Saturday, November 21, 2015

Zoo News Digest 17th - 21st November 2015 (ZooNews 914)

Zoo News Digest 17th - 21st November 2015 
(ZooNews 914)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

It is coming to those happens twice a year, where the seasons cross over and there will be dozens of stories about what zoos are doing to warm up or cool down their animals. Why these places don't have some sort of permanent system in place I can't really figure out because all it reads to me is inadequacy and we should never be inadequate for the lives we care for.
Probably the most disturbing 'inadequate' story of the past week is that from Ludhiana Zoo in the Punjab where it is stated " Zoo officials spend lakhs on the diet and medicines of animals, but due to lack of funds, the department fails to pay contractors feeding animals. The state government has passed zero budget for forest and wildlife in the assembly, so the department has no money to feed their animals and take care of them."
No money to feed their animals!! Just what the hell is going on? This isn't just inadequate it is total incompetence. I daresay there will be a follow up on this and as per usual from this part of the world the blame will be placed on the Zoo Keepers and Daily Wage Staff.....when in reality the State government are and should be held responsible. The quote so often attributed to Mahatma Ghandhi 
"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated". Well going by the way the Punjab are going with their zoo it doesn't hold out much hope for the people.

The other story which is bothering me is of the escaped 'wolf' in Scotland. Most of 'Joe Public' have a preconceived idea of wolves that dates back to the dark ages. I daresay the collection told the newspapers that it was not a wolf in the true sense of the word but a shy mainly frugivorous canid that is neither a wolf nor a fox....but the papers know better...scaring people sells more copy. The only good thing is that only one newspaper has picked up the story so far.

The Red Panda escape on the other hand has gone from local to international. 

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 

Interesting Links

Knowsley Safari Park has unveiled £1.5m plans to introduce two new attractions: a five-acre tiger habitat and a safari drive lodge.

The zoological park said that the habitat would form a central area to the existing walkaround while the lodge would allow visitors to stop off on the main safari drive for the first time and enjoy views of the animals.

The work, which is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2016, will take up to four months to complete.

Eveline De Wolf, head of the animal collection, said: "The new tiger habitat has been designed especially for Sinda and Bira, our Amur tigers, to provide an enriching habitat with naturally flowing water that is integrated into the long-established woodland.

"It will be great for visitors too, with a full trail around the habitat and elevated views from specially designed timber viewing platforms."

Edward Perry, director of operations, said: "The addition of the safari drive lodge has been in planning for a long time and will give visitors the chance to stop off mid-drive,

Red panda vanishes from California zoo
A red panda is missing on California's far north coast.
 The tiny creature named Masala disappeared from the Sequoia Park Zoo in Eureka sometime between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Thursday.
Zoo manager Gretchen Ziegler tells the Times-Standard newspaper that any resident who spots the 1 1/2-year old panda should not approach it, but try not to lose sight of it and call the zoo or police.

Ziegler says the biggest threat to Masala would be cars or an animal that preys on small animals. Red pandas are abou

Earth Matters: Thailand’s efforts to help endangered Asian elephant
After camping among wild African elephants in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania, last September, I greatly anticipated visiting wild Asian elephants in Thailand this month. But when I arrived, I found that finding wild elephants in this country is a little tricky.

Like their larger African cousins, Asian elephants are a highly endangered species. According to the the American Museum of Natural History, hundreds of thousands of elephants roamed Asia until only about 100 years ago. Today, they have been wiped out from large areas of India, Southeast Asia and China, leaving fewer than 50,000.

I found three great places to visit Asian elephants in northern Thailand, all about an hour’s drive from the city of Chang Mai. Trouble is, the elephants in these places are not exactly wild. That’s because 95 percent of Thailand’s elephants are living in captivity, and nobody really knows how many wild elephants are left.

A friend and I drove to the Thai Elephant Conservation Center in the densely forested hills near Lampang. The TECC is a government-sponsored elephant camp that houses more than 50 Asian elephants (including six of the Thai Royal family’s white elephants). TECC seeks to educate tourists about the plight of elephants and to raise money for their conservation.

We watched the elephants bathe and frolic with their trainers in the creek flowing through the TECC grounds — truly a highlight of this trip!

After bathing, about a dozen eleph

France bans imports of lion hunt trophies
France has banned the import of lion heads, paws and skins as hunters’ trophies, nearly four months after the killing of Zimbabwe’s most famous lion by an American trophy hunter sparked international outrage.

In a letter to the actor and animals rights activist Brigitte Bardot, France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal, said that she had instructed officials to stop issuing permits for lion trophies and was considering stricter controls on trophies from other species.

“Following your letter and recent visits in Africa in preparation of the climate summit in Paris, I want to let you know I have given orders to my services to stop delivering certificates for importing lion trophies,” Royal wrote in the letter dated 12 November.

“Concerning other species trophies, I am in favour of a much stronger control for hunting trophies and this issue will be discussed with all the countries concerned and with the EU.”

In July, conservationists and MEPs called for an EU-wide ban on the import of lion trophies following the death of Cecil the lion

Hong Kong detector dog sniffs out endangered dried seahorses in airport crackdown
A dedicated detector dog named Maggie sniffed out a parcel containing 16.8 kilograms of dried seahorses at the Air Mail Centre of Hong Kong Airport on Wednesday.
The huge haul was found in a box with no relevant permits, sparking an investigation into the contravention of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.
Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) set up a Quarantine Detector Dog Team in 2008 to bolster its efforts in combating the illegal importation of animals and animal products, including endangered species.
The AFCD yesterday reminded the public not to buy, import or export endangered species, pointing out t

Sea Urchin Goes to the Dentist at National Aquarium
If you think that humans are the only ones who have to worry about dental care, think again. A pretty diverse group of animals has to put effort into maintaining their pearly whites, including a sea urchin that recently went under the knife at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

The aquatic creatures are equipped with five calcareous plates that support their teeth. With the help of their beak-like mouths, the sea urchins scrape algae right off of rocks and grind up mussels, a process intended to keep their teeth ground down.

Invertebrate Conservation Sub-Committee meeting: Abu Dhabi 12-13 September 2015: Report
-- B.A. Daniel, P. 1
Implications of invoking Section 62 of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 for resolving Human-Wildlife Conflict
-- S.S. Bist, Pp. 2-4
Largest breeding colony of Greater Adjutant, Leptoptilos dubius Gmelin, in Dadara-Pasariya-Singimari Villages in Assam, India
-- Purnima Devi Barman and D.K. Sharma, Pp. 5-6
Cyperus conglomerates curvulus - a new distribution record for India
-- V.P. Prasad, P. 7
Case Report: Surgical Intervention of Velvet Antler Fracture in a Captive Sambar Deer (Rusa unicolor)
-- Deepak Sharma, Pp. 8-10
Husbandry and Care of Amphibians (Chapter 34, ZOOKEEPING)
-- Andrew M. Lentini, Pp. 11-22
ZOOLEX: Minnesota Zoological Gardens, Minnesota Trail: Beavers
Pp. 23-26
Education Report
P. 27
Announcement: ZOO T-shirts
P. 28
Announcement: IUCN World Conservation Congress, 1-10 September 2016, Hawai'i
Back cover page
The November 2015 issue of ZOO’S PRINT Magazine (Vol. 30, No. 11) is online at <> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.
If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <>

'Frozen Ark' collects animal DNA in face of mass extinction
A British-led project called "Frozen Ark" is preserving the DNA of endangered species before they disappear as the Earth undergoes what scientists are calling the sixth mass extinction.
"Many of these species are going to go extinct before we even know they exist," said John Armour, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Nottingham, which is host to the project.
"The whole idea of the Frozen Ark is to get and preserve that material for future generations before it's too late."
Launched a little over a decade ago by Britis

***** in November 2015

~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~

Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



Stoat Heath is a display of stoats and their typical habitat by Aktion
Fischotterschutz, an organization for the conservation of otters, in a
special park for mustelids in Hankensbüttel, Germany. The barriers are
designed to keep the stoats in and their predators out of the exhibits.

Here is the German original:



The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums launched two important
guidelines for zoos at the 70th WAZA Annual Conference and Technical
Congress held in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates:

The World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy:

The World Zoo and Aquarium Animal Welfare Strategy:


We keep working on ZooLex ...

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


New conservation technology network launches today
A new online platform, launched today, will allow conservationists and technology experts to share ideas on how to tackle some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges.

Half the world's natural history specimens may have the wrong name
As many as 50% of all natural history specimens held in the world's museums could be wrongly named, according to a new study by researchers from Oxford University and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

The real story about our elephant project
As you may know, we’re awaiting approval of a permit to relocate 18 elephants who face certain death in Swaziland. We’re joining two other accredited U.S. zoos to give them the newest, most innovative homes for elephants in human care. Some anti-zoo activists are spreading untruths about this project and attacking us to spark negative comments to U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services. They believe these animals are better off dead than living in our remarkable new habitats – and we strongly disagree.

So we’re sharing the facts in this short VIDEO below. We partner with many African conservation groups, helping save species in crisis there. It’s a difficult, complex situation with few easy answers. Between the horrific daily poaching deaths and the devastating Swazi drought, there simply is no safe place for these elephants in Africa. Swazi officials have worked on their thoughtful conservation plan for 50 years, and their decision about these elephants is critical to saving the nearly extinct black rhino. We are proud to o

Capuchin monkeys use sticks as shovels to dig out caiman eggs
Capuchin monkeys are renowned tool users – they famously wield hammers and anvils to crack nuts – but the newest addition to their arsenal combines ingenuity with a certain bravado.

Quite by chance the monkeys have been spotted using an improvised shovel to steal eggs from caiman nests in the Amazon rainforests of the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve in Brazil.

The monkeys grab a long stout stick and then dig away at the caiman’s nest mound, flicking the rotting vegetation aside until they reach the eggs.

The monkeys then pick up one egg at a time, carry it away to the relative safety of a nearby tree, eat it and then come back for more.

It’s a risky strategy. The metre-high nest mounds are often gu

Disturbing: Ex-SeaWorld Trainer Reveals What It Was Like Getting Splashed All The Time
Every year, millions of visitors flock to SeaWorld to see incredible performances by dolphins and killer whales. But what looks like harmless family fun on the surface has a dark side. Now, one brave ex-trainer is exposing the reality of being repeatedly and systematically splashed.

Former trainer Jeff Rodriguez has gone public with his story in the hopes that he can stop SeaWorld’s cycle of exploitation.

“They prey on young people who have dreams of working with animals,” Jeff said. “At first, it’s just a light mist, then it’s Shamu splashing these huge waves right into your face. They keep upping it, and before you know it, you are getting splashed very hard.”

Jeff had to endure large, wet splashes—sometimes right in his eyes—on a daily basis for four years.


“The splashing might seem fun from the safety of the bleachers, but imagine that big splash blasting right into your face,” said Jeff. “For the audience, it’s just a few quick splashes and then they head back to their hotels, but for us, we get wet—like, real wet.”

“Some days, we’re in the water with these animals for eight or nine hours,” Jeff added. “We’re getting splashed constantly.”

When it comes to where the blame lie

Vinpearl Safari Phu Quoc welcomes 200 rare animals
VietNamNet Bridge - The Vinpearl Safari Park on Phu Quoc Island, the first wildlife zoo in Vietnam, has just received 200 endangered animals of different species from various bio-geographic regions in the world.
The rare animals include white antelopes (addax), black-and-white ruffed lemurs (Varecia variegata), ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and giraffes.
The Conservation Park, part of the Vinpearl Resort project in Phu Quoc Island, Kien Giang Province, one of the biggest zoo in the world, is scheduled to be put into operation on December 24.

Captured kitten to undergo wildcat DNA test
A kitten captured after getting trapped in a garden shed is being tested to confirm if it is one of Scotland’s rare wildcats.

The five-month-old has the markings of a wildcat, eats only raw meat and behaved so ferociously when cornered it has been nicknamed Grumpy Cat.

Experts at the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland are now doing DNA tests that will prove conclusively whether the kitten – picked up near Alford – is a wildcat.

There are thought to be fewer than 400 Scottish wild

The end of canned lion hunting looks imminent
Breaking news has also come out of the Professional Hunters Association of South Africa (PHASA) AGM. A motion has been passed that disassociates PHASA with the captive-bred lion industry until such a time that the industry can convince PHASA and the IUCN that the practice is beneficial to lion conservation. This came after canned lion breeders and supporters were apparently outvoted 147 to 103. 

Why Zookeepers Don't Want To Touch Seattle's Newborn Gorilla
Zookeepers have noticed that Nadiri, a gorilla at the Woodland Park Zoo, has been restless at night and walking around more. For two weeks, they’ve watched her on closed-circuit television, waiting for signals that her baby is ready to arrive.

Nadiri, a 19-year old, first time mother, was due on Thursday. Her minders are hoping to be hands off at this birth – to give mother and child the time they need to bond.

Update: Baby Gorilla Is Born, But Mom Walks Away

“If we never have our hands on this infant, never have to handle it in any way, I would consider that a huge success for all of us,” said Harmony Frazier, a senior veterinary technician at the Seattle zoo.

At the very least, they hope it goes better than Nadiri’s own birth.

Nadiri’s traumatic birth in February 1996 – and what happened after – tugged Seattle heartstrings. Woodland Park Zoo received 3,000 submissions for baby names. Long lines formed to watch baby Nadiri at the zoo nursery. Bruegger’s Bagels held a press conference to financially adopt the newborn and lavished the baby gorilla with diapers and f

Wolf escapes from Galloway Wildlife Park - but public told not to panic
The five-year-old wolf disappeared last week but owners of the wildlife park say she poses no threat to the public.
A wolf is on the loose after it escaped from a Kirkcudbright wildlife park on Saturday.

The animal made a run for it after torrential rain and high winds knocked a tree down onto its enclosure and left a hole in the fence at the Galloway Wildlife Park.

Animal keeper Cameron Denerley was only made aware of the wolf’s disappearance when a woman who lives nearby spotted it roaming around the area.

He said yesterday the animal (pictured) poses no danger to the public and anyone who discovers it should walk away and phone him immediately.

“It’s a five-year-old female that was born here so it’s not a wild animal,” he said.

“She’s quite shy and would probably be more scared than any member of the public who came across her. She won’t attack anyone but we want her back.”

Cameron and his father also spotted the wolf at the golf course near the park on Monday night but were unab

Ruff sex: Scientists identify genetic sequence of a bird with four genders
Talking about the "birds and the bees" is a tricky and delicate matter. Especially if you are referring to the mating behaviour of a particular bird called a ruff.

A ruff is a type of wading sandpiper. The female ruff looks similar to the type of sandpiper you may see at the beach. But the male ruffs are a more diverse bunch. There are three different kinds of male genders -- including a "female mimic." Scientists have known about this for a few years. But now a group of biologists has found the group of genes responsible for the unique gender diversity and behavioural traits in ruff sex.

"We try to avoid the use of that word actually because it takes you to strange places on an internet search engine," David Lank tells As It Happens host Carol Off.  "The enigma of the species is how there are three distinctly different kinds of males and how they co-exist in the same species."

Lank is a biology professor at Simon Fraser University and co-author of the new study.

The male genders are split into three categories: territorial males, satellite males or female mimics. Lank explains that during the mating season each gender competes for fe

Truth Squad: Blackfish Scientists Get Schooled
The anti-zoological crowd has built its legacy on sneaking misinformation into society through films, books, speeches and social media.

Sometimes, anti-zoo proponents will even try to sneak their agenda into real science, as Jeff Ventre and John Jett did with their 2015 paper claiming wild killer whales live longer than those in zoological facilities.

Since Ventre and Jett were so eager to pretend to be experts, they should have been ready for the real ones to call them out, which is exactly what happened at IMATA 2015.

Dr. Kelly Jaakkola, one of the world’s foremost experts in dolphin cognition, and Dr. Grey Stafford, a PhD biologist and expert on positive reinforcement training in zoological species, tore apart the Ventre and Jett paper in a 15 minute smackdown dual presentation at the conference held in the Bahamas.

“What you’ve got here is bad science” Dr. Jaakkola said, while introducing the Ventre-Jett lifespan piece, “and I don’t say that lightly, as a scientist.”

UAB engineers develop new method to repair elephant tusks
When Birmingham Zoo veterinarians approached researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Engineering to help them stop a crack from growing in their oldest elephant’s tusk, the engineers saw an opportunity to use their expertise in materials science to improve the industry standard for the repair process.

Cracks in elephants’ tusks historically have been repaired by adhering a metal ring to the tusk in order to stabilize the crack and prevent it from growing any farther up the tusk.

The Birmingham Zoo asked the director of UAB’s Materials Processing and Applications Development Center, Brian Pillay, Ph.D., to do just that, for Bulwagi, a 35-year-old male African elephant in their care.

Pillay’s immediate response was to innovate the process, and apply some of the science the lab uses in other materials processes to create a new, more robust and seamless tre

Scientists discover method to eliminate killer fungus in amphibians
Research published today details the first-ever successful elimination of a fatal chytrid fungus in a wild amphibian, marking a major breakthrough in the fight against the disease responsible for devastating amphibian populations worldwide. The highly-infectious chytrid pathogen has severely affected over 700 amphibian species worldwide; driving population declines, extirpations and species extinctions across five continents.

The zoo of the city of Nyíregyháza in North-eastern Hungary was ranked first by the foundation of Anthony Sheridan in the category of comprising zoos with between 250 000 and 500 000 visitors a year. The high ranking is due to the rare species of animals and the significant number of visitors, from Hungary and abroad.
„19 years ago, when we developed the idea of the institution, we simply wanted to open a zoo with a novel approach in this wonderful oak forest at Sóstó" – says Mr. László Gajdos, director of Nyíregyháza Zoo, which is one of the youngest participants of the competition. „We regard our work as a mission, and we see this recognition as a confirmation that we proceed in the right way. Our aim is to ensure the best conditions for the 5000 animals living here, and that our 450 000 visitors every year could leave th

Zoo animals crave human touch
In a city like Ludhiana, where people don't hesitate to spend big money on their pets, there are no takers for zoo animals up for adoption. Since Punjab government approved the animal adoption scheme on June 15, 2009, there have only been two cases of animal adoption, that too by a city based school. In 2010 and 2011, Kundan Vidya Mandir, Civil Lines adopted a tiger, black bucks and birds for two years. But no one came forward to adopt the animals after that. Adoption entails bearing expenses of food and upkeep of the animal.

Zoo officials spend lakhs on the diet and medicines of animals, but due to lack of funds, the department fails to pay contractors feeding animals. The state government has passed zero budget for forest and wildlife in the assembly, so the department has no money to feed their animals and take care of them.

District Forest Officer (DFO), Surjit Sahota said, "It would be great if citizens come forward to adopt zoo animals, because funds are always limited. They should join this good cause. Adoption can be for one year and for one month too. Anybody can adopt an animal. The person adopting will have to pay a fixed amount."

Sandeep Jain, president, People for Animal (PFA), Ludhiana said, "There should be awareness about this scheme. People do not know they can adopt zoo animals. Sec

Australian Reptile Park snake handler Billy Collett bitten milking venomous death adder
THE head keeper at the Australian Reptile Park was taken to hospital on Tuesday after being bitten by a highly venomous death adder while milking it.

The park confirmed head reptile keeper Billy Collett was bitten on the index finger by a common death adder — the sixth most venomous snake in Australia — during a routine venom extraction procedure at the park.

It was the first time Mr Collett — who was milking the adder as part of the park’s venom-milking program — had been bitten by a snake.

Tulsa Zoo: Tova The Elephant Had Massive Bladder Stone
The necropsy performed on the elephant that was euthanized on Sunday revealed she had a 10-pound bladder stone, according to the Tulsa Zoo.
The zoo said Tova the 43-year-old Asian elephant was euthanized because she had stopped eating and drinking and was in pain. Experts from the Center for Elephant Conservation tried to find what caused the symptoms. Despite that, Tova was euthanized to end her suffering.

Baby Tiger Drugged And Dragged Around Casino — Just For Fun
When Russia's latest attraction, the ritzy Tigre de Cristal casino, opened its doors last month, it needed something big to make an impact. So, it decided haul around a 5-month-old endangered tiger cub who was drugged so heavily she couldn't open her eyes.
Patrons and members of the public were shocked to see the young Amur tiger being carted around the casino floor in Vladivostok, Russia. Barely conscious, her inner eyelids drooped shut, leaving her with a blank red stare.

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

Skype: peter.dickinson48

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