Sunday, August 6, 2017

Zoo News Digest 6th August 2017 (ZooNews 966)

Zoo News Digest 6th August 2017  (ZooNews 966)

Wrong! So very very wrong.
Photo from Tigers in America

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

I was greatly saddened to learn of the death of the keeper at Orsa Rovdjurspark. My sincere condolences to family, friends and colleagues.
Let me start out by saying that I have no love or affection for Dade City's Wild Things. I have never visited but I have seen enough videos and news items to form an opinion. I hate the idea of petting and swimming with tiger cubs. The cubs have obviously been pulled from their mothers just to make a fast buck….and that need for the fast buck means the breeding tigers will be bred again and again repeatedly to produce more cubs and keep the cycle going. What happens later? Where do the cubs go? These tigers are not in any officially sanctioned breeding programme. In effect they are valueless to conservation and I doubt anybody knows what subspecies of tiger they are. It is a horrible thought but a fact nonetheless that tigers like this are worth more dead. Their skins, teeth, claws and bones are all worth money. Who keeps a check on where these animals go once they have left this facility?
Equally I have no love or affection for PETA. My ethics, morals and understanding of the husbandry, management and welfare of captive wild animals leave PETA in the Kindergarten. So why is that they were given judicial permission to do an inspection on this place? We know now that they sent in an inspection team of an animal behaviourist, a videographer, a private investigator, and two PETA lawyers to collect evidence. What a motley crew. I would not give two cents for the opinions of any of these people. Which brings me to my point and it is a point which I have raised time and time again. If we in the Good Serious Zoo community do not do something, which includes openly condemning and fighting for the closure of facilities like Dade City's Wild Things then nobody is going to take us seriously. We MUST do something. It isn't just the two bit roadside zoos that need pulling into line but it is some major collections, members of some prestigious organisations. Yet they turn a blind eye. Excuses of cultural differences or "they are friends of mine" or "slowly, slowly catch a monkey" hold just enough water to start drowning us all. Zoos, good zoos really need to get their act together before it is too late. We need to criticise and advise and cast out and damn those for whom cash matters more than conservation and welfare. The zoo community know exactly who these collections are and yet doing nothing… and saying nothing means the despicable continue to laugh behind our backs as they trundle along to the bank.

I was delighted to learn that Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has decided to pull all bloodsports footage from his sick TV channel. When I posted the link on ZooNews Digest Facebook page saying it was his intention to show such programmes I was surprised to see how many leapt forward with comments defending hunting and its place in conservation. I fear they missed the point entirely. I can defend hunting. It has its place in good conservation by culling out the surplus in restricted ranges and removing troublesome animals. I can even see the benefits in allowing someone to pay to carry out the task (if the local community and conservation genuinely benefit). I also appreciate that hunting for the pot is sometimes a necessity. The real point is that such kills should not be filmed and put out on TV as snuff movies for the depraved. I mean who watches that sort of thing?….I imagine it is the same people who watch beheadings by ISIL and would be first in line for tickets for a public hanging.

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, 


PETA inspects Dade City's Wild Things but welfare of tigers still in question
Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns held federal marshals at the gates of her zoo for 30 minutes on Friday, delaying a court-ordered inspection by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Law enforcement was accompanying PETA at the instruction of a federal judge after Stearns prevented the group from entering her facility for the original court-mandated inspection July 20. The investigation is part of a lawsuit PETA filed in October, alleging Stearns' tiger cub petting business violates the federal Endangered Species Act by pulling cubs prematurely from mothers, forcing them to interact with the public and confining them to inadequate cages when they outgrow the photo-op stage.

Reading the Hormones
Behavior can tell the giant panda team quite a bit about the pandas, but the behaviors they exhibit are only half the story. When it comes to predicting when Mei Xiang will give birth, or when she is in the final stages of a pseudopregnancy, scientists rely on a few different factors. They monitor her behavior—is she nest-building, has her appetite decreased, is she cradling her toys, has she undergone physical changes—and, perhaps most important, they measure the levels of estrogen and progesterone in her urine.

Keepers have been collecting daily samples of Mei Xiang’s urine and, once a week, send those samples to the Endocrinology Lab at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Virginia. As Mei Xiang’s hormone levels start to fluctuate, suggesting that she is preparing to give birth or is at the end of a pseudopregnancy (giant pandas’ behavior and hormones mimic a pregnancy even if they are not pregnant), endocrinologists help keepers determine when they should begin 24-hour behavior watches, or determine that she is not pregnant.

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute scientist Janine Brown began monitoring Mei Xiang’s hormones before she went into estrus to predict when Mei Xiang was ovulating. That initial change in hormones is called the primary rise. Brown’s job doesn’t end there, however. “We continue to monitor the hormones to make absolutely certain that the trend continues the way we predicted,” she says. And although scientists can’t tell t

Achieving optimal welfare for the Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) in North American zoos and aquariums
Compared to other megafauna managed in zoos and aquariums, the current state of welfare for the Nile hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius) is poorly understood. Complex behavior and physiological characteristics make hippos a difficult species to manage. Thus, hippos in managed care are currently at risk for a decreased state of welfare. In an effort to assess and improve conditions for this species, a survey was administered to North American institutions housing Nile hippos. This assessment utilized a multiple-choice format and consisted of questions relating to group structure, behavior, and exhibit design, allowing for the creation of cross-institutional, welfare-based analysis. Responses were gathered from 85.29% of the institutions to which the survey was distributed. Despite recommendations for maintaining groups of at least five individuals (Forthman, 1998), only 34.25% of hippos in North America were housed in groups of three or more. The survey also highlighted that 39.29% of institutions secure their hippos in holding areas overnight, despite their highly active nocturnal propensities. A better understanding of hippo behavior and environmental preferences can be used to inform wellness-oriented management practices to achieve a state of “optimal welfare”.

Beyond One Health—Zoological Medicine in the Anthropocene
In contrast to some of the well-established core disciplines of veterinary medicine, such as radiology, surgery, and internal medicine, zoological medicine is often perceived as a relatively recent development. However, as early as 1831, local veterinary practitioner Charles Spooner became the first zoo veterinarian at the London Zoological Garden in the United Kingdom. Shortly thereafter, he was followed by William Youatt, who remained in that position for 17 years while also establishing the world’s first veterinary journal, the Veterinarian, which reported on the diseases of wild animals. In 1865, the zoo also hired a pathologist. During the same period, in 1870, Max Schmidt, the director of the Zoological Garden in Frankfurt am Main in Germany, wrote Vergleichende Pathologie und Pathologische Anatomie der Säugetiere und Vögel (Comparative Pathology and Pathological Anatomy of mammals and Birds) (1). In North America, the Philadelphia Zoo employed a pathologist in 1901, and in the same year the New York Zoological Society (now the Wildlife Conservation Society) established the first zoological medical department with Frank H. Miller as veterinarian and Harlow Brooks as pathologist (1).

It was in 1946 that a small group of zoo veterinarians convened at the annual American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) meeting in Boston to form the Zoo Veterinarians group from which the present-day American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV) emerged in 1968. From 1970 onward, the AAZV published the Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine (changed to the Journal of Zoo and

Bangladesh Zoos to exchange gharials in bid to boost population
In the wake of rapid decline in the gharial population, an initiative has been taken to exchange captive gharials among Bangladesh’s zoos, with the aim of increasing numbers of the critically endangered freshwater reptile.
“There are a few captive gharials in the country’s zoos, but there are no pairs of the species. That’s why they’re unable to breed,” said ABM Sarowar Alam, principal gharial investigator of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Bangladesh, as quoted by UNB.
With support from the Bangladesh Forest Department, a male gharial from the National Zoo in Dhaka will be released in Rajshahi Zoo for the first time in Bangladesh on August 13, 2017, under a gharial exchange programme as there is no male Gharial there, Sarowar said.
In 2016, IUCN Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Forest Department jointly conducted a survey at Bangladesh National Zoo, Rajshahi Zoo, Rangpur Zoo and Bangab

From animal hunter to animal rescuer
As East Javan langurs are now an endangered species - with probably less than 3,000 in the wild - Syamsul has braved himself to help preserve the animal.

After the animal had been hit by about 20 rounds, it seemed dead, but it was stuck in the top branches of a tree. Syamsul was the sharpest shot and might have joined the army to kill other primates of his own species had he not had to wear glasses.

So, the bravest of the gallant woodsmen shinnied up the tree to retrieve the cadaver for a meal. Then, Syamsul made a discovery that was to change his life.

The monkey had been executed for the crime of being simian, but her baby was still clinging to its mother’s breast and life. Shots had grazed its leg and face, but done no lasting harm.

Syamsul took the little creature home and discovered compassion. He nursed it back to health and eventually gave it to a friend whose son wanted a pet. He started thinking about the way he was behaving and his relationship with the natural world.

Syamsul no longer prowls the dense bush that cascades from his three-level home in a kampong, flanking the Brantas River in Malang. When he hears men scouring the undergrowth with dogs and weapons he whistles to distract the pursuit.

He used to rain stones from a catapult onto the stalkers unti


Tourism minister officiates the opening of Baobab Safari Resort
Tourism minister Arief Yahya recently traveled to Pasuruan, East Java on August 3 to officiate the grand opening of Baobab Safari Resort.

The resort is integrated with Taman Safari Indonesia II Prigen conservation park, making it the first resort in Indonesia that is surrounded by wildlife.

The name Baobab is derived from the name of an African tree which represents the overall concept of the African-style resort. The resort boasts 148 rooms, 120 deluxe rooms, 24 premium rooms, four junior suite rooms and one ballroom for MICE tourism.

“It’s going to be fun and exciting. Baobab Safari Resort can help in strengthening the development of Bromo – Tengger – Semeru attractions and its surrounding area,” said Arief.

Set nets killing 'hundreds' of penguins each year
Hundreds of penguins are likely dying in fishing nets each year, conservation group Forest & Bird says.
It said the birds, including the endangered hoiho / yellow-eyed penguin, were dying after being unintentionally snared in set nets moored close to the coast.
The group said material gathered from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) under the Official Information Act showed 14 penguin deaths occurred in the year from October 2015 to October 2016, but this was just the tip of the iceberg.

Thirteen of these were reported by MPI observers but only 3 percent of boats had MPI observers onboard, so the real number of penguin deaths had to be higher, it said.

Forest & Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said this was not good news.

"It looks as if the fishing industry is killing hundreds of penguins in set net fisheries and almost none of it is being reported," he said.

That was because there was no mechanism to determine how many were dying.

Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke pulls all trophy hunting footage from outdoor TV channel after massive public backlash
Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke has pulled all bloodsports footage from his controversial outdoor TV channel after a massive public backlash.

The 70-year-old asked My Outdoor TV to “remove all content related to those animals in light of public interest”.

A statement read: "Outdoor Sportsman Group is dedicated to serving audiences around the world interested in the outdoors.

"In the past few days, there has been significant public attention to a small portion of programming on our MyOutdoorTV app that contains content associated with hunting certain big game animals.

"While many on both sides of this issue have made their

How do you tag a jellyfish? 
They’re so soft—so squishy! Where to put a tag—and why bother? Questions like these moved scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), Hopkins Marine Station and other institutions around the world to publish the first comprehensive how-to tagging paper for jellyfish researchers everywhere. This missing manual was long in the making
Tommy Knowles, a senior aquarist at Monterey Bay Aquarium, explains why.  Historically, ocean researchers demonized jellies as “blobs of goo that hurt you,” and that interfered with scientific gear. That changed in the  latter part of the 20th century as scientists grew keen to understand entire ecosystems, not just individual plants and animals. Knowing who eats what, how, where and when, they learned, is critical for conservation.

Jellyfish, however, remained a very under-appreciated member of the ecosystem for years, largely because so little was known about them.

Zookeeper, 19, dies in bear attack at Swedish wildlife park
A 19-year-old zookeeper has died after being attacked by a bear at a wildlife park in northern Sweden.
Police and emergency services were called to Orsa Rovdjurspark at 10:30 on Friday morning after one of the zookeepers was attacked and seriously injured. The man, who was born in 1998, received medical attention at the scene but later died of his injuries.

The CEO of the company that owns the park explained that the attack took place during a special activity for guests, where people get to go into an enclosure with the zookeepers. The enclosure was supposed to be empty, but the bear managed to get in. Police believe it may have dug its way in.

"First and foremost I want to say that this is a difficult day. I’m thinking about my colleague and his family a lot. It started out as a normal day, a family had booked the activity and normal routines were followed. I'll leave it to the police to work out what went wrong," the park's head Sven Brunberg said at a press conference on Friday.

When the 19-year-old did not answer h

Drug safety for penguins
Researchers from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine have determined the most effective drug dose to help penguins in managed care fight off disease.

Aspergillosis is a common respiratory fungal disease in African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) under managed care. Historically this disease was treated with the antifungal medication vitraconazole. Unfortunately, due to drug resistance, this treatment failed.
Recently another antifungal medication, voriconazole, has been used but, due to the dosing being based on other avian medications, this has resulted in the penguins suffering from adverse drug effects.
Drug exposure
Researchers, from the University's Institute of Translational Medicine led by Dr Katharine Stott, sought to determine the safest and most effective dose of voriconazole for African penguins.
They evaluated the effectiveness of multiple single and daily oral doses of voriconazole by analysing the concentration of the drug in plasma taken from the penguins during two trials.
The researchers used the data to construct a mathematical model to describe how the penguins metabolise voriconazole and to predict drug exposure.
Using the model, they were then able to simulate alternative dosing strategies to find one that replicated the drug exposure known to be effective in humans, whilst avoiding toxicity.
Patient size
The research, published in BioOne, demonstrated that administration of 5mg/kg voriconazole once daily is a safe and effective dosing strategy for African Penguins with invasive aspergillosis.
Dr Stott, said: "Although this project was a somewhat unusual one for our group, the problem it presents is common: how can we better understand dosing strategies to optimise the use of antimicr

Welfare assessment in zoo animals
Interest in the welfare of zoo animals is strong, both within the professional zoo community and among the general public. Maintaining the highest standards of animal welfare is a key priority for keepers, curators and zoo veterinarians, and zoo animal welfare science has advanced considerably in recent years.

In the past, zoo animal welfare centred on the avoidance of negative states, typified by the Five Freedoms, and an absence of poor welfare was thought to indicate good welfare (Farm Animal Welfare Council 1979, Melfi 2009, Mellor 2016). Monitoring methods were often confined to resource-based measures such as assessment of the provision of enrichment, appropriate nutrition or veterinary care. In contrast, today it is recognised that zoos should actively promote positive welfare states and that assessment of both the physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals is critical.

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) animal welfare strategy reflects this and highlights the fact that sound animal welfare principles should be integrated into all activities and intrinsically linked to the conservation mission of modern zoos (Mellor and others 2015). Walraven and Duffy (2016) explain the steps taken by the Taronga Conservation Society to embed this focus on animal welfare into staff culture, develop …

Does Destroying Ivory Save Elephants? Experts Weigh In
The owners of an antiques shop in Manhattan, New York, pleaded guilty on July 26 for trying to sell $4.5 million worth of illegal elephant ivory from a back room.

On Thursday, some of that confiscated Manhattan ivory and more will be crushed in Central Park as part of a public event organized by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and various wildlife groups. They hope that the crushing of nearly two tons of ivory tusks, jewelry, and trinkets will deter people from buying “white gold” and lead to the eventual shut down of the illegal trade.

At least 140,000 elephants have been lost to the ivory trade and habitat loss in less than a decade, a survey conducted in 2016 showed. International commercial sales of elephant ivory have been banned since 1990, and some countries have begun closing d

A Day in the Life of an Elephant Keeper
What does working among the giants of the animal kingdom entail? For Asian elephant keepers Kayleigh Sullivan and Paige Babel, the thrill lies in training, enriching and caring for the Zoo’s multi-generational herd. Whether they are contributing to research or educating visitors about the conservation of this endangered species, the work that they do helps Ambika, Shanthi, Bozie, Kamala, Swarna, Maharani and their wild counterparts in a big way.

Panda gives birth to twins at French zoo, but one cub dies
There here was joy and pain for French zookeepers Friday as their female panda gave birth to twins, but one died soon afterwards.
Huan Huan, on loan to Beauval zoo in central France from China, delivered the first cub at 10:18 p.m. (2018 GMT) and the second at 10:32.
But soon after birth, the first, which weighed just 121 grams (4.2 ounces), began having problems breathing and d

Seals from Cuba become latest attractions in Turkey’s Antalya
The latest habitants to join the Antalya Aquarium, three cute seals brought from Cuba, have drawn tourists’ attention in the southern province of Antalya.

The three cute seals, “Setareh,” “Amigo” and “Milad,” have wooed visitors to the Antalya Aquarium with their friendly and communicative manners.

Tourists have taken pictures with these cute seals in the pool, watching them pose for the cameras and kissing them.

“They communicate very well with people and especially with the children. They show immense affection. Our visitors have the chance to watch the seals here,” the aquarium’s general manager, Kemal Kumkumoğlu, told Doğan News Agency.

“We have shows with the seals every hour. If our visitors want they can go into the pool close to the seals, touching and feeding them. They can even swim in the pool together. Seals pose for the cameras and kiss the tourists,” said Kumkumoğlu.

The Antalya Aquarium is Europe’s second biggest aquarium and the world’s fifth biggest. The gigantic complex also houses the world’s biggest underwater aquarium tunnel, 131 meters in length and three meters wide.

Alligator discovered in Somerset
Bristol Water staff inspecting a Somerset reservoir have spotted what appeared to be an alligator.

The reptile was spotted near to Chew Valley reservoir by Bristol Water staff.

They caught the two-foot-long animal with a net and put it in a box.

Mexico City to end marine mammal captivity
Marine Connection welcomes the news that Mexico City Congress has passed a bill under the Protection of Animals law prohibiting the commercial exploitation and use of marine mammals, including dolphins and whales, in activities with humans; including training for and performing in shows, swim programmes or therapy.
This means that existing facilities within Mexico City have a six month period in which to remove the marine mammals they hold to a sea pen or sanctuary where they will not perform or interact with the public. Although this ban currently applies only to Mexico City, it is a very positive step forward and we hope that other areas in the country will follow suit.  Once the bill is publish

A Cultural Conscience for Conservation
This opinion piece explores how implementing a species royalty for the use of animal symbolism in affluent cultural economies could revolutionise conservation funding. A revenue revolution of this scale is urgently necessary to confront the sixth mass extinction that the planet is now facing. But such a revolution can only occur if the approach to conservation now evolves quickly across disciplines, continents, cultures and economies. This piece is a call to action for research-, culture-, and business-communities to implement a new ethical phase in economic policy that recognises the global cultural debt to the world’s most charismatic wildlife species.

To Save Elephants, New York To Crush Nearly 2 Tons Of Ivory
A rock crusher in New York’s Central Park will destroy nearly two tons of ivory on Thursday to try to help end the illegal trade of the material.

The destruction of piles of confiscated tusks, statues, and jewelry aims to send a clear, public message against the slaughter of African elephants.

“These crushes raise awareness,” John Calvelli, a spokesman for the Wildlife Conservation Society, which runs the city’s zoos, told the New York Daily News. “Crushing the ivory shows that the ivory has no value, so people can stop killing the elephants.”

Why scorpion stings are so painful
A combined team of researchers from the U.S. and China has figured out why scorpion stings are so painful. In their paper published on the open access site Science Advances, the team explains how scorpion venom containing a variety of toxins and is mildly acidic, causing a lot of pain.

Studying primate cognition in a social setting to improve validity and welfare: a literature review highlighting successful approaches
Studying animal cognition in a social setting is associated with practical and statistical challenges. However, conducting cognitive research without disturbing species-typical social groups can increase ecological validity, minimize distress, and improve animal welfare. Here, we review the existing literature on cognitive research run with primates in a social setting in order to determine how widespread such testing is and highlight approaches that may guide future research planning.

Frustration to attacks: Why captive orcas kill | Opinion
SeaWorld’s announcement introducing their new "Up-Close tour" is troubling. This ‘educational’ opportunity, where — according to SeaWorld spokeswoman Susan Storey — “visitors can signal for whales to do a tail wave or send them off for jumps,” is a not so thinly veiled entertainment show, through and through — and likely the first of many foreseeable broken promises.

During my 14-year career as a senior trainer at SeaWorld, guest interactions with the animals posed a challenge to us as trainers, or as SeaWorld now calls them, "behaviorists." The interactions were both predictable and boring to the orcas. Often, we withheld food from the whales so we could use larger amounts of food for the interaction so they would be motivated enough to participate. Even then, it was not uncommon for the technique to be aversive, causing whales to refuse to cooperate afte

10 things you didn’t know about the ‘Monkey Selfie’ case
1. PETA sued David on behalf of the monkey and the case has now gone to appeal, but David reckons his real battle is Wikipedia. Its defence is as follows: “the Wikimedia Foundation’s 2014 refusal to remove the pictures from its Wikimedia Commons image library was based on the understanding that copyright is held by the creator, that a non-human creator (not being a legal person) cannot hold copyright, and that the images are thus in the public domain.”

2. PETA has dubbed the monkey Naruto, but based on the photos they are distributing, David reckons they have the wrong monkey, and indeed the wrong sex of monkey.

3. David only found out he was being sued by PETA when a reporter from the Associated Press contacted him for background, but wouldn’t explain exactly why. David realised what was happening when he saw the story in print.

4. The ongoing cost, in terms of legal feels and time, are forcing David to consider new income streams – he has registered with the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) as a coach, and is even thinking about dog walking.

5. David reckons the biggest mistake he made at the beginning was allowing his agent to distribute the high resolution version of the image to the press, on the off chance that they might want to turn it into a poster. Once the high res was out there, it was hard to keep control of the image.

6. There are now two crowdfunding sites set up to help David with the legal costs and the damage the case has caused his business.

Killing for Conservation
2 September 2017
8.30am - 5pm (Doors open at 8am)
Australian Museum, Sydney.

Killing has always been a part of species conservation, both as a threat and a mitigation tool. As a conservation tool, killing is employed in a variety of situations, including collecting museum specimens, teaching and research, eradicating pest species, and conservation through the sustainable use of wildlife. In recent decades, however, killing has become more contentious as a tool for conserving native species. At the same time, the need to conserve fauna has greatly increased. This has generated more tension. But what is the science that lies behind such killings? When do we use it? Does it work? What are the political dimensions? What are the consequences? Are there alternatives? And are all forms of killing seen as equal?

Since killing can be distressing, uneven in its acceptability, and evokes strong opinions, the topic is rarely discussed and debated as a theme. The day will bring the topic together with a series of case studies, viewpoints and plenary discussions which will be recorded and published as a valuable part of the day. Papers from the day will be published as a theme edition* of Australian Zoologist.

Put the date in your diary, mention the forum to your colleagues, and consider presenting a paper.

If you would like more information on this forum, if you would like to present a poster or paper, contact Martin Predavec (, Cathy Herbert ( or Dan Lunney (

Paphos Zoo tiger goes wild to boost population
PAPHOS zoo is celebrating as one of their hand-reared Siberian tiger cubs is about to be released into a protected forest in Russia to help increase the dwindling numbers of the animals in the wild.

Ioulious Christoforou told the Cyprus Mail that he was ecstatic when he heard the news, as he hand-reared the female tiger cub named Aphrodite for the first part of her life. The female cub was born to Siberian tiger, Bonnie and Clyde in April 2015 at Paphos Zoo, but her mother was unable to produce enough milk, so Christoforou stepped in to help.

Escaped cougar tranquilized and returned to Czech zoo
A cougar that escaped from a zoo in the Czech Republic has been recaptured and returned to the park, police said.

Tomas Machac, head of Contact Zoopark in Zvole, near Prague, said the 7-month-old male mountain lion escaped late Sunday or early Monday after someone tampered with the animal's cage.

"Our neighbor saw the cougar outside when she walked her dog. The cougar ran away because it is afraid," the Prague Monitor quoted Machac as saying.

The zoo said in a Facebook post the cub, named Maxie, was returned to the zoo unharmed Tuesday morning.

Police said they located the puma and captured it using a tranquilizer.

The zoo said more information on Maxie's

Panda at French zoo expecting... twins!
French zoo officials were doubly delighted on Tuesday on learning that their pregnant panda is expecting not one but two cubs at the weekend.

A final scan has revealed that Huan Huan, who is on loan to Beauval zoo in central France from China with her male partner Yuan Zi, is expecting twins on Friday or Saturday.
The impending birth will be the first of a panda in France.
It was announced with great fanfare on July 26 after a first scan, which appeared to show the nine-year-old bear—who arrived in Beauval in 2012 after intense, high-level negotiations between Paris and Beijing—was carrying a single cub.
But on Tuesday veterinarians assisted by two Chinese panda reproduction specialists noticed a secon

Zoo workers’ strike enters seventh day
Over 200 employees of Sanjay Gandhi Biological Park remained on strike on the seventh consecutive day demanding skilled status based on their experience and a minimum wage of Rs18,000 per month. The zoo authorities are not ready to concede to their demands on the ground that they lacked life science degrees.
The authorities have outsourced 70 daily wage workers to look after the maintenance and sweep the pathways and assist the 90 permanent zookeepers in handling animal management. The authorities have also told the employees that the protest was illegal as per the Central Zoo Auth

Free entry to Twycross Zoo as part of World Orangutan Day - but you have to be a redhead
Twycross Zoo is the hottest ticket in town this summer - especially for redheaded animal lovers.

The attraction near Nuneaton is once again allowing flame haired guests in for free later this month, to celebrate World Orangutan Day.

Taking place on August 19, this is the third year that the zoo have run the promotion.

New SeaWorld consultant could be precursor to possible sale
SeaWorld is stepping up efforts to turn around the beleaguered company amid reports it has brought on an outside financial adviser that could be a precursor to a possible sale or reorganization.

The Orlando-based theme park company is said to have hired investment banking advisory firm, Evercore, according to sources cited Monday by Deal Reporter, a financial news service. Evercore is known as a firm specializing in mergers and acquisitions, restructurings, public offerings and private placements.

SeaWorld offered no comment on reports of the Evercore hiring. “We don’t comment on rumors or speculation,” said SeaWorld spokeswoman Aimée Jeansonne Becka.

The news comes ahead of SeaWorld’s quarterly earnings report next week and a Tuesday announcement that the company’s chief financial officer, Peter Crage, has resigned and is being replaced on an interim basis by Marc Sw

First Safari Park opens in Hanoi (Photos)
Hanoians, especially children, will have an opportunity to enjoy the world of animals by rowing boats along the river in ‘Jungle Splash’, the first Safari in Bao Son Paradise Park, Hanoi.

It is so easy to make up a false impression of zoos |

Collections at the California Academy of Sciences aid researchers in revising a mammal branch on tree of life
One small mammal is experiencing a triumphant return to its long-ago spot on the tree of life. Scientists have elevated a subspecies of giant sengi, or elephant-shrew, to full species status. Aided by genetic information gathered from the California Academy of Sciences' vast mammal collection, Academy researchers collaborated with colleagues from the University of Alaska Museum (UAM), the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, and the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago (FMNH) to explore the evolutionary relationships among giant sengis. In the process, the team discovered that a white-tailed subspecies of giant sengi from the Congo Basin and western Uganda was genetically distinct enough to return it to full species status, as originally designated upon its discovery in the late nineteenth century. Rhynchocyon cirnei stuhlmanni (now R. stuhlmanni) follows three new sengi species discoveries from the last decade. The team's revision of species relationships among giant sengis appears this summer in Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.

Big-headed gecko shows human actions are messing with evolution
Evolution doesn't have to take millions of years. New research shows that a type of lizard living on man-made islands in Brazil has developed a larger head than its mainland cousins in a period of only 15 years.
The group of insect-eating geckos from the species Gymnodactylus amarali was isolated from the rest of the population when areas of the countryside were flooded to provide hydro-electric power. This caused the extinction of some larger species of lizards on the new islands, leaving the geckos to eat insects that would normally have been mopped up by the bigger species. As a result, the geckos have evolved bigger mouths, and so bigger heads, that enable them to eat their larger prey more easily.
We've actually seen rapid evolution like this before, but usually in response to a natural disaster such as drought or climate change. What's different about the geckos is that they've evolved in direct response to an environmental change enacted by humans, demonstra

Studying an elusive South African primate
At a remote South African field site, CU Boulder Professor Michelle Sauther and CU alumnus Frank Cuozzo are leading research on two of the world's least studied non-human primates: the iconic, big-eyed African bushbabies, also known as galagos.

The small southern lesser galago can fit in a human's hand while the greater thick-tailed galago is cat-sized and is much larger than its counterpart­­­. According to Sauther, it's like comparing a gorilla to a baboon.
While nearly all primate species live in the tropics, these bushbaby species are two of the few primates that live within temperate areas outside of the tropics. Due to their dramatic size difference, they are allowing Sauther and Cuozzo to better understand how body size ma


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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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