Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Zoo News Digest 1st June 2016 (ZooNews 922)

Zoo News Digest 1st June 2016 
(ZooNews 922)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

Every man and his dog has had something to say about the tragic death of the Gorilla in Cincinnati Zoo. Much of what has been said is extremely disturbing. I have lost sleep over it, as no doubt have others. I would like repeat what I said in the last Zoo News Digest "I feel sure the right decision was made.... hard as it must have been." I have had dozens of people ask or email me about the incident. Would I have done anything different? To be honest, yes I would, because I am stupid in such circumstances BUT it would not have been the right decision.
Please watch the video interview with Craig Stanford, primatologist from the University of Southern California in the first link today.

One very quiet hot sunny day I was doing the rounds of the zoo when I noticed two young boys, about 15 years old looking over the wall of the tiger enclosure. Nothing amiss but gut instinct made me investigate. I walked up joined the two boys. When I looked over into the enclosure the five tigers were sleeping and an eight year old boy was slowly sneaking up on them. As he looked towards his friends he saw me turned tail and hot footed it to the back of the enclosure, closely followed by two tigers, and scrambled up the wire and out of the enclosure. He and his two colleagues then disappeared before I could apprehend them.

Another day I saw a group of visitors gathered around the bear enclosure. Again nothing unusual except that one visitor looked out of place. I quickly realised he was actually in the enclosure grinning and posing with the bears whilst his colleague took photos. I believe the bears were more bemused than anything else and so, with help we were able to extract this inebriated idiot before any harm could befall him.

The zoo was busy, very busy. An overcast day started to become threatening. Then the rain came down. This was not ordinary rain. I would describe it as double torrential. Visitors leaped or climbed over barriers into enclosures. Husbands lifted their wives and children over to join them. All then went into the animals shelters chasing the animals outside. The downpour was over in ten minutes and then the visitors wanted to leave. Many found it impossible due to inward facing overhangs and so myself and staff had to whizz about letting people out through service door.

The point of these three short stories is that these were 'safe' enclosures. There was nothing wrong with their structure or design. True enough they could have been constructed differently but it would not have made a ha'pennies bit of difference because if a visitor is determined to enter an enclosure they will find a way.

Returning briefly to the accident in Cincinnati, because that is what it was…an accident. I believe that ZooKeeper Kristen Otterson (not from Cincinnati)  who says what most professional zoo keepers believe. Check her Facebook Page.

I am truly delighted to see that the Tiger Temple appears to be nearing the end of its days but I am not counting my chickens before they are hatched. Anything could happen yet.
 I have been going on about this place for what seems forever. My special thanks to all those who have worked so hard towards its closure.

Sadly the Tiger Temple is just the tip of the iceberg. Not so far away we have the Sri Racha Tiger Zoo which has an amazing number of tigers. When I last visited in 2009 they were holding at least 400 and were continually breeding them to supply their internal cub petting programme. That is cubs every day for the large number of visitors. So in seven years they must have bred at least 100 at the very minimum and probably three times that and more. They claim to supply 'other zoos' but then so does every other zoo in Thailand which carries out the same sick activity. There are no zoos for all these tigers to go to. It doesn't take much imagination to figure out where they are really going.

At last we see a formal announcement of the Al Bardi Park which be built in the Emirate of Sharjah. They have stated that it will be the largest safari park outside Africa and will house around 50,000 animals. It remains to be seen. One thing I am fairly sure of is that it will be good because Sharjah always sets a priority on conservation. I anxiously wait to learn of the species they plan to exhibit.

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 24,000 '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, 


Please Watch

33 more tigers removed from Kanchanaburi temple Search mounted after big cat briefly escapes
Wildlife authorities drafted veterinarians and staffers from across the country on Tuesday to help them continue relocating dozens of big cats from the Tiger Temple, including one that briefly escaped. After...

Tiger Temple raids: 40 dead cubs uncovered in freezer at popular Thai tourist attraction
Photos from inside Thailand's controversial Tiger Temple have shown rows of small tiger carcasses lined up on the ground, alongside a small bear, a set of deer horns and plastic bottles reportedly containing animal parts.

The Buddhist temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, has more than 100 tigers and has become a tourist destination where visitors take selfies with tigers and bottle-feed their cubs.

Tourists pay hundreds of dollars to mingle with the docile animals, but allegations of abuse and illegal trading have long plagued the facility.

Earlier this week the temple was raided by wildlife authorities and officials moved 52 live tigers from the temple since Monday, Adisorn said, leaving 85 still there.

Tiger parts are used in traditional Chinese medicine.

The 40 dead tiger cubs were foun

The zoo which wants to release wild elephants in Denmark
Rewilding is here to stay. The term broadly refers to restoring areas of wilderness to their former glory, but it is the reintroduction of large mammals, from wolves to beavers, that has captured the popular imagination, and come to define this ambitious conservation strategy.
Such projects are not without controversy. Some ecologists worry that reintroducing extinct animals to our radically changed modern ecosystems might have unforeseen impacts.
Farmers and landowners, meanwhile, express concern about the effect interlopers like wolves or lynxes might have on their livelihoods.
Just imagine how they might react to the ideas proposed by a small but dedicated subset of extreme rewilders. In their vision, the plains of North America and E

The Harm of Verbal Promiscuity
Whether they have one true love for life, multiple partners, or are free-loving, animals have many different mating systems. We have different scientific terms for these different mating systems, and most of these terms have very specific meanings. An animal is socially monogamous when it has one exclusive mating relationship, but maybe has sex with others outside of that relationship. It is sexually monogamous when it has one exclusive sexual relationship and is sexually faithful to that partner. Animals are polygamous when they have multiple sexual relationships. Polygamous animals can be polygynous (when one male has a mating relationship with multiple females), polyandrous (when one female has a mating relationship with multiple males) or polygynandrous (when multiple males and multiple females all have a mating relationship). However, one mating system term has been used much more loosely: promiscuous. In some scientific papers, promiscuous is used to describe

Pregnant sea lion at Henry Doorly Zoo dies
Some visitors at Henry Doorly Zoo witnessed an unsettling sight Saturday: Zookeepers had to shoot tranquilizer darts at a female sea lion after she began exhibiting some unusual behavior.

New effort to save one of world’s rarest spiders
One of the world’s rarest spiders has been brought into captivity at Bristol Zoo Gardens in an attempt to save it from extinction.

It is believed to be the first time the Desertas wolf spider has been held in a UK zoo and it is only found on the Desertas islands, near Madeira, Portugal.

These impressive-looking black and white spiders can grow up to 12cm in size, with a body size of 4cm alone. They are under threat from habitat loss due to invasive grass binding the soil where they burrow and blocking their natural shelters.

The spider has been classified as critically endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species but is not protected by any specific legislation.

Bristol Zoo has now joined forces with Madeira Natural Park (MNP) and the IUCN to develop a conse

Dublin Zoo mourning unexpected death of one of its main attractions - Harry the gorilla
In a statement posted to its Facebook page, the zoo confirmed that Harry died after a short illness.
Harry, who also known as the ‘silverback’, was the leader of Dublin Zoo’s gorilla troop. He was 29 years old and during his time at the zoo he fathered six offspring.

The zoo said that the gorilla was "very gentle and calm" and will be greatly missed.
The exact reason for Harry’s death is still unknown and Dublin Zoo is awaiting the final results of a postmortem.

Gorillas have an average lifespan of 35-40 years.
Social media was quick to react to the news, with people posting messages of sympathy and tribute.

"Genuinely very sad reading this," wrote Triona Ryan Taheny. "Harry has been our family's fav in the zoo for years. We've spent so many hours just sitting watching him, and he's given our kids so many g

Sharjah Ruler inspects projects in Al Dhaid
The second phase of Al Bardi Park will have the largest safari park outside Africa and will house around 50,000 animals.

His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, approved the park’s second phase plans yesterday (Monday) as he inspected a number of vital projects in Al Dhaid.

As he inspected the progress of work on the first phase of Al Bardi Park, Dr Shaikh Sultan pointed out that the park will be a prominent eco-tourism location on its completion in a year and a half.

He also pointed out that Al Dhaid’s Al Wosta channel will begin its operations this Eid Al Adha. Dr Shaikh Sultan also issued directives for renaming Seeh Al Mahab Square after Emirati martyr Sultan Bin Mohammad Bin Ali Bin Huwaidan, who died while performing his national duty in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.

He instructed developing the mosque near the square, and also

Stop the suffering of sun bears at Miri Crocodile Farm
Investigators from Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia (Foto) recently investigated the Miri Crocodile Farm (MCF) in Sarawak after we received numerous complaints of cruelty and exploitation of wildlife from concerned members of the public. We were shocked to find the conditions the animals are forced to live in at the farm (it’s not even a zoo).
At MCF we found three sun bears forced to live in appalling conditions. These sun bears are visibly stressed and are suffering from zoochosis as a result of living in a concrete tomb without enrichment. No readily available, clean drinking water was seen. These are conditions which resembles a 19th-century zoo. Sun bears are a protected species in Sarawak and with many bear experts calling for urgent action to prevent their extinction in the wild. These bears and other animals at the farm urgently need help.
The management of MCF also offers farm visitors opportunities to take photos with a sun bear cub. According to a staff, this cub is taken (away from its mother) from an enclosure and returned to it at the end of the day. Although no evidence of this

Quebec walrus pups drawing international attention from scientists
Marine researchers around the world are paying close attention to the development of two newborn walruses at the Quebec City aquarium.
The pups are only the seventh and eighth walruses born in captivity in North America in the last 85 years.
“We got news from Australia, from Germany, from everywhere,” John Mackay, CEO of Quebec’s outdoor network, told CTV News. “All the scientists, veterinarians and wildlife scientists are very interested by that.”

Who Is to Blame When a Child Wanders at the Zoo?
The incident of the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo is a reminder that closed doors and barred gates are like beacons to some kids, just waiting to be breached or climbed.

Basic -- but often ignored -- rules of zoo safety
256 animal attack-related injuries at zoos reported over past 26 years
The killing of 17-year-old Western lowland gorilla Harambe to protect a 3-year-old boy who had slipped away from his mother and entered the gorilla habitat at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden has galvanized social media and left many wondering who to blame: the mother or the zoo?

Perhaps there's a more important question: Do most parents know how to play it safe while visiting the zoo? In the past 26 years, there have been 256 injuries from animal attacks at accredited and non-accredited zoos, menageries and wild animal parks in the U.S., according to a searchable database developed by the animal advocacy group Born Free. Thirty-three victims died from their injuries.

Though the majority of attacks occurred between animals and their trainers or zookeepers, there were a number of unfortunate incidents with children. And those numbers don't count the near-misses.

All accredited zoos point to safety warnings. Some of them are common sense. But it is up to us, as parents, to read and follow them. Here are some of the more obvious (but sometimes clearly ignored) warnings and what can happen when they aren't heeded.

Don't let your children tease the animals

The safety glass may not be as billed. Take a family enjoying the gorillas at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska, in April 2015. The father was videotaping his young daughter as she playfully beat her chest behind the thick glass protecting her from t

How safe is your zoo?
You go to the zoo to see some of the wildest animals on the planet. Wild and potentially deadly. Cincinnati zoo officials had to fatally shoot an endangered gorilla after a toddler fell into the gorilla's enclosure. So how closely do you need to watch your child at the zoo?

Brianna George, a Dolgeville Resident says "Accidents happen obviously, but at the same time, that child had to be out of her sight for some time to get over a barrier, into where the gorilla was."

Marissa Sykes, of Herkimer "Obviously as a parent, your responsibility when you're at the zoo is to watch your child. Know where your child is at all times. And if you don't know where your child is, then that's a problem."

Tomeka Ray of Cooperstown "Where was the parent at the moment? I mean I know it's easy to get sidetracked, but when you're in public like that, in a place like a zoo, I just feel like there should have been more attention to the child."

The Utica Zoo has plenty of measures in place to ensure you have a safe visit. Signs are up showing you how to properly feed animals, and warn you of potential biting. There's thor

Safety and zoo enclosures
 Hippos, a tiger and monkeys just a few animals Deidre Hoston and her family came to see at the Louisiana Purchase Gardens and Zoo. She says it's time to have fun, but also to be safe.

"They hold hands they walk together they say they are tired of holding hands, but they have to stay together, this what they do hold hands when we walk in the zoo," says Hoston.

So when she heard about a four-year-old ending up in a habitat with a gorilla in Cincinnati she felt the parents were to blame.

"You know I hate the gorilla lost his life all because of a parent not watching their kids because I don't really think the animal would have hurt the baby because to me he seemed like he was trying to protect the baby," says Hoston.

Zoo Director Joe Clawson says it's all about safety and several barriers are in place to prevent the animals from getting out and humans getting in, but it's not impossible.

"To someone who's determined they'll find a way to get in, but our enclosures are appropriate and reasonable," says Clawson.

Slanted railings, multiple fences, moats, and e

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

Skype: peter.dickinson48

Mailing address: (not where I live...currently in Dubai)
2 Highgate
North Wales
LL22 8NP

United Kingdom

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