Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Zoo News Digest 28th February 2017 (ZooNews 946)

Zoo News Digest 28th February 2017 
(ZooNews 946)

https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/294/19375940840_73b1289222_o.jpg
Photo by Liger 77

Peter Dickinson

elvinhow@gmail.com

Dear Colleague,

Sorry to learn of the young Japanese zookeeper being badly injured by a lion. I do hope she makes a full and speedy recovery.

What can I say? What was done to that poor hippo was the work of a complete and utter sicko. What kind of person does something like that? What do they get out of it?

So SeaWorld is coming to the UAE……We have heard this before and it never happened. Around a year ago there was another story about it setting up in Saudi Arabia but I have heard nothing since so perhaps that got shelved too. This time though there have been several press reports about the plans for the UAE. All of them have been in a similar vein and say something along the lines of "the first dedicated marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return center in the UAE, with world-class facilities and resources for the care and conservation of local marine life." Noble intentions I'm sure and I greatly admire the work that SeaWorld does in this area but such a statement suggests that the UAE is in great need for such a center. If there is then this is news to me. The UAE already more than adequately cares for turtles…. and whale and dolphin strandings are as rare as hens teeth. Perhaps it is uncharitable of me but would we suddenly see a sudden need to 'rescue' Dugongs? So rare in captivity…I have only seen one and I believe the only two captive specimens on display are being held in Australia. A Dugong exhibition would be impressive, special and different…..but needed? Of course I could be totally wrong….but watch this space. We already have dolphin shows in the UAE and at least three collections holding them so there would be a need to come up with something to set themselves apart especially as Orcas are out of the picture.

I was shocked and sickened to the core to learn of the murder of the baby Rhinos at Thula Thula orphanage. Staff assaulted and the stumps of horns removed from the two babies. What would you have done? What would I have done? I cannot really imagine. It is a few years back that I warned that all zoos, anywhere and everywhere need to keep an extra special guard on their Rhinos. There are some very nasty, cruel and corrupt people involved in the Rhino horn market. It should be noted that we have not yet seen how many animals were poached and killed in 2016. One wonders why the officials are being so tight lipped on this. If I were to hazard a guess I would say there has been no reduction and possibly even an increase in the carnage.

So the infamous 'Tiger Temple' is going to open again under a different name (see the links below). This is terrible news. There is no excuse for this. It is corruption at work in very high places. I doubt very much that there is anything that anyone can do. Like the Rhino Horn this is just a back door opening to supply body parts to the Asian market. Sri Racha Tiger Zoo has been doing it for years (along with others) and as obvious as it is officials don't seem to be able to see it….or perhaps they do but are only too aware that there are some very nasty people involved in the animal trade. I am not a mathematician but it only takes very simple adding up to work out that something is seriously wrong here. If you continue to add tiger cubs in at the bottom and yet the numbers at the top remain the same then the sum must be wrong. They cannot disappear into thin air. They ARE going out the back door. There are NO zoos in Thailand which need adult tigers.

I continue to be baffled by people who are in favour of breeding big cat hybrids and colour morphs. They get so angry when they get any criticism and try and argue it is clever or has happened in the wild or they are raising money to help the 'species' or it is educational. It isn't…..pure and simple…it isn't. I have yet to see an argument put forward that has made me think different….and I do read them all. All big cats need to be in officially sanctioned breeding programmes where breeding only takes place on the say so of the studbook holder. Anything less than this is reprehensible and is ANTI conservation.


Some heated debate on the Perth Zoo 'Elephant Yoga' sessions. I posted the link but did not comment one way or another and yet am still attacked by Trolls. There are some extremely ignorant people out there. I haven't seen enough of the exercise to form a judgement.

Delighted to have my team win best poster at the IAATE conference. Well done to all of our team past and present because all have played a part but especially to Eric who 'sold' it at the conference.
    

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, 
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.

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Hippo dies at zoo after 'cowardly and inhumane' attack
Police in El Salvador are investigating a "cowardly and inhumane" attack at the National Zoological Park that killed a hippopotamus named Gustavito.

The 15-year-old hippo suffered "multiple blows on different parts of the body" from "blunt and sharp objects" in Wednesday's attack, the Ministry of Culture said in a statement.

The San Salvador zoo said veterinarians had been caring for the animal around the clock since discovering that he had been attacked. Despite their efforts, he died Sunday. The zoo plans to perform a necropsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Staff had noticed on Thursday that the hippo was displaying unusual behavior -- spending most of the day under water in his enclosure. He also had stopped eating.

The statement from the ministry said that during an examination veterinarians noticed he was suffering from "bruises, lacerations on the head and body, cramps and abdominal pain."

Zoo director Vladen Henríquez said Gustavito





Harrowing animal death list revealed ahead of crunch meeting over zoo licence application
A HARROWING death list reveals for the first time how nearly 500 animals - including tigers, lion cubs and giraffes - have died at a popular zoo in less than four years.

Poor management, emaciation and hypothermia are among the reasons for the above average mortality rate at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton, while trauma and infighting caused by overstocked pens also account for the demise of scores of exhibits.

The shocking log, which provides a distressing catalogue of injuries and illnesses endured by a wide range of species at the site formally known as Dalton Zoo between December 2013 and September last year, has been branded the worst seen in 60 years by national campaigning charity the Captive Animal Protection Society.




Born Free: 50 years on
There is a moving moment in the film Born Free, when Elsa the lioness walks towards Joy and George Adamson, played by actors Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna. Elsa had spent a week trying to fend for herself in northern Kenya. As she approaches the couple, they see that their experiment hasn’t worked: she is thin, bloodied and limping.

Legendary conservationists Joy and George were attempting to return the lioness they loved to the wild, but her injuries proved to George that she was unable to survive in her natural habitat. She had grown too accustomed to human care.

“What’s wrong with a zoo anyway?” George asks Joy. “Is freedom so important?”

“Yes!” cries Joy with passion. “She was born free and she has the





Cambodia to keep seized ivory, not destroy it
Prime Minister Hun Sen announced on Friday that Cambodia will keep seized ivory, rhinoceros horns and other confiscated goods to show in exhibitions. Cambodia will not burn or destroy the items, he said.

Speaking at a closing ceremony for the Interior Ministry’s annual meeting on Friday, the prime minister agreed to an Environment Ministry request to not destroy all the seized ivory, rhinoceros horns and other animal parts and instead keep them to be exhibited, according to a report in Khmer Times.

Mr Hun Sen said: “Our America counterparts asked us to destroy it, but it is not the duty of America in Cambodia. America has no rights here. Cambodia will keep it [ivory] for an exhibition.” 

He added that some ivory was from South Africa, a region in Africa where elephants are under threat. If the ivory was destroyed, all the evidence would also be destroyed, he said.

“America has no right to order Cambodia’s administration to do anything and I agreed to keep it for exhibition,” Mr Hun Sen said, add





New Oakland Zoo exhibit expands acreage to rival San Diego Zoo, among nation's largest
On the ridge of Knowland Park overlooking five counties and the sparkling waters of the bay, the Oakland Zoo’s expensive and contentious expansion is beginning to take shape.
After 2½ decades of planning and years of wrangling with local opponents, construction has sketched the outline of the zoo’s ambitious California Trail exhibit. The first of 16 eight-person aerial gondolas imported from Switzerland to carry visitors over the exhibit was being mounted onto its wires Thursday.
The California Trail attraction, envisioned as a showcase of the state’s biodiversity, ironically drew the ire of local conservationist groups in its planning stages because of its potential impact on Knowland Park’s wildlife, particularly the federally protected Alameda whipsnake and a rare type of chaparral plant.
Zoo officials say the expansion will encourage stewardship by offering a unique look at California wildlife past and present, and that building on lower ground would have increased the project’s env





CZA to start conservation program of 26 critically endangered animals
Member secretary of Central Zoo Authority (CZA), DN Singh said that CZA is going to initiate conservation measures for 26 critically endangered species which include snow leopard, musk deer, red panda, rhinoceros in zoos across the country; also in the works is marking of all zoo animals to prepare a comprehensive database animals in all Indian zoos. This, officials said, will be a path-breaking initiative that will help in cross-breeding, treatment of diseases and conservation of animals at global level.
An annual five-day conference of zoo directors of 25 states started





Lion attacks, seriously injures female keeper at Nagano Prefecture zoo
A female zoo attendant in Nagano Prefecture was attacked and seriously wounded by a lion Sunday.

According to police and local authorities, the 22-year-old keeper at a municipal zoo in the city of Komoro was bitten by the 1.8-meter-long female lion, weighing about 90 kg (200 pounds), in the chest and other body areas while cleaning the cage in the morning.

After the attack, she was taken to a hospital.

Officials in the city said the lion should have been confined to a holding pen behind its cage during the cleaning work.

Police obtained information that





China to Start Breeding Orcas in Captivity
China has launched its first orca-breeding facility, as other countries abandon the practice widely understood to be cruel.

There are five male and four female orcas at the country's new breeding base at Chimelong Ocean Kingdom in Guangdong Province, the Global Times reports. Some 61 orcas are believed to be in captivity today around the world.

Around the world, organizations and states are shutting down breeding practices. SeaWorld, the giant US aquarium and marine life park, ended orca breeding last year. The governor of California signed legislation last week banning orca breeding and orca performances in the state, effective this June, and legislation introduced to the US Congress this month would end orca captivity in the US.  A number of US states have already banned the practice, as have some countries.

Orcas in captivity have been shown to have much shorter life-spans and to display abnormal behavior not seen in the wild — one of the reasons public opinion has turned against their captivity and use in performances. Violence, inbreeding and many stillbirths are just some of the issues that go along with an orca breeding program. One of SeaWorld's stud orcas, Tilikum, was notoriously violent, ultimately killing three people, two of them trainers.

But China is lagging behind public opinion on this one. The country's economic rise has created a newly wealthy middle class eager for entertainment, and China is in the middle of a marine park building boom. There were 39 facilities in operation last year, with 14 under construction, a Takepart.com feature reveals. They range from flagships like Chimelong, which opened in 2014, to "shopping mall aquariums that shoehorn belugas and other animals into tiny t





Are We the Last Generation to See Polar Bears in the Wild?
Is the extraordinary polar bear going the same way as the dodo? A large flightless bird, the dodo was last seen in the 1600s, when it was most likely clubbed on its island home by protein-starved sailors looking for some meat for their cooking pot.

While our generation is not likely to be guilty of eating the last wild polar bear, we are contributing to the rapid decline of the iconic species because of  the industrial emissions we have been pumping into the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution (read the explanation of this further along this post).

Take a moment this International Polar Bear Day (February 27,  #polarbearday) to reflect on this incredible species and how we stand to lose it in the wild by the e





Get fit and join a jumbo exercise session with elephants
It is not every day you see an elephant attempting the downward dog — but yoga is part of the routine for Perth Zoo’s Asian elephants Tricia and Permai.
The gigantic duo also stamp around the zoo grounds most mornings to stretch their legs.
Zoo visitors can join the magnificent creatures when they venture out of their enclosures as part a new exercise program.
Exercise For Elephants is the latest initiative to give close interaction with the animals.
A zoo spokeswoman said the morning sessions consisted of a 45-minute workout and a 15- minute interaction with the elephants. “A personal trainer will put them through their paces, then they’ll get to meet the elephants, who may join in the






48 crested iguanas released in the wild
A TOTAL of 48 crested iguanas that were bred in captivity were released back into the wild on Monuriki Island in the Mamanuca's on Friday.

This marked one of the first successful programs around the Pacific where animals bred in captivity were reintroduced to wild life.

The project which took seven years was a collaboration between the National Trust of Fiji and mataqali Vunaivi of Yanuya Village who are owners of Monuriki Island.

Observations made several years ago by iguana specialists found that iguanas on the island were on the verge of extinction.

This was largely because of rodents eating their eggs and hatchlings and goats eating vegetation which they depended on for survival.

Fiji is home to several unique species of iguanas found nowhere else on earth.

Crested iguanas from Monuriki Island have a distinctive genetic imprint that tells them apart from iguanas found in other parts of the country.

National Trust of Fiji (NTF) projects officer Jone Niukula said in 2010 they collaborated with Birdlife International in eradicating the rodents and goats.

The same year they had captured 20 iguanas from the Island which they took to Kula Wild Adventure Park to breed.

In 2015, 32 iguanas produced in captivity were released into the wild.

On Friday, 17 of the 20 iguanas that s






Active ageing for Singapore Zoo's 26-year-old polar bear Inuka
Even old polar bears need active ageing. At 26, the Singapore Zoo's locally born-and-bred Inuka is already way past its prime.

The average lifespan for polar bears is between 15 and 18 in the wild and 25 in captivity. In human years, Inuka is now in its 70s.

This means Inuka belongs to a special senior animal care programme, reserved for animals near the end of their natural lifespan.





The woolly flying squirrel: On the trail of the world's largest glider
The mountainous northernmost reaches of Pakistan are dry, bleak and devastatingly beautiful.

They're also home to an animal that is a metre long, with a pelt of silky fur as long as your pinky finger, and whose dried urine is said to have aphrodisiac qualities.

It's a mammal that can glide, a woolly flying squirrel that was thought to be extinct until 1996.
Named by one of the most prolific animal labellers in history, Oldfield Thomas, the woolly flying squirrel was described from skins brought back from the mountains.

Thomas never saw a live woolly flying squirrel, but he did note that its teeth were very different from anything you'd ever expect in a glider.

"They've got what they call high-crowned, or hypsodont dentition," says Stephen Jackson, an associate of the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.

"Normally when you think of hypsodont teeth in mammals, you think of ungulate or hooved animals, which feed on really abrasive material like grass.





'It's very scary in the forest': should Finland's wolves be culled?
The story of a kill is told in the snow. On the Finnish island of Porosaari, we find the first paw print. “That’s a male,” says Asko Kettunen, retired border guard, hunter and tracker. How can he be sure? “It’s big.”

Five ravens rise from dark pines, croaking in the icy silence; they will scavenge anything caught by the wolves. We wade through knee-deep snow. There’s a spot of vivid blood and a tuft of moose hair, cleanly cut, which Kettunen deduces has been ripped from a living animal. This, he says, is the moment the wolves made contact. First they try to puncture the intestines; if they succeed, the moose may run on, but the damage is done.

We find moose tracks, each hoof print far apart: the animal was running. Kettunen points to wolf prints on either side, to where a second and third wolf joined the chase. There are blood spots and more hair and a pine sapling snapped in two. “The moose collided with a tree, so it was not that well,” Kettunen says, with Finnish understatement.

There are spots of blood by every moose print now. Finally, up the hill, is the kill zone. A young moose has been reduced to two front legs and a skin detached precisely from the body, intestines that spill like butcher’s sausages and a mound of freshly chewed grass where its stomach once was. Kettunen thinks that five wolves feasted here the previous night. We find faeces and a curved bed of snow where a contented wolf took a postprandial doze.

Finland has a wolf problem. Five and a half million humans share the country with an estimated 235 wolves, and that’s too many, say rural Finns, whose livestock and hunting dogs are being killed. Some parents are scared that wolves will attack their children. “Before, wolves were afraid of people,” Kettunen tells me. “Now people are afraid of wolves.” For the past three years, the government has assuaged these fears with a wolf cull.





Government delays announcement of rhino poaching stats
The fate of South Africa’s rhinos continue to hang in the balance as the South African government dithers over releasing rhino poaching statistics.

Three times in as many days,the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) have postponed a scheduled media briefing of the rhino poaching information.

In response to concerns raised previously over the Minister of Environment, Edna Molewa’s lack of communication in relation to rhino poaching stats, the DEA last week published an official statement promising to soon “provide progress in the fight against rhino poaching”.

But each time a date was set, they postponed. The latest postponement, announced just before Friday’s intended briefing, did not provide any reasons for the delay and simply stated that “a new date will be communicated soon.”
Allison Thomson of OSCAP says: “The lack of transparency with regards to poaching stats is debilitating for rhino owners who need to make decisions about the safety and se





Time to bust a myth: not all mammals are warm-blooded
When BBC Earth went onto Facebook and asked our audience if there are any cold-blooded mammals, we got a strong reaction.
"This is a silly question," wrote Clay Walker. "The definition of being a mammal includes being warm blooded."
Mark Josefsberg was similarly taken aback. "You insult our collective intelligence."
We really did not set out to upset anyone! We just wondered if, the natural world being the varied place that it is, there might be a few outliers – and it turns out that there are.





SeaWorld's Statement on Vancouver Aquarium's Announcement
The Vancouver Aquarium made a significant announcement today about their beluga whale program, including the important research and conservation work they have done to protect this vulnerable species. 

Many people may not know much about beluga whales, other than they recognize them when they see them. A leading example of why we need to educate people is the beluga whale population in the St. Lawrence Seaway, the waterway that connects the Great Lakes to our oceans. Although belugas worldwide are not endangered, there are three isolated populations of beluga whales that are critically endangered because of human activities such as noise, pollution, shipping vessel traffic, and industrial activity that cause disease, reduce habitat quality and contaminate the food supply. The beluga population in the St. Lawrence Estuary is now at about 800 whales and annually decreasing by an estimated 1-1.5 percent. You can learn more about SeaWorld’s efforts here.

As a committed partner and an industry leader in protecting wildlife, we wanted to take a moment to comment about The Vancouver Aquarium’s decision, as well as applaud them for taking vitals steps in continuing their efforts to protect this species. 

Here’s a note from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment veterina





Hunt for a safe haven for world's rarest marsupial continues
The hunt is on for a new home for the world's rarest marsupial, the Gilbert's potoroo, off Western Australia's south coast.

Islands off Esperance are among areas being assessed for their suitability for the critically endangered species.

The marsupial was believed to be extinct until a small population was discovered at Two Peoples Bay near Albany in 1994.

Since its rediscovery, efforts to safeguard that stronghold population of about 40 animals have suffered several setbacks, and the species is on the brink of extinction.

The population at Two Peoples Bay Nature Reserve plummeted to an estimated six potoroos after bushfires razed 90 per cent of the mammal's habitat in 2015.

Gilbert's Potoroo Action Group chairman Ron Dorn sai





Listening in on Cuban Crocodiles
The Reptile Discovery Center’s research on Cuban crocodiles is continuing! As breeding season ramps up, both of our pairs of Cuban crocodiles are engaging in various aspects of courtship as well as territorial displays. We are monitoring their behavior every day for several hours from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. More specifically, we are listening for and recording vocalizations. Crocodilians utilize a variety of communication channels, one of which is acoustic. When we are monitoring the crocs, we track who is vocalizing and in what context he or she made the vocalization. When we download the recordings captured from inside the exhibit with microphones, we can tease out the different types of vocalizations the crocodiles are using and why they are using them. This research will contribute the few other studies out there that have investigated crocodile vocalizations. We are excited to continue are research on this critically endangered crocodilian and hope you can see some of their unique and complex behaviors when visiting the Reptile Discovery Center.

There’s really exciting Cuban crocodile work happening outside of the Reptile Discovery Center as well. In mid-February I traveled to Cuba to meet a researcher from the University of Havana, and the biologist at the Crocodile Farm in Zapata. The trip was amazing! The crocodile farm is successfully breeding and rearing thousands of Cuban crocodiles each year. These animals are bred primarily for conservation. They also release crocodiles into the wild to bolster wild populations. This is extremely important for the Cuban crocodile as its numbers are dwindling du





Minister offers Turkish mayor elephants for ancient Hebrew inscription
Culture Minister Miri Regev used an impromptu trip to southern Turkey for a basketball game to offer a different kind of trade: Two elephants for an ancient inscription from Jerusalem, currently housed in a Turkish museum, that is considered one of the most important ancient Hebrew inscriptions in existence.





Building the Next SeaWorld in the UAE
Announced in December 2016, SeaWorld has entered into a partnership to build a new park on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, with Miral, the developer of Yas Island. This will be the first new SeaWorld park in decades, and the first without orca whales. “We’re hiring new talent and smart companies for this, and it will feed ideas into the rest of the system,” said Esparza. He sees the area’s growing mix of entertainment and cultural attractions – including the Louvre, the Guggenheim and Ferrari World – as desirable neighbors.

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi is projected to open by 2022. One of the pillars of its development is what the company refers to as an “R4 center”: the first dedicated marine life research, rescue, rehabilitation and return center in the UAE, with world-class facilities and resources for the care and conservation of local marine life. SeaWorld Abu Dhabi will integrate up-close animal ex





Cat Experts: Ligers and Other Designer Hybrids Pointless and Unethical
Ever heard of a liger? It’s the offspring of a male lion and female tiger. There’s also the tigon, which has a lion mother and tiger father. And the leopon, the progeny of a lion and a leopard—not to be outdone by the jagulep, a jaguar-leopard mix.

Feline hybrids aren’t found in nature. Lions and tigers don’t overlap in the wild (except in India’s Gir Forest, where until now no ligers have been found). And big cats in the same territory don’t cross the species line—they’re not interested in each other, just as humans aren’t drawn to chimps.

Instead, these animals are the offspring of big cats that crossbreed in captivity and they're destined to become curiosities in zoos and wildlife parks. While it might seem fun to see one of these oddballs in the flesh, advocates of big cat conservation say this hybridi





Whipsnade elephants pack up their trunks for a move to their new home
MOVING home is one of the most stressful things you can do in life – especially when it involves relocating nine elephants weighing up to four tonnes each.

But that mammoth task is under way at Whipsnade Zoo, where bosses have poured two million pounds into creating the perfect home for the herd, including eight-month-old calf Elizabeth.

Roughly the size of three tennis courts and around four times larger than their current base, the new barn will let visitors get closer than ever to the majestic creatures. A glass viewing platform will make sure guests have a great view of the animal action, but for the first time they will also be able to hear the huge beasts commu





Our latest project update is on Blackpool Zoo’s new elephant house
The project is part of a £5m spending programme at the East Park Drive attraction.
The facility will replace the former enclosure which was 75 years old and was built originally as an aircraft hangar.
It is due to open in August this year. Zoo chiefs say the new elephant house has been specially designed around the complex welfare need of the mammoth species.
The plans include sand floors to a depth of one metre, a building height suitable for bulls and cows, high-level feeding baskets, the most suitable environmental conditions, and a flexible layout with protected access for zoo keepers.
The zoo currently only has one elephant Kate but the facility would help bring a new elephant family to Blackpool. The enclosure, at the north east side of the zoo, will feature a raised viewing platform, meaning visitors ca





Karachi Metropolitan Corporation seeks adequate security at zoo
Keeping in view the law and order situation in the country, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation’s director of culture, sports and recreation has written a letter to the police, requesting deployment of security personnel at the entry gate of the Karachi Zoo, along with a female officer to search women entering the premises.

The letter, written on February 20, reads that the zoo requires at least five female guards to search women as male guards are unable to check female visitors to the zoo. The letter also demands that strict security measures be taken in the surrounding areas of the zoo. It has also been forwarded to the City SSP Office, Garden SP Office, the SHO of the women’s police station, District South assistant commissioner and the mayor’s office.

Talking to The Express Tribune, Karachi Zoological Garden Chief Security Officer Sajjad Hussain said that hundreds of people visit the zoo, therefore strict security measures must be taken inside the premises as well.

He added that though the zoo has security guards and wardens, they are without weapons and have been deployed at the four exit and entry gates for physical searching. He added they have also requested the mayor to install closed-circuit television cameras to increase vigilance in the surrounding areas.

Hussain said the zoo has over 900 ani





New zoo planned next to Tiger Temple
A new zoo is planned in Kanchanaburi right next to the closed temple that ran a lucrative tiger attraction while allegedly trafficking in the endangered beasts.

The new zoo should be completed in two to three months and has no affiliation with the Tiger Temple, said the temple's lawyer, Saiyood Pengboonchu, said Friday.

A person answering a telephone number listed for the new zoo's holding company denied any affiliation with the zoo and hung up.

The original attraction at Wat Pa Luang Ta Maha Bua had operated in Sai Yok district of Kanchanaburi for more than a decade despite concerns about trafficking and possible mistreatment of animals. Its 137 tigers were seized and the temple was closed for good last year after police unearthed evidence of possible involvement in trafficking tigers and their parts.

The rescued tigers were relocated to two sanctuaries. Police are still investigating possible criminal charges against temple employees and monks.

Phra Sutthi Sarathera, or Luang Ta Chan, the temple's abbot, denied any wrongdoing and told reporters last October that he wanted to open a zoo with new tigers.

While Mr Saiyood denied any links between the te





TIGER TEMPLE TO REOPEN 9 MONTHS AFTER RAID
Armed with a zoo permit and a brand new set of tigers, the people behind the infamous Tiger Temple plan to reopen for business in March.

Eight months after officials raided and shut down the temple, where they discovered a grotesque operation where tiger parts were harvested for magic amulets and energy drinks, a new zoo is set to open right nearby under a different name in March. Meanwhile a criminal case against those operating the temple on trafficking charges appears to be going nowhere.

Adisorn Noochdamrong, a national park official who led the June raid on the so-called Tiger Temple, said the project is perfectly legal, as the zoo wa





Months After Raid on Infamous Tiger Temple, Plans for Offshoot Zoo Forge Ahead
A flurry of construction is underway on land just outside Thailand’s infamous Tiger Temple, a monastery formally known as Wat Pa Luangta Bua Yannasampanno that doubled as a popular tiger tourism venue until last year. Allegations of wildlife trafficking prompted a raid by wildlife officials, who confiscated 137 tigers and moved them to safety in government facilities. At the time they found a huge cache of tiger parts and products on the temple grounds. An investigation is ongoing.

The abbot, Phra Acham Phoosit (Chan) Kanthitharo, and temple spokesmen have repeatedly denied any impropriety.

Now a temple offshoot business venture is building animal enclosures next door to the monastery—to house tigers in a new zoo.

Although the Tiger Temple isn’t legally connected to this venture, the monks advertise the “New Home for Tigers Project” on their website as “in process.” The cost of the 10-acre zoo com





Tiger Temple to reopen as “Golden Tiger Farm” !

Over the last week several media stories went up around the world, as news broke that the infamous “Tiger Temple” in Thailand was soon to reopen with 105 tigers they have allegedly bought from a commercial tiger farm in the East of Thailand. This after he tiger temple was found to be involved in illegal wildlife trade, illegal wildlife possession and continued animal torture over the last 15 years.

We have found some false information in some of the articles and therefor we whish to sum up the facts one more time to create a clear picture on the issue.

The tiger temple started caring for tigers in 1999, after the abbot of the temple purchased two tiger cubs from an elephant camp nearby the temple. These tigers originated from a tiger farm in Ratchburi, owned by a, at that time, politician. The second couple of tigers were bought from the same man directly and all were hybrids. The story on the temple’s website that the tigers at the temple were the highly endangered Indo-Chinese Tigers (pantera tigris corbetti) and originated from the wild are straight out lies.

The uncontrolled breeding, of hybrid tigers, the playing with and the making of selfies with tigers by tourists in exchange for money has at no time served the conservation of tigers in any way.

In December 2015 three tigers were taken out of the temple and were handed over (read sold) to illegal wildlife traffickers, which came to light after the chief veterinarian at that time, Dr Somchai, talked to the Thai media and one of our informants. Once Dr Somchai went public it was found that more protected wildlife was taken in to the tiger temple, most bought from well-known wildlife traders. Some of the illegal wildlife found were a collection of highly endangered hornbills, of seven different species, Asiatic black bears and Asian golden jackals. In February 2016 most of these animals were confiscated from the temple, but the jackals were moved out overnight and hidden elsewhere. WFFT knows where these animals are, but are unable to push authorities to act on this.

The tiger temple agreed to give up half of the tigers later in March 2016 back to authorities, with actually only 10 of the 147 being moved out without much trouble. By April 2016 the abbot obtained a zoo permit from the DNP to set up a tiger farm (officially called a tiger zoo) on a small piece of land next to the temple owned by a company called “Tiger Temple Co. Ltd”. The issuing of this permit was met with fierce opposition from Thai wildlife and animal welfare NGO’s. Authorities did not revoke the permit, even though a criminal investigation was ongoing against the temple, the monks, the tiger temple foundation and it’s board of directors. Although “Tiger Temple Co. Ltd.” was a different entity than the temple, it was clear that the only shareholder at that time was also the main man in the temple and the foundation. To stay away from this conflict of interest the “Tiger Temple Co. Ltd.” lately has had its name changed into “Golden Tiger Co. Ltd.”

In early June 2016 authorities decided to remove all 137 remaining tigers from the temple after the abbot, the temple board and the tiger temple foundation refused to further cooperate with authorities on the investigation on illegal trade in wildlife, and the handover of more tigers. During the stand-off at this time government officials found more evidence of illegal practices in the temple, with tiger cubs prepared for traditional medicine, tiger skins and tiger parts turned in to souvenirs and other products. The Department of National Parks (DNP) handed over all evidence to local police who were to further investigate and prosecute the case. Till today (February 26th 2017) no one has been taken to court yet, due to “lack of evidence”. In our humble opinion we feel that the finding of so many illegally obtained wildlife in the temple and the proof of disappearance of at least 3 tigers should have been sufficient to start legal procedures immediately last year!

It is a fact that the zoo permit should have been revoked, or better never issued at all, due to proven illegal activities by the temple and its staff. Besides this Thailand is a signatory to CITES (Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species) where all range states (Thailand is one of them) have agreed to no further allow commercial breeding of tigers in 2007 (decision 14.69 of CITES). Sad fact it that Thailand reported just over 600 tigers in captivity in 2007, while currently almost 1500 tigers are registered in private homes, zoos and farms, around the country despite the CITES decision. Other reports of 2500 tigers or more are incorrect.

Tigers, dead or alive are of great value to their breeders, poachers, traders and their customers in Laos, Vietnam and China. A young tiger is usually sold by a farm at a price of about 3 to 4 thousand dollars each, while adults are sold per kilo, at about 5 to 7 thousand dollars each. At the Thai-Lao border the price is usually 3-4 thousand dollars higher once it passes the border. At the China and/or Vietnam border tigers can fetch up to 11 to 15 thousand dollars, with wild caught tigers being the most expensive. Some media reports talk about prices of over 30,000 dollars, which we feel is incorrect. The supply from farms in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam is currently quite high, keeping the trading prices more at the lower end.

The tiger temple has made it clear that they are building a new facility that should be able to hold up to 500 tigers, with their current zoo permit on a piece of 21 rai of land (3,4 hectares only). They will not be forced to stop the breeding of tigers in this new zoo, as the authorities lack the laws to implement such regulation. A zoo is a zoo, so breeding is part of their business. The torturing of tigers for the making of selfies will not stop either as the temple made it very clear this is their main income. The removal of very young tiger cubs from their mothers, so tourists can get their selfies and feed milk will surely continue as well.

While the tiger temple was crying out for help (read money) in the last few months to care for the deer, wild boars and other animals kept at the temple, saying they were starving due to the lack of funds, they now seem to be able to buy 105 tigers from a tiger farm that is owned by a timber trader in partnership with one of the biggest tiger farms in the country. We have been told that over 20 million baht will exchange hands once the 105 tigers have been moved. During a nightly visit to the new buildings current being build, we believe the temple will be able to house the first tigers within a few weeks from now.

We strongly urge the Royal Thai Police to press charges against the abbot, the temple staff and board members as well as the tiger temple foundation ASAP, as the accumulated evidence should be sufficient to find them guilty in a court of law on illegal possession of protected wild animals, the trade in protected wildlife and their body parts and animal torture.

We strongly urge the director-general of the DNP to revoke the zoo license immediately, on the bases of the above evidence in hand and the ongoing investigation.


Any other decision can only be seen as a travesty of justice.






Correction: Thailand-Tiger Zoo story
In a Feb. 24 story about a new zoo opening next to Thailand’s Tiger Temple, The Associated Press incorrectly said the Buddhist temple was closed. The temple’s tiger operation has been shut down but the temple itself remains open.

The AP also mischaracterized a quote by Steve Galster, founder of the anti-trafficking Freeland Foundation. When Galster said criminals would kill and dismember tigers before selling them, he was not referring to the Tiger Temple. He was referring to tiger farm operations in Laos, which he alleged bought tigers from the Tiger Temple.

A corrected version of the story is below:






A disturbing reality behind that Chinese tiger drone video making the Internet rounds
When the tigers struck the drone from the sky, as seen in a recent and popular YouTube video, the act of animal destruction at first seemed playful.

The sight of a few chubby cats romping around in the snow helped. Certainly, a few observers found the scene amusing for the same reasons the Greeks told the tale of Icarus: Look, kids, raw nature kneecapping technological hubris. Once the cats swatted the drone to the ground, the tigers chewed on the machine for a bit, causing the object to smoke (quadcopter, quadcopter, burning bright!), before staff members took the drone away.

Hunting the drone around the tiger park was, reportedly, a form of exercise for the animals.

“This drone chasing is becoming more popular among these well-nourished tigers in the habitat,” according to China Central Television, which published the footage on Feb. 22.

Except the reason for this meeting of drone and tiger was anything but cute. As Vice’s Motherboard reported, the video was filmed at China’s Harbin Siberian Tiger Park in Heilongjiang province. One of China’s largest ti





Staff assaulted and rhino slaughtered in brutal animal orphanage attack
In a brutal illustration of the severity of poaching‚ a heavily-armed gang hit the Findimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage – at the Thula Thula reserve in northern KZN – on Monday night‚ tying up staff and killing the two rhino in front of them.

In the process‚ one woman was sexually assaulted and other rhino caregivers beaten. They are receiving medical and psychological care.

Over the course of a few hours‚ the two rhino‚ Impi and Gugu‚ were attacked while the staff were being held hostage. One was killed outright‚ and the other had to be euthanised the following morning because of the severity of her injuries.

The pair were due to be dehorned and moved out of the orphanage in a week’s time – leading to a belief that there was an element of an inside job involved.

Karen Trender‚ who runs the orphanage‚ told TMG Digital on Wednesday that security was being beefed up and plans to move the staff members and rhino to a new‚ secret location were well underway.

“If you work in this game and work in a facility like this… it’s a





Study of transnational flows of rhino horn
Kruger National Park and other public and private game reserves have become battlefields where state security forces and game wardens fight for the rhinos' survival. Despite their efforts, conservative estimates give rhinos another seven years before they go extinct in the wild. Annette Hübschle is carrying out research into why the protection of rhinos is failing.
My local roots – I grew up in Namibia – and professional networks that I groomed over a decade while working as a researcher on organized crime issues for a South African research institute proved extremely valuable for the purposes of data collection. During twelve months of fieldwork in southern Africa and Southeast Asia, I conducted more than 420 ethnographic interviews and focus groups. Among those interviewed were poachers and their bosses – so– called kingpins, most of whom come from Mozambique – convicted rhino poachers in South African jails, rogue wildlife professionals, rhino farmers, prosecutors and game wardens, com- munity members living in Mozambican villages bordering Kruger National Park, representatives of conservation NGOs, and activists, traders, smugglers and Asian consumers. The large sample size and the use of other qualitative data such as police charge sheets and court files enabled data triangulation and verification. This is particularly im- portant when studying illegal markets.
My goal was to understand and record the market in its entirety, from the "production" of horn – poaching, hunting or theft – to the international trade and consumption of rhinoceros horn. In light of the obstacles presented by the illegal and transnational nature of the market, the question arises as to how the various market participants achieve social order and how they re-solve the coordination problems of co- operation, competition and valuation.
One principal finding is that important actors along the value chain simply don't accept the ban on the trade of rhino horn. I call this mechanism "contested illegality", and it serves as a strategy to legitimize illegal economic activities. It starts with the poachers who are individuals that have lost their ancestral lands and the associated hunting rights as a result either of colonial expropriation or of the establishment of protected areas and transfrontier conservation parks.
Unsurprisingly, they don't accept the land tenure system or the trade ban imposed by the Washington Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of 1973, which came into force under the old apartheid regime. However, some poachers are merely the foot soldiers for professional big game hunters and farmers, most of them white Afrikaners, who have their own personal networks and sell rhino horn as far away as Asia.
Many of them own game reserves or farms, while others are vets or helicopter pilots. These actors claim the moral high ground and believe that the trade ban lacks legitimacy and relevance to the African case. They share the belief that the rhinoceros can be effectively protected only if private rhino owners are provided with economic incentives to breed rhinos, such as trophy hunting and the sale of rhino horn. According to this narrative, both the private sector and the state would obtain the nec- essary funding for environmental pro- tection and conservation through legalization of the trade.
However, this approach hasn't shown the desired effects – the domestic trade in rhino horn was permitted in South Africa until 2009 – and this led to an interface between legal and illegal economic activities – a gray channel of sorts. The prominent involvement of state officials in corrupt activities shouldn't be discounted, either, with such corrupt activities ranging from CITES permit fraud to active participation of police officers and game wardens in poaching groups.
Among end consumers, the illegal nature of the trade would appear to be of little or no concern. Rhinoceros horn is one of the most expensive commodities in the world, with a kilogram costing more than EUR 50,000. The horn was frequently used in powder form as a medicine in traditional Asian pharmacopoeia, but it is also popular as a status symbol, a gift to consolidate business relationships, or an invest- ment commodity. In fact, anyone who buys horn as an investment tool is counting on the extinction of the wild animal.
Many of the political measures taken to date have, in my view, served only to make the problem worse. The securitization of the fight against rhino poaching





Red squirrels: 5,000 volunteers sought to save species – and help kill invasive greys
An army of 5,000 volunteers is being sought to save the red squirrel from extinction by monitoring populations, educating children – and bludgeoning grey squirrels to death.

The Wildlife Trusts’ biggest-ever recruitment drive is focused on areas of northern England, north Wales and Northern Ireland where invasive grey squirrels first introduced by the Victorians are driving the retreating red squirrel population to extinction.

More than 2.5 million grey squirrels are continuing to spread north through England and into Scotland, out-competing the 140,000 remaining red squirrels and spreading the squirrelpox virus, which does not affect greys but rapidly kills reds.

“In most of the UK there are only a handful of refuges left for red squirrels,” said Dr Cathleen Thomas, programme manager of Red Squirrel United, a conservation partnership started in 2015. “Without help, experts predict this beautiful and treasured creature could be extinct withi





Biologists propose to sequence the DNA of all life on Earth
When it comes to genome sequencing, visionaries like to throw around big numbers: There’s the UK Biobank, for example, which promises to decipher the genomes of 500,000 individuals, or Iceland’s effort to study the genomes of its entire human population. Yesterday, at a meeting here organized by the Smithsonian Initiative on Biodiversity Genomics and the Shenzhen, China–based sequencing powerhouse BGI, a small group of researchers upped the ante even more, announcing their intent to, eventually, sequence “all life on Earth.”

Their plan, which does not yet have funding dedicated to it specifically but could cost at least several billions of dollars, has been dubbed the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP). Harris Lewin, an evolutionary genomicist at the University of California, Davis, who is part of the group that came up with this vision 2 years ago, says the EBP would take a first step toward its audacious goal by focusing on eukaryotes—the group of organisms that includes all plants, animals, and single-celled organisms such as amoebas.

That strategy, and the EBP’s overall concept, found a receptive audience at BioGenomics2017, a gathering this week of conservationists, evolutionary biologists, systematists, and other biologists interested in applying genomics to their work. “This is a grand idea,” says Oliver Ryder, a conserva





Backgrounder: Why giant pandas around world have to return to China?
Born and raised in the United States, Bao Bao, a 3-year-old giant panda, fails to become a U.S. citizen and has arrived in China on Wednesday.

Unlike the U.S. citizenship policy for people, which stipulates that one becomes a U.S. citizen if he/she is born on the U.S. territory, the citizenship of giant pandas observes another policy.

In fact, most giant pandas around the world are on loan from China, and cubs born abroad have to be sent to the Chinese breeding program to expand the gene pool before they turn four.

As a result of artificial insemination, Bao Bao was born on Aug. 23, 2013, at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.. It is time that Bao Bao come back to China.

Unique to China and adored around the world, giant pandas have played an important role in China's diplomacy, or "Panda Diplomacy" as some experts call it.

Before 1982, giant pandas were given away to other countries by





Asia’s Last Cheetahs
The cheetah’s speed is legendary. As possibly the swiftest mammal that has ever lived (extinct relatives of the cheetah were likely not as speedy), there is nothing on earth it cannot out-run. Nothing in nature, that is. Unfortunately, for all its extraordinary high-speed adaptations, the cheetah has no evolutionary solution for modern traffic. Among the many dangers faced by cheetahs, collisions with vehicles rank among the top threats to an especially endangered population: the unique Asiatic cheetahs of Iran. The sobering finding is part of a newly published, comprehensive overview by Panthera and a team of Iranian colleagues on the status of this unique and critically endangered sub-species.

Genetically distinct and isolated from its African counterparts for at least 32,000 years, the Asiatic cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus ssp. venaticus) once roamed from the Red Sea coast to eastern India. Today, the entire global population of the Asiatic cheetah—a vanishingly few 50 animals—lives in central Iran. The sub-species’ current range is a fraction of its original extent yet it still inhabits a vast area the size of the United Kingdom, around 242,500 square kilometers [93,000 square miles]. That is a lot of space for cheetahs, but most of it is unlike anything the species usually inhabits; deserts, arid mountain massifs and barren salt plains dominate the habitat of cheetahs in Iran. And despite the inhospitality, so do people–with their livestock, dogs and cars.

Between 2001 and 2012, the period over which we compiled all known records of cheetahs in Iran, at least 33 cats were killed by people and their vehicles. Poachers and livestock herders (and their large, aggressive herd dogs) killed the most cheetahs, followed by collisions on roads. 33 cheetahs may not sound like a great





New Report Shows The Endangered Species Act Works For Birds
The Endangered Species Act is often criticized. Some conservationists say it’s been weakened and watered down, while other critics say it’s a needless economic drag that benefits lawyers more than animals. In an issues primer for last November’s election, the American Farm Bureau Federation claimed: “the ESA has failed at recovering and delist­ing species since its inception.”

That’s just not true for birds, says a report by the American Bird Conservancy. ABC analyzed population trends since listing for all 96 bird species protected by the Endangered Species Act and found that more than 70 percent were increasing, stable, or have been delisted due to recovery.

“The Endangered Species Act is needed more than ever. In the past five years, sev­en U.S. bird populations were listed as threatened and endangered species,” said Steve Holme





Moscow zoo in early 20th century: Red Army in the Zoo, Zoo During Flood and more





Legends of the Moscow Zoo: Reptilian rumors and killer crocs
Herpetologist Dmitry Vasilyev, a doctor in veterinary medicine, has been working at the Moscow Zoo for 30 years. Each day of his working life is a heroic feat or at least looks like something out of a Hollywood thriller. But Vasilyev is far too modest to admit this. "I was born to a family of zoologists, so I did not have much of a choice really," he says. "At first, I set about studying different bugs, but they require patience, whereas I am more of a slacker. So I had to switch to larger animals."

Entering the terrarium clad in armor
The notion that Vasilyev is a slacker is, of course, a joke. When it comes to working with crocodiles, being lazy can get you killed.

While showing us a rare species of Chinese alligator on the brink of extinction, he warns us that the alligators watching us from behind thick glass eat everything that moves. Back in Soviet times, the female alligator came to the Moscow Zoo as part of a swap with China. Once here, she ate a male alligator and nearly swallowed one of th




New regulations on the breeding of South African Wildlife
A major step forward for the South African Wildlife Industry has come to light as the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) recently added twelve wildlife species to the list of tame and domesticated animals, currently regulated under its Animal Improvement Act (No. 62 of 1998).

This alteration will allow game ranchers to breed and manage their wildlife similar to livestock farmers, which obtain animals with specific characteristics for agricultural purposes.

The description in the Animal Improvement Act states that listed animals may be used “for the breeding, identification and utilisation of genetically superior animals in order to improve the production and performance of animals in the interest of the Republic; and to provide for matters connected therewith”.

The listing of these species together with domestic stock comes as a leap forward for the game industry, as numerous game ranchers today comes from a background of cattle farming and breeding with domestic animals, and has in recent years applied several management methods to the breeding and enhancing the number and quality of their wildlife animals.

The species added to the list are Black Wildebeest, Blue Wildebeest, Blue Duiker, Bontebok, Gemsbok, Impala, Oribi, Red Hartebeest, Roan, Sable, Springbok, and Tsessebe whereas the only wild animal that was previously listed under the Animal Improvement Act, was the Ostrich.

Not everyone welcomes the notion though. The South Afri





NY Zoo's Pregnant Giraffe Livestream Pulled From YouTube After Activists Complain of 'Nudity and Sexual Content'
An upstate New York zoo's livestream of a giraffe preparing to give birth was abruptly suspended Thursday after animal activists complained about "nudity and sexual content" in violation of YouTube's policy, the zoo said.
More than 20 million had been viewing the cam, placed in the stall of “April” the giraffe at the Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, in anticipation of the birth of her fourth calf. People from all over the world watched the long-necked animal slink gracefully around her hay-laden home, giddy





Rare Kalimantan wild cattle species?
Sabah Wildlife Department Assistant Director Dr Sen Nathan said the photo of a head of a "strange" cattle that was slaughtered for a feast in a North Kalimantan village for a visiting Sabah delegation indicates a new species of wild cattle in Kalimantan.
"Who knows, it might be an unknown yet to be discovered cattle species roaming in the jungle of Borneo," said Dr Sen, citing the discovery of the "Saola" in 1992 from a carcass in Vietnam and filmed in the wild in 1999.

"It is so far the rarest forest dwelling bovid in the world," said Dr Sen. "On the other hand though it could be a severely inbred Banteng or Tembadau-domestic cattle hybrid.

It is worth further investigation to get to the bottom of the matter," he said.

The picture carried in the series of Daily Express reports entitled "South of the Border" in late December 2016 showed the head and horns of the slaughtered creature that ap



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About me
After more than 49 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 many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/

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, an introvert, 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"




photo
Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant
      

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