Saturday, October 19, 2013

Zoo News Digest 13th - 19th October 2013 (ZooNews 878)

Zoo News Digest 13th - 19th October 2013 (ZooNews 878)

Dear Colleagues,

So the Toronto Zoo Elephants are on the road at long last. I wish them a safe and speedy journey. My gut feel is that all will be well and no doubt all eventualities are covered. Animals, no matter where they come from are made of sterner stuff than man and can cope far better than we. When all is said and done however these animals should never be going to where they are going. The decision should never have been made by the council….it should have been decided by the zoo. I would have been happy to see the animals go to the PAWS ZOO if that was the feeling of the zoo staff. But it wasn't. The zoo believed there were risks of the animals contracting TB. A suitable safer alternative was available. If nothing else it makes plain common sense to go for the alternative. Common sense was obviously and is obviously lacking by the majority of Toronto Zoo council members. I could go on but I know you all aware of the affair. Too late now. I want the best for the elephants in their new home, to live out happy and healthy lives and I definitely don't want anything along the lines of "I told you so".

Not for the first time I have noticed that when I post out a Hub link to one of my articles to an anti zoo site on Facebook statistics show that there is an increase in visits but also a spike in visits to a number of my other articles. These tend to be mainly those with a 'sex related' subject. It is almost as if....well I'm sure it is....a case of someone trying to dig up dirt and discredit me. They can dig all they like. I do have another life but I have done nothing I am ashamed of. I may be a bit different to you, but C'est la vie. There is nothing there I would not share with my kids....but there again they are broad minded unlike some.

I look on Aquariums as of equal importance to zoos but they bother me. They bother me because in spite of everything the majority are more commercially exploitative. I fully understand the need to make money for care and research but I believe that these two aspects are losing out to worship of Mammon. Some weeks ago I asked a question on the ZooNews Digest Facebook Group…"Can anyone tell me of any aquarium where 95% of the animals (over 12 months old) are captive bred?". Not a single one was named. If I asked the same question of Good Zoos (and even some of the Bad ones) I would get dozens of replies. Don't get me wrong, I like Aquariums, they are zoos after all, but too many of them are out there are just there to make money. They really don't give a shit. A specimen dies so they go out and catch another. Aquariums need to be doing more for education than any zoo and they need to putting more money into research than any zoo. Conservation? I believe that most of them don't know the meaning of the word. And…okay I know I went on about this a few years back but I have not perceived any change so it is worth repeating. More aquariums appear every few months, the oceans are becoming more polluted and more fish are being caught to die in aquariums. Just because millions more end up on a fish mongers slab doesn't mean that this fact should be ignored.

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 to 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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Pocatello Zoo Keeper Helps Enrich Vietnam Zoos
The Pocatello Zoo’s hoof stock zoo keeper Matthew Rich traveled to Vietnam for three weeks in September to teach seminars on animal enrichment.

 “The Peace Corps for animals,” is how Pocatello Zoo Keeper Matthew Rich describes it.

Animal enrichment is anything that will stimulate the natural behaviors in an animal, especially when it comes to feeding.

“We’re used to sitting down at a table and having food put in front of us, eating off a plate. Animals aren’t. Animals need to search,” said Rich.

Matthew’s 30 years of zoo experience working with animals from all over the world have taught him just how to make them feel at home, no matter how far away from home they are.

“Animals always need to be enriched. If you put an animal in an enclosure here, if it’s an animal from Asia or Africa, it’s the same as an animal from America. It still needs to be stimulated,” explains Rich.

Matthew did a lot of good in Vietnam, working to rebuild and enrich a bear exhibit, carnivore exhibits, and two new monkey exhibits. He isn’t just bettering zoos half way across the world, however, he’s gotten to work right here in Pocatello too.

“In the wild these donkeys would be eating all day long. We do them a disservice by feeding them in one place, once time a day, set time. What we’re doing right now behind me is we’re feeding the


The plight of the African elephant
The current plight of Africa’s rhino population, as disturbing as it is, pales in comparison to a much less widely reported wildlife crisis of considerably more staggering proportions – the loss of hundreds of thousands of elephants.

In 1980 there were in the region of 1,2-million elephants in Africa spread across some 37 range states. In 33 years that figure has been reduced to an estimated 420,000 animals. That’s 780,000 elephants lost to the world. Some of this loss can be attributed to reduction of habitat due to human expansion, but the main reason is ivory poaching, and when it comes to ivory, the market is driven by one country - China.
Chinese involvement in ivory poaching is Africa’s biggest open secret and its most shameful deceit. Indeed, the decrease in elephant numbers is synchronous with China’s growing economic foothold in Africa. Investments by China’s state-owned companies began in the 1980s when they became bedfellows of failed and failing African governments, with Zimbabwe and Zambia leading the pack.

By 1989 China was the permanent concubine of the continent’s political despots, and the elephant population had been halved to around 600,000. Coincidence? Far from it. Records show that 75,000 animals were poached annually throughout the 80s yielding ivory valued at $1-billion. Most of it went to China, or ended up there.

The Chinese appetite for ivory remains stronger than ever... strong enough to manipulate a body the world holds up as the guardian of threatened species – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

In the early 1980s, with China prompting from the wings, Zimbabwe led an assault on CITES of which it, and other key African states were members, calling for changes in the restrictions on the ivory trade. The result was one of the biggest faux pas in the history of environmental protection - in 1986 CITES introduced a new system aimed at registering, and therefore controlling, huge stockpiles of ivor

India bans dolphin shows but what about other less ‘intelligent’ species?
Few contest the obvious privilege of intelligence in all walks of life. But what indeed is intelligence? And who decides how intelligent is intelligent enough? The decision of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) to ban dolphinariums or marine parks, captive facilities where dolphin shows are organized, has not made big headlines. But this is a bold move that sends a clear signal to various states planning to set up dolphinariums for tourists. And, it is in keeping with the ban on use of animals in circuses. Like most wildlife, cetaceans — marine mammals such as dolphins, whales and porpoises — have a history of poor longevity in captivity across the world. Zoos, however, keep a wide variety of wildlife in large numbers. One would think that the cetaceans drew special attention because captive dolphins are almost always made to perform. Most zoo animals serve only as exhibits.
But the CZA circular cites a curious justification. The authority doesn’t want dolphins in zoos because scientists have found them to have “unusually high intelligence” and therefore they should be seen as “non-human persons and as such should have their own specific rights and is morally unacceptable to keep them captive for entertainment purpose.” This has raised certain dilemmas among conservationists. Ashish Kothari of Kalpavriksh, for example, summed it up in an online forum: “Perhaps it is a step towards the ‘rights’ of nature being recognised. However, the fact that this is happening only because dolphins have ‘unusually high intelligence’ and are ‘persons’ suggests that we are willing to extend rights only to something or someone who is akin to us. We are then leaving out most of nature, assuming that ‘intelligence’ here is used in the sense that we use it for ourselves, with various cognitive, predictive and reflective properties.” Dolphins have fascinated us ever since we learnt how much alike we are. These marine wonders are deeply social, cooperative and competitive, follow basic language, display ‘culture’ and pass on information to successive generations. Their body to brain size ratio is second only to that of humans. They are known to help fishermen in mutually beneficial fishing practices. But the species is under threat from growing fisheries that eat into its prey base and also kill individuals by entangling in fishing nets. Tourism is the other prime threat as both dolphin swims and dolphin shows are getting increasingly popular. In 2010, the Helsinki Group for cetaceans was formed for fostering moral and legal change. Based on the principle of equal treatment of all persons, it affirmed that “all cetaceans as persons have the right to life, liberty and wellbeing”, adding that, among other things, “no cetacean should be held in captivity or servitude” as they are not the “property of any State, corporation, human group or individual”. That is a noble call and India’s decision shows that it is gaining international support. But ‘intelligence’ in nature can be complex. Even tiny organisms can achieve miracles far beyond humans. Toxoplasma gondii is an intracellular parasite that is flushed out in cat stool soon after its birth. Now it must return to a cat’s stomach to complete its life cycle. So, the devious protozoan enters the stomach of a rat that has nibbled at cat dropping and executes complex neurosurgery to make the host fearless of cats. The sooner the rat becomes cat food, the brighter the chances of the Toxoplasma to reach a cat’s tummy and reproduce. The parasite also infects humans and is possibly responsible for the social menace of rash (read fearless) driving. Primates, particularly chimpanzees, use several tools. Beavers are the world’s best dam engineers. Tiny birds make nests with the skill and judgment of a master craftsman. Spiders spin webs more resilient than stainless steel. The social system of the bees is smoother than that of any species on earth. And no matriarchal society functions as well as the elephant’s. Why, all animal

Poser over panda costs
 How much will it cost Malaysia to lease the two pandas, Fu Wa and Feng Yi, from China for 10 years?

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said it will cost the Chiang Mai zoo in Thailand up to US$1 million (RM3.22 million) to bring in another panda to join the one they have had since 2003.

He said it may cost Malaysia the same amount to bring in the two pandas from China, with the total bill for leasing the animals possibly totaling US$2 million a year.

"As we are leasing two pandas for 10 years, the bill for leasing alone may come up to US$20 million," he told a press conference.

Lim said a written reply to his question in parliament last Wednesday has left many questions unanswered, adding that the government is required to come clean on the matter.

He said the reply only stated the cost of building the exhibition area and the habitat in Zoo Negara for the pandas at RM24.9 million.

He said the government must reveal the "remaining costs", including the leasing fee, food, maintenance, and expenses for a specialized team to care of the pandas.

The government signed an agreement in June 2012 with the China Wildlife Conservation Association to lease the pandas to enhance tourism in Malaysia and to improve bilateral relations.

"I think it is a deliberate act to hide the other costs from the people as the lease (is) an exorbitant price," he said.

Lim also said that the statements h

WAR's quarterly newsletter, i.e. What's Up- Issue 23 - September 2013.


Sometimes a zoo's job is to let animals into the wild
The Oregon Zoo is known mostly for the elephants and other animals it keeps in captivity.

But it also releases many

critters into the wild as part of its commitment to conservation and preserving endangered


In late September, the zoo won three awards from the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums, two for its conservation work to aid imperiled Northwest species, and a Green Award for environmental improvements in its day-to-day operations.

“These awards are like the Oscars of zoos and aquariums,” says Kim Smith, zoo director.

At an undisclosed site in Clackamas County, Oregon Zoo staff have raised endangered California condors since 2005. Over the years, 45 condor chicks have been raised there and 21 were released into the wild, says Dr. David Shepherdson, the Oregon Zoo’s deputy conservation and research manager. There currently are 42 condors there, including six breeding pairs, he says.

They’re bred in a remote site away from humans, says Hova Najarian, the zoo’s media and public relations officer. “They want the birds to fear humans, so they can survive in the wild,” Najarian says.

The birds are released under the direction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in one of five sites in California, Arizona and Baja California.

“In the ‘80s, there were only 25 California condors in the wild,” Shepherdson says.

But now the known condor population has reached about 431, via species recovery programs, captive breeding and regular release of birds to supplement the wild population, h

Best Aquariums in the United States
There are countless aquariums throughout the United States that can be fun for the whole family to visit. Yet, there are some aquariums that go above and beyond in trying to educate, entertain and amaze guests. From dolphin shows to massive whale sharks and underwater tunnels to interactive exhibits, these are hands down some of the best aquariums in the United States.

Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opens in Toronto (with photos)
Visitors to Toronto may not be able to swim with the sharks on Bay Street but they'll have an up-close view of the ocean predators in a new indoor aquarium.

After two years of construction, delays and $130 million in costs, Ripley's Aquarium of Canada opened to the public Wednesday.

The aquarium, billed as the country's largest, is home to more than 13,000 aquatic animals and 450 different species held in nearly six million litres of water.

More than 10,000 tickets to the downtown facility have

Minnesota Zoo Director Lee Ehmke named president of world zoo association
Lee Ehmke, the Minnesota Zoo's director and CEO since 2000, has been named the new president of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Announcement of his two-year term came at the international association's annual conference this week in Orlando.

Ehmke's charge as president: to implement a strategic plan to assure "the full conservation potential of the world’s zoos and aquariums." That includes a global plan for zoo animal welfare.

Said Ehmke in a statement:

"As the future of wildlife and wild pl

Morgan’s next hearing will be at the High Court in Den Haag (The Hague), Netherlands on the Tuesday 3rd of December 2013 at 10:45 am.

LOCATION:  Council of State (Raad van State) of the Netherlands, Chamber Unit A3, Kneuterdijk 22, 2514 EN Den Haag, Netherlands (note this is NOT the same court as last year).

We will be posting an “ev


Morgan Is Not The Only One Having Problems Hearing!
Thursday 13 November saw the yet another judgement from the Dutch courts on the fate of the young, female killer whale “Morgan” who stranded on the Dutch coast in June 2010 and was rehabilitated by the group SOS Delfijn and employees from Dolfinarium Harderwijk.  The animal was deemed unsuitable for release and was moved to live with a group of other killer whales at Loro Park Tenerife, Spain in November 2011.

The recent hearing stated that the permit to move “Morgan” should only be issued if the goal was research or teaching. The judgment conclude that the park on Tenerife conducts research and performs an educational function and therefore the whales move was legal.

The court further saw no reason to believe that the welfare of Morgan danger in Tenerife. If The Orca Coalition disagree they are open to take legal action in a Spanish court.

 Details of the background of this case can be found HERE

This current judgement is the latest litigation brought by The Orca Coalition  a group of animal-rights activists including the Free Morgan Foundation who -along with their supporter Dr. Ingrid  Visser - wish to obtain this animal for a reintroduction experiment in Norway.

Dr Visser has been for sometime an active critic of the care of cetaceans in zoos and aquaria particularly killer whales.  Whilst she has researched killer whales in the wild and was founder of the New Zealand based Orca Research Trust, she was also a Plaintiffs Next Friend in the infamous law-suit in October 2011 by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PeTA) against Sea World theme parks; a case which citing slavery and involuntary servitude under the 13th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States for fi

Toronto elephants leave zoo for California
With their trunks packed and bickering behind them, three Toronto Zoo elephants have finally hit the road.

Iringa, Toka and Thika were coaxed into silver crates, loaded onto two flatbed trucks and driven off zoo property around 10:30 p.m.Thursday, hours after their original planned departure.

But the elephants’ final day in Canada wasn’t without the usual hemming and hawing over their safety during the 50-hour drive to California
Zoocheck Canada campaign director Julie Woodyer accused zoo officials of pulling “pranks” to thwart the trip after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspected the three pachyderms Thursday morning.

“There is no question in my mind it was a last-ditch attempt to stop them from going to the sanctuary,” Woodyer said.

Toronto Zoo spokesperson Jennifer Tracey said the CFIA checkup was simply procedural.

“We take offence to this accusation. Zoo staff were professional and co-operative and loaded the elephants into their individual crates this morning as required. At no time were any ‘pranks’ played,” Tracey said.

In a deal reached mere hours before the trip, two Toronto Zoo employees were granted permission to accompany the three elephants during the cross-country journey.

The deal was struck Thursday morning between CUPE Local 1600 and the administration of Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the American animal sanctuary that will be the elephants’ new home.

PAWS staff had demanded that any Toronto zookeeper making the days-long trip sign a non-disclosure agreement. The union refused.

“We are trying to be amicable and co-operative with PAWS,” said union president Christine McKenzie, who declined to elaborate on the details of the deal. The union had initially been critical of the request for secrecy.

The Toronto elephant keepers will not be allowed to document the trip with photos or video, but will be permitted to discuss it f

Beaver Butts Emit Goo Used for Vanilla Flavoring
Just in time for holiday cookie season, we’ve discovered that the vanilla flavoring in your baked goods and candy could come from the anal excretions of beavers.
Beaver butts secrete a goo called castoreum, which the animals use to mark their territory. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration lists castoreum as a “generally regarded as safe” additive, and manufacturers have been using it extensively in perfumes and foods for at least 80 years, according to a 2007 study in the International Journal of Toxicology.

“I lift up the animal’s tail,” said Joanne Crawford, a wildlife ecologist at Southern Illinois University, “and I’m like, ‘Get down there, and stick your nose near its bum.’”

“People think I’m nuts,” she added. “I tell them, ‘Oh, but it’s beavers; it smells really good.’”

Castoreum is a chemical compound that mostly comes from a beaver’s castor sacs, which are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. Because of its close proximity to the anal glands, castoreum is often a combination of castor gland secretions, anal gland secretions, and urine.

The fragrant, brown slime is about the consistency of molasses, though not quite as thick, Crawford said.

While most anal secretions stink—due to odor-producing bacteria in the gut—this chemical compound is a product of the beaver’s unique diet of


Irregularities in “La Reina” Zoo at Tizimin
Environment Protection Federal Attourney (PROFEPA) paid a visit to the facilities of the “La Reina” Zoo located in the city of Tizimin, Yucatan.

During this visit, PROFEPA authorities found some irregularities in addition to an overpopulation of peccaries (wild hogs), therefore some animals will have to be released for its own safety.

Due to these irregularities, a tiger died of peritonitis last summer on August 27 within the premises of this Zoo.

During the inspection, it was o


Serpent Experts Try To Demystify Pentecostal Snake Handling
Two weeks ago, NPR reported on a group of Pentecostals in Appalachia who handle snakes in church to prove their faith in God. The story got us thinking: Why are the handlers bitten so rarely, and why are so few of those snakebites lethal?

After the story aired, NPR was contacted by snake experts who strongly suggest that a snake's reluctance to bite a religious serpent handler may have more to do with the creature's poor health than with supernatural intervention.

The herpetologists at the Kentucky Reptile Zoo have been following the activities of Pentecostal snake handlers for years. They have watched hours of video of snake-handling services and examined snakes used in church.

"The animals that I've seen that have come from religious snake handlers were in bad condition," says Kristen Wiley, curator of the Kentucky Reptile Zoo, a facility in the town of Slade that produces venom and promotes the conservation of snakes. "They did not have water. The cages had been left not cleaned for a pretty long period of time. And the other thing we noticed is there were eight or 10 copperheads in a container that was not very large."

What's more, she says there was no fecal material in the container, which indicated the snakes were not being fed. Riley says a snake that may be dehydrated, underweight and sick from close confinement is less likely to strike than a healthy snake. Moreover, the venom it produces is weaker.

She says snake-handling preachers who don't take care of their snakes are "setting themselves up for a safer encounter during their services when they use a snake that is in bad condition to begin with."

One of the pastors they level criticism at is Jamie Coots, who regularly takes up serpents in his Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jes

Idiots Amongst Us….but for how long


Mammals Pee For Same Duration Of 21 Seconds, Urination Study Finds (VIDEO)
Now this is streaming video.

Researchers at Georgia Tech have compiled footage of animals peeing to prove their "law of urination," which states that mammals take about 21 seconds to pee.

Male or female, small bladder or big bladder, it doesn't matter. Elephants, farm animals, dogs and any mammal above a kilogram in weight require a similar time frame to relieve themselves, give or take 13 seconds.

As for an elephant, the researchers explain in the video above that the animal's wider and longer urethra compensates for the huge volume the animal must discharge -- that gives the liquid more room to flow and generates greater gravitational pull to increase the speed, Dr. David Hu, assistant professor of biology at Georgia Tech, told The Huffington Post. Previous research has focused more on bladder pressure.

The researchers arrived at their findings by testing mammals at Zoo Atlanta in Georgia, and they weren't just out to wow us with theory. In fact, they wrote that their study, might help diagnose animals' urinary problems, according to Discover magazine. They also expressed hope that the flow-enhancing properties of the urethra could be applied to improve man-made hydrodynamic systems such as water towers.

If you're wondering what the averag

New River Monster Discovered in Brazil
Native to the Amazon River, Arapaima are a huge freshwater fish capable of growing to 6 feet and 400 pounds.
For more than 200 years, skeptics have been announcing the end of the great age of species discovery—and the end, in particular, for finding anything really big. But giant species somehow just keep showing up.

Now scientists are reporting the discovery of a river monster, Arapaima leptosoma, in Brazil’s Amazonas State. It’s a new species, described from a single specimen measuring 33 inches from head to tail, in a genus that can grow to almost 10 feet and weigh up to 440 pounds.

Arapaima, also commonly known as pirarucu, is a genus of air-breathing fish that inhabit creeks and backwaters in and around the Amazon basin. They live by crushing other fish between their large bony tongue and the roof of the mouth. People prize them both for their tasty flesh and for their handsome scales, which tourists (including this writer) used to carry home incorporated in handsome necklaces and other folk art. But these huge fish are now badly overharvested, in part because it’s so easy to harpoon them when they come to surface to breathe. Arapaima gigas, for example, is listed as endangered under the Conventional on International Trade in Endangered Species, or CITES.

The only known specimen of the new species, Arapaima leptosoma, turned up not in the wild, but at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, a research facility in Manaus. A collector originally caught it in 2001, at the confluence of the Solimões and Purus rivers 200 miles west of the city. Until recently, though, everyone assumed it was simply another Arapaima gigas, becau


Sydney, NS, October 18, 2013— Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA), the national organization representing accredited zoological institutions, today welcomed the support of the mayors of Atlantic Canada’s largest cities for more stringent provincial rules on exotic animals and the licensing of zoos and aquariums.

“On behalf of Canada’s accredited zoo and aquarium community, I want to thank the mayors for their support and leadership on this issue,” said Massimo Bergamini, CAZA Executive Director.

The mayors were in meeting in Sydney as part of the semi-annual Atlantic Mayors’ Congress.

“The mayors know first hand the public safety, animal welfare and environmental issues that can arise when exotic animals are not properly cared for; just as they know that municipal governments do not have the legislative authority or the inspection and enforcement resources adequate to the task”.

“We’re confident that this strong support will help break down the policy and political silos that have created the current patchwork of hard-to-understand-and- enforce rules and regulations across the country”.

The mayors adopted a resolution supporting CAZA’s advocacy in this area and urging the governments of the four Atlantic provinces to study the issue and bring it to the Council of the Federation in order to foster a national discussion. They will also ask their national body, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to share their resolution with all municipalities.

CAZA plans to quickly leverage this support and will be seeking meetings with senior Atlantic Canada provincial officials over the next few weeks to initiate the process.


WHEREAS, the keeping of exotic animals can result in serious public safety, animal welfare and environmental issues;

WHEREAS, the keeping of exotic animals is a highly specialized undertaking;

WHEREAS, in Atlantic Canada, as well as elsewhere in the country, existing provincial rules on the keeping of exotic animals vary between jurisdictions and often place the onus of enforcement on municipal governments; 

WHEREAS, municipal governments do not have the legislative authority or the inspection and enforcement resources to provide effective control;

WHEREAS, the current legislative and regulatory environment is conducive to the proliferation of unaccredited zoos and aquariums with attendant animal welfare, public safety and environmental concerns;

WHEREAS, accredited zoos and aquariums can bring significant economic, educational and conservation benefits to their communities;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Atlantic Mayors’ Congress (AMC) supports Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums’ (CAZA) efforts to create a more uniform and adequately resourced policy, legislative, regulatory and enforcement regime governing exotics animals in the Atlantic provinces and in all other provinces and territories; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Atlantic Mayors’ Congress urge the governments of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward island and Newfoundland and Labrador to create a joint task force to study the issue and report to the Council of the Federation with a recommended way forward; and

BE IT FURTEHR RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be forwarded the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for distribution to all provincial – territorial municipal associations.


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

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address:
10 Cheshire View
Appleyards Lane
United Kingdom

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