Sunday, December 6, 2015

Zoo News Digest 1st - 6th December 2015 (ZooNews 916)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 6th December 2015 
(ZooNews 916)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

The Tiger and the Goat story is still attracting a lot of attention from the Worlds press. It isn't as if there isn't more interesting and important stories out there but, for them, public titillation always comes first. I have not included more on this. So which links attracted the most views on Facebook ZooNews Digest this week? These were those relating to sad individual who jumped into the Polar Bear enclosure in Copenhagen Zoo. Following on in second place was the post about the Hibernating primate and third "The loneliest frog in the world"…now that surprised me.

The story of the 39 year old lion….I don't believe it was that old.

The Curraghs Wildlife Park is rightfully proud of their involvement in the Silvery Gibbon Breeding Programme. These Gibbons are going to need all the help that they can get. It was this week I learned that baby Silvery Gibbons are now being smuggled into the UAE in not insignificant numbers. Other gibbons too…the latest fad of the wealthy and the ignorant.

I am heading off to Cairo tomorrow for a few days. All work and no play so I am none too sure if will be able to follow and get too many links out…but I will try.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 

Interesting Links

The Loneliest Frog in the World
Every morning when Mark Mandica opens the door, he feels a pit in his stomach. He knows that today could be the day that he discovers the last Rabbs' Fringe-limbed tree frog has passed away. When that day comes, his species will be extinct forever - another in a long and growing list of animals that are disappearing at an alarming rate. He will close his eyes, and his kind will vanish from the face of the Earth forever. Many of these species will disappear without even a mention from the media.

"It's kind of nerve-racking taking care of him, knowing he's the last one of his kind," says Mark, the Amphibian Conservation Coordinator at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. He admits he was not much of a conservationist when he first became fascinated with amphibians. "I was more interested studying how fast their tongues move to catch prey, not much to do with conservation. Since then it has become harder and harder to find frogs and amphibians and so now I feel obligated to help conserve these amazing and vital creatures. It's sort of an 'all hands on deck' situation."

It was Mark's young son Anthony who nick-named the frog "Toughie." When asked why he picked that name, six-year-old Anthony exclaims, "Because he's the only one that made it!"

Toughie is originally from the lush rainforests of Panama, where he used to spread his large webbed hands and could glide for up to 3

Chinese leader caught on CCTV petting pangolin, elephants in Zim
Wondering what else Chinese president Xi Jinping did during his whistle stop tour of Harare this week?

As Zimbabwe's finance ministry put out a statement on Friday on the visit that gives a more measured view of the much-trumpeted "mega-deals" signed between the two governments, footage has emerged of the Chinese leader feeding giraffes and petting baby elephants during a visit to a wildlife park near the capital.

Posted on YouTube, the footage, taken by CCTV, shows Xi at the Wild is Life Sanctuary. He and his wife Peng Liyuan are also f

China’s “new stance” on illegal wildlife trade reinforced at Johannesburg conference
In September China and the US, the worlds’ two largest markets for illegal ivory, agreed to “nearly complete” bans on all ivory imports, a move praised by conservation groups worldwide. Now, at a conference in Johannesburg, retired Chinese diplomat Yuxiao Zhou highlighted the Chinese government’s growing concern at the country’s poor image in respect of the illegal wildlife trade. Businessman Si Hai, chairman of the Southern Africa Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Liaison Association, said “We are willing to participate and lend support to efforts to stop illegal trade – if we can help we will certainly do so”.

Where should US chimpanzees live?
Ongoing decisions and news coverage about US chimpanzee research have provoked continuing debate and raised questions about the best course of action for the animals, science, and public interests. Like many complex, emotional, topics the arguments and language that have surrounded the discussion have been polarized and have left many with impressions that are less than accurate. In turn, thoughtful and serious consideration has often been stymied.

One of the primary areas of confusion surrounds what exactly is meant by the term “research.” Another is what standards of care best provide for chimpanzees’ welfare. Here we cover some common questions about chimpanzee research in the US and the implications and consequences of decisions about chimpanzees living in dedicated research facilities. We also highlight and compare standards for care, external oversight, and public transparency for chimpanzees living in different settings in the US. We share two documents that provide details about the many scientific discoveries published over the past several years from scientists working in dedicated chimpanzee research facilities. One is a list of over 175 representative publications from recent years. The great majority of these scientific publications report discoveries from

A Legal Victory and a Strong Message
Beluga whales are the large, white, rubbery-looking dolphins found in Arctic seas in the Northern Hemisphere. Their whimsical faces and white, supple bodies make them a favorite of aquariums around the world. Unfortunately, the trade in captive beluga whales, like dolphins and orcas, is growing tremendously as new aquariums are being built, especially in Asia and the Middle East. Beluga whales require special conditions, including chilled seawater, and they still do not thrive - nor are they ever likely to - in small tanks in captivity.

Hence the proposal in June 2012 by the Georgia Aquarium to import 18 beluga whales caught in Russia to replenish the captive population in the US. The Georgia Aquarium itself lost two newborn beluga whales that died shortly after birth. Just in the past month, two adults have recently died at

How a giraffe expert is working to protect their genetic future
Jason Pootoolal is well known in the giraffe world.

Pootoolal, giraffe and hoof supervisor at African Lion Safari, was the first in Canada to impregnate one of the animals through artificial insemination. And another baby is on the way, this time through frozen semen insemination.

At the Flamborough facility, Pootoolal works on techniques to save and use genetic material to continue the population of the Rothschild giraffe, a breed so rare that only about 1,000 remain in the world.

What Is Taxonomic Order And Why Is It Used For The Sequence Of Birds In My Field Guide?
Most field guides and checklists present birds in taxonomic order, which represents our best understanding of the evolutionary relationships between bird families. Generally speaking, the groups at the front of the list are thought to have split off earlier from the common ancestor of all birds, or what is called the “root” of the bird tree of life. (That common ancestor is now known to have been a theropod dinosaur.)

Before the advent of DNA sequencing, overall taxonomic order was based on such factors as where a bird first appears in the fossil record, and on similarities in physical features (morphology) among families.

Modern advances in gene sequencing have revolutionized our understanding of these relationships. Morphological and fossil evidence are still used, but the information from the genomes (DNA) of birds has led to major updates in taxonomic order in the most recently published guides compared to ones from 20 or even 10 years ago.

A case in point: falcons have long been grouped with the other raptors such as hawks and eagles, but DNA evidence now shows that they are most closely related to parrots.  So

The Antwerp zoo has been evacuated following a bomb alert
The Antwerp zoo, situated at the Reine Astrid place, has been completely evacuated Thursday afternoon around 14h00, following a telephone conversation indicating that there was a bomb inside the zoo, local police released in a statement.
Since there are ongoing renovations at the zoo only few visitors had to be escorted out. The police is currently carrying out a search at the site and has also brought in sniffing dogs to assist them.

The police is clear that the alert only concerns the zoo and not the Antwerp station that is close to it.

Antwerp has received several bomb alerts the last few wee

An angel gets its wings, and at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, a rhino gets her boots.

Coco, a 25-year-old southern black rhino, has lived at Fossil Rim since 1995. At age six, she began to have issues with her right front foot.

“We’ve treated it a number of different ways,” said veterinarian Dr. Holly Haefele, director of animal health. “In 2009, we put a boot on for about a month and got good resolution to the problem for about five years. In August 2014, she started having trouble with the right front again. We think there potentially used to be (a foreign object) in there that flared up in the foot pad and opened up a hole.

“Even if nothing is in there any longer, maybe now it’s hard for normal tissue to grow back. We tried to address it again last spring, but we’ve had trouble

Echidnas Have Sex Half A Penis At A Time
What do you do when you work at a zoo, with an outreach program designed to give the public an up-close look at the safer animals in your care, and the animal you’re showing off gets an erection? If you work at the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, you get to work.

Zookeepers handling a short-beaked echidna took what they had to work with and conditioned the echidna, over two weeks and out of the public eye, to maintain its erection until it ejaculated. They noticed a couple of odd things along the way. The first was that the echidna ejaculated bundles of sperm, which glommed together in order to swim faster th

Grizzly Bears Can Eat 40,000 Moths in a Day
Grizzly bears will eat just about anything. They make a living by consuming whatever is edible in their immediate surroundings, happily dining on huckleberries, dead animals, small mammals like rodents, nuts, fish, or, occasionally, human food.

As seen in the film Wild Yellowstone, which debuts this Sunday (Dec. 6) at 9 p.m. ET on Nat Geo Wild, grizzlies also voyage way up into the seemingly barren, rock-strewn highlands of mountains. For decades, people have witnessed grizzlies in these locations, puzzled as to why the bears would make their way up there. But why would they go to a virtually life- and food-less area, above nearly all vegetation and animal inhabitants?

Researcher Don White Jr. set out to get to the bottom of this enigma when he began studying grizzly bears in Glacier National Park in the 1990s. He soon found out—and Wild Yellowstone reveals—the reason the bears climbed to such frosty, rocky heights: to dine on moths. Lots and lots of moths, says White, who is now a wildlife ecologist at the University of Arkansas-Monticello. His calculat

Panic Spreads Through Jos As Lion Escapes From Zoo
Panic as spread through the town of Jos like wildfire as a lion is reported to have escaped  from the Jos Wild Life Park on Wednesday, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.

According to the Acting General Manager, Plateau Toursim Corporation, John Doy, the lion escaped at about 8 a.m. while it was being fed.

Doy said that the lion, had been caged since 1972, but slipped through the gate of the cage when it as opened for its routine feeding.

He said that the animal is still within the vicinity of the Park but thier fear is that the Park is not fenced.

The acting general manager said that he had already informed all security agencies to come to the Park’s assistance.

Naomi Cishak, Public Relations Officer of

Nigeria lion shot dead after escaping from zoo
A four-year-old lion has been shot dead after it escaped from a zoo in Jos, central Nigeria.
The lion is believed to have escaped from its cage in Jos Wildlife Park at feeding time on Wednesday morning.
There was tension in Jos as police and soldiers spent the day trying to track the animal down.
The police say the lion was hostile during attempts to get it back to the cage and it was killed before it could harm any

They were wrong to kill lion on the loose in Jos – Runsewe, ex-NTDC boss
There was tension in Jos, the capital  of Plateau State, Wednesday when it was learnt that a lion escaped from  Jos Wildlife Park at feeding time, before it was  killed. Many felt it was wrong to have killed the lion instead of   tranquilising it. On inquiry from tourism officials of the Plateau Tourism Corporation on why the  lion, which had been caged since 1972, was shot, they said the zoo lacked the equipment to tranquilise it.

The officials, who did not want to be named, disclosed that a former Director General, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, Otunba Segun Runsewe, had warned of  impending danger  when he saw the condition of the zoo as he was said to have written to the state government on it then. This led  our reporter to go after Runsewe, who had gone under ground since he was unceremoniously removed in 2013, to share his thoughts on how we can make our zoo tourism friendly. Though, he initially refused to talk, after much persuasion, he spoke.

Money on Extinction, but Fighting Nonetheless
Species are disappearing at alarming rates around the globe, yet the vast majority of these extinction events fail to elicit even the tiniest of sobs from the general public. As one “enlightened” reviewer of Elizabeth Kolbert’s excellent book The Sixth Extinction so eloquently put it, “So what if scorpions, polar-bears, rattlesnakes and sharks go extinct. Who cares??” Well, I care, particularly in light of last week’s news that the San Diego Zoo was forced to euthanize one of the four remaining northern white rhinoceroses left on the planet. Now the fate of the species rests on three elderly individuals and the hope of a successful in vitro fertilization campaign. My heart is with the rhinos, but my money’s on extinction.

Man injured after entering polar bear enclosure at Copenhagen zoo
 Copenhagen Zoo says a man has jumped inside a polar bear's enclosure, forcing zookeepers to fire rubber bullets at the animal while he was rescued.

Zoo spokesman Jacob Munkholm Hoeck said Wednesday the man, who was not identified, was "pulled out and was able to walk" but was sent to the hospital in an ambulance.

Munkholm Hoeck says zookeepers fired several rounds of rubber bullets at the bear to get it to back off.

On Twitter, police described the man as "men

Animals should not be outside enclosures, and visitors need to be more educated - park owner
Wild animals should never be outside their enclosures while visitors are present but members of the public have to take greater responsibility for their own safety, according to the owner of Malta’s only licenced zoo.
Chris Borg, who owns the Wildlife Park in the limits of Rabat, told the Times of Malta that as wild animals could react unpredictably around people, repeatedly letting them out made an accident almost inevitable.
Mr Borg, however, defended Montekristo owner Charles Polidano, who has been charged over alleged infringements at his zoo. He insisted Mr Polidano

Wildlife park owner speaks out against tragic Montekristo incident – blames handlers, parent
Speaking out against the tragic incident when a three-year-old boy was mauled by a tiger at the illegal Montekristo zoo on Saturday afternoon, Wildlife Park Malta owner Chris Borg took to Facebook to comment on responsible wild-animal ownership.

The bottom line which Mr Borg highlighted in his Facebook post was that the animals should absolutely never be outside of their enclosure when members of the public are in the vicinity.

“Animals should neve

Doubts raised over zoo handlers’ licence
‘Illegal to take big cats from cage’
The animal handlers at the Montekristo Animal Park “could not have been licensed” because the whole zoo has not yet been given the thumbs up, Animal Welfare Commissioner Manuel Buhagiar said yesterday.
Mr Buhagiar told the Times of Malta that licences for handlers were granted together with a zoo’s permits – which have never been issued to the Montekristo Park. “If a permit for the zoo hasn’t been issued then nothing is in line and nothing is legal – not even the handlers’ licences, if these have even been issued,” he said when asked if the zoo’s handlers were registered and adequately trained.
The licences for handlers as well as for zoos are issued by the Veterinary Services Department. When contacted, however, department head Robert Balbo would not comment on the park, which is subject to a magisterial inquiry.
The Montekristo Animal Park was thrust into the national spotlight last weekend after a three-year-old boy was injured by an adult tiger

First discovery of a hibernating primate outside Madagascar
Up to now, three species of lemurs on Madagascar were the only primates known to hibernate. Researchers at Vetmeduni Vienna in Austria, now show for the first time that another primate species that lives in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and China, the pygmy slow loris, also uses hibernation to save energy. The results were published in Scientific Reports this week

Animal Rights Group Sues San Antonio Zoo
The Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) made good on its promise to sue the San Antonio Zoo over Lucky, an Asian elephant animal right groups want removed from the zoo and transported to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee.

The lawsuit alleges the zoo is violating the Endangered Species Act by confining the elephant in isolation (its last companion was Boo, who was aggressive and euthanized in 2013); by providing insufficient space; by not providing adequate shelter; and for leaving inappropriate substrate on the exhibit floor. According to the ALDF, these conditions injure Lucky both physically and psychologically.

“More and more zoos have admitted that they cannot meet elephants’ complex needs and have closed their elephant exhibits,” Stephen Wells, executive director of ALDF, says in a press release. “Instead of acknowledging the obvious — that it cannot meet Lucky’s needs — the San Antonio Zoo makes excuses about why it is unwilling to allow her to have a better life. We hope the zoo will choose to let Lucky live o

Prague Zoo selling ‘elephant urine’
The Prague Zoo, ranked by TripAdvisor at the fourth-best in the world, has introduced a new gift at its online shop and zoo souvenir stand just in time for the holidays: bottled elephant urine.

Actually, it is a yellow herbal liqueur made from an undisclosed recipe, but actual urine is not one of the ingredients and is billed as useful for either an aperitif of digestif
The label is in Czech and

Bill would allow zoos to breed big cats
If one Michigan lawmaker is successful, large carnivores will be able to breed at Michigan zoos.

Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge announced he plans to introduce a bill allowing breeding programs for carnivores to begin at five Michigan zoos, including Battle Creek's Binder Park Zoo, according to a Tuesday news release.

The release said such breeding was made illegal in the state because of the inhumane conditions created at exhibits found at roadside attractions. Binder Park and the other zoos mentioned in the bill — Detroit Zoo, Lansing's Potter Park Zoo, Grand Rapids' John Ball Zoo and Saginaw's Children's Zoo at Celebration Square — are members of the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

Other groups would be allowed to breed the animals if they comply with safety, animal welfare and conservation mandates in the bill.

Animals outlined in the legislation include lions, cheetahs, tigers, jaguars, leopards and bears.

Binder Park Zoo has long had a cheetah exhibit,

Wildlife Park chosen for prestigious breeding programme
The Curraghs Wildlife Park has been chosen to participate in a prestigious breeding programme for an endangered animal.

The Ballaugh park is to house a pair of silvery gibbons with the hope they will mate, contributing to the survival of the species.

David Cretney MLC, member of the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture with responsibility for the Wildlife Park, said the primates would be the ‘most high-profile animal ever housed at the park’ and would boost visitor numbers.

The wild silvery gibbon lives exclusively on the Indonesian island of Java but the population of 2000 is threatened by habitat destruction and the illegal pet trade.

After fears in 2004 that it would become extinct within a decade, the latest International Union for the Conservation of Nature currently lists it as ‘endangered’.

There are just 42 silvery gibbons in European zoos – more than half of them at Howletts Wild Animal Park in Kent.

The Aspinall Foundation, which operates Howletts, and the Javan Primate Project has chosen the Curraghs Wildlife Park to take part in the European Endangered Species’ breeding programme.

This was after a rigorous assessm

1 penguin dead, 2 missing at Dortmund Zoo; police investigate if linked to other incidents
 One penguin is dead and two others are missing at the Dortmund Zoo and police in Germany say they are investigating a possible string of crimes there.

One Humboldt penguin was found dead in the zoo's flamingo cage on Monday morning and two others are missing, police spokesman Marco Mueller said Tuesday. He says police are trying to determine if someone stole the birds or if they had somehow escaped.

"The loss breaks our hearts," zoo director Frank Brandstaetter told reporters in Dortmund, saying the 1-year-old birds had been born and raised at the zoo.

In November, a 21-year-old sea lion named Holly was found dead in her enclosure at the zoo with a smashed

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'
A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the team describes their experiments with stressing zebra fish, how the fish reacted, and why they believe it should now be added to the list of organisms labeled as sentient beings

Zoo’s owner charged over lion gimmick
A ZOO owner has been charged with transporting a wild animal, an African lion, to Shanghai without authorization, prosecutors in Songjiang District said yesterday.

Earlier this year, the zoo in Wenling, a city in neighboring Zhejiang Province, was contacted by a real estate developer about using a lion in a sales promotion.

The developer, which wasn’t named, and the zoo owner, surnamed Deng, signed a contract in March.

Deng took the lion to Shanghai on March 28 but failed to get the necessary approval from provincial and city authorities, prosecutors said.

The lion was put on display in a

South China Tigers Face Grim Survival Conditions
The last time a South China tiger was seen in the wild was over 30 years ago. Worldwide, there are only 131 of the highly endangered species, all living in captivity, according to Chinese zoologists.

Wang Jinjun, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, said on Wednesday that not a single South China tiger has been spotted in the wild in more than 30 years. A species is declared extinct if no members are found in the wild in 50 years.

Wang said the tiger, which is indigenous to China, is facing a grim outlook for survival. The association's latest investigation found that 111 of the tigers are kept in 15 zoos in China, and another 20 are in a South African nature reserve. The tigers in South Africa are the offspring of five tigers sent from Chinese zoos since 2003.

The zoo in Nanchang, capital of east China's Jiangxi Province, is home to the highest number of South China tigers, with 8 male tigers and 16 female tigers.

Kuang Huaming with the zoo said that the tigers are all descendants of six tigers. The zoo has set up a team of scientists to select the best mating pair

Floods cause crocodiles to escape Sumatera Zoo
Floods which hit the district of Permatang Siantar in northern Sumatera resulted in the escape of 18 crocodiles from the zoo last night, according to media reports.

The reptiles emerged from their enclosure at about 9pm Tuesday after the floodwaters rose as high as three metres at the Permatang Siantar Zoo, rendering only the roofs visible, the media quoted the zoo general manager, Nandang Suaida, as saying.

Nandang said workers at the zoo sa

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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
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