Sample plate from Handbook of the Mammals of the World - Volume 5
So no sooner than
the strike in Toronto Zoo ends than does one start in Pretoria zoo starts. The
reasons for striking are different of course. Pretoria Zoo staff have been
expected to work a seven day week without any extra remuneration for working
weekends. I daresay that there is a bit more to it than that but that appears
to be the sticking point. Thinking back I don't think I have ever been paid
extra for working weekends. Zoos are a seven day a week operation, nothing
changes except weekends are busier and I reckon we all appreciate that. We all
have another life though. Staff do need time off to be alone or with friends
and family. At least Pretoria Zoo has a union fighting for them (I have never
been in a union). Think on though and read the link about "Of snarls and
scratches: Stories from zookeepers who care for dangerous beasts"…It's all
a bit of nonsense really till you read the statement by Saji, "the keeper for the zoo's hippopotamuses, says that he
has stuck to his job even though it's on a contract basis only because of his
love for the beasts.“I don’t get any allowances other than the daily wage. But
I have worked here for the last 10 years only because I love being with
them." …..'Contract Basis' ….this is the infamous Daily Wage for
which many Zoo Keepers in Asia and the Middle East work. The wages are low and
these staff have no protection at all. They can be terminated on a whim. Many
of these contract/daily wage workers have worked as zoo keepers for ten,
twenty, thirty years. Their expertise in some areas is invaluable. If they were
to strike though they would be out on their ear. No protection whatsoever. The
sort of thing they may wish to strike for would be things which keepers in the
West have taken for granted since forever. I find it difficult to take these
zoos seriously in any area whilst this situation continues to exist.
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.
- Morning Sickness
I swear to god this
is not your typical pregnancy/morning sickness blog post.
Not that there is
anything wrong with so-called Mommy Blogging. In fact, there are some great
ones out there, so I am told. But the
people who write that share at least three of the following qualities:
1) They have kids
2) They use coasters
religiously and appropriately
3) They grow all of
their own food with one hand (the other hand is usually doing something crafty)
4) They take
perfectly artistic photos of everyday goings-on (such as pooping) that make it
look like a utopian paradise
5) Their clothes
I meet precisely one
criterion in that list (hint, it is not number 5). Even though I do have a kid, and I am 31
years older than said child, I feel like I am still in seventh grade. This is a quality about my mindset that has
not changed. The only re
'Bertha' the hippo,
Manila Zoo's oldest inhabitant, dies at 65
"Bertha" the hippopotamus, Manila
Zoo's oldest inhabitant, passed away Friday at 65.
Zookeepers said they
found Bertha lifeless in her area this morning. They said the hippo may have
died of old age as autopsy results did not point to any disease.
People who were in
charge of taking care of Bertha also pointed out that the 65-year-old hippo had
been moving slower than usual in the past two to three months.
Manila Zoo in the Philippines
Zoo official: This
was not first time Kumar the orangutan escaped exhibit at Greenville Zoo
An orangutan escaped
from its enclosure at the Greenville Zoo on Sunday, per zoo officials.
Jeff Bullock with
the Greenville Zoo said the male orangutan was able to break one of the wires
that held the enclosure netting together and slipped through the hole around
11:30 a.m. The orangutan then sat on top of the roof holding area, Bullock
A witness captured
video of the orangutan during the very moment he escaped. Click to watch.
The zoo was then
placed on lock down and all visitors were moved inside of the gift shop and
various other safe areas.
Soon after, the
orangutan returned to its enclosure through the hole and a curator brought in
several pad locks to secure the netting where the hole was created. The
orangutan never wandered away into the park area where visitors are.
Bullock says crew
members then used water hoses and fire extinguishers to get the orangutans to
retreat into the den area long enough for that crew member to secure the net
using the pad locks. This is a tactic also u
Beluga whale dies at
SeaWorld Orlando shortly after birth
says a beluga whale died shortly after it was born at the theme park and an
investigation has begun into the cause of death.
The Orlando Sentinel
reports that theme park officials say the calf was born this past week but was
unusually weak and rose to the surface briefly before sinking to the bottom of
a pool. Its mother was 17-year-old Whisper, who has lived at SeaWorld Orlando
SeaWorld said animal
care teams tried to revive the calf but were unable to save it. The cause of
the newborn whale’s death is unclear.
Park officials say
they will run
As Bradenton area
mascot turns 69, let’s celebrate Snooty
Though the Bradenton
area is fortunate to have many great ambassadors, there is one in particular
whose contributions sometimes go unnoticed.
The good news is, he
doesn’t seem to mind.
Snooty the Manatee,
the “Oldest Living Manatee in Captivity” according to Guinness World Records,
resides at the South Florida Museum in downtown Bradenton and will turn 69 on
His annual Birthday
Bash on July 22 provides the perfect opportunity to see him and celebrate his
life and contributions.
For those who don’t
know his history, Snooty is the oldest-known manatee in the world. In the
1940s, Samuel Stout, owner of the Miami Aquarium and Tackle Company, acquired a
permit from the state to exhibit a single manatee named Lady.
Baby giraffe at
Maryland Zoo receives second plasma transfusion
A 3-week-old baby
giraffe at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore underwent a second plasma transfusion
Sunday and will continue to receive around-the-clock care, the zoo said.
The calf, Julius,
has had trouble nursing and since he was born June 15, according to zoo
officials, preventing him from receiving essential antibodies from his mother.
Julius received a plasma transfusion from a giraffe at the Columbus Zoo three
days after he was born.
On Saturday, a
sudden change in Julius' bloodwork sparked "serious concern for the
giraffe care and veterinary teams," according to the zoo's website. A
critical care plan required a second plasma tr
Park backs RHS elephant campaign
Park is involved in a garden at this week’s RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower
Show that highlights the destruction of Africa’s elephant population as a
result of brutal ivory poaching.
It has worked with
Tusk, a conservation charity set up to combat poaching in Africa, to create a
garden named Not For Sale, which is made up of a ring of tusk arches,
symbolising the scale of the slaughter of African elephants killed by poachers.
Sounds of the
African savannah will play around the tusks while arid grasses, plants and
acacia trees will help create a real sense of Africa.
At the end of the
arched walk, the garden opens into
Center Aims To Reintroduce Endangered Primates To Natural Habitats
20 species of
gibbons–many of which are endangered or critically endangered–take shelter in
the center, located in Saugus. In fact, this haven for the primates is the only
institution in the world to breed all four genera of gibbons.
“From these 20
species of Gibbons, there is only one species that is only vulnerable, all the
other ones are either endangered or critically endangered,” said Gabriella
Skollar, the director of the Gibbon Center.
animals are becoming even more rare in the wild, Skollar said, because of human
“The reason they are
endangered is because of hunting and deforestation,” she said, adding that many
gibbons are from dwindling forests in Southeast Asia. “They’re losing their
habitat because they are cutting down the forest for palm oil plantations, cafe,
tea plantations, creating roads, hardwood for furniture.”
The Gibbon Center,
founded in 1976 by Alan Mootnick, provides consulting services to zoos, museums
and government agencies such as the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and
participates in all relevant species survival plans.
taught, Mootnick spent 15 years caring for animals and studying captive
primates before housing his first gibbon, according to the center’s website. He
supported costs for the Gibbon Conservation Center by selling “personal assets”
and running his own construction business until 1990 when it went non-profit.
He continued running
the center until his deat
captive breeding plan facilitates wildlife laundering
A new study has
questioned the validity of Indonesia’s
plan that allowed breeders to produce over four million animals in
captivity for trade in 2016.
The Captive Breeding
Production Plan (CBPP) establishes quotas for the species and number of
mammals, reptiles and amphibians that can be bred by licenced commercial
breeding farms in the country.
For 2016, the Plan
applied to 13 captive breeding facilities, 129 mammal, reptile and amphibian
species with a total of 4,273,029 animals to be produced through captive
However, a critical
scrutiny of the Plan published today in Conservation Biology finds major flaws
that permit the laundering of wild-caught animals into legal trade through
falsely claiming they have been captive-bred.
Among the flaws
highlighted in Biological parameters used in setting captive breeding quota for
Indonesia’s breeding facilities, is the exaggerated inflation of the breeding
capabilities of many animals—for one frog species the Plan sets a quota 67
times higher than the animal would have been able to produce naturally.
found that quotas had been set for two species where no breeding stock was
present in any of the country’s registered breeding facilities, nor did some
quotas take into account how difficult it
The Top 10
Behaviours of Expert Animal Trainers by Steve Martin
Think of a trainer
you recognize as an expert. Now, think of the characteristics that inspire you
to call that person an expert. Is it the person’s knowledge, skills, charisma,
confidence, reputation or … something else? This presentation will operationalize
some of the most important characteristics that expert animal trainers exhibit,
from my point of view.
We all know great
trainers in our lives, people we look up to, admire, talk about favorably with
others. But, how does a person earn that reputation as a great trainer? And,
what separates a great trainer from an average trainer? To answer these
questions, we need to start by operationalizing the construct “training skill.”
What does a trainer do to earn a reputation and label of “Expert?”
supervisors, veterinarians, directors and more would benefit from a description
of the observable training skills of their staff. Since everyone’s training
these days, how does a leader with no experience in training judge the skills of
their staff? Because a person has read Don’t Shoot the Dog (a great resource by
the way), has a whistle around their neck or a clicker in their hand, and uses
jargon that confuses non- trainers, does not mean a person is a highly-skilled
trainer. When a vet, curator or director watches a training session how are
they to know skillful training when they see it? When the trainer tells them
the animal is acting up, distracted by their presence, or messing with their
minds, how does the director know the real problem isn’t the trainer
encroaching on the animal’s personal space, unclear criteria, low rate of
reinforcement, poor antecedent arrangement, or one of many other common
training mistakes? For that matter, how does the trainer know?
involves the artful application of scientific principles. As in other art
forms, skill is a product of learning combined with practice. Where some people
have developed their skill mostly by learning from their mistakes, others have
benefitted from the guidance of knowledgeable and skilled mentors. As the
training profession advances, there are increased opportunities to learn from
mentors and other experts in the field through conferences and direct contact.
However, animal training
Latest AKF out now
Don’t get us wrong
about rhinos says Environmental Affairs
Last Friday (June
30) the Department of Environmental Affairs issued a curious media statement in
which it notes with concern what it terms the misrepresentation of facts
associated with the international trade in rhino horn. It warns that this trade
is prohibited in terms of the Convention on International Trade in Species of
Fauna and Flora (CITES). As a case of slamming the gate after the horse has
bolted, this is hard to beat.
In April this year
the Constitutional Court upheld a High Court decision overturning a 2009
moratorium prohibiting the domestic trade in horn. This followed a successful
application brought by rhino farmers challenging the moratorium. Environmental
Affairs took the decision to the Constitutional Court and lost. The Department
is now preparing legislation to ratify the trade.
The result of the
ConCourt decision requires an unbanning of domestic rhino horn trade
retrospective to 2009, opening the gate for charges against the department by
farmers for restriction of trade and loss of earnings. How it came to this, in
the face of massive rhino poaching (over 1 000 a year) and an international ban
on cross-border trade and massive public support for rhinos is simply
disastrous bungling by the department. The outcome was so startling that there
have been questions raised about collusion between the department and rhino
The point, though,
is why would anyone want to buy rhino horn if it could not be onsold illegally
to dealers in Asia where it’s worth more per kilogram than gold or heroin? With
sophisticated poaching syndicates running circles around highly trained military
personnel in th
Muslim prayers at
Quebec zoo upset some people
A Quebec zoo is
defending itself after receiving criticism for allowing a group of Muslims to
pray on its premises.
Parc Safari says it
has been the subject of hateful and racist comments since a YouTube video was
posted on Sunday showing the prayers.
A woman can be heard
shouting, “we are too conciliatory,” while another says she is against prayers
in public spaces.
Zoo management says
the Muslims respected all the guidelines and would have been expelled had they
officials say the zoo is a multicu
Zoo workers strike
but animals OK
The Pretoria Zoo has
failed in a last-ditch bid to prevent a strike.
The National Trade
Union Congress slapped a strike notice on the National Zoological Gardens of SA
Zoo spokesman Craig
Allenby said the notice warned that members of the union, which represents
about 120 zoo workers, intended demonstrating and picketing after the expiry of
the 48-hour notice period.
He said the dispute
related to an agreement signed in 2009 between the zoo and its trade unions on
the implementation of a seven-day working week.
"[The union] is
demanding that the agreement be cancelled and employees be paid overtime for
emphasised that the zoo - which attracts more than 150000 children annually -
was a seven-days-a-week operation and it was impractical and financially
impossible to meet the demands of the union.
Founded in 1899, the
zoo is the largest and oldest in the country. It is home to more than 5000
animal species - many of the
Tragedy as 720 tuskers killed in biggest ivory haul for decades
shipment – valued at £7.1 million – was uncovered in Hong Kong, highlighting
how the demand for “white gold” is as high as ever despite global attempts to
smash the illegal ivory trade.
discovered the tusks wrapped up with fish inside a 40-ft container shipped into
the former British colony from Malaysia.
The seizure sent
shockwaves through the conservation community with calls for tougher sentences
for those behind an illegal trade killing 80,000 elephants a year.
Heather Sohl, Chief
Advisor on Wildlife at WWF-UK said today:
“This huge ivor
In South Africa,
Lions Are Bred for Slaughter - and Volunteers Are Duped Into Helping
magnificent lions appear on the computer screen. Their tremendous manes seem to
be windblown. This is the menu, or shopping list, of a site that sells short
hunting vacations in South Africa to hunters from around the world. The surfers
are invited to choose the lion they find most impressive, mark it with the
mouse and make a reservation. The company promises to provide the lion for a
kill within a fenced-in, confined area. You can’t miss. The payoff comes fast.
Who has time to waste these days, especially if you have money?
in enclosed or confined areas, known as “canned hunting,” are organized down to
the last detail and operate like a Swiss clock. The owners of the game farms
who organize these safaris breed the lions especially for this purpose. The trophy
hunters arrive tw
The Cheetah Man:
Fota Director Sean McKeown on a life working with the wild bunch
Sean McKeown has an
office view that dreams are made of. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the
cheetah run at Fota Wildlife Park. Every so often one of them swaggers past the
window, sometimes stopping to stare through the glass. There had been talk of a
wall to border the cheetahs and the office building when Fota’s entrance was
revamped in 2010, but the wildlife park’s director put a stop to that. The view
he secured is only right for the person known in the industry as ‘The Cheetah
McKeown holds the
stud book in Europe for the Northern cheetah, deciding if and when they should
be bred in zoos around Europe. Under his watch, there has been a hugely
successful cheetah breeding programme at Fota — to date, more than 200 have
been born, the latest on May 29. The four cubs, two male and two female, went
on view to the public for the first time last Thursday. It’s the second birth
this year for mother Nimpy.
positioned inside the den where the female gave birth. It’s to ensure the cubs,
and mum, are safe and secure. The director has access to the camera feed on his
phone, he shows me video after video of the cheetah caring for her young,
admitting he has a soft spot for the breed.
But we are here to
talk about another new addition to Fota Wildlife Park — the new tiger cub. It’s
a rare feat for any zoo — just five or six litters of the Sumatran Tiger are
born in captivity worldwide each year.
In the wild, the
species is critically endangered, with current esti
Italy has its own
subspecies of bear – but there are only 50 left
It’s hard to believe
that just a few hours drive from Rome, a small population of bears has survived
in isolation for thousands of years. They live in the Apennine mountains that
run along the centre of Italy, where high peaks merge into woodland, lakes and
pasture, with humans scattered in villages throughout.
These are brown
bears (Ursus arctos), the most common and widespread of the eight bear species.
Brown bears can be
found from the coldest coasts of Alaska to the relatively warmer mountains of
Turkey, and right across Eurasia from Japan to Scandinavia.
Lynx could return to
Britain this year after absence of 1,300 years
After an absence of
1,300 years, the lynx could be back in UK forests by the end of 2017. The Lynx
UK Trust has announced it will apply for a trial reintroduction for six lynx
into the Kielder forest, Northumberland, following a two-year consultation process
with local stakeholders.
The secretive cat
can grow to 1.5m in length and feeds almost exclusively by ambushing deer.
Attacks on humans are unknown, but it was hunted to extinction for its fur in
the UK. The Kielder forest was chosen by the trust from five possible sites,
due to its abundance of deer, large forest area and the absence of major roads.
Sheep farmers and
some locals are opposed to the reintroduction, but Dr Paul O’Donoghue, chief
scientific advisor to the Lynx UK Trust and expert adviser to the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) believes there are good reasons for
reintroducing the predator.
Rx for orphan walrus
calf: touch, massage, cuddle, repeat
Everybody needs a
shoulder to lean on now and then. A walrus calf at the Alaska SeaLife Center in
Seward, Alaska, is getting one 24 hours per day.
members, working in pairs, are touching, massaging and cuddling a calf all day
and all night as part of its recuperation. The calf, estimated to be about 6
weeks old, was found last month without its mother several miles outside Nome.
Walrus are highly
social and spend two years with their mothers, said Jennifer Gibbins, marketing
and communications director for the center.
constant contact," Gibbins said. "Part of the caregiving is providing
that constant contact and tactile interaction.
The calf was spotted
in mid-June on the deck of a mining barge. The walrus was still on the barge
the next morning and the barge crew summoned wildlife experts.
The SeaLife Center
is dedicated to marine research and education and features a public aquarium.
It's the only facility in Alaska that holds a permit for marine mammal rescue
When the calf
reached Seward on June 17, it weighed 120 pounds (54 kilograms) and was
severely dehydrated," Gibbins said. "That was really th
Of snarls and
scratches: Stories from zookeepers who care for dangerous beasts
There are few beasts
in the world that fascinate and frighten us as much as the tiger. Even when we
watch the majestic animal when it is within the confines of a cage, a shiver
runs down the spine as it growls and fixes its fierce eyes on us.
But for 48-year-old
Raman, one of the zookeepers at the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, the tiger is an
animal who can be a friend.
Around 9.30 am,
Raman reaches the first cage and calls out, "George!". The response
from his friend is immediate. "Grrrr!" growls George, as he puts his
massive head out of the inner enclosure and strides out to the outer cage. On
seeing Raman holding the water hose, George cannot contain his joy. He runs
towards him with a huge roar, as if he's forgotten that there are iron bars
between the two of them."Were you sleeping?" Raman asks George
lovingly. "Come, let's take a bath!"
The great cat
obediently sits, ready for a good splash.
Sprinkling water on
George's head, Ra
VIDEO: Kai Palaoa To
Governor – Sign Aquarium Life Bill
Kealoha Pisciotta of
the Kai Palaoa group is adding her voice to the chorus urging Governor David
Ige to sign Senate Bill 1240, a bill that would phase out aquarium fish
collecting in Hawaii.
Gov. David Ige
announced on June 23 that he intends to veto the bill because “there is concern
that the science does not support the claims made by the bill. It will be
premature to ban aquarium collection before doing the necessary studies.”
cultural practitioner with Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and Kai Palaoa, disagrees. She
equates the aquarium with wildlife trafficking.
“Aquarium fish are
actually our wildlife,” Pisciotta says. “Imagine if we just went out and we
collected our w