Friday, February 7, 2014

Zoo News Digest 1st - 7th February 2014 (ZooNews 888)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 7th February 2014 (ZooNews 888)

Dear Colleagues,

After a two week break back 'home' in Thailand my first day back at work was attending the 15th Conservation Workshop for the Biodiversity of Arabia at Sharjah Desert Park. A friend was kind enough to give me a lift to the conference and en route we stopped off to check on some baby Cheetahs. Lovely feisty little things. It was a good start to the day.
This is the third Conservation Workshop I have attended in recent years and I have enjoyed and gained from each of them. The pity is that I only ever to manage to set apart enough time to attend on the first day. Okay, I'm working with Penguins right now but Arabian Wildlife was my earliest love and we have never got divorced. I first arrived in the Arabian Gulf in 1951 and from the very beginning was fascinated by the wildlife. It was that this early interest which probably caused me to fall into a zoo career in 1968, I'm still there, worked with some amazing animals and some wonderful people and I have never regretted a single day. True enough there have been ups and downs but every job has those.
The talks I attended at the conference were all interesting but probably just as important was the opportunity to catch up with people I had not seen in a year or more and to meet some I have 'known' for a long time but never met.

So how was Thailand during the riots? In Pattaya I never noticed a thing. Life went on just as it always does. The days and nights shot by as fast as lightening. Again though a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, some I had not seen for years and missed greatly. I don't think I spoke to a single person who had English as their native tongue in the whole two weeks. My Pattaya is as wild as it is peaceful. Simple pleasures such as listening to bird song, patting a dog, stroking a cat are something I miss in Dubai. Most evenings started in Dao'sBar before moving onto a wild night. Peaceful mornings in Starbucks before working on the internet and then searching out a venue for people watching. A great break.

Moving on to the news. Once again Surabaya Zoo is getting it in the neck. It almost constant just now. Anybody starting to follow the story just now would be appalled and in some cases rightly so. No-one, least of all me is going to say everything is okay because it clearly isn't. Anyone seriously wanting to know what is going on needs to scratch a bit deeper than the current stories. Corruption, competition, big business are all being enhanced by people who are trying to cover their backs or promote themselves. I find the whole thing as interesting as it is irritating.

The latest issue of International Zoo News is now available. This long standing publication is important to every zoo. Every zoo should subscribe to it and every zoo employee should read it. Continuing education is, or should be, what we are about. If your zoo doesn't subscribe, or worse still has never heard of the publication, get them to subscribe today.

Congratulations to Sue Woodgate. Drusillas remains in my top five zoos ever visited. You are doing an excellent job.

Sadly, I see that Lafayette Zoo is the latest to exhibit a two headed turtle. I really am against this exhibition of freaks by zoos. What makes it even worse in Lafayette is that the unfortunate little creature was not even hatched in that collection but brought in purposefully for display. It really needs to be euthanased. Freaks like White Tigers, White Lions, Marmalade Tigers, Snow Tigers and deliberately produced colour morphs have no place in the modern zoo. Every place that goes down the freaky road needs to seriously think about what it is they are doing. I don't think they give a damn about anything but money. Just where would they draw the line. I bet there are people right now offering big money for that poor little white dolphin in Taiji.

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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Surabaya Zoo to Be Finally Handed Over to City
Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan says he considers the movement of animals from Surabaya Zoo to other facilities necessary to keep the animals healthy and to prevent inbreeding.

“The transfer of animals from Surabaya is needed to maintain the animal’s wellbeing,” Zulkifli said on the sidelines of a national conference on the conservation of the Javanese leopard at Taman Safari in Cisarua, Bogor, on Wednesday.

Zulkifli said that transfers were also needed to keep the animals comfortable because of overpopulation.

“It’s no wonder that the animals at Surabaya are thin and ill, because they live in crowded conditions. Nevertheless, the Forestry Ministry must be informed about any transfer of animals,” he said.

He added that wild animals in Indonesia belonged to the state and were protected by the state.

With regard to the handover of the zoo’s management to the Surabaya city administration, Zulkifli said it would be done immediately.

“Today I was planning to sign the handover of the management [to the city administration] so that it would have the authority to rotate the employees and hopefully prioritize the animal’s well-being,” the minister said.

Tony Sumampau, the secretary general of the Indonesian Zoo Association (PKSI), who previously headed the caretaker management of Surabaya Zoo, stressed the importance of zoos getting accreditation periodically to ensure the animals’ well-being.

“There are 26 zoos in Indonesia and they should be accredited every year with A for very good, B for good and C for not good,” said Tony, the Taman Safari chief.

“There are only four zoos in Indonesia that have been accredited A: Taman Safari Bogor, Taman Safari Prigen, Taman Safari Bali and Taman Binatang

The real story of the desert adapted Black rhino, Diceros Bicornis bicornis, sub species.
Before we continue, for some background information on this animal, please take a look at this for a better understanding of the animal in question
Currently, the public, anti and pro on the hunting debate, seem to have very little information to make educated decisions on in this on-going debate, so I will attempt to clarify a few things here.
What has been very strange is the deafening silence from conservation groups inside Namibia itself to come to the fore regarding this. At the onset of this debate, some people at first attacked Save The Rhino Trust (SRT) Namibia (not to be confused with Save The Rhino international, ) as it was very erroneously thought that they would be the recipients of the money raised in this auction. I quote the key of their response to this:
“Save the Rhino Trust does not have any decision making power on issues such as hunting rhino in or outside of Namibia and we are not at all part of these decisions. In fact we are not even informed of these decisions. We find out by way of the media ourselves. In Namibia, this is purely a decision made by the government of Namibia and we have no authority on the matter.”
“We do not directly receive money from hunting, we have nothing to do with hunting, and we have not at all been approached in this regard either, so to say that we will be receiving money from a rhino hunt is entirely inaccurate. We are not responsible for hunting and we are not associated with hunting. Our job at Save the Rhino Trust is to save rhino and that is exactly what we do every waking hour of our lives.”
The fact of the matter is that although Conservation NGO’s in Namibia works in close co-operation with the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), the state runs an incredible centralized and patriarchal department that does not tolerate criticism, and as they sometimes see it, “foreign” NGO’s meddling in their affairs. So although these conservation NGO’s are home grown and grass roots, with little to no backing from large conservation groups, there is a constant sword hanging over their operations that would see the end of their tireless efforts if the dare to confront government in their decisions. Hence the silence…
It is a reluctant one I can assure you, as no-one that spends their lives trying to conserve this very small pool of the last free-ranging Rhinos, Elephants and Lions of the North West Namib hunted or poached.
So the public only see the smoke and mirrors created by the BIG BOYS like WWF, assuming that if they claim its good conservation, then it is. BUT IT IS NOT! And here’s why:
The public see figures that the government and the conservation powers to be want you to see. They are not lying, just misdirecting so you believe that is the only story.
So let’s first put some numbers into perspective. The hunter thinks he is bidding for one out of about 5000+ black rhino in the wild. This is not true. Black Rhinos are subdivided into distinct subspecies, that conservationist try very hard not to interbreed.
Eastern (D.b.michaeli) around 799 left, mostly under armed guard and not hunted.
South Central (D.b.minor) around 2 000 left mostly in South Africa. Currently under heavy threat from this recent wave of poaching that claimed over 1000 rhino lives in 2013 (black and white) CITES approved limited trophy hunting as well.
South Western (D.b.bicornis) numbers from various sources differ, and is secret for security reasons. Between 1750 and 1900? Poaching still minimal so far, only one free-range animal lost last year, but we expect the rate to massively increase this year. Meaning that if Namibia (with much less policing resources gets targeted the same as South Africa) gets targeted the total population could be wiped out in a few years.
Now we are getting closer to reality. Of these say 1750 individuals, around 1000 lives inside of protected National Parks and selected private sanctuaries, where they are hopefully more safe and can promote better manage breeding.
So this leaves us with around 750 animal that is the last of the free ranging black rhinos in Africa, roaming wild in a mostly wilderness desert area of

'Black disease' likely caused gaur deaths
A bacterium known to cause "black disease" is most likely to have killed dozens of gaurs in Kui Buri National Park in Prachuap Khiri Khan province, officials say.
Tuangthong Patchimasiri, senior veterinary researcher of the National Institute of Animal Health, said that laboratory tests detected the bacteria Clostridium novyi from samples taken from 15 gaurs, which can lead to black disease and cause immediate death.

A total 24 gaur carcasses, 14 male, eight female and two calves, were found in the national park between late November and early December last year.

According to the test results, 99.5% of the contents of the gaurs' stomachs was grass and only 0.5% comprised double-leafed plants, going against a previous assumption that the animals had died after eating leaves from maiyalarb yak, or giant sensitive plants.

Other bacterial strains such as Clostridium perfringens were also found in some samples, but they were ruled out as the cause of death.

Ms Tuangthong said that Clostridium novyi has never been detected in the country before, but judging from international studies, the bacteria can lead to death in cattle, sheep and horses, adding that researchers are carrying out tissue cultivation and will conduct tests on mice to confir

Rethinking zoos
A couple of weekends ago, I stood in line for two hours to see Bao Bao, the panda cub whose aura has transformed the National Zoo in Washington into a can’t-miss destination for tourists, locals and breathless, mitten-clad six-year-olds. People thronged. No piece of panda paraphernalia was too obscure — panda plushies, panda shirts, stationery made from processed panda scat. Yet the main attraction herself evidently prefers subtlety. After finally reaching the front of the queue, other zoo-goers and I learned from a nonchalant employee that Bao Bao "wasn’t seeing anyone." Apparently, she sleeps for 20 hours a day. Celebrities.
There’s no denying the financial benefits that charismatic animals — babies especially — bring to zoos. An elaborate elephant display or orangutan enclosure reels in visitors. In the next year alone, the National Zoo expects to have 300,000 more visitors thanks to Bao Bao.
Mere gravitational pull makes such showstoppers seem like a godsend for conservation efforts. Most major zoos include some reference to conservation in their mission statements, and part of their approach emphasizes breeding and research initiatives — success stories include the reintroduction of the Arabian oryx and black-footed ferret to the wild. But what separates zoos from other research facilities is their role in public education. Get a child to care about an elephant, and as an adult, he’ll want to protect that elephant. In the process, he’ll learn to care about other animals, too: If he values a panda, he’ll also want to protect the Yangtze giant softshell turtle. Or so the thinking goes.
But conservation based on aesthetics frames protection in the wrong way, directly relating the necessity of a species’ continuity to its charm. The celebration of certain animals over others reinforces prejudices to which we’re already prone: Informational zoo signs inform us that a lion is special because of its mane and a cheetah because of its speed. As a result, we learn to appreciate animals because of traits we find appealing, not because of their roles in an ecosystem. Adorable panda: one; Orlov’s viper: zero.
Reframing conservation need not mean the end of headliner animals for zoos. In fact, many charismatic megafauna play critical roles in their ecosystems. Such "keystone" species serve an especially important role in maintaining a biological community’s balance. If there are too few wolves, for example, overabundant elk decimate willow populations, leaving beavers no material with which to build dams. Because keystone species are often large and demand wide ranges, they are highly vulnerable to habitat destruction and are perhaps especially in need of supplementation from zoo breeding efforts. But if zoos truly aim to further c

Edited by Dr Kees Rookmaaker

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Tony the chimp bites the hand that fed him
A chimp raised by zoo caretakers since its birth in 1999, after its mother refused to feed it, caused an upset this week when it bit off a finger of its beloved foster-father, Thilak Pushpakumara. Tony the chimp had become greatly attached to Pushpakumara over the years. An entertainer from his young days doing a “chimp show”, Tony stole the hearts of all who visited the zoo in the past decade ago with its cuddly nature.

But with increasing age the animal had developed violent behaviour. Consequently Tony was kept isolated. Restless in solitary confinement – chimpanzees are social creatures – it continued to be violent, sometimes throwing objects at visitors, but it maintained affection for its former caretaker. According to zoo sources, the incident occurred when Pushpakumara went too close to offer Tony a toffee that it loved as a little fellow. The unlucky caretaker has been admitted to the Kalubowila hospital for treatment.
Dehiwala Zoo is home to a number of chimpanzees. A family of chimps has been given a bit of spacious cave with relative space and climbing logs etc. to play around, but there has been a problem with putting Tony among them. To begin with, Tony has been habituated among people since its birth and secondly it is a male chimp, and the dominant male in the troop will not tolerate another. So the animal keepers believed they had no other option under current conditions in the zoo than keeping Tony in a separate cage; that probably made him more disturbed.

The zoo had since trained another baby chimp named Sanju to perform tricks. Sanju also won the hearts of visitors few years ago but he too now is kept separately caged after it became violent. Although chimps are affectionate as infants and are a delight to interact with, they grow up fast and their unique intelligence makes it difficult to keep them stimulated and satisfied in a human environment says the foremost chimpanzee expert in the world Dr. Jane Goodale.

By the age of five chimps are stronger than most human adults and they become destructive and resentful of discipline, and they can, and will, bite. Chimpanzee owners have lost fingers and suffered severe

Dolphin Circuses Defy Ban
Despite the necessary laws being in place, a lack of willpower keeps the wildlife trade alive
Dolphins are still being held captive in traveling circuses, forced to perform and treated inhumanely despite Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan vowing last year to close down the popular sideshows.

The dolphins are captured illegally, with traders and circus owners continuing to defy the law, and little is being done to stop them, activists say.

Femke den Haas, founding director of the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), says that after years of fighting for the end of the travelling dolphin shows, she does not have much hope for Indonesia’s protected species, with the country “heading in the wrong direction” in terms of wildlife protection and those in charge failing to carry out their duties.

“I feel very frustrated and angry because this shows clearly that Indonesian wildlife is doomed to survive under this management,” she said.

The intelligent sea creatures are forced to perform in front of crowds multiple times a day, doing tricks like jumping through rings of fire. They are often under-fed and treated without necessary care and kept in unsuitable chlorinated pools, which can leave them blind.

The wild mammals are dragged around the country in inappropriate transport, with some perishing due to insufficient care and neglect.

Wild dolphins are protected from capture under Indonesian law, but loopholes have been exploited, with circuses claiming the dolphins have been taken from the wild because of injuries after becoming entangled in nets and needing medical attention, which leaves them unable to be released back into the wild.

Fishermen who capture and sell the dolphins to the circuses can make good money, but JAAN has found they can also be reluctant sellers.

“Their coordinator clearly stated on film that he feels horrible about doing this, as the dolphins ‘cry like babies’ and are just like humans,” JAAN staff said in a report.

“But the circus pays big money for the dolp

Killer whale activists try again to free Lolita after 43 years at Miami Seaquarium
A wetsuit-clad trainer stands on a platform in the middle of a pool and announces to the audience of tourists and schoolchildren: “And now it’s time to meet the biggest star in Miami.”

Seconds later, the 20-foot, 7,000-pound killer whale named Lolita soars into the air and lands with a gigantic splash, spraying cold water over the sides and onto the squealing kids draped in plastic.

Lolita never fails to delight. For nearly 44 years, the wild-born orca has been the main draw for Miami Seaquarium, the marine park on Virginia Key where millions have come from around the world to see the majestic creature perform tricks for fish.

“To us, Lolita is part of our family,” longtime park curator Robert Rose said.

But activists who are headquartered thousands of miles across the country in Washington state say it is long overdue for the killer whale to be returned to her real family in the Pacific Ocean.

Most of the current activists have been part of previous efforts over the past two decades to “Liberate Lolita,” including one led by the governor of Washington. All have fizzled. Now, the activists are waging a seemingly last-ditch campaign, with legal battles on two fronts. Lolita already has overcome the odds, and has lived more than two decades longer than large marine mammals’ average survival in captivity.

“I want more than anything to see Lolita out of that little pool they have there and back in her native waters — she certainly deserves it after all the things she’s gone through,” said Karen Ellick of Washington state. She took part in a Mother’s Day protest for Lolita’s freedom about 15 years ago at the Seaquarium and is now a party in both legal battles.

In one case, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Foundation submitted a petition last year to the National Marine Fisheries Service to include Lolita on the endangered species list as a member of the Southern Resident killer whales. That population is made up of the J, K and L pods that roam coastal sites from central California north to Southeast Alaska and spend spring and summers in the inland waterways of Washington state and British Columbia. Lolita, a member of the L pod, is the only captive orca of that Southern Resident population, which is down to about 85 members.

PETA filed the petition on behalf of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Orca Network and four individuals.

That same group also launched a lawsuit in 2012 against the U.S. Department of Agriculture that “challenges its absurd decision to renew the Seaquari

'Stress needed on international exchange of animals'
A meeting of Wildlife Health Advisory Committee was held at Kanpur Zoo on Monday. The committee members inspected the zoo and discussed about the cleanliness at the place. Later, certain decisions were taken for Kanpur and Lucknow zoo.

It was decided to open a leopard rescue centre. At present, several rescued animals, including leopards are brought to Kanpur and Lucknow zoos for treatment. The place for opening the rescue centre is yet to be identified.

It was also discussed that the zoos should lay stress on international exchange of animals. Leopards could be given to foreign zoos, keeping the dwindling numbers and man-animal conflict because of which these big cats are either severely injured or killed.

The committee members suggested that the male animals between the zoos in the state should be exchanged as it would help in reducing inbreeding.

It was also decided that the veterinarians of Kanpur and Lucknow zoos should exchange visits and remain in touch.

The advisory health committee concluded that a board comprising veterinarians or experts be constituted which would come handy at the time of any eventuality or in emergency situations.

The committee decided to check the health of the animals at the central pathology lab and nutrition lab of the animal husbandry department.

The committee also decided that the excess number of deer in Kanpur and Lucknow zoos will be released in the reserve forest, according to norms. The meeting w


Drusillas zookeeper celebrates 30 years mucking out
A zoo manager is celebrating 30 years of working at award-winning Drusillas Park after starting aged 16.

Sue Woodgate started out as a junior keeper and three decades later is running the ten-acre wildlife park and is responsible for both its animals and its keepers.

Sue started at Drusillas after a serious riding accident ended her dream of a career with horses.

Sue said: “We had fewer animals but there were just three of us to look after them - the curator, the head keeper and myself.
“Most of my day consisted of mucking out. By comparison, today we have ten zoo keepers working at any one time.”

She worked her way through the ranks and when the zoo changed hands in 1997 the new owners offered her the role of zoo curator.

The title changed to zoo and education manager in 2004 giving her oversight of all aspects of animal welfare, conservation, and species management.

She added: “One question I regularly get asked is are there any animals still here that were here when I started and it may surprise you to know that there are - some of our flamingos arrived at Drusilla


Japan's eldest elephant, Hanako, celebrates 67th birthday at Inokashira Park Zoo
Hanako, a female Asian elephant who arrived in Japan shortly after the end of World War II celebrated her 67th birthday on Feb. 2 at Inokashira Park Zoo -- continuing her distinction as Japan's eldest elephant.

The animal celebrated her birthday by consuming a cake made from sliced bread topped with bean jam buns, which she ate all in one bite.

Hanako enjoys great popularity among the children who visit the zoo, which straddles the Tokyo cities of Musashino and Mitaka.

Also attending the occasion was the family of the late Thai businessperson Somwang Sarasas, who presented Hanako as a gift in 1949 with his own funds.

A relative of Sarasas commented, "I think of Hanako as my older sister in Japan. She has been in Japan since she was two years old, and it brings me joy to think of her serving as a bridge of friendship between Japan and Thailand."

Hanako suffered from loss of appetite from the autumn of 2011 through the end of the year -- on some days eating only a single lump of brown sugar -- but eventually she recovered. Now, depending


Birds in Zoos in England: An Assessment of Welfare, Conservation and Education in 2013


Tiger at Surabaya Zoo Said to Be Near Death
Surabaya Zoo in East Java, still in the national glare following a string of animal deaths, has once again courted controversy, this time over reports that a rare white tiger is on the brink of death after not receiving adequate care.

The health of the 17-year-old tiger, named Chandrika, has reportedly been declining for the past three months.

“Chandrika was not taken care by a medical team as required,” a source at the zoo told the Jakarta Globe on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity. “She needs emergency care.”

The source said the tiger had never been given a medical check or had blood work or any other kinds of tests done to determine what she was suffering from.

The source said an outside party had offered to treat the animal, but zoo officials had refused. “Any day now she will die,” the source said.

Agus Supangkat, a spokesman for the zoo, confirmed that Chandrika was ill, but denied that she was on the verge of dying. He also attributed her poor condition to old age rather than lack of care.

He added she had lost a substantial amount of weight because she was toothless and had difficulty eating.

“So it’s normal for an old [tiger] to start getting ill, just as humans do when they turn old,” Agus said.

“We have been treating her and if there are people want to help, please do,” he said. “We’re open to help from anyone.”

Tony Sumampou, who headed a caretaker team that until last year managed the zoo, insisted that Chandrika was not ill because of old age, but ill treatment.

“To date she has never been treated, so just wait for her death,” he said. “Seventeen is old for a tiger, but Chandrika isn’t that old, and even if she is, that doesn’t mean she has to suffer that way.”

Zoo director Ratna Achjuningrum previously revealed that 84 animals at the zoo are in poor health, including Chandrika.

She said many of the animals fell ill “because of the


Endangered wildcat killed by partner
An endangered female Tsushima yamaneko (Tsushima leopard cat) at Yokohama Zoorasia died after a male of the same species attacked her when they were placed together in an enclosure for breeding purposes, the zoo has announced.

The female cat, named Kokoro, was estimated to be 9 years old.

The species—indigenous to Tsuhima island in Nagasaki Prefecture—is designated by the state as a national natural treasure.

Kokoro was bitten on the head and throat by the male on Jan. 25 after she was placed in the enclosure earlier that day together with her mating partner, according to the zoo in Asahi Ward, Yokohama. The incident took place during a 35-minute absence of a zookeeper in charge of monitoring the pair. There

Row brewing over Indonesia's 'death zoo'
A MALE giraffe died an agonising death at Indonesia's Surabaya Zoo with 20 kg of plastic found in his stomach, in 2012. Three months later, a 30-year-old female elephant died after living with a broken leg for two years.

So far this year, six animals have died at Indonesia's largest zoo, in East Java province, including a protected 3-year-old Komodo dragon and an African lion called Michael, found with his head caught in a cable in his enclosure.

Following animal deaths that go back to 2010, the most recent incidents have reinforced the park's reputation as a "zoo of death."

The tragic stories have triggered public anger, allegations of corruption, and even drawn a possible presidential candidate into the controversy.

"Mismanagement at Surabaya Zoo has gone on for too long and the animals are suffering," said Rosek Nursahid, head of the conservation group ProFauna Indonesia.

Conservationists blame the mess on a long-running power struggle within a local wildlife conservation foundation that manages the zoo, as well as funding problems.

More than 75,000 people have signed an online petition to demand the government take action to save the animals at the zoo, which was built in 1916 by Dutch colonisers.

The city administration took over the management of the zoo in July from a team of experts and conservationists, but animals continued to die.

At least 30 animals died between October and December last year, including newly born and older animals.

"The quality of animal welfare has been very low," Nursahid said.

"Enclosures are too small and unsafe for different species."

According to the city government, the zoo is home to more than 2800 animals of more than 350 species, the most complete collection in Southeast Asia.

Last month, Mayor Tri R

Can Indonesia's 'zoo of death' turns things around?
Last month, a young lion named Michael was found hanged in his cage at Surabaya zoo.

The 18-month-old got his neck tangled in a cable used by keepers to open and close his cage.

An official claimed the lion got himself caught as he jumped around.

However, by the time the police arrived, the lion's carcass had been removed from the cage, complicating any investigation into whether negligence contributed to his death.

Zoo director Ratna Achjuningrum said keepers did not realise they should wait for police.

"They did not think that it was potentially a crime scene that needed to be sealed off," she said.

Surabaya zoo, on the island of Java, is Indonesia's oldest - and home to thousands of animals, birds and other creatures.

In recent months, however, it has been dubbed "the zoo of death" because of the number of animals dying fro

At Surabaya Zoo, Animals Bear Brunt of Management Fiasco
It’s a weekday afternoon, and Surabaya Zoo is as quiet as it’s going to get before the weekend rush of visitors.

It looks run-down; the bars and chicken wire that fence off the animal enclosures are rusty, and several of the enclosures look as though they haven’t been cleaned in a while. The walls need a fresh coat of paint.

For Indonesia’s biggest zoo, it comes off as parochial. But the tensions bubbling beneath its rustic surface are fed by the kind of intrigue found in paperback thrillers — allegations of illicit animal smuggling, protection rackets, poisoning, and a network of zoos run in quasi-Mafia fashion.

Musical chairs

Surabaya Zoo is officially back under the management of the city, which took it over in July last year from a caretaker team that had been appointed by the Forestry Ministry in August 2010 to stem a tide of up to 500 animal deaths a year under previous managements dating back to 2006.

The deaths have not ceased; 106 animals were reported to have died since the city took charge in July, four of them this year, including a lion that was strangled to death last month after getting caught in a steel cable that was part of its enclosure.

A big part of the problem, says Tony Sumampau, the director of Taman Safari Indonesia and the head of the now-dissolved caretaker team, is that animal welfare has always been low on the list of priorities of the city-appointed zoo officials.

High on the list, he says, is the money that the officials make from the various vendors and stall owners who have set up shop inside the zoo.

The restaurants, Tony says, generate up to a Rp 50 million ($4,100) a month in kickbacks to the officials, while the smaller eateries pay a combined Rp 25 million.

The fees are illegal — as is the presence of many of the food stalls and vendors of other knickknacks. That makes the protection racket a valuable one for those running it, Tony says.

“So if their interests are disturbed, they resort to sabotage,” he says.

“For instance, they can kill an animal.”

Tony claims this has happened during his watch, when his team tried to clear away some of the illegal vendors. An animal (he declines to give details) was found dead one day, and an autopsy found it had been poisoned with cyanide.

“There’s no way a visitor would have done that. It was certainly someone on the inside,” he says.

Wayan Titib Sulaksana, the former legal and administrative affairs officer in the short-lived management of Basuki Rekso Wibowo, one of many appointed to try and improve conditions at the zoo since 2001, also alleges that making money from the protection racket has always been more important for some zoo officials than taking care of the animals.

He says one of the first things he noticed when Basuki, a law professor at Surabaya’s Airlangga University, took charge in August 2009 was the sheer number of vendors operating in the zoo, often right up against the animal enclosures.

“Why on earth would there be people selling sandals and T-shirts at a zoo?” Wayan says. “What did any of that have to do with conservation?”

Wayan and Basuki tried to evict the vendors, both inside and outside the zoo, many of whom were also illegally siphoning electricity from the zoo.

But they encountered resistance from the longtime workers at the zoo, many of whom either ran the illegal concession stands or had allowed their family or friends to sell inside the zoo.

Wayan later found that the zoo’s worker recruitment system was plagued by the same problem: older employees were deliberately blocking the hiring of fresh staff and steering the jobs to their children, relatives or friends, who in most cases were unqualified for the positions.

“So it’s no wonder that the problems at the zoo have become so deeply entrenched over the years,” he says.

Wayan’s attempts to clean up the zoo management went unfinished when just six months after taking over, Basuki’s team was replaced, at the city’s behest, by the previous management led by Stany Soebakir. (Stany’s team was itself just months later replaced once again, this time by Tony’s, upon the intervention of the Forestry Ministry.)

“They hired thugs to kick us out of Surabaya Zoo,” Wayan says of Stany’s team.

Stany also precipitated the ouster of Tony’s team last year, when he threatened to file suit against the administration of Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini if it did not take immediate measures to restore his management.

Facing mounting pressure, Rismaharini ordered the zoo back under city management — but left Stany out of the picture. (That hasn’t stopped his supporters from claiming ownership of the zoo, as they did last month after the Forestry Ministry said it would issue a conservation permit formally approving the Surabaya administration as the zoo’s new management; they insist Stany owns the land on which the zoo, and most of the animals too).

The zoo boss

While Stany’s name has come up at nearly every mention of the zoo, one that has remained largely unspoken is that of Rahmat Shah, a member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and chairman of the Indonesian Zoo and Aquarium Association (PKBSI).

Rahmat is one of several officials reportedly named by Rismaharini in a recent filing to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) about the alleged illegal trade of up to 483 animals from the zoo, including highly endangered species such as th

‘Sex and the City Zoo’ to reveal wild courtship rituals
It was a balmy January morning at the Los Angeles Zoo, and former general curator Michael Dee couldn’t help get excited — and inevitably a bit graphic — when talking about the mating habits of several exotic and endangered animals here.

The Chatsworth resident was offering a preview of a presentation he’s giving Saturday evening as part of the fifth “Sex and the City Zoo” Valentine’s event celebrating romance in the animal kingdom. Proceeds from the adults-only, dinner-optional affair, which includes wine, sweets and entertainment by recording artist Whitney Hall, will benefit the nonprofit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA).

“I’ll be talking about the sex lives of animals and how it relates to humans and some of the unusual mating behaviors of wild animals,” said Dee, now a docent at the zoo. “Hopefully, they’ll get a few chuckles out of it. I try to make it entertaining but also educational.”

While standing in front of an exhibit of graceful Chilean flamingos, Dee explained wryly that flamingos have “group sex.” Well, maybe not the way their human counterparts do, but the tall wading birds will only pair off and mate in colonies.

In fact, he said, “you can put two flamingos together (by themselves), and they’re not going to do anything.”

Flamingos also have “an elaborate courtship,” with the males doing “fancy flutters” with their wings

ASU, Phoenix Zoo team to study troubled species
A spotted jaguar crawls on a tree trunk, tail swinging as it looks through the fence at the Phoenix Zoo, waiting to be fed.

“He sees something that he wants,” Jan Schipper said.

Schipper has studied these jungle cats in Costa Rica in an effort to possibly save the endangered species. Now, he’s taking his years of conservation research and applying it at the Phoenix Zoo.

His job as a conservation research fellow is funded by a new partnership between the zoo and Arizona State University’s School of Life Sciences. For three years, he will continue his research while bringing in ASU students to help study conservation biology.

“My goal is to build a bridge between ASU and the zoo,” Schipper said. “I want to build new tools for conservation.”

For Schipper, that means he will have students study animal behavior and talk to zoo visitors to raise awareness.

One animal he wants to study is the Calamian deer, which is only found on one island of the Philippines. These deer have faced recent danger from hunters after typhoon Haiyan hit that nation in 2013.

Ideally, he would bring ASU students with him to study mating patterns within the indigenous populations to see how successful reintroducing captive Calamian deer could be.

He will split his time between the zoo, ASU and his field work as he continues to find new ways to help animals facing population threats.

“I haven’t quite figured out wher


Jakarta’s ‘Topeng Monyet’ Could Be Released Into the Wild: Joko
 Dozens of masked monkeys seized in the Indonesian capital may be released into the wild after the city’s zoo declined to take the animals into its care, Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo said on Thursday.

The Jakarta administration staged a city-wide crackdown on topeng monyet — a cruel practice where long-tailed macaques are forced to wear costumes and perform for spare change — last October, purchasing the monkeys from handlers for Rp 1 million ($82) each. More than 60 monkeys were seized in the sweeps, putting an end to what was once a common sight on the streets of Jakarta. But the question of what to do with the animals, many of which suffered years of abuse, still hangs in the air.

The monkeys, which are being rehabilitated by the Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN), were initially slated for the city’s Ragunan Zoo. But zoo officials have declined to take in the capital’s street monkeys, arguing that they suffered from diseases and posed a threat to the facilities current animal population.

“The illnesses vary, from hepatitis to tuberculosis, so if Ragunan Zoo doesn’t want them, then that’s OK,” Joko said.

Instead, the city should look to releasing the monkeys into the wild, he said.

“The ill monkeys have to be healed, but once they’re healthy we may release them to the forest,” Joko said.

JAAN wild animal protection coordinator Femke den Haas told the Jakarta Globe that the animals were no longer sick. Fourteen macaques were put down after testing positive for tuberculosis, Den Haas said. The remaining 67 are free of disease and slowly learning to socialize with other macaques — a significant step after spending much of their lives li

Five ways to prevent sage grouse extinction emerge from Calgary Zoo conference
Conservation experts from around the world are making five main recommendations to protect one of Canada’s most highly endangered birds from extinction.

One of the suggestions is to protect the bird by potentially reducing predator numbers, while another is to establish a captive breeding centre.

The ideas come from a workshop by the Calgary Zoo that brought together biologists, ranchers, government and energy industry representatives.

The sage grouse population has dropped by 98 per cent over the last 25 to 45 years; there are fewer than 138 birds remaining in Canada.

The federal government issued an emergency order to protect the grouse across 1,700 square kilometres of Crown land in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

The Calgary Zoo says models suggest current reproduction and survival rates are too low to sustain the wild population and extinction is likely within two to five years if action isn’t taken immediately.

“The greater sage grouse is almost extinct in Canada,” Axel Moehrenschlager, head of the zoo’s C

New Two-Headed Turtle on display at Lafayette Zoo
The newest resident of Zoosiana is a two-headed turtle! Michael and Angelo came from RainForest Adventures Zoo in Tennessee.

While bicephalic animals are quite uncommon, it is not unheard of in both the wild and zoo populations. When it does occur, it is most often with snakes and turtles. The zoo says Michael and Angelo are actually twins that did not fully separate and ended up having two heads on one body.

Both heads are eating well and have very different personalities, as they rarely agree on the same direction to walk! Michael and Angelo require a more specialized care than that of a, more typical, turtle with one head, as they could easily drown if they flip upside down while underwater. Their favorite foods include fish, blood worms, and crickets.

Michael and Angelo will be on exhibit starting this weekend (Febr

Rain-lashed penguins at Scarborough sanctuary given antidepressants
Penguins native to South America prescribed pick-me-ups to try to raise spirits after weeks of relentless wind and rain
Penguins in a British sanctuary are so fed up with the miserable winter weather they are being given antidepressants.

Wild Humboldt penguins are used to withstanding inhospitable weather in the coastal areas of South America, but those living in captivity in Scarborough are struggling with the constant wind and rain lashing the country.

Staff at the Sea Life Centre there have become so concerned they have started to administer the medication as a pick-me-up.

The centre's display curator Lyndsey Crawford told the Guzelian news agency: "Humboldts in the wild on the coast of Peru and Chile can be subjected to some pretty wild extremes of weather. What they don't get though is weeks of almost daily downpours and high winds.

"After the first week out birds were just a bit subdued, but after over a month now, they are thoroughly fed-up and miserable, much like the rest of us."

Three years ago the animals became similarly stressed and anxious when they were chased by a trespasser who broke into their enclosure. The experience left the animals, which are particularly vulnerable to any change in routine, frightened and it took some time for them to produce eggs again.

According to staff, misery can lower the penguins' natural defences even more easily than in humans. That has lead them to prescribe "uppers" to try and head off any more serious symptoms.

"They're doing the trick so far, but we are all praying for the weather to change and at le

Elephant calf struggles for its life
Experts in the Ostrava zoo are struggling to keep alive the elephant young that was born Tuesday but has refused to drink from its mother, the zoo's spokeswoman Šárka Kalousková told the Czech News Agency, adding that the attendants attempted tube-feeding the calf today.
The attendants have repeatedly failed to feed the calf with a milk replacer, owing to its underdeveloped sucking reflex.
At first, they tried to feed the calf without separating it from its mother Vishesh, who was given tranquilizers.
"Unfortunately, it turned out that the young's sucking reflex is not developed enough," Kalousková said.
The attendants succeeded in separating the young and placing a tube providing enteral feeding to it, she said. Immediately afterward, the young was reunited with its mother, who fortunately accepted it.
In the hours to come, the attendants will try to encourage the calf to start drinking. As Vishesh firmly protects her offspring, the procedure will be extremely demanding and its effect uncertain, Kalousková said.
On Wednesday, the zoo keepers unsuccessfully tried to feed the young from a bottle with a milk replacer across the barriers surrounding the elephants' enclosure.
Vishesh has been kept in a so-called "protected contact" regime, which means she is not accustomed to coming into dire

January-February 2013

Volume 33Issue 1
Pages 1–80

  1. Commentary

    1. You have free access to this content

  2. Research Article

    1. You have free access to this content
      Factors Associated With Uterine Endometrial Hyperplasia and Pyometra in Wild Canids: Implications for Fertility (pages 8–19)
      Cheryl S. Asa, Karen L. Bauman, Sarah Devery, Martín Zordan, Gerardo R. Camilo, Sally Boutelle and Anneke Moresco
      Article first published online: 1 APR 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21069

  3. Commentary

    1. You have free access to this content
      “Use it or lose it”: Characterization, implications, and mitigation of female infertility in captive wildlife (pages 20–28)
      Linda M. Penfold, David Powell, Kathy Traylor-Holzer and Cheryl S. Asa
      Article first published online: 28 DEC 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21104

  4. Husbandry Reports

    1. You have free access to this content

  5. Research Articles

    1. You have free access to this content
      Boldness towards novelty and translocation success in captive-raised, orphaned Tasmanian devils (pages 36–48)
      David L. Sinn, Lisa Cawthen, Susan M. Jones, Chrissy Pukk and Menna E. Jones
      Article first published online: 28 DEC 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21108
    2. You have free access to this content
      The influence of ambient noise on maternal behavior in a Bornean sun bear (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus) (pages 49–53)
      Megan A. Owen, Suzanne Hall, Lisa Bryant and Ronald R. Swaisgood
      Article first published online: 17 DEC 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21105
    3. You have free access to this content
      Implementing unpredictability in feeding enrichment for Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) (pages 54–62)
      Marion Schneider, Gunther Nogge and Lydia Kolter
      Article first published online: 9 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21112
    4. You have free access to this content
      Implementing a low-starch biscuit-free diet in zoo gorillas: The impact on behavior(pages 63–73)
      E.H. Less, R. Bergl, R. Ball, P.M. Dennis, C.W. Kuhar, S.R. Lavin, M.A. Raghanti, J. Wensvoort, M.A. Willis and K.E. Lukas
      Article first published online: 4 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21116
    5. You have free access to this content
      Implementing a low-starch biscuit-free diet in zoo gorillas: The impact on health(pages 74–80)
      E.H. Less, K.E. Lukas, R. Bergl, R. Ball, C.W. Kuhar, S.R. Lavin, M.A. Raghanti, J. Wensvoort, M.A. Willis and P.M. Dennis
      Article first published online: 13 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21115


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