Monday, July 31, 2017

Zoo News Digest 31st July 2017 (ZooNews 965)

Zoo News Digest 31st July 2017  (ZooNews 965)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

There was a number of things I was going to write about but all have been washed from my mind by the announcement that Stan Kroenke is going to start screening a hunting/bloodsports channel on UK TV. This is sick, truly depraved. My problem is that I know people will watch it. There is a huge unwashed out there who don't give a shit about the creatures with which we share our planet. We have a long way to go before we can truly call ourselves civilised. 

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 61,000 Followers on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 823 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, 


Civets under threat from exotic coffee
COFFEE keeps the world awake.
With an estimated 2.25 billion cups drank each day, coffee has grown from a bitter African berry to perhaps being the global beverage, in an industry worth over US$100 billion. After oil, coffee is the most sought-after commodity in the world!

Demand for coffee is growing worldwide, and with it come ever stranger and more specific methods of growing, gathering, cultivating and consuming it. Perhaps no method is stranger – or more notorious – than the technique that defines the world's most expensive cup of coffee – that gathered from the dung of civets.

This is a trend that worries Meg Evans – a PhD student from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who has called Borneo home for nearly five years. Her research field looks at carnivorous mammals – a group of animals of which Borneo has a unique range and diversity, from sun bears to civets – and their responses to landscape fragmentation.

For her PhD research, Meg uses data gathered from the medical records of civets, to assess how changes in habitat affect the lifestyle and health of these creatures. These findings can be extrapolated to give t

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke launches 'sickening' bloodsports channel in the UK that shows lion and elephant hunts
Arsenal’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, has come under fire for launching a new bloodsports television channel that was unveiled in the United Kingdom over the weekend that will show regular hunting programmes that includes killing elephants, lions and other vulnerable African species.

The American billionaire, who owns 67% of the Premier League club’s shares, oversaw the launch of My Outdoor TV [MOTV], which was revealed in the UK at the Game Fair in Hertfordshire and described by those wh

If you want to give a turtle an erection, use a vibrator
So, let’s say you need to give a turtle an erection. There’s a quick and easy way to do it, a new study has found. It’s a seven-inch, variable-speed silver bullet vibrator. Yes, that kind of vibrator.

Turtle sexing is key for research purposes, and also for conservationists who are trying to pair mates. The easiest way to do that is to summon forth an erection, according to findings published in the journal Acta Herpetologica.

R.I.P. Ebenezer, the nation's oldest captive anteater
The oldest anteater in U.S. captivity was humanely euthanized at the Phoenix Zoo after his long, sociable, prolific life, officials said.

The zoo said 28-year-old Ebenezer was euthanized July 12 after his health declined recently.

The zoo's carnivore manager Angela Comedy said Ebenezer moved to the zoo from San Antonio when he was just a little over a year old. He lived there the rest of his life. During his long stay, he was well-loved and cared for by multiple keepers.

"He was like a gentle soul, which everybody loved ... every keeper that worked with him, he was one of their favorite animals at the zoo," Comedy said.

Ebenezer was highly social and loved to approach people and sniff their hands.

"He was super curious," Comedy said. "His whole loving personality and characteristics just made him so special. And the way that he really inte

Endangered Tigers Face New Enemy – Wire Snares
 Illegal wire snare traps are creating a survival crisis for tigers and other wildlife across Asia. Today, on Global Tiger Day, the conservation groups TRAFFIC and WWF are urging the governments of tiger range countries to crack down on the practice.

Over 30,000 snares were confiscated in Cambodia last year alone, and WWF says it is likely that many more remain undiscovered.
“It’s impossible to know how many snares are being set up every day, and threatening wildlife in these critical habitats,” said Rohit Singh, wildlife law enforcement expert at WWF. “Hundreds of thousands of deadly snares are removed by rangers from Asia’s protected areas annually, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

An estimated 3,900 tigers now survive in the wild. This recent revision from the 2010 estimate of 3,200 has come primarily from new surveys in India, Russia, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan, according to WWF.

The number is higher due to new areas being included in the national surveys, improved survey techniques as well as growth in the population from conservation efforts.

This day was designat

A day in the life of ZSL’s training and behaviour expert
What do you do when an iguana needs daily physiotherapy? You call in the animal training and behaviour officer, that’s what.

So, when Susan, our rhinoceros iguana, hurt her toe, it was Jim Mackie who helped zookeepers train her to enter a special box where, with her foot emerging through the mesh, she could easily receive physio.

It’s precisely this – improving animals’ wellbeing – that is at the heart of Jim’s remarkable job: "At ZSL we use the most forward-thinking methods of looking after our animals," he says.

"For example, in the past an animal that needed relocating might have needed to be caught in a net. Now, we work with and train these animals so that they will voluntarily move into a crate to be moved to a new enclosure – accomplishing the same thing with the animal calm, comfortable and in control."

ZSL is at the forefront of zoos in terms of this kind of animal husbandry and veterinary training: "We use it for everything – health checks, physical exercise, play…" says Jim. "It’s based on an animal doing something voluntarily, rather than us needing to handle them."

What’s more, he adds, virtually any animal can benefit from training: "The science behind training a monkey and a fish is exactly the same," he says. "Behavioural science is a natural law that applies to all animals, from the largest elephant to the tiniest frog."

So how does it work? Simply put, animal training tends to involve a stimulus, a behaviour and a consequence: "We’ll provide a stimulus, such as a signal from keepers, and a consequence – the promise of something the animal likes, such as foo

China banned the sale of tiger bones so traders are importing South African lion parts instead
The ban on tiger trading in China is causing importers to use South African lion parts to make traditional tiger-based medicines, according to a report by the Environment Investigation Agency (EIA).
Traders are replacing tiger parts with lion parts to sidestep Chinese laws regarding the sale and purchase of products containing tiger bones. A joint study from conservation groups, Traffic and Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, notes that the sale of lion skeletons in South Africa had jumped from 50 skeletons in 2008 to 800 in 2015.
In China and parts of South East Asia, tiger bones are regarded to have powerful medicinal qualities.

Photo Evidence, Zoos, and YOU
You guys, I just realized something.
I know that I have never really been firmly in the "All Zoos Are Good Zoos" camp, and I have also never been in the anti-zoo camp, either.  But generally speaking, I am pro-zoo/aquarium, provided the animals' well-being is truly the first priority, and not just a talking point we throw out to our guests.

I also like to think that I am a critical thinker in most scenarios, except at most mealtimes.  Like, some people lose their inhibitions after a certain amount of alcohol is consumed, but pretty much the sight of mac and cheese renders me completely unable to process any further external stimuli.

But I digress.  In many instances, I try to take what I read with a grain of salt, even if I am of the same opinion as the author.  I am definitely not perfect at this, but I actively try.  I also feel like I am a pretty introspective person, come hell or high water.  I could do a 593-part blog series on my character flaws and still have content to write. 

So imagine my terror and surprise when I read the most recent "Check Out These Photos Of Sad Animals In Zoos" articles, thinking I would see the same-old images, and feel the same-old "yeah but..." feelings.  Except, this time, I had a totally differen

Trump Administration Advances Plan to Open Up Marine Sanctuaries to Oil Drilling
With the stroke a pen, President Trump recently implemented Executive Order 13795, directing Department of Commerce Wilbur Ross to re-evaluate the protective status of marine sanctuaries created under Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.  The Order also halts the establishment of new sanctuaries, directs Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reconsider ‘unnecessary regulatory burdens’ from offshore drilling, and reverses the Obama Administration’s ban on drilling in the Arctic.

The protective status of eleven national marine sanctuaries and monuments, 425 million acres roughly 20% of the area of the lower 48 states, is at risk.

What could this mean for California, which hasn’t faced a significant threat of new drilling off its coastline since the 1980s?  Of the eleven National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments under review pursuant to EO 13795 for the

How a colony of wallabies made an island off Dublin their home
MANY NEW SPECIES of animals have been introduced to Ireland over the centuries.
After finding our mild climate fairly agreeable, they’ve settled in nicely.
Species common today were new at one stage – these range from rabbits, who came to our shores with the Normans in the 12th century, to the more modern and invasive introduction of grey squirrels in 1911.
One more recent, exotic, and elusive addition is thriving – the red-necked wallaby.

The Enemy Within: The Agenda to Destroy Zoos
Can you imagine President Donald Trump hiring Hillary Clinton to head up the Department of Justice?  Can you imagine the Pentagon posting all their top secret weapons plans on Instagram?  Can you imagine the Catholic Church merging with Planned Parenthood and the Pope taking over the CEO position at the local abortion clinic? These scenarios sound insane, right? Yet it’s happening right here and right now in the animal world.

When SeaWorld’s new CEO, Joel Manby took over he immediately announced that their star attraction, the killer whale, would no longer be bred at their facilities ending their captive breeding program.  SeaWorld is slowly becoming nothing more than an amusement park with big fish.   Without the beloved Orca, SeaWorld is nothing.

Then, we witnessed the destruction of the 146-year-old Ringling Bros Circus which closed earlier this year.  After a twenty-year battle against the animal rights movement, Ringling won an important victory when it sued the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act and won.  In the aftermath of the court settlement, Ringling Circus still closed when city afte

The UAE’s conservation efforts are gold
Many animal lovers and conservationists continue to insist that animals solely belong in the wild. What they often fail to take into account, however, is the fact that the boundaries of their natural habitats are shrinking by the day and that animals are increasingly coming under threat by poaching, global warming and conflict.
This explains why the Dubai Safari Park, which recently imported older elephants and other animals, will play a critical role in the conservation of endangered species, while allowing residents to enhance their knowledge of the animal world.
As Timothy Husband, the park’s technical director, recently told The National, the desert elephants brought in from Namibia will not be used for rides, but to enhance breeding and care facilities. The animals will either be sent over to other zoos or will be part of an international breeding programme. “Some of them are critically endangered and we breed up the numbers to either send over to other zoos to help with new genetics or they go to a release programme,” he said. To the satisfaction of many, it will also serve as a

How One Marine Biologist Is Working To Save The Giant Clam
About 10 years ago, Mei Lin Neo, 31, was tasked with reproducing an offspring of giant clams. What was originally supposed to be just another science experiment where she would take the larvae of the offspring to examine for a few weeks has now defined Neo’s life-long purpose to save the giant clam as a marine biologist. “I faced multiple failures in trying to rear the giant clams to age, but I couldn’t give up. During my work, these microscopic larvae did not give up – they showed me what it meant to fight for their survival and want to be alive,” said Neo.

Today, Neo is the world’s leading scientist, as measured by publications in the field, on the giant clam. “When I finally succeeded, I felt immensely gratified to ‘give new life’ to these miniature giant clams. This became a constant reminder for me as to why I go to work daily, knowing that I can help make a difference and develop solutions to help save a species,” said Neo. At the time, Neo was just starting to discover that giant clams were on track to extinctio

A Defiant Couple Is Caging Big Cats in the Portland Suburbs. Should Anybody Stop Them?
What is Cheryl Jones hiding?

Two months ago, Jones and her partner, Steve Higgs, moved much of their family business to an old horse farm outside Hillsboro. Parts of the 80-acre property can be seen just south of Highway 26, but most of the land is tucked behind the tree line.

"No Trespassing" signs line the half-mile gravel driveway. A metal security gate flanked by two stone lions blocks visitors from the farmhouse where Jones and Higgs have set up shop.

Jones and Higgs run one of Oregon's odder nonprofits: A Walk on the Wild Side, a charity whose purpose, according to tax forms filed with the Internal Revenue Service, is "educational." Its mission: to house exotic animals and transport them in a fifth-wheeler up and down the West Coast to county fairs and birthday parties. Higgs manages the business of the nonprofit. Jones is the self-taught animal handler.

Since their move to Hillsboro in May, Jones and Higgs have stirred up the largely rural neighborhood. A Walk on the Wild Side's new home sits among properties that are typically more than 80 acres in size, and are home to blueberry fields and horse stables. But it's also less than a four-minute drive to a McDonald's and a Subway

Animals Always: Is There Enough Room in the Ark?
I guess in the case of many species — those that are extinct in the wild or those that are found in tiny numbers — zoos are pretty much their last hope. The problem, though, is the numbers part.

If you start with a small number of animals in any given species, the odds of them dying off completely are high. Makes sense, right?
If you start with a large number of animals, the odds are much better.

So, here’s the problem.

Our Zoo has a lot of different species, but in many very important cases, we don’t have as many animals as we need to feel sure that we’ll have that species at our Zoo 15 or 20 or 50 years from now. That’s bad.

What can we do about it?

Well, the first thing is that we could cooperate with other zoos. We keep a few animals of a certain species, others keep a few, and when you add it all up, there’s enough to ensure that we’ll have them in zoos for the long-term future. And that’s exactly what we do.

Many species found in zoos here in the United States and also in zoos around the world are in what we call Species Survival Plans (or SSPs). For an SSP, we basically run a giant computerized dating service designed to encourage genetic diversity, keep inbreeding to a minimum and keep the number of animals to the maximum for a very, very long time.

Byculla Zoo ups entry fee by 900%
Starting Tuesday, visiting Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan and Zoo, also known as Byculla Zoo, is going to burn holes in your pocket. After the Humboldt penguins were thrown open for public viewing in March, zoo authorities had been considering a hike in entry fees.
The authorities have now upped the fees by 900 per cent. From the previous R5 per individual, one would now have to shell out Rs 50. However, a family of four – two adults and two children – will have to pay only Rs 100.
The proposal for the fee hike had been pending for over two decades and was pushed forward by the administration to curtail the crowd that was coming in, sources said. "We see at least 10,000 visitors during the weekend," an official said.
According to the authorities, the money collected will be spent on maintenance of the zoo and not for filling the coffers of the civic body.

Dreamworld's big cats help raise $3 million for conservation efforts
It’s a rare zoo-goer who doesn’t spare a thought for the wild relatives of the animals on display.

For every elephant, rhino or panda getting regular care and food inside the zoo, there’s many more in the wild at risk of poaching, habitat destruction, or pollution.

That’s particularly the case for tigers – whose numbers have plummeted from 100,000 to just over 3,000 over the past 100 years.

But Tiger Island in Dreamworld is fighting back, using its own eleven tigers as ambassadors to raise money for their struggling cousins.

Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation Director Al Mucci today announced the theme park has raised $3 million for wildlife conservation initiatives, as the Gold Coast park celebrates Global Tiger Day.

Part of the money was raised from Dreamworld’s tiger experiences – such as tiger photo opportunities, private walks and feeds – as well as from other fundraising initiatives.

“Since we started the foundation in 2012, the Dreamworld Wildlife Foundation has raised more than $3 million, which is incredible,” Mr Mucci said.

“This money is used to provide support to wildlife conservation initiatives, particularly relating to the ecology and threatened and endangered species on a global scale.”

More than $2 million of the money raised has gone dire

----------------------------- in July 2017
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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The Minnesota Trail is an exhibition of Minnesota wildlife and habitats 
that was built in 1978 and renovated in 2006/2007. A range of native 
species can be seen in naturalistic environments in a ‘North Woods’ 
setting. We are pleased to present the Minnesota Trail Wolves:



The tasks of a good zoo are education, conservation, recreation, 
research and sustainability. Many publications are available to learn 
how to tackle these tasks, except for research.

The book 'Professor in the Zoo' fills this gap. It focusses on science 
as a driving force for zoo development. Terry Maple gives an overview of 
the history of science in US zoos, the role that scientists can play in 
a zoo and the contributions of science to the advancements in animal 
welfare and species conservation. Written in the style of an 
autobiography, Maple shows how important networking and endurance are 
for improving zoos.

MAPLE, Terry L. (2016): Professor in the Zoo. Designing the Future for 
Wildlife in Human Care. Red Leaf Press. Tequesta, Florida.

Here are some useful open access resources on scientific research with 
relevance for zoos: PLOS ONE (, EAZA's Journal 
of Zoo and Aquarium Research (, Conservation Evidence 
( and a new blog "Zoo Science for Keepers 
and Aquarists" (


We keep working on ZooLex ...

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization is a non-profit organization
registered in Austria (ZVR-Zahl 933849053). ZooLex runs a professional
zoo design website and distributes this newsletter. More information and

A change in your diet could save animals from extinction
Transforming large swaths of the tropics into farmland could render almost one-third of wildlife there extinct, new research suggests.

From the Amazon rain forests to the Zambezi floodplains, intensive monoculture farming could have a severe adverse impact on wildlife around the world.

Wildlife would disappear most dramatically in the remaining forests and grasslands of Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. The greatest species loss would occur in the Peruvian Amazon basin where as many as 317 species could vanish as a result of agricultural development.

As a doctoral researcher at Humboldt University Berlin, I studied human food consumption, land use and how they affect wildlife. Our research was published July 17 in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

While human population has doubled since 1970, the number of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians have dropped by more than half. At its root, this widespread environmental destruction is a result of our growth as a species and increasing food consumption to sustain ourselves.

Although climate change casts a shadow over future conservation efforts, farming is the No. 1 threat to wildlife. We have already altered some 75 per cent of the ice-free land on this planet. If we continue along our current course, we will need to double our crop productionto feed a growin

The IUCN Red List: A Barometer of Life

BJP Leader Seeks Probe Into Purchase Of Penguins For Mumbai Zoo
BJP MLA Ashish Shelar has sought a Special Investigation Team probe into the purchase of eight penguins by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) for the city-based Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, popularly known as the Byculla Zoo.Mr Shelar, the Mumbai chief of the BJP, also wants the revamp of the zoo to be made part of the probe by the Special Investigation Team.He made this demand during a debate in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly yesterday.Mr Shelar sought to know if the Penguins brought from abroad were bacteria infected.He also alleged that while preparing the master plan for revamp of Byculla zoo, the project manager was appointed without calling for bids.The Byculla zoo redevelopment plan was first envisaged in 2005. The master plan was prepared in 2009 which was rejected by the heritage conservation committee (of the BMC).Despite this, the same firm was awarded the contract for preparing the plan again, the MLA claimed.He alleged that the firm which was awarded the contract had used bogus mails, forged

Breeding in captivity or celibacy?
 With tiger numbers plummeting across the globe and only 3,900 of them left in the wild of which 2,226 are in India, shrinking habitat and increasing threats from poaching and different sources are forcing them to be rescued and live a caged life of celibacy.
Even as countries celebrate World Tiger Day on Saturday, TOI looks into plethora of issues whether celibacy affects tigers' health, are there any psychological issues, do wildcats face any other problems and is captive breeding necessary.
The issue has hogged limelight after 8-year-old tigress Lee has been sent to mate with a same age male named Sahebrao at Gorewada Rescue Centre on breeding loan. Both the tigers were rescued from the wild separately and are celibates.
Due to many reasons, mating in zoos among wild animals is not actively encouraged

Behind the Scenes: Skinning Condors in the Name of Science
The majestically macabre California condor is the largest bird in North America, Mother Nature’s critically endangered cleanup crew, and a miracle conservation success story. After making a comeback with captive breeding, things are looking up for the condor—but not the birds that recently arrived at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Bird Collection laboratories. These condors were dead, and many of them had been for quite awhile.

During the Pleistocene Era, 2 million to 11,000 years ago, robust populations of condors soared high over the continent like grim reapers, scavenging the carcasses of giant prehistoric mammals. But once giant sloths, stag-moose and mastodons became extinct and human developments grew across North America, the California condor population took a nosedive.

By 1982, their numbers had dwindled to just 23 surviving condors. With extinction eminent, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) launched the California Condor Recovery Program to capture the remaining birds in the wild and restore the population through captive breeding. After just five years, enough birds had hatched in captivity that they could be released to the wild. About 500 descendents of the original 23 condors thrive today

The Busy Life of Bob the Flamingo
When veterinarian Odette Doest arrived at her local radio station on the Caribbean island of Curaçao for an interview about wildlife conservation, her companion, Bob, startled the staff. Doest told them she’d be bringing a flamingo, but they’d assumed she meant the plastic variety.

The unlikely duo met in October, after Bob (whom Doest named spontaneously when
 the radio host asked his name) crashed into a hotel window and collapsed near the pool. Doest,
 an exotic-pet veterinarian who rehabilitates wildlife on the side, learned of the accident via Facebook and rushed over. She quickly realized Bob couldn’t be released, because of his unnatural affinity for human company. So Bob became part of Doest’s rescue flock, which includes macaws, boobies, and a caracara. The birds live on her yard and porch-turned-aviary, next door to her office.

When wildlife photographer Jasper Doest visited his cousin Odette, he was so enchanted by Bob’s charisma that he began documenting the flamingo’s busy life. Doest brings Bob to schools and media outlets to educate locals about his wild kin. The island is home to around 250 of the elegant waders, but most of the country’s almost 160,000 inhabitants aren’t familiar with the birds or the threats they face, such as resort development encroaching on feeding and nesting habitat or injury from loose dogs. “I’m often surpri

Trump's budget cuts whooping crane project
The Whooping Crane project at Patuxent is shutting down, a victim of the Trump Administration's proposed budget.

"Some of you may have already heard the news but for those of you that haven't, the Whooping Crane captive breeding program at the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center will be shutting down," the program's Facebook page reports. "We feel for our friends and colleagues who work there, many of whom have been there a dozen years or more. We are proud of everything they've accomplished or helped to accomplish and are incredibly grateful for their tireless efforts to help save and protect Whooping Cranes over the years!"

According to the page, the program is one being cut by the proposed 2018 budget, the reason being "propagation for release does not fit easily in our current research mission, and USGS will focus limited resources on filling gaps of information for species at risk that are not well studied."

The program has been working for years to coax the species back from the brink of extinction. Although other programs will continue, the closure still will have an impact on the species, the page predicts.

"We have been reassured that the LA reintroduction is still a priority for the International Whooping Crane Recovery Team and it's definitely still a priority for LDWF. However, whooping cranes are sensitive to disturbance and change so there will certainly be a decrease in the captive production of eggs and chicks for the next few years as the PWRC birds are transferred to new facilities," according to the page. "W

Wolf in Czech zoo wounds small girl approaching enclosure
A wolf wounded a three-year-old girl approaching its enclosure in the Olomouc zoo earlier this month, snatching at her through the railing and biting her in the knee, the zoo's spokeswoman Karla Breckova has told CTK, adding that the accident was not the zoo's fault.

The police are checking the circumstances of the accident and looking for eyewitnesses.

The wolf bit the girl on Sunday, July 16. Rescuers intervened, treated the girl on the spot and transferred her to hospital.

The regional rescue service's spokesman, Zdenek Hosak, said the wolf put its head through the electric railing and caused an open wound to the girl.

Breckova said the visitors with the girl breached the safety distance set for people to approach dangerous animals' enclosures, in spite of warni

George Rabb, influential former Brookfield Zoo director, dies at 87
Despite running Brookfield Zoo, one of the Chicago area’s top tourist attractions, for decades and even living in a house on zoo grounds, George Rabb was probably better known in the international zoo and conservation communities than he was locally.

“He was a quiet, shy, unassuming guy, and I’ve never in my life seen anybody more respected completely than him,” said Joe Mendelson, director of research at Zoo Atlanta and a longtime friend and colleague of Rabb’s. “He was absolutely central to the modernization of zoos from animal menageries to conservation and research centers.”’

Rabb died Thursday at 87 after a brief illness, the zoo said in a statement Thursday night. His legacy, marked throughout his career by bringing scientific methods into his chosen workplace, touches nearly all aspects of modern animal conservation, friends and colleagues said.

Rabb had heart surgery in early July and struggled to recover, Brooke Hecht, president of the Center for Humans and Nature, a C

Man is trampled to death as he tries to take a selfie with a rescued ELEPHANT
A man has been trampled to death in India after breaking into a safari park so he could take a selfie with a rescued elephant.
The 27-year-old victim, named as Abhilash, had entered an enclosure at the Bannerghatta Biological Park in Bangalore to take a photograph.
But the sales representative was crushed to death after being attacked by a bull elephant named Sunder.
The animal had previously hit the headlines after being rescued from his cruel former keepers following a c

Indonesian villagers fell forest in orangutan sanctuary
Nearly a fifth of the forest in an orangutan sanctuary on the Indonesian part of Borneo has been taken over by people, a conservation group says, threatening efforts to rehabilitate the critically endangered great apes for release into the wild.

People thought to have migrated from other parts of Indonesia have occupied part of the sanctuary, cut down trees and planted crops including palm oil, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation spokesman Nico Hermanu said Thursday.

The human activities are near a “forest school'' where more than 20 orangutans live semi-independently and learn how to find food, build nests and other skills they need for survival -- a crucial part of their rehabilitation from trauma often inflicted by people, who take babies for pets or kill t

Modern Manners: Zoos and aquarium etiquette — Should ethics be a factor in your trip?
This week’s column has to do with a popular summer activity for people of all ages — going to the zoo or an aquarium.

There is a long history of displaying animals for the viewing pleasure of humans. According to a timeline on CBC Radio Canada (, the earliest known zoo dates back to 3500 BC in Hierakonpolis, Egypt, once a large urban center. In 1000 BC, Chinese Emperor Wen Wang founded the Garden of Intelligence, which covered 1,500 acres with animals housed in metal cages in a park setting, and has a name which alludes to the educational potential of establishments like these.

Jump to 1752, and the oldest zoo still in existence, the Tiergarten Schonbrunn, was opened in Vienna, Austria. In 1814, the first North American zoo called Down’s Zoological Gardens was opened in Halifax, Nova Scotia. In 1853, the first public aquarium was opened in the London Zoo. The first zoo that opened in the United States was the Philadelphia Zoo, which opened in 1890 after being delayed 15 years due to the Civil War.

In 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums was founded and establishment must pass their inspection for accreditation. Since then, many zoos have opened, some with an emphasis on a more safari type experience where you can see animals roam in open spaces similar to their natural habitats.

In recent years, zoos and aquariums have been scrutiniz

Soon, gates on border to allow Indian elephants to visit Bangladesh and return
Illegal migrants from Bangladesh entering India is a contentious issue between both neighbours. While New Delhi contends large-scale influx from across the border, Dhaka has denied these migrants are their citizens.

There was no such difference though when officials of both nations agreed on Thursday to construct gates along the border to allow ‘free and safe passage’ for wild elephants.

Setting up of the gates was one of the 18 points of action agreed between both countries at the 2nd Indo-Bangladesh dialogue on trans-boundary conservation of elephants held at Shillong.

“Trans-border migration of animals is a natural process. But due to erection of border fences, there have been occasions when elephants have broken barriers to continue on their route. The gates will allow them safe pa

Guest Speaker: Jenifer Zeligs – What is the “Fear Factor?”
One of the most common difficulties that any of us face in life is overcoming fear. In animal training there are many situations that potentially involve this hurdle: medical procedures, transport and new environments, to name a few. Increasingly in both human and animal learning environments, the profound advantages of careful systematic desensitization is used to reduce fears and expand comfort. Systematic desensitization involves breaking a stimulus (procedure or situation) into small component elements and exposing the animal in lesser approximations before progressing to the end product.   In order to use this technique properly, one must be able to judge “what is the fear factor?”
In the beginning periods of exposure to something new, there is a delicate stage where an animal can become increasingly afraid (sensitized) instead of desensitized.  What ends up happening is primarily based on what psychologists call the initial stimulus strength.

Stimulus strength is another way to describe the potential value of a stimulus to a given animal, or in scientific terms, its “salience.”  When this value is highly significant and aversive it often causes sensitization. Therefore trainers need a keen sense of what types of properties might increase the aversive stimulus strength (and as a result, the fear an animal feels).

There are many factors that can typically suggest an increase in fear.  For example, something that is very loud or that emits intens

CNN Hero Siew Te Wong

Rebuttal: Thinking Critically About Anti-zoo Images
Recently, you may have seen that sources like the Washington Post, The Guardian, and IFLScience published stories about a book released by a Canadian photographer who traveled across Europe photographing animals in zoological facilities. Now, I won’t speak out against said book as I have not read it and, therefore, it would be improper of me to do so.

However, I will speak about some of the images found in the aforementioned articles. More importantly, I’m going to ask you to think critically about them and this situation. So take a moment to click on the links above and glance over the some of the images we’ll discuss.
Okay, ready? Good.

If the articles and interviews promoting the book are any indication, the photographer has published a biased, one-sided view of the life of animals in human care. At first glance, most of the photos seem haunting, telling of a captive animal’s endlessly depressed state, complete and total lack of stimulation, or inadequate living environment.

Judging from comments via social media, some members of the public were, in fact, disturbed by the images. But, I am here to remind you that while the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, what is not pictured is worth at least twice as much.

I’ll start by reminding you that the images captured and featured in these articles only display a fraction of that animal’s day.

According to the ever-reliable internet, a standard DSL camera can take a picture in roughly 1/8000th of a second. That means that each image captured and featured portrays exactly 0.000125% OF A SECOND of that animal’s day. And being that there are over 86,000 seconds in a day, each photo portrays a negligible percentage of not only that animal’s day, but also an infinitely tiny, microscopically minuscule fraction of the animal’s lifetime.

I could keep going with all of the mathematics, I suppose, but instead of boring you, I’ll encourage you to ask yourself: What happened during the rest of the day?

Is the reason the jaguar is right in fr

Memphis Zoo livestreaming births of rarest snake in North America
Memphis Zoo is showcasing a continuous live feed of the births of its rare Louisiana pine snakes, which will hatch intermittently over the next two weeks.

The eggs were laid in May by five females, and have a 60-day incubation period on average. The 28 eggs are housed in tubs filled with vermiculite, a heat-treated mica mineral, which is commonly used in gardening.

“Incubators” are kept at approximately 82 degrees with 70-80 percent humidity to ensure the eggs stay hydrated.

“Hatching in snakes is a protracted event,” said Dr. Steve Reichling, Central Zone curator at the Memphis Zoo. “First they slit the leathery eggshell with a sharp tooth that grows on the tip of their snout. Then, they rest for up to a day while they absorb any remaining yolk into their body. Their egg tooth falls off, before finally slipping out of the egg.”

Known for its large eggs and small clutch sizes of three to five, the Louisiana pine snake is a species of nonvenomous constrictors.

It is the rarest snake in North America, and fewer than 250 specimens have been found in the wild. The species once existed in nine parishes in Louisiana and 14 counties in Texas.

However, as a result of habitat loss, they currently exist in only a few Louisiana parishes and have been eliminated from Texas entirely.

“We are thrilled to welcome these rare snakes here at the Memphis Zoo,” said Matt Thompson, director of Animal Programs at Memphis Zoo. “Consideri

Darwin Initiative: applying for main project funding


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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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