So it is going to
happen at long last. They are going to auction off Rhino horn from the huge
stocks that are held by fat cats in South African bank vaults. The argument is
that if it is available on a 'legal' market then there will be no demand for
wild horn. I would love that this was true but I very much doubt it and will
look very closely for a reduction in poaching statistics. It is not as if there
has not been a legal market for quite some time. Selling live animals on the
hoof for export happens every year. Sadly some of these animals have been
slaughtered before the boats have even left the docks. Then there are the
farmed Rhinos in China….they have been operating for years but the demand has
continued to rise. I can even foresee an increased demand for 'wild' horn as
people are like that. Wild Sea Bass always demands a higher price than farmed.
It may seem a world away but it isn't really. All this auction is going to do
is going to make a bunch of rich people even richer. The Rhinos will not
benefit at all.
I reckon I need to
update this article but it is mostly still relevant
Whilst on the
subject of farming. There are literally hundreds of crocodile farms (there is
even one planned for the UAE) and these produce countless thousands of animals
each year. I have visited a number of these places attached to zoos. One of
these, the Samutprakarn Crocodile Farm and Zoo claims to have some
60,000 crocodiles. I believe it and think I saw more than that number. That is
just one place and there are dozens of similar places in Asia before venturing
elsewhere. So every bit and part of a crocodile you could possibly want has been
available on the legal market for years. Yet this week we learn that
difficulties in the Egyptian economy has seen a rise in the poaching of Nile
crocodiles. So even with an abundant supply someone somewhere is always going
to kill the free.
Reading of the
Cheetah in Kuwait disturbed me. It is so easy to forget when you are keeping a
watch on the illegal trade in one Arabian Gulf country that it is going on in
all the others. Having the money and a powerful 'friend' means you can do
whatever you want to do. There are laws in place now but they really need to be
I was watching the
dispute between the charitable donations for Bandung Zoo with interest. A very
bitter and nasty fight. I hear a lot of stories and have a greater insight than
most in some. All is not as it seems. Newspapers need to do a lot more digging.
What is a
Conservationist? I believe the dictionary definition fits it…"a person who
advocates or acts for the protection and preservation of the environment and
wildlife." That's me and everyone else who has a role in the good modern
zoo. I have noticed of late that the press seem to be turning the term to mean
those who work with animals in the wild. That's wrong.
I also consider
myself to be a Zoologist even though I do not have a degree in zoology. I
daresay many others working in good zoos feel the same and 'Zoologist' is what
I usually put on any landing card I have to complete when entering a new
country. I mention this because I noted this week a Canadian Zookeeper being
refused leave to return to work in the US because she put zoologist on her visa
At the end of the
day though and in spite of the various titles over the years, Zoo Curator, Head
Keeper, Zoo operations manager etc I consider myself first and foremost a Zoo
Keeper….and proud of it!
Lots of interesting
Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 60,000 Followers on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 820 Zoos in 154+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.
I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
Avian egg shape:
Form, function, and evolution
Avian egg shape is
generally explained as an adaptation to life history, yet we currently lack a
global synthesis of how egg-shape differences arise and evolve. Here, we apply
morphometric, mechanistic, and macroevolutionary analyses to the egg shapes of
1400 bird species. We characterize egg-shape diversity in terms of two
biologically relevant variables, asymmetry and ellipticity, allowing us to
quantify the observed morphologies in a two-dimensional morphospace. We then
propose a simple mechanical model that explains the observed egg-shape
diversity based on geometric and material properties of the egg membrane.
Finally, using phylogenetic models, we show that egg shape correlates with
flight ability on broad taxonomic scales, suggesting that adaptations for
flight may have been critical drivers of egg-shape variation in birds.
Bats really do
harbor more dangerous viruses than other species
Is there something
special about bats? The question has been hotly debated among researchers
studying the origins of deadly viruses. Marburg, Ebola, severe acute
respiratory syndrome: They have all been linked to bats, leading some
scientists to argue that something about the mysterious mammals makes them
especially likely to harbor viruses dangerous to humans. “Bats are special,” is
their motto. But others argue that the bat order is very well-studied and very
big—one in five mammalian species is a bat—biasing results.
That debate may
finally be over. A broad look at all viruses known to infect mammals suggests
that bats are, indeed, more likely to carry unknown pathogens that can wreak
havoc on humans. Surprisingly, the study comes from researchers who until now
were bat doubters. “As a scientist, you accept the results of your own
study—even if they prove you wrong!” says disease ecologist Peter Daszak of the
EcoHealth Alliance in New York City, a senior author on the new study.
started out trying to answer a broader question: Where should scientists
concentrate efforts to find as-yet-unknown viruses threatening humanity? Most
emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses, diseases that originate in animals,
and some may have the potential to trigger massive epidemics. But there are th
Taking care of
turtles in Cúc Phương
in the dense greenery of Cúc Phương National Park, a team of volunteers and
staff work tirelessly to look after around 1,000 rare and endangered turtles.
Lê Hương & Hồng Vân report.
containing freshly ground paste of vegetables and fruit, Lina V. Wedel and
Simon Brauburger head for nearby enclosures to feed the turtles, one of the
important tasks they perform every morning.
They chat while
putting the trays in the feeding areas, without forgetting to take a quick look
at the turtles swimming in the small ponds or crawling on the banks.
The Cúc Phương
Turtle Conservation Centre (TCC) in Cúc Phương National Park is home to some
1,000 turtles of 30 domestic and foreign species. The park is in the northern
province of Ninh Bình, some 120km east
Booms as Egypt Tourism Crumbles
If they’re small,
you use the bulk of the boat to hustle them into the shallows, then snag them
by hand, Mahmoud tells me. He should know, having spent the past decade
poaching the scaly beasts around the southern city of Aswan.
medium-size, perhaps the length of a kayak, he says (he won’t tell me his
family name because of the illegal nature of his work), you noose them with
barbed wire traps. And if they’re monsters—up to 18 feet of whiplashing tail,
bristling teeth, and relentless aggression—you dazzle them with a spotlight,
entangle them in fishing nets, and subdue them with a shot to their exposed
“There’s not a
crocodile I can’t catch, or a hunting ground I don’t know,” Mahmoud bragged.
“I’ve made my li
tortoises don’t mate after being relocated and scientists want to know why
Pity the relocated
male desert tortoises. Once they are airlifted or driven to new homes in the
Mojave Desert, they fail to mate and produce offspring, a study has found.
aren’t ready to draw conclusions, the finding raises concern that moving
tortoises may diminish the genetic diversity of the species, which is listed as
threatened with extinction.
At a cost of
millions of dollars, desert tortoises have been repeatedly moved out of their
home ranges when their habitats were needed for military base expansions, solar
energy development and other projects. Just this spring, the military moved
more than a thousand desert tortoises out of the Johnson Valley expansion area
of the M
Battle lines drawn
in Vancouver Aquarium debate
Chester, a false
killer whale, and his companion, Helen, a Pacific white-sided dolphin, have
their eyes on their trainers and the red tubs of fish on deck.
Helen pops her head
out of the water and lets loose a chatter. With a flick of her trainer’s hand,
Helen is airborne, her body curved in a perfect arc, five metres above the
Then it’s Chester’s
turn. The false killer whale – a type of dolphin – leaps on command, landing
his 225-kilogram bulk with a mighty splash.
Action plan to save
Sunda Clouded Leopard
local scientists, governmental agencies as well as industry players are
convening again to save another iconic and endemic species to Sabah, the Sunda
clouded leopard, just four months after proposing recommendations towards the
conservation of the proboscis monkey.
The Danau Girang
Field Centre (DGFC) and Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) are organising a
three-day workshop attended by subject matter experts. Recommendations will be
proposed to protect the Sunda clouded leopard based on findings of a five-year
extensive research on the endangered species conducted by DGFC and SWD.
A Sunda Clouded
Leopard Action Plan for Sabah will then be drafted based on the proposed
recommendations gleaned from the workshop.
DGFC director Dr
Benoit Goossens said he hoped that the Sabah state government would adopt the
Sunda Clouded Leopard Action Plan for implementation to save the species, which
is threatened by habitat loss and forest fragmentation in Sabah.
“For the past 10
years, SWD, DGFC and collaborators from Oxford University’s Wildlife
Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), University of Montana and Leibniz Institu
Byron's Lens: The
secret in an orangutan's pee
Dr. William Wong is
showing me down a hallway at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the
Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. “We call this the stable isotope
laboratory,” he says. There are five isotope-ratio mass spectrometers on this
floor. They can analyze blood, saliva, water, and, as it turns out, orangutan
Captive elephants in
Burma may be released to boost numbers
unemployed elephants in Burma, laid off from the once-booming timber trade,
have emerged as potential saviours of the animal population.
One of the largest
surviving wild elephant populations in Asia is being pushed to the brink as
hunters feed demand for their hides in neighbouring China. Dozens of carcasses,
stripped of their skins, have been found by villagers in recent months.
warned that hunters are increasingly targeting mothers and their calves, which
will accelerate the slide in elephant numbers. In many cases, the poachers have
used poisoned arrows to bring down
octopus gives birth to 400 babies - but it's bittersweet
No one at the
Skegness Aquarium knew whether Beanbag the Common Octopus was male or female
until she laid some eggs.
Now around 400 young
octopii, known as paralarvae, have hatched.
Staff at the
aquarium say they are delighted to see the arrival so many young octopii.
bring Sharjah safari park a step closer to opening
The Environment and
Protected Areas Authority (EPAA) has announced that it has imported 288 wild
animals from South Africa into the emirate, bringing Sharjah’s vision for what
could be the largest safari park project outside Africa one step closer to reality.
The animals are being cared for by experts at the Seih Al Bardi Park (Elebriddi
Wildlife Protected Area) and acclimatised in compounds, whilst trees are
planted and park infrastructure is under construction.
Located in Al Dhaid
in Sharjah emirate’s interior, phase one of Seih Al Bardi Park was officially
opened as a conservation area in 2007, as part of Sharjah’s effort to protect
natural ecosystems and biodiversity. The landscape of Al Bardi is typified by gravel
plains with a high density of Acacia trees, providing a suitable habitat for
different forms of wildlife and an ideal environment for many different native
and imported species.
Behaviour: The Balance of Reinforcement
The Balance of
Life is about
balance I mean when one part in your life to high the other parts wont have the
same meaning anymore. We see this when friends of family pass away or even our
animals. The balance will be gone for a little bit. Balance is important, I
discovered that when having a great job working with my dream animals that when
your private life is not superb that it doesn’t really matter. Because you
won’t feel 100% happy anyway. The same for the opposite side. Your private life
is amazing but your job isn’t working well you won’t be happy neither. In many
parts of living our life there are moment where we should think about this
balance. To be honest the hardest ones are relationships.
In training session,
it happens easily that we forget to generalize behaviours we train. It is as
important to train the animal on signal as of signal, just for you to know that
the animal really understands your signal. For example, if its more reinforcing
for an animal to go in a transport box then it is to stay out of it, the
balance of reinforcement might be leaning towards the transport box more than
not going into it. We maybe should ask o
Billy the Elephant
belongs Right Where He is … in His Happy Home at the LA Zoo
THE BUTCHER SHOP …
NO BONES ABOUT IT--A small, influential group of celebrities and animal
activists have reinvigorated their failed 2009 campaign to move Billy the
elephant out of the LA Zoo. On April 19, Councilmember Paul Koretz introduced a
motion to “immediately cancel any current or future elephant breeding
activities” and to move Billy to a “sanctuary environment.”
‘goodwill ambassador’ not allowed to represent county at international Havana
Ron Magill, the
charismatic spokesman for Zoo Miami, is also its “goodwill ambassador.” Give
him a platform and he’ll spread the gospel on animal conservation initiatives
with eloquence and passion, usually with a creature or two hanging around his
neck. Everywhere he goes he represents not only the zoo, but his employer —
Miami-Dade County — with distinction.
For the Miami-Dade
mayor, however, everywhere doesn’t include Cuba.
No matter how close
a neighbor or how many shared ecosystems are involved or animal species need
saving, when it comes to Cuba, it is politics first and foremost in Miami. And
so, before he left for Europe on a trade mission and vacation, Mayor Carlos Gimenez
declined to sign a travel request for Magill to represent Zoo Miami at the
annual conference of the Association of Latin American Zoological Parks and
Aquariums in Havana.
Some of the most
respected professionals in the
World outrage at
planned export of baby elephants from Namibia
by the Namibian government to a game farm owned by a Swedish national to
capture and export to Dubai five wild young elephants has raised a storm among
conservation organisations worldwide.
In an open letter to
Johan Hansen of the farm Eden Wildlife, the Humane Society International (HSI),
co-signed by 35 other organisations, requested that he ‘immediately and
permanently halt plans to capture and export five young live elephants….to
Dubai Safari Park in the United Arab Emirates.’
Strong Comments From
The Director Of The Dubai Safari Park Will Ease Animal Welfare Worries
The director of the
new Dubai safari park (opening date TBC) has spoken out about the welfare of
the animals which will soon call the reserve their home.
According to the
director, the animals will not be used to perform stunts, large animals will be
allowed to roam parts of the park and the only animals being brought the AED 1
billion park are ones in need of care, rehoming or rescuing, or ones that have
been donated by other zoos.
'If we stopped
poaching tomorrow, elephants would still be in big trouble'
It is the dead of
night. The day’s red-dust heat has given way to a cooling breeze. A hundred
frogs chirp urgently. Tim and his crew are preparing for another stealth raid.
Their mission is highly dangerous and now there’s a new threat: armed men are
This is the scene
repeated nightly on the eastern fringes of Amboseli national park in Kenya,
close to the border with Tanzania. Tim is an elephant who, along with a group
of up to 12 other males, has developed a taste for the tomatoes and maize
growing on local farms on the outskirts of the park. The armed men are park
rangers who have been tasked with keeping him from the crops – and saving his
The nocturnal game
of cat and elephant is just one example of a much bigger problem playing out
across Africa and Asia. It is the sharp end of an existential conflict between
people and wildlife for land, food and water. It is also a departure from the traditional
story of elephant conservation, which presents the big threat to the world’s
largest land animal as ivory poachers and the trinket-buyers in Chinese
bazaars. The ivory trade has had a significant impact, for sure, but habitat
destruction caused by human
Plan to Save World's
Most Trafficked Mammal Ignites Debate
If during the past
decade you’d wanted to see a scaly creature about the size of a house cat with
a long skinny tongue for slurping up ants, California’s San Diego Zoo was the
place to go in the U.S. Baba the pangolin arrived there in 2007 after wildlife
officials intercepted him in an illegal shipment.
He survived in the
zoo until last year, when he died after keepers noticed he was behaving
abnormally, according to the San Diego Tribune. As it turns out, pangolins are
hard to raise in captivity and often die prematurely.
hasn’t deterred six U.S. zoos and one nonprofit organization, Florida-based
Pangolin Conservation, from quietly bringing in about 45 pangolins of their own
from Africa during the past year. The institutions say they’re doing this to help
save pangolins, which are doing very badly in the wild, and in the process
they’ve ignited a debate over the role of zoos in helping save highly
Victorian-era throwbacks: they’re important in saving species
The National Zoo and
Aquarium in Canberra recently announced a new expansion that will double its
size, with open range space for large animals like white rhinos and cheetahs.
As well as improving
visitors’ experience, the expansion is touted as a way to improve the zoo’s
breeding program for threatened animals. However, zoos have received plenty of
criticism over their capacity to educate, conserve, or even keep animals alive.
But while zoos began
as 19th-century menageries, they’ve come a long way since then. They’re
responsible for saving 10 iconic species worldwide. Without captive breeding
and reintroduction efforts, there might be no Californian Condor or
Przewalski’s Horse – the only truly wild horse – left in the wild.
Australian zoos form
part of a vital global network that keeps our most vulnerable species alive.
How cracking the
sex-change code in bearded dragons could help them survive
scientists say they have cracked the code that explains why reptiles change sex
under the stress of extreme temperatures.
The proposed model
could also help manage biodiversity as reptiles come under pressure from
Dutch vet saves VN
juice in a small café in Hà Nội in early June, Willem
Schaftenaar relaxes before his flight home to the Netherlands. Previously, he
was busy in Bản Đôn village in
Đắk Lắk province’s Buôn Đôn district working with officials of
the provincial Elephant Conservation Centre (ECC) to save near-extinct
elephants in Việt Nam.
this trip to Đắk Lắk, he was accompanied by Vincent
Werbrouck, CEO of Pairi Daiza Foundation, a privately owned zoo and botanical
garden in Belgium, who is also looking to support elephants in Việt Nam.
for elephants and love of Việt Nam brought them together.
This latest visit
marks the fifth time Dr Schaftenaar has went to the Central Highlands,
determined to save the near-extinct elephants.
Two years ago a
veterinarian who was also one of Dr Schaftenaar’s students working at the the
ECC told him about an injured elephant in Đôn village that the Centre’s
officials were trying to save. Given the gravity of the s
Calls for crackdown
as dangerous animals sold on UAE instagram accounts
say more must be done to enforce laws regarding the sale of wild animals in the
UAE, as Instagram accounts continue to be used to sell exotic species.
poisonous slow loris and tigers are among the creatures available for sale on
Federal Law No 22
came into force this year and regulates the possession, trade and breeding of
It states that only
zoos, wildlife parks, circuses and breeding and research centres are allowed to
keep wild or exotic animals.
But despite raids
and seizures by enforcement officers in Sharjah last month, animal welfare
campaigners said social media remains an open market for dealers.
In the comments
section on open pages, bidders offer "3,000" and "4,500".
"How much for
the monkey?", one user wrote.
the controls on social media for this kind of trading – to be able to do this
online is ridiculous," said Tamer Khafaga, a conservation officer at Dubai
Desert Conservation Reserve.
"It needs more
education and tougher measurements."
Despite a desire by
WHY ANIMALS DO THE
THING - Billy the Elephant
I’ve been following
the story of Billy pretty closely. I’m glad you asked - it’s the sort of thing
I think is really important to talk about, because people need to understand
what’s going on behind the nicely framed stories about animal activism you hear
in the media, but I’m never sure how much of that sort of animal industry
politics followers are interested in reading.
The reason this
specific instance is so important is because it’s a hell of a lot more
complicated than ‘sanctuary vs zoo, which is better for the animals’. The
decision to go after Billy - and only Billy, and only right now - looks to me
like a really strategic political decision from the animal rights movement, and
it falls in line with what I’ve been researching the history, evolution, and MO
of the animal rights movement. As I’ve been learning more and more about how
animal rights organizations and their partnered sanctuaries conquer and divide
to achieve the change they want to see, a very specific pattern of action has
started cropping up and this situation exemplifies how they’ve learned to use
legislation, the legal system, and the good intentions of the general public to
remove animals from zoos. This explanation is going to seem a little bit like
jumping at shadows, but this method of petitioning cities to seize zoo animals
as assets - and the really conveniently timed fallout that would result from
their success - is textbook animal rights organization planning.
So here’s what you
need to know - if Billy is sent to a sanctuary, the LA Zoo would lose their AZA
accreditation. They’d likely then be subject to the new wild animal performance
law that’s got major support in LA right now, because only
Breaking News: Jun
Jun The Beluga Whale Destined For “Whale Sea Sanctuary” Has Passed Away In
Earlier this week,
the Ministry of Fisheries and Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority gave
permission to move three beluga whales from the aquarium they called home in
Shanghai to a “sanctuary” in Vestmannaeyjar.
According to WDC,
the beluga whales were supposed to go through “beluga bootcamp,” where they
were to go through months of mental and physical training to “be more like wild
belugas again.” (Seriously?) However, a source tells Awesome Ocean that one of
the belugas, Jun Jun, has died p
Inside The Tanks
Can we bring back
the pheasant that was wiped out by the war in Vietnam?
Framed by mounds of
white tuft, the ruddy faces of the Red-shanked Douc monkeys peer out from the
forest canopies. In the distance, calls of White-cheeked Gibbons echo through
the early morning stillness. Underneath, browsing in the shadows of the forest
floor are myriad species of deer; among them forages one of the world’s rarest
large mammals – the Saola, a bovine that lives in forests so wild and remote,
that they were unknown to humans until researchers happened upon the remains of
one during an expedition in 1992.
That is a measure of
how deep into the wilderness we’ve had to come to get here. We’re in Khe Nuoc
Trong, an evergreen-broadleaf forest situated in the Annamese lowlands,
Vietnam. It feels like you couldn’t stretch your arms out to yawn without
knocking three or four endangered species off their perch. The area is a jewel
of biodiversity, but something’s missing. A very important part of the forest’s
heritage, in fact. You could spend all morning listening ou
Haichang Ocean Park
and Country Garden Holdings to develop marine theme parks resorts in China
Fox Business reports
that the strategic cooperation agreement with developer Country Garden Holdings
will include the development of marine theme parks as well as related
commercial, residential and resorts in cities in China.
Haichang Ocean Park
currently operates six ocean theme parks, one adventure theme park, and one
water world in China. In addition there are two major projects under
construction in Shanghai and Sanya.
Holdings is ranked 44th in the 2017 list of the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable
Chinese Brands. Country Garden has been
involved in urban modernization in over 400 cities and towns in China and more
The last stronghold
of the crane
It’s busy, busy,
busy. 500 Grey-crowned cranes are pecking for grains in front of us in the
recently harvested wheat field by the shores of Lake Ol Bolossat, stretched in
the shadows of the Aberdares.
“The cranes are here
all the time,” says George Ndung’u, founder of the Nyahururu Bird Club,
Olbolossat Biodiversity Conservation Group and recently, the Crane Conservation
Volunteers. “It is the largest flock we have,” says Ndung’u, who has been
monitoring the bird for almost 20 years.
I can hear Kerryn
Morrison from South Africa gasp. She is the Africa partnership manager for the
International Crane Foundation and Endangered Wildlife Trust. It’s the largest
flock she has seen in her two decades of re
Meet Japan’s $242
million baby panda
The birth of a giant
panda cub at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoological Gardens is predicted to boost the city’s
economy to the tune of $242 million.
Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Economics at Kansai University in Osaka
prefecture, has compared the economic benefits of the birth with ‘a
professional baseball team winning a title.’
He predicts the cub
could attract in the region of 5,657,000 visitors to the zoo during this
financial year. This would be an increase of 1.8 million from the previous
He has reached his
conclusions by looking at data from 1972 when giant pandas were exhibited in
Japan for the first time.
revenues from ticket sales and visitor spending in-house, the cub will also
boost the income of employees at relevant facilities, says the professor.
The arrival of the
tiny, naked cub has delighted the Japanese.
Proud parents, Fairy
Zoo's black rhino
dad gives blood for unborn calf
Faru will have to
wait until next year to celebrate his first Father's Day as dad to his second
offspring. And yet, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s black rhino has
already given a gift that could be invaluable to his unborn calf.
His mate, Seyia, is
expected to give birth to their calf in early July. Just in case things don't
go as planned, zoo staff members have been collecting Faru's blood for the past
nine weeks. Hoxworth Blood Center, University of Cincinnati has been banking
the plasma to use if Seyia can't care for her calf and it has to be
“The hope is that
the calf will nurse and be raised by her mom, but some inexperienced moms
aren't sure what to do with their offspring and humans have to step in to
provide nourishment and warmth," said Christina Gorsuch, a curator of
mammals at the zoo. (That's what happened with Fiona, the premature hippo that
has been cared for by Cincinnati Zoo staff since her Jan. 24 birth.) "If
that happens this time, we'll be able to give the calf the best start possible,
with help from her dad.”
immunoglobulins that hel
helps discover new species of rat
RATS are not known
for winning popularity contests but a type newly discovered by Australian and
international researchers has been awarded a place in the 2017 top 10 list of
previously unknown species.
Slender Rat is unique among its strictly carnivorous relatives and was
discovered on Sulawesi Island by Museums Victoria mammalogist Dr Kevin Rowe and
his US and Indonesian team which was helped to a remote rainforest area by
Selected from a
field of 18,000 new species of animals and plants discovered across the world
in the past 12 months, the Slender Rat was included on the College of
Environmental Science and Forestry’s Top 10 New Species for 2017 “not so much
for its rattiness but for the evolutionary story it tells and the conservation
message,” Dr Rowe said.
less than a quarter of Earth’s flora and fauna species have been identified
and, although thousands of new examples are found each year, thousands of
others are becomi
Design Is A Real Thing
Design doesn’t just
solve problems for people. It can also help save animals’ lives. Case in point:
A team of zoologists has decided to build artificial nests for endangered
African penguins. The nests, which are made of ceramic-like insulation, are
designed to keep two baby chicks and one adult penguin cool in the hot African
The number of
African penguins has been dwindling for decades. There were once a million
pairs of breeding birds, located primarily in South Africa and Namibia; now,
there are only 25,000 pairs. This is mostly due to overfishing, climate change,
and the harvesting of guano, or penguin poop. The latter has been especially
detrimental: African penguins typically make their nests in heaps of dried
guano that have been built up for decades, providing the right p
Have A Good Time,
All Of The Time
At the very end of
the glorious movie This Is Spinal Tap, the keyboardist Viv Savaged says,
"Have a good time, all of the time.
That's my philosophy, Marty."
That quote pops into
my head frequently, especially when working with animals. In fact, the other day at my forensics
internship, some of the higher-ups stopped me to comment on my dolphin sleeve. They asked what my inspiration was for it,
and I told them that my former career was in marine mammal training. Their response? “OH that must be such a fun
I know that as
zookeepers, we tend to be wary of how the general public sees us. We do a job that appears to basically amount
to what most people do on their weekends: hang out with their dogs, snuggle
with their cats, send their parrots to attack their enemies, etc. The point is, it looks like a lot of fun to
do our job. So much so, that we are
often met with offensive lines of questioning dealing with our academic
background (e.g. “Your job is not a real career”). As a result, we have our own internal script
regarding how professional our job is, the journey we took to get to where we
are, AND the intense physical and emotional labor that
incubation helps hatch rock ptarmigan chicks
A Toyama zoo has
succeeded in artificial incubation of two Japanese rock ptarmigan chicks, the
first feat for the endangered bird in 19 years in Japan, the Environment
Ministry said Sunday.
Japan thus made
major progress toward the establishment of artificial breeding methods for the
bird, whose scientific name is Lagopus muta japonica, that will cover the full
breeding cycle from egg laying, incubation to growth, officials said.
Toyama Family Park
Zoo in Toyama, commissioned to breed the bird, gave birth to the two babies
late Saturday morning in special incubation equipment in which the temperature
is kept at 37.6 C.
They are both 6.5
centimeters long, with their estimated weights put at 15.6 grams and 17.1
grams. They seem to be in good health, but close attention is necessary because
rock ptarmigan chicks are particularly vulnerable to illness in their first two
weeks, the officials said.
is considered a success only after babies grow,” said Yuji Ishihara, head of
the zoo. “We have a lot of things we still don’t know, so we have even more
difficult tasks ahead.”
The Toyama zoo
breeds seven Japanese rock ptarmig
'We're sort of her
mum': behind the scenes at Sydney's Taronga zoo
Lily and Blossom are
about to be toilet trained at Taronga zoo. The two young sugar gliders are
curled up together inside a wooden box within a staff bathroom while trainer
Suzie Lemon is trying to coax them out with the promise of a sugary, sap-like
treat. Lily eventually emerges and promptly pees all over the floor but Lemon
doesn’t seem to mind. After all, they’re not here for that kind of toilet
“We’re training them
to glide over to us on cue to demonstrate their natural gliding behaviour,”
Lemon explains. “We needed an enclosed space, somewhere with four solid walls,
because in future they’re going to be doing this for education purposes in the
new learning centre.
“These two are both
young so they’ve got to build their confidence and learn how to aim.”
Lemon raises her
palms to form a wide landing pad and beckons Lily over. When the marsupial
takes off it spreads its limbs to reveal wing-like membranes before landing on
“They do a bit of
head-bobbing in or
350 animals in
Darjeeling Zoo face shutdown heat
Over 350 zoo inmates
of a specialised zoo located in Darjeeling, known for its conservation and
breeding programmes of highly endangered animals, are facing the heat of the
ongoing shutdown with food supplies fast drying up.
The Padmaja Naidu
Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP), popularly known as Darjeeling Zoo, is a
specialized zoo known for its conservation and breeding programmes of Red
Panda, Snow Leopards, Tibetan Wolf and highly endangered animal species of
eastern Himalayas. It houses animals of 49 species.
But with the
supplies drying up, officials of this largest high altitude zoo in the country,
are apprehensive about how to arrange food for the animals if the indefinite
shutdown continues for a few more days.
Zoo director Piar
Chand said, on a daily basis the zoo requires nearly 100 kg of meat, 80 kg
fodder, 50-60 kg fruits, 50 kg grams, wheat and flour.
have stock of fruits, grams, wheat for the next few days. We have a ready
source of fodder for herbivores as there are forests nearby. But if the
shutdown continues for a few more days, then arranging for such huge quantity
of meat and fruits would be a problem," Chand told PTI.
"meat is being supplied by few locals but supply of chicken has completely
While taking about
alternative route to arrange food, Chand said," If the shutdown continues,
then we will take the help of administration and political parties in the hills
to arrange for supply of fresh food. We can't let the animals fast."
Chand said, with the
shutdown on for the last five days the zoo revenue has also been hit.
Darjeeling zoo is
also a member of
Insemination May Be Yangtze Giant Turtle’s Last Hope
Imagine that the
human species has been decimated to one man and one woman. Their names are no
longer relevant, as they can simply be referred to as “he” and “she.” The
future of the entire species depends on their willingness — and ability — to
mate and produce offspring.
This is what’s
happening to the Yangtze giant softshell turtle, or Rafetus swinhoei.
Scientists, the media, and even the turtles’ caregivers have long stopped
calling 110-year-old Susu and 90-year-old Xiangxiang by their names, simply
referring to them as “the male” and “the female.”
They are the last
two Yangtze giant softshell turtles known to still live in China. Another one
has been located in a lake in northern Vietnam, while a second turtle died last
year. There’s a small chance that others might exist in the wild somewhere, though
nobody knows for sure. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists
the species as “critically endangered,”
True altruism seen
in chimpanzees, giving clues to evolution of human cooperation
Whether it’s giving
to charity or helping a stranger with directions, we often assist others even
when there’s no benefit to us or our family members. Signs of such true
altruism have been spotted in some animals, but have been difficult to pin down
in our closest evolutionary relatives. Now, in a pair of studies, researchers
show that chimpanzees will give up a treat in order to help out an unrelated
chimp, and that chimps in the wild go out on risky patrols in order to protect
even nonkin at home. The work may give clues to how such cooperation—the
foundation of human civilization—evolved in humans.
provide powerful evidence for forms of cooperation in our closest relatives
that have been difficult to demonstrate in other animals besides humans,” says
Brian Hare, an evolutionary anthropologist at Duke University in Dur
Endangered Bourret’s Box Turtles Hatch at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo
Keepers at the
Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Reptile Discovery Center are celebrating a
conservation success five years in the making: a pair of Bourret’s box turtle
hatchlings. These young are the first of their species to hatch both at the Zoo
and as a part of the North American Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA)
Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Bourret’s box turtle.
Ever since the
turtles emerged from their shells June 12, keepers have closely monitored them
to ensure they are eating and gaining weight. They appear to be healthy and
thriving, weighing 25 grams each—about 1/52 the size of their mother, who
weighs 1,300 grams. Staff have not yet verified the 10-day-old turtles’ sex, as
they show no sexual dimorphism at this age. The young turtles, as well as the
adult female and two adult males, will remain off-exhibit while under
The Bourret’s box
turtles’ parents arrived at the Zoo in 2012 following a SSP breeding
recommendation. From October to March, adult Bourret’s box turtles undergo a
period of brumation—a hibernation-like state
first for Loro Parque in breeding programme
Loro Parque in
Puerto de la Cruz has become the only zoological centre in Europe to reproduce
the Lear’s Macaw.
magnificent success for its breeding programme, the Foundation has achieved a
breakthrough in the production of the “Anodorhynchus leari”, an endangered
species that lives in the north of Brazil.
Since 2006, when the
Brazilian government first sent a pair of Lear Macaws for reproduction to Loro
Parque, LPF has obtained 30 individuals born in Tenerife; nine individuals have
been returned to Brazil already.
of the parrots has been fundamental in order to achieve such a successful
breeding. The imitation of their natural habitat, the good climate and the food
from the licuri palm tree – the same they feed on in Brazil – have been the
keys for such good results.
Lear macaws suffer
illegal trade with the capture of its young, and when grown up, farmers chase
after them to protect their corn. Their habitat is incr
Bandung Zoo Accuses
Fundraiser Of Fraud
Indonesian zoos do
not enjoy a sterling reputation for animal care. When foreigners try to
intervene, officials become upset – especially when money is at stake.
environmentalist has raised over $41,000 and counting – in the hopes of
improving conditions at Indonesian zoos and rescuing suffering animals.
Officials at Bandung Zoo in West Java province think the money should go
straight to the zoo itself.
In recent years,
Bandung Zoo has been accused of failing to provide adequate care for its
animals. Earlier this year, an old video of its sun bears, appearing emaciated
and hungry, was uploaded on YouTube, prompting renewed calls for the zoo’s
who describes herself as a “lifelong animal advocate, filmmaker and
consultant,” on March 16 launched an online fundraising campaign on
gofundme.com. The page prominently features the YouTube video titled ‘Bandung
Zoo: Starving sun bears and dirty cages #horrificzoo.’
Rodriguez’s goal is
to raise US$75,000 to ‘help the animals of Indonesia.’ Specifically, she wanted
to assemble a six-person team of experts to visit Indo
Considerations at the Zoo: The Pangolin Dilemma
The Pittsburgh Zoo
has a rare wildlife treasure, but they aren’t sharing it with the public just
The zoo is in
possession of three wild-born pangolins, but the animals are not expected to be
on public view for two years. In the meantime, they will be used for research.
While conservationists argue that keeping them in captivity is unethical,
zookeepers contend that knowing more about the animal and promoting research
and awareness is the best way to save it from extinction.
The pangolin is
among the world’s most endangered species, but very little is known about them.
Pangolins are small, odd-looking mammals with furry bellies, scaly backs, and
cone-shaped faces. When threatened, they curl into a little armored ball and
emit a noxious acid, like a skunk. They’ve been around since the time of the
dinosaurs, and they eat bugs using tongues that roll up in their abdomens and
can be longer than their bodies. They look like little armored wa
Kansas City zoo
chimp dies after falling from a tree during skirmish
A chimpanzee at the
Kansas City Zoo has died after what the zoo called “an unfortunate accident.”
The zoo said
Wednesday morning that one of the chimps passed away due to injuries sustained
in a fall from a tree, during a brawl involving several chimps.
A skirmish broke out
around 9 a.m. among 12 chimps inside the 3-acre habitat, which the zoo said is
“often a part of chimpanzee society and is a means of maintaining the
hierarchical structure within that society.”
chimp, named Bahati, climbed a tree during the fight and fell when he grabbed a
branch that broke, the zoo said. The zoo initially said the branch was dead,
but later clarified that it was alive, but too small to support his weight.
A fully grown male
chimpanzee can weigh
loss is scarier than climate change
While the plight of
tigers, sharks and rhinos may be sad, does it really matter to mankind if these
species go extinct? Should we care if the only way to see these beasts is in a
zoo or aquarium, or if they go the way of the Dodo?
species is not only in the interests of zoologists and animal lovers, it is
essential to safeguard the future of our own, says Marco Lambertini,
director-general of environmental group World Wide Fund for Nat
ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATORS SHOULDN’T GIVE UP HOPE
educator and EarthEd contributing author Jacob Rodenburg shares what motivated
him to write the “The Pathway to Stewardship” chapter in EarthEd: Rethinking
Education on a Changing Planet.
I’m trying hard not
to get discouraged. Being an environmental educator in today’s world feels like
you are asked to stop a rushing river armed only with a teaspoon.
There are so many
issues to be worried about—from climate change to habitat destruction, from
oceans of plastic to endangered species, from the loss of biodiversity to
melting glaciers. And the list goes on. The field itself has become ever more
siloed and compartmentalized over time, leaving schools, parents, and outdoor
programs with little unified guidance. How do we teach kids—in a hopeful and
empowering way—about today’s formidable challenges? And how do we translate
this increase in knowledge about environmental issues into action?
World's 1st Legal
Rhino Horn Auction
As the demand for
rhino horn has increased globally, a trend led by Asia, we have seen the growth
of rhino being poached in South Africa escalate at alarming levels to match
that demand. We are at a crossroad where we, as a nation, need to view
alternative approaches to conserve our species.
Meet the Kuwaitis
who live with pet cheetahs at home
In the basement of a
building in Kuwait city, two 80cm-tall African cheetahs sluggishly play with a
ball next to a table. Shahad al-Jaber, a 32-year-old Kuwaiti, smiles proudly.
“They are my babies. I would prefer them to my children if I had any, I’m sure."
Followed by more
than 15,000 fans on Instagram, Jaber bought both Mark and Shahad through an
illicit network that smuggled them from Africa in April 2013 and February 2014,
respectively, for a little more than $3000 each. While proudly showing off her
cheetahs on Instagram, she claims she spends an average of $350 a month to feed
and care for them.