safety.”

All institutions must have in place and be implementing adequate infrastructure to manage and care for elephants with barriers and/or restraints in place to increase employee safety.

According to Springfield Spokeswoman Cora Scott, John Bradford was behind protective contact.

The Dickerson Park Zoo uses steel beams to separate zookeepers from the elephants.

KOLR10’s Laura Kennedy spoke with an elephant expert from Tampa’s Zoo Friday afternoon.

The expert says the incident is an unfortunate accident and even with protective barriers, there is always a chance something could go wrong while working with 6,000 lb animals.

The AZA also says there will be investigations by regulatory agenc

Special Report: Asian Rhino Conservation Update by Dr. Susie Ellis
It’s been a jam-packed month for our efforts to conserve Asian rhinos. The week before last, Dr. Bibhab Talukdar (IRF Asian Rhino Coordinator), Inov (Indonesia Liaison), and I were privileged to participate with experts from the US, India, and Indonesia in Way Kambas National Park to determine how to coordinate and implement a Sumatra-wide survey for Sumatran rhinos. We put together a coordinated, multi-dimensional plan, including identifying high priority 4 x 4 km quadrants within the three Indonesian parks where Sumatran rhinos remain (Way Kambas, Bukit Barisan Selatan, and Gunung Leuser National Park including the Leuser Ecosystem) and the number of days needed for ground surveys. We also identified how many video camera traps would be needed, and staff from our partner the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology trained field teams in collecting and storing dung to be analyzed to determine sex ratios win the populations and later, possibly, to determine reproductive status. The total cost to pull together all this information? About US $2 million. The value of finding even a few more rhinos in addit

Americans dictate rhino trophy hunting
The unabated poaching of rhinos in Namibia has only exacerbated the desperation of the Ministry of Environment to generate funds for rhino conservation, by selling the same rhinos they vowed to conserve for trophy hunting.

Two White Rhinos, an adult male and a pregnant female with a calf, were poached last weekend in the Karibib and Omaruru area. The Save the Rhino Trust Fund has opened a toll-free anti-poaching hotline (55555) to help track down poachers and assist the police in their investigations.

Impeccable GRN sources said that the ministry of environment was given an approval to sell five Black Rhinos for trophy hunting in the next five years through a tender process to generate money for Rhino conservation.

Against the backdrop of an increase in rhino poaching in the country, the American Dallas Safari Club Annual Convention has dictated to Namibia to sell one of the five Black Rhinoceros directly to them for a hunting trophy.

Rhino trophies are normally sold to Namibian registered trophy hunting operators, who in turn sell to foreign hunters, but in this instance the Dallas Safari Club was given the leeway to choose a Namibian hunting operator to co-ordinate the hunt for the Americans.

The Ministry of Environment and Touri

China prepares first release of offspring of Japan-born crested ibises
Offspring of crested ibises born in Niigata Prefecture will be released in China for the first time on Oct. 10, the 10th anniversary of the death of Japan’s last natural bird of the species.

The birds are scheduled to be released into the wild at 10 a.m. from the Dongzhai Nature Reserve in Henan province.

Takuya Nakajima, a specialist working for the Japan International Cooperation Agency who has helped to raise and train the birds in China, will attend the release.

“Although I believe it is just a coincidence that the date happened to be the same, I am still surprised,” he said.

The 34 crested ibises are offspring of 13 birds that were transferred to the reserve from the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center in 2007, as well as offspring of four crested ibises raised in China.

The number of crested ibises born in the wild has decreased in China, forcing the nation to take measures to protect and raise the birds. China has an estimated 1,000 crested ibises in the wild, and about 650 are being raised artificially.

The birds have been released in Shaanxi province, but this will be the first release in another province.

The descendants of the crested ibises born on Sado Island, in Niigata Prefecture, will play a role in a new measure to protect the birds in China.

The crested ibis is designated a national natural treasure in Japan.

In 1985 and 1994, the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center borrowed three crested ibises from China in an attempt to breed and raise the birds on Sado Island. However, the initial project failed.

In 1995, Kin became the last native crested ibis still alive in Japan. When then Chinese President Jiang

Un-marketing rhino horn
home to 83% of Africa's rhinos and 73% of all wild rhinos worldwide—has been suffering a rhino-poaching crisis since 2008. In 2012 668 rhinos were killed; 2013 is expected to be worse. And South Africa is no exception: poaching is surging across the continent, according to Save the Rhino, a conservation group.

The numbers are a reminder that an international ban on trade is often not enough to save a species. In the case of the rhino it may actually make things worse. When demand remains high for a product whose legal trade is banned, the result is a lucrative black market—one that may have financed the Shabaab, the terrorist organisation responsible for the recent assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.

It is difficult to see how one might eradicate this trade. The economist's answer would be to flood the market with legal supply. But rhinos grow so slowly that this will not be possible until someone develops another way of growing horn. Instead, then, conservationists must turn to what is known as "demand reduction". In other words, somehow rhino lovers have to convince buyers that they do not want rhino horn.

The first step in "un-marketing" rhino horn is simple: find out who your buyers are and why they like the product. TRAFFIC, an organisation that monitors the illegal wildlife trade, has just conducted a survey to identify the most important buyers of rhino horn. It turns out that it is a luxury purchase by rich men in Vietnam: profe

As Halloween has come to zoos and aquariums to stay we should look beyond the undead and fantastical monsters at the horrors to be enjoyed in the natural world. October’s news (NEWS/Botanical News) provide grisly possibilities:
·        What if one of the most ancient of plants could actually jump and walk, spreading, springing and (gasp) germinating! Think H. P. Lovecraft as botanist.
·        The terrors are not just outside. That head of cabbage in your refrigerator? It’s….ALIVE and it is ticking.
·        Immobile plants... just sitting and hoping rain or nutrients come their way… except for the vine that sniffs out prey and strangles it.
·        And is anyone safe from the plant that can suck in prey at less than a millisecond? Is there no escape?
·        So how do we placate these fiends and their clans? Human scientists have proposed a strategy to save almost 70% of plant species. You have been warned, people.

I was fortunate to attend a talk by Jill Anderson, PhD. On her amazing research into Amazon fish as seed dispersers in the flooded forests. Although I included here a link to her work two years ago, I did not fully comprehend the important connections she was making: trees of the flooded forest are specially adapted not only to the seasonal flooding, but to entice fish as their preferred seed dispersers, and that over-fishing is a serious threat to the forest! There is a fascinating conservation and ecology story:

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter:  – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.

Down, Not Out: Threatened Species Find Sanctuary at Taman Safari
The car came to a sudden stop as Taman Safari park director Tony Sumampau opened the door, yelling at a group of foreign tourists breaking one of the park’s most important rules: never step out of your vehicle.

“Get back into the car,” he yelled at the confused-looking men.

The men stood there sheepishly before climbing back inside. Guest safety is a constant concern for Tony. Taman Safari is a cage-less zoo and a veritable Noah’s Ark of animals. Our van rolled past wandering giraffes, bathing hippos and crouching lions as we headed deeper into the park.

The beasts, which seem tame enough from the car window, have enticed curious visitors from their cars. The consequences of getting too close to a wild animal, Tony warned, can be severe.

“We had an incident one time where a foreigner ventured outside of his vehicle and got bitten,” he said. “The embassy got involved.”

Located in the Puncak highlands of Bogor, West Java, Taman Safari is one of Indonesia’s most famous zoos. It houses roughly 2,500 animals with a special focus on Indonesian species. At the safari section of the zoo, visitors can drive through the grounds and gaze out the window at a wide range of free-roaming animals.

But the zoo is also known for something else: it’s an internationally recognized animal-rehabilitation center tasked with treating some of the nation’s most critically endangered animals.

Decades of unchecked deforestation and rampant poaching have taken a toll on Indonesia’s population of forest-dwelling animals. The Sumatran rhino,

Lost Valley

54-year-old elephant, Laxmi, and 55-year-old zoo keeper Prakash Gangaram Kadam are the oldest residents of Byculla zoo
For over 30 years she has seen numerous animals, keepers, mahouts come and go in the city’s only zoo. But more than that she has seen the zoo grow. After all, she 54-year-old elephant Laxmi  is the oldest resident in Jijamata Udyan zoo, Byculla. And everyone is fond of her mahouts, keepers and the public.

Her mahouts say Laxmi was brought to the zoo in 1976, along with two other elephants from a fair around Kolkata. Since then she has made this zoo her home and the mahouts her family.

“Three generations of my family have been working in this zoo for almost a century. My father was among those who went with the zoo officials to pick Laxmi up. We are as attached to her as she is to us.  She doesn’t listen to anyone else,” says her mahout Mohd.

Sajid Khan who has himself been around for more than 15 years. Indeed, known for her fierce temper, Laxmi has had her share of spats with the human beings. But one won’t know that seeing Laxmi quietly savouring her daily diet of carrots, husks, sugarcane, bananas and grass.

However, in 2011, a man who was reportedly under the influence of drugs entered her enclosure only to be killed by the pachyderm. Laxmi lifted him with her trunk and bashed him against a wall.

“She has a personality

Auckland Zoo farewells 60-year-old chimpanzee
Auckland Zoo staff have said a difficult farewell to one of their leading-ladies, 60-year-old chimpanzee Janie.

Janie was euthanised early this afternoon once it became clear staff could no longer maintain her standard of welfare, due to multiple health issues and natural ageing.

"Janie was and always will be a special part of Auckland Zoo and we are very saddened by her loss," head of Life Sciences Kevin Buley said.

"While it was a heartbreaking decision, the overwhelming desire to preserve Janie's dignity meant it was the right one."

Mr Buley said Janie was one of the oldest chimpanzees in a zoo in the world.

Janie was the last of the 'tea-party chimps' and her death also symbolises the passing of an era. She came to Auckland Zoo from London Zoo in 1956 with her three companions, Bobbie, Josie, and Minnie to showcase 'Chimp tea parties' to en

Maharajbagh Zoo deer to become live feed for Pench tigers
Maharajbagh Zoo is going to release its excess deer in Pench. The decision comes right behind Shiv Sena-led Ramtek Municipal Council's decision to oppose shifting of deer in Ambada enclosure as live feed to three captive tigers in Pench Tiger Reserve.

There are 40 deer in Maharajbagh Zoo. As per National Zoo Policy, there cannot be more than 10 deer in a small zoo. The zoo has been granted permission by the chief wildlife warden to release the excess 28 animals in Navegaon National Park. Of this, 8 deer have already been released. The remaining 20 will now be released in Pench.

Zoo controller and associate of College of Agriculture VS Gonge said, "Chief conservator of forests (CCF) & field director, Pench, MS Reddy had requested us to release the excess deer in Pench." "We have agreed to concede to his request," Gonge told TOI.

Reddy too confirmed that the zoo authority has agreed to release the excess deer in Pench. "I will have to now seek fresh approval from PCCF (wildlife)," he said.

Earlier, around 36 herbivores- deer, nilgai and chitals-from Seminary Hills 'Deer Park' were released in Pench. The animal stock lasted only till October 5.

"As we didn't have any live animals, we procured live buffalo calves, which look similar to a bison, as feed. One of the female tigers was given a calf on Thursday," said Reddy.

The hunting skills of the three tigers - two females and a male, which were rescued from Dhaba (Chandrapur) after mother went missing - are now being honed by providing them live feed with an aim to release them back in wild. Earlier, similar experiments had been successfully carried out in Ranthambore in Rajasthan and Kanha and Panna in MP, officials claim.

Wildlife experts' speak

"APCCF GV Reddy from Rajasthan did a similar experimen

Zoo keeping kick-starts vet student’s career
Daren Mandrusiak was walking an elephant when he heard he’d been accepted into the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) at the University of Saskatchewan.
“I was taking the elephant (Lucy) for her afternoon stroll on a grassy hill at the zoo,” Mandrusiak recalls. “I was so incredibly excited. I think it was the happiest point of my life. I remember Dr. Grahn (WCVM’s associate dean academic) asked me what I was up to, so I said, ‘Oh, walking an elephant.’”
Walking Lucy — the 37-year-old Asian elephant whose health has garnered a lot of public and media attention in the past few years — was just part of Mandrusiak’s routine work as a zoo keeper at the Edmonton Valley Zoo. It’s one of the many volunteer and work experiences that the Alberta student undertook in preparation for a veterinary career.
He’s now one of 79 first-year students who began the Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) program in mid-August at the WCVM. Mandrusiak and his classmates received an official welcome to the WCVM on Friday, September 27, during a white coat ceremony in Saskatoon, Sask. All first-year students received personalized white lab coats and stethoscopes from representatives of national and provincial veterinary medical associations during the evening ceremony.
The new students, who will graduate in 2017, come from communities across Western Canada and the northern territories. Mandrusiak’s goal of becomin

Peter Kuitenbrouwer: Hypnotism by sea creatures a serious risk at new Ripley’s aquarium next to CN Tower
Peter Doyle is a showman.

As he leads a visit to Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Mr. Doyle brings to mind Willy Wonka giving a tour of his chocolate factory: exhorting us onward to ever greater wonders.

“Come along!,” says Mr. Doyle, a slight man packed with energy. “Keep moving! There is so much more to see! We have nine galleries, and we have only seen two.”

A native of Dundas, Mr. Doyle worked in entertainment and tourism in Dubai, Florida, Hong Kong and Singapore before Ripley’s lured him home last year to run this aquarium.

Now they’ve filled the tanks with 5.7-million litres of water. They’ve brought in 16,000 water dwe


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Peter Dickinson
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