Monday, August 22, 2016

Zoo News Digest 22nd August 2016 (ZooNews 936)

Zoo News Digest 22nd August 2016 
(ZooNews 936)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I was surprised to see two articles about the Dubai Crocodile Park appear. It has been an age since there was anything in the newspapers and I have heard no chatter so I believed the idea had been shelved. If as stated it does all that it says it is going to do then it will surely be a good thing. I have probably visited more crocodile collections than most and have yet to be impressed except in one case and that was the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust outside of Chennai in India. That was excellent. The rest were mostly a bunch of exploitative rubbish and farms under another guise. I have no problem with the farming as long as the animals are cared for but I dislike them being abused in Crocodile shows by being teased. There are too many of these teasing 'shows' around. People would not get away with it if it were a mammal. Having worked with a few Crocodilians over the years I know how clever they are and amenable to training. That said, with a properly maintained enclosure it is rarely, if ever, necessary to enter an exhibit. They are very low maintenance animals. Playing Tarzan for a paying public is just plain stupid.
Probably the worst Crocodile Farm I have visited was in Cambodia, The Siem Reap Crocodile Farm   , where only a few years before that the Khmer Rouge had fed people to the occupants.
I'd like you to spare a thought for the "outsourcing staff" of Nehru Zoological park who went on strike the other day for 20 minutes. What exactly is an 'outsourced staff'? Well they come under a variety of banners…'daily wage employees', 'non-permanent staff' and others. Fair enough, it is all in a name except these employees, many who work as Zoo Keepers do the job for five, ten, fifteen or even more years. They ARE permanent except that they do not receive any of the perks or protection that being 'on staff' gives. They can be dismissed at a moment's notice with no reason given. These men and women have families to support and so put up with intolerable working conditions and very low wages because they are not in a position to argue.

I am delighted to learn that the Khan Yunis Zoo in Gaza has closed and the animals have all gone off to greener pastures. Full credit to all those who made it happen. There has been a great deal in the press covering the story. Inevitably the stories talk of 'rescue' and the zoo owner has stated 'donation'. I doubt that either was really the truth of the matter. I am more inclined to believe the animals were purchased, but nobody is going to admit that. This brings me to a question. How much is a 'Heinz 57' tiger worth? As a life there can be no estimate as all living creatures deserve a life (and a good one at that) but let's get real. To a good zoo and to conservation such a tiger is valueless.  To a bad zoo?….well Heinz 57 tigers are common enough and the value has really got more to do with how stupid the purchaser is. We don't have to like it but it is true. The really sad part of it is that most tigers have more value when dead. Skin, claws, teeth and the body stewed in wine.

So WAZA and TRAFFIC have teamed up to fight the illegal trade in wildlife. That has to be good news. This is going to need WAZA to come down hard on some of its members. There are some powerful….and corrupt members (by association) of WAZA in S.E. Asia. Let's hope this is discussed openly at the next SEAZA conference.

That was quick…the Lanseria Lion Park has gone back to cub petting once again. I can quite understand their reasoning as it is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face if all similar facilities in the area are doing what you said you wouldn't do. I wonder what will happen next though? You can only pet a cub for so long then you need a smaller one. If as stated they have discontinued all breeding then are they going to start again to fill the demand? Or are they going to buy (or "rescue") cubs from elsewhere which is just as bad.

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I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 


Dubai’s $5.9m crocodile park to open by 'end of 2016'
Dubai Municipality’s Crocodile Park is set to open by the end of the year.
Construction on the $5.9 million project, to be built over an area of 20,000sq m, started last summer.
Located near Mushrif Park, close to the Dubai Safari project and the pet market, the project will endeavour to create a habitat that is as natural as possible for the crocodiles, according to Dubai Municipality.
Dubai Media Office tweeted a picture of an artist’s impression of what the park will look like, announcing that Dubai Municipality has said 75% of Dubai Crocodile Park, which is set to open end of 2016, has been completed.

Crocodiles all set to move to new Dubai home
Get ready for snapping neighbours, as crocodiles are expected to soon make Dubai their new home.
Construction on the much-anticipated Crocodile Park is making headway, as Dubai Media Office have confirmed that the coming attraction is set to open by the end of 2016. 

From raising gibbons to chasing escaped penguins ... Welsh Mountain Zoo founder's son shares his fifty-four years of animal magic
When Nick Jackson first arrived at the Welsh Mountain Zoo in his early teens, he had no choice but to muck in.

His father Robert, an avid wildlife enthusiast, had moved the family from Cheshire to pursue his dream of working with animals, setting up the Welsh Mountain Zoo in 1962.

Despite the early days presenting plenty of challenges, the attraction went from strength to strength, recently welcoming its eight millionth visitor.

And Nick is still closely involved, fifty-four years since he first set foot there.

Talking exclusively to the Daily Post, he recalled some of his treasured memories, from rearing gibbons, to the night five penguins escaped from their enclosure and wandered down to a bus stop to be found by a lorry driver.

Nick said: “It was always my dad’s dream to work with animals.

“After World War Two he set up a touring tropi

Orangutans Can Predict Their Cocktail Preferences, Just Like Humans
Humans love to believe that we’re unique. Yet every year, it seems like a host of abilities once thought to be possessed solely by people are found in other species. Take the very important ability to predict what a cocktail might taste like, for example.

By providing an orangutan named Naong with his own personal (non-alcoholic) cocktail bar at Furuvik Zoo in Sweden, researchers discovered that he possessed a type of predictive thought once believed to be exclusive to humans. Naong was given apple cider vinegar and three different kinds of fruit juices: cherry, rhubarb, and lemon.

He was quickly able to learn and remember the distinct flavor of each beverage. What was most surprising however, is that Naong could also predict whether he would like the taste of combinations he hadn’t already tried.

In other words, Naong appeared to be capable of “affective forecasting,” or the ability to predict the outcome of never-before-experienced situations by recombining parts of past situations. It was previously believed that animals were only capable of predicting the outcome of events they had already directly experienced.

After trying each of the four beverages alone, Naong was able to predict which mixtures he would prefer before he had tried them, the researchers discovered. A personal bartender mixed the four beverages together for him while he watched, and he knew which combinations he would prefer before he ever tasted them.

He was just as good at predicting his preferences as 10 human control subjects, according to Gabriela-Alina Sauciuc, one of the scientists who worked on the study.

Naong picked his preferred beverages

Smithsonian Sends Extinct Antelope Back to Africa
The scimitar-horned oryx has been resurrected from the dead. It's been 30 years since the antelope was declared extinct, and now, thanks to the Smithsonian National Zoo, it's headed back to the Sahelian grasslands of Chad where it once roamed.

Scientists have spent decades resurrecting the species, which had gone extinct in the wild and was kept in existence by a few animals in captivity. Now, the oryx is headed back to the wilds of Africa, and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and Zoological Society of London are "leading post-release satellite-tracking efforts that will result in the collection of one of the most comprehensive datasets for any wildlife species returned to its native habitat," according to a Smithsonian statement.

Steve Monfort, the John and Adrienne Mars director of SCBI, called it an "epic homecoming" for the species in the statement.

"This project was designed to ultimately give scimitar-horned oryx that chance, while also helping restore this grasslands ecosystem and to ins

Reintroducing the Black-fronted Piping-guan in Brazil
A routine check-up in 2010 revealed that only one Black-fronted Piping-guan was left in the mountain range of Sierra do Mar, São Paulo. Wasting no time, the team of SAVE Brasil built huge enclosures camouflaged in the Atlantic Forest to breed the species and start a reintroduction programme. Five years later, the situation is being reverted: the birds are adapting and the locals are making sure their homes stay intact.

Expert offers suggestions on improving zoos, aquariums
These developments make clear that the zoos of the future will look different from those of today. To help us think about how, we asked experts on zoos from various fields to write about where zoos are headed - or should head.

This submission comes from David Grazian, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of "American Zoo: A Sociological Safari." He lives in New York City.

"Having spent four years volunteering at two major zoos and visiting countless others in preparation for my book, I have had the opportunity to see the very best and worst that American zoos have to offer. Captive zoo animals often live in cramped conditions, with some suffering from psychological stress or depression. Even the most endearing animal exhibits often fail to inspire visitors to care about wildlife and habitat preservation, biodiversity loss, species extinction, global warming and other ecological issues.

"At the same time, American zoos remain enormously popular, attracting 181 million visitors annually. Despite their flaws, zoos are simply too important to fail. It seems to me that American zoos could cure much of what ails them by rethinking how they curate their animal collections and manage their exhibition spaces.

"Currently, zoos seem to rely on the Noah's Ark theory of collecting, by exhibiting at least two of every animal on Earth. Yet by shrinking their animal populations, zoos could dedicate far more space and resources to a smaller number of highly endangered animals. Exhibits would be smarter, with more focused messaging to teach and inspire visitors. For example, while New York's Central Park Zoo sits on only six-and-a-half acres in midtown Manhattan, the Wildlife Conservation Society manages this postage stamp of a zoo by paring

Exploris aquarium reopens after £2m refurbishment
Northern Ireland's only aquarium has reopened after a £2m refurbishment, having been closed for almost two years.
Exploris in the County Down town of Portaferry was threatened with permanent closure in 2013.
But a rescue package backed by the Northern Ireland Executive and Ards and North Down Borough Council, which owns Exploris, secured

The Chinese real estate mogul, Wáng Ming-húa, was arrested yesterday by officers of the People’s Armed Police, for allegedly sponsoring the illegal killing of dozens of giant pandas.

More than three hundred policemen took part in an extensive raid on Mr. Wáng’s luxurious 400-acre property, looking for proof of his illegal activities. The search led to the arrest of nine people, including Mr. Wang himself, and also led to the seizure of 39 coats made of giant panda fur, as well as lots of pelts

‘Trojan horse’ of Namibia’s rhino poaching crisis?
The ‘one chop’ chief
“My name is Vaino Kalimpwe. Kalimpwe means ‘just one chop’,” said the elderly Ogandjera headman with the red beret in fluent Afrikaans, his right hand cutting through the air into his left hand with a loud smack to illustrate what he meant. “Net een kap (Just one chop),” he repeated with a wolfish grin.

Behind him, the more senior chief, Sakarias Shikongo of Okahao, took a cagey approach: no name was given, as we were expected to know who he was – the official successor to the current Ogandjera “king” – and someone accustomed to deference.

Chief Shikongo was quite keen on the idea of elephant hunting, although “…we were told our elephants here are a little too small still”, he informed us.

“It’s the chief’s first time here at the lodge,” said the caretaker, who gave his name as Fillemon. They said they were at the lodge to meet its owner, Vitor Azevedo, later that night. As Azevedo’s trusted right-hand man of 26 years, Fillemon had been based at the still-incomplete Sheya Uushona lodge for seven years, he told us. As result, “The chief really listens to me, he trusts me.”

Which was odd: Chief Shikongo was in fact a regular visitor to the Sheya Uushona lodge, we later established. The Okahao tribal authority’s Sheya Uushona conservancy, so named for a famous Ogandjera king, owns 50% of the still-closed lodge. Construction had started in 2010.

A photographer and I had tracked the chief’s car for three hours along a maze of unmarked, deep sandy tracks snaking through the dense mopani flats of southern Omusati, situated immediately north of the Etosha National Park, to this strange hunting lodge called Sheya Uushona just outside the park’s fence.

It was clear from the tracks that this vehicle regularly used this track, which was the shortest, most direct route from Okahao to the lodge. For long stretches, the chief’s were the only tyre tracks we found along this route in the four-hour drive from Okahao.

Truth was, the chief had in fact had been to the lodge many times before. It was just one of many lies we were fed.

At the lodge we pretended to be scouts for a fictitious safari company, driving a South African-registered vehicle, and looking for

Australia’s rarest tortoises get new home to save them from climate change
Twenty-four of Australia’s rarest tortoises have been released outside their natural range because climate change has dried out their remaining habitat.

The natural range of the critically endangered western swamp tortoise, Pseudemydura umbrina, has shrunk to two isolated wetlands in Perth’s ever-growing outer suburbs, and a herpetological expert, Dr Gerald Kuchling, said reduced rainfall and a lowered groundwater table made those areas increasingly untenable.

The juvenile tortoises – between three and four years old – were released at Meerup, 360km south of Perth, and int in August 2016

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Dolphin Lagoon at Zoo Nuremberg is a reconstruction of the dolphin
exhibit that was opened in 1971. Additionally to the existing indoor
facilities, six outdoor basins were built for the Bottlenose dolphins
and Californian sea lions, two of which can be covered and heated during

Here is the German original:

We would like to thank Dag Encke, the director of Zoo Nuremberg for
contributing this presentation to ZooLex.



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Organization signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to undertake
education projects and activities that improve professional animal care
and animal welfare, as well as conservation projects and activities that
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USDA penalizes Catskill zoo for animal welfare violations
Cramped cages, deteriorating fences and sad chimpanzees. That's what Catskill resident Harry Matthews said he saw when visited the Bailiwick Ranch and Animal Park.
"It was not a happy sight to see," Matthews said. "The cages were really flimsy and didn't look like they were being taken care of."
Visits to the Catskill zoo by Times Union reporters found animals with open wounds and rusty and feces-filled enclosures. Federal inspectors have put the heat on the family-run zoo, which has enclosures an expert believes may lead to injury or to an animal escaping.
In July, Bailiwick was fined $1,350 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the zoo "failed to maintain housing facilities in good repair to protect the animals from injury and to contain them."
A USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service spokesman said the facility has been cited by USDA inspectors numerous times since 2008 for repeated failure to maintain proper enclosures and effectively contain animals.
To get to the Bailiwick Ranch and Discovery Zoo's 300-acre property, visitors drive up the winding hill road that for decades brought crowds to the Catskill Game Farm, a zoo that ran for 73 years before closing in 2006.
A video recorded June 30 at the zoo shows two keepers distracting a brown bear named Tallulah as another worker enters the bear's cage to deliver food. According to animal welfare and behav

Animal attraction: Life of a zookeeper and other tales
It was her day off, but Ashley Richmond rushed to work filled with excitement and anxiety when she got the Saturday evening call.

It was a day unlike most others, but every day is a wild day for some local residents who recently shared their experiences working at the Detroit Zoo.

For Richmond, the call that came on Aug. 6 was to tell her the zoo’s 7-year-old giraffe, Kivuli, was in labor. Just three and a half hours later, the Farmington Hills resident who cares for Kivuli, as well as her mate Jabari, 8, and their nearly 2-year-old son, Mpenzi, watched the birth of the newest giraffe family member, a 5-foot tall, 166-pound girl named Zawadi.

“Just the people she knows were there, we don’t want it to be stressful,” said Richmond, who was also present for the birth of Mpenzi. “You wait 15 months and hope for everything to go well, for mom and baby to be healthy. It was sort of an out-of-body experience, I was in a daze watching… You want to videotape everything, but at the same time be present in the moment. It was a bonus that it ended up being a girl — that is what we were hoping for. I got teary-eyed, there was relief on my part, I was just glad everything went well and the baby was breathing and stood up after 20 minutes. I had a feeling she would be a spit fire, she was very active inside of her mom.”

This year marks a decade as a zookeeper for Richmond, who in the sixth grade foretold her destiny in a letter to her mom in which she wrote that she wanted to go to Michigan State University, get a degree in zoology, and work at the Detroit Zoo.

She walked that path, although she acknowledges it hasn’t always been easy.

“I am 33, but some days I feel 63,” laughs Richmond, who has cared for the giraffes and kangaroos the majority of her career at the zoo, but also worked in various other areas.

EXCLUSIVE look inside Dubai Safari Park
Building work at Dubai Safari Park is in its exciting final stages, and Time Out Dubai has been given the pictures to prove it.

The site in Al Warqa, opposite Dragon Mart, is, every single day, looking more and more like a miniature man-made version of South Africa’s Kruger National Park or Chobe in Botswana. From the thatched terraces to the huge elephant and giraffe replicas, it very much is Dubai meets Africa. And don’t worry, there will be real animals.

The Dhs1 billion project, which has been built on top of a landfill site in Al Warqa'a, has provoked plenty of discussion since it was first announ

Gaza's 'worst zoo in the world' to close
 a southern Gazan cage will soon make a cross-continental journey from the Middle East to South Africa, as Four Paws, an international animal rights organization, rushes to close the “worst zoo in the world.”

Along with the 16 other animals still residing at the Khan Yunis Zoo, “Laziz,” the tiger, is set to leave his desolate home in the coming days, the Vienna-based Four Paws group announced on Thursday. The operation follows a long series of negotiations with the various relevant authorities, and will involve several veterinarians and a logistical support team, the organization said. 

Group that ran elephant center with Disney ties ceases operations in Florida
Several months after an elephant refuge with ties to Walt Disney World sent away its last pachyderm residents, the group that operated it has ceased doing business in Florida.

The National Elephant Center this month filed a notice of withdrawal with the state's Division of Corporations. "This corporation is no longer transacting business or conducting affairs in the state of Florida," paperwork filed with the state says.

The center's Facebook page is also no longer active.

Board members could not be reached for comment.

Disney's Animal Kingdom helped found The National Elephant Center, which ran a refuge for elephants in Fellsmere.

Three of five elephants that went to The National Elephant Center since it opened in 2013 died. Two had come from Disney's Animal Kingdom, and one had come from the Nashville Zoo. Late last year, the center sent back its remaining two elephants, which had both come from Disney. One went back to Disney's Animal Kingdom. The other went to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

At the time, the center's board said it was trying to regroup and operations were on hiatus.

Disney's Animal Kingdom and zoos from across the country founded the center. The idea was to provide short-term and long-term

WAZA and TRAFFIC join forces to combat illegal wildlife trade
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and TRAFFIC today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to intensify collaboration to combat illegal wildlife trade by jointly supporting its prevention and enhancing public awareness of wildlife-trade related conservation threats.

The MoU commits the two organizations to share knowledge and expertise relating to the illegal trade of species from the wild, with an emphasis on threatened species. This includes information about allegedly captive bred specimens, illegally sourced specimens, suspect animal and plant dealers, breeding and propagation programmes or other relevant information. An important part of the collaboration will be that zoos and aquariums will provide their visitors with educational information on how to avoid purchasing illegal animal products and report suspicions of illegally traded animals.

The international trade in species of conservation concern is monitored by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora). According to TRAFFIC, between 2005 and 2009, EU enforcement authorities made over 12,000 seizures of illegal wildlife products in the EU alone. The species traded are often already highly threatened and in danger of extinction, conditions under which wildlife is transported are often appalling, operators are unscrupulous and do not care how they damage the environment. It is often said that illegal wildlife trade is the fourth most valuable illicit commerce behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking. 

Both organizations agreed to focus their work in South-East Asia, where illegal wildlife trade is growing at an alarming rate. Species of particular concern include songbirds, pangolins and freshwater turtles amongst others.  Millions of specimens are illegally traded each year, and the impact on wild populations is disastrous. The Critically Endangered Ploughshare Tortoise of Madagas
car shows a clear link to the illegal trade in South-East Asia and scientists fear that it might become extinct in the wild in the very near future.

The MoU signed by WAZA Executive Director, Gerald Dick, and Steven Broad Executive Director of TRAFFIC, marks the first ever official collaboration between the two organisations. The MoU comes at a time when illegal wildlife trade is at an all-time high.

“We look forward to working more closely with TRAFFIC to support the eradication of illegal wildlife trade,” said Dr Gerald Dick, Executive Director at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

“WAZA members are uniquely placed to help monitor the trade in wild species and ensure it is carried out in a legal fashion and in the best conservation interests of the species concerned: we look forward to a fruitful collaboration,” said Steven Broad, Executive Director of TRAFFIC.

Two Komodo Dragons hatch from hidden eggs at Virginia Aquarium
Two baby Komodo Dragons hatched from eggs in a hidden nest at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center, Thursday.

The aquarium's beloved Komodo Dragon, Jude, died last July. Jude mated with Teman, the male Komodo Dragon, in the fall and produced these eggs. The staff was unaware of the eggs since Jude buried them in the exhibit in secret.

"We are thrilled that Jude and Teman bred successfully, and that Jude was able to lay her eggs and bury them, in true Komodo form," said Rachel Metz, Director of Live Exhibits. "Everyone on staff was heartbroken to lose Jude and this is an emotional moment for all of us. The birth of these two Komodos gives us back a little part of her."

Though 18 eggs were produced, only two have hatched so far. Several of the eggs are showing promising signs and are now being monitored in an incubator. The staff is cautiously optimistic for the eggs future.

"They appear healthy," said Dr. Allyson McNaughton, Staff Veterinarian for the Aquarium. "But this is an important transition time for these young animals, so we will be monitoring them closely."

The baby dragons have not been named yet. They will be kept behin

White tiger cubs ‘are Persian cats’, claims detained Chinese motorist
A motorist has been detained in eastern China for allegedly trafficking white tiger cubs, which he claimed were a litter of Persian cat kittens, according to a news website report.
The three white tiger cubs were discovered in a small van on Monday night at a highway services area in Huzhou in Zhejiang province, reported.

An international charity is rescuing animals from Gaza Strip's main zoo that it has dubbed "the worst in the world" and transferring them to better lives abroad.

Zoo owner Mohammad Eweda said on Friday the animals are being "donated" because the zoo doesn't "have the ability to give them anything."

In the past, his zoo turned to taxidermy to keep its deceased animals on exhibit while another zoo in the strip painted stripes on donkeys to try and make them look like zebras.

The Four Paws charity said tortoises, an

The invention of the aquarium transformed the way humans think about the ocean
For most of human history, people knew very little about what was happening beneath the ocean’s surface. Ancient myths and sailors’ yarns depicted the sea as both a source of life and a foreboding world teeming with Krakens, hydras, and other monstrous creatures.
But with the invention of the first diving helmets and suits in the early 19th century, people finally had a chance to get a good look at underwater life. It wasn’t long before naturalists and scientists came up with the idea of using aquariums to allow the public to similarly observe animals up close–in the process forever changing the way we think about marine life.
One of the first aquariums was created by French marine biologist Jeannette Power de Villepreux. Around 1830, she was conducting research on argonauts, also known as paper nautiluses, in Messina, Sicily. Power had a special wooden box constructed in which she kept the animals brought to her by fishermen. Her laboratory by the sea used rubber hoses to pump salt water in

Girl bitten by camel at Virginia Safari Park to receive $155K settlement
The family of a 10-year-old girl bitten by a camel at the Virginia Safari Park has reached a $155,000 settlement with the drive-through zoo.
Madison Holland suffered serious injuries to her forearm during a May 30, 2015, visit to the Rockbridge County attraction, according to a court settlement approved Monday.
Visitors to the safari park drive their cars or ride on wagons through the 180-acre property, where antelopes, camels, llamas, zebras and other animals often approach the vehicles to be fed from buckets of grain provided by the park.
Holland, of Franklin County, was on a wagon ride when the camel “went to obtain food and bit [her] arm,” according to a settlement appr

You wouldn't believe how much we spend on bananas! Digit the gorilla has lived with a French couple for 18 YEARS
When Pierre and Eliane Thivillon adopted Digit the gorilla, she weighed just four pounds and six ounces.
But you would struggle to get her on to the scales now, with the huge primate eclipsing her two owners.
Despite her size, Digit is still a softie and remarkably has lived with the couple nearly all of her life.

Animal welfare foundation Four Paws has questioned whether the Otavi Lion Sanctury near Parys should still be allowed to operate after a child was mauled to death by a lion on Thursday.

The organisation says it’s confirmed the incident involving a farmworker’s child with police. 

It is believed the boy was killed when he entered a lion enclosure with one of the employees.

Referring to Otavi as a ‘self-proclaimed’ sanctuary, Four Paws says the sanctuary’s Facebook page indicates that they are a not for profit organisation.

The organisation has expressed condolences to the family in a statement.

"A sanctuary is defined as a facility that does not breed, trade or hunt wild animals. Otavi openly offers captive bred lions for sale online. A true sanctuary will not sell cubs, as all the animals should be sterilised to prevent breeding."

It also insists that a sanctuary would also not allow any interaction between the animals and their workers or the general public, and have safety measures in place.

"It is a sad fact that there are around 250 fa

New video showcases footage of 50-strong otter population in Singapore
If you can't get enough of adorable otters, a new YouTube video to commemorate National Day has provided a further glimpse into Singapore's wild otter population in their natural element.

Produced by otter watcher Jeffery Teo, 45, the five-minute clip combines footage taken by fellow enthusiasts over the past year.

The video opens with Bishan's now-famous otter family - fondly named the Bishan 10 - swimming and gambolling about at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

Tiger land
Feng Limin follows the lives of China's scarcest wild cats like a soap opera fan. He has never encountered one, but thanks to a network of motion-sensing cameras in the forests along China's borders with Russia and North Korea, the biologist has glimpsed a total of 27 Siberian tigers and 42 Amur leopards as they breed and prey on deer and wild boar. The spying has paid off for the big cats. What Feng and his colleagues at Beijing Normal University (BNU) have learned has helped convince the central government to create a 15,000-squarekilo-meter national park—60% larger than Yellowstone—that could s

Common cold viruses originated in camels -- just like MERS
There are four globally endemic human coronaviruses which, together with the better known rhinoviruses, are responsible for causing common colds. Usually, infections with these viruses are harmless to humans. DZIF Professor Christian Drosten, Institute of Virology at the University Hospital of Bonn, and his research team have now found the source of "HCoV-229E", one of the four common cold coronaviruses--it also originates from camels, just like the dreaded MERS virus.

The Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus was identified in humans for the first time in 2012. It causes severe respiratory tract infections that are often fatal. Dromedaries were confirmed to be its animal source some time ago.

"In our MERS investigations we examined about 1,000 camels for coronaviruses and were surprised to find pathogens that are related to 'HCoV-229E', the human common cold virus, in almost six percent of the cases," says Drosten. Further comparative molecular genetic analysis of common cold viruses in bats,

Chinese trial over snow leopard deaths
Five people have stood trial in a northern China court for the illegal poaching, killing and sale of rare snow leopards.

A zoo in Qinghai province offered 30,000 yuan ($A5855) for three cubs allegedly captured by the suspects in neighbouring Gansu province in July 2014, the Xinhua news agency reported.

The cubs died of suffocation en route to the zoo in December, Xinhua said.

The court would announce its ruling at a later date, the state-run agency reported.

The Qinghai zoo was not named in the report and there was no indication if the buyer was also being prosecuted.

The alleged poachers face fines and a ma

We need to stop sanitizing everything and let bacteria back in our lives
Pets in the household alter microbiomes even further, for both better and worse — although studies have shown that dogs, who come with their own set of allergy-suppressing microbes, are the most beneficial to a household’s microbial health, helping to strengthen the immune systems of its children.

Gov`t Formulating Standard Zoo Guideline
The Environment and Forestry Ministry is preparing a standard zoo guideline for zoos in Indonesia.

"We are working with PKBSI (the Indonesian Zoo Association)," said Director General of Conservation of Natural Resources and Ecosystems of the Ministry Tachrir Fathoni in Jakarta, Sunday (14/8).

Tachrir added that the guideline includes several aspects, including the management of cages, zoo area, number of animals that populate the zoo, zoo management, human resources, food, and animal welfare.

The guideline is still in the process of completion, he added.

Tachrir also acknowledged some zoos in Indonesia still have poor management.

The management of ten zoos under the supervisory of regional government, he said, is still not optimal, for example Bandung zoo.

"We've reprimanded the management," Tach

New Dubai zoo chief no Dr Do-little
Tim Husband, the director of the upcoming Dubai Safari park, is not afraid to get his hands dirty. Like all zookeepers, he started at the very bottom of the ladder – shovelling dung in a big cat pit.

His career has been marked by the hands-on realities of working in a modern zoo. This includes the highs of chasing escaped lions and giving a baby lion cub a life-saving Heimlich manoeuvre as it choked on meat.

He’s also had low points, including witnessing a keeper being killed by a tiger in New Zealand. Along the way, he says he’s witnessed natural habitat destroyed

Haldwani to get country’s first ‘carbon neutral’ zoo
 In a major step towards ecological conservation, a zoo being planned in Haldwani will be the country's first carbon neutral zoo. The 400 acre complex will be run using renewable resources such as sun, wind and water. The zoo is likely to be ready within two years, said officials, adding that animals will be 'immersion exhibits', where the environment will resemble the animals' natural surroundings as closely as possible.
The zoo-cum-safari will be an independent one, unlike the earlier decision to make it a satellite of GB Pant High Altitude Zoo in Nainital town. The zoo will have 19 segments, including a botanical garden and biodiversity park, according to officials. Moreover, construction materials will include wood and other 'green' components, with less use of bricks and other subs

Stupid Stuff *I'VE* Said…To A Guest
I'm sure we've all got great stories of silly/ridiculous/obnoxious things guests have said to us as animal caretakers.

But what about the ridiculous stuff we say to them? 

Come on, admit it. You've slipped up every now and then.  You've flubbed a line on mic during a narration, you've accidentally said "What the hell" instead of "Golly gee willickers", you've said "pool" instead of "habitat".   It happens, because we're  human.  And most of the time, your guests don't care about your mistake.   Golly gee willickers, they probably don't even realize what you've said. 

Cub petting and the Lion Park controversy
The old and the new are like chalk and cheese.  The old Lion Park near Lanseria was a run-down private  zoo. The new Lion Park is a world class facility which is more a zoo park.

The lions no longer hang around by gates in utter boredom. They have natural big camps where they can hide from the vehicles if they so choose. There are no self-drives anymore due to the safety concerns.
The property is enormous and very picturesque, with a rich cultural history. Management are busy reintroducing species that were endemic there hundreds of years ago.

There are genuine research projects on the go. Not the bogus lion ones we know so well, but important ones.  Two, for instance, are on Leguaans and Black Backed Jackals. They are also involved with Vulpro and the vultures.

There is a community outreach programme which is removing snares from the surrounding areas (a very big problem due to bush meat trade) and turning them into snare art.

The new facility has come under attack in social media for resuming cub petting after a short period of refr

Kathmandu's Leopard Catcher
When Radha Krishna Gharti, a senior veterinarian at Nepal’s Central Zoo, is in his office, the adrenaline level in his blood stream can easily go from ‘zero to sixty’ in a matter of few seconds. Saturday, May 17, 2014 was one such day. The vet, who is one of the handful of doctors in Kathmandu, who can sedate a leopard, got a call early morning. A leopard had been seen at a home in Kapan in north-eastern Kathmandu, where cases of leopard sightings have been on the rise for the last few years. Gharti and a vet from the zoo rushed to the scene on the zoo’s pick-up truck, used to rescu

Zoo staff strike for 20 minutes yesterday for demanding pay hike
Permanent and outsourcing staff of Nehru Zoological park when on strike yesterday and stopped the work for 20 minutes. They say that they are not getting leave and their working conditions are not satisfactory. They were demanding pay hike.

Ticket collectors, Animal keepers, Gardeners and Drivers protested in front of administrative office yesterday. The visitors had to wait for 20 minutes for getting admission tickets.

Curator of the zoo, Ms. Shivani Durga told that the issue has been resolved. The outsourcing employees complained that they have been for the past five years or more but they have not been made permanent for an area of 380 acre, the staff of 180 members is insufficient. They told that Zoo spends Rs. 25 la

We went to Longleat, but even paying £83 could not make the lions appear
bought three tickets (total cost £83.55) for my family, including my 10-year-old grand-daughter, to see the lions of Longleat in July. The website promised a drive-through safari tour “wilder, furrier and growlier than you ever dared imagine”. Her father drove slowly but they saw nothing beyond a couple of monkeys that jumped on the car. There were no lions walking free when they went through and the only sighting was the very top of three lions’ heads quite a distance away. I contacted Longleat to ask for a refund and received a short email saying that animals follow their natural instincts and might have been lying down and/or asleep.

But when I said £83.55 was a high price to see nothing, I was directed to its website which said it was redeveloping its carnivore section, “that may result in animals being off show or in their smaller paddocks”. So not so much a natural instinct as a redevelopment.

Reinforcement in boxes!
Imagine this, you have animals who we know like certain types of food but you can’t give this to them or animals who seem to be ”happy” when they get a particular fruit.Hmm…

I do think we all agree on the fact that training will go faster and easier with reinforcement the animals seem to like. I mean first strategy we all try or I guess most of us is to find out what food reinforcer the animals motivate so we can train them. It’s a topic never really addressed;

Nutrition in animal training.

When we are in school to become a zookeeper or any other animal care taker we get a certain degree of animal nutrition, what is very important for the health of the animal. I mean trying to make a giraffe eat meat might not work very well. While this works perfectly fine for vultures. I do have to say I didn’t pay to much attention in these classes now they were boring to me but back then “you know when you are young”. In Kolmårdens Djurpark we have our own nutrition specialist what is great to have because to be honest its very important to understand what different type of foods the animals should eat what reflects to their health. The welfare of the animals is effected by their food intake as well. This is the moment I thought I should’ve paid more attention in class.

As mentioned before we can give giraffes bananas if they like it or give rhinos vegetation tha

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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 independent international 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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