Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zoo News Digest 26th - 30th September 2014 (ZooNews 901)

Zoo News Digest 26th - 30th September 2014 (ZooNews 901)

Dear Colleagues,

I know I have said it before but it really saddens me how much ignorance there is out there in the zoo world. I would have thought with the advent of social media that the situation would become better, but it doesn't….it becomes worse. Some of the comments I read on Facebook make me cringe. The commentators haven't got a clue and probably never did. One can't help wondering about the management of the collections in which they work. I pride myself at being able to brush the smokescreens aside and see the truth. I can forgive a little wrong because none of us (and especially me) is perfect. But some of the facts and information given out, and repeated is a tissue of lies….and a very thin tissue at that. The good zoos need to stop hiding under their buckets and come out and say something. If we don't expose the lies for what they are the good zoos will continue to be tarred by the same brush.

The press doesn't help, reporters today never seem to be able to research as to whether a fact is actually a fact.

Although I have been based in Dubai these past three years I prefer to maintain a UK address  for my surface mail. This has changed yet again. It is now:

Peter Dickinson, c/o 2 Highgate, Dolwen, Abergele, Conwy, North Wales, 

United Kingdom, LL22 8NP.

Bear in mind it is NOT where I live. You can send books for review, cheques etc to that address. I will get them eventually....although it may take months. If you prefer to send by courier to Dubai then please email me and I will send details. My contact phone number in Dubai remains the same:

00971 (0)50 4787 122


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

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Now, men in khaki to check PDA at zoo
At a time when Ludhiana zoo and Tiger Safari are grasping for funds and don't have proper infrastructure to ensure safety of visitors, the zoo authorities are thinking of brining in police to keep a check on couples who indulge in public display of affection (PDA).

Ludhiana zoo has sent an application to Lodhuwal police station demanding cops to check PDA at zoo.

Sukhpal Singh, in-charge, Ludhiana zoo, said, "The zoo is a centre of attraction for children and families. On weekends and during festivals, visitors come with their families. Moreover, schoolchildren come here. Couples found in inappropriate positions make it embarrassing for others and even affect the number of visitors as well."

"So we wrote an application to Lodhuwal police station with a request to appoint cops or constable in Ludhiana zoo, on Thursday. Though our staff in civil dress keep patrolling zoo area, it does not make much of a difference. We are sure that the presence of men in khaki will certainly make the difference," added Sukhpal Singh.

Another staff member of Ludhiana zoo said, "Often students in school uniforms come in the morning and stay till their school timings are over here

Wild encounters: Zoo workers in India constantly exposed to injury or even death in their line of duty
The death of a 20-year-old man in Delhi Zoo on Tuesday after being mauled by a white tiger has turned the spotlight on the training and preparedness of zoo staff across the country in dealing with emergency situations.
While zoo officials insist they scrupulously follow the guidelines set by the Central Zoo Authority and that their staffs are always on alert, wildlife experts say there is a major difference in attitude towards zoo keeping in the West and in India.
“It is a very passionate profession in the West not because of money but because of the love for animals,” says Kartick Satyanarayan, co-founder of Wildlife SOS and member, Central Zoo Authority (CZA).

Trisha, Lavanya, Amyra lash out at Delhi zoo officials
The Delhi Zoo officials' decision to put down the white tiger, named Vijay, which killed a teenager few days ago, has not gone down well with animal rights activisits and few celebrities. Several actors and actresses have expressed their concern over the issue and urged people to sign a petition to stop this move by the zoo officials.

Speaking about the issue, Trisha Krishnan, who is a vocal supporter of animal rights, urged the President to intervene and save the tiger's life, saying, "Pranab Mukherjee: Please do not allow the sacrifice of the tiger of New Delhi Zoo (sic)." On a similar note, A

Is that the one which misbehaved, they ask; from her enclosure Rani wonders the same
Rani had nowhere to go. She was in her own home, but visitors outside were unruly and ill-behaved. She got as far away from the noise as she could and began pacing in one corner. But there was no escaping the nosy visitors. They catcalled and whistled and refused to let her rest. A stone was hurled her way by a particularly stubborn man, desperate to get her attention. She let out a warning, but it only got worse.
At 1.30 on a warm September afternoon, Rani decided that she would ignore the rowdies and went to her pool. She submerged herself and turned away from her tormentors. She sat still in the water even as a pebble fell next to her, splashing water on her. Her face was inscrutable. Perhaps, she was contemplating on the irony of it all. It was she who was trapped and they who were free. It was she who was wild and they who were supposed to be intelligent. She was the white tiger, they were the humans.
The noise from the other side of the fence was a usual occurrence. But last Tuesday, Rani had heard strange sounds. Sitting in her smaller enclosure away from the people, she had heard the thud — like that of a man falling over the wall onto their side. It had been 7-year-old Vijay’s turn to be in the larger enclosure that day. She had heard him pad up to the man, curious. For ten minutes, he had been amiable, even thought of leaving the man, Maqsood, alone. After all, his keeper Shyam Lal was calling out to him. But then someone threw a stone and Rani heard the rattle as it hit the cemented wall of the moat. She heard a muffled shout as Vijay pounced and it wa

The Middle Flipper Is (Part 11)......
...the pickiest sea lion in all the land.
I can hear all of you collectively "awwwwing" at your computer or phone screen.  Why? Because Patty had an adorable face.  You know what else she had?  Here's a little list:

* Charisma
* Smarts
* A lovely singing voice
* A beautiful blond coat
* Sass.  Lots and lots of sass.

Patty was a 32 year old California sea lion who was rescued as a pup, like so many others*.  Perhaps because she received excellent, doting care when she was such a young gal, she did precisely what she wanted, when she wanted.  She underwent a mastectomy for breast cancer when she was 30, pulled through like a champion, and went on to tell Planet Earth that she ruled.  Despite being mostly blind at her ancient age (30 years old for a California sea lion is the equivalent to a 90 year old human), her eyes were always bright and ready.  She vocalized a lot in short, staccato-like pulses that resembled normal sea lion sounds but were orated with confidence.  There was no, "BARK BARK BARK".  There was, "Bark.  Bark bark barkbark? Bark....bark!  Bark bark bark bark?"  Or, "Bark."  Simple, elegant, definitive.  God I wish I knew what she wanted to tell us.

I met Patty in 2013.  She was one of the first sea lions I ever got to know well, which surprised some of the veteran trainers at

Guidelines for aquariums in India to preserve endangered marine species
Aiming to rein in unregulated aquariums across India, some of which are showcasing rare and endangered marine species, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) is soon coming out with a policy for managing such aquariums across India.

According to official of CZA, which the nodal authority under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to regulate and monitor zoos, there are over a dozen of government and private aquariums across the country and th

Young alala part of effort to bring Hawaii’s birds back from brink
An hour before the sun rises each day, the very raucous and loud calls of nine rare alala, or Hawaiian crows, can be heard by the Keauhou Bird Conservation Center staff. Inside their large open-air aviary, these juveniles seemed to engage in a vocal sparring of sorts in a manner that’s reminiscent of monkeys for research associate Amy Kuhar.

“There’s a big sound missing from the forest,” she said of the alala, which were once widespread on Hawaii Island and now survive only in captivity at this Volcano center and the Maui Bird Conservation Center in Olinda.

On a sunny Tuesday morning, Kuhar enters their stress-free environment to deliver enrichment, which this time is food and habitat items wrapped in ginger leaves. Perched on various branches, the young birds make their musical vocalizations while curiously watching their silent visitor’s every move as she throws and hides the packets. When she leaves, some of the birds begin to explore and manipulate the packets to get the reward hidden inside.

Such enrichment, Kuhar said, encourages these intelligent birds’ natural inquisitiveness, keeps them active, and provides opportunities to engage in species-appropriate behavior. Besides being stimulating, enrichment can help develop the stamina and adaptability for survival by giving them a taste, literally, of the forests where they might live someday soon.

These nine birds, born this last breeding season, helped the alala population soar to 114 — a significant increase for a species that numbered as few as 20 birds in 1994. Alala are extinct in the wild, and the last were recorded in 2002 in the forest, where they were threatened by habitat destruction, introduced predators and avian disease.

Alala are a main focus of San Diego Zoo Global’s Hawaii Endangered Bird Conservation Program, which operates the two propagation facilities with the goal of preventing extinction and promoting

Gaza lions en route to Jordan via Israel after zoo damaged in war
A trio of scrawny lions was brought into Israel from Gaza on Tuesday en route to a better life at a wildlife sanctuary in Jordan after their zoo was damaged in the recent Israel-Hamas war.
The three, a pair of males and a pregnant female, were sedated at Al-Bisan zoo in Beit Lahiya before the big cats were placed in metal cages and loaded onto a truck that transferred them through the Erez border crossing into Israel.
Amir Khalil of the Four Paws International welfare group said the zoo's animals were in urgent need of care after the 50-day war. He said the zoo was badly damaged and more than 80 animals died as a result of the fighting.
Al-Bisan is one of five makeshift zoos in Gaza that have spotty animal welfare records.
Most of the zoo animals in Gaza have been hauled into the isolated territory through smuggling tunnels linking the territory to Egypt. In one famous scene captured on film, Gazans used a crane to lift a camel over the border fence by one of its legs as the animal writhed in agony.
Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on G

Zoo under investigation for up-close animal experience
A zoo is under investigation for charging visitors to pat their rare white lion cubs after a 7News investigation raised concerns.

Tasmania's ZOODOO Wildlife Park near Hobart is one of dozens around the country that offer up-close encounters with exotic animals to the dismay of welfare groups.

Endangered Taipei frogs bred in captivity
Taiwan’s most endangered indigenous frog species has been bred successfully by Taipei Zoo Conservation and Research Center, with the offspring ready for return to the wild.

Center CEO Chang Ming-hsiung said surveys since 2000 show the Taipei grass frog, Rana taipehensis, only survives in four of its original 14 habitats, and with sharply reduced numbers in the remaining areas.

“Habitat loss and pesticides are to blame,” Chang said, adding that the frogs can now only be seen in Sanchih and Shihmen districts of New Taipei City, and Longtan and Yangmei townships of Taoyuan County.

New Taipei City Government and Taipei Zoo initiated a conservation program for the frogs last year in Sanchih and Shihmen, with habitat restoration a major focus.

In Sanchih, the major problem was water lilies, which although beautiful, crowded out other species and eliminated the biodiversity on which the frogs depended. Volunteers joined zoo staff in the onerous task of uprooting the plants. The situation was different in Shihmen, with farmers encouraged to switch to organic farming to create a pesticide-free environment.

Zoo staff also put in countless hours of lab work to create a breeding program. “We gathered data on such factors as temperature, shade and food requirements

'Tiger enclosure meets norms'
A week after a 20-year-old youth was mauled to death by a white tiger in Delhi zoo, a probe committee set up by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has submitted its report in the matter.

CZA member secretary, B S Bonal, on Monday evening confirmed that the two-member committee has submitted its report stating that the enclosure of the white tiger, Vijay, is in conformity with CZA guidelines.

The committee, comprising S C Sharma, founder member secretary, CZA and Himanshu Malhotra, a documentary filmmaker and member of National Zoological Park's advisory board, had been looking at various aspects of the zoo. Sources said the committee has recommended an overhaul in ed


The Zoo Biology Group is concerned with all disciplines involved in the running of a Zoological Garden. Captive breeding, husbandry,cage design and construction, diets, enrichment, man management,record keeping, etc etc


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

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address:
2 Highgate
North Wales
LL22 8NP
United Kingdom

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