Sunday, November 1, 2015

Zoo News 23rd - 31st October 2015 (ZooNews 912)

Zoo News 23rd - 31st October 2015 
(ZooNews 912)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

After a long and sleepless night I arrived in Singapore for the SEAZA conference. Looking forward to it.

That is if I can get some rest before it starts. Marie has invited me to a Halloween Party tonight. Looking forward to it but feel that I would be a lot livelier if I could get my head down for a bit.

Something of interest for everybody in the links below though most have already appeared on ZooNews Digest Facebook. (See below in links)

I had quite a lot to say about the article 'Yerkes Shouldn’t Offload Chimps to Unaccredited Zoo' (See below in links) but in the end I haven't had to because the situation has been covered so well by John Dineley in HSUS: Zoos, Sanctuaries and Accreditation.  I have never been to Wingham Wildlife Park but based on what I do know as a former UK zoo inspector that the animals will be a lot better off there than in many US facilities.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 

Interesting Links

UGA scientists eye tiger, leopard creation

Call it a pipe dream, or — better — something cooked up in the imagination of people who do implausible things with the very strands of life, DNA.
Call it a last-chance grab at something fast vanishing. What is more fleeting than the genetic makeup of an endangered species?

Gaunt lion and tiger at Beijing Zoo not neglected, just inbred, says official
The Beijing Zoo said its animals were in normal condition after photos posted online showing an emaciated lion and tiger drew public attention, the Beijing Times reported.

The photos, posted by a visitor to the zoo on social media on Monday, showed a skeletal, hunched back lion with dull, patchy fur and a white tiger in similar condition.

Many internet users expressed concern about the animals’ health.

The zoo said the lion was bony due to a genetic defect, but its appetite and level of activity were normal.

“The lion already had a roach back, protruding bones in its hindquarters and looked skinny when it was admitted to the Zoo,” a zoo official told the Times.

He said most lions in zoos nowadays were the results of inbreeding and tended to have genetic defects. The z

Dalton zoo boss' court date changed
SOUTH Lakes Safari Zoo boss David Gill had been due to appear before a crown court on Friday charged with alleged health and safety breaches - but the hearing has been put back.

Needed — legislation for zoos
The Capital Development Authority (CDA) officials claim that chaining elephants for brief periods of time is a common practice in zoos all over the world and that the Marghazar Zoo administration is trying its best to put an end to it on its premises. It also claims that the 31-year-old Asian bull elephant Kavaan is healthy, taking his food and daily bath and that social media has portrayed a distorted picture of his condition and the affairs of the CDA-run Marghazar Zoo. The issue of Kavaan being chained on all four legs and seemingly suffering from some psychological disorder was first raised by a Pakistan-born US national, Zareen Khan, on social media after her visit to the zoo.

After Kavaan’s plight went viral, the CDA chairman hurriedly held talks with wildlife experts from the Wildlife Department of Punjab, the Animal Society, the Lahore Zoo and the World Wildlife Fund. CDA officials welcomed all expert advice for Kavaan’s welfare — agreeing on relocating him to Lahore and not sending him to a sanctuary in Myanmar. According to details gleaned from various press reports, Kavaan was brought from Sri Lanka in 1985 when it was a year-old and was a difficult animal to handle. According to its keeper of 26 years at the zoo, Bilal, the elephant had its legs chained after it attacked its keeper in late 1999.

In 1991, Kavaan was joined by a female companion, Saheli, a year-old Asian elephant calf gifted to Pakistan by Bangladesh. Saheli was always friendly towards visitors unlike Kavaan, but both elephants were kept chained despite repeated verbal and written protests by animal lovers and rights activists. The chains on Saheli’s legs eventually started cutting into its skin and a wound appeared on one of its hind legs — this was pointed out prior to its

Compensating: Loudest howler monkeys have the tiniest balls
The male howler monkeys with the biggest vocal organs have the smallest testicles and lowest sperm count, new research has found.
In his 1871 book on evolutionary theory called "The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex", Charles Darwin posited that sexual selection was determined in two main ways: through combat, or through display. For those animals who win mates by means of mating displays, those characteristics that are more likely to win a mate come at a cost to the animal. For instance, the peacock's tail feathers hinders its mobility. In other words, there's a trade-off.

For male howler monkeys, that trade-off is an unusual one. The larger their vocal organs, a new study has found, the smaller their testes and the lower their

Tennessee Aquarium to Open Freshwater Biodiversity and Conservation Research Institute [Slide Show]
The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, the first of its kind in the U.S., will in part focus on captive breeding endangered freshwater fish

Researchers publish analysis of giant panda milk
A five-year study of giant pandas by Glasgow researchers has uncovered previously unknown details of the complex changes that a female bear's milk undergoes immediately after birth. The findings may have implications for rearing in other species, including humans.

Threatened sea duck may be reintroduced in southwest Alaska
A colorful, threatened sea duck whose numbers plummeted in Alaska may be reintroduced to the southwest corner of the state.
Federal wildlife officials are taking public testimony on possible environmental effects of a plan to move breeding pairs of Steller's eiders to the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, where the birds once thrived.
Only 11 nests have been found there in the past 18 years. The birds' declining numbers on the delta figured heavily in a 1997 federal decision to declare the species threatened.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposal calls for the release of Steller's eiders raised in captivity at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward. The agency says it's unlikely a subpopulation of Steller's eiders will re-establish itself without the introduction of captive birds.
Wild Steller's eiders continue to breed on tundra near coastlines in Arctic Russia and on Alaska's North Slope near Barrow, the northernmost community in the United States. The Alaska population is the only one listed under the Endangered Species Act.
Scientists in 1997 could not identify why Steller's eiders declined. Predation of young by ravens, foxes or gulls, hunting, ingestion of spent lead shot and changes in the marine environment were considered. The decline remains poorly understood, according to the agency recovery plan.
Steller's eiders are the smallest of four eider species and av

Park conservation fund purchases threatened rainforest
The Curraghs Wildlife Park has succeeded in its target of raising money to buy 50 acres of rainforest to mark its 50th anniversary.

The park’s conservation fund is sending £5,000 to the World Land Trust for the protection of part of the Choco rainforest in Colombia, South America.

The charity, whose patron is Sir David Attenborough, purchases important areas of rainforest to protect eco-systems and stop fragmentation of habitats.

The park raised the sum by selling badges and inviting donations for children’s craft sessions, eye-spy competitions and seasonal trails.

The climax of the fundraising was a sell-out evening with well-known wildlife artist Dr Jeremy Paul, organised by the Friends of the Wildlife Park, which raised more than £1,000.

David Cretney MLC, Member of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture with responsibility for the park, said: ‘We started the conservation fund to encourage visitors to think about global conservation issues while visiting the park

‘We chose to support Choco rainforest to mark our anniversary year because it is one of the wettest places on the planet and we are on a wetland of scientific interest. Many of the species we have, such as our spectacled owls and spider monkeys, come from South American rainforests, so it seemed fitting to support this deserving cause.

‘Sir David says money donated to the World Land Trust “has more effect on the wild world than almost anything he can think of”.

‘We are pleased to have reached our target before the end of our anniversary year. We are incredibly grateful to our visitors

Snake Chef Dies After Getting Bit by a Cobra’s Severed Head
A chef in China who was preparing a meal of black and white spitting cobra died after attempting to throw away the head of the snake 20 minutes after he severed it with a knife, according to America News. Peng Fan, a well known snake chef from Shunde, in the city of Foshan in Guangdong province in China, was dicing up the snake to make snake soup and apparently grabbed the head to toss it in the trash when it bit him, injecting him with venom. According to the report, diners heard screams coming from the kitchen and Peng died before medical professionals

Eye-opening research suggests sleeping crocodiles still keep watch
If you ever thought you could safely tiptoe past a sleeping crocodile, please reconsider – scientists have confirmed that the fearsome reptiles sleep with one eye open.

Researchers in Australia and Germany have discovered that crocodiles can deploy “unilateral eye closure” while dozing to keep a close eye on potential threats or prey.

It’s already known that birds, other reptiles and aquatic animals such as dolphins, seals and walruses have evolved unihemispheric sleep, which is when one half of the brain stays awake while the other shuts down. This allows the animals to keep one eye open to monitor events around them.

Human activity 'driving half of world's crocodile species to extinction'
Until now, researchers have had only anecdotal evidence of this behaviour in crocodiles, but a paper published in the Journal of Experimental Biology lends weight to the theory.

Three juvenile saltwater crocodiles were taken from northern Queensland to a large aquarium at La Trobe University and filmed 24 hours a day. Scientists confirmed that the crocodiles opened one eye du

Siegfried & Roy turn down six figures to fly four new cubs to UAE
For 12-year-old Emma Goldsberry of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, it’s a dream come true thanks to Siegfried & Roy, masters of the impossible.

On Thursday afternoon, she was appointed Cubs Child Ambassador of Conservation taking care of the magicians’ four new tiger cubs Hirah, Maharani, Liberty and Justice.

The newest additions to Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat at the Mirage were born Aug. 5.

Now 11 weeks old, they have gone from a birth weight of just 2 pounds apiece to nearly 20 pounds, and Siegfried revealed that he visits them quietly and privately every day:

“I love to see them. I don’t have to come, but I do because I want to. We keep it quiet because I don’t want to commercialize it. I get a real high from being there. I come home and tell Roy all the stories, and that’s a real lift for both of us.

“We have people come from all over the world. They all talk to me. Sometimes they see me, and it’s amazing we have been away from the stage for over 12 years, b

Ostava Zoo puts down elephant
A male Indian elephant named Calvin at the Ostrava Zoo had to be euthanized due to incurable abscesses in one of his legs.
The 29-year-old elephant had sired 14 offspring, 11 of which survive, the Ostrava Zoo said on its website. He was one of the most prolific elephants in Europe.
Calvin was born in 1986 and had been at the zoo since 2009.
As a young elephant, Calvin had a viral infection is his left front leg which left the leg weakened and with a curvature. As a result, he favored his right leg too much and it developed abscesses.
He was reluctant to let veterinarians examine him, and by the time they did the infection more serious than expected. Despite treatment, the abscesses continued to spread.
“Hope for recovery was zero,” the zoo said online.
Treatment was suspended Aug. 25, and the zoo consulted with foreign experts to see if there was any further course of action.
Two of his offspring remain

Rare black rhinos arrive at Pembrokeshire Zoo
Two rare Eastern Black Rhinos have been welcomed to their new home this week at Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo in Pembrokeshire.

The male Nkosi and female Manyara are the only herd in Wales, but the new additions now mean Folly Farm is one of only six zoos in the UK to hold this critically endangered species.

A new £500,000 five and a half acre, purpose built paddock called the 'Kifaru Reserve' will be their new home.

Bargo Dingo Sanctuary preserves purebred dingoes of Australia with new litters of dingo pups
THEY are cuddly, gorgeous and will help to preserve the purebred dingoes of Australia.

The latest two litters of dingo pups at Bargo Dingo Sanctuary are being sent to zoos and wildlife sanctuaries across the country to protect the genetic integrity of the Australian native dog.

Six of the 11 pups born at the sanctuary are staying on at Bargo, three have been sent to Australia Zoo, and two are at Ballarat Wildlife Park to establish breeding programs.

The genetic purity of the 11-week old dingoes is set to revive the rare purebred population.

The sanctuary’s president, Lucille Ellem, has dedicated the last 40 years to protecting the breed and educating the public about the “good” nature of the dingo.

How Knut’s disease is leading to medical breakthroughs
Abandoned by his mother, and reared by a zookeeper, Knut was Berlin Zoo’s adorable polar bear. Cameras captured his every fluffy white move – even documenting his sudden death in 2011. Footage shows the bear shaking uncontrollably before howling and collapsing into the enclosure’s pool. Hundreds of visitors stood by, confused and shocked, as the world’s favourite polar bear had a seizure and drowned.

Dr Alex Greenwood at the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin was called to conduct the autopsy and uncover what killed Knut. “The zoo was under pressure to show that they weren’t responsible. The media was hounding us, and the public was so upset,” he says. “It was like trying to solve a gigantic jigsaw puzzle with a gun to your head.” But, after an exceptionally extensive investigation, what killed Knut remained a mystery.

23 test tube pandas have survived this year
A record 23 pandas have survived so far this year after being born using artificial insemination techniques, the world’s largest artificial breeding center for pandas announced Thursday.
A total of 26 panda cubs were born, including nine pairs of twins and one born to Mei Xiang at Washington’s Smithsonian National Zoo of the United States, according to the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda (CCRCGP).

Giant Squid Babies Found for the First Time
When Toshifumi Wada received a picture of an odd-looking squid from Japanese aquarium staff, he knew he was onto something. The marine biologist requested the frozen specimen to be sent to him, and discovered that he was looking at the world’s first recorded giant squid baby.

“The fisherman who caught it and the aquarium staff didn’t know they were looking at a giant squid baby,” Wada, a cephalopod expert at the Institute of Natural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Hyogo in Japan, told me.

Giant squid are the world’s largest invertebrate, and can grow to over 10 meters in length. The sizes of the three Architeuthis dux babies, caught in 2013—one off the coast of Kyushu in southern Japan and the other two in the southwestern Sea of Japan—vary from 14 to 33 centimeters. The researchers detail the impact of this discovery in a paper published this week in the journal of Marine Biodiversity Records, announcing the discovery as the “first records of small-sized young giant squid.”

“I was excited because these are r

USDA fines S.F. Zoo over death of baby gorilla crushed by door
The San Francisco Zoo was hit with a fine by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the death of Kabibe, a young gorilla who was crushed by a door in her enclosure in November.
But some animal rights advocates, including the International Primate Protection League, slammed the $1,750 fine as “ridiculously small.”
“You failed to handle all animals as expeditiously and carefully as possible,” reads a notification sent to th

Visitors Can’t Tell If a Tourist Attraction Is Bad for Animals
In the first major study of wildlife tourism around the world, researchers at the University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit—the same group that had been studying Cecil the Lion before he was shot in July—found that the millions of people who visit wildlife attractions each year don’t seem to realize that places they’re visiting have ill effects on animals.

Wildlife attractions account for between 20 and 40 percent of all tourism worldwide, with 3.6 to six million people visiting these sites annually. The study found that every year two to four million tourists financially support attractions that aren’t good for animal welfare or conservation. And it found that 80 percent of reviewers didn’t recognize that certain wildlife attractions weren’t good for the animals.

Led by conservation biologist Tom Moorhouse, the researchers compared 24 types of wildlife tourist attractions

Why everyone should embrace their inner sloth
Each year there’s an autumn weekend which is anticipated with particular glee: the one in which the clocks go back. The prospect of an extra hour in bed is certainly enticing, and the Sunday has duly been labelled “National Sleep In Day”. But the fact that sleeping in is designated to this one particular day betrays something else – that idleness is seen as wasteful, self-indulgent. A lie-in is only encouraged when time itself moves to accommodate it.

For some perspective on how the idea of laziness has changed over time, we could do a lot worse than consider the natural world’s undisputed champion of indolence – the sloth. Because the one thing everyone knows about sloths is that they are slothful. The clue’s in the name.

But it’s a name with a long and curious history. Sloth entered the English language in the early 12th century as a term for mental and physical sluggishness. It wasn’t until the early 17th century that the word was applied by European explorers to tree-dwelling mammals in central and south America. Sloth, in other words, was the name of a human quality long before it was the name of a distinct species of a

A 450-pound lion underwent surgery in Colorado Tuesday to remove a giant hairball from his stomach — weighing in at a whopping 3.8 pounds.

The 11-year-old lion, Arthur, who lives as “the king of a pride of lions” at The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, Colorado, used to be housed at a now-shuttered zoo, Executive Director of the sanctuary Pat Craig told ABC News on Friday.

Last week, Craig and his team noticed Arthur wasn’t acting like himself.

“He started to move less around his habitat, and then over a number of days he began to eat less food and seemed lethargic,” Craig said. There were no obvious signs of injury, so he knew they had to take Arthur to the hospital.

Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital Director Tim Hackett told ABC News that Arthur arrived sedated and

Long Island Aquarium is pleased to present a Penguin Costume Parade during our Bats, Barnacles & Broomsticks Halloween Party taking place on November 1, 2015 from 10am-4pm.  All “buoys” and “ghouls” who come to the Aquarium in costume on that Sunday, will get 50% off admission with a paying adult (one child 12 years and under, per adult).
Children will gather sweets and treats with our Safe Trick or Treating throughout the Aquarium. Our Unearthing Atlantis Dig has been transformed into a spooktacular haunted house by the amazing special effects team at  We will have face painting (a

An elk? An oryx? Large, unusual-looking horned animal reported on Germantown Road in Forest Park
Numerous callers alerted Multnomah County dispatchers on Saturday morning that a large, unusual animal with horns posed a danger to drivers on Germantown Road in Forest Park.

Initially, no one was sure what to make of it. Some thought it was an elk. One called it an oryx, a type of striking-looking antelope native to Africa.

Steve Clark quickly provided The Oregonian/OregonLive with photographs of the animal that he took in the Northwest Portland park. Clark provided pretty persuasive evidence that the wandering animal is specifically a scimitar-horned oryx, which are extinct in the wild.

It turns out the oryx, named Yellow Nose for a prominent marking, belongs to Reed Gleason, a Skyline Boulevard resident who has raised a small herd of oryx over the past two decades. He spent hours looking for his missing oryx Saturday before finding it unharmed -- and confronting the dilemma of how to get it home.

Gleason said he and other handlers are trying to lure Yellow Nose into a trailer with his favorite food: grain. As of just before 6 p.m. Saturday, they were just waiting for him to get hungry.

"I think he's actually pretty nervous and exhausted," Gleason said. "The curious thing is, he's been nibbling on some ferns. They really like grain a lot more than ferns."

Gleason said Yellow Nose escaped through a gate left open this morning. He's the second-oldest male in the 11-oryx herd, so Gleas

Oldest US polar bear ‘Klondike’ dies at age 34
The oldest polar bear living in the United States died at age 34 on Friday (Oct 23) at its home in the Philadelphia Zoo, zoo officials said.

Klondike, a female polar bear, was euthanised after weeks of worsening medical conditions that included mobility problems and infections, officials said.

City council still to complete internal investigation into zoo fatality
Hamilton City Council has yet to complete an internal investigation into a fatal tiger attack at Hamilton Zoo and remains coy on when the findings will be released.

The internal health and safety review is one of five investigations launched in the wake of zoo curator Samantha Kudeweh's death.

Kudeweh was killed by one of the zoo's Sumatran tigers on September 20 while carrying out routine duties inside the animal's enclosure.

New Panda Cam Lets You Panda Watch 24/7

Detroit Zoo chief’s compensation rises 162% in 3 years
Detroit Zoo director Ron Kagan’s compensation has risen dramatically under a beefed-up retirement incentive offered to select zoo executives to help “attract and retain qualified personnel,” financial records show.

From 2011 to 2014, Kagan’s compensation increased by 162 percent, primarily driven by six-figure contributions into his deferred retirement account the last two years, records show.

In 2011, Kagan — who also is the zoo CEO — received $292,644 in total compensation: a combination of a base salary, bonus, deferred retirement and other reportable income.

By 2014, his total compensation reached $767,824, primarily driven up by a $348,824 contribution toward his retirement, an amount that is nearly equal to his base salary that year of $357,791.

The remainder included a $47,650 bonus and $13,559 in other compensation and benefits.

Opinion: Phuket dolphinarium legitimacy put on show
On one hand,  it was welcomed, particularly  for the investors of the new  “Nemo – Dolphins Bay Phuket”  dolphinarium, who have spent  an espoused B100 million in  complying with legal procedures  to ensure the attraction could  open in time for the coming  high season.
On the other hand, it has sent animal rights armchair activists into overdrive, as they fearlessly attack the animal entertainment tourism trade, quick to channel their anger at anybody who might not see it as black-and-white; if nothing else, our comments section has been overwhelmed with fury, passion and emotion.
Though relatively silent due to the associated controversy, dolphinarium stakeholders – public,private, foreign and domestic alike – are driven by the bottom lin

Get Rich Quick Schemes For Any Smart Zookeeper
There are a few skills required of zoo professionals that are kind of weird.  Like, you never think about them until you're required to use them.  It blows my mind knowing that out there on this great planet of ours, billions of people will never know what it's like to say, lock a padlock with one hand.

Staff at Port Lympne, near Hythe, sad at death of Kruger a 31-year-old African elephant
Wildlife park staff have been left saddened by the death of a 31-year-old African elephant.

Kruger had lived at Port Lympne, near Hythe, since 2006.

He had to be put to sleep after arthritis in his hind legs became too painful for him and he had no quality of life.

The death was announced on Facebook.

In a statement, the park said: “Elephant keepers and our team of vets have been treating Kruger for arthritis in his hind legs since his arrival at Port Lympne.

Animal Enrichment Award bestowed upon the Ecomuseum Zoo
The Ecomuseum Zoo recently announced it is the recipient of the prestigious Animal Enrichment Award bestowed upon it by CAZA-AZAC (Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums) for its new Fisher habitat, inaugurated just a few months ago in July. Awarded annually by a jury panel composed of industry experts, the honour is presented to a zoological institution in recognition of exceptional achievements in the design and implementation of initiatives for animal well-being.

Oryx captured after running amok in Forest Park
An African antelope named Yellow Nose is back at  home munching on grass in a fenced field after frolicking in Forest Park Saturday, much to the surprise of joggers and hikers.

The oryx did not harm any people in the popular Portland park.  It is owned by a private citizen and has now been reunited with his fellow oryx at home.

Multiple people reported spotting the oryx in the park, northwest of downtown Portland.

"I got a phone call saying 'Hey, you're on the news!'" said Reed Gleason, the owner of the oryx. "Then, other people started calling me or

Thieves have taken more than a dozen reptiles from Hunter Valley Zoo in brazen early morning raid
COLD-BLOODED criminals have stolen a swag of native Australian reptiles from a zoo in the NSW Hunter Valley, including a 2.5m carpet python.

Hunter Valley Zoo director Jason Pearson said three hooded bandits jumped a perimeter fence about 2.45am Sunday and broke into a snake enclosure.

“They’ve helped themselves there, then gone up and emptied one of our lizard pits as well,” he said.

More than a dozen reptiles were stolen in the raid, including six shingleback lizards, a bearded dragon and eight

As Tiger Numbers Dwindle, Will Smugglers Target a Different Cat?
Among wild cats, clouded leopards are increasingly coveted—and bred in captivity—for commercial purposes, according to a new study from University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit. They’re being sold into the pet trade, to tourist attractions offering cat encounters, and to other such profit-driven businesses.

Researchers Neil D’Cruze and David Macdonald reviewed import and export records filed with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES), the body that regulates international wildlife trade, and found a 42 percent increase in the commercial trade of live clouded leopards from 1975 to 2013.

Clouded leopards are native to Southeast Asia and named for their distinctive spotted coats. They’re one of the smallest big cats, weighing up to 50 pounds and growing up to three feet long. They belong to an entirely separate taxonomic group from snow leopards and “regular” leopards, such as African and Indian leopards.

Georgia Aquarium details beluga's death; Plans to get more whales
A necropsy to determine why a beloved 21-year-old beluga whale died suddenly Thursday at Georgia Aquarium will be not be complete for four to six weeks, but officials are providing more details about Maris’ death.
"We check all the animals first thing in the morning," said Eric Gaglione, vice president of zoological operations, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV. “Maris was bright, alert, responsive, she was eating and interacting with the other animals."

Animal Activist Ingrid Visser’s Plans To Profit Off Wild Killer Whales Will Shock You
Researcher Ingrid Visser has been very busy lately.

Visser, an orca researcher and anti-zoological advocate from New Zealand has been criss-crossing the globe as she photographs killer whales in human care in California, Texas, Florida and Spain.

Ingrid Visser recently gave a formal presentation as a "non-biased researcher" at the California Coastal Commission in Long Beach, California where she shared why she thought killer whales should not be kept in human care.

Feds say they prefer approving elephant import to Sedgwick County Zoo
Six African elephants are a little closer to becoming Sedgwick County residents.

Newly released federal documents say U.S. wildlife officials are leaning toward approving the import of 18 African elephants from the South African nation of Swaziland to three American zoos, including six elephants to Wichita’s Sedgwick County Zoo.

The government is now seeking public comment before it makes the decision final.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency that issues the import permits, is weighing three different options.

The Service says it can:

approve the permits,

block the elephant transfer to the U.S.

or allow fewer elephants to make the flight across the Atlantic.

The Service says approval is the frontrunner based on its research so far.

“That was the one that was the preferred alternative,” said Timothy Van Norman, who is chief of a Fish and Wildlife Service branc

Aldergrove zoo has new owner, plans for a shift in emphasis
Changes are in store for the Greater Vancouver Zoo.

The Aldergrove business was recently purchased by a Vancouver entrepreneur who is keen to execute much-needed changes at the 45-year-old facility, general manager Jody Henderson announced in a statement Monday.

The zoo has hired zoo design consultants Bernard Harrison & Friends to create a 20-year master plan for the facility, which started operations in 1970 as the Vancouver Game Farm.

The new owner, who wants to stay anonymous at this time, plans to create a zoo focused on “engaging discussions on con

China is lending the Netherlands two pandas
China is lending two giant pandas to the Netherlands, foreign affairs minister Bert Koenders said on Monday. The minister was speaking in Beijing on the second day of a state visit by king Willem-Alexander and queen Máxima. The loan is ‘a sign of the special bond between China and the Netherlands’, the minister told Dutch media. The loan is definitely a sign of close ties between the two countries, but the Netherlands has been pushing for it for some time, according to Volkskrant reporter Marije Vlaskamp. ‘Prime minister Mark Rutte did not ask explicitly during his visit to China two years ago, but he hardly stopped talking about it,’ she writes. The pandas are not a gift and will cost the Netherlands money, although how high the cost will be is not known. The pandas will housed at Ouwehands Zoo in Rhenen, but it is not yet known when they will arrive. ‘It depends on the preparations, including the building of an enclosure for them,’ a spokesman told the Volkskrant. Junior economic affairs minister Sharon Dijksma says she has signed an agreement with the Chinese forestry co

Corruption in Wildlife Department unearthed
The Punjab ombudsman has remarked in a decision that maladministration has been committed by the Wildlife Department DG Khan in awarding of excessive marks to its blue-eyed candidate during an interview held for a junior clerk post.
He directed the authority of Wildlife Department DG Khan to reexamine the case in view of observations, and determine the merit of the complainant again for the stated reasons, the complainant may be found entitled to appointment as junior clerk. The Punjab Ombudsman has also remarked that the representative of the agency could not explain as to where from 10 marks of experience have been awarded to selectee Tariq Ahmed.
There is discrimination in awarding marks in interview to Tariq Ahmed, it was observed. He passed the orders in the case of complainant Muhammad Ali, a resident of Shamsabad tehsil Taunsa.
Ali, who holds an M-Com degree, said that he had applied for the post of Junior Clerk in the office of Deputy Director Wildlife DG Khan. He was administered typing test on April 22, 2015 and secured the first position on the merit list. Subsequently, he was interviewed successfully. In July 2015, he learnt from the agency that all the posts advertised for recruitment were filled except the post of junior clerk. After three days, he telephoned in the office of Deputy Director W

Penguin Always Returns From the Sea to Visit Man Who Saved Its Life
A retired bricklayer’s act of kindness four years ago has won him a penguin friend for life.

When João Pereira de Souza found an oil-soaked bird on the beach near his southeast Brazilian home in 2011, he cleaned off the penguin, fed him some sardines, and when it was strong enough, took the bird to the beach, expecting it to swim away.

But the black and white Magellanic penguin, now known as Jingjing, refu

Dudley Zoo bosses: Council cuts will not affect us
Dudley Council revealed last week that the amount it gives to the zoo would fall by £200,000 over the next three years under new budget proposals.
The cash-strapped authority needs to save £20 million by 2019 and is set to close Dudley Museum and Art Gallery and reduce hours at libraries and its archives building to try and achieve this.

Council leaders have been keen to point out the cash it gives to the zoo is used solely to maintain Dudley Castle and the tecton buildings and not th

Australia Zoo crisis: Humans and animals both mistreated, say ex-staff
WALKING through the gate at Steve Irwin’s Australia Zoo, dressed in crisp new khaki, Jane (not her real name) thought she had finally landed her dream job.

Young, experienced and brimming with passion for wildlife, she believed she’d spend the rest of her career at the world-famous facility.

But that dream, as the cliche forebodes, soon turned into a nightmare. Inside the zoo cult, Jane says she experienced bullying, intimidation, incompetence and a ‘toxic” work environment that she dreaded each day.

Lion Heads Arrive in Record Numbers as U.S. Considers Crackdown
Big-game hunters are killing African lions in record numbers as U.S. regulators threaten to curtail one of world’s most exclusive, expensive and controversial pursuits.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has an Oct. 29 deadline to make a final determination on the status of the African lion, which it has proposed to list as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The agency has also recommended requiring a special permit to import lion trophies. Those findings could curtail the number of slain lions entering the U.S., while also driving up safari costs that are often more than $100,000.

Walking With Lions: Con or Conservation? Further Thoughts
Some of you may have seen my post late last year questioning the ethics of “lion walks” on the Zambian side of Vic Falls in the face of growing allegations, concerns and criticism from former employees, volunteers, journalists and conservationists.

My post also bore the news that conversation with Zambia Tourism had led to the removal of “lion walks” activities and operators from the site. The feeling was that Zambia Tourism did not want to promote such activities so long as some of the questions and concerns surrounding them remained unresolved; they wanted to rather use that page of the website to raise awareness about some of the said same concerns and criticisms.

The page promised that Zambia Tourism would continue to investigate this issue further.

With that in mind, I have been busy at work trying to get as much information as possible from as many different sources as I could find, both on behalf of Zambia Tourism and in my own capacity with regards to a longer feature I am writing on the topic.

During my investigative process, I was contacted by Judy Goddard, who heads up the Marketing, Communications and Public Relations department of the African Lion and Environmental Research Trust (ALERT), which manages Lion Encounter in Zambia. While her original email in defense of ALERT and Lion Encounter felt a little like a “canned” (excuse the pun) response and failed to adequately negate some of the issues raised by myself and others, I thought that, in the name of “balance and fairness” as they put it in my trade, it was important to give her and ALERT a chance to share the

On the bat's wing do I fly – a remarkable journey
In January 2014 a tiny bat made headlines in the UK, Europe and across the world after a remarkable voyage of 600 Km. That previous record has now been superseded by another individual from the same species, namely the Nathusius' pipistrelle (Pipistrellus nathusii), who travelled a total of at least 1458km. This is a truly extraordinary feat for a bat that typically weighs the same as a 50p coin.

Last years bat had been ringed in Somerset and found dead in the Netherlands. The individual that was found this year was alive and well after its incredible North Sea crossing of at least 1458km as the bat/crow flies.

The bat was ringed by a research team in team in Latvia on the 20th of August 2015. The Latvian team were carrying out research into bat migration, a topic we still no little about, and had placed small rings on over 4000 individual bats. This particular bat (carrying ring number SA4722) was re caught at Rye

High stress during pregnancy decreases offspring survival, mongoose study shows
Researchers studying banded mongooses in Uganda have discovered that pups born to females that experienced elevated stress hormones during the later stages of pregnancy are much less likely to survive their first month.

Sadness at Chester Zoo as young elephant Hari Hi Way dies
Chester Zoo say they are 'devastated' to announce the death of one of their young bull elephants.

The tourist attraction could not hide their sadness as they announced the passing of Hari Hi Way who was being treated by zoo vets due to concerns detected in his daily blood tests.

Despite the best efforts of teams involved in his care, the condition of the elephant who was almost three, deteriorated and he died late on Tuesday afternoon (October 27).

A zoo spokesperson who described the news as 'terrible', said the exact cause of Hari’s death will be determined by a post-mortem examination but confirmed he tested positive for elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV), a fast-moving virus which affects both wild and captive elephants between the ages of two and five years old.

There is currently no vaccine against EEHV, although research is ongoing.

This news comes six weeks after the zoo anounced the death of female calf, Bala, who also had traces of EEHV. Staff carry out daily blood testing of the elephant herd and, as soon as the first traces of EEHV were detected in both Bala

The Intrinsic Value Of Elephants Far Supersede Their Monetary Value
Elephant owners, including temples in Kerala have come under intense scrutiny after illegal ivory traders confessed that they bought tusks of captive elephants from the state. A popular daily in India reports, one of the traders was arrested in New Delhi, after law enforcement authorities raided his home and seized 487 kilos of ivory worth more than $120,000,000 i.e. $1.8 million USD.

India's wild elephants are also under siege, fueled by the transnational ivory trade. According to media reports, in the past 10 months poachers slaughtered around 20 elephants in Kerala, and in the past two years more than 100 of them across southern India (Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states).

This is of grave concern as India is a global hot spot for the endangered Asian elephants. According to Dr. Raman Sukumar, a world

Rare white tiger quintuplets born in Kunming zoo
A White Bengal tiger gave birth to quintuplets at the Wild Animal Park in Kunming, Yunnan Province on October 25.

The six-year-old tigress and the cubs are all healthy but breeders are still keeping them under close 24-hour observation, reported the Chinese language Xinhua.

As tigers have only four nipples, staff is ready to step in and help nurse the cubs if the mother is unable to feed all of them.

According to the zoo, White tigers usually give birth to two or three cubs. Quintuplets a

Elephant Experts From Around the World Oppose Proposed Import of 18 Elephants from Swaziland to Zoos in Texas, Nebraska, and Kansas
We, the undersigned scientists, conservationists, elephant care, animal welfare and policy experts, are strongly opposed to the proposed import of 18 elephants from Swaziland by the Dallas Zoo in Texas, Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, for the following reasons: 1. The capture and removal of wild elephants for display in zoos is detrimental to elephants. The forcible capture and removal of wild elephants from their home ranges and social groups is archaic and unethical. Elephants do not thrive in zoos. Most fail to breed, and an astonishing number of zoo-born elephant calves die young. The overall infant mortality rate for elephants in zoos is a staggering 40 percent – nearly triple the rate of free ranging Asian and African elephants.1 Those who

Swaziland elephant export ignores alternatives
Controversial plans are progressing to export 18 elephants from Swaziland to US zoos, apparently without proper consideration of relocating them to other reserves in Swaziland.

“There is space and food for elephants in other reserve areas of Swaziland, but we were never alerted of the export,” says a reliable nature conservation source at the Swaziland National Trust Commission, a parastatal of the Ministry of Tourism and Environmental Affairs which oversees four of the country’s seven reserves.

The export plan which has been met by strong global opposition, with more than 70 elephant experts and organizations objecting in a joint statement, is the brainchild of Swaziland’s Big Game Parks organisation and the three zoos - Dallas Zoo; Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha and Sedgwick County Zoo in Wichita – that are destined to receive six elephants each.

This group, known as Roomforrhinos, claim there is nowhere for the elephants to go in Swaziland or the rest of Africa due to loss of habitat, legislation restrictions and the high levels of poaching.

But according to the statement signed by ecologists, policy m

Elephants ‘underfed’ at Kampot zoo: expert
The health of two elephants at the centre of a controversial proposed animal swap between zoos in Cambodia and Japan is deteriorating, just a month after the NGO caring for them was ejected from a Kampot zoo.

Photographic evidence of elephants Kiri and Seila compiled at Teuk Chhou Zoo in Kampot province this week shows protruding bones and one of the elephants resorting to eating grass from the ground outside its enclosure.

According to elephant conservationist Lek Chailert, who has offered the pair a home in a sanctuary she runs in Siem Reap province, they now appear extremely underfed.

“From the photos, it seems that both elephants have lost weight, leaving us all worrying about their condition,” said Chailert yesterday.

In September, conservation group EARS Asia was barred from entering Teuk Chhou Zoo after three years of funding their upkeep.

That followed the group’s vocal opposition to Kiri and Seila’s inclusion in a proposed swap with the Hirakawa Zoo in southern J

Zoo looks to sell giant crocodile to China
Madou Crocodiles King (麻豆鱷魚王) is looking to China as a potential buyer for its main attraction — a giant crocodile — as the Tainan zoo’s closing date approaches.
The zoo’s eponymous king croc is a saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) that is 5.8m long and weighs 1,250kg.
It devours 20kg to 30kg of fish daily, and will continue to grow to between 7m and 8m, said Chiu Hsi-ho (邱錫河), owner of the zoo in Madou District (麻豆).
Chu, who has cared for the massive reptile for 30 years, said it is the biggest living crocodile in the nation and a pampered pet that he has come to regard as an “old friend.”
However, the 37-year-old zoo can no longer keep its business license due to recent changes to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), and is due to close on Feb. 4, Chu said.
Chu is looking for buyers for the 166 types of animals in his zoo,

Eight Facts about the Greenest Zoo in America

A Reptile With No Penis Just Solved a Baffling Scientific Mystery
The tuatara isn’t actually a lizard. It’s the last survivor of a 250 million year old group of reptiles that mostly went extinct with the dinosaurs. It doesn’t have a penis, and ironically, that’s made it a linchpin for understanding how penises evolved in vertebrates.

The tuatara’s penis-less state stands out because the other descendants of the first scaly animals to evolve shelled eggs that require internal fertilization–called amniotes–do have penises, and those penises are wildly diverse.

Mammals use cylinders of inflatable erectile tissue. Turtles have a terrifyingly large organ that layers inflatable tissues on top of a stiff tongue-shaped shovel.

Keeper-Animal Interactions: Differences between the Behaviour of Zoo Animals Affect Stockmanship
Stockmanship is a term used to describe the management of animals with a good stockperson someone who does this in a in a safe, effective, and low-stress manner for both the stock-keeper and animals involved. Although impacts of unfamiliar zoo visitors on animal behaviour have been extensively studied, the impact of stockmanship i.e familiar zoo keepers is a new area of research; which could reveal significant ramifications for zoo animal behaviour and welfare. It is likely that different relationships are formed dependant on the unique keeper-animal dyad (human-animal interaction, HAI). The aims of this study were to (1) investigate if unique keeper-animal dyads were formed in zoos, (2) determine whether keepers differed in their interactions towards animals regarding their attitude, animal knowledge and experience and (3) explore what factors affect keeper-animal dyads and ultimately influence animal behaviour and welfare. Eight black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), eleven Chapman’s zebra (Equus burchellii), and twelve Sulawesi crested black macaques (Macaca nigra) were studied in 6 zoos across the UK and USA. Subtle cues and commands directed by keepers towards animals were identified. The animals latency to respond and the respective behavioural response (cue-response) was recorded per keepe in October 2015

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Yerkes Shouldn’t Offload Chimps to Unaccredited Zoo
With the end of an era of invasive experiments on chimpanzees at hand, and the National Institutes of Health aiming to retire the vast majority of its government owned chimpanzees to the national chimpanzee sanctuary, the three laboratories that house privately owned chimpanzees are no doubt considering their options for the 400 or so animals they own. As a consequence of the recent U.S Fish and Wildlife Service decision to list all chimpanzees as endangered, including captive chimpanzees, these facilities now have limited options when it comes to the use of chimpanzees. And when they do choose to transfer them, or cause them harm, there’s a public record and comment period, so that interested parties can weigh in and influence the outcome.

None of these institutions have sought approval thus far to conduct experiments on chimpanzees since the redesignation of their status on September 14th.  It’s clear, however, that there’s no future in invasive experimentation on chimpanzees, and they see the writing on the wall as well as the letter of the law. Inevitably, that means these institutions are looking to offload the animals, since chimpanzees are very expensive to care for and will not produce any revenue.

We are concerned about a plan that’s surfaced to transfer chimpanzees to an unsuitable location. Yerkes National Primate Research Center, a laboratory located in Atlanta, is seeking to transfer six female and two male chimpanzees to an unaccredited zoo in England called Wingham Wildlife Park. This substandard exhibition facility has not previously managed a group o

Brazilian zoo hatches bird extinct in the wild (VIDEO)
A rare bird that has been considered extinct in the wild was born in a Brazilian zoo on Monday (October 26) breathing new life into hopes to keep the rare species from being wiped from the earth.

This baby Alagoas Curassow was born in the Parque Das Aves (Avian Park) in the Brazilian city of Foz do Iguacu, near the Iguazu Falls on Brazil's border with Argentina and Paraguay.

The Parque Das Aves says there are currently just 230 specimens of the exotic bird left on the planet, all of which are in captivity. They said the birth of their little chick marked the first time an Alagoas Curassow has hatched in a zoo.

Alagoas curassows were once native to the Atlantic forests of Brazil's northeast coast including the state of Alagoas, from where

Store complex to rise in Manila zoo
A store complex within a sports zone will soon rise inside the Manila zoo compound through a joint venture agreement with a private company that was chosen to renovate the 59-year old zoo.
This was cited in the contract between city officials and its joint venture (JV) partner, Metropolitan Zoo and Botanical park Inc., that is now pending for ratification at the city council once the much-needed public hearings between stakeholders h

Are pandas worth it?
Pandas are crowd-pleasers, but critics of China's 'panda diplomacy' allege that host countries adopt the bears at the cost of real environmental and political change.

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About me
After more than 47 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an international independent zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, a dreamer, a traveller, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.

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