Sunday, April 16, 2017

Zoo News Digest 16th April 2017 (ZooNews 952)

Zoo News Digest 16th April 2017  (ZooNews 952)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I have never been a fan of striking in zoos. It is not something I could ever do but, in certain circumstances I can understand why people do. Run your eyes down to the three news items about the strike in the Maharajbagh zoo.
One really needs to have a little bit of understanding of the terms "Daily Wages", "non-permanent staff", temporary staff when used within zoos in India and Pakistan. Regardless of the name attached to them these are keepers in full time employment and have often worked in the zoo (I am not just talking about Maharajbagh here) for three to thirty years. Giving these keeper positions a temporary sound to their posts allows the powers that be to pay only the lowest of wages…..after all they are just looked upon by many as 'shit shovellers' and so get away with paying just a pittance. Out of 30 staff in this zoo all but 3 are in this position. In this case they are being paid just US$41.00 or GBP33.00 (Indian Rupees 2,700) a MONTH. This is way below the recognised minimum wage. Please be aware that these are KEEPERS, with wives, children and elderly parents to support. Many of them are skilled and knowledgeable but simply not recognised. Many are illiterate but no less good at what they do. The picture is much the same in many zoos on the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere.
Striking is a big deal and smacks of desperation because their 'temporary' positions mean that they can be so easily dismissed and have nothing at all.
Every now and again you see zoo conferences on the Indian subcontinent attended by zoo staff….great, I am in favour of that but none of these people will ever attend. They will be attended by zoo staff who have never picked up a piece of shit in their lives.
I am delighted that the Central Zoo Authority is taking action in this case but I would urge them to take a long hard look at the other zoos around the country.
Thinking on it I should actually be in favour of strikes. After all if it had not been for a zoo strike back in 1967 (the staff were sacked as a result) I may not have got my first opportunity to work in a zoo. Loved it from day one and never regretted it. The money was poor, I got GBP36.00 a month way back then, just 3 quid more than those poor Indian keepers are taking home in this modern world. It just isn't right.

This Webpage is FAKE….it announces the SEAZA conference for 2017.
ARK AVILON informed me it was FAKE a few days ago and informed me that PHILZOOS were previously aware and were investigating. Yet the site remains up and running. I don't imagine there is a huge interest in attending but for as long as it is up and running it is taking 5,000 Pesos from unsuspecting people. This is criminal but perhaps it is more sad that ARK AVILON, PHILZOOS and SEAZA are allowing it to continue. Someone is making a nice little nest of cash.
The genuine SEAZA meeting is taking place in November. You can learn more by visiting here:

Sex sells without a doubt. The links on ZooNews Digest get a lot of interest. Usually averaging between three and twenty thousand people. This one
"Zoo intruder loses TESTICLE after ‘skewering scrotum’ on fence" got nearly forty thousand!

There was a little snippet of news which both bothered and confused me ""DUBLIN Zoo isn’t allowed to shoot an escaped lion if a vet is not on site, we have learned. Staff would be forced to wait for one before tranquillising any animal that may get out. Dublin Zoo staff can’t shoot escaped beasts. Inspectors from the National Parks and Wildlife Service have noted their “concerns” about the availability of chemical restraints at the attraction, which is home to lions, tigers, snow leopards and hippos. The facility was found to be “professionally operated, with well-considered master planning and welfare and husbandry programmes in place”, in the 2016 inspection report seen by the Irish Sun on Sunday. But the National Park inspector flagged “legal constraints” regarding the use of darting equipment.""
It bothers me because when an animal first escapes it is the best time to tranquilise it. Whilst I fully recognise the dangers of immobilising drugs the zoo management AND the vet should have full trust in the professional zoo capture team. To leave action till the vet is found and arrives means that it is highly likely that the escapee would stray further afield and make shoot to kill the only option. Using tranquilising drugs at a zoos perimeter is not a sensible consideration.

You know what would really make my day? It would be to see the announcement of the opening of a new aquarium where it was stated that all of the fish and other animals were bred in captivity. Sadly it is not going to happen anytime soon. Will it ever? Aquariums are still thirty years plus behind the Good zoos of the world.

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 53,800 '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, 


Arabian Oryx breeding programme victim of its own success
A breeding programme for Arabian oryx and wild gazelle has been so successful that their populations are fast outgrowing the capacity of their nature reserve.

In 2009, eight Arabian oryx, eight mountain gazelle and eight sand gazelle were introduced to the 100-hectare Al Wadi nature reserve.

The reserve has since been expanded to five times its original size and is now home to 43 oryx, 52 sand gazelle and 10 mountain gazelle. Eight more oryx arrived in 2012.

"For the oryx and sand gazelle that’s very good growth," said Ryan Ingram, director of the nature reserve. "It’s a success story in terms of breeding."

The decision of Ras Al Khaimah’s royal family to donate extra land to the reserve and build a boundary fence in 2012 was "a big show of faith in the direction of conservation", Mr Ingram said.

The success of breeding schemes such as the reserve’s, which is now part of Al Wadi Ritz-Carlton resort, has enabled the Arabian oryx to be taken off the list of vulnerable species. The major problem now is the lack of space.

"We are now at the point where we require more space for the herd to keep growing, otherwise we must relocate some of the population, as we are putting too much strain on the ecosystem," Mr Ingram said.

Relocation is expensive, complicated and delicate. The best option is to expand.

"Relocation can only take place at certa

Saved: the endangered species back from the brink of extinction
The saiga antelope makes a strange pin-up for the conservation world. With its odd bulbous nose and spindly legs, it is an unlovely looking creature – particularly when compared with wildlife favourites such as the polar bear or panda.

But the survival of Saiga tatarica tatarica is important, for it gives hope to biologists and activists who are trying to protect Earth’s other endangered species from the impact of rising populations, climate change and increasing pollution. Once widespread on the steppe lands of the former Soviet Union, the saiga has suffered two major population crashes in recent years and survived both – thanks to the endeavours of conservationists. It is a story that will be highlighted at a specially arranged wildlife meeting, the Conservation Optimism Summit, to be held at Dulwich College, London, this month and at sister events in cities around the world, including Cambridge, Washington and Hong Kong. The meetings have been organised to highlight recent successes in saving threatened creatures and to use these examples to encourage future efforts to halt extinctions of other species.

According to the summit’s organisers, there still are reasons to be cheerful when it comes to conservation, although they also acknowledge that the world’s wildlife remains in a desperate state thanks to swelling numbers of humans, climate change and spreading agriculture, which

PDKV neglects zoo, staffers warn of strike from Thursday
The Maharajbagh zoo staff has threatened to strike work from April 13 to protest the indifference of Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV) towards providing facilities for visitors and zoo animals.
The 120-year-old zoo houses 300 animals and birds. For years together, it is grappling with issues like improper cages, meagre staff, poor upkeep of animals, no full-time veterinary doctor and medical facilities.
According to sources, 40 people have been engaged for handling the zoo affairs but barring three employees all are working on temporary basis

Zoo workers on strike, animals & avians suffer
Animals at Maharjbagh Zoo, managed by Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV), remained confined to their cages and were not released for display as temporary workers managing the zoo went on indefinite strike from Thursday.
The temporary workers are on strike as they are not getting minimum wage. "We are paid Rs90 per day only for risking our lives by managing leopard and tiger cages," said a section of them.
On Thursday, zoo in-charge Dr SS Bawaskar and livestock supervisor MR Pande were the only two permanent employees present at the zoo scrambling to manage the affairs.

Zoo workers call off strike
The Maharajbagh zoo workers called of their strike on Friday after the Panjabrao Deshmukh Krishi Vidyapeeth (PDKV) enhanced their wages to Rs112 from present Rs90 per day.
32 workers were on strike for the last two days forcing the animals to suffer. The zoo cages were not cleaned and on Thursday even the staff was forced to close the zoo.
Talking to TOI, acting PDKV vice-chancellor VM Bhale said, "The issue has been resolved after wage hike. We have also posted a veterinarian to replace the one who was transferred."
However, the steps taken by PDKV, which manages the zoo affairs, are not only meagre but also temporary in nature. The vet Bhavna Wankhede posted in zoo already works in PKV dairy farm in the city.
Secondly, the wage hike of Rs22 per hour is still not at par with minimum wage of Rs300 per day. Workers are paid by Rs6,500 per month with certain adjustments.
Meanwhile, in a letter written to zoo controller & associate dean of College of Agriculture, Nagpur, Sanjay Thakre, member-secretary the Maharashtra State Zoo Authority (MSZA), has asked to follow guidelines of Central Zoo Authority (CZA). The recognition of the zoo ends on December 31, 2017.

Meghan Owings plucks a horseshoe crab out of a tank and bends its helmet-shaped shell in half to reveal a soft white membrane. Owings inserts a needle and draws a bit of blood. "See how blue it is," she says, holding the syringe up to the light. It really is. The liquid shines cerulean in the tube.

Zoo intruder loses TESTICLE after ‘skewering scrotum’ on fence
The painful incident happened at the historic Artis Zoo in Amsterdam – the oldest zoo in the Netherlands.

It is not known when exactly the incident happened, with zoo director Haig Balian only saying it happened recently.

Are zoo animals happy? There’s a simple empathy test we can apply
The plight of animals in entertainment has gained unprecedented public attention over the past several years, and much of the consciousness-raising has occurred by way of a particular orca whale named Tilikum, known by his nickname, Tilly. Tilly was captured near Iceland in November 1983. When he was only two years old, he was torn away from his family and his ocean home. After a number of years of being transferred from one aquarium to another, Tilly was finally acquired by SeaWorld San Diego, and became one of the star attractions and moneymakers for the theme park. But the years of captivity and maltreatment took a toll on Tilly, and he started behaving erratically. He eventually killed one of his trainers, in front of a horrified audience. The details of Tilly’s tragic life and fateful end were beautifully captured in a documentary called “Blackfish” (2013). By weaving together ethological details about the cognitive, emotional, and social lives of orcas in the wild with a catalog of the abuses and deprivations experienced by Tilly, the film leaves the viewer in no doubt that SeaWorld is a living hell for these

Bile farmers decimate wild bears
The country’s wild bear population has declined sharply over the past 20 years, according to recent surveys carried out in 22 protected areas.
The surveys were part of a three-year collaborative project by the Centre for Environment and Rural Development at Vinh University with the support of the conservation and animal welfare organisation Free the Bears and Animals Asia.
Interviews with over 1,400 residents living next to the protected areas indicate that the bear population declined between 1990 and 2005, mainly due to hunting. Although 77 per cent of respondents believed bears were still present in their local forest area, the majority agreed their numbers had declined.
This period coincided with the expansion of bear bile farming, with the number of bears kept on bile farms increasing tenfold, from 400 to over 4,000 between 1999 and 2005. Bears in bile farms, mostly Asiatic black bears, a

Thoughts for Behaviour: Combinations, Chains and Intelligence… What About the Others?
I Like to talk about motivation, it has a very broad spectrum what I like very much. Sky is the limit I always say. As you guys probably all have seen the blog from Kayce Cover about training various animals the same way she has a strategy what I actually really like. Telling the animal what you want in a very simple way of communication. See her blog:

Training multiple species; Always the Same, Except When it is Different… But we can go even further from there.

1,5 weeks ago I was in ZooMarine Portugal for a visit to organize a conference in 2018. Great people and just a great park with endless possibilities in training the animals. We know with marine mammals we can achieve a lot and that’s what they do up there. The bird show was a surprise for me too especially now Im looking more into ways of developing training programs with animals where we can add some extra challenges. I mean it was not particularly a big surprise but from a training perspective it was. The head trainer has a great perspective to train animals the way we do with marine mammals and apply this with his birds and he achieves some amazing goals with some amazing exotic animals. I ask


Celebrating Plants and the Planet:               

Can any real discussion of animals avoid considering plants?  For that matter, how can any serious exploration of plants not include a look at the influence animals have? April’s stories at (NEWS/Botanical News) include new discoveries about how plants have influenced animal evolution and how animals have affected plants:
·         How did male and female eclectus parrots come to look so strikingly different? Well, it all starts with trees. Of course.
·         How did some primates evolve to have bigger brains than other species? Forget the “paleo diet.” It has more to do with what parts of trees they eat.
·         How do leaf-cutter ants avoid collecting plants unsuitable for their fungus gardens? They study the colony dump.
·         What can scientists learn from the seeds preserved in a dinosaur’s stomach?
·         What African savanna animal do you think transports seeds furthest? Hint: it is not a bird.

Take a few minutes for this amazing graphic visualization of the rise and spread of human urbanization from 3,700 BC to today. The development of human civilizations is breathtaking. Yet with this growth can the decline in biodiversity and wild places.

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors!

Follow on Twitter, Facebook Or visit –  new stories every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.


Seaworld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund

New trade ruling spells end for rhinos say conservationists
With the Sumatran rhino officially extinct in the wild, are South Africa’s rhino doomed to the same fate? Earlier this month the country’s 2009 moratorium on the domestic trade in rhino horn was lifted by the Constitutional Court. This ruling went in favour of private rhino owners and makes it legal to buy and sell rhino horn within South Africa. But with what consequences?

While pro-trader Pelham Jones, chairman of the Private Owners Association, rejoices, saying they, “are absolutely delighted at the ruling,” Minister Molewa says, “It should be noted that the court’s decision should not be construed to mean that the domestic trade in rhino horn may take place in an unregulated fashion.” But conservationists believe trade could mean disaster for rhinos. They question if the government has, “the funding, capacity or expertise to regulate a legal domestic trade and continue to police an illegal one?”

Dr Jo Shaw, WWF’s rhino programme manager says she is, “concerned by the court’s decision… Law enforcement officials simply do not have the capacity to manage parallel legal domestic trade on top of current levels of illegal poaching and trafficking.” Susie Watts of WildAid’s Africa Program agrees, “There is no domestic demand for rhino horn products and, as the pro-trade lobby very well knows, the reason why the moratorium was implemented

The Rise of Whale and Dolphin Captivity in China
In August of 1970, 80 killer whales from L-25 pod were encircled by a net at Penn Cove in Puget Sound, Washington.

Herded together by a sophisticated operation involving speed boats, planes and explosives, the young whales were then lassoed and literally dragged out of the water and away from their families.

All told, seven killer whales, also known as orcas, were captured in the Penn Cove operation and five died, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation.

In an effort to limit bad press – and because dead animals counted towards the team’s capture quota – the deceased animals were subsequently hidden at the bottom of the ocean.

“They had us cut the animals that were already dead open and put rocks inside their cavity and anchors around their tails and sink them,” recounts John Crowe, a participant in the hunt, in the documentary film The Killer Whale People. “It was because of publicity and the money.”

Unfortunately for the whale hunters, t

April the giraffe gives birth in New York zoo, watched by an audience of at least 1 million
And baby makes glee.

Before an online audience of more than a million viewers, April the giraffe gave birth to a calf Saturday at a New York zoo, ending weeks of proverbial pacing by animal lovers in a virtual worldwide waiting room.

Congress finds bipartisanship on animal protection issues
Congress has found something cute and cuddly to agree on.

Plagued by bitter division and fierce infighting, Republican and Democratic lawmakers have found rare consensus on legislation to protect dogs, cats, horses, tigers and bunnies from abuse.

In the first few months of the new 115th Congress, House members and senators have introduced more than a dozen bipartisan bills on animal welfare, including a measure to bar people from keeping tigers, lions, and other big cats as pets and legislation to outlaw the sale of shark fins in the U.S.

About half of those stand a strong chance of passage this session, said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of  The Humane Society of the United States.

EAZA Strategic Plan 2017-2020

What happens when all the animals are gone?
We live in a time where we are heading towards a world without wildlife. We have a voice and a vote, yet we elect people who support the destruction of what makes our planet livable. But perhaps our gravest sin continues to be our treatment of wildlife. How is it that, given an earth so rich in life, humanity has chosen to kill — to destroy — the oasis we have been granted?

We live in a time of great knowledge about animals, and many people have become advocates for all species. Yet prejudice, war and social unrest make even our relationships with our fellow humans complex. Governments are already slow to act to protect the natural world. Now, consider how hard we find it to deal with species that look nothing like us, that live underwater or fly through the sky, that compete with us for food or could even make us their next meal.

Add into the mix poverty, hunger, p


International Congress of ZooKeepers
Latest Newsletter


Live Jelly Cam - Monterey Bay Aquarium

Curiouser and Curiouser--Octopus's Evolution Is Even Stranger Than Thought
As if octopuses, squids and other cephalopods were not already strange enough, they may have found a way to evolve that is foreign to practically all other multicellular organisms on the planet.
For most animals, changes that might prove beneficial to the organism primarily occur at the beginning of their molecular production process. Mutations occur in DNA that are then transcribed into RNA; the RNA is then translated into an altered protein.
Not so for cephalopods—at least not entirely. A new study published in Cell reports these aquarium oddities can modify the proteins found in their bodies without having to change the basic sequence of their DNA blueprint. As a result, it looks as if cephalopods have changed very slowly over the eons of their existence. The findings also suggest that octopuses and their tentacled cousins may be a lot older than previously thought.
The new paper reports on a process called “RNA editing,” which involves enzymes swapping out one RNA base (or nitrogen-based “letter” in the RNA/DNA alphabet) for another, presumably in the interest of an organism adapting to its environment. RNA e

How to move an elephant to Europe post-Brexit
n the latest warnings about the effects of a post-Brexit future, it isn’t just humans who could be affected. The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums has said that leaving the EU without a deal could threaten already endangered species, whose survival depends on easy access to Europe-wide breeding programmes.

At the moment, breeding progammes in Europe are overseen by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), and work efficiently thanks to shared resources and free movement. “I think the lack of clarity [over post-Brexit legislation] is the largest concern for us,” says Zak Showell, animal records registrar at Twycross zoo. “There are more than 400 breeding programmes operated by EAZA. These breeding programmes are there to ensure the genetic and population survival of those species we have in captivity.”

Computer software does the matching. Each breeding programme has a coordinator who monitors the

Israel's Safari Animals Are Keeping Kosher for Passover, and Loving It
It's that time of year and Israelis are frantically cleaning their homes and eradicating any signs of chametz, as well as shopping for rabbinically approved Passover products. They are also spending small fortunes on special products for Passover, from the mandatory chocolate-covered matza for the kiddies to kosher cigarettes. And pet food.
Even the Safari Park in Ramat Gan acknowledges the week-long holiday. The animal cages, night quarters and pedestrian walkways of the gigantic zoo were cleaned as thoroughly as sanely possible, and the animals were shifted to special-for-Passover chow, where relevant.
Animals that normally get bread as a treat with their diet – including apes and elephants, for instance, and the aromatic goats and so on of the petting zoo – were m

The term "roadside zoo" has become over-used recently as a way to denote a "bad” zoological facility. Since there is no consensus among the groups that use the term regarding what it actually indicates about a facility, “roadside zoo” itself has by now lost any pre-existing operant definition and its continued use serves mainly to provoke an emotional reaction. Let’s look at exactly how confusing the term has gotten, and then delve into the relevance of the concepts the regular public associates with the term.

The question, "what do you think makes a facility a roadside zoo?" was originally posed to the Why Animals Do The Thing blog audience because of the the frequency with which the term was occurring in zoo-related discourse. During the summer of 2016, “roadside zoo” was heavily used in messaging surrounding zoos, but rather than being a well-defined term used for public education, it seemed be an amorphous label that could be slapped on pretty much any facility in order to condemn it. This was especially confusing as the term “roadside zoo” was present in messaging from both the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) (a highly influential regulatory body in the animal management world) and organizations that heavily influence the creation of animal-related legislation (which must by nature be accurate and precise in wording) such as the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Curiosity arose - it seemed important to find out if the general public understood “roadside zoo” to mean the same thing as the organizations that were using the term frequently in their messaging. However, in orde

In order to provide an accurate picture of which zoological facilities are "good" facilities, and labels that help the public understand which good facilities to support, it’s important to move beyond the confusing terminology of "roadside zoos." As explored in a previous article, “roadside zoo” is not a useful label, because it communicates no tangible information to the zoo-going public and it’s usage is often loaded with political connotation.

The current movement towards critical consumption of zoos and the array of animal experiences available is going to continue to gain momentum, and so it is crucial to the survival of reputable facilities that the field shift to providing clear and less-politicized language to help guide potential guests in their decision-making process. Terminology promoted to the public should have consistent operant definitions that designate a comprehensible set of characteristics simple enough that laypeople will be able to use them to assess a facility. What is needed is a word that intuitively summarizes the problems the public associates with a “bad” zoological facility: low quality of animal welfare, a high density of animals in close proximity, animals living in cages rather than exhibits, pay-t


America’s shockingly huge tiger population is finally getting more oversight
Here’s a weird and pretty shocking animal fact: More captive tigers live in the United States — in backyards, basements, traveling zoos and roadside menageries — than in the wild worldwide.

The word “probably” is key, because there’s such a patchwork of laws regulating tiger ownership that no one actually knows how many tigers call America home. But the U.S. government and conservation and animal welfare groups estimate that between 5,000 and 10,000 do; as few as 3,200 endangered wild tigers remain.

Now two new federal rules are strengthening government oversight of the domestic tiger population, and animal welfare groups say it’s about time. One does away with a legal loophole that animal welfare organizations have long argued led to rampant breeding and trade of the big cats in the United States, and drove the illegal market for tiger parts around the world. A second new regulation aims to help America’s youngest captive tigers.

All tigers are technically protected under the Endangered Species Act, but the U.S. government has long only monitored and regulat

Bristol penguins donated to zoo in Georgia devastated by flooding
A group of penguins from Bristol Zoo has been donated to Bristol’s twinned city of Tbilisi in Georgia, which lost many of its zoo animals in a flash flood in 2015.

19 young South African penguins are now settling into a newly refurbished penguin pool at Tbilisi Zoo after making the journey by charter plane.

A Trip to the Zoo Can Get People Talking About Climate Change
Climate change is a subject most of us don’t really want to think about, let alone discuss over dinner. While our fears of a decimated environment are clearly reflected in apocalyptic fiction, frank talk about our warming world is relatively rare.
If this reflects deep-seated denial, we’re all in trouble. But what if the issue is simpler? What if we avoid the subject because we don’t really understand it — and don’t want to sound like an idiot?

Day at the zoo: Durrell lists hits and misses
A child-like emotion grips her as she walks by the storks, herons and ibises in the Alipore zoo aviary. As a black ibis picks its catch from a pond, she recalls her fight to save one of its cousins, the Waldrapp Ibis, a critically endangered bird that suffered severely from human actions in Europe from where it disappeared more than 300 years ago. Welcome to the world of Lee Durrell. And, the backdrop couldn't have been better.
On her maiden visit to Kolkata on Wednesday, the American naturalist, author and zookeeper took a stroll inside Alipore Zoological Gardens, taking a look at the enclosures, the waterbody, the birds and animals, and of course ta

Seoul Zoo tigers to be relocated to more natural environment
A group of Siberian tigers currently exhibited at a local zoo in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province, will be transferred to a government-owned arboretum this summer, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday.

Selected tigers at the Seoul Zoo will be relocated to a 48,000-square-meter forest designed to simulate a wild tiger habitat. The area, called “Tiger Forest,” is part of the ministry’s 220.1 billion won ($192.4 million) project to build Asia’s largest arboretum in North Gyeongsang Province, set to officially open to the public this year.

Breeders from Dutch zoo learn giant panda breeding techniques(1/6)
Breeders from China and the Netherlands prepare food for Xing Ya and Wu Wen to eat on their journey. (Photo/Courtesy of the China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda)
Xing Ya, a 3-year-old male, and Wu Wen, a 3-year-old female, will soon be the first Chinese pandas to call the Netherlands home.

New elephant intelligence tests reveal body awareness, self-understanding
Humans have been handing mirrors to animals since at least the early 1800s, when a young Charles Darwin proffered a polished glass to a pair of orangutans at the London Zoo. “Both were astonished beyond measure at looking glass, looked at it every way, sideways, & with most steady surprise,” Darwin wrote in his notebook.

More than a century later, psychologist Gordon G. Gallup codified what became known as the mirror test, when in 1970 he demonstrated that chimpanzees could recognize their own reflections. Only a handful of other animals have passed the mirror test: apes, dolphins, orcas, Eurasian magpies and an Asian elephant named Happy.

“There are many camps that argue about what this all means,” Joshua Plotnik, a visiting psychology professor at the City University of New York’s Hunter College and founder of the non-profit Think Elephants International, told The Washington Post.

Some scientists view a successful mirror test as a sign that animals have self-awareness, linked to complex concepts like empathy. And if an animal can’t pass the test, well, then it simply can’t be self-aware.

Plotnik, who worked on Happy’s mirror test, took a more diplomatic approach. It is more likely, he said, that self-awareness exists on a continuum,

Dutch Panda Mania As Giant Bears Arrive From China
Two giant pandas arrived by plane at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport Wednesday after a marathon 8,000 kilometre journey from China, the first breeding pair on Dutch soil in three decades. 

Female panda Wu Wen (Beautiful Powerful Cloud) and her male companion Xing Ya (Elegant Star) touched down at Schiphol at around 1730 GMT after leaving Chengdu in central China more than 10 hours earlier.

A giant television screen showed the pandas being lowered onto the tarmac from a passenger jet operated by Dutch national carrier KLM, surrounded by Dutch border police.

Later they were put on display for more than 100 journalists and guests straining to catch a glimpse of the two animals in their specialised cages which included see-through plexiglass.

"I'm so happy so many friends have come to welcome my two new colleagues," China's ambassador to The Netherlands Wu Ken told the cro


** ***
** **

New Meetings and Conferences updated Here

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

Recent Zoo Vacancies

Vacancies in Zoos and Aquariums and Wildlife/Conservation facilities around the World

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

No comments:

Post a Comment