Saturday, July 22, 2017

Zoo News Digest 22nd July 2017 (ZooNews 963)

Zoo News Digest 22nd July 2017  (ZooNews 963)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

The big news this week is the AZA inviting Wayne Pacelle the CEO of the Humane Society of the United States to give a keynote address spot at the group’s annual meeting in September. This has stirred up people to such a degree that there are talks of boycott and resigning AZA membership. Is his talk a good idea? Judging by the reactions I think not. I am all for listening to the other side of the story, any story, and base my opinions on this and so which may even change from time to time. There are other times though when I really can't be bothered. I believe Wayne Pacelle is a wolf in sheeps clothing. Thinking back I could actually have predicted that something like this was going to happen...only it seemed too ridiculous. The wolf has been making some slightly pro AZA statements in the press for a little while now and now we know he could sneak in the back door of the hen house.

I am not a fan of Dade City's Wild Things or of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma but I am no friend of PETA either. Just how can a Federal Judge order an inspection by PETA ‘experts’???? This is so stupid as to be unbelievable. This would be the same as allowing the Born Free Foundation a legal right to inspect British Zoos. I am not against either organisation visiting any zoo anywhere and voicing opinion but neither group contains experts and so that opinion is hardly legally valid. From a personal point of view I don't think Dade or Wynnewood should actually exist. Playing with tigers is wrong, pulling them from their parents is wrong, breeding them is wrong, I mean is a single one of these tigers on an official studbook anywhere? What is the contribution to conservation?

The really important news which should be top on the internet is Vietnam closing all the Bear Bile Farms. This is a tremendous victory for Animals Asia but at the same time a massive headache. If there ever was a need for an animal charity in need of funds for building new housing then it is now. It would be gratifying if the HSUS, PETA and the Born Free Foundation all put their hands into their overflowing coffers and made a contribution to a project which really matters. I have visited both of the Animals Asia rescue in China and one in Vietnam and cannot praise too highly the quality of both accommodation and care the bears receive. The staff too are excellent.

I was looking back at links I have posted over just the past four years. Just because a story disappears from the media does not mean that it no longer exists, been shelved or has gone away. Granted that this CAN be the case but I hear things that never reach the press. There are some extremely disturbing zoo news stories just waiting to be told. As they say "it will all come out in the wash". Do you not wonder about zoos who were hugging the media who all of a sudden say nothing at all for years? It isn't normal, especially if they are commercial.

So they say that Cairo Zoo is dropping into neglect. I have only ever had a single zoo person say anything in praise of this collection. I have met a few who have worked there and all seemed happy to have escaped. I did visit once, it was a Tuesday and so the place was closed. This left me wandering around the perimeter looking in. I was not impressed. If all goes well I will visit again this year…avoiding Tuesday and the weekend.

Have you noticed that over the past five years or so that zoos are as likely to publish stories of animals dying as they are about births?

So the strike at the National Zoo in Pretoria is over. A bit quicker than Toronto. No details of the settlement. Did the strikers win? How many if any were dismissed? Lots of questions there. Sadly the situation of the Daily Wage Keepers in India just goes on and on and on.

Lots of interesting links follow.

Did You Know?
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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, 


AZA Giving HSUS Opportunity to Plug HSUS
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) is the largest zoo accrediting group in the United States, and is part of a worldwide network of accredited zoological institutions that contribute greatly to animal conservation and public education. The existence of zoos, however, is threatened by radical animal rights groups including HSUS and PETA, who have spread anti-zoo propaganda to children and other demographics. These groups are laying the groundwork to undermine public acceptance of zoos (which is currently very high).

So why has the leadership of AZA provided Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, a keynote address spot at the group’s annual meeting in September? And why is it hosting another HSUS employee on a panel discussion?

HSUS and Pacelle have an anti-zoo, PETA-like agenda. Consider the following:

HSUS’s official position on zoos is that it “believes that under most circumstances wild animals should ideally be permitted to exist undisturbed in their natural environments. Zoos are, however, a currently established part of our society and a fact of life.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement. In fact, HSUS is saying that ideally there would be no zoos and implying that, in the long run, there should be fewer and fewer.
HSUS does not endorse AZA institutions. “Even some AZA-accredited zoos contain forgotten and outdated exhibits,” says HSUS.
Wayne Pacelle has praised PETA, saying, “PETA has really done so much in a short time to protect animals and promote animal rights … visionary and professional leadership.”
Wayne Pacelle has even spoken out against pet ownership. Asked if he would envision a future without pets, he said, “If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another cat or dog born.” If he doesn’t like pet ownership, does anybody think he likes zoos?
The second HSUS representative—let’s not forget him—is Jonathan Balcombe. He’s an animal liberation extremist who has compared eating meat to using the “n”-word. Recently Balcombe has focused his efforts on fish. “Each fish is a unique individual, not just with a biology, but with a biography,” Balcombe asserts. “If you apply my rule of thumb, then very few species of fishes can adequately be kept in a tank,” he says. That doesn’t sound like a fan of aquariums—another segment of the AZA membership.

What good can come for the AZA of getting closer to people who ideally want AZA members out of existence? Some would say it’s a way for AZA to co-opt an opponent. But they’re playing with fire. HSUS’s strategy with any industry is to constantly move the goalposts while they “divide and conquer.” HSUS convinces AZA to embrace an alliance while allowing HSUS to co-opt AZA, not the other way around. It will give authority to HSUS to be the arbiter of who’s a humane zoo and who’s not, and reduce AZA’s authority on the matter.

The bottom line is that Wayne Pacelle has a record of deception—he recently lied before a Congressional committee. HSUS’s whole business model (and the nice salary it affords Pacelle) is based off of scam—keeping small-dollar donors in the dark that HSUS is not related to local humane societies. It’s likely that Pacelle will say whatever he needs to say to sound nice to AZA and try to get in their good graces. Perhaps he’ll spin a yarn about how AZA is the best in the business, and how HSUS just wants to “help” zoos “improve.” On his terms. What he won’t be upfront about is that the ultimate improvement is to not exist at all.

“A serious, science-based accreditation program is vital to the health of the zoo and aquarium industry and to the animals at the center of these enterprises,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “The AZA standards are strongest in the industry by a country mile, and while they don’t answer every question related to the care of animals and the other operations of zoos, they provide an essential baseline that humane organizations, the public, and other key stakeholders value immensely.”

France bans cetaceans in captivity, as Ringling wraps up its final shows this month
Late last week and into the weekend, the Detroit Zoo convened zoo industry and animal welfare leaders and probed the question of animal welfare. There is also a rising tide of concern within that industry for animal welfare, certainly among zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Zoo industry leaders are taking a more serious look at the behavioral and psychological health of animals on exhibition, and taking other steps for animal welfare, including by becoming advocates for animals on a larger scale. Some are pushing for a federal ban on the sale of shark fins and a ban on the breeding and private ownership of big cats for the pet trade.


Statement from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums
The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has invited Wayne Pacelle, the President and Chief Executive Officer of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), to speak at our Annual Conference this fall.

HSUS is active in the animal welfare community and Pacelle has an important perspective to share with conference attendees.

AZA-accredited facilities are well respected by HSUS. That was recently reflected in the following statement Pacelle made in an AZA news release about AZA accreditation.

“A serious, science-based accreditation program is vital to the health of the zoo and aquarium industry and to the animals at the center of these enterprises,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “The AZA standards are strongest in the industry by a country mile, and while they don’t answer every question related to the care of animals and the other operations of zoos, they provide an essential baseline that humane organizations, the public, and other key stakeholders value immensely.”

The AZA Annual Conference will be held in early September in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Another keynote address will be provided by Dr. Carl Jones, 2016 winner of the prestigious Indianapolis Prize. In the second plenary session, John G. Shedd Aquarium President and CEO, Dr. Bridget C

BREAKING NEWS: Vietnam agrees plan to close all bear bile farms
In a historic move the Vietnamese government has agreed a plan with Animals Asia to finally end bear bile farming in the country.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) outlines an agreement between animal welfare NGO Animals Asia and the Vietnam Administration of Forestry  (VNFOREST) to work together to rescue the remaining bears still caged on farms across Vietnam – believed to be around 1,000.
The document was signed and announced at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Hanoi on Wednesday 19 July.

Researchers Identify Novel Avulaviruses in Antarctic Penguins
A team of researchers recently identified 3 genetically and antigenically distinct avulaviruses in Antarctic penguins. The team’s findings, reported in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, “suggest that, in Antarctica, a much greater diversity of avulaviruses exists than previously recognized,” wrote the researchers.

Avulaviruses comprise the Avulavirus genus, which is within the Paramyxoviridae family of viruses. Avian paramyxoviruses (APMVs) affect domestic and wild birds, including turkeys, chickens, and pigeons. Outbreaks of APMVs can be economically devastating, particularly to the poultry industry.

Currently, 13 Avulavirus species (APMV-1 to APMV-13) have been recognized formally. Although most avulaviruses cause either mild or no clinical signs, APMV-1—the well-known and highly contagious Newcastle disease virus—can cause acute respiratory disease and diarrhea in chickens. Previous studies have reported detection of APMV-1 and several other avulaviruses in Antarctic pigeons.

For the current study, researchers visited 7 Antarctic locations, collecting cloacal and fecal samples from Gentoo penguins and blood samples from Adélie penguins; samples were collected during 3 scientific expeditions from 2014 to 2016. Several diagnostic tests were performed to isolate, confirm,

Genome study offers clues about history of big cats
A large international team of researchers has conducted a genetic analysis and comparison of the world's biggest cats to learn more about their history. In their paper published on the open source site Science Advances, the team describes their work mapping the genome of the jaguar and comparing the results with other big cats.
The jaguar is the largest wild cat in the Americas, and as the researchers note, it is also in danger of becoming extinct. While some of the reasons for the rapid decline in jaguar populations are obvious, others are not so clear. That is why the team embarked on a five-year mission to study the animals hoping to learn how to save them.
One of the avenues of research involved mapping the genome of the jaguar—such mapping for other big cats had already been done. That allowed the researchers to compare markers between cats belonging to the genus Panthera, which, in addition to jaguars, also includes tigers, lions, snow leopards and regular leopards. Also, because so much genetic work has been done on the common house cat, they, too, were included in the study.
The researchers report that they found over 13,000 genes that were similar through all of the species included in the study. They also found that the cats all diverged from a single a

Everything you need to know about the move to reintroduce lynx to the British countryside
After being absent for more than 1,300 years, lynx could make a comeback – if the plans to reintroduce them to the British countryside are approved.

The Lynx UK Trust has submitted an application to Natural England to carry out a trial reintroduction of six Eurasian lynx in the Kielder Forest region of Northumberland.

It is the first time an application has ever been made in the UK for this species but the move has left people divided, with some experts saying the presence of wild cats could keep the roe deer population under control while farmers and many others believe it could have a significant impact on livestock numbers.

Here’s everything you need to know.

Reintroduced Przewalski's horses have a different diet
The Przewalski's horse, also called Takhi or Mongolian wild horse, is the only remaining wild horse species. In 1969, wild horses were officially declared extinct. However, a few animals survived in captivity. In 1992, first captive bred wild horses were returned to the wild.
Petra Kaczensky and Martina Burnik Šturm from the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology from the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna now found out that before their extinction in the wild Przewalski's horses were on a mixed diet. In summer, they only ate grass, in winter also less nutritious bushes. After their reintroduction, the animals only eat high-quality grass throughout the year.
"We explain this dietary shift by an improved human attitude. In the past, humans considered Przewalski's horses as pasture competitors and hunted them as a food source. The nutritious pastures were reserved for domestic sheep and cattle. Thus, access to pastures in winter was difficult for wild horses. Shrubs and bushes were the only alternative," explaines Martina Burnik Šturm, one of the lead authors.
Przewalski's horses are "holy animals" today
Unlike in former times, Przewalski's horses are today worshiped as "holy animals" in the Gobi Desert. They are fully protected and are no longer hunted by humans. "The wild horses can now feed on grass throughout the year because humans allow it", says wildlife biologist and lead author Petra Kaczensky.
Habitat in the Gobi Desert has hardly changed
In the last 120 years, the habitat of the wild horses in Southwest Gobi has hardly changed. The available food resources have remained the same. But the social acceptance of

Pangolins at ‘huge risk’ as study reveals dramatic increases in hunting across Central Africa
The hunting of pangolins, the world’s most illegally traded mammal, has increased by 150 percent in Central African forests from 1970s to 2014, according to a new study led by the University of Sussex.

The first-ever study of its kind, published in Conservation Letters, shows the true scale of local pangolin exploitation across the continent. The international research team, which includes researchers from academia and conservation organisations, state that up to 2.7 million pangolins are harvested annually from forests in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo.

The team used data from 113 sites in 14 African countries to estimate the total annual harvest of pangolins. Worryingly the new study reveals the mammal, which is more sought after than elephant ivory and reproduces slowly, is now making-up an increasing proportion of all animals hunted in Central Africa. The researchers also found that snares are still being used to capture pangolins despite the practice being illegal in most Central African countries.

Pangolins are hunted and traded for food and traditional medicine throughout their range in Africa, and recent evidence has also shown an increasing trade of African pangolins to some countries in Asia. The researchers show that the price of pangolins has increased in urban African markets since the 1990s, with a 5.8 times increase in price observed for the sought after giant pangolin despite it being protected.

The team are calling on governments across the continent to increase the capacity to enforce international trade bans, embark on education and outreach programmes, and monitor pangolin populations.

Daniel Ingram, lead author of the study from the University of Sussex, said: “Our new study shows that African pangolins are at risk. We now have

I reckon White Lions would have been unlikely

Should rangers be allowed to kill poachers on sight? Yes‚ researchers say
South Africa should adopt a “shoot-to-kill” policy to show that it is serious about halting the country’s rhino poaching crisis.

This is the controversial view of two University of Botswana academics‚ who raised a storm by urging South Africa to adopt the highly controversial policy.

Writing in the latest issue of the SA Crime Quarterly journal‚ Goemeone Mogomotsi and Patricia Madigele argue that the policy‚ adopted in Botswana in 2013‚ was a “legitimate conservation strategy” and “a necessary evil” to protect rhinos from extinction.

Zoo’s roadkill bid is left to 'waste away'
ALTINA Wildlife Park’s push to feed roadkill to its animals has fallen on deaf ears.

The Riverina zoo has lost an ongoing battle with the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH), prohibiting staff from removing roadside carcasses.

Owner Gloria Altin described the outcome as a “disappointment”.

“Roadkill is useful for animals such as Tasmanian Devils, because it’s a much more natural diet for them in the wild,” she said.

“Additionally, we could have prevented accidents and helped save animals like the Wedge-Tailed Eagle, which tries to eat roadkill and becomes vulnerable to traffic.

“It really makes a lot of sense to us but there's not much we can do about it now.”

DEH informed the Darlington Point zoo that each carcass unlawfully gathered would attract a $3000 fine.

It came as a significant financial blow for t

On this day 1913: Edinburgh Zoo opens to the public
On this day in 1913, Edinburgh Zoo opened its doors for the first time. Edinburgh Zoo was founded by the Royal Zoological Society in the Corstorphine hill area, opening after just 15 weeks of work.
The park was created by Thomas Haining Gillespie, a solicitor from Dumfries. Despite the failure of Edinburgh’s previous zoo, the Royal Zoological Gardens, Gillespie’s ultimate goal was to successfuly house tropical animals. He soon formed the city’s Royal Zoological Society and began plans for Edinburgh Zoo. Searching for an appropriate site, the Zoological society desired a location which was widely and inexpensively accessible for the public, one which had minimal wind and maximum sun. The Zoological society was faced with financial difficulties so it was Edinburgh Council who purchased the 75-acre Costorphine Hill House estate for around £17,000 and allowed the society full use of the grounds in return for a small repayment fee each year.

Is there a place for zoos in modern-day society? The fight over Papanack Zoo
They gather out on County Road 19, mostly on weekends in the summer. Kerri Bayford, co-owner of Papanack Zoo, seems almost to be looking for them, these unwanted visitors, on this grey spring day. But it is far too early. The zoo doesn’t open until May.

“Animal rights activists like to come in the summer,” she tells me. “I think that’s why I like spring and fall so much.”
“There’s one nice thing about bad weather,” she says, gazing out on the two-lane road that runs in front of the zoo. “You usually don’t get a lot of animal rights activists coming out to see you.”

Bayford is taking me on a tour of the zoo, located about 45 minutes east of Ottawa, which she purchased in 2014. In addition to lions, Arctic wolves, lemurs, and a python, we see work crews feverishly constructing pens for the three Kodiak bears — Ursula, Betty, and Whopper — that will spend their first summer at Papanack this year.

“They’re going to be part of our new bear safety p

Wildlife park should stay put
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin has objected to the Sabah Wildlife Department”s (SWD) proposal to shift the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to Sugud, Penampang.

Yahya claimed that it would be unwise to shift the wildlife park, or commonly referred to as a zoo, as it will cost a lot money and time consuming.

“The zoo has been at Lok Kawi for a very long time now.

“I was made to understand that the main reason they want to shift the zoo is due to the limited space at the park”s present site.

“Thus, they (SWD) want to move it to Sugud, where the space is much bigger,” he said.

Yahya said constructing a zoo from scratch is not easy, as a lot of money would be needed.

“From what I can remember, when we first started the zoo, we had to spend almost RM40 million on the first day.

“Over the years, the expenditure grew t

Rethinking bad decisions taken at Bondla zoo
Who remembers Sarita the hippopotamus? Trucked into Goa from the Mysore zoo in 2013, she was "accidentally" killed by her mate last year, in their ill-suited enclosure at the Bondla zoo. Now there is one single hippo marooned in the jungle sanctuary, thousands of miles from his natural African habitat. Quite close by is another traumatised and lonely male animal, the Asian elephant Krishna, whose solitary existence dates back to the death of his own mate in 2012. It is heart-rending to view this marvellous but visibly doleful animal, shaking back and forth listlessly, its leg bound by a huge rope. Instead of being an attraction at the state's only zoo, the sight is thoroughly depressing.
Until last month, Krishna and Devidas the hippo weren't the only friendless and isolated animals at Bondla. There was also the tigress, Sandhya, whose own mate passed away some months ago. Now she has also been freed from her misery. This should have been regarded as a golden opportunity for the forest department authorities to rethink the obsolete mission of their flagship showcase, and to reorient to the twenty-first century cutting edge of animal r

Gene factor of melanistic tigers in Odisha under lens of NCBS
The Bangalore-based National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) is all set to study the rare melanistic tigers found in Odisha. The one-year project will entail genetic analysis of the melanistic tigers in captivity at Nandankanan Zoological Park here as well as the wild ranging ones in Similipal Tiger Reserve (STR).The National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA)-funded project received the recommendation of Research Advisory Committee (RAC) of the State Government last week. Uma Ramakrishnan of NCBS will lead the study.

Talking to this paper, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) SS Srivastava said the NBCS will collect blood samples from melanistic tigers which are in captivity in the zoo to understand genetic reasons behind melanism and the extent of melanism in these tigers.There are three melanistic tigers, all juveniles, in the zoo. They were born to Sneha, a white tigress paired with a normal-coloured male Manish. One of the three juveniles possesses strong black stripes on a white coat and in case of the other two, melanism is on normal colour body. Two of them have been released in the tiger safari of the zoo.

The research project will focus half of its tenure on the tigers in captivity while the other half will be in STR, where the melanistic tigers were recorded for the first time. During the last tiger en

Cairo's zoo falls into neglect
The Giza Zoo, built by Khedive Ismail Pasha and opened in 1891 under Khedive Muhammad Tawfiq Pasha, was considered a world-class facility when it opened. Covering an area of about 80 acres, the oldest zoo in the Middle East now houses approximately 6,000 animals, including some endangered species. In 1993, it ranked as the third best zoological garden in the world. Today, the zoo no longer figures among the top 330 such facilities. In 2004, it lost its accreditation from the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).

Chimp Expert: 'War for the Planet of the Apes' Nailed Poop-Throwing
Sure, Caesar and his hyper-intelligent apes can operate machine guns, ride horses, and in a couple cases, speak English. But for the most part, the simians in the new Planet of the Apes series are pretty true to modern-day apes. Advanced motion-capture technology, extremely physical acting, and attention to detail help make the chimpanzees and gorillas in War for the Planet of the Apes staggeringly realistic… even when they, quite literally, go apeshit.

There are some shitty spoilers for War for the Planet of the Apes below.
Towards the end of War, Caesar and his ape family have been captured and imprisoned by Woody Harrelson’s militaristic human group. In order to escape, the apes, lead by Caesar’s right-hand chimp Rocket, come up with a very ape-like plan. A human guard is minding his own business on patrol when the apes nail him in the back of the head with a water

Frog farms combat poaching
Poachers in Ecuador have long known the hefty prices their country's rare frogs can fetch. But now environmentally conscious firms are starting to sell the amphibians too - to try to save them from the black market and threatened extinction.

In San Rafael, just outside the capital Quito, the scientific company Wikiri is raising 12 species of frog. Some are native only to Ecuador, while others are at risk of disappearing from their natural habitat elsewhere.

After being raised in hundreds of terrariums, they are sent to Canada, the United States, Japan and various European countries for up to $600 (R7,738) each.

That high value "gives you an idea just how profitable that activity (frog poaching) can be," Lola Guarderas, manager of the facility, told AFP.

To illustrate her point, Guarderas showed a glass frog, with translucent skin through which its organs and beating red heart could be seen, as it moved along the edge of its container.

On the company's grounds - 5,000 square metres made up of big gardens alongside a river - the frogs are reproduced in labs, so as not to affect local fauna.

They are then put into an "ethical bio-

Dade City's Wild Things moves tigers to Oklahoma during court battle with PETA
On Friday, a federal judge ordered Dade City's Wild Things not to remove or relocate any of its 22 tigers pending an ongoing legal battle with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
By Sunday, 19 of the Dade City tigers pulled into the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma after a 1,200-mile journey on a cattle truck.

The move appears to be a reaction to a July 12 ruling by a judge allowing PETA officials to inspect the facility, owned by Kathy Stearns, and observe the tigers' care and housing. The judge scheduled the site inspection for Thursday.

PETA sued Wild Things in October, alleging its tiger cub encounter program, in which visitors can pay to cuddle or swim with weeks-old cubs, violates the Endangered Species Act.

The judge granted an emergency injunction Friday, ordering Stearns not to move the animals after PETA learned about the relocation plan.

G.W. Exotic Animal Park entertainment director Joe Maldonado confirmed 19 of Stearns' tigers arrived at his facility Sunday. He said a pregnant tiger gave birth during the haul, and all three cubs died. He did not know the whereabouts of the other three tigers cited in the court order.

"All I know is (Stearns) called me and asked if I could take the cats until she figured something out," Maldonado said. "Something to do with a lawsuit and PETA, and she needed to get rid of her tigers."

On Monday, Stearns denied sending her tigers to Maldonado. When asked if she transported any tigers out of her zoo to other facilities over the past several days, she said, "I don't know, I just got back into town today."

Maldonado, who holds the facility's U.S.

Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection
Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

The inspection was granted by a federal judge so PETA experts could observe the care and housing of 22 tigers on the property. PETA sued Wild Things in October, alleging its tiger cub encounter business, in which visitors can pay to cuddle or swim with weeks-old cubs, violates the Endangered Species Act.

A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not to remove any of the tigers from the zoo after PETA officials said they learned Stearns "was scheming to transfer its tigers" before the scheduled in

25 endangered one-horned rhinos die in Chitwan National Park during last year
As many as 25 one-horned rhinos have died in Chitwan National Park in Nepal in the last one year. The Nepal's Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation took a decision to transfer 30 rhinos from CNP to two national parks which aim to prevent possible epidemic dangers and increase the population of healthy rhinos.

Lion parts 'sold as fake tiger products' in Asia
Trade in bones and other parts of lions faked as tiger products is thriving in Chinese and South East Asian markets, a leading wildlife group says.
China's ban on the sale of tiger products has led to unscrupulous traders substituting them with lion parts, the UK-based Environment Investigation Agency (EIA) said.
South Africa is the largest exporter of lion parts to Asia, it added.
EIA is pushing for the trade to be banned, saying it encourages poaching.
It released its report as a meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites) begins in Switzerland.
Cites allows limited trade on body parts of lions bred in captivity.
The South African government last month announced an export quota of 800 skeletons, causing concern among conservation organisations.
The EIA said that between 2005 and 2015, South Africa exported the following to Laos and Vietnam:
755 lion bodies
587.5kg (92st 7lb) of bones, which is roughly the equivalent of 65 lions
54 claws
3,125 skeletons
67 skulls
90 teeth

Pretoria zoo strike comes to an end
The strike at the National Zoo in Pretoria, which started earlier this month, has come to an end after the National Zoological Gardens (NZG) of South Africa and employees affiliated to the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) reached an agreement.

In a statement, the NZG said the agreement saw the parties agree to end the strike and workers are set to resume duties on Wednesday.

"Details of the negotiated settlement will be discussed with the NZG’s non-striking employees and other stakeholders," the statement said.

"The NZG would like to expres

New Undergraduate Certificate in Zoo and Aquarium Conservation
A new certificate developed in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences' School of Natural Resources and the Environment will introduce University of Arizona students to the increasingly important role that zoos and aquariums play in wildlife conservation and management, and help them understand how to maintain sustainable wildlife populations in a zoo setting.

Zoos and aquariums worldwide have joined with local, national and international agencies to protect animal species. In Arizona, for example, the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson is involved in Saving Animals From Extinction, or SAFE, to raise awareness about the vaquita, a critically endangered porpoise species in the Gulf of California. The Phoenix Zoo is raising species native to Arizona for release to the wild, including the black-footed ferret, Chiricahua leopard frog, Gila topminnow and desert pupfish.

Through the undergraduate certificate in zoo and aquarium conservation, students will have the opportunity to participate in such

Study suggests climate change may kill off the aardvark in some areas
A team of researchers with the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa has found evidence that suggests the aardvark may face a large decrease in population as the planet heats up due to global warming. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes how they fastened monitors to a group of aardvarks who by happenstance were forced to endure a severe drought—and how the animals fared.

Rare birth of endangered hairy-nosed wombat in Australia
The population of one of the world's rarest species has been boosted with the birth of a northern hairy-nosed wombat joey, Australian wildlife officials said Wednesday.
The arrival of the furry marsupial comes as a conservation programme to save the animal—which numbers just 250 in the wild—gathers steam.
The joey emerged from its mother's pouch at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge in Queensland state, which was established just eight years ago and is one of only two known colonies remaining.
Queensland Environment Minister Steven Miles said wildlife officers had been closely observing the mother for the past 10 months.
"It's been a long wait for the wombat specialist team, but finally it's confirmed that the joey has successfully left the pouch," he said.
"This is the first addition to the reintroduced colony of northern hairy-nosed wombats in five years, and it indicates the new male brought in last year is settling in well."
The only known colonies of the animal are both in Queensland—at the Richard Underwood Nature Refuge and Epping Forest National Park.
When numbers dropped in Epping in 2009, the state gove

Elephant Action League (EAL) is proud to release GRINDING RHINO, a public report detailing another expansive and successful undercover investigative operation. In response to unprecedented growth in rhinoceros poaching rates in the past ten years, and enduring consumer demand for rhinoceros horn in both China and Vietnam, EAL commenced Operation Red Cloud in August 2016 and ended it in June 2017.
Operation Red Cloud is the first undercover investigation into rhino horn trafficking in China in decades. This 11-month intelligence gathering and investigative operation was designed to expose and map the networks, the players and the means (or ‘modus operandi’) by which rhino horn is trafficked into China. Today, EAL is releasing the results of this incredibly comprehensive operation.

A separate 200-page Confidential Intelligence Brief (CIB) has been prepared for law enforcement only, and it includes detailed information and evidence on 55 identified Persons of Interest involved in rhino horn trafficking in China and Vietnam.

Although completely illegal since 1993, anyone with the desire and means can easily buy rhinoceros horn in China. All you need to do is walk into an ‘antiques’ shop and ask.

The rhino horn products they show you are far from antique, though, they are new and have most likely been illegally trafficked from Africa to Vietnam and then into China. The report Grinding Rhino: An Undercover Investigation on Rhino Horn Trafficking in China and Vietnam, shows us exactly how rhino horn makes its way into those shops in China, now the largest illegal market for rhino horn in the world.

For Operation Red Cloud, in addition to off-site research and intelligence analysis, EAL investigators executed multiple field missions to China and Vietnam. EAL targeted provinces along the southern border of China — Guangxi, Guangdong, and Yunnan — as well as Henan, Fujian, Beijing, and a few key locations in Vietnam. Leveraging the experience and expertise of

New whale species discovered in Sri Lankan waters
Accidentally running into a whole new species of whale on the job? For marine biologist, conservationist and educator Asha de Vos, who’s a specialist in Sri Lankan blue whales, it’s all in a day’s work. She tells us more about her latest discovery—an Omura’s whale just off the shores of Sri Lanka, in the Northern Indian Ocean—and why this finding is significant.
What’s special about this species of whale?
Omura’s whale (Balaenoptera omurai) was only described as its own whale species in Japan in 2003. That’s just 14 years ago — amazing, considering that they grow to 33 feet and aren’t exactly microscopic! They have a distinctively long, narrow body and asymmetrical markings. Before 2003, this species was spotted in the South Atlantic, Eastern Pacific, and Eastern and Western Indian Oceans, plus one sighting of a

Sapphire mining threatens the indri lemur species
Indris - the largest lemurs - are native to Madagascar but their existence is threatened by illegal mining.
Since late last year more than 40,000 miners have descended on the island.
Our team followed the miners and made the long trek into what is meant to be a protected zone.

The Toxins That Are Designed to Kill - Or Heal
Venom is one of nature's great paradoxes. At its most basic level it's designed to kill – and to do so quickly and efficiently. Yet, the same properties that make it deadly can also be harnessed to provide potent healing.

There are potentially 20 million distinct venom toxins, each with its own targets and effects that have yet to be explored. As National Geographic reported:1

"Venom is exquisitely honed to stop a body in its tracks. The complex soup swirls with toxic proteins and peptides — short strings of amino acids similar to proteins. The molecules may have different targets and effects, but they work synergistically for the mightiest punch.

Some go for the nervous system, paralyzing by blocking messages between nerves and muscle. Some eat away at molecules so that cells and tissues collapse. Venom can kill by clotting blood and stopping the heart or by preventing clotting and triggering a killer bleed."

What's intriguing is that venom often targets the same molecules that medicines target to treat disease, "fitting into them like keys into locks."2 Out of the fewer than 1,000 venom toxins that have been analyzed by researchers so far, about a dozen medications have been developed and brought to market.

"It's a challenge to find the toxin that hits only a certa

Even scientists take selfies with wild animals. Here’s why they shouldn’t.
One of the great things about being a biologist is getting to work in the field and connect with wildlife. Through my career, I have enjoyed many unforgettable close encounters with various species, including turtles, birds, marine mammals, invertebrates and a lot of fish, especially sharks and rays.

My research program also has a strong focus on citizen science. I use data collected by recreational scuba divers and snorkelers to describe marine animal populations and conservation needs. Therefore, I work closely with the tourism industry.

Because of these connections, I am often asked to advise on best practices for tourists interacting with wildlife. In response I tell them that scientific studies have documented how unnecessarily handling or getting too close to wild animals can have lasting consequences – including causing stress which can interfere with their feeding or mating success.

Reflecting on my own experiences, however, I recognize that I and many of my peers have not always followed those best practices. Sure, we need to have close encounters with wildlife to do our work, and we have the necessary training and permits. We often have reason to photograph animals in the course of our research – for example, to quickly capture information such as size, health,

The Zoo Keepers Part in the Illegal Animal Trade

UK zoo donates white rhino eggs in IVF bid to save species
A British zoo is using IVF technology to help the three remaining northern white rhinos procreate and save the species from extinction.

Scientists at Longleat safari park in Warminster, England, extracted nine eggs from three female southern white rhinos in their facility earlier this week.

The eggs will be used by researchers at a clinic in Italy to develop IVF technology that eventually could be used with genetic material from the northern whites.

If scientists are unable to use IVF to create a pure northern white rhino, they have a back-up plan: to create and embryo using eggs from southern whites and sperm from a northern white to create a new hybrid species.

The southern white rhino is a sub-species that shares many of the characteristics of the northern white. While there are only three nort

9 Harsh But Helpful Tips on Rocking Your Internship With Animals!
I got my first internship the summer after I graduated college. Out of 30+ interns, I was the only one offered a job as a full-time trainer immediately after the internship ended. Since then I have coached other interns and have developed these 9 tips to help those who want to succeed in their animal internship.

If you are an aspiring marine mammal trainer, you understand the importance of getting animal experience (especially if you have read my book). Experience not only gives an inside look on what it is like to care for animals, but also connects you to influential leaders in the industry. If you are lucky enough to have landed an internship, you are well on your way to achieving your dreams. However, not everyone can be a trainer, so how you perform during your internship could determine whether or not you’ll be swimming with dolphins for a living.

Wildlife charity highlights use of palm oil in orangutan plight
Conservationists working for Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust are encouraging people to stop using products containing palm oil, to help save endangered orangutans.

Huge areas of the Sumatran rain forest are being cleared at an alarming rate to make way for palm oil plantations.

As well as contending with the loss of their natural habitat, orangutans, which are considered a pest in palm oil plantations, are often killed by workers as they go in search of food.

Durrell says any surviving orphan Orangutan babies are sold as pets.

The same fate often awaits other forest animals, such as rhinos and elephants.

Hot dogs: Is climate change impacting populations of African wild dogs?
Climate change may be harming the future of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) by impacting the survival rates of pups, according to one of the first studies on how shifting temperatures are impacting tropical species.

Led by scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London) and published in the Journal of Animal Ecology, the study highlights how African wild dogs -- already classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List -- raise fewer pups at high temperatures.

Three concurrent studies, undertaken by ZSL, the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, and the African Wildlife Conservation Fund, monitored a total of 73 wild dog packs at sites in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe, over a combined 42 years of study.

Tracking with high-tech collars showed that wild dog packs spent less time hunting on hot days. When packs tried to raise pups in hot weather, more of the pups died, potentially because they received less food from individuals returning from hunts.

At the Botswana site, temperatures increased steadily over 24 years of monitoring. The average daily maximum temperature during the pup-rearing period was roughly 1°C higher in the first 12 years of monitoring than in the second 12 years, and over the same period the average number of pups surviving per pack per year fell from five to three.

The study's lead author, Professor Rosie Woodroffe of ZSL's Institute of Zoology, said: "Our study shows the truly global impact of climate change. When most people think about wildlife in a changing climate, they thin

The International Elephant Foundation (IEF) is now accepting proposals for 2018 Elephant Conservation and Research Funding Support.


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About me
After more than 49 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, an introvert, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.

"These are the best days of my life"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

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