Thursday, June 16, 2016

Zoo News Digest 16th June 2016 (ZooNews 925)

Zoo News Digest  16th June 2016 
(ZooNews 925)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

Every now and again I get requests (sometimes threats and sometimes bribes) not to post zoo related news stories in ZooNews Digest. This is rather like waving a red flag at a bull. I won't do it. I am quite prepared to post the other side of the story but only if it has the name of the author attached. At the same time, as the editor, I can choose what and what not to post. It may seem a bit unfair and I suppose it is. The  choice is nearly always down to those news items that colleagues of mine would discuss amongst ourselves in the zoo staff room.

I can't really understand why 'Animal Oracles' even get a column inch in the press. Okay, it may be cute to some but really…does anybody believe that anybody or anyone can really predict the outcome of a football match or anything else for that matter? Zoos jump on the bandwagon at every opportunity and nothing wrong with that, at least it is positive passive advertising.

So Kruger Park has started to cull its wildlife. Where is the outcry, the condemnation? There is none that I have noted. Is it perhaps that everybody, like myself, completely understands why it has to be done? I wondered if the AR's would make a fuss if it was proposed that hundreds of Hippo and Buffalo were to be shipped off to the US to 'save' them. After all they moved heaven and earth to try and prevent a few elephants going off to the US, preferring, it would seem, to have them culled. Does an elephants life count for more than a Hippo or a Buffalo? I think not. Then there are those poor unfortunate Lions and Leopards trapped and dying in the Taiz Zoo in Yemen. Those Leopards are extremely rare Arabian Leopards…their genetic input into the breeding programme would be of immense value to the breeding programme. Are they worth more or less than the few animals currently being possibly rescued out of Gaza? Those in Taiz are certainly suffering more. And I can almost guarantee that the animals in Gaza are going to have to have money paid for them which in effect makes them a purchase and NOT a rescue. Would it not perhaps better for all the Yemen and Gaza zoo animals to be quickly and kindly culled (euthanasia) rather than have them suffer longer. The Kruger animals are not suffering…yet. The population is being sensibly managed whether we like it or not. Zoos manage their populations too and also whether we like it or not surplus animals have to be removed now and again like Marius the Giraffe which I also completely understand.

There have been a few recent articles on the defence of zoos and I applaud it and the fact that some newspapers are publishing. Not all are making the point however of the difference between GOOD and BAD/DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos. It is so very important to do so. I still maintain that the majority of zoos are bad zoos. Bad zoos do not do the good any favours. They put us all in the same dirty bin. The good zoos need to speak out as do the Zoo Associations because there are bad zoos amongst their members. Numbers of members should count for less than caring professionalism.

Around thirty years ago I had a dream plan to go searching for the Japanese Sea Lion. It was only a dream but I spent some days studying maps of the Japanese Islands. To see an article of a single animal being spotted makes me dream again a little. I do hope that there is a small unremarked upon population that has been hidden away.

My remark on ZSL moving out of one stop water bottles in the last digest resulted in a few emails. The one I liked best said "Detroit Zoo has always had water fountains, weather permitting--obviously in winter here in Michigan water fountains outdoors are unworkable. The zoo has now stopped selling bottled water and instead will sell you a refillable bottle and has placed free filling stations around the zoo." What a brilliant idea!!

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 24,700 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 250,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 800 Zoos in 153+ countries? That the subscriber list reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 


Zoos Are Not Prisons. They Improve the Lives of Animals.
The recent death of Harambe—the Western lowland gorilla shot dead at the Cincinnati Zoo after a three-year-old boy fell into his enclosure—has ignited a fierce debate about the role of modern zoos. Some critics have seized the tragedy as an opportunity to advance an uncompromising anti-captivity narrative in which all zoos and aquariums are inherently unethical and cruel.

To be sure, there are bad actors. The spawning of so-called “roadside zoos”—an exploitative enterprise known for its systematic negligence and abuse of animals—are some of the most egregious cases-in-point. But blunt and sweeping indictments of zoos and aquariums fail to account for how ethical institutions enrich and ultimately protect the lives of animals, both in human care and in the wild.
Responsible zoos and aquarium

A bright sun is beating down on Damian Aspinall as he sits outside one of the lavishly appointed (and rentable) treehouses he's had built at his Port Lympne Reserve, in Kent. Below are some of the 600 acres in which black rhino brood, gorillas gambol, zebra frolic and Amur tigers exude sleek ferocity; through the haze the English Channel can be seen. 'Evocative, isn't it?' he says, pleasure pouring from the 56-year-old's six-foot-three frame, and who's to disagree?

Licences for UAE dog owners and exotic animal ownership are target of new draft FNC law
Dog owners must buy a licence for their pets and keep them on a leash at all times when in public under a new draft law passed by the Federal National Council.

There will be fines of up to Dh500,000 and up to six months in jail for owners who fail to keep their pets under control and the animal will be confiscated.

The penalty also applies to owners who do not vaccinate their dogs against dangerous diseases. Owners will have six months from the date the law comes into action, which is yet to be announced, to buy the necessary licence and vaccinations.

The law, which was discussed by the FNC on Wednesday also bans the private ownership of wild and exotic animals.

It aims to regulate the possession and trade of predatory, dangerous and semi-dangerous animals.

Only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres are allowed to keep wild or exotic animals. The public is urged to report cases of wild ­animals being kept as pets.

Anyone who takes a leopard, cheetah or any other kind of ­exotic animal out in public will be fined between Dh10,000 and Dh500,000.

People who use an animal to threaten

Australia Zoo cleared of animal mistreatment
An eight-month investigation into poor treatment of animals at Australia Zoo's animal hospital has found no evidence its hospital staff deliberately mistreated animals.

The Queensland Government's Biosecurity Queensland investigated 31 allegations since 2015 against the hospital st

Questions over probe as Australia Zoo cleared of animal mistreatment
A WITNESS who made allegations of animal mistreatment at Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital was not interviewed as part of an eight-month State Government investigation.

Biosecurity Queensland yesterday announced there was “insuffi­cient evidence” that injured animals were given poor or wrong treatment at the Sunshine Coast facility operated by “Wildlife Warrior” Terri Irwin.

Zoo visitor perceptions, attitudes, and conservation intent after viewing African elephants at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Elephants in the wild face several conservation issues. With the rebranding of zoos as conservation and education pioneers, they have the ability to both educate and inspire guests to action. The purpose of this research was to analyze visitor perceptions and attitudes toward elephant conservation and outcomes post-exhibit visit. A one-page survey was randomly administered to assess perceptions of elephant behavior, attitudes about elephant conservation, and intended conservation-related outcomes from September 2013 to January 2014. Principle component analysis identified three major components: concern for elephants in zoos, importance of elephants in the wild, and modification of nature. Visitors who scored highly on conservation intent were those with positive attitudes towards elephants in the wild and negative attitudes regarding the modification of nature. The greatest changes in conservation intent were a result of a self-reported up-close encounter and the ability to witness active behaviors. Prov

St. Augustine Alligator Farm becomes first U.S. zoo to breed endangered Indian gharial
The first successful hatching of an Indian gharial outside of India or Nepal took place Sunday at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park.

The park announced the hatching Monday morning.

John Brueggen, the Alligator Farm’s director and general manager, said the keepers have been trying to get a live Indian gharial hatchling for decades.

It’s a difficult feat to pull off, Brueggen said, because the animals like to lay their eggs in sandy river banks in their native territory. The Alligator Farm staff did its best to replicate that environment.

Brueggen added that the animals also need very specific

National Aquarium to move dolphins into refuge
Eight dolphins that have spent their lives swimming in tanks will be retired from the National Aquarium in Baltimore into a seaside sanctuary.
By announcing plans to move its dolphins into the ocean enclosure by the end of 2020, the aquarium sails into uncharted waters for the marine mammal industry.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals welcomed the news, and the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States blogged that his counterpart a

Separate bill for zoo management sought
The Environment Protection Committee of the Legislature-Parliament today directed the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and Council of Ministers to bring a separate bill for zoo management within three months.

Mother of tragic Scots zookeeper says wildlife park should be closed over continuing safety concerns
THE mother of a Scots zookeeper mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger has said the wildlife park should be closed while concerns continue over the safety of the public three years after the tragedy.

Fiona McClay, whose daughter Sarah, 24, was killed at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria three years ago, said the zoo should not have its licence renewed as David Gill – who walked free from court last week over the 24-year-old’s death – faces new claims over fears about animal welfare and interfering in management decisions.

Last week Mr Gill, the 55-year-old founder of the z

Family 'horrified' at zoo's letter
The family of a zookeeper killed by a tiger at Hamilton Zoo last year are horrified a letter sent to Australasian zoos appears to blame the keeper for her death.

Samantha Kudeweh was killed by a Sumatran tiger on September 20 when she was working in the tiger enclosure.

Hamilton City Council pleaded guilty last Thursday to a Worksafe prosecution that alleged the council failed to take all practical steps to ensure the 43-year-old was not exposed to hazards arising out of working with the tiger.

The letter, signed by Hamilton Zoo director Stephen Standley, said "although we felt our tiger management systems and processes were adequate and met MPI standards, there is more that we could have done to ensure staff were safe in the event of human error, particularly those managing dangerous animals. It is no longer enough to rely on procedures as people make mistakes. We need to identify engineered solutions that prevent human error resulting in staff ending up in the same space as a dangerous animal."

The letter, issued last Thursday, a

‘They could have killed me instantly, but they didn’t’
 Even if they look cute and cuddly, don’t mistake zoo animals for pets.

“They are wild animals. You have to respect them. They will kill you,” says Guy Lichty, curator of mammals at the N.C. Zoo.

He knows that better than most people.

On May 17, 1979, two polar bears nearly mauled him to death.

The incident took place at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado, about a year after he graduated from Furman University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. As a keeper, Lichty cared for a variety of animals … elephants, antelope … and sometimes bears when the regular keeper was on vacation.

“My job was to shift the bears from bedroom to bedroom and clean, then feed and put them back in the assigned bedrooms.”

Each series of rooms for the various bears was separated into sleeping and eating quarters, divided by a lift door in the ceiling and doors leading to the hallway. To clean each stall, Lichty used a water hose he pulled down the hallway.

On this day, he was working alone. It was about 4 p.m., around closing time, and he was at the last stall, home to a male and female pair of polar bears. He sprayed the den and climbed on top to lift the guillotine door and move the bears back.

From that vantage point, Lichty noticed

Probing the Link between Biodiversity-Related Knowledge and Self-Reported Proconservation Behavior in a Global Survey of Zoo Visitors
Many environmental communication interventions are built on the assumption that increased knowledge will lead to changes in proenvironment behaviors. Our study probes the link between biodiversity-related knowledge and self-reported proconservation behavior, based on the largest and most international study of zoo visitors ever conducted. In total, 6,357 visitors to 30 zoos from 19 countries around the globe participated in the study. Biodiversity understanding and knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity were significantly related, but only 0.6% of the variation in knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity could be explained by those same respondents’ biodiversity understanding. Biodiversity understanding was only the sixth most important variable in significantly predicting knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity. Moreover, biodiversity understanding was the least important variable of those that were significantly related to self-reported proconservation behavior. Our study indicates that knowledge is a real, but relatively minor, factor in predicting whether members of the public – zoo visitors in this case – will know about specific proenvironment behaviors they can take, let alone whether they will actually undertake such behaviors.

Dingo attacks Peel Zoo staff
A zookeeper and a volunteer at a private Pinjarra zoo are recovering after a dingo attacked them last week.

The 21-year-old volunteer is understood to have walked into the dingo enclosure at Peel Zoo to take a male dingo, Shiloh, for a walk.

She radioed zookeeper Emma Mitchell-Collett, 23, for advice about moving the animals when she was bitten by Shiloh.

With so many dolphins in captivity, Spain is swimming against the tide
More than half the dolphins held in aquariums are owned by Spanish companies
A dolphin called Buffalo Bill serves hamburgers and chips while another in a cowboy dress jumps repeatedly through a hoop. Part of an “educational” spectacle, the animals are photographed by a British family being led around the pool by Fiona, a sea lion who nudges them forward with her nose while winning over her audience with cute “human” gestures.

In the same park, children’s cries blend in with the squawking of parrots overhead, beers come and go in big plastic cups and a vulture flies just meters above the crowds, close to where two albino tigers are dozing off, clearly bored by the constant pointing of cellphones in their direction.

Man Jumps Into Zoo Enclosure To Save A Drowning Chimp
In 1990, during a visit to the Detroit Zoo, truck driver Rick Swope did something no one else would do, and tragedy was averted because of it. As Swope stood looking in on the facility's ape enclosure, a fight broke out between a chimp named Jo-Jo and another male. After the brief scuffle, Jo-Jo tried to escape — only to end up falling into a deep moat designed to keep him in.

Since chimps are unable to swim, the move nearly proved fatal.

"Everyone in the whole place was just standing around watching this monkey drown," Swope told the Deseret News. "When he went down the second time I knew I had to do something."

ZSL celebrates Zoo success after winning big at annual BIAZA awards
ZSL walked away with a total of 14 awards from the event held on 8 June, with key acknowledgements in a variety of categories such as animal breeding, care and welfare, conservation, education, exhibits and research.

Zoological director David Field said: “The BIAZA Awards are designed to illustrate best practice in zoos and aquaria across Britain and Ireland. The volume and variety of awards won across the board is a wonderful demonstration that ZSL is not only leading the way in the welfare of animals, we are at the forefront in exhibit design, horticulture and animal training.”

In addition to the Zoos’ collective achievements, Luke Harding from ZSL London Zoo’s herpetology department won this

India puts 18 lions on trial for murder, and the culprit may get a life zoo sentence
Police have rounded up 18 male suspects wanted for the murder of three in Gujarat, an arid western Indian state.

If one is found guilty, he will be sentenced to life in prison. Or, a kind of prison at least: a zoo. The suspects are all Asiatic lions.

The species is endangered, and its population has dwindled as human settlements encroach on its remaining habitat. As that process speeds up, humans and lions are more likely to come into contact, leading to killings that go both ways. Approximately 400 Asiatic lions are left in the wild, and they are the only lion population outside of Africa. Wildlife officials in India say that Gir National Park, where almost all these lions live, can accommodate only 270 of them, leading some prides to venture outside its boundaries.

High Park Zoo captures one of two escaped capybaras
One of the capybaras that escaped from the High Park Zoo last month has been captured, the zoo says.
“With a big team effort one of the capybaras has been rescued. It is resting off site for now,” Ward 13 Coun. Sarah Doucette wrote on Twitter.
The two capybaras – a male and a female – escaped from the High Park Zoo May 25 as they were being brought to join one other capybaras capybara who lives at the zoo and the two have been on the loose ever since.

Sea lion so far from home has experts in a sea of theories
The presence of a sea lion here so far south of its natural habit has researchers in a tizzy.

They are hard pressed to figure out whether the mystery creature is a foreign visitor that strayed far off-course or confirmation that the Japanese sea lion, far from being extinct, is alive and well.

The animal in question was spotted on an island off Kagoshima Prefecture earlier this year. A Japanese sea lion has not been seen in 40 years.

After seeking expert opinion, Kagoshima City Aquarium here said the large marine mammal with impressive flippers photographed on the island was “definitely a sea lion.”

It was spotted by local fishermen March 15-16 near Tsurikakezaki cape, which is part of Shimo-Koshikijima island and located 60 kilometers or so from Satsuma-Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture.

Toshihiro Hamada, a 51-year-old fisherman who lives on the island, had a close encounter with the aquatic animal on the morning of March 17 and took a photo of it. When he got to within 10 meters from the creature on his boat, it barked, as if to fend him off, and eased itself into the water.

“It appeared to be about 2 meters long,” Hamada said. “I think I’d lose if it came to a fight.”

The following day the fisherman told the aquarium he saw a fur seal and forwarded the digital photos he took. But when the aquarium staff saw the pictures, they were pretty sure it was a sea lion, an animal not found in Japanese w

Bettongs learn to survive through predator training at Arid Recovery park near Olympic Dam
FOCUS on the hunted, not the hunter — teach them to be afraid, very afraid.

That’s the aim of groundbreaking research in South Australia’s Outback showing “encouraging” results in a new strategy to save threatened species.

Most conservation projects work by excluding or culling feral pests to protect native animals.

The research by an organisation called Arid Recovery wants the native animals to learn to look after themselves.

At Arid Recovery’s park on the outskirts of the Olympic Dam mine, at Roxby Downs, four desexed male cats have been inserted into a 26sq km enclosure along with 352 burrowing bettongs and 46 greater bilbies and some rabbits.

“We wanted to simulate what would

Down to 60: scientists mull risky captive breeding for panda porpoise
Today, there are approximately 7.3 billion people on the planet – and only 60 vaquitas. The vaquita has seen its population drop by 92 percent in less than 20 years in Mexico’s Gulf of California as the tiny porpoises suffocate to death one-by-one in gillnets. Now, scientists with the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) are cautiously moving forward on a once unthinkable option: captive breeding.

“We have no idea whether it is feasible to find, capture and maintain vaquitas in captivity much less whether they will reproduce,” said Barbara Taylor, one of the world’s foremost experts on the vaquita with NOAA. “The uncertainties are large.”

Captive breeding of vaquita, if it ever happens, would be a last-ditch and incredibly risky action, according to scientists. The world’s smallest porpoise and cetacean, vaquita (Phocoena sinus) are shy and retiring with eye patches that have led them to be described fondly as the ‘pandas of the sea.’ These rarely-seen porpoises also have the smallest range o

Did That Come Off Wrong?
As zoo professionals, many of us (all of us?) have dealt with our share of animal rights extremeist questions.  I could probably write a Russian novel-length blog about AR extremeism, using real-life examples from my own career path.  And it'd all probably be stuff you've heard before.

CuriousCity: Calcium-dusted bugs and tasty wallaby all on the zoo menu
The circle of life takes some curious twists in captivity.
Fluttering tui watch from bushes as Zulu the lion guzzles his "triple mix" of beef heart, lungs and kidneys off his pride's rock.
Elsewhere in Wellington Zoo, the meerkats snack on $250-a-kilogram crickets and meal worms.

The cruelty behind that selfie of you with a baby tiger
Tigers leap on cue through a ring of fire, walk along double tightropes and step backwards on their hind legs in scenes similar to circuses that traversed Australia last century.
Elsewhere in the sprawling complex outside Bangkok, elephants drop balls into baskets, dance, take bows and gently lift their giant feet on to the backs of members of the audience lying facedown on concrete.

Catalogue of concerns at zoo where tiger killed Scots keeper
THE owner of a zoo where a Scot was mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger three years ago stands accused of putting more lives at risk in spite of the tragedy.

David Gill - who walked free from court over the 24-year-old's death last week - also faces claims over fears about animal welfare, interfering in management decisions and going back on a pledge to hand over its running.

He vowed to council bosses changes would be made after Sarah McClay, originally from Glasgow, was savaged to death in the keeper's corridor of the tiger house on May 24, 2013.

Zoo owner says police inactivity left him no choice but to shoot down drone
The owner of a private zoo in the Nicosia district who shot down a drone that had been hovering over his home and business for the last two months, said on Saturday he filed a report to the police chief as he believes the force failed to protect him and his customers from privacy and security violations.

Melios Menelaou, who owns a zoo in Ayioi Trimithias, shot down a drone reportedly worth €1,700 on Thursday that was operated by a neighbour after police failed to convince the device’s operator to stop flying it over the former’s zoo and home.

After two months of constant day and night drone flying over his property and himself personally, and numerous calls to the police, which he said proved ineffective, Menelaou told the Sunday Mail, he had “had enough”.

Not only was the drone user invading his and his family’s privacy, he said, it was also causing panic to the animals, every time it hovered over them, “twice per day” and it also posed a safety hazard in the case it fell on a zoo visitor.

“The last time I called the police, I told them this is it, I’m going to buy bullets. Two days ago, when it was following me around all day long, I shot it down,” he said.

He says he was not to the only one to feel disturbed by the drone.

“Neighbours too were complaining that he would fly the drone at night outside their bedroom windows,” Menelaou said. “And zoo visitors were complaining to me as t

Gir lions gifted to Etawah Wildlife Lion Safari Park die; Mulayam's dream project could be in question in next year’s elections
The uncertain fate of the Gir lions gifted by Gujarat to the Etawah Wildlife Lion Safari Park, a dream project of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, could possibly be revived as a political slogan in next year's assembly elections. Of the 11that arrived in September 2014, four have died as have five cubs that were born of the original Gir pride. The ninth death was that of Kuber on June 2.
The chief minister and Prime Minister Narend ..

Letter of invitation to Sir Roger Moore to meet Morgan and the other orcas at Loro Parque
Dear Sir Roger Moore,
Loro Parque recognises your distinguished acting career, but believes that you have been seriously misinformed by the extreme animal-rights organisation, PETA. PETA appears to have enlisted your support to accuse Loro Parque of mistreating the orcas in its facilities, but nothing could be further from the truth. For you to verify the situation directly, Loro Parque invites you to visit the park and orca facilities.

The incident which appears to have triggered your involvement in this issue is the recent video of the orca Morgan lying out of the water at the edge of the pool, which animal-right activists alerted to the media with the completely false message that her behaviour was abnormal, and that it signalled such a high level of stress in the animal that she was supposedly trying to commit suicide. This allegation is so absurd that even the well-known activist for Morgan´s liberation, Dr. Ingrid Visser, otherwise quite a critic of Loro Parque, has rejected the suicide attempt explanation in National Geographic magazine.

Loro Parque wishes to inform you that th

Kruger Park forced to cull its wildlife
The Kruger National Park has started culling hippos and its buffalo will be next. Although the park, which is one of the largest game reserves in Africa, received rain in March, there is not enough food for the animals.

William Mabasa, spokesman for South African National Parks, said that 59 hippos had been culled and another 100 were in the firing line for later this year as well as 200 buffalo.

Memphis Zoo begins ‘unusual’ conservation efforts to save rare snake
The Memphis Zoo is spearheading efforts to save the rarest snake in North America by pulling all of them from zoos across the country.

"We're doing something a bit unusual honestly," zoo spokeswoman Laura Doty said. "We are recalling all of the snakes."

Each of the 108 Louisiana Pine Snakes hosted in 21 zoos will be redistributed to four institutions: the Memphis Zoo, the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, the Ellen Trout Zoo in Lufkin Texas, and the Fort Worth Zoo. The large, nonvenomous serpent is native to Louisiana and Texas.

"Now just four zoos will have 12 or more pairs and they're going to have room to really, really grow the population," said Steve Reichling, curator of reptiles at the Memphis Zoo. "It's a real conservation machine."

Memphis has long headquartered the snakes' Species Survival Plan, a program managed by the American Zoo Aquarium Association. Reichling also serves as the species coordinator for the project.

"The whole purpose of the program is to make sure that ge

‘SOS Taiz zoo’: As civil war rages, lions and leopards at a zoo in Yemen don’t have enough food to survive
Add lions and endangered Arabian leopards to the casualties of Yemen’s civil war.

To see the impact, enter through the rusting gates of the zoo in this southwestern city, go past the handful of donkeys in a fenced compound and walk toward the cages.

Inside are the desperate-looking lions, leopards and other animals. Their pens are the size of walk-in-closets, with some cramped with two predators. One lion is taking medication because his skin peeled off from hunger.

“We have about two and half weeks of food for them,” said Victoria Johner y Cruz, a Geneva-based lawyer who is trying to help save the animals.

The animals were in far worse condition four months ago. They were emaciated, bones protruding. Some were covered with untreated sores from fighting each other for scraps of food, according to zoo workers. The city’s go

Georgia: A Happy Hippo and a Rebuilt Zoo for Flood Anniversary
One year after a devastating flood that killed 21 people and sent zoo animals into the streets of Georgia’s capital, Tbilisi, both the city’s zoo and its famous wandering hippopotamus, Begi, are back in shape.

On June 13, 2015, flood waters lifted Begi and other animals out of their downtown enclosures, creating an apocalyptic tableau of a city of 1.1 million people overrun by water and beasts. Some 230 animals drowned or were shot by police to prevent attacks on humans. Still, one man was mauled to death by an escaped tiger three days after the disaster.

It was on that tragic night that Begi (“hippo”) offered comic relief as he sauntered around a central highway that cuts through the heart of Tbilisi. Next morning, he was sighted passing stately by a downtown Swatch store, pausing to munch phlegmatically on tree leaves. A tranquilizer and some I

Going to the zoo while black
A first-grader from Wichita, Kansas was mauled by a leopard after the boy scaled a 4-foot railing that surrounded the leopard exhibit, crossed an 8-foot gap and approached the animal's cage. The child received lacerations to his head and neck after the leopard stuck its paw through the cage and grabbed the boy by the side of the head.

A 3-year old boy at Little Rock Zoo with his father and grandfather slipped through the railings surrounding a jaguar exhibition and sustained multiple injuries after he fell 15-feet into the cat pit. The family’s request to keep the child’s name private were granted by the hospital, zoo and multiple media outlets.

A 2-year-old boy at the Cleveland Zoo suffered injuries to his legs after he experienced a 10-foot fall into a cheetah exhibit after his mother dangled him ov

Al Wabra has already 100 Spix’s Macaws, two chicks are being raised under their parents
After a huge success from the last year when 16 Spix’s Macaw babies were raised in Qatar, Al Wabra is breaking new records. In the last week, the 17th chick of this season was hatched.

„To add to this success, a new era has started, we would also like to announce that we have 2 Spix’s macaw chicks been parent reared, they are been monitored and the parents are doing a fantastic job, the parent reared Spix’s are now currently 6 weeks old and looking good,” said Al Wabra representatives on their official Facebook page.

“We have been training pairs and are hoping over the coming years to have the majority of chicks parent reared,” they added.

It seems that the record of 17 chicks raised within one season might be still improved. “The season is not over yet although it is waning a

Caring For The Animals In The World’s Zoos And Aquariums
tic shows what we’ve all known for millennia...that we have a remarkably deep emotional connection with the animals who share our world.

And yet that connection is in danger of disappearing. In the face of what scientists are calling a “Sixth Extinction” with species disappearing at a rate 8-100 times higher than expected since 1900, today’s zoos and aquariums are playing an increasingly important role in preserving the vital web of life on Earth. Serving as arks of hope for endangered animals and powerful ambassadors for conservation, these institutions are cultivating new generations who care about the future of these creatures. Through zoos and aquariums, people are becoming increasingly aware of and invested in the fate of the world’s animals. At the same time, they are also rightly demanding that the millions of creatures who live in human care at zoos, aquariums and conservation centers be afforded good treatment and welfare.

To help achieve this, American Humane Association, which has been leading the compassion movement for 140 years and is the largest certifier of the humane treatment of animals, developed the first-ever independent, science-based, third-party humane certification program focusing solely on the well-being of the animals living in zoos and aquariums. This new Humane Conservation™ program is based on comprehensive standards created by an independent Scientific Advisory Committee consisting of the most well-respected, iconic names in animal welfare, animal ethics, and the conservation community. The standards cover everything from good health to good housing, good feeding, good management, and appropriate behaviors, and their implementation is verified through rigorous audits by a completely independent third party.

“People won’t protect what they don’t love, and they can’t love what they don’t know,” said Dr. Robin Ganzert, American Humane Association president and CEO. “Zoos and aquariums fill an important, lifesaving role in the quest to save the magnificent creatures who share our world, but at the same time it is important that these facilities treat their animals humanely. When consumers visit a zoo, aquarium or conservation park they want to kno

Indianapolis Zoo to close polar bear exhibit
The Indianapolis Zoo announced on Monday that they are closing their polar bear exhibit.

The exhibit opened in 1988 and is in need of updates. That means 29-year-old Tundra will be relocated.

Tundra will be transported to the Detroit Zoo which is considered one of the leading polar bear facilities in the world. The Detroit Zoo offers large spaces and pools with easy slopes for Tundra to enter and exit the water, especially as she gets older.

Olm eggs: First two Slovenian 'dragons' emerge
After a four-month wait, the eggs laid by a peculiar salamander in a Slovenian cave have started to hatch.
Ghostly pale and totally blind, olms - fondly known by locals as "baby dragons" - only reproduce every 5-10 years and are thought to live to 100.
This clutch of eggs started to appear in January in an aquarium in Postojna Cave, a tourist destination where the creatures have lived for millennia.
Observing baby olms develop and hatch is a rare opportunity for science.
The first of 23 developed eggs hatched

Oil massage, coffee and new toothbrush everyday: Hyd zoo pampers Suzi the Chimp
Talk about being pampered! Suzi the Chimp is all of 28 years old and seems to carry her star status with easy panache ever since she arrived at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park in 2011.

Earlier the prized pet of business tycoon and Sahara chairman Subrata Roy, Suzi is indeed lucky that the authorities have no qualms about catering to the lifestyle that she is used to, as they consider her the star attraction of their zoo.

Shivani Dogra –the zoo curator- while speaking to The News Minute admitted that Suzi’s lifestyle was indeed lavish but then she felt that was what made Suzi unique: “As is done for every other animal, we take care of Suzi too. It is not all that difficult to fulfill her demands, but yes…Suzi does have a lavish life which actually makes her unique. We

Elephant calves more likely to survive in the care of their grandmothers
Among the Asian elephants, the grandmothers have a significant role. They ensure the survival of the calves and breeding success for their daughters.

Grandmothers often provide vital childcare in human communities across the world. In traditional societies such help even increases grandchildren's survival prospects and leads to shorter birth intervals for the daughters. In a new study, a research group from the University of Turku in Finland has now discovered that a similar phenomenon exist among the elephants in Myanmar.

"We found that calves of young elephant mothers under 20 years of age had eight times lower mortality risk if the grandmother resided in the same location compared to calves whose grandmother was not present," says Dr. Mirkka Lahdenperä, the lead author of the study.

Resident grandmothers also decreased their daughters' inter-birth intervals by one year, so that altogether mor

'Finding Dory' Could Be More Bad News For Sea World
The latest data from TickerTags indicates that Walt Disney Co
's upcoming movie “Finding Dory” could be a huge hit for Disney and a major blow for one Disney rival.

TickerTags monitors social media sites to identify trends by searching for words or phrases that appear together in social media content, such as tweets.

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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, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, 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.

"These are the best days of my life"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

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