Friday, October 31, 2014

Zoo News Digest October 2014 (ZooNews 902)

Zoo News Digest October 2014 (ZooNews 902)

Happy Halloween to all

Dear Colleagues,

Today is the first day of my vacation. October has been a really busy month for me, one of those where I don't seem to have had two minutes to rub together. There is always something that eats into my time. I did however manage to get away to attend the International Training Conference in Twycross and very quick aside trips to Edinburgh and Bourton -on-the- Water. Met a lot of people I only previously knew by name along with a few old friends. Going away meant preparation and coming back meant catching up. Planning for vacation meant preparation again. Sunday I fly to Thailand for wild relaxation. There will be more catching up to do when I get back. Life is good.

Sorry though that I will miss the 'Animal Keepers, Trainers and Wildlife Professionals of the Middle East' night out on the 6th November. Even sorrier that I will miss the next meeting of Arabian Association of Zoos and Aquariums in Al Ain. We can't have everything though.


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

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Conservationists (including Richard Branson) the world over campaign to conserve lemurs

Friday 31st October marks the first ever World Lemur Day, a celebration spearheaded by the Malagasy primate expert group Groupe d’Etude et de Recherche sur les Primates (GERP), to raise awareness of lemur diversity and highlight critical conservation needs at both national and international levels.

More than just a celebration, World Lemur Day is also intended to show the Malagasy government how the rest of the world is interested in lemurs; encouraging the government to conserve them.

The Malagasy President came into office in late January of this year and lemur conservationists the world over await positive changes to protect these primates.

Timothy Smart, British Ambassador to Madagascar, said: “Lemurs are now the world’s most threatened group of primates. We are urging President Rajaonarimampianina and the Government of Madagascar to increase drastically their efforts to protect lemurs and their remaining forest habitats which are a unique natural and cultural heritage for all Malagasies and the World. We stand ready to assist them in these efforts.”

The largest threat to lemurs is habitat destruction (caused by man) and also subsistence hunting. This is not to be confused with commercial hunting; Malagasy communities hunt lemurs for survival.

It is perhaps a coincidence that World Lemur Day falls on the same day as Halloween, but it fits well: The word ‘Lemures’ was used in Roman mythology for ghosts or spirits of the dead, and conservationists the world over are trying to ensure this does not become a reality for these primates.

Richard Branson, who is known for conserving lemurs on his private islands in the Caribbean, said: “There probably used to be 150 of these magnificent lemur species, some bigger than gorillas, and sadly we're now down to 101 species. As their habitat disappears and they continue to get killed for food, there's a real danger that the number could drop well below 100. World Lemur Day will hopefully raise awareness of the dangers and make sure this never happens. As a species, we must make sure that no other species on this planet is ever lost again.”

A budget of only $7.6 million is required to implement the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s conservation strategy for lemurs and their forest habitats. The funds collected from this World Lemur Day will contribute to that budget.

Christoph Schwitzer, Director of Conservation at the Bristol Zoological Society and vice chairman of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group, responsible for primates in Madagascar, said: “Madagascar is unique in having such a large number of primate species that only occur there and nowhere else in the world, but it is also unique in the extreme level of threat that these animals are facing. The IUCN lemur conservation strategy gives us the toolset to fight lemur extinctions. We now need to pull together all available resources and implement it!”

Bristol Zoological Society will be joining in the celebrations of World Lemur Day on Friday 31st October, by holding a number of lemur-related activities at the Wild Place Project’s Madagascar exhibit, which has its own Madagascan school hut and market stall.

The Wild Place Project is home to mongoose lemurs, which are Critically Endangered and ring-tailed lemurs, which have recently gone from being Vulnerable to Endangered.

Guests visiting the Wild Place Project on Friday will also be able to see the lemurs tucking into pumpkins. Will Walker, animal manager at the wildlife attraction said: “Lemurs love to play with pumpkins and eat the succulent flesh and plump seeds, which are a great addition to their regular diet as they are high in vitamins A, C, potassium, protein and fibre.”

A day in the life of a Dublin zookeeper

"I started officially as a zookeeper when I was 15, although it wasn't really my first day on the job. My dad was a keeper and a lot of the keepers' kids spent plenty of time in the zoo. The novelty never wore off; it was such an adventurous playground, and you ran around thinking you were Tarzan. From the time I could walk, I used to go there, so, in many ways, working there was a natural progression. I was counting down the days until I could finish the Inter Cert and work there.

Captive rhinos exposed to urban rumbles

The soundtrack to a wild rhinoceros's life is wind passing through the savannah grass, birds chirping, and distant animals moving across the plains. But a rhinoceros in a zoo listens to children screaming, cars passing, and the persistent hum of urban life.
A group of researchers from Texas believes that this discrepancy in soundscape may be contributing to rhinos' difficulties thriving and reproducing in captivity. During the 168th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA), which will be held October 27-31, 2014, at the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown Hotel, they will present their acoustical analysis of a captive  habitat, a first step towards understanding the impact of  on these .
Though zoologists have studied the impact of factors like diet and hygiene on rhino reproductive health, sound has been largely ignored. However, rhinoceroses have some of the keenest senses of hearing in the animal kingdom, able to perceive infrasonic sounds below the frequency range of human range of hearing. In the wild, they can sense predators coming from miles away by the vibrations their footsteps send through the ground. Because rhinos are so sensitive, noise that humans don't notice – or can't even hear – could be distressing and disruptive to them, negatively impacting their health, s

Exclusive: Owners of Spain's Parques Reunidos ponder $2.6 billion sale -sources

The private equity owners of Parques Reunidos are sounding out interest for a sale that could value the Spanish zoo, marine and water park operator at about 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion), four sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

The company, which is owned by UK-based private equity fund Arle Capital, could come up for sale as soon as the first half of 2015, the sources said.

They cautioned that no banks had been hired as yet and any sale process could still fall through.

Arle Capital declined to comment. A spokeswoman for Parques Reunidos denied the company was for sale.

Madrid-based Parques Reunidos operates 72 sites around the world including Italy's Mirabilandia, France's Aquasplash and the Miami Seaquarium, which it bought in July this year.

Parques struggled through the financial cri

RWS false advertising for dolphin attraction?

Few things are as magical as spotting a double rainbow. Swimming with dolphins is one of them. Unfortunately, unlike countries like Hawaii or Australia, dolphins aren’t native to the waters of Singapore, and not all of us have the privilege to travel overseas to do that. The next best alternative? Dolphin interaction programmes at Dolphin Island.” – Marine Life Park Blog, the official blog for Resorts World Sentosa’s Marine Life Park
As magical as it may sound, the reality is far from it. The above, taken from the Marine Life Park blog promoting the dolphin interaction programme by the marine park, runs contrary to documented cases of dolphin sighting in Singapore’s local waters.
Nature lovers who frequent our southern islands have in October 2014 - draft

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The redevelopment of a sea lion enclosure at Chester Zoo allowed the 
creation of a Giant Otter facility that was particulaly designed for 
breeding this endangered species. The exhibit offers a visitor shelter 
with underwater viewing and interactive elements with messages about 
biology and conservation of this species.

We would like to thank Chloe Helm for presenting this exhibit in ZooLex.



Thanks to Eduardo Díaz García we are able to offer the Spanish 
translation of a previously published presentation on a Giant Otter 
exhibit at Zoo Zlín:

Nutrias Gigantes, ZOO a zámek Zlín


We keep working on ZooLex ...

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization is a non-profit organization
registered in Austria (ZVR-Zahl 933849053). ZooLex runs a professional
zoo design website and distributes this newsletter. More information and

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:

Plant news you can use! Were you aware you needed some hot plant news?
October's news links
(NEWS/Botanical News) aim to worm their way into your thoughts:

. Is there anyone in our field who isn't aware that sloths descend
from the trees to defecate? Why do they take the risk? It has to do with the
algae in their fur. Oh and moths. Sounds plausible.

. Many plants of the savannas have defensive thorns to deter
browsers. Who protects the plants that lack thorns? Perhaps lions!

. Diverse native plant communities protect themselves from invasive
plants by harboring hungry hungry caterpillars. Many a truth is revealed in
children's books.

. As increasing CO2 levels acidify oceans, verdant seagrass beds
protect marine life from harm.

. With the climate and ecosystems changing, what's the landscape
restoration community to do? Assist landscapes in becoming the next great
thing? Or sit back and see what happens? 

It is stinkbug season here. Taking a page, perhaps, from the lionfish
control handbook, some now propose eating them

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and - most
importantly - visitors! 

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

Skype: peter.dickinson48

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"These are the best days of my life"

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