Saturday, October 3, 2015

Zoo News Digest 30th September - 3rd October 2015

Zoo News Digest 30th September - 3rd October 2015 
(ZooNews 910)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague.

My birthday today. It was a good night last night but I woke up this morning with that 'never again' feeling. Then the other feeling came upon me…just how did I get this far along life's journey?  When I really think about it has been mostly good. I continue to learn every day but one thing I am very sure of….these are best days of my life. I would not go back one , ten, twenty or thirty years if the wish was granted me. I would also turn down any offer of eternal youth. My life, all our lives is about the here and now. I'm living mine.

Although probably not the best birthday present of my life it comes pretty close. The Penguin Team from Ski Dubai got 1st place in Research Advancements at IMATA in the Bahamas. I am so proud of the whole team. That is those here now and those who have come before. They all played their part in making our Penguins the happiest and most enriched on the planet. In spite of our huge achievements these past few years I truly believe we have only scratched the surface of what we can learn. Special mention must be made of Anna Svensson who gave the presentation, pulled it together and did so much work on her special project. We feel proud of her, Sweden should too.

Delighted to see that some zoos have banned the use of plastic bags and following on from that, bottled water. This is another huge step in the right direction. If all would now follow on and stop using any product which uses unsustainable Palm Oil in its production. We in zoos really can make a difference to the world. Not just in the conservation of animals but in the conservation of other things too. We need to think about our children and our children's children.

I remarked on Facebook about the article I posted on Toronto Zoo's White lions was a step in the right direction. How wrong I was. Every other newspaper mentioned 'rare' at least twice. Very sad really. This global population of white lions is unmanaged and is damaging in many ways. The bullshitters will have a lot to answer for. It will take decades to put the situation to rights once again.

Saddened to learn of the attempted suicide by the keeper in Thiruvananthapuram. Most in the West are unaware of the huge frustrations experienced by zoo staff are lumbered with a 'daily wage' or 'casual employee' status. Many of these have worked in zoos for ten, fifteen or more years and are experienced professionals but still looked upon as 'shit shovellers' because of the nonsensical bureaucratic crap they work under.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 


Interesting Links

Belgian scientists look for biofuel clues in panda poo
Belgian researchers are examining the excrement of giant pandas to try to understand how they can digest tough bamboo, hoping for clues on how to develop new generations of biofuel.

The genetic make-up of endangered pandas is that of a carnivore but the animals have adapted to a diet consisting almost exclusively of bamboo.

While a few scientific studies have looked into the digestive tract of the panda, the researchers say their study is the first to focus on the microorganisms in the animal's gut.

"We can look for new enzymes which could be used to degrade tough biomass," said Korneel Rabaey, professor for biochemical and microbial technology at Ghent University, standing outside the giant panda enclosure at the Pairi Daiza zoo in Belgium.

The results of the study may point to new, cheap

Detroit Zoo no longer sells bottled water
Visitors to the Detroit Zoo have one less option if they get thirsty walking the grounds.

The zoo no longer sells bottled water, part of a multi-year effort to make changes that are environmentally friendly.

It’s an effort other zoos are watching closely, said Rob Vernon, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He said he believes Detroit is the first zoo in the nation to stop selling water in plastic bottles.

Instead of 20-ounce Aquafina bottles the zoo sold for $3.99, visitors will have to bring their own containers and can fill them up at filtered water stations. Or they can buy reusable green-and-white bottles with the zoo logo at $2.59 each.

The switch has had an effect on the zoo’s bottom line. The sale of Aquafina bottled waters brought in about $250,000 a year, which breaks

Poop on a Stick Tests Penguins’ Sense of Smell
Who doesn’t enjoy waking to a pleasant smell wafting past? Unfortunately for them, the penguins in a recent study woke up not to pancakes frying nearby, but to less appetizing aromas—for example, feces on a stick. But scientists promise the experiment taught them valuable lessons about a penguin’s capabilities. Besides, they let the birds go right back to sleep.

“Research into the sense of smell in birds has a bit of a dubious history,” says Gregory Cunningham, a biologist at St. John Fisher College. In recent decades, scientists have begun to get a better grasp on what birds can smell, but there’s still a lot to learn.

With king penguins (Aptenodytes patagonicus), researchers have focused more on sound than smell. The birds form monogamous pairs to breed; parents take turns caring for the egg or chick and foraging for food. When a penguin returns from the sea, it uses the sound of its partner’s squawk to find it among the huge breeding colony.

Penguins seem to use their sense of smell to help them hunt for fish, so it’s possible the birds also use smell to find each other. Maybe they can sniff out the colony when they’re getting close; m

Bats are important and October is their month

Australia Zoo exodus: ‘Vet sacked during an operation’
A VETERINARIAN at Terri Irwin's Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital was allegedly sacked mid-surgery last month, as staff turnover spirals and fears for animal safety increase.

Sources say 12 staff have left in the past six months, including the highly-regarded head vet Dr Claude Lacasse.

Vet Dr Jackie Reed was allegedly stopped while operating on a koala and told she was out of a job. It's understood the Wildlife Hospital employs 16 nursing staff and four vets at a time.

More than half of these have had to be replaced or the positions are still vacant, with the zoo advertising on its website.

The hospital is one of the projects operated by Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors Ltd, a registered charity.

It is funded by donations and the Sunshine Coast Council contributes $50,000 a year as part of its draft Koala Conservation Plan.

All staff employed at the zoo are required to sign confidentiality contracts on employment and those concerned about what is happening there say they are afraid of speaking out for fear of being sued.

Australia Zoo declined to comment on the staffing situation, preferring instead to focus on the good work of the hospital.

But at least four sources, plus two carers who agreed to be quoted directly, have contacted the Daily and provided insight into the situation.

Wildlife carers Margaret Hewitt and Diane Meldrum revealed they no longer felt comfortable sending sick animals there.

In the past month, six nurses have left and Dr Lacasse, who had been employed at the zoo for seven years, quit two weeks ago.

"Ever since Australia Zoo got involved

Critically endangered Sumatran rhino pregnant again
A rare Sumatran rhino in Indonesia is pregnant with her second baby and expected to give birth in May, raising new hope for the critically endangered species, conservationists said Tuesday.
Only about 100 Sumatran rhinos are believed to exist in the entire world so the pregnancy is seen as tremendously good news for those trying to save the animals from extinction.
The mother is Ratu, a wild rhino who wandered out of the rainforest and into the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park 10 years ago.
She got pregnant in January after mating with Andalas, a male rhino at the park, said Susie Ellis, director of the International Rhino Foundation.
Sumatran rhinos have very long pregnancies that last about 16 months, even though they are the smallest of the living

Animal Keeper Attempts Suicide
 An animal keeper at the city zoo allegedly attempted suicide on Friday by locking himself up inside the cobra enclosure.

Both the keeper and Director of Museums and Zoos were unavailable for comment.

Zoo sources said that the keeper, a temporary employee who has spent more than a decade at the zoo, was disappointed that he was still not a permanent employee.

To get permanent employment as an animal keeper at the zoo, one needs prior experience in handling wild animals. Experience as a temporary employee does not count. In the master plan, it is suggested that people with a zoo-keeping course from Kerala Veterinary and Animal Sciences University are eligible.

This would mar the opportunities of the temporary staff who have been working at the zoo for years. When contacted, the keeper confirmed the news. He said that the process to make him permanent had started more than six months ago, but with financial difficulties mounting, he decided to take his life as and the papers had not

Whatever Happened to Tbilisi Zoo? – A Eulogy of Sorts
One such tale is the sad fate of Guliko Nozadze, a much-beloved zoo caretaker, who, along with her husband and an elderly watchman, perished in the overpowering waves of the as they worked to release trapped animals from their cages. And all that only three days after she was discharged from hospital, where she ended up after losing an arm in a tiger attack.

Death of young elephant at Oklahoma City Zoo fuels breeding debate
A 4-year-old elephant at the Oklahoma City Zoo, where Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo moved its two female elephants this spring, died suddenly Thursday.

Zoo officials say they will perform a necropsy to determine what killed Malee, the first elephant born at the zoo. Staff had treated her for a type of herpes infection particularly deadly to young elephants.

Behold, the San Antonio dragon master!
Daenerys Targaryen may hold sway over three flying, fire-breathing dragons on HBO’s hit “Game of Thrones,” but the fictional despot and her fantasy creatures have nothing on the very real Craig Pelke and his very real dragons at the San Antonio Zoo.

Parents sympathise with zookeepers seeking to soothe gorillas in daylight saving transition
Melburnians will have an hour sliced out of their sleeping time this weekend, although with the grand final, warmer weather and the long weekend, few will be complaining.
Spare a thought, then, for those who struggle to adjust to daylight saving.
According to Melbourne Zoo senior primate keeper Damian Lewis, primates – our closest relatives in the animal kingdom – can be a little touchy about the transition to daylight saving, beholden as they are to the routines of their keepers.
"Their day-to-day lives are based around daylight hours [in the wild], so they might wake up a bit earlier and they might go to bed a bit later," Mr Lewis said.

Safe Havens for Slow Movers
Following a heavy downpour on a summer afternoon earlier this year, the turtle sanctuary at the Dr. Cecilia Koo Botanic Conservation Center (KBCC) in southern Taiwan was teeming with life—albeit life at a slow pace. After the rain, the lumbering creatures on the institution’s grounds began to stir, preparing to take a walk in the comparatively cool air. Their current comfortable, carefree lives stand in sharp contrast with the dangers they faced only a few years ago. “Smugglers were ready to ship the turtles to mainland China when they were intercepted by police,” says Kuo Jui-hsuan (郭睿軒), a collection manager for the KBCC. “Many could have died on the trip across the Taiwan Strait if they hadn’t been rescued.”

Established in 2008 by Koo Cheng-yun (辜成允), chairman of Taiwan Cement Corp., the Pingtung County-based KBCC was borne from the idea that plant biodiversity in Taiwan and around the world is precious and must be preserved. As the center grew, so too did its ambitions, with a new focus placed on threatened and endangered animal species. The re-evaluation of its mission occurred when, at the end of 2013, the Forestry Bureau under the Council of Agriculture (COA) asked Li Chia-wei (李家維), the chief executive officer of the KBCC, if the institution could take in yellow-margined box turtles confiscated from smugglers. The conservationist agreed a

Who Are You Calling a Deadly Sin?
At the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., there lives a three-toed sloth. Specifically, this sloth occupies a box in the Small Mammal House.

At least, that’s where the sloth has been every single time I have visited the zoo, and I have been five times over the past two years. Of course, the sloth does leave his box; friends sometimes send me cellphone photos and videos, capturing the sloth while he hangs from a tree branch or climbs around—but in spite of my best efforts, I’ve never seen him outside the box.

And after two years of trying, I don’t want to.

It’s hard to explain, but you have to start way, way back in tim

Marwell Mammal Nutrition Seminar 

 Marwell Wildlife Mammal Nutrition Seminar - Day 1

Tuesday 3rd November
   8.30-9.00                  Registration
   9.00-9.10                  Welcome
   9.10-10.40                One Health
o   The role of Vitamin D in mammal diets
Susan Lanham-New
o   A One Health perspective on the role of microbes in nutrition
Roberto la Ragione
o   Nutrition for health and longevity
Teresa Hollands
10.40-11.10                 Tea/Coffee Break / Poster presentations
11.10-12.10                 Roughage, Grass and Browse Feeding
o   The principles and practice of paddock management for nutrition of ungulates in zoos
Andy Beer
o   Forage provision and nutrient sampling at ZSL London Zoo
Sven Seiffert
12.10-13.00                 Lunch
13.00-14.30                 Nutrition in practice
o   Nutrition in relation to ecology and behaviour
Will Justice
o   Diet review for Pygmy Hippopotamus at Marwell Wildlife, to better meet recommended nutritional practices for this species and help resolve obesity issues
Jackie Moody
o   The Nutritional Dilemma
Penny Buttling
14.30-15.00                 Tea/Coffee Break / Poster presentations
15.00-16.00                 Workshops (at selected stations)
16.00-16.30                 Train pickup
Marwell Wildlife Mammal Nutrition Seminar - Day 2

Wednesday 4th November
   8.30-9.00                  Registration and Welcome
   9.00-10.30                Disease and Health Management
o   Diabetes mellitus in zoo animals; a nutrition related disease
Yedra Feltrer
o   Diet manipulations and hypercholesterolaemia in captive meerkats
Amanda Ferguson
o   Wasting syndrome across a range of mammal species
Amy Plowman
10.30-11.00                 Tea/Coffee Break / Poster presentations
11.00-12.30                 Natural Diet, Physiology and Behaviour
o   Fruits as food: Common misconceptions of feeding frugivores
Christoph Schwitzer
o   The benefits of fruit-free diets for primates
Amy Plowman
o   Effects of carcass feeding on behaviour of carnivores
Dani Free
12.30-13.20                 Lunch
13.20-14.20                 Advances in Species Specific Nutrition
o   Advances in Giraffe nutrition
Paul Rose
o   Current practices in Bongo nutrition and browse provision
Ollie Szyszka
14.20-15.00                 Panel Discussion
o   Evolution of nutrition in zoological collections – past and future
15.00-16.00                 Tea/Coffee Break and option to walk around the park                 Train pickup

Detroit Zoo cricket breeding effort aims to save $225K
A new cricket breeding program at the Detroit Zoo is part of an effort to cut the cost of feeding animals.

Zoo officials say crickets are part of the daily diet of about 1,900 amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals at the zoo.

The zoo says it usually spends more than $98,000 a

London Zoo investigates claim a visitor was bitten by a spider
London Zoo is investigating a claim that a mother-of-four was bitten by a spider in its new “In with the Spiders” room.
Elsa Fricker, 33, has told how she was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery after a "spider bite" she believes she sustained at popular attraction became infected.

Toronto Zoo's giant panda pregnant with twins
One of the Toronto Zoo’s giant pandas is pregnant — with twins.
Zoo staff and breeding experts observed two separate, fetal heartbeats in ultrasounds taken in the last week of Er Shun, a female giant panda on loan from China.
The next three to four weeks are critical, the zoo said in a statement, and “staff are cautiously hopeful for healthy births within this time frame.
Toronto spokesperson Jennifer Tracey said the support from people in Toronto and colleagues from other zoos around the world has been overwhelming.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment,” she said. “It’s great news for our reproductive program and for the endangered panda species.”
Er Shun was artificially inseminated last

Safari park lets visitors pet wild lions as they introduce torch-lit night time tours
A safari park is offering extraordinary night tours where visitors can stroke lions in torchlight and observe the animals in their nocturnal phase.

The unique excursions take place in special open vehicles with headlights which allow the guests to see the dozing animals.

The trips are being organised by the Taigan Safari Park in the Bilohirsk Raion region of Crimea, in the southern Ukraine.

How to design a good zoo
Last time you were at the zoo, peering at the gorillas and tigers and elephants did you ever stop to think about the layout of the various enclosures and architecture of the buildings?

Rachel Couper has just published an architectural history of early zoological gardens called Animal History. As part of her research she visited six of the most important early zoos - in Paris, London, Berlin, Hamburg,

Gentle giant elephant leaves Howletts Wild Animal Park for a new life in the sun
One of a Kent wild animal park's star attractions who has enthralled visitors for 26 years has been driven off to a new zoo in Spain.

Jums, the magnificent bull elephant, was crated up on Monday and taken by lorry from Howletts at Bekesbourne near Canterbury to the Cabarceno Natural Park near Santander.

Howletts bosses say the swap is "beneficial" for the elephants and is part of a breeding exchange programme with a new bull coming from the Cabarceno to take his place.

One year on, killer white tiger becomes Delhi zoo's biggest celeb
Delhi zoo's white tiger Vijay, who mauled a man last year, is the biggest attraction for visitors as zoo footfall jumps this year Ayear ago, a 20-year-old man was mauled by Delhi zoo's white tiger, Vijay, after he jumped inside the tiger's enclosure. The incident was witnessed live by scores and was later played on loop and widely shared, making Vijay a topic of discussion. Since then, no zoo visitor wants to miss out on seeing the 'killer' tiger and zoo officials say his popularity is the reason behind increased footfall.


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

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address: (not where I live...currently in Dubai)
2 Highgate
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"These are the best days of my life"

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