Saturday, January 10, 2015

Zoo News Digest 1st - 10th January 2015 (ZooNews 904)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 10th January 2015 (ZooNews 904)

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to 2015. Wishing you all the very best and hoping all your dreams come true.

I was determined that this year I would find more hours in the day to devote to ZooNews Digest but find that there isn't any. I have a full time job, a full time girlfriend, the need for cooking, cleaning, living and enjoying life and a desire to get as many hours sleep as I can. It just doesn't work out. I will do my best though.

Dubai Zoo is being slated again in the letters of 7Days so this morning I thought I would make a visit. It is over a year since I last passed by. As per usual this popular little zoo was packed. The 2 AED entrance fee helps of course but it is a safe and secure place for maids and their charges and young families to visit. Were the recent criticisms correct? Well yes and no. It is certainly looking a lot more 'tired' since I last was there. It hasn't got worse in terms of housing because it was never good. Right now though it appears to be being used as an advert for the new Dubai Safari Zoo which has yet to open. Still nobody really has a good guess as to when this may actually happen. It's January now so that leaves just four months to do any moves. After April it will be too hot and animal transport then is a recipe for trouble. The one most noticeable thing to me was that I saw only one Gorilla. Does anyone have any idea where the other one might be? Regardless of the faults with Dubai Zoo I would hate to see it closed when the Safari opens. It needs to be redeveloped imaginatively on a smaller scale with realistic species. It is too much of a local amenity for the Jumeirah area to disappear altogether. Few maids and charges will be able to afford the time or the money to head all the way out of Dubai to the new Safari.

At the end of this month I will be heading US side and getting my first chance to visit Los Angeles Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. I am looking forward to my visits with interest. I have only visited the US once before for one day. That was back in 1974. Then I was stopping on Grand Bahama and hired a small plane to fly over to Florida for the day. Lots of options but I thought I would forego trips to the usual and go somewhere nobody else had been. So I headed out to the Seminole Indian Village and Zoo. I have still not met anyone else who has been there. It was horrible....but interesting. No doubt this new trip will be interesting too.

It has been an interesting couple of weeks in the world of zoos. I have not included any links to zoos counting animals or what they do with old Christmas tree because that happens year after year. I'm surprised the press don't get bored.

For me probably the most interesting recent story was the escape of three rhino. That didn't get anywhere near the coverage I would have expected. Check out the video in the link below. Whereas I give credit to the keeper running after them it demonstrates something I have always told my keepers not to do. In an escape you need to think and act like a sheepdog. Running behind an animal moves it on. You have to circle round. Mind you I don't think it would be wise to stand in front of three stampeding rhinos....but no doubt you get the drift. Delighted that they and nobody was harmed.

Someone was trying to hack into my computer today. One wonders why. It is a long time since the last attack. Is it perhaps something to do with my comments on Animal Keepers, Trainers and Wildlife Professionals of the Middle East ?

Orangutans being bred in Russia for sale to the exotic pet market? If anyone believes that then they are gullible to stupid. Something needs to be done.


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


Interesting Links

Secret sorrows of tea chimps: Real animal stars of TV’s most popular ad
Back in the mid-1950s the antics of the apes, dressed in human clothes, drinking from cups and eating jam sandwiches, caused a sensation.

then a smart advertising executive had a brainwave. Why not go a stage further and use their obvious ability to mimic people in a TV campaign?

The PG tips chimps were created and delighted viewers for more than 25 years. Even now the adverts, which made the tea Brit ain’s best-selling brand, are fondly remembered.

The young chimps became stars and earned a fortune for the zoo where they lived.

However a new Channel 5 documentary reveals that away from the cameras there was a darker side to teaching animals to become human.

Once they were no longer wanted to promote tea the chimps struggled to adapt to normal animal life, paying a price for their fleeting stardom.

The first PG tips commercial was screened in 1956, recreating a chimps’ tea party in an elegant mansion.

It was a huge success and the brand flew off the shelves, sparking a demand for more daring adverts.

The makers turned to Molly Badha

Father-of-six wildlife park boss died when he was crushed by tree he was felling with his son at bird centre
A wildlife park boss was killed in front of his son after he was crushed by a tree he was felling for fuel, an inquest heard today.
Father-of-six Ceri Griffiths, 71, could not escape as the tree crashed down onto his head at his South Wales bird centre.
Mr Griffiths suffered catastrophic brain injuries from the accident at his Welsh Hawking Centre in Barry, near Cardiff, and died later in hospital.
He cut into a v-shaped trunk believing it was one tree - not two - and the second tree fell on him.
Falconry expert Mr Griffiths and son Griff were cutting down trees with a chainsaw to use as fuel for his wood burner.
His son told the Cardiff inquest: 'He had cut a v-shape in the tree four feet from the ground when I saw that the tree was two trees which had merged into one trunk.
'My dad cut through

Rhinos escape zoo after security guard falls asleep (Video)
Three rhinoceroses managed to escape from the front gate of the Ramat Gan Safari Park zoo in Ramat Gan, Israel, after the security guard fell asleep. You had one job.

One zookeeper attempted to chase down the rhinos, as if he could somehow stop them. “Hey, guys! Wait! Come back! I promise I won’t lock you in a cage again!” The rhinos were only able to experience the sweet taste of freedom for 10 minutes, before

How Female Animals Choose Which Male Animals Get to Bang Them
Choosing a mate is a funny thing. While other animal species are probably less likely to make the poor alcohol-fueled choices most of us regret, albeit fondly—and less likely still to wake up in a hungover fog in a strange place the next morning, grabbing articles of clothing up off the floor and checking the waste bin to make sure the number of used condom wrappers matches up with our hazy memories—females of other species are subject to a lot of the same bravado and competitive posturing we endure from human males, and they act just like we do: sometimes accepting an offer, sometimes walking away.

This process of picking—whether you're mating for lifelong partnership, to make babies, or just for a recreational quickie—is known as sexual selection. Just like us, animals mate for a staggering variety of reasons. And also like us, they frequently make questionable decisions.

Why we pick the mates we do has been the subject of countless research studies since Charles Darwin coined the term "sexual selection" 150+ years ago, but we still know way less than you'd expect. One thing we do know: animals are show-offs, and will do just about anything to impress a lady.

Darwin was so impressed by animal courtship that he included a description of sexual selection in On the Origin of Species—a term he defined by contrasting it to his theory of natural selection. That is, while natural selection is shaped by "a struggle for existence," sexual selection depends "on a struggle between the males for possession of the females," in an effort to produce the most viable offspring.

Darwin's examples of sexually selected traits that confer an advantage range from "special weapons confined to the male sex," such as horns, spurs, or overall strength and dominance, to the "more peaceful character" of sexual selection see

North Korea claims 'new liver medicine made at national zoo'
A researcher at North Korea’s Central Zoo has been busy working on a liver medicine to combat hepatitis, according to the state news agency KCNA.

Kwon O-song, a researcher at the zoo, said the new medicine consisted of “a compound of bear’s gall and extract from pith of maackia amurensis,” according to KCNA. He reportedly added that it “has proved to be efficacious against liver diseases like fatty liver and hepatitis.”

The article cites the case of Choe Ryong from the Pothonggang District of the North Korean capital Pyongyang, who “feels no pain in his right side and digests well after taking it for nearly half a month.” The medicine has been awarded the DPRK patent, the report said.

Robert Winstanley-Chesters, director of research at Sino NK, a group of academics focused on North Korea, says the ‘liver cure

Hollywild Animal Park: Fire Kills Dozens Of Animals At South Carolina Zoo
At least 28 animals have died in a fire at a zoo in South Carolina.

A fire broke out in the animals’ primate barn some time before 8:30 Friday morning. Zoo employee Jay Gossett discovered smoke in the barn when he arrived at work, and went into the building to find several animals had died from smoke inhalation, according to Time. Fourteen other animals in the barn survived and are currently being treated.

Dr. Beverly Hargus, Hollywild’s veterinarian, told WHNS (Greenville) that the animals that died likely didn’t suffer, and that the survivors likely

Over 28,000 endangered lemurs illegally kept as pets in Madagascar may threaten conservation, survival of species
An estimated 28,000 lemurs, the world's most endangered primates, have been illegally kept as pets in urban areas of Madagascar over the past three years, possibly threatening conservation efforts and hastening the extinction of some of lemur species, according to a study by Temple University researchers.
The researchers published the findings, "Live capture and ownership of lemurs in Madagascar: extent and conservation implications," online Jan. 5, in the international conservation journal, Oryx.
Led by Temple biology doctoral student Kim Reuter, the researchers spent three months in Madagascar surveying over 1,000 households in 17 cities and villages across the country's northern half about pet lemur ownership, which is illegal.
"We've been spending millions of dollars on lemur conservation in Madagascar, but despite spending all this money, no one has ever quantified the threat from the in-country pet lemur trade," said Reuter. "If we're spending these millions of dollars there to preserve these species, we should actually exami

Odisha’s Nandankanan zoo staff hurt in elephant attack
A staff of Nandankanan zoo near Barang on the outskirts of Odisha capital was seriously injured after he was attacked by a female elephant.
According to reports, Arjuna Khamari (41), alias Babuli, a mahunta (trainer) and employee of the zoo, had gone inside the elephant enclosur

Germany: White stork tests positive for H5N8 avian flu at Rostock Zoo
A day following reports of two cases of H5N8 avian influenza in mallard ducks at Saxony-Anhalt, the Ministry of Agriculture in Schwerin report an additional case in a white stork at the Rostock Zoo (computer translated).

More Tiger cubs perish at Sri Lankan zoo
Thirty tiger cubs have so far perished at the Dehiwala Zoo during the last four years. Four Bengali Tiger cubs died yesterday.
Five Bengali Tiger cubs were born on Saturday. One is alive. It is also in a critical condition, zoo officials said.
Previously 26 tiger cubs including 10 rare white tiger cubs had died at the zoo, sources said.
Last year, a rare white tiger cub was given euthanasia because he was considered abnormal.
A veterinarian told The Island that those involved in Animal Exchange Programmes should be questioned why the pedigree of an animal was not traced.
The Zoo, tagged as one of the bes

Compagnie des Alpes Announces Sale of Dolfinarium Harderwijk
The sale of Dolfinarium Harderwijk has been completed and the sale of Walibi Sud-Ouest has been initiated as is expected to complete by the end of January 2015.

In FY 2013/14 the two sites together contributed around 6% of EBITDA and €22.5 million sales for CDA’s Leisure business unit.  Walibi Sud-Ouest will retain its brand for at least three years.

The disposal is in line with CDA’s strategy to

The Englishman returning wildlife to Cambodia's Angkor Wat temple complex
The forests surrounding the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are once more echoing to the eerie, whooping calls of the pileated gibbon, a species, like so many in south-east Asia, that has been decimated by hunting and deforestation.

Conservationists have reintroduced the gibbons as part of an ambitious project for the "re-wilding" of Angkor Wat, a vast "temple city" that was once surrounded by forests teeming with deer, monkeys, birds and big cats before the arrival of commercial hunters with guns, traps and an appetite for money.

The re-wilding is being led by Englishman Nick Marx, a conservationist who believes the project could become a model for other parts of south-east Asia hit by the trade in endangered wildlife.

Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument on earth, was made a World Heritage Site to protect its sprawling network of temples. Now conservationists want to restore the surrounding forests of Angkor Archaeological Park to their former glory, Mr Marx said.

"The area of forest is beautiful and mature. It's a unique site but it's devoid of wildlife now," he said. "We want to introduce different species that would be appropriate, such as a cross-selection of small carnivores, h

Tiger farms stoke Chinese demand for tiger wine and rugs, putting wild cats in peril
To the thump of loud dance music, four tigers roll over in succession and then raise themselves on their haunches. A man in a shiny blue shirt waves a metal stick at them, and they lift their front paws to beg.

The “show” takes place twice a day in a gloomy 1,000-seat auditorium — empty on a recent afternoon except for one Chinese tourist, two reporters and a security guard, its uneven floorboards, broken seats and cracked spotlights painting a picture of neglect.

Outside, hundreds of tigers pace back and forth in small, scrubby enclosures or lie listlessly in much smaller cages made of concrete and rusted metal. An occasional plaintive growl rends the air.

This is one of China’s biggest tiger farms, the Xiongshen Tiger and Bear Mountain Village in the southern city of Guilin. It is part of a booming industry that is threatening to drive this magnificent animal toward extinction in the wild, conservationists say, by fueling demand for “luxury” tiger parts.

Encouraged by the tiger farming industry, China’s wealthy are rediscovering a taste for tiger bone wine — promoted as a treatment for rheumatism and impotence — as well as tiger-skin rugs and stuffed animals, sought after as status symbols among an elite obsessed with conspicuous consumption.

Zookeeper attacked by Whipsnade rhino still in hospital but ‘stable’
A Whipsnade zookeeper who was seriously injured by a rhino spent Christmas and New Year in hospital as he continues to recover from injuries.

The keeper, a man in his 50s, was found by other members of staff in water in the zoo’s Asian rhino enclosure at 8.15am on November 19.

Paramedics gave him enhanced pain relief at the scene and took measures to keep him warm as his body temperature had dropped considerably after being immersed in the water.

He was taken to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and underwent surgery after sustaining serious injuries to the chest, abdomen and pelvis in the incident.

The zookeeper remains in a s

Second generation of octopuses born at Mote Marine Aquarium
Mote Marine Aquarium in Sarasota is now home to several baby octopuses.

The last week of December, more than 20 Caribbean pygmy octopuses were born.

Biologists were not expecting them and said the babies are a total surprise.

“I got lucky enough to have my second generation of captive-raised octopus babies here,” Senior Aquarium Biologist Brian Siegel said.

The eight-tentacled bundles of joy are the children of Mote’s famous now-adult Caribbean pygmy octopuses, who made national news last year.

The new babies came from parents hatched in March 2014, which in turn hatched from wild octopus eggs.

A picture showing one of those babies next to a pencil went viral, gaining thousands of fans on social media and appearing in Scientific American online.

The photo was recently dubbed one of the "most amazing science and technology images of the year" by Popular Science.

The new babies are now hiding behind the scenes, currently too delicate and secretive to be on exhibit.

Caribbean pygmy octopuses (Octopus mercatoris) are nocturnal, reclusive and great at blending into the reefs and rocky outcroppings they inhabit in the wild.

“The minute you turn the light on, they’re gone,” said Siegel. “They don’t want to be viewed all the time, so displaying them can be a challenge for a biologist.”

Siegel said the new babies came about through luck and skill.

“It was luck that I had the adults in a group of five males and two females so they could breed," he said. “We can’t recognize the females until they lay eggs. It’s also i

Always wanted to get up close to a tiger? You need to watch this first!

Reviving Depleted Wildlife Parks and Zoos in Nigeria
About 20 years ago, the country's zoological gardens and parks ranked among the best in the Africa continent.

Such parks and gardens generated huge revenues into government coffers, but today, those facilities have suffered from such severe neglect that some are devoid of their exotic animals or have lost their land space to land speculators.

Such gardens as the Port Harcourt Zoological Garden, the University of Ibadan Zoological Gardens, Ibadan; the Yankari Games Reserve, Bauchi; the Jos Zoo and Wildlife Park, Jos ; and the Old Oyo National Park, Ibadan, were the delight of tourists that flocked from within and outside the country to see the animals housed in them.

The zoos were then the major tourist attractions in the country. Tens of thousands of visitors from neighbouring states and even foreign countries trooped in their numbers to view the animals in their makeshift habitats.

Nigeria presently has eight national parks, unlike the number in some African countries like Kenya and South Africa that have 52 and 56 games reserves respectively.

A few years ago, the zoos harboured various types of animal including reptiles, chimpanzees, elephants, tigers, lions, rhinos and leopards, as well as various species of monkeys.

A distinction here on wildlife parks and zoos. An example of a wildlife park is the Yankari Games Reserve, while most universities have zoological gardens- mostly for teaching.

Animals in the zoos are fed by their keepers and their 'homes' (cages or venclosures) can hardly be described as natural. However, animals in wildlife parks are as calle

Legalizing Rhino Horn Trade Won't Save Species, Ecologist Argues
Conservation efforts saved the species from an earlier brush with extinction. There were no more than 50 white rhinos in South Africa at the end of the 19th century. Today South Africa holds nearly all of Africa's estimated 20,135 white rhinos.

But more than 1,215 were poached for their horns in 2014. A similar number were killed in 2013. The animals are expected to be in net decline by next year.

And yet in the lead-up to the next big meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), to be held in Cape Town in October 2016, South Africa is expected to push hard for legalization of trade in the horns of southern white rhinos.

In Vietnam, among other Asian nations, powdered rhino horn is said to treat fevers and cure cancer, although no scientific studies exist to support such beliefs.

A legal trade, proponents argue, would reduce incentives for poaching of wild rhinos and the illegal trade of their horns. People who are pro-trade view rhino horn as a renewable resource because the horns gradually regrow after they're cropped.

The idea is that rhinos would be intensively managed under farmed, or at least semi-captive, conditions, and that the animals would be sedated while their horns are harvested. Profits from the sale of horns would be invested in maintaining "viable, free-ranging" populations in "natural habitat," as South African

Shocking trade in baby orangutans being bred as playthings for the Russian super-rich for £24,000 each
Baby orangutans are being bred in Russia as exotic pets to sell as playthings for the super-rich and are being advertised for sale on the internet for £24,000, a MailOnline investigation has found.
And the endangered creatures are not just being reared in Russia but also being imported in an apparent defiance of international rules.
With very little regulation and a myriad of legal loopholes, a booming animal trade has grown with a shocking selection of animals - from macaques to falcons - being offered up for sale over the internet.
At a 'nursery' called Exotic Zoo in Desna village outside Moscow, MailOnline was offered an orangutan for two million roubles (£23,845).
The great apes are in the Red Book, an internationally recognised

Trafficking great ape body parts in Cameroon
For years, traffickers fuelled the slaughter of gorillas and chimpanzees in Cameroon's rainforests to meet demand for bush meat - an activity conservationists feared could wipe out the great apes in the wild in a few decades.

But now they fear a far worse scenario is taking place.

A previously unknown trade in ape heads, bones and limbs - rather than full bodies for meat - is encouraging poachers to kill more animals than previously done, and wildlife law enforcement officials say it is speeding up population decline.

"We may be looking at something that is developing down the road of ivory trafficking," said Eric Kaba Tah, deputy director of the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA), a non-profit wildlife law enforcement body based in Cameroon's capital, Yaounde.

"Gorillas and chimpanzees were hunted mainly for bush meat. The babies were captured and sold as pets. Heads and limbs were cut off and left behind because they resemble human parts," Tah told Al Jazeera.

However, a new picture has no

Zoo keeper reveals what was going through his head when a giant crocodile attacked him and bit his THUMB off
A zoo keeper blames himself for a near-death experience with a crocodile which ended with his thumb being ripped off - although he does admit that he has very scant memories of the traumatic event.
The owner of the reptile park, Ian Jenkins, was grabbed by a crocodile whilst performing in front of a large crowd, at Snakes Downunder Reptile Park and Zoo near Childers, south of Bundaberg,far north Queensland .
In extremely distressing scenes, the 58-year-old was dragged into the pond at which point the four-metre croc ‘Macca’ started a death roll.
Thanks to the quick thinking of his fellow worker, Louise Smith, Jenkins escaped with his life.
‘I’m relieved but also so annoyed,' Mr Jenkins told Seven News from hospital after the incident.
'You just don’t get yourself into that situa

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Peter Dickinson
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