Saturday, November 30, 2013

Zoo News Digest 27th October - 30th November 2013 (ZooNews 881)

Zoo News Digest 27th October - 30th November 2013 (ZooNews 881)

Dear Colleagues,

We have had two tiger 'incidents' this week. In both cases the keeper was bitten in the neck. In both cases the injured were hospitalised and remain so at the present time. In both cases I wish and hope that the injured make a speedy and full recovery.

Whereas there have been a number of updates from Australia we have heard nothing from Korea as yet. I have contacted Seoul Zoo but have had no reply as to how Mr. Shim is doing.

In both these incidents it was down to keeper error. In Seoul somebody left a cage door open. In Australia Zoo it was because the keepers were stupid enough to be in a cage with the tigers in the first place. I must have said it a hundred times….hands on with big cats it is always an accident waiting to happen. The really sad part of it is that it is never necessary to be in a cage with one of these animals in the first place. We really need to do away with the title 'big cat handler' once and for all.

I've heard all the arguments. I've read all the blurb and excuses and hype and rubbish. It really does need to stop. I don't doubt that the Australia Zoo staff acted appropriately and full credit to them. I also don't doubt that what they were doing was within the Australian zoo accreditation guidelines. Guidelines and accreditation for this unnecessary activity need to change. I also do know that there is a huge faction within Australian zoos who look upon this hands on activity in Australia Zoo and Dreamworld with disdain. I don't expect everyone to agree with me and no doubt I will have several anonymous emails as a result of what I have just said. I only ask that they use a spellchecker and cut out the curse words.

The wolf escape at Colchester was a real tragedy. No doubt we learn a lot more when the zoo completes its investigation. Having to shoot the wolves was sad but the zoo took the correct action. It is never an easy thing to do. I know, I have been in the same position. It is a funny thing about wolves though. There is a large number of people out there who think they have some sort of communion of the souls with these magnificent animals and when they get together with the nutters who claim to be experts there is no end of nonsense spouted forth. Daktari has a lot to answer for.

My surface mail 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

Bear in mind it is NOT where I live. 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


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Finance minister rules out Exploris aquarium aid
The Department of Finance has ruled out giving any financial assistance to help a County Down aquarium stay afloat.

Finance Minister Simon Hamilton made a brief response to a request from the Northern Ireland Assembly enterprise committee to help with an assistance package.

"Aquariums are not the responsibility of the DFP," he said.

Exploris, in Portaferry, has been threatened with closure over concerns about its running costs.

Ards Borough Council delayed a decision to vote on closing the attraction amid hopes that funding could be secured from the Stormont Executive.

The chair of the committee, Patsy McGlone, accused the minister of not taking the threat of closure seriously.

After a visit to Exploris, the DETI committee wrote to the minister asking if the Department of Finance and Personnel could help find any alternative sources of income to help rescue the threatened tourist attraction.

In a two-line response the finance minister thanked the committee for its letter about the proposed clos

East Oregonian: Pendleton-Born Zookeeper Writes Animal Training Book
As a child in Pendleton, Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey had every pet she could slip past her mother. Turtles, rats, dogs and cats all roamed the Nicassio household.

As the senior marine animal keeper at the Oregon Zoo, Nicassio-Hiskey’s animal interactions have only broadened with age. She works with sea lions, polar bears, tigers and leopards in the Portland zoo.

“I knew what I wanted to do as a kid,” Nicassio-Hiskey said. “We didn’t have a zoo or aquarium growing up in Pendleton, so I would go to the library and soak everything up I could.”

After graduating from Oregon State University in 1993, Nicassio-Hiskey worked with Keiko the orca at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and in the city of Anchorage, Alaska’s animal control department before landing at the Oregon Zoo.

After two decades of training all types of species, the zookeeper wrote “Beyond Squeaky Toys” with co-author Cinthia Mitchell about creating enriching environments for dogs and cats.

“We figured this out long ago with exotic animals but we have kind of gone backward with dogs and cats,” Ni

Some Seemingly Harmless Snakes Possess a Secret Venom Gland
Usually, we think of snakes as falling into one of two groups—venomous and nonvenomous. But to the surprise of herpetologists, a new group has emerged, which seems to fall into a previously unknown grey area between venomous and not.

This discovery occurred after victims who received bites from “harmless” snakes—Thrasops flavigularis in Africa and green whip snakes in Europe—began showing suspect symptoms, including problems with neuromotor skills. Upon closer examination, herpetologists noticed that both of those culprit species possess something called the Duvernoy’s gland. Researchers have long puzzled over what this gland’s purpose is; some think it’s used for helping the snakes swallow and digest food, while others believe it’s a primitive version of what scientists consider true venom glands. With these latest findings, however, herpetologists writing in the journal Toxin propose classifying it as a true venom gland.

Before nonvenomous snakes become even more loathed than they largely already are, however, it’s important to note two points the researchers make about these extremely rare events. In all cases of these species causing harm, people were eithe

Exclusive Interview with Kim Ashdown, Former SeaWorld Trainer
Kim Ashdown spent 12 years as an animal trainer at SeaWorld between 1994 and 2010. She worked with whales, dolphins, sea lions, otters and birds of prey. Since leaving SeaWorld, Kim has become outspoken about the realities of marine mammal captivity and is an anti-captivity advocate for the animals she worked for. More recently, you may have seen her the film “Blackfish.”

The Whale Who Would Not Be Freed
If there is a lesson in this week’s Retro Report video about a famous whale, it’s mess with nature at your own peril. In this case we are talking about the man-made peril that comes from confining a wild killer whale in a theme park and the economic peril of trying to recreate through nurture what, it turns out, can often be taught only through nature.
Keiko the killer whale was a movie star, the real-life whale featured in the 1993 film “Free Willy.” It’s the story of a good-hearted boy and his whale and the brave humans who returned him (Willy, that is) to the ocean and freedom.

The real-life story was not so happy.

Keiko was a pup when captured off the coast of Iceland in the late 1970s and trained to join a long line of trick whales that performed at marine parks, in his case, one that was in Mexico.

After the film became a “heartwarming,” “truly inspiring” “unforgettable,” “smash hit” that “kids and adults alike” would be “talking about for years,” the news media discovered that the real whale was not free and was leading a pretty miserable life.

As the video notes: “Forced to swim in endless circle, his dorsal fin drooped. He was

Blackfish: Please Release Me Let Me Go
'The release of Keiko demonstrated that release of long-term captive animals is especially challenging and while we as humans might find it appealing to free along-term captive animal, the survival and well being of the animal may be severelyimpacted in doing so.'

On the back of the ongoing debate regarding the film 'Blackfish' The New York Times' produced an interesting video in its Retro Report stranding regarding the story of 'Keiko' the killer whale entitled: "The Whale Who Would Not Be Freed". 

The news items conclusion seems to be that the project was a failure.  This is even admitted by some of the supports of the project on video like Naomi Rose - former scientist to the Humane Society of the United States. 

One has to question what would (or could) happen to any other long term captive killer whales if the animal rights supporters got their hands on them - as they are still trying to do. In my opinion, the release of long-term captive animals is never justified on welfare grounds as 'Keiko' demonstrates. Releasing animals for conservation reasons is, of course, very different. It is acknowledge that animals could die during this process and it is likely not to serve the welfare interests of individual animals involved.

As stated, the 'Keiko' experiment was a failure.  Those who cannot grasp this are deluding themselves and showing contempt for the welfare of this animal.  Certainly, his move to Oregon Coast Aquarium was right; there is a consensus regarding this across all opinions.  However, releasing him to the wild was a grave and expensive mistake.  Those such as Naomi Rose who voice that 'Keiko' was better off having a number of years in the wild (with him not integrating and thus isolated from his conspecies) are sadly just expressing their own self-serving and selfish interests against these animals being displayed in aquaria and zoos.

Those who continue to voice support for the release of animals suc

Rebuttal: A Stronger Case for SeaWorld
I would like to thank those who took the time to comment on my previous blog post, as it allows for scholarly debate. In regards to the comment that my earlier post sounded like a public relations statement for SeaWorld, I would like to point to the title of the article, in particular “A Case for SeaWorld“, and to the fact that I am in no way affiliated with SeaWorld. This article was intended to provide a different side of the story than that portrayed in the documentary film Blackfish, which was an extremely one-sided piece of propaganda.

The death of Dawn Brancheau was a true tragedy. The world lost a very passionate, and accomplished woman who was a pioneer in the field of marine research and an integral part of SeaWorld’s mission to bring the wonder and awe of marine life to those who visit SeaWorld parks. After Dawn’s death, The Dawn Brancheau Foundation was founded in memory of Dawn by her family. The Foundation’s website provides a detailed outline of Dawn’s lifelong dream to become a whale trainer at SeaWorld and that Dawn “left this world doing what she loved.” Unfortunately, Blackfish exploits the death of this wonderful woman by portraying Dawn’s work with orca whales as appalling and horrific, but this is not the case

Anthony Kaufman, a freelance journalist who has written for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Chicago Tribune, mocked Blackfish for its obvious sensationalism. The one-sidedness of the documentary is exemplified when the film “opens with a sensationalistic emergency call, which recounts how a trainer was eaten by a killer whale…In one manipulative moment, trainers recount an incident in which a mother orca was separated from her offspring, and then emitted a kind of wailing sound. Her shrieking cries are then simulated on the soundtrack for extra effect.” Kaufman further states that “there’s also something unseemly in the tactics employed by Blac

Dog Bites, 14 Kangaroos Found Dead in Ragunan Zoo
As many as 14 kangaroos at Ragunan Zoo (TMR), South Jakarta, Thursday (11/28), are died after being bitten by wild dogs. Previously, a giraffe was also found dead a few months ago.

“Based on the examination of post mortem from the veterinarians, the death is caused by dog bites around neck, foot and abdomen,” said Head of Administrative Staff at the zoo, Bambang Triyono, Thursday (11/28).

Triyono asse

Starving rebels eat lion from a Damascus zoo
Starving Syrian rebels besieged in Damascus suburbs signalled their desperation yesterday by killing and eating a zoo’s lion.
Pictures of men butchering the visibly emaciated animal, said to have been taken from the Al-Qarya al-Shama Zoo, were widely disseminated on websites sympathetic to the rebels, although their authenticity could not be in

Leopardus guttulus: New Species of Wild Cat from Brazil
According to a new DNA analysis conducted by Brazilian researchers, a rare species of wild cat called the oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus) – one of the smallest wild cats in the Americas – is actually two separate species.

24 South African giraffes arrive at Yunnan Zoo
Giraffes are known to shy away from interacting with other animals and humans, earning them the nickname "big cowards". But 24 of these "big cowards" have made a brave journey from South Africa to southwest China's Yunnan Zoo. And CCTV’s Wu Haojun found out how the zoo was welcoming its timid new residents.
Feisty and full of energy.
24 giraffes from South Africa landed at Yunnan Zoo on Tuesday to start their new lives.
"We want to expand the number of giraffes here. Twenty four is a good size for reproduction." Li Li, Yunnan Zoo deputy manager said.
The zoo prepared for the giraffes’ arrival, building them a spacious new home -- measuring over a thousand square meters, with six rooms and a hall. They’re also ready to handle the big cowards’ big appetite.
"We have prepared 20 tons of hay a

Mysore Zoo to get two chimps from Singapore
 Two years after green anacondas arrived from Sri Lanka, the Mysore Zoo is getting chimpanzees from Singapore on Saturday.

The two chimps—Nikosi and Kimoni—will land at Chennai at 1.20 pm on November 30. The two male chimps will be joined by a female chimp some 18 months later. Though the plan was to get the three of them at a time, the female chimp has delivered three months back.

Sources in the Mysore Zoo on Tuesday told The Times of India that the two chimps will be shipped to India from Singapore Zoo and are expected to arrive at the Mysore facility around midnight. Animal keepers from the Singapore Zoo will accompany them. While Nikosi is aged a little over thirteen years while Kimoni is six years old. "They will be housed at an enclosure where we presently have deer," they stated.

The zoo had got five green anacondas in November 2011. Earlier, it had got four African hunting cheetahs in March 2011 as part of an exchange programme

Three wolves shot dead in Essex after gang of five escaped from Colchester Zoo
Police and zoo keepers launched a frantic search to find the two escapees after they got out of their enclosure through a hole in the fence
Three wolves have been shot dead after a pack of five escaped from Colchester Zoo.

Zoo keepers discovered the group had got out of their enclosure at around 8am this morning through a hole in the fence.

One of the timber wolves returned and another was captured.

But police and zoo staff had to launch a frantic search to find the three remaining animals who were on the loose in Essex.

Two were found and shot dead within a few hours.

Colchester Zoo said they were unab

Man mauled by tiger at Australia Zoo
An animal handler is in a serious condition after being bitten twice on the neck by a tiger at Australia Zoo on Queensland's Sunshine Coast.
It is understood the 30-year-old man sustained two puncture wounds on his neck in the attack which occurred at around 3pm (AEST) today.
RACQ CareFlight said the patient has now been transferred to the Royal Brisbane Hospital where he will undergo treatment for his injuries.
He is currently in a serious but stable condit

Bitten Australia Zoo lion handler 'delusional'
The Sunshine Coast trainer attacked by a Tiger at Australia Zoo was "delusional" and asking for trouble, says a big cat expert.

Spectators watched in horror as the tiger bit the man's neck. He was taken to hospital in a stable condition.

Image: Channel Seven news.

Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue in Florida, told 3AW Breakfast tigers were "natural born killers" who could never be tamed and should never be handled.

"Anybody who walks in a cage and handles a lion or a tiger is obviously so delusional that they should not be able to work near them, much less go in a cage with them," Ms Baskin said.

LISTEN: The straight-shooting Carole Baskin with Ross and John

"They're natural born killers and it's just a matter of time before a tragedy like this happens.

"They kill for a number of reasons - sometimes just because they're playing and they're so much bigger and stronger than us.

"It's not a sexual thing. It doesn't matter if they're neutered or spayed ... it's just a really bad idea to handle big cats."

Burnso asked if it can help if yo

Australia Zoo tiger handler recovering after attack
Australia Zoo has hit back at claims that it puts its staff at risk, after a tiger handler was mauled at the Sunshine Coast zoo on Tuesday.
The handler, 33-year-old Dave Styles, was bitten on the neck and shoulder when a tiger dragged him into a pool during a public show.
He remains in the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital in a stable but serious condition after undergoing surgery.

Australia Zoo in the right over tiger attack
The industry body which regulates zoos across Queensland believes Australia Zoo staff acted appropriately during this week's tiger attack.
A review of Australia Zoo's risk assessment procedures have begun after one of its senior staff was mauled by a Sumatran tiger.
The tiger turned on 30-year-old Dave Styles, biting into his neck and shoulder. He currently remains in a serious but stable condition in the Royal Brisbane Hospital.
Queensland Zoo and Aquarium Association president Al Mucci told ABC's Mary-Lou Stephens that Australia Zoo acted correctly.
"With any interactive programs be it a koala or a tiger, we want guests to get an up-close experience and we want the best for animals and it's a balancing act of providing strong procedures," he said.
"If you look at that footage, Australia Zoo acted quickly and professionally when the tiger bit the handler."
Mr Mucci says each member of the association (which includes Australia Zoo) must go through full accreditation.
"We have an accreditation where industry colleagues go to the zoo and make an assessment and go through the procedures to makes sure that the zoo is meeting best practise.
"I'm confident that Australia Zoo is well above what the minimum requirements are.
"The process has a welfare and safety focus and if zoos aren't meeting those standards we ask the reasons why and give them time to meet those standards."
Tiger attack or tiger play?
Mr Mucci says if the tiger really wanted to hurt the handler, the handler wouldn't be alive.
"If that tiger really wanted to hurt that keeper, that keeper wouldn't be here today.
"Tigers are an apex pr

Seoul zookeeper injured in tiger attack
A zookeeper was seriously injured after being attacked by a tiger at Seoul Zoo on the southern outskirts of the capital on Sunday, police and zoo officials said.

The ill-fated employee, identified only as Shim, was taken to a nearby hospital and is in serious condition after being mauled by a three-year-old Siberian male tiger, which escaped from its indoor playground and was sitting in a corridor used by zookeepers, the officials said.

The 52-year-old Shim, who was bitten in the neck and found lying on the floor shortly after 10 a.m., still remains unconscious at the nearby Hallym University Medical Center, they said.

No other injury was reported, they added, as zoo officials rushed to the scene and managed to force the tiger back into its indoor playground at 10:38 a.m., they said. All ordinary zoo visitors were evacuated following the incident.

They didn't give any ex

Zoo gives apes choice of action or romance films
Bonobo apes have long been beloved by researchers for their matriarchal group structure and have become famous for their use of sex as markers of social status.

Now the group in Stuttgart is being offered five different films to choose from, so a researcher can see what kind of things they like, and how the different members of the group end up in charge of what they watch.

The bonobo enclosure at the Wilhelma zoo and botanical garden in Stuttgart now has a modern flat-screen monitor built into the wall. There is no remote control for them to fight over, rather there are five buttons set into the wall under the screen.

Each button triggers a different film - but the bonobos are not being offered a choice between Pretty Woman or Die Hard - rather they can choose between short films featuring other bonobos.

"They are short films lasting between five and seven minutes," Karin Herczog, spokeswoman at Wilhelma told The Local.

"There is one featuring bonobos eating, one of them having sex, another featuring aggressive behaviour, one about them

Why I Love To Work Holidays: Thanksgiving Edition
Knowing that Thanksgiving is in a mere four days, I felt inspired to share one of the best days ever to be a marine mammal trainer.
Don't get me wrong, I know lots of people work on Thanksgiving.   I'm continually surprised at the sheer number of people who DON'T realize people have to go to work on such a big holiday.   The lack of logic is astonishing.  I'm compelled to ask these people a series of questions in the form of a Working During A Major Holiday Quiz:

Taronga Zoo: Marine expert says saving dolphins is not enough
That familiar dolphin sticker slapped on tuna cans for two decades worked. The global dolphin-friendly campaign has seen the death rates of dolphins captured in fishing gear plunge by 99 per cent, according to experts.
But in the ongoing struggle to sustainably catch more fish and seafood, the success of the dolphin campaign comes with a cautionary tale. Other marine species continue to be scooped from the world's oceans in huge amounts, putting them under threat of extinction.
Taronga Zoo's technical adviser on sustainable seafood campaigns, Duncan Leadbitter, said populations of sharks, sea turtles, and seabirds had been decimated by tuna fishing.
''There have been catastrophic declines in oceanic whitetip sharks because of long-line tuna fishing, with some places down 98 per cent,'' he

Astana starts constructing Zoo in 2015
Astana is going to start constructing a Zoo in 2015, Tengrinews reports citing the capital’s Akimat (Municipal Authorities).

The administration told Tengrinews that construction of the Zoo would start in 2015 and take 29 months (almost 2.5 years).

49 different species of animals will be presented in the Zoo, mainly from North America, South America and Africa. Each animal pavilion with have a special regulated climate.

The Zoo will occupy an area of half a square kilometer, with various facilities for animals constructed at the area of 28 square meters.

The Zoo's annual capacity will make 60 thousand visitors. It will employ 287 people. The cost of the project is estimated at $158.5 million.

LLP Project Construction Company

Journal of Threatened Taxa
The International Journal on Conservation & Taxonomy
ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)

November 2013 | Vol. 5 | No. 15 | Pages 4913-5020
Date of Publication 26 November 2013 (online & print)


CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Raorchestes ghatei, a new species of shrub frog (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Western Ghats of Maharashtra, India
-- Anand D. Padhye, Amit Sayyed, Anushree Jadhav & Neelesh Dahanukar, Pp. 4913–4931

CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Sahyadria, a new genus of barbs (Teleostei: Cyprinidae) from Western Ghats of India
-- Rajeev Raghavan, Siby Philip, Anvar Ali & Neelesh Dahanukar, Pp. 4932–4938

CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Meghamalai special section:
Meghamalai landscape: a biodiversity hotspot
-- Subramanian Bhupathy & Santhanakrishnan Babu, Pp. 4939–4944

Mammals of the Meghamalai landscape, southern Western Ghats, India - a review
-- Santhanakrishnan Babu, Gopalakrishnan Srinivas, Honnavalli N. Kumara, Karthik Tamilarasu & Sanjay Molur, Pp. 4945–4952

Status of reptiles in Meghamalai and its environs, Western Ghats, Tamil Nadu, India
-- Subramanian Bhupathy & N. Sathishkumar, Pp. 4953–4961

Birds of Meghamalai Landscape, southern Western Ghats, India
-- Santhanakrishnan Babu & Subramanian Bhupathy, Pp. 4962–4972

Anurans of the Meghamalai landscape, Western Ghats, India
-- G. Srinivas & Subramanian Bhupathy, Pp. 4973–4978

CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Fishes of River Bharathapuzha, Kerala, India: diversity, distribution, threats and conservation
-- A. Bijukumar, Siby Philip, Anvar Ali, S. Sushama & Rajeev Raghavan, Pp. 4979–4993

Diversity of medium and large sized mammals in a Cerrado fragment of central Brazil
-- Felipe Siqueira Campos, Alexandre Ramos Bastos Lage & Paulo Henrique Pinheiro Ribeiro, Pp. 4994–5001

Sightings and behavioral observations of Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins Sousa chinensis (Osbeck, 1765) along Chennai coast, Bay of Bengal
-- Rahul Muralidharan, Pp. 5002–5006

CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Caralluma bicolor Ramach. et al., (Apocynaceae: Asclepiadoideae) - a rare and little known endemic plant as a new record from Palakkad District, Kerala State, India
-- K.A. Anilkumar, K.M. Prabhu Kumar & P.S. Udayan Pp. 5007–5009

A note on the occurrence of Cucumis sativus L.forma hardwickii (Royle) W.J. De Wilde & Duyfjes (Cucurbitaceae) in peninsular India
-- Mandar N. Datar, Girish Pathak & Hemant V. Ghate, 5010–5012

Golden Langur Trachypithecus geei (Khajuria, 1956) feeding on Cryptocoryne retrospiralis  (Roxb.) Kunth (Family: Araceae): a rare feeding observation in Chirang Reserve Forest, Assam, India
-- Raju Das, Hilloljyoti Singha, Hemanta Kumar Sahu & Kushal Choudhury, Pp. 5013–5015

On the identification of Indian butterflies in the book on Butterflies of the Garo Hills
-- Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, Pp. 5016–5018

Final notes on the identification and misidentification of butterflies of the Garo Hills
-- Krushnamegh Kunte, Sanjay Sondhi, Gaurav Agavekar, Rohan Lovalekar & Kedar Tokekar, Pp. 5019–5020

Thanking you

Sanjay Molur
Founder Editor, Journal of Threatened Taxa
Wildlife Information & Liaison Development (WILD) Society / Zoo Outreach Organization
96, Kumudam Nagar, Vilankurichi Road, Coimbatore 641035 Tamil Nadu, India
Ph: +91 422 2665298, 2665450, Fx: +91 422 2665472

Dolphin Research Center Completes 10-Year Master Plan with PGAV Destinations
Enhanced Welcome Center and facilities will increase both capacity and learning opportunities
(St. Louis, MO) PGAV Destinations is proud to announce the completion of a 10-year Master Plan in association with Dolphin Research Center (DRC) on Grassy Key, Florida.

DRC was founded as a nonprofit nearly 30 years ago, and today stands as a world leader in marine mammal care, research, and education as they welcome more than 70,000 visitors per year. As DRC continues its successful track record of growth and progress, the organization hired St. Louis-based design firm PGAV Destinations to help steer a 10-year master plan to facilitate that growth with new capacity and teaching opportunities.
“We knew we were growing and felt that [we] had come to the point where it was time to bring in professionals and help us plan our future,” said Rita Irwin, president and CEO of DRC on

The master plan recognizes the strength of the existing dolphin programs and focuses improvements on the guest facilities, elevating DRC’s unique message and stories and the powerful, personal impact that guests experience. The first phase of the master plan will be a renovation and expansion of the Welcome Center. Other aspects ensure authenticity and aesthetic consistency throughout the facility by leveraging the destination’s location, storied history, and depth of research.

“For many people, the DRC is truly a tremendous, life-changing place,” says John Kemper, PGAV Destinations VP and project lead. “The research DRC conducts is invaluable to the science and animal husbandry communities – and the guests who come and interact with the dolphins are really touched – there are plenty that go through a kind of epiphany and change their outlook and actions based on that experience. We want to ensure that the entire facility has the infrastructure and amenities to deliver that power and experience for many years to come.”
The Welcome Center will undergo an operational transition, relocating admissions and retail so that each is more effective, enhancing beautiful graphics, and adding interpretive exhibits and easy to read signage that deliver DRC’s history, mission, research, and on-site information.

Other aspects of the master plan outline the steps for helping the center operate more efficiently, including an observation station to introduce the dolphins as individuals to the guests, and present a beautiful, incredible view of the dolphins’ habitat.

PGAV Destinations’ previous dolphin projects include work for the Indianapolis Zoo, Georgia Aquarium, Discovery Cove, and SeaWorld properties including Orlando, San Diego, San

About PGAV Destinations                                                                                                                     
PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. Now in its fifth decade, the practice has evolved to become the ideal destination-consulting partner, skilled at developing growth-oriented master plans and translating those plans into successful projects. No other firm offers such an integrated approach to destination planning. 

PGAV’s key clients include industry leaders such as SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, Universal Studios, the Biltmore Companies, Bass Pro Shops, Ameristar Casinos, The Gettysburg Foundation, the St. Louis Zoo, Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, and many others. Recent assignments include planning and design at many of the world’s “must see” destinations, including the Grand Canyon, Biltmore Estate, Hearst Castle, the Georgia Aquarium, the Hoover Dam, and SeaWorld Adventure Parks.

About Dolphin Research Center
Dolphin Research Center (DRC) was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1984 by Jayne Shannon-Rodriguez and Armando "Mandy" Rodriguez. Their goal was to ensure the dolphins had a home there for life, and in doing so to establish a unique education and research facility. DRC’s mission is “through education, research and rescue, Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment we share with the well-being of DRC’s animals taking precedence.”

The Atlantic bottlenose dolphins and California sea lions presently living at DRC provide a range of personalities and backgrounds. Some were born there; others came to DRC from separate facilities for various reasons or were already living there when Jayne and Mandy began managing the center. Over half of our family was born at the Center, while the other members have either come from other facilities or were rescued, rehabilitated, deemed unreleasable back into the wild by the Government and now have a forever home at Dolphin Research Center.

Red squirrels showing resistance to poxvirus
Researchers find signs of immunity in Formby population that was nearly killed off by the deadly disease transmitted by greys
The first case of a wild red squirrel surviving the poxvirus carried by greys has been recorded by researchers who have discovered encouraging signs of resistance to the deadly disease.

An isolated colony of red squirrels at Formby, Merseyside, were decimated by an outbreak of squirrelpox in 2008, which saw the population crash by 85% to less than 200 squirrels.

The disease, which is transmitted to reds by grey squirrels who remain unaffected by it, is thought to be a significant factor in the precipitous decline of the much-loved native mammal across Britain.

But scientists from the University of Liverpool monitoring the population at Formby have identified individual red squirrels which have contracted but survived the virus.

One animal was captured with ulcers around its eyes, mouth and nose – common signs of squirrelpox – and tested positive for the disease but after two months at a nearby RSPCA centre, was found to be negative again so was released back into the wild at Formby. The squirrel, nicknamed Clark because of its apparent super powers, was tracked with a radio collar and recaptured in good health on two further occasions.

Dr Julian Chantrey, from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Integrative Biology, said that while some individuals had survived by chance, blood tests of survivors from Formby found that a small number – less than 10% – had antibodies which would suggest they had recovered from infection in the past. But he warned that this was not yet proof that squirrels were developing immunity

Future of African penguin worrisome
he South African National Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (Sanccob) says it's worried about the future of the African penguin as the endangered species needs protection.
Approximately 155 abandoned African penguin chicks have been admitted to centres in Tableview and Cape St Francis since the beginning of the month.

These chicks were abandoned at the end of the breeding season.

Every year during summer the bird rehabilitation centre admits more than 300 abandoned African penguin chicks from Stony Point, Boulders Beach and Robben Island.

Sanccob’s Francois Louw says t

PETA attacks the Betta
Well, it finally happened, says Nathan Hill. PETA, the champions of animal welfare issues across the world, have donned their L-plates and stumbled into fishkeeping. They’ve made a right hash of it too.

I’ll start off by laying my cards on the table. I’m not personally anti-PETA. Animal rights and welfare issues are central to my heart, to the point that I’ve invested thousands upon thousands of pounds into my ongoing study of ethics. PETA have their detractors, based around their often-perceived hypocrisy when it comes to destruction of animals in their care, and, rightly, such issues are flagged up by a concerned public.

Unfortunately, some people equate failings within the system as systemic incompetence, which it is not. So, for the record, I believe that much of what PETA hope to achieve is ultimately geared for the reduction of suffering, and that can never be considered a bad thing.

PETA haven’t exactly done themselves any favours with this latest foray into what they consider the cruel world of Betta keeping (or fishkeeping in general, pending which anecdotal blog of theirs you read).

Betta, as you or I will know, is a large genus, but PETA is using an American colloquialism that refers specifically to Betta splendens, the Siamese fighting fish. Either fig


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Peter Dickinson
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