Monday, March 6, 2017

Zoo News Digest 6th March 2017 (ZooNews 947)

Zoo News Digest 6th March 2017 
(ZooNews 947)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

It would appear that no matter how many times I repeat myself but ZooNews Digest is Pro GOOD zoo and Anti BAD DYSFUNCTIONAL zoo….Get it? I post links here and to the FaceBook Page on stories about both. This in both mine and your interest. Why? Quite simply because there are far more BAD zoos out there in the big bad world than there are good ones. No reflection on the staff working in these places who may be caring professionals. BAD zoos need to be policed by us. We need to criticise and condemn those places who cannot or will not make the grade. We should not expect blinkered amateurs of the likes of PETA or the Born Free Foundation to do our job for us. The 'old boys club' is alive and well in Asia and in one or two other places too. This, along with outright corruption and worship of Mammon is pushing caring conservation out of the picture.

Anyhow I have said all this before. If you have fifteen minutes to spare you might like to read:


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 52,500 '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, 



Dalton zoo hearing today
A meeting will be held today to see if the new owners of South Lakes Safari Zoo will be granted a licence to keep the park open.
The business has courted controversy in the last week after documents filed to Barrow Borough Council showed that almost 500 animals had died at the zoo in less than three years.

The situation was branded the worst seen in 60 years by national campaigning charity the Captive Animal Protection Society.

Maddie Taylor, Caps campaigns officer, said: "The findings at South Lakes Safari Zoo are some of the worst we have ever come across in 60 years.

"Our visit to the zoo combined with the zoo inspectors' reports shows high death rates of animals, animals in ill health and a lack of understanding about how to meet even the most basic needs of the animals under their care.

"We urge the local authority to take action by closing this appalling zoo down."
The team behind a new company that took over Dalton zoo last month has spoken of the "massive" improvements they have already secured as they work towards their goal of transforming the attraction into a conservation showpiece.

Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd was set up in January in a bid to secure the future of the failing site, near Dalton.

The firm, led by chief executive Karen Brewer, took the reins to South Lakes Safari Zoo just days before government inspectors carried out a two-day visit to assess its licence to keep animals held by its founder David Gill.

The cost of applying for a zoo licence from Barrow Borough Council for the 2017/18 financial year is proposed to be set at £7,900.

But anyone who is successful in obtaining a

Former FNQ zoo owner in trouble again
AN Englishman who opened the ill-fated Mareeba Wild Animal Park has again found himself in strife, this time over the treatment of animals at a zoo in his home country.

British media have reported David Gill, who started the debt-ridden Far North wildlife attraction in 2003, could face prosecution over his South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Cumbria following a damning report.

The report found nearly 500 animals at the zoo had d

Eight zoos identified as causes for concern over animal welfare after tip-offs
Eight British zoos are on the radar of a watchdog over animal welfare fears after tip-offs, it has emerged.

It comes as councillors are due to decide on Monday whether or not to issue a new licence for a zoo where almost 500 animals have died within four years.

The deaths at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, were revealed in a report to members of Barrow Borough Council's licensing regulatory committee.

THE FULL STORY: Harrowing animal death list revealed ahead of crunch meeting over zoo licence application
A HARROWING death list reveals for the first time how almost 500 animals - including tigers, lion cubs and giraffes - have died at a popular zoo in less than four years, the Evening Mail can exclusively reveal in a special investigation.

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 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.

It forms part of a huge bundle of documents disclosed to Barrow Borough Council which will be assessed by council bosses ahead of their decision on whether to approve either of two separate applications for a zoo licence at a crunch meeting for the business on March 6.

Maddie Taylor, Caps campaigns officer

Calls for Cumbrian zoo to be shut after 486 animals die in four years
Inspectors have called for the owner of a zoo to face prosecution after the revelation that nearly 500 animals in its care had died in less than four years.

A damning report into conditions at South Lakes Safari zoo in Cumbria, which is home to more than 1,500 animals, found that 486 inhabitants had died of causes including emaciation and hypothermia between December 2013 and September 2016.

One African spurred tortoise named Goliath died after being electrocuted by electric fencing, while the decomposing body of a squirrel monkey was discovered behind a radiator. The zoo had a death rate of about 12% of its animals a year.

Zoo inspectors said they had found “significant problems caused by overcrowding, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, lack of suitable animal husbandry and a lack of any sort of developed veterinary care”.

They said the local authority should consider prosecuting the zoo’s founder, David Gill, under the Animal Welfare Act for allowing animals to suffer, adding that the entire blame for the attraction’s problems could be laid at his door.

Last June, the zoo was fined £255,000 for

Millionaire zoo boss slammed over animal deaths had fling with 16-year-old zookeeper and was stabbed by jealous husband when caught in bed with his wife
The owner of a zoo where 500 animals have died in just five years boasted on Facebook claiming to be a 'huge success' even though a keeper was mauled to death by a tiger in 2013.
David Gill, 55, owner of the South Lakes Zoo in Dalton-on-Furness, Cumbria, declared he had good fortune because he 'always pursued a different style of management to the norm'. 

Zoo inspectors to face questions from MPs over 500 animal deaths
Zoo inspectors have been called to give evidence to MPs after it was revealed that nearly 500 animals died at a zoo in Cumbria in less than four years.

This week a damning report on conditions at South Lakes Safari zoo in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, which is home to more than 1,500 animals, found that 486 inhabitants had died of causes including emaciation and hypothermia between December 2013 and September 2016.

Zoo inspectors recommended that the local authority refuse to renew the zoo’s licence and that the zoo’s founder, David Gill, be prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act for allowing animals to suffer. The council will decide whether or not to renew the zoo’s licence on Monday.

The inspectors, who are appointed by the government, found “overcrowding, poor hygiene, poor nutrition, lack of suitable animal husbandry and a lack of any sort of developed veterinary care” when they visited in January.

Andrew Rosindell, chair of the all-party parliamentary group on zoos and aquariums, called on the government to launch an inquiry into how conditions at the zoo had been allowed to get so bad.

“I’d like to know what’s gone wrong here,” he said. “We in this country have a very proud record of conservation and animal welfare in zoos and what we are seeing in this zoo goes against what happens generally across the country.”

He said licensing bodies should attend his parliamentary group to “explain why this has been allowed to happen and explain

If we really love animals, we should close all zoos now
For a lifelong animal lover, zoo owner David Gill appears to have developed an unfortunate habit of loving creatures to extinction. Even before he came to national notice, after fresh reports of negligence, and 12% mortality, at his private zoo, South Lakes, his autobiography suggests his charges have long been unusually prone to escaping and/or dying. It is more than 10 years, for instance, since Australian authorities fined him $10,000 in absentia – he having “fled” the country – for breaches of permit conditions at his Queensland zoo, including the unreported death of a lemur and a cheetah on the loose. “Five witnesses,” said one newspaper report, “described the situation as one of panic and stated Gill was chasing the animal on a motorbike.”
The blurb for his self-published, Nine Lives: One Man’s Insatiable Journey Through Love, Life and Near Death, only hints at the suffering this has caused Gill. “He risked his own life attempting to save a drowning kangaroo and again when he walked into a raging inferno to save his own lemurs. Tragedy struck when he had to shoot his own rhino in a mercy killing.” In fact, it was the misfortune of the escaped white rhino, Zimba, to have been inadequately enclosed, for which Gill was fined £10,000.

Gill’s book was written before a 24-year-old employee, Sarah McClay, was killed, in 2013, by a tiger, after which the zoo was fined £297,500, plus £150,000 costs, the judge saying the accident was “as tragic a

If we really love animals, we should SUPPORT zoos now.
Recently, and really for a long time, there has been a group of very vocal anti-zoo people.

They aren’t just anti-bad zoos, but rather are anti-ALL zoos.

We believe they mean well but are just going about it the wrong way.

To give a bit of background, these people are what we typically call “Animal Rights Activists”.

When most people hear that term, they think it refers to anyone who loves animals and want animals to live happy, healthy lives… but it does not.

There is a big difference between Animal Rights and Animal Welfare.

Disgruntled employee tried to blackmail Twycross Zoo boss out of £25,000
A disgruntled employee tried to blackmail Twycross Zoo's Chief Executive out of £25,000 with threats to "ruin" her reputation, a court heard.

Dillon Archibald (21), who was jailed for eight months, sent a menacing letter threatening to expose information about the death of three primates at the zoo.

Leicester Crown Court was told that two incidents resulting in the demise of two chimpanzees and a bonobo were already public knowledge and the zoo was exonerated from blame following official inquiries.

Twycross Zoo CEO, Sharon Redrobe, alerted the police and the defendant, an assistant ranger, was later arrested.

In Zoos We Trust (In A Post-Truth World)
Conspiracy theories and beliefs based on outsider information and emotion over evidence-based research has become the norm – so much so that Oxford Dictionaries chose “post-truth” as its International Word of the Year in 2016.

What Steps can we take to Rebuild this Trust?

What does this mean for large, science-based organizations such as zoos and aquariums? We’ve seen growing concern about animal welfare in a society that also devalues the messages of these traditionally-trusted organizations. America’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums‘ own research, as presented at the 2016 Annual Conference, has indicated a slight downturn in the American confidence of its member institutions.

To sustain our missions and continue to provide q

THE GREAT ESC-APE Apes, penguins and monkeys among the animals that escaped from Cork’s Fota Wildlife Park
Some of the escapes were witnessed by large crowds of visitors, who came into close contact with the animals, according to documented reports from staff.

On January 11, 2015, Stevie Wonder escaped from an island enclosure at least three times.

A member of staff reported in a written record of the escape: “Crowds of visitors were watching. He’s getting very bold and obviously not frightened of people and is getting very close to them.”

The report also stated that the animal had run ov

Komodo National Park: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
Komodo National Park is being celebrated on its 37th anniversary with a Google Doodle.

“Komodo National Park in Indonesia sits at the center of an archipelago and consists mainly of 3 volcanic islands. The landscape is unlike any other, ranging from dry savanna conditions to lush forests, all surrounded by white-sand beaches and bright blue water,” Google says. “Despite the plethora of native wildlife, Komodo dragons are still what the park is best known for. Thanks to National Parks like Komodo, wildlife can continue to thrive largely uninterrupted by human interference.”

Here’s what you need to know about Komodo National Park and Komodo dragons:

When Robert Webster, a physician in Jasper, Georgia, died, in 2004, he was survived by his wife of more than half a century, two daughters, four grandchildren, and a single word, which he had coined himself: “endling,” defined as the last person, animal, or other individual in a lineage. According to Bruce Erickson, a former colleague of Webster’s, the story of “endling” began at a convalescent center in suburban Atlanta in the mid-nineteen-nineties, when a patient told Webster that she was the only surviving member of her family. Unaware of any word that could describe her situation, Webster saw an opportunity for neologism. In conversation with Erickson and others, he considered candidates including “ender,” “lastoline” (a contraction of “last of the line”), and “yatim” (Arabic for “orphan”), but eventually settled on “endling,” which he liked because its suffix recalled both “line” and “lineage.” But when the doctor submitted his invention to Merriam-Webster—“It cracked me up that someone would just call up the dictionary and propose a new word,” Erickson told me—he was informed that to meri

10 Behind-the-Scenes Secrets of Zoos
Zoos are a constantly evolving workplace. Over the past 50 years, exhibits have gotten increasingly naturalistic, diets for certain species have become more standardized, and captive breeding programs have turned into nationwide campaigns. Yet if one thing’s remained constant, it’s the fact that keeping the animals in our zoos both happy and healthy requires a great deal of time, coordination, expense, and old-fashioned willpower. It’s not an easy job, but most zookeepers say they wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Crocodile stoned to death at Tunisia zoo
A group of visitors at a Tunisia zoo has stoned a crocodile to death, authorities in the capital said on Wednesday, denouncing the “savage” act.

The municipality of Tunis posted gory pictures on Facebook of the dead animal’s head next to what appeared to be a bloodied paving slab and another large rock.

“A group of visitors to the zoo threw stones at the head of a crocodile, causing internal haemorrhage that killed it,” it said.

The municipality said the act at the Belvedere Zoo in central Tunis was “savage behaviour”.

Beloved hippopotamus 'Gustavito' beaten to death at El Salvador zoo
 Read more
The animal died after being hit on the head by two large rocks late on Tuesday afternoon, Amor Ennaifer, a vet at the zoo, told AFP.

“It’s terrible. You cannot imagine what animals endure from some visitors,” he said.

“Citizens leave waste and plastic bags … They throw stones at lions and hippos.”

Ennaifer said the zoo had signs and guards but this was not enough, especially during school holidays.

“There are more than 150 species in the zoo. We

Thanks to TCM, large numbers of pangolins are smuggled to China from Southeast Asia
 In the past couple of weeks, two people became infamous online for posting photos of themselves eating pangolin meat. The public flooded their accounts with insults and the pair were soon detained by the police

In China, pangolins are extremely endangered. They are a second-class protected animal in the country, but are still being killed on a huge scale for food and medicine, because of traditional beliefs

A vast black market for pangolins exists between China and neighboring countries, and fighting the trade requires more cooperative efforts from multiple departments

Claws out over South Africa's export of lion bones
In a statement issued on Wednesday‚ Panthera‚ the global wild cat conservation organisation‚ called the quota “arbitrary and potentially devastating for wild lion and critically endangered tiger populations” and have called on the department to institute an immediate moratorium on lion bone exports.

The bones are a response to the growing demand from an Asian market that has grown exponentially since 2007‚ when lion bones took the place of increasingly rare tiger bones.

Panthera claimed that the department has agreed to institute a quota of 800 skeleton export permits per year - but‚ early in February‚ the department said that the export quota "was not yet finalised". A text message sent to spokesman Albi Modise to check if the situation had changed in the last month

Edited by Dr Kees Rookmaaker

Dolphin activists stand against new aquarium in Busan Posted
In the wake of the death of a bottlenose dolphin in Ulsan, Busan's brand-new aquarium project is drawing criticism from animal rights activists.

A mega-sized ocean park, called Osiria, scheduled to open in 2019, will house an ocean hotel and an aquarium for dolphins, according to the city's website.

According to News1, an online news outlet, Goldsea Korea Investment which owns Geoje Sea World on Geoje Island, is one of the project partners, worrying activists further. Since it opened, six dolphins have died at Geoje Sea World, according to News1.

"Approving a new aquarium without measures ensuring quality of life for dolphins is inhumane," said Cho Yak-gol, a member of animal rights activist group Hot Pink Dolphins. "The government should act soon."

Bottlenose dolphins are on the list of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which allows countries to trade dolphins but under strict regulations. In Korea, bottlenose dolphins mostly come from Japan, and the importer only needs permission from the Ministry of Env

Providence Zoo’s Conservation Director is a Rare Breed
Lou Perrotti spends much of his time working to protect threatened and endangered species. It’s surprising then when one discovers the lifelong Rhode Islander could be the last of his kind.

The 52-year-old West Greenwich resident is Roger Williams Park Zoo’s director of conservation programs. Every zoo in the country has a similar position, but most, if not all, are filled by people with at least a master’s degree. On Perrotti’s office wall, if he chose to display it, would hang a diploma from North Kingstown High School.

“I’m just a high-school graduate with no formal education,” Perrotti said during a recent interview with ecoRI News. “Most people in my position have a Ph.D. I’m lucky. I went from washing dishes to saving species.”

His journey didn’t follow such a direct path, but the trip has been interesting, and it’s far from over.

Perrotti began his employment at the Providence zoo two decades ago, working as a zookeeper for the first nine years. But his interest in animals, especially snakes, began has a young child. He grew up watching Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and reading National Geographic. His parents allowed him to keep and study “crazy things,” like snakes.

Today he describes his responsibilities at the Roger Williams Park Zoo as such: “My job is to utilize the zoo’s resources, staffing, space and means to protect wildlife habitat.”

Perrotti is good at his job. For instance, he is a leading expert on the plight of the American burying beetle. The insect once populated 35 states, the District of Columbia and large parts of Canada. Today, the burying beetle can only be found in five states, including Rhode Island, and in one Canadian province. In fact, Block Island is the species’s only natural home on the East Coast.

American burying b

Perth Zoo denies 'elephant yoga class' abuse claims
A zoo in Australia has denied claims that it mistreats its elephants by involving them in a yoga class with paying visitors.

For $125 (£78) people can do Perth Zoo's Exercise for Elephants programme - a 45-minute workout with a personal trainer that includes 15 minutes of interacting with the elephants.

The zoo has released footage of the daily activities of the elephants to try to refute allegations that the exercise programme is abusive.

Zookeepers said the elephants were not asked to do "tricks" for visitors or "to do anything that they weren't capable of doing and that they don't enjoy".

One zookeeper, Jody, said the claims were "extremely upsetting to those of us who dedicate our lives to love and care for these animals" and "completely untrue".

"We are a conservation organisation and

Zoo Science for Keepers and Aquarists

Smartwatch implants help track elephant sleep patterns
Humans are obsessed with sleep. We've not getting enough of it, and the tech world is flooded with wearables that confirm this fact. Now, scientists hope using activity monitors to study how and why animals sleep will help us get a better night's rest.

Professor Paul Manger from Wits University and his colleagues are using a tracker called an Actiwatch to study elephant sleep patterns in Botswana. They removed the watches' bands, insulated them with electrical tape and biologically inert wax, then attached them to the elephants' trunks. The trunk is the most mobile appendage, Manger said, and if it's still for more than five minutes it's reasonable to assume the animal is asleep.

Using the loggers and GPS collars, researchers found the elephants slept for two hours per day on average. They slept standing up most of the time, only lying down for about an hour every three or four days. This is likely the only time they were able to go into REM sleep, which means elephants possibly don't dream on a daily basis.

In the latest installment of our new (semi)regular segment, Wow! Really?, we examine little-known or unexpected facts about Hungary and Hungarian culture. Today, we will look for wombats in the 150 year-old Zoo and Botanical Garden of Hungary.

First of all, let’s have a look at the iconic and historical Zoo of Hungary. The Budapest Zoo and Botanical Garden is one of the oldest zoological gardens not only in Hungary but in the world: it was opened to the general public on 9 August 1866. Plans for the zoo’s foundation date back to 1820-30s, but the 1848-49 Revolution and War of Independence and the era of absolutism that followed did not favour the idea of founding a zoo in Hungary. Finally, a group took the initiative, and  in 1866 the first Hungarian Zoo opened its gates to the sound of the midday bell on August 9th. In the last 150 years it has had to close periodically for reconstruction, but the Zoo of Budapest has n

In pics: elephant-related entertainments in Thailand

Elephant Wars: A Story of 'Animal Arms Race' Between Berlin's Zoos
When the city of Berlin was divided during the Cold War, the two city zoos, located in the western and eastern parts of the metropolis, faced off in an "animal arms race."

Three-Month Old Polar Bear Cub Living in Berlin Zoo Finally Gets a Name (VIDEO)
As a result of its division during the Cold War, the German capital now has two zoos — Tierpark Berlin and the Berlin Zoological Garden. According to a book titled The Zoo of the Others, penned by German journalist Jan Mohnhaupt, just as the Western and Eastern blocs were locked in a global standoff during the second half of the 20th century, these two establishments were engaged in an 'arms race' of their ow

Dolphin show changes are coming to SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld Orlando announced today that it will close its long-running Blue Horizons dolphin show at the end of the month, replacing it with a new production that will debut the next day.
In Dolphin Days, "the audience will learn more about the individual personalities of each Atlantic bottlenose dolphin while witnessing the special bond they share with their trainers," according to SeaWorld's press release. That sounds a lot more like a straight-forward educational experience than the current Blue Horizons show, which used a mythical theme, Cirque du Soleil-style acrobatics, and a musical narrative to complement the dolphins' behaviors.

Blue Horizons opened in 2005 at SeaWorld Orlando. The show ran for five years in San Diego, before b

'First Ranieri and now this' - Mercury readers blast decision to move elephants from Twycross
Mercury readers have criticised Twycross Zoo's decision to move their all-female herd of elephants to another zoo.
Zoo bosses announced the controversial decision yesterday, and said that currently there were no plans to replace them.

The move is intended to allow the animals to breed and help ensure the long-term survival of this

Snakes. Spiders. Centipedes; the list of venomous animals is long and diverse. Indeed, thousands of deaths and hospitalizations can be attributed to venomous wildlife. But the tides may be turning—research is showing that venom can heal as well. Venom works in highly desirable ways. Venoms affect the body in extremely precise ways, work almost instantly, and tend to be stable. But before you stick your hand in a box of funnel-web spiders, understand that the path from venom to cure is complicated.

Interest in the healing properties of venom dates to antiquity. Eating viper flesh was seen as a cure for a wide variety of ills. In the nineteenth century venom cures fell out of fashion, but in the 1920s and 1930s, venom studies re-emerged. The venom of snakes, including Russell’s Viper and Indian cobras, was analyzed for use in treating diverse conditions including hemophilia and chronic pain. An early class of hypertension medications known a

Notwithstanding all the controversies, Mumbai's Byculla Zoo is ready to throw open its gates for the new enclosure for the Humboldt Penguins. The swanky new house of the birds will be inaugurated by Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.

The exact date of the public opening is currently shrouded under the uncertainty over the mayoral polls. The original date for the opening of the exhibit was scheduled for March 6. The outgoing mayor Snehal Ambekar has written to BMC chief Ajoy Mehta, asking him to make necessary arrangements for inauguration. Mirror brings you a sneak peek into the new world of penguins.

Tunis zoo to close temporarily after visitors stone crocodile
A zoo in the Tunisian capital is to close temporarily after visitors stoned a crocodile to death.
The Belvedere Zoo posted pictures of the bloodied reptile, with a paving stone and rock next to its head, on its Facebook page on Wednesday.
It died from an internal haemorrhage, the Tunis municipality said.
More guards and environmental police will be employed at the site after "emergency cleaning and maintenance works", the environment ministry said.
Measures would be introduced to manage visitors entering and exiting, it said.
The zoo has long faced problems

Zoo slammed for 'lying' about hippo stabbing death
El Salvador's main zoo is in trouble for claiming a hippo died of a brutal stabbing attack by unidentified people, when an autopsy finally revealed the animal in fact died of possible poor care.
Gustavito, a 15-year-old hippopotamus who had been in the National Zoological Park in eastern San Salvador almost all his life, died February 26 after suffering for days.

The government, giving information from the zoo, said the hippo had been stabbed and beaten by unidentified assailants four days earlier, resulting in internal bleeding.

That account triggered shock and revulsion in the Central American nation and was relayed in international media reports.

But the autopsy revealed no puncture marks in the animal's 2.5-centimeter (1-inch) thick skin, state prosecutor Mario Salazar revealed on Thursday.

Instead a detailed forensic examination showed Gustavito had apparently died from pulmonary hemorrhaging -- acute bl

Wildlife’s Unsung Heroes
While the numbers of extinct, endangered, vulnerable and threatened species of animals and birds are on a steady rise, people across the globe are only prattling about the muddle associated with wildlife. At a time when the loss of wildlife and wildlife-rich grasslands is rapidly growing, the problem often goes unnoticed. But, there are individuals who are making a difference by contributing in their own little ways to challenge the wildlife problems.
We are all aware of the famous PETA endorsers like Amy Jackson, Imran Khan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sunny Leone, John Abraham, Shilpa Shetty and Lara Dutta, among others, who have shelled out a great deal towards wildlife while keeping themselves away from the media glare and helping raise awareness about the plight of the wild as well as the street animals. However, there are other unknown faces who are no celebrities and have been working for years now to help the wil

Next Group of ‘Alalā Preparing for Release
Reintroduction efforts for the ʻalalā, the native Hawaiian crow, began in December of last year with the release of five ʻAlalā into a Hawai‘i Island State Natural Area Reserve.

Sadly, three birds did not survive, and the remaining two were brought back into captivity.

Members of The ‘Alalā Project said that the reintroduction of captive-raised birds without the benefit of experienced ‘alalā already in the wild is very challenging.

Biologists around the world said releases like this are usually marked with fits and starts, and that reintroduction success is not usually seen before multiple releases.

Nēnē, the native Hawaiian goose, once had a population of only

Proposed bill to limit aquarium fish collecting advances
Lawmakers have advanced a bill that would limit aquarium fish collecting.

"Some folks are saying it's going to shut down the industry, it's not, but what it will do is make sure that these reefs have these beautiful fish," State Representative Kaniela Ing said.

Rep. Ing introduced House Bill 1457. He says the measure was prompted by tourism officials and environmental protection agencies after they noticed less colorful fish when snorkeling.

"This bill will limit entry, so the folks that are currently doing it could still do it. They won't lose their jobs, but they just cannot have more people coming in and taking fish," Rep. Ing said.

According to Rep. Ing, the measure is based off input gathered from three-years of work on the aquarium trade issue.

He says studies show aquarium reef fish populations are sustainable at current levels, but would decline if more businesses enter the industry.

"The fish that are missing are the ones that are taken by the aquarium trade," For the Fishes, executive director Rene Umberger said. "We need to increase the most beautiful and important fish that the trade targets, that's why these bills are so specific." 

Umberger says she supports bills that aim to protect

Some of you may be aware the Vancouver Park Board is looking to ban the continued study of whales and dolphins at our marine science centre due to pressure from animal rights critics. They cite that there is no value in having whales and dolphins at a marine science facility. Below is a signed statement by preeminent research scientists from around the world who disagree.

April 8, 2016

We, the undersigned members of the scientific community, wish to acknowledge the importance of marine mammals in zoos, aquariums, and marine mammal facilities, and express our support for research conducted at these facilities. We know that critical research findings have come from studies of dolphins and related species in managed care environments, which have provided the vast majority of what is known about their perception, physiology, and cognition. This includes both basic facts about these animals (e.g., echolocation and how it works[i], diving physiology[ii], energetics[iii], gestation period[iv], hearing range[v], signature whistles[vi], and so forth) and applied information such as how they react to environmental stressors[vii] and how to diagnose and treat their diseases.[viii]

The benefits of such research extend well beyond the animals in zoological facilities. The interpretation of data from field studies is directly informed by what we have learned about the cognition and physiology of these animals in managed care settings. Moreover, because science is inherently a collaborative endeavor, research findings from these animals contribute to our collective unde

What drives the demand for rhino horns?
Reports in February that the South African government was considering lifting the 2009 domestic moratorium on trade in rhino horns brought into focus something that is not necessarily obvious to those outside of that country: there currently exist in South Africa numerous large stockpiles of rhino horns, nearly all legal, all potentially extremely valuable.

Legal rhino horn and ivory trade should benefit Africa, says Swaziland government
 Read more
Farming Rhinos
Some stockpiles come from rhinos who have died of natural causes, others are contraband seized at customs or confiscated from poachers, and many arise from dehorning programmes undertaken by both government and individuals. Rhino farmers in South Africa dehorn their rhinos to discourage poaching and therefore protect the endangered species, but breeding and dehorning rhinos also creates a potential cash crop. Conserved, inventoried, often micro-chipped and secured in strong rooms and safes, rhino horns are stockpiled largely because of their future market value. That future value rests on an assumption that the current high demand for rhino horn, predominantly for use in Vietnamese medicine, will continue indefinitely, and cannot be overcome or countered. That assumption itself rests in part on characterising the demand for rhino horns as “traditional”.

No one disputes that medicinal and recreational use of rhino horn, mostly in Vietnam, is directly responsible for high levels of poaching in southern African countries, which continues to threaten the species with extinction. But while it is true that rhino products are mentioned in a variety of traditional Vietnamese medicine texts, the scale of the Vietnamese market has risen hugely over the past 15 years: this demand is a modern phenomenon. Influenced in part by rumours of a prominent senior government official being cured, sick and dying cancer sufferers and their families are directly targeted by unscrupulous vendors. In addition over the past decade and a h

Ark of endangered species on the brink in Yemen
In the besieged city of Taiz, zookeeper and sub-manager Showky al-Haj is desperately trying to save 281 animals, which are on the brink of starvation.

Many of the zoo's species are endangered, including 28 Arabian leopards, which could number as few as 45 in the wild.

Additionally, the zoo hosts 20 Barbary lions thought to be descended from the ones gifted to Yemen by Ethiopian Emperor Emperor Haile Selassie in 1953. Today the species is considered extinct in the wild.

For nearly two years the Taiz Zoo has deteriorated under the pressure of Yemen's civil war. An international coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, has imposed a sea blockade on the country targeting Houthi forces. It has resulted in a widespread humanitarian and environmental catastrophe.

"Before the war the animals used to eat and we used to receive the money and the salaries and we got to breed many animals like the Arabian leopard that is endangered… everything was great until the war came in the beginning of 2015," says al-Hajj.

"It couldn't get any worse, [the government] they couldn't provide anything so they stopped supplying, which led to the death of many of the animals. 11 lions, six leopards, most of the Arabian Oryx that are endangered, and most of the birds and other animals too."

To the rescue

The Taiz Zoo is being sustained thanks to the initiative of Kim-Michelle Broderick, a British theatre director, and actress, who has volunteered tirelessly to save the zoo's population.

She has lead the rescue effort since becoming aware of

Risky roundup: Navy dolphins to help capture Mexican porpoises
U.S. Navy dolphins trained in San Diego may soon be flown to Mexico to round up and capture endangered vaquita porpoises.

The plan is described as a rescue operation in the Sea of Cortez but animal advocates are calling it a risky roundup.

Vaquita porpoises are the most endangered marine mammal on the plant, according to a recent survey in the northern Sea of Cortez, the only place where vaquita can be found.

“Based on the data we think there are only about 30 vaquita remaining,” said Barbara Taylor, a NOAA marine biologist based in La Jolla.

Illegal gillnet fishing in the Sea of Cortez is killing off vaquitas at an alarming rate.

“We have had a two year ban on all gillnets in the area with the fisherman being paid not to fish and we are still seeing this decline going on,” said Taylor, who participated in the most recent vaquita survey in the summer of 2016.

Poachers use gillnets to catch totoaba, an endangered fish sold for its swim bladder on the Chinese black market.

“The draw of the swim bladder is that it is used to make your skin look more youthful in soups. So, it's actually cut up and used in soups,” Taylor said.

Marine biologists at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla and an international team of scientists are working on a plan to save the vaquita from extinction.

“We have to find them. We have to get a net around an animal that avoids boats. So, it’s going to be a very tall order to be able to capture them,” according to Taylor.

The plan involves using lightweight nets to capture up to 10 of the 30 remaining vaquita and hopefully establish a captive-breeding program near San Felipe.

“They are using some very specialized nets brought from the Netherlands. When the animals hit the nets they can actually come up to the surface and breathe,” Taylor said.

There are only six existing species of porpoise. Some have been held in captivity but others can stress out and die during a capture attempt.

“We don’t know what vaquita are going to be like and we won’t know until we try. If one stressed out and died during the capture process – whic

Thai Officials Deny the Re-opening of Tiger Temple
Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation has dismissed a claim by the World Animal Protection Thailand (WAPT) that it has granted permission for the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi to reopen it’s zoo.
In its official complaint to the department, WAPT alleged that Tiger Temple or Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno was permitted to open a public zoo in April last year and to operate under the name of Tiger Temple Co Ltd.
It then asked the department to revise the zoo permit, voicing concern over the attempt to reopen Tiger Temple for tourism.
However the department director-general Mr Thanya Netithammakul denied the claim saying that Tiger Temple was permitted to build structures that will be used in zoo.
He said under the existing laws any juristic person which is qualified can apply for permit to build a public zoo if it has exact location.
The department will then appoint a committee to look through the application if it has required qualifications.
The zoo permit is valid for five years, he said.
In the case of Tiger Temple Co Ltd, he said the company has nothing in connection with the Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua Yanasampanno or Tiger Temple and the land which it planned as zoo is not in the temple area.
Instead it is a land which the company legally acquired.
But he said if the company wanted to bring in wild animals to the public zoo, it still needs to apply fo

Caught between custom and conservation
Tirumala temple wants to breed Small Indian Civet for perfume, but A.P. Forest Department seeks control

The custom at Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala, of using a fragrance derived from the Small Indian Civet in the deity’s worship, faces a challenge as the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) and the A.P. Forest Department remain at loggerheads on captive breeding of the animal.

The civet is caught in a decade-long row over supply of its glandular ‘punugu’ secretion that weighs less than a gram.

The yellow substance from its perineal gland gets encrusted when dry and is ejected when the animal rubs against a hard surface.

The fragrance is used for ‘abhishekam’ of Lord Venkateswara. The temple has a ‘Punugu Ginne Seva’ (offering in a vessel), where select devotees can touch the civet pooja vessel. The secretion is mixed with gi

Gazipur safari park staffer hospitalised after attack by deer
Officials said Keeper Rokon Uz Zaman was attacked by a male Sambar as soon as he opened the cage.

"The deer attacked Rokon soon after he opened the cage to feed him. Both his hands have sustained fractures," the park's Acting Coordinator Md Shahabuddin told

Rokon is now being treated at Dhaka's National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedic Rehabilitation, commonly known as the 'Pongu Hospital'.

Quoting doctors, Shahabuddin said he has gone through multiple surgeries and needs more time to recover.

The senior park official said that Sam

China builds first 'bird airport' to attract feathered friends
At first glance, birds and airports do not seem like a particularly harmonious combination. Our feathered friends generally don't feel too comfortable living between runways and the wings of their (very) distant giant relatives. But in China, this is about to change with the creation of the "Lingang Bird Sanctuary."
This "airport" will not have any of the usual aircraft noise, and it will not have barren tarmac runways. It will be solely for the use of migrating birds in the peace and quiet of nature.
McGregor Coxall, designers and landscape architects based in Australia, China, and England, came up with the plans. They won an international design competition that was initiated and co-financed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Tianjin Economic and Technological Development Area (TEDA), which is located close to Tianjin, China. This port city is home to the project.
The idea behind the catchy "airport" project is actually to create a giant nature reserve. But since this pilot project is happening  right on the East Asian-Australasian Flyway (EAAF), a key migration route for birds, the term "Bird Airport" seems appropriate. Fifty million migratory birds make use of this flyway every year - and they are very likely to use the planned oasis in Tianjin for a stopover, before they continue their journey. These birds cover huge distances. The EAAF crosses 22 countries, among them China, Japan, New Zealand, Indonesia, Thailand, Russia, and the USA (Alaska). Some birds fly more than 11,000 kilometers, and go ten days without nourishment just to make it to Tianjin.
"Birds' migration routes are a wonder of the natural world," says Adrian McGregor, director and founder of McGregor

China's first killer whale breeding base put into operation in Guandong

Following a comprehensive review, Twycross Zoo has announced today (1st March 2017) that it will find a new home for its all-female herd of Asian elephants, which will allow the animals to breed and help ensure the long-term survival of this endangered species.
Twycross Zoo is working in conjunction with European Endangered Species Breeding Programmes (EEP) to arrange the transfer and the receiving zoo and timescales will be announced as plans progress.
Through the zoo’s Strategic Animal Collection Planning and its work alongside the EEP, Twycross Zoo regularly assesses the species in its care and their potential for breeding.
Asian elephants are endangered in the wild, where they are threatened by illegal hunting and habitat destruction. Captive breeding of this endangered species by zoos helps to ensure that there are genetically healthy, self-sustaining populations which can act as insurance against the possible future loss of wild populations

Frogs have unique ability to see colour in the dark
The night vision of frogs and toads appears to be superior to that of all other animals. They have the ability to see colour even when it is so dark that humans are not able to see anything at all. This has been shown in a new study by researchers from Lund University in Sweden.
Most vertebrates, including humans, have two types of visual cells located in the retina, namely cones and rods. The cones enable us to see colour, but they usually require a lot of light and therefore stop working when it gets dark, in which case the rods take over so that we can at least find our way home, albeit in black and white.

In toads and frogs the rods are a bit special, however. It was previously known that toads and frogs are unique in having rods with two different sensitivities. This has not been found in other vertebrates, and it is also the reason why researchers have long suspected that frogs and toads might be able to see colour also in low-light conditions. The new study was first in proving this to be true, and the results exceeded all expectations.

“It’s amazing that these animals can actually see colour in extreme darkness, down to the absolute threshold of the visual system. These results were unexpected”, says Professor of Sensory Biology Almut Kelber at the Faculty of Science, Lund University.

It was during the third of three experiments that the researchers discovered that frogs are able to use their rods to distinguish colour in extreme darkness. The researchers studied the frogs in a situation that is as serious as it is common, namely, when frogs need to find their way out in case they are trapped in conditions of complete darkness. This is potentially an everyday occurrence, taking place in dark dens and passageways on the ground. In such instances, finding the exit becomes crucial, which also means that the frog is inclined to make use of any sensory information that is available.

In the other experiments the researchers studied to what extent frogs and toads use their colour vision when searching for a mate or hunting for food. The results showed that the animals stop using their c

Thought for Behaviour: Negative Reinforcement… A Go or a No Go?
I grew in a household together with my brother. We are actually only 1,5 year difference. We lived in a village where we could play outside. It was that time when you jumped in mudpools etc. Best time of our lives. But.. you probably know how it goes when 2 brothers grow up. Yes we fought quite often but surprisingly that completely changed around the age of 12-13. We started to develop similar interest what helped our relationship what has been an amazing journey after.. While that problem was solved I was dealing with something completely personal. I had this insane fear of needles. I don’t know exactly why but the reason might have been because the doctor didn’t give us stickers or candy back then.

This actually went to a point where I didn’t want to go to a doctor anymore. I was frightened about needles. For me not going was the highest reinforcement I could potentially provide myself. Over the years I started to discover that sometimes for my own health it is necessary to get samples or help with potential higher levels of pain. But o my was I happy when that needle left again. Happy when that needle was gone so my body would be a bit more relax for what would come after.

If we take this in perspective, I would connect this bad experience with the doctor. What means I wouldn’t go to him anymore what would reinforce

The world's coldest elephant? Campaigners call for Edmonton's Lucy to head south
Lucy hesitated in the doorway as she debated whether to leave the warmth of home and venture out into the sub-zero cold.

Then she plodded forward, scooping up freshly fallen snow with her trunk and shoving it in her mouth. Every minute or so, a deep rumbling punctuated the air – a symptom of a decades-old respiratory problem that forces her to breathe through her mouth. Zookeepers hovered around her, monitoring her body temperature with an infrared scanner to ensure she wasn’t getting cold.

For 40 years Lucy’s life has played out in the 110 acres of the Edmonton Valley Zoo. But beyond the steel gates and electric fencing of her 2,600 square foot barn, Lucy has become one of the most controversial elephants in the world.

Some argue Lucy is a well-adjusted Asian elephant who shares a deep bond with her keepers and trainers. Others say that – as the only elephant living in a Canadian city where the mercury at times drops to 20 below zero – she is the prisoner of a practice whose time has long passed.

“Honestly, there is no elephant in as bad a situation in the entire world as Lucy is,” said Julie Woodyer of Zoocheck Canada. Woodyer claims that Lucy is the world’s “the most northerly elephant” and has been fi

Shortage of qualified staff hampers animal upkeep
The shortage of qualified animal keepers in zoos across the country continues to hinder the proper upkeep of animals.
DN Singh, member secretary of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), who was in Dehradun today to attend the annual conference of Indian Zoos, said most of the animal keepers were just matriculate and lack of education affected their day-to-day working.
He said, “I believe that animal keepers should be a zoology graduate. In western countries, animal keepers are even PhDs. But animal keepers here are just matriculate or senior secondary at the farthest. In our country, animal keeping is considered a menial job which is not an opinion for this job in Europe.”
He said the key posts of director at the zoos continue to be unstable. “Due to routine postings, directors at the zoos are reshuffled that

What Makes a Dolphin a Dolphin?
In movies and TV shows, dolphins are often portrayed as heroes who save humans through remarkable feats of strength and tenacity. Now dolphins could save the day for humans in real life, too – with the help of emerging technology that can measure thousands of proteins and an improved database full of genetic data.

“Dolphins and humans are very, very similar creatures,” said NIST’s Ben Neely, a member of the Marine Biochemical Sciences Group and the lead on a new project at the Hollings Marine Laboratory, a research facility in Charleston, South Carolina that includes the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as one of its partner institutions. “As mammals, we share a number of proteins and our bodies function in many similar ways, even though we are terrestrial and dolphins live in the water all their lives.”

Neely and his colleagues have just finished creating a detailed, searchable index of all the proteins found in the bottlenose dolphin genome. A genome is the complete set of genetic material present in an organism. Neely’s project is built on years of marine mammal research and aims to provide a new level of bioanalytical measurements. The results of this work will aid wildlife biologists, veterinary professionals and biomedical researchers.

Protein Maps Could Help Dolphins and Humans

Although a detailed map of the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) genome was first compiled in 2008, recent technological breakthroughs ena

Rhino sale bombshell hidden in new draft regulations
It turns out the two-per-person discussion was a red herring which effectively diverted attention of the few attending MPs from the fact that this only applied to “a person from a foreign state”. South Africans wanting to buy or sell rhino horn, on obtaining a permit, would have no such restriction and could trade and export as much horn as they pleased. Foreigners owning rhinos could also do so.

Because the paragraph concerning the two-horn restriction referred to
“a person contemplated” in another part of the regulations, it was easy to miss the key point that the “person” referred to was only a foreign national not domiciled in South Africa or not owning a rhino. No such restriction was placed on locals.

South Africa has the greatest number of rhinos in the world and a huge poaching problem. Legalising trade and export is likely to collapse international attempts to protect rhinos. If the trade regulations become law, the decline and possible extinction in the wild of rhinos will be in the interest of rhino breeders, who will then control the world market.

The back story to the announcement is that last year the moratorium on sale was challenged by private sector rhino breeders who won on a technicality. Molewa took the result on appeal to the Constitutional Court. Then, on February 8 – possibly anticipating losing the Constitutional Court appeal – she announced new draft regulations, giving the public a mere 30 days to make representations or objections.

The effect, if the regulations become law, is that South Africa will be an almost open market for trading and even exporting rhino horn. This is a slap in the face for the overwhelming majority of countries that voted against the trade in horn at the CITES CoP17 meeting in Gauteng last year and a huge victory for the very few, extremely wealthy, rhino farmers and potential traders who have been lobbying Molewa for years.

The draft regulations seek to justify the trade through the fiction that it may only be traded for personal purposes, but leaves out what “personal” may mean. In a lengthy statement on Monday February 27, none of these issues were addressed by the DEA.

In terms of Article III of the CITES Convention, as long as the import is “not for commercial purposes”, import and export permits are allowed. If the purpose is “personal” there is no limit to the number of specimens involved. There is also the exception (for residents) allowing for export of personal and household effects (Article VII). 7

According to Environmental attorney Cormac Cullinan, “by requiring exports to be for ‘personal purpose’ (whatever that means) the DEA is obviously trying to create the impression that it is not contravening CITES by permitting trade for commercial purposes”.

In answer to my question about the difference between “trade” and “for commercial purposes” upon which the export regulations would hang, the DEA responded:

“An import permit can only be issued if the CITES authority of the state of import is satisfied that the specimen (rhino horn) is not to be used for primarily commercial purposes.

“Primarily commercial purposes are defined in a CITES Resolution adopted at the 15th Conference of the Parties, which req

ANALYSIS: Lies, damned lies and rhino statistics
A 10% fall in poaching last year is not the good news it appears to be — especially considering SA plans to resume its horn trade, writes Tony Carnie
The latest 10% drop in the national rhino poaching statistics may sound like good news, but it masks the fact that the decade-long bloodbath has thinned out animal numbers so deeply that rhinos are no longer such easy meat for poachers.

Poachers now have to work that much harder to fill the order books for international crime cartels because the Kruger National Park rhino population has been hammered since 2008.

Also, the target has shifted away from the Kruger to KwaZulu-Natal, where there has been a staggering 38% increase in horn poaching over the past year.

Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa announced on February 27 that 1,054 rhinos were killed for their horns nationwide during 2016 — compared with 1,175 in 2015.

That adds up to 121 fewer rhinos killed during 2016, or 161 fewer than the record tally of 1,215 rhinos poached in 2014.

But it still adds up to roughly three rhinos gunned down every 24 hours.

Compare this daily killing rate with the decade preceding 2008, when annual poaching figures barely exceeded double-digit figures.

It is true, as Molewa noted, that rangers and anti-poaching units in the SA’s world-famous Kruger Park have upped their game to the point that rhino killings dropped by almost 20% (662 last year compared with 826 in 2015).

Yet is also clear that the total rhino population in Kruger has dropped. The latest census suggests there may be roughly 7,200 white rhinos left in Kruger, from about 8,800 in 2015.

It is quite plausible that the natural birth rate of Kruger rhinos has also been hit hard by several years of drought, but considering that the park’s white rhino population stood at more than 10,000 seven years ago, it is clear that numbers have now been thinned out significantly by the horn poachers.


What of KwaZulu-Natal, the cradle of global rhino conservation?

In the late 1800s, there were just 50 to 100 Southern white rhinos left in the world (all of them in the Imfolozi Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal). This tiny remnant population was multiplied steadily thanks to the conservation work of the former Natal Parks Board and game rangers like the late Dr Ian Player.

By 2008, when the continental rhino-killing spree really hit


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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

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"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

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