Thursday, February 16, 2017

Zoo News Digest 16th February 2017 (ZooNews 944)

Zoo News Digest 16th February 2017 
(ZooNews 944)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

The biggest zoo news this week….it has been everywhere. Somebody has named a cockroach 'Tom Brady'….who? Exactly. I haven't a clue who Tom Brady is and whereas it would take me less than a minute to find out I won't bother because I am not remotely interested. Actually I tell a lie…I am interested…but not in Tom Brady but in the type of story which tickles the fancy of the press. Well done Zoo Atlanta, but sorry I haven't carried the cockroach story.

Biggest story today is the armed takeover of Ocean Adventure in Subic. I have been following and posting zoo related stories for many years now. I cannot recall anything similar happening anywhere before. Okay the documents I have posted are a little bit difficult to read….but you can do it. Like my earlier exposes on Phú Quốc Safari in Vietnam there is nothing in the press yet. As I know many news agencies follow Zoo News Digest perhaps someone will follow up.


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 52,000 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 800 Zoos in 153+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out 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, 



Armed Takeover of Ocean Adventure

Dormouse might be first tree-climbing mammal shown to echolocate
A rare rodent isn’t just blind as a bat: it may navigate like one too. The tree-climbing Vietnamese pygmy dormouse seems to make ultrasonic calls to guide its motion. If that’s confirmed, it would be the first arboreal mammal known to use echolocation.

Apart from bats, dolphins, whales, rats and shrews – which use calls in the audible range – few mammals echolocate as vision is usually more efficient. But Aleksandra Panyutina at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and her team thought the dormouse was a good candidate. They had access to two of these seldom-studied, mainly nocturnal rodents at the Moscow zoo, where keepers had noticed that they were able to climb with remarkable agility despite poor eyesight. They also have big, bat-like ears. “We suspected that they use echolocation,” says Panyutina.

To find out, the team first confirmed the rodent’s poor vision by analys

Selling Utopia: Rewriting The History Of Wolves In America For Public Consumption
I’ve been in this game long enough that I’m always shocked when someone comes to me with a story of animal exploitation that I’ve never heard of. And yet, it happens, far more often I’d like. There is, apparently, an inexhaustible number of people eagerly awaiting their chance to “teach” the public about the animals they’re exploiting. Which brings me to the Great American Frontier Show: Wolves of the World. I had never heard of the show, which was founded by a man named Michael Sandlofer, a number of years ago. Mr. Sandlofer passed away in 2016, so I will be as respectful as possible in the writing of this article. The article will, however, be honest, and forthright.

The Sandlofers have owned and trained captive wild animals for entertainment purposes for decades. They even had performing bison at one point. From as early as 1979, they’ve had animal shows performing for audiences, at a price, while claiming the animals were all “resc

DOE Warns Saei Park Over Zoo Conditions
Saei Park management has been warned to raise the standards of its zoo facilities and apply for a permit or risk prosecution.

Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Reza Bazgir, the head of Tehran’s office of the Department of Environment, said of the three unlicensed zoos in the Iranian capital, only one has failed to heed the DOE’s warnings.

“The management of Mellat and Chitgar parks have taken steps to raise their standards and are in the process of acquiring permits to operate their animal facilities, but Saei Park has not taken a single step,” Bazgir was quoted as saying by the news agency.

“If they don’t bolster their standards and apply for a permit, we’ll have no choice but to list Saei Park as an illegal zoo and deal with them through legal channels.”

Currently, Tehran has 12 wildlife centers.

DOE has instructed all animal reserves to adhere to standards pertaining to the animals’ nutrition and care, in addition to their cage condition.  Wildlife facilities must submit regular reports about the species, numbers, addition and remova

For These Monkeys, It's a Fight for Survival
On their Indonesian island, crested black macaques are hunted for meat, kept as pets, and threatened by a shrinking habitat. Can they be saved?
If it weren’t for a cheeky monkey named Naruto, who, as the story goes, stole a photographer’s camera in an Indonesian park and snapped a selfie, crested black macaques might still be languishing in obscurity.

The photo later went viral, and Macaca nigra suddenly had millions of online fans just as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which sets the conservation status of animals, was working toward listing the punk-haired, amber-eyed species as among the world’s 25 most endangered primates.

In 2015 Naruto’s selfie sparked a copyright lawsuit including the animal welfare group People fo

“Harming National Treasures”: Lanzhou Zoo Sparks Controversy (Again) for Apparent Panda Negligence
Visitor photos of a mouth-foaming, lethargic-looking panda at Lanzhou Zoo has caused outrage on Weibo. As the zoo’s conditions are called into question for the umpteenth time, some say that China’s so-called ‘national treasures’ (国宝) are not being treated equally. The controversy is especially noteworthy because China maintains strict control over the pandas it sends abroad.

Cage-Free Western Sydney Zoo Submitted For Final Decision
A proposed privately operated zoo in Western Sydney has been referred to the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission for a final decision.

The 16.5-hectare zoo, to be located within the Western Sydney Parklands at Bungarribee, 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, is masterplanned by Aspect Studios.

Sydney Zoo is a new $36 million zoological park and is set to be an iconic tourist attraction located in the Bungarribee Precinct, Western Sydney Parklands. The new Sydney Zoo will work in collaboration with the Western Sydney Parklands Trust and Blacktown Council to contribute to enhancing social and cultural infrastructure in Western Sydney.

The site is located approximately 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, and approximately 15 kilometres east of Penrith. It is in close proximity to the Great Western Highway, M4 Western Motorway and Westlink M7, providing excellent access to both the state and regional road network and surrounding parkland areas.

The total contribution to the NSW economy is estimated at $45 million per year and is expected to boost employment with 160 jobs during construction and at least 120 jobs during its operation.

Tough early life makes wild animals live longer
Scientists from the University of Exeter found that male banded mongooses that experienced poor conditions in their first year had longer lives.

However, there was no difference in the number of offspring they fathered - suggesting those born into poor conditions "live slow, die old" while those with an easier first year "live fast, die young".

Surprisingly, the males that fathered the most pups were those that grew up when conditions were highly variable. These males also lived long lives, like those born into poor conditions.

"Growing up in a poor or unpredictable environment isn't necessarily bad - it can have advantages," said lead author Dr Harry Marshall, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation of the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus.

"It's not clear why variable early-life conditions were the best for male mongooses in terms of longevity and reproduction. It might be that male mongooses that experience different challenges in their first year are better prepared for those challenges later on."

The researchers used 14 years of data on wild banded mongooses (Mungo

Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists
The impact of climate change on threatened and endangered wildlife has been dramatically underreported, with scientists calling on policymakers to act urgently to slow its effects before entire species are lost for good.

New analysis has found that nearly half (47%) of the mammals and nearly a quarter (24.4%) of the birds on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species are negatively impacted by climate change – a total of about 700 species. Previous assessments had said only 7% of listed mammals and 4% of birds were impacted.

“Many experts have got these climate assessments wrong – in some cases, massively so,” said Dr James Watson of the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society, who co-authored the paper with scientists in the UK, Italy and the US.

IUCN updates 'red list' of endangered species - in pictures
 View gallery
Published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the analysis of 130 studies reported between 1990 and 2015 painted a grim picture of the impact of the changing climate on birds and mammals already under threat.

Most researchers tended to assess the impa

Free-choice digital interactive enrichment and human-animal interaction
As orangutan (Pongo spp.) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations decrease, captive individuals play an important role in species’ conservation management making information about their cognitive stimuli and enrichment essential.

There is a growing empirical support demonstrating improved welfare in captive animals when they can exert control over their environment.1 Research shows that great apes can successfully interact with digital media devices2&3 and there can be behavioral changes when presented with digital enrichments.4 However, to date, there have been no studies that look at the effect of free-choice using digital interactive mediums, and the implementation’s impact on human visitors’ attitudes to

Momentary Victory In An Ongoing War
At the beginning of 2017, Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey Circus announced that after 146 years of entertainment with animals, it was closing its doors for good. “Big picture” animal rights groups, who remained fixated on “sticking it to the man on behalf of animals everywhere” instantly declared victory, announcing the vanquishment of the #1 animal exploiter in the United States. Much of the public, and those more capitalistically minded expressed confusion or horror, that there was something wrong with the iconic establishment, or that “animal rights” should be put above the needs and wants of human businessmen.

The remainder of us within the conservation community, those who understood the depths of such an announcement, began poring over press releases and articles, attempting to suss out the long-term plans for the captive wild animals which have long been a staple for Ringling Bros.. We knew, unlike the public–who widely and ignorantly cheered for the “retirement” of elephants from Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey Circus–that a circus who ceases to use animals in their show, or who otherwise closes its doors, is

Alameda wildlife park joins British and Irish zoos
The Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (AWCP), Gibraltar’s only zoo, was recently awarded provisional Membership of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).
The AWCP is now officially one of the smallest zoos in BIAZA and is mentored by the smallest member: Shaldon Zoo in Devon.
This comes after years of development and twelve months of hard work that began with an initial inspection in January 2016 by BIAZA’s Nic Dunn Director of Shaldon Wildlife Trust, who also assisted throughout the initial application and will continue to mentor the AWCP during the provisional period.
Stewart Muir, Director of Living Collections, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, also assessed the park and made recommendations.
The Kusuma Trust funded their visits.
Coupled with the BIAZA milestone is the AWCP’s ‘Stategic Plan 2016-2021, Building on Success’. This follows in February 2017

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The "Heart of Africa" at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a themed area that
features lions and many other species of savannah animals. With the
exception of hidden moats, the lion exhibit is at the same approximate
elevation as the adjacent savanna. Therefore, the lions and the guests
have an unobstructed view of foraging hoofstock.



With 42 presentations and two discussion panels, a dense programme is
waiting for participants of the first international zoo design
conference since 2004. The first day is dedicated to "zoo design trends
and developments" including a discussion on "zoo strategies and design
answers". The theme of the second day is "enrichment for welfare" with
speakers from around the globe. The third day is about "technical
aspects of zoo design" and will end with a discussion on "working with
external experts" before a visit to Wroclaw Zoo in the afternoon.

ZooLex together with Wroclaw Zoo organizes this international zoo design
conference. The conference will take place in Wroclaw, Poland, from 4th
to 7th April 2017.

Please use this link for information and registration:

Exhibitors will be accomodated in the order of registration. Please
check out your opportunities and contact MCC Consulting Ltd. for booking
your package:


We keep working on ZooLex ...

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

Thoughts for Behaviour: Who is Training Who?
Did you guys meet my brother yet? Ok, he is a man that means a lot to me and gives me quite some inspiration. In the beginning of December we had a trip after almost a year not seeing each other. Together we planned to go to Kiruna (The most northern city of Sweden) to see the northern lights through a sled dog trip in the forest. It was magical and I want to tell you all please do this once in your life. It took us quite a while but that meant as well that we had a long time to talk together about everything and anything. Real bonding on such a trip.

My brother is a salesman for for T-mobile. He only has this job for maybe 8 months now I would say if not less but h

What Packy taught us (Opinion)
This past week has been an especially sad one for the Oregon Zoo. On Thursday, we said goodbye to Asian elephant Packy, one of the zoo's oldest residents, and one of the best-known, most beloved animals in the world.

As a young conservation biologist attending grad school at Syracuse in the early 1980s -- long before I returned to Portland to be zoo director -- I traveled across the country one summer, visiting family in the Northwest but also intent on seeing Portland's zoo and meeting the legendary elephant. He was majestic, standing 10-foot-6 at the shoulder with a bearing I can only describe as regal. The intelligence in his eyes was startling. I had never seen anything like him.

Nearly everyone in the Portland area knows Packy, of course -- he inspired books, songs, and parade floats. For years, a giant mural of his profile graced the old Skidmore Fountain Building at the west end of the Burnside Bridge. And, with his likeness embellishing our logo, Packy was literally the face of the Oregon Zoo. But apart from his celebrity, or perhaps because of it, Packy's most important legacy stretches far beyond our region.

When the zoo moved to its current Washington Park location in the late 1950s, Dr. Matthew Maberry, our first veterinarian, helped design facilities that gave elephants much more freedom than was common for zoos of that time. That change encouraged normal social interactions and natural breeding among the elephants, which led to something of a modern miracle: Packy, the first elephant born in North America since 1918.

The birth was so unprecedented that until Packy hit the ground (shortly before 6 a.m. on April 14, 1962), no one knew that an Asian elephant's gestation period is 20 to 22 months. That was the first thing Packy taught us -- and each year brought more knowledge, profoun


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If you have anything to add then please email me at
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

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About me
After more than 48 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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