Monday, October 2, 2017

Zoo News Digest 2nd October 2017 (ZooNews 971)


Zoo News Digest 2nd October 2017  (ZooNews 971)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

As more and more zoos start to embrace new technology I wondered whether Zoo E-Guides going to lead to the demise of Zoo Docents? I do hope not. You really cannot beat the human touch. Visitors will often return to a zoo to catch up with a particular keeper or docent. I cannot imagine anyone going back to a zoo to listen to an E-Guide for a second time. It's not that I am against such things but the personal approach is always best.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my friend and colleague Peter Dillingham all the very best in his retirement. Keep busy Peter and enjoy your time.

I note that the South Lakes Safari Zoo is getting it in the neck once again. This is one collection whose past failings are not going to go away in a hurry.

I was trawling through the PAWS website the other day and a surprising thing hit me. There was no open condemnation of zoos per se…. Just "Roadside Zoos". Is this a new approach I wonder? Or is it that the anti's are starting to do what Good Zoos should be doing every day and condemning the bad and Dysfunctional Zoos. I must be sounding like a record player needle stuck in a groove but if the Good Zoos don't do something about the bad we will all be tarred with the same dirty brush. The opposite approach of standing together with the Bad Dysfunctional Zoos against the Animal Rights Anarchists is not the side I am on. I am strictly Pro Good Zoo and without any intention of insult to anyone believe my morality and ethics towards captivity are far higher than many. It is just such an approach which has lost me consultancy work. Some people just do not want to hear the truth.
Whereas I would not trust Wayne Pacelle as far as I could throw him I did find myself agreeing with some of what he had to say. I won't repeat it now because I covered it earlier in my article "What Makes A Good Zoo, A Personal Journey" (It's a long read).

The very best of luck to my team at IMATA in Mexico!

The first few links of this edition of the Blog are all Zoo Politics but there are many other links I am sure you will find of interest.

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 61,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 62,000 likes) 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,
HSUS, top zoos can together be a force for good
As if there isn’t enough misunderstanding in the world nowadays, a few voices in the zoo community have scolded the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) for inviting me to give a keynote presentation at the opening session at the group’s annual conference that kicked off today in Indianapolis – a gathering that attracted about 2,500 people in the zoological profession. This effort to divide animal advocates into warring camps comes at a time when there is a greater need than ever for pro-animal organizations such as The HSUS and the AZA to unite to fight cruelty and promote conservation.

Indeed, we have common purposes and we need to listen to each other, learn from each other, and work with each other. For the animals’ sake, we need more cooperation, not less. We should seek more understanding, not more quarreling.

The AZA and The HSUS can justly be described as the most important nonprofits in their respective fields. One is the national face of America’s leading zoos and aquariums, and the source of the nation’s most rigorous standards for accreditation of member institutions. The other is the foremost voice for animal welfare in the United States.

Why would anyone give much credence to the few critics in the ranks of the zoo world who recycle false narratives about The HSUS from a Washington D.C. public relations company hired to defend such cruelties as the extreme confinement of farm animals, the misery of puppy mills, and the mistreatment of animals in many other settings? I was glad to see those voices muted or marginalized at the AZA conference today.

What ought to be clear to anyone is that when our two organizations are in alignment – and that is the preponderance of the time — we are stronger standing together than apart. It’s much more constructive to celebrate areas of agreement than to hunt and try to find areas of division. The issues are too urgent for us to fall prey to grievance collectors.

The HSUS understands that accredited zoos and aquariums have been a force for good in celebrating animals and fostering understanding of animal cognition, their social lives, and their place in the matrix of life. The best among them provide broad benefits to animals. We’ve worked with the Detroit Zoo in Michigan to fight the trophy hunting of threatened wolves in the Great Lakes region, with the Wildlife Conservation Society (including its Bronx Zoo) on federal policies to restrict the ivory trade, with the Portland Zoo and Woodland Park Zoo to fight wildlife trafficking in Oregon and Washington through ballot initiatives, with the Lincoln Park Zoo to end the use of chimpanzees in invasive experiments, with the Brookfield Zoo to ban the use of elephants in traveling acts, and with so many other zoos on lifesaving projects. More broadly, the 230 or so accredited zoos and aquariums in the United States welcomed nearly 200 million visitors last year and enhanced the appreciation of animals in countless ways. Like any set of organizations, it’s my hope that they’ll continue to refine their educational programs and speak out on the important topics of the day when it comes to animal cruelty and conservation.

The AZA is also the best antidote to knockoff accreditation programs that put a stamp of approval on substandard zoos and aquariums. In contrast to the AZA’s very meaningful accreditation program, a group called the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) “accredits” facilities that don’t meet the established group’s strict standards. That latter group also works to block legislation to ban private ownership of dangerous wild animals, and even to weaken the Endangered Species Act. The group adopted the nomenclature of the AZA and re-sequenced the words to sow confusion among members of the public. It would be like some group calling itself the United States Humane Society giving its blessing to factory farms or trophy hunting. People would scratch their heads and wonder what’s going on, and w

Over the past summer, I wrote the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ media contact multiple times about a concerning statement about AZA that I had noticed in a blog post written by HSUS CEO Wayne Pacelle. I never got a straight answer about if his characterization of the relationship between the two organizations was correct - the one response I did get completely avoided actually answering my question. I searched every AZA statement and publication put out since then for any information that could help me contextualize Pacelle’s words -  and found nothing to allay my concerns. AZA, to this day, has made no public statements about the degree of association between the two organizations. So, Monday morning, I walked into his speech at the opening of the national conference with these words echoing in my head:

It’s Still Not Happening At the Zoo, Take 2: Does the AZA Really Have “Love and Concern for All Animals”?
We were surprised to read Wayne Pacelle’s recent blog about the warm collaboration between the HSUS and the AZA. He mentions his attendance at a meeting held last May at the Detroit Zoo called Zoos and Aquariums as Welfare Centres: Ethical Dimensions and Global Commitment on zoo animal welfare. We also were at this meeting, and had a very different impression of what transpired.

Mr. Pacelle notes “there was nearly unanimous agreement among participants about the value of AZA-accredited zoos and mainstream animal welfare advocates standing together on common-ground issues.” In fact, there wasn’t unanimity, with people from different points of view standing shoulder-to-shoulder. There were serious disagreements about a lot of issues (please see: It’s Still Not Happening at the Zoo: Sharp Divisions Remain). The “animal people” (those trying to represent the voices of animals held captive in zoos) and the “zoo people” came from very different moral paradigms and while there was some collegiality at the meeting, at times there was a distinctly uncomfortable atmosphere. This is not to say the meeting wasn’t valuable, but there were some very sharp and unresolved divisions among the participants.

Mr. Pacelle also writes, “The basic, elemental matter that unites The HSUS and the AZA is a love and concern for all animals.” He suggests that under AZA guidance, zoos are ethical and humane institutions. They are not. According to Jenny Gray, CEO of Zoos Victoria (Australia) and author of a recent book called Zoo Ethics: The Challenges of Compassionate Conservation, “[T]he bulk of zoos in existence today still fall short of meeting the requirements of ethical operations. At best, 3% of zoos are striving to meet ethical standards, with perhaps only a handful meeting all

HSUS’s Zoo Deception Takes Center Stage
Any good con relies on wooing the conned. It also relies on the sin of omission.

Wayne Pacelle gave a speech yesterday at the annual meeting of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The “we can work together” fluff he said was not of note, nor was the introductory 20-minute rambling defense of HSUS against criticism. What was noteworthy was what Pacelle didn’t say.

Pacelle did not at any point endorse captivity or captive breeding—two things fundamental to zoological operations. Pacelle did not say anything that would limit his work to restrict how zoos and aquariums, including AZA members, operate. He merely spoke in broad strokes to sound like an ally, because he wants to enlist AZA in his attacks on the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), another accreditation group, and American Humane, an animal welfare group that certifies zoos and aquariums.

Pacelle’s goal is to reduce the number of zoos, and reduce the species of animals zoos are allowed to have. He has said, “Certain animals should just not be kept in zoos.” Marine mammals, bears, elephants, apes—the list of targets is long.

Additionally, Pacelle wants to influence the standards by which zoos operate. He attacks farmers and ranchers the same way—by passing laws making it more costly to raise animals, and by trying to monopolize the “certification” standards of what’s “humane.”

His definition of what is “humane” is ideological, much like PETA’s—it is not a value he shares with AZA. Pacelle has admitted, “If I had my personal view perhaps” a future without pets “might take hold.” He is far outside of mainstream animal welfare.

Nothing Pacelle said yesterday is a reversal of his and other HSUS past statements against zoos, breeding, and captivity. He may focus on ZAA when speaking to AZA members, but his designs are to restrict all zoos and aquariums.

It was strange seeing AZA allowing Pacelle to address a group he would like to put out of business. As Winston Churchill warned, “An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

Big Cats and Zoo Politics
On March 30, 2017 the Big Cat Public Safety Act (H.R. 1818) was introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the primary proponent of the measure, characterized the bill as a bi-partisan effort to “prohibit private ownership of captive lions, tigers, and other big cats in the US.” — ostensibly a bill to ban big cats as pets. However, most states already prohibit the ownership of big cats as pets. South Carolina passed a law banning big cats as pets in the 2017 legislative session. The primary impact of H.R. 1818 would not be on pet owners, but on zoos and sanctuaries that are not ideologically aligned with the HSUS.

Zoo Controversy
Recently, a dark tide of suspicion and uncertainty washed over the zoo community, when news of an alliance between an anti-zoo-animal-rights behemoth, HSUS, and the largest zoological trade association in the country, AZA, was announced. The new partnership was unveiled when Dan Ashe announced that his old friend Wayne Pacelle, CEO of the HSUS, would be the keynote speaker at the AZA Annual Conference 2017.  Facebook blazed with opposition posts, and an online petition to disinvite Pacelle from the conference garnered more than 700 signatures.

The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) today announced that The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee was granted certification by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“The Association of Zoos and Aquariums certifies only aquariums and zoos that meet our demanding accreditation standards, which are universally recognized as the ‘gold-standard’ in our profession,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “By achieving AZA-certification, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee demonstrates that it is committed to exemplary animal care and welfare, educational and inspiring guest experiences, and AZA’s mission to conserve our world’s wild animals and wild places.”

To be certified, The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee submitted a detailed application and underwent a thorough investigation and on-site inspection by a team of AZA officials to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards, which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, and safety. The inspecting team observed all aspects of the institution’s operation and animal care. Final approval of accreditation/certification was granted

Welfare of zoo animals set to improve
Researchers from Marwell Zoo, the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust and the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Surrey, trialled a series of monitoring strategies on primates and birds to help zookeepers ensure the health and safety of animals in their care. The introduction of the practice over a period of 13 weeks at two zoological collections in the South of England, clearly demonstrated the level of physical and psychological wellbeing of the animals, and the effect of certain interventions.
The welfare assessment grid requires daily monitoring of a range of factors, such as the animals' physical condition, their psychological wellbeing and the quality of the environment, as well as the daily procedures they experience. These factors were not all previously part of the regular health checks that zookeepers were required to assess when they were undertaking animal welfare audits. In each area the primates and birds were scored, helping to monitor their progress and highlight any potential problems.
Although welfare protection of zoo animals is enshrined in both European and domestic legislation, monitoring it comprehensively in zoos has proven difficult due to the absence of clear and consistent guidance.
Sarah Wolfensohn, Professor of Animal Welfare at the University of Surrey, said: "Ensuring a high standard of animal welfare is paramount for any zoo, but it has not alwa

Marine “Conservation”: You Keep Using That Word but I Don't Think It Means What You Think It Means
What exactly does “doing conservation” or “incorporating conservation” into ocean science mean? Although today it is often coupled with the sustainable use of natural resources, by definition, conservation traditionally involves the preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment or natural ecosystems (Soulé and Wilcox, 1980). In other words, if the conservation intervention is successful then the ecosystem should reflect a better (or perhaps, more commonly, a “less worse”) state as a result. In this context, is simply conducting science conservation? Are outreach and advocacy conservation—whether through old school print and TV/radio broadcasts or through social media such as blogs or building a Twitter following? The field of modern marine conservation is an interdisciplinary one (e.g., van Dyke, 2008; Parsons and MacPherson, 2016) with a landscape that is populated with individuals engaged in science, education, social marketing, economics, resource management, and policy.

But how are we measuring our impact considering this diverse field? How do we know that the ecosystems toward which we direct our conservation efforts are “better” or at least “less worse” than they would be without them? Conservation needs to be more than just “being busy” or “feeling” that we are having an impact. And shouldn't we strive to ensure that conservation is not just conversation? How do we connect our action

From feral camels to ‘cocaine hippos’, large animals are rewilding the world
Throughout history, humans have taken plants and animals with them as they travelled the world. Those that survived the journey to establish populations in the diaspora have found new opportunities as they integrate into new ecosystems.

These immigrant populations have come to be regarded as “invaders” and “aliens” that threaten pristine nature. But for many species, migration may just be a way to survive the global extinction crisis.

In our recently published study, we found that one of the Earth’s most imperilled group of species is hanging on in part thanks to introduced populations.

Megafauna - plant-eating terrestrial mammals weighing more than 100kg - have established in new and unexpected places. These “feral” populations are rewilding the world with unique and fascinating ecological functions that had been lost for thousands of years.

Today’s world of giants is only a shadow of its former glory. Around 50,000 years ago, giant kangaroos, rhino-like diprotodons, and other unimaginable animals were lost from Australia.

Samoa's national bird under serious threat
The Samoa Conservation Society has pooled its resources with Auckland Zoo, Samoa's Ministry of Natural Resources, and a team from the UK to work together to save the bird.

Endemic to Samoa, the manumea is a unique tooth-billed pigeon whose population is threatened by deforestation, introduced predators like rats and cats, and human development on its island home.

President of the Samoa Conservation Society James Atherton said the international exposure had helped by providing some funding towards its campaign.

"Because we don't have a huge amount of money to use for our work here in Samoa, conservation is a poor cousin of many other thematic areas, we have to fight for every dollar we get."

The Big Conservation Lie exposes colonial dynamic at the heart of conservation policy
Dr Mordecai Ogada, a professional conservationist, and John Mbaria, his fellow Kenyan and journalist, present a powerful challenge to the prevailing conservation narrative, argues LEWIS EVANS

Mordecai Ogada was sitting in a luxury safari lodge, admiring the view of Kilimanjaro. He could see many of Africa’s most iconic species -giraffe, water buffalo, even a few elephants far in the distance.

As a professional conservationist, with a PhD in carnivore ecology, the sight was both familiar and pleasing. He was being treated like a tourist. Someone came in and offered him a cocktail. Then, one of his white hosts and sponsors, the people whose largesse he was enjoying, said: “We’re going to have to move that Maasai village. It’s spoiling the view for tourists.”

For Dr. Ogada, this was a decisive moment. “I was a qualified black face, put in place to smooth over fifty years of exploitation.”

The Big Conservation Lie is written by people who are actually from one of big conservation’s key target countries. It dismantles many of the environmental movement’s most troubling myths: the pristine wilderness “untouched by human hands” until European arrival; the supposed lack of interest or expertise in wildlife among native conservationists and co

Activists vs. people who get eaten
Bhivji Harle is a name that won’t be remembered. A poor, 55-year-old farmer and a resident of Vadala Vardhpur village in Maharashtra’s Wardha district, Harle will become another statistic, a collateral in the man-animal conflict, a forgotten footnote in the grand narrative of tiger conservation.

On the evening of September 19, a tigress known as T27C1 attacked and killed Harle on a field in his village. He was the third person she had killed in five months. Harle’s real killer, however, was not the tigress but the astonishing apathy of self-proclaimed wildlife activists and conservationists, forest officers and politicians, who should have known better than to release a conflict tiger into Bor Tiger Reserve, around which are scattered dozens of villages.

T27C1, more commonly known as the ‘Bramhapuri problem tigress’ began life in the Bramhapuri forest division of Chandrapur district — home to the Tadoba Tiger Reserve and the ‘tiger capital’ of Maharashtra. Densely populated, humans and big cats live cheek-by-jowl

World's oldest Bornean orangutan dies at 62 at Tokyo zoo
Gypsy, the world's oldest Bornean orangutan in captivity, has died at the age of 62 at a Tokyo zoo due to acute heart failure, the zoo operator said Thursday.

The female orangutan, which was brought to the Tama Zoological Park in western Tokyo from Borneo in 1958, has been treated since she was found bleeding from the mouth in early August but died on Wednesday, according to the zoo operator.

Hippos Underwater: A Conversation with Bill Dennler, Retired Director of the Toledo Zoo
   During Bill Dennler’s twenty five years as Director of the Toledo Zoo, it evolved from a rundown, dysfunctional city zoo to a great zoo. It became the smallest market in the United States to have a zoo with over one million visitors a year. Dennler and his staff built transformational exhibits such a the Hippoquarium (the first filtrated hippo habitat with underwater viewing), Arctic Encounter and Africa while maintaining and upgrading the Zoo’s historic WPA buildings. He was very well-respected in the zoo field and considered a leader at an important crossroads for zoos. Here is his story.

145 environmental defenders have been killed so far in 2017
Produced by Monica Ulmanu, Alan Evans and Georgia Brown

  This year, in collaboration with Global Witness, the Guardian will attempt to record the deaths of all these people, whether they be wildlife rangers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo or indigenous land rights activists in Brazil. At this current rate, chances are that four environmental defenders will be killed this week somewhere on the planet.

Chimpanzees can learn how to use tools without observing others
New observations have lead researchers to believe that chimpanzees can use tools spontaneously to solve a task, without needing to watch others first.
The evidence of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) spontaneously using sticks to scoop food from water surfaces is published in the open-access journal PeerJ.
Researchers from the University of Birmingham, UK, and University of Tübingen, Germany, looked for the spontaneous re-occurrence of a tool-use behaviour practiced in wild chimpanzees where sticks are used to 'scoop' algae from the top of water surfaces.
Chimpanzees at Twycross Zoo, UK, were provided with a container of water with pieces of floating food. The tested chimpanzees successfully used the sticks, and moreover, spontaneously showed the same underlying action pattern (a scooping action of the stick) as their wild cousins do.
The results challenge the accepted belief that chimpanzees need to learn from each other how to use tools, and instead suggest that some (if not all) forms of tool-use are instead within their pre-existing behavioural repertoire (what the authors call "latent solutions").

Conservationists should harness 'Hollywood effect' to help wildlife
How did Finding Nemo affect clownfish? Was Jaws bad for sharks? Did the remake of the Jungle Book help pangolins?
Researchers from the University of Exeter say conservation scientists could work with filmmakers to harness the "Hollywood effect" to boost conservation.
Scientific advisors and product placement are already commonplace in films, and the researchers say similar methods could be used to raise awareness of endangered species and other environmental issues.
The research - inspired by a viewing of the Jungle Book (2016) - also warns of unintended dangers such as mass tourism to the Thai island made famous by The Beach (2000), and the so-called "Nemo effect" which has reportedly led to a boom in clownfish captivity.
"Movies could be used by conservationists to highlight issues of concern, much as product placement is currently used for advertising," said Dr Matthew Silk, of the Environment and Sustainability Institute on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
"Scientific advisors are also common and - given the effect films can have on public perceptions - conservation advisors could be used.
"More research is needed to understand how the 'Hollywood effect' impacts on wildlife, conservation and the environment.
"Films might inspire people to learn more about conservation and take action, but they might also misinform people and portray a simplified, romantic version of nature."
No detailed study has been done on Hollywood's impact on co

Spring strike cost Toronto Zoo $4M
The strike that closed Toronto Zoo for five weeks last spring cost the city-owned attraction $4 million and 280,000 visitors.

The startling figures are in a routine report on attendance and revenue going to the zoo’s board of management Thursday.

“There is no doubt the labour disruption had a significant impact on both revenues and attendance,” Jennifer Tracey, the zoo’s senior marketing director, said in an email to the Star on Wednesday. “The general attendance and school group numbers were particularly impacted.”

Zoo workers walked off the job May 11 saying they could not agree to weakened job security demanded by management in a contract proposal.

The breeding, research and display facility, with 5,000 animals including two giant pandas and their Toronto-born offspring, remained off-limits to the public until June 14 after workers signed a new four-year contract.

The report states the zoo had

San Diego Zoo animals moved as part of modern-day ark project
The Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans on Thursday welcomed the first group of animals from San Diego Zoo as part of a partnership between the two animal conservation leaders to bolster populations of threatened and endangered species.

The collaboration - the Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife - is designed as a modern-day ark to preserve species that are vulnerable in the wild and sustain populations in human care.

The first arrivals include reticulated giraffe, sable, bongo, okapi, common eland, and yellow-backed duiker.

The Alliance focuses on animals that live in large herds or flocks, and these species by their very nature need space for large populations, to be viable, sustainable breeding groups.

The project echoes the original purpose of the Species Survival Center, which opened in 1993 as an off-site breeding and research facility.

"The Alliance is a one-of-a-kind resource for zoos and aquariums to rebuild animal collections that are in danger of disappearing," said Ron Forman, Audubon Nature Institute President and CEO.

This collaborative effort, comes in part, from the ongoing efforts of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to create and manage species through

Farewell to Blackpool Zookeeper after 40 years
A Blackpool Zookeeper is finally retiring after four decades caring for animals.

Animal Manager, Peter Dillingham, embarked on his dream career on his 16th birthday starting in the bird section of Chessington Zoo on 14th May 1973. He joined Blackpool at the age of 32 and will retire on on Friday 29th September 2017.

Peter’s job has seen him work with an amazing array of species from polar bears to giant pandas and gorillas to giraffes!

Opinion: Feeding ‘wild’ wolves
I received the Mexican wolf update, as I do monthly, for August 2017. As is often the case, there were disturbing items recorded therein. This is ill-foreboding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which recently offered its draft Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan calling for a large population expansion.

Out of 22 current Mexican wolf packs in Arizona and New Mexico, nine were the beneficiaries of a “diversionary food cache” intended to keep wolves from killing cattle or to help increase “survival of genetically valuable pups.” This open-air zoo behavior by the interagency field team has been going on since individual wolves were first released in 1998. No matter how careful interagency field team biologists or their constantly changing team of volunteers might be, this still results in re-introduced wolves associating humans with food, a self-defeating exercise.

It also means that humans will continue to be directly involved with trying to train or prop up wolf packs from now until eternity (apparently the date w

Dear Jane Goodall, sorry but you are full of crap and you jumped the shark
Ok well then lets hear what you have to say about Gypsy, Thika and Toka being kept isolated and alone at The Performing Animal Welfare Society. Why have you not spoken up about this? Remember the Toronto Zoo elephants? You supported the inhumane 85hr road transport of the three pachyderms to California. Within two months Thika was segregated and then lived alone for 18 months. By all accounts she is still living alone. Iringa died just 20 months after arriving at PAWS. Is an elephant living isolated and alone at a sanctuary aware of some kind of difference between its life at a zoo vs its life at a sanctuary? No, actually it is not. Elephants don’t cry and they don’t make comparisons of that sort. “Oh Im alone but I am at a sanctuary so its ok”, there are actually people who believe this nonsense and you, a renowned scientist promote and perpetuate this kind of ignorance and lack of logical and scientific thinking with your constant back and forth on your support of good zoos and your flip flopping and increasingly unimportant opinions.

None of the Toronto elephants have begun integration with PAWS existing African herd, and if you don’t remember the reaso

Maryland Zoo artificially impregnates female polar bear
After the loss of their male polar bear, The Maryland Zoo was looking for new ways to get their female polar bear pregnant.

The zoo announced on Wednesday they have teamed up with the Cincinnati Zoo's Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) to participate in reproductive research.

In an effort by both zoo's, 21-year-old Anoki from the Maryland Zoo has been artificially inseminated.

“Anoki and Magnet were paired for many years before he died, but with no success. Last year, the research group at CREW reached out to us about performing artificial insemination (AI) with Anoki,” said Erin Cantwell, mammal collection and conservation manager for the Zoo. “Since poor reproduction is one of the biggest factors aff

Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute Releases Birds to the Wild
Two female Guam rails born at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) in Front Royal, Va., were released to the wild in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands Sept. 18. The two birds were repatriated to Guam from SCBI in March 2017, along with a third bird that will join the breeding program at the Guam Department of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR). In total, 49 of the ground-dwelling birds were released on the island of Rota by DAWR, including the two birds born at SCBI. This month’s release marks the first time since 1985 that there are more individuals in the wild than there are in human care. There are 115 Guam rails in human care and approximately 200 in the wild.

Twenty-four middle school children from a local school in Rota were present at the release and participated in releasing some of the birds. The local people refer to the Guam rail by their Chamorro name which is ko’ko.’

In 1984, 21 Guam rails were captured in Guam to start a breeding and recovery program in human care. The invasive brown tree snake has since extirpated them from the island along with eight other native bird species. The snake remains a challenging predator in Guam. Rota is free of brown tree snakes. Guam rails have been officially classified as “extinct in the wild” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 1994, but small populations have been released on Rota and on Cocos Island since 1989.

SCBI received the first Guam rails to be transferr

Houston's Downtown Aquarium mistreats white tigers, lawsuit says
On the heels of a defamation suit and year-old legal spat, a national animal rights group has joined forces with a Montgomery County grandmother Tuesday formally charging the owners of Houston's Downtown Aquarium with animal cruelty and claiming their treatment of four white tigers on display for visitors violates the Endangered Species Act.
The federal lawsuit brought by Cheryl Conley, who runs Backyard Radio, a radio station in Magnolia and has served on local wildlife group boards, and backed by the Animal Legal Defense Fund in California's Sonoma Valley, blasts the aquarium and Landry's Inc. for confining four tigers, named Nero, Marina, Coral and Reef, to a concrete indoor exhibit area with metal cages, a practice they say the zoo comm

Climate, not dingoes, killed the thylacine on mainland Australia
The study, published in the Journal of Biogeography, could have implications for the fight to save the endangered Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii), says geneticist and research team leader Jeremy Austin of the University of Adelaide.

“Devils have relatively low genetic diversity that potentially has placed them at greater risk of extinction due to genetic effects,” he says.

”On top of that, devil facial tumour disease has had a major impact on population size across most of Tasmania.”

His message to conservation biologists is “don’t give up”.

Ex-SeaWorld president helping feds in ‘Blackfish’ investigation
The former president of SeaWorld Orlando in Florida, Terry Prather, is helping the feds by giving evidence in their probe into the company for matters related to CNN’s “Blackfish” film.

The company has said it’s the subject of probes by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investigations are looking into “disclosures and public statements” made by company execs in 2014 or earlier “regarding the impact of the ‘Blackfish’ documentary” on SeaWorld’s stock, according to a filing.

A source says the feds are investigating whether there was a coverup at SeaWorld about the negative effect of the documentary as Blackstone took the company public in April 2013.

In the months before the IPO, “Blackfish” debuted at Sundance, was acqui

Do animals have personalities?
Our personality has a lot to say about how we think and perceive the world around us, and thus how we live our lives.

Just think of your nosy next-door neighbour or an impulsive colleague who’s always busting into your office to tell you about The Next Big Thing.

But what about a shy dog? Or an aloof cat? Many pet owners think they recognize personality traits in their animals. Are they right?

Animals do have personality
The answer is, well…yes, according to Anne Gabriela Hertel, a PhD candidate at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

"We definitely see stable differences between individuals," she says.

Hertel tells us that researchers in recent years have become more interested in an animal's specific personality. Some biologists have developed a system to describe an animal’s personality based on five main characteristics: courage, aggression, curiosity, sociability, and activity.

For example, Trond Amundsen, a biology professo

In the light of various interviews and documentaries about the validity of zoos, I thought it an opportune time to put a penny in the pouch and hopefully help you to make a heartfelt and head led decision on the question.

So here goes…

Maybe you have walked through a zoo and saw a beautiful Green Tree Iguana lying on a heated floor instead of somewhere in Brazil in a tropical forest and you thought… “This is not right. The poor guy is on exhibition thousands of miles from home. He should be roaming free in some tropical forest!” And I would agree with you. The Iguana should be in Brazil in a tropical forest, eating fresh leaves in soft sunlight. But, here is the reality of its life:

At some point, someone wanted an Iguana as a pet. Let’s call him JD. So JD went to the local pet shop to make inquiries. The pet shop owner would have told him that Iguanas need a high level of care otherwise they don’t do very well as pets and recommended a dog. But JD persisted and found someone on the internet who can find an Iguana if he’d like. So he contacts this nice lady who promptly gets back to him with pictures of various Iguanas to choose from. He picks a small one, makes a payment and is now the proud owner of an exotic Green Tre

Dubai Safari is all but confirmed to open its gates before National Day
It looks like things are on track for a late-November soft opening…

After numerous setbacks and missing its initial opening date back in January, it appears that the hugely anticipated opening of Dubai Safari may finally be upon us in a few short months.

Speaking to Gulf News, Hussain Nasser Lootah, director general of Dubai Municipality, confirmed that work is in full swing for

Penguin-mounted video captures gastronomic close encounters of the gelatinous kind
Footage from penguin-mounted mini video recorders shows four species of penguin eating jellyfish and other gelatinous animals of the open ocean, a food source penguins were not previously believed to partake of, scientists report this month in the Ecological Society of America's peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. The article, part of the October issue of the journal, is available online ahead of print.

----------------------------- in October 2017

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



PenguinPool at Krefeld Zoo in Germany is an aviary for Humboldt 
penguins, ringed teal, cinnamon teal and Inca tern. In addition to 
walking through the aviary, visitors have an unterwater view from 
outside the aviary. The exhibit showcases the zoo's conservation efforts 
through participating in the European conservation breeding programs for 
Humboldt penguin and Inca tern and supporting the non-profit 
organization Sphenisco - Save the Humboldt penguin.

The German original is here:



We are looking for evidence! Please let us know when you plan to do or 
find scientifically reliable studies on the topic.

At the 2017 international zoo design conference, Monika Fiby gave a 
presentation on the evolution and succession of zoo design and mentioned 
the developments of landscape and cultural immersion:

Landscape immersion aims at recreating the natural habitat of the animal 
while cultural immersion recreates a human environment. In both cases, 
the consistency of animal and visitor space is meant to create an 
immersion effect.

We wonder how the education impact of the two design approaches on 
visitors may differ. So far, no research was done on this topic.

The closest approach was a laboratory tests with slides showing 8 animal 
species each in the wild, in naturalistic exhibits and in cages. 
Basically, the study found that the context strongly influenced 
attitudes, with confined animals being perceived as tame.

FINLAY T., LAWRENCE R.J., MAPLE T.L. (1988) People's perceptions of 
animals: The influence of zoo environment. Environment and Behavior, 
vol. 20, no. 4. Sage Publications. Newbury Park, California.

Another study found that the most important reason for aesthetic 
appreciation of an exhibit appeared to be its naturalness.

KELLERT S., DUNLAP J. (1989) Informal Learning at the Zoo: A Study of 
Attitude and Knowledge Impacts. A Report to the Zoological Societa of 
Philadelphia of a Study funded by the G.R. Dodge Foundation.


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

Soon, all of Hong Kong's dolphins will be dead
Mundy -- who would go on to help introduce tea to the UK, forever changing British drinking habits and imperial priorities -- wrote in his diary, "the Porpoises here are as white as Milke, some of them Ruddy withall."

It was one of the first recorded mentions of the Chinese white dolphin, but would go largely unnoticed until another European, Swedish missionary and naturalist Pehr Osbeck wrote of "snow-white dolphins (which) tumbled about the ship" and suggested a scientific name for them: "delphinus chinensis."

Now officially the Sousa chinensis (to reflect their relation to the wider Sousa, or humpback dolphin, genus), the animals are more commonly known as pink dolphins due to their pink bubblegum-like coloring in adulthood.

Why Tearing Down Dams Could Help Save Endangered Killer Whales
WRITING IN 1916, conservationist John Muir noted that “there is not a ‘fragment’ in all nature, for every relative fragment of one thing is a full harmonious unit in itself.” A century later, in the Pacific Northwest, land managers, tribal leaders, environmental stewards, lawmakers and business interests are locked in a fight over which harmonious units and relative fragments can be rearranged to satisfy all parties.

But while they grapple over the details of regulations and policy changes, and the various perceived and demonstrated economic effects any such legislation may have, whales continue to miscarry at an unprecedented rate.

In the salty waters off the coast of Se

Longtime employee to lead troubled Honolulu Zoo
Longtime Honolulu Zoo curator Linda Santos was named the troubled facility’s new director by the city today.

Santos has been assistant zoo director since July 2015, according to her LinkedIn page. Before becoming assistant director, Santos had been the zoo’s general curator since August 2012, the page said.

Santos has been an employee of the zoo since 1986, according to city officials.

Dream a Little Dream, Revisited
I think it's safe to say that zookeepers probably have among the most colorful dreams of any profession.  And the anxiety dreams are even weirder.  Just when you think you're safe at home, decompressing from your job and drifting into a delicious, deep sleep....BOOM.  Your brain suddenly creates an elaborate story involving elements such as: flying animals (who do not fly), bizarre accidents, and gates that just will not lock no matter what you do.

You guys, I STILL have dreams about my dolphin trainer days.  Not just like, tra la la la, here I am swimming with dolphins like I used to, but full-blown "OH MY GOD I AM GOING TO GET FIRED AND I WILL THINK THAT WAY UNTIL I WAKE UP" or "WHERE AM I  EXACTLY" kind of dreams.

I'm sure many of you have your own list of cycling zoo nightmares, but here are some of my usuals that still happen to this day:

Venezuelan vet's fight for the harpy eagle
"The pain was intense, but during the fall, I was only thinking about the chick," says Venezuelan vet Alexander Blanco of the time he plummeted from a treetop in the Venezuelan rainforest with a harpy eagle chick in tow.
Mr Blanco runs the national harpy monitoring programme Fundación Esfera in Venezuela.
He was tagging the chick when his ropes loosened and he fell 35m (115ft) to the ground. Mr Blanco ended up in hospital with a broken wrist and leg but the chick was unhurt.
It was not the first time the vet had risked his life for harpy eagles.
An irate female bird left him with a seven-centimetre-long (2.7in) laceration and a perforated thorax when he tried to tag another chick high up in the canopy.
Ever since, he has been wearing a stab-proof vest to carry out the task.
Stuff of legends
One of the world's largest eagles, the harpy is surrounded by legends. It is known by indigenous people in South America as the "god of the wind".
Early European explorers named the huge birds after the harpies of Greek mythology, predatory "frightful flying creatures with hooked beaks and claws".
Mr Blanco first came across them over 20 ye

Peacocks with chlamydia and lemurs climbing into a pram - findings of latest unannounced zoo inspection
BARROW Borough Council is set to agree progress is being made at Dalton zoo despite a number of worrying welfare findings and seven incidents involving animal contact with the public during a 14-day period after a shock inspection.

The council's licensing regulatory committee will meet next Thursday to consider whether South Lakes Safari Zoo operating under new bosses is complying with its licence conditions.

Next week's meeting follows an unannounced inspection on August 3 which also looked at the management structure and finances of the new Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd.

Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, headed by Karen Brewer, was g

Fresh concerns over Cumbrian zoo where 500 animals died
Inspectors have identified a number of welfare concerns at a Cumbrian zoo where nearly 500 animals died in less than four years.

The latest findings on South Lakes Safari zoo, which include a lemur climbing into a baby’s pram, squirrel monkeys jumping on to members of the public and prairie dogs digging holes next to the fence, come as a council committee is due to meet to decide whether it is complying with its licensing conditions.

‘You’d come in and think, what’s dead or escaped?’: inside Britain's most controversial zoo
 Read more
Additionally, the animal director, Andreas Kaufmann, earlier this week told the council there had been a diagnosis of chlamydia among the zoo’s peacock population.

The attraction is in the hands of new owners – Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd – after the zoo’s founder David Gill was refused a licence to run the facility, in March.

The previous month, a damning report said 486 animals died of causes including emaciation and hypothermia between Decembe

New South Lakes Safari Zoo management slammed over involvement in former failings
BARROW and Furness MP John Woodcock has slammed bosses at South Lakes Safari Zoo and urged the government to review its process following the latest inspection.

The unannounced inspection last month recorded seven incidents of animals coming into contact with seven members of the public.

Mr Woodcock criticised Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd and highlighted the tragic death of a 24-year-old zookeeper in May 2013.

He said: "The fact that this inspection can take place at all shows the zoo licensing regime in England is broken and must be urgently reviewed by the government and a fit and proper person test created.

Tree-dwelling, coconut-cracking giant rat discovered in Solomon Islands
Remember the movie The Princess Bride, when the characters debate the existence of (Rodents of Unusual Size), only to be beset by enormous rats? That's kind of what happened here.

Mammalogist Tyrone Lavery heard rumors of a giant, possum-like rat that lived in trees and cracked open coconuts with its teeth on his first trip to the Solomon Islands in 2010. After years of searching and a race against deforestation destroying the rat's would-be home, Lavery, along with John Vendi and Hikuna Judge, finally found it.

"The new species, Uromys vika, is pretty spectacular -- it's a big, giant rat," said Lavery, a post-doctoral researc

Zoo ends sun bear and orangutan performances after viral video
AN INDONESIAN zoo has announced it will no longer force sun bears and orangutans to perform for food after an international outcry.

The Lembah Hijau Zoo in Lampung on the Indonesian island of Sumatra was shamed in a video posted by local activist group the Scorpion Wildlife Trade Monitoring Group of a sun bear – clearly malnourished and slipping around on a tiled floor – being made to perform tricks for pieces of food.

After the group posted the video in August, Lembah Hijau reportedly found itself inundated with complaints via email and social media, and moved to end performances by the zoo’s sun bear and orangutan.

Eclosia Group to build Odysséo aquarium, Mauritius
The Eclosia group will build the Indian Ocean’s largest aquarium in Caudan, Mauritius – Odysséo – on a seafront site which hosts Port Louis’ Marina.

The project will be managed jointly with Clear Reef. It will develop the flora and fauna of the Indian Ocean and create new jobs for local scientists.

Construction will begin in January 2018 at a cost of 500 million Mauritian rupees ($15 million USD). It is expected to be completed at the beginning of 2020.

The aquarium will be called Odysséo. The main structure will occupy a 5,000m² area and the whole aquarium will cover 1.5ha.

There will be around 50 tanks containing two million litres of water, and about 10,000 species of sea animals.

These include sharks, rays and groupers

$54m Cairns aquarium officially opens
Over 15,000 aquatic animals, fish, plants, and other organisms are housed within 71 live exhibits in the two-level facility, providing visitors with an immersive, two-and-a-half-hour journey through 10 life-like and recreated habitats.

“When we visited the Reef six years ago we were amazed by the colours and variety of fish and coral but couldn’t help noticing the vast number of people who had made the journey, but for one reason or another, did not go into the water or venture off the islands while others were left wanting to see more,” said co-founder and co-director Daniel Leipnik.

The hectic around-the-clock effort to save an endangered, orphaned bat
Early one Wednesday morning in January, in an exhibit at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a fruit bat named Patty went into labor.

This should have been good news. Patty belongs to a colony of critically endangered Rodrigues bats, a species that almost went extinct in the 1970s. The bats exist in the wild in only place — a small island in the Western Indian Ocean — and the colonies at the Safari Park and more than a dozen other zoos around the world form a kind of Noah’s Ark for the future.

Bats are creepy to a lot of people, but they play important roles in ecosystems across the globe as pollinators, seed-dispersers and mosquito-eaters. Take away bats and the world would be a lot less lush and a lot more itchy.

So Patty’s pregnancy represented another brick in the bridge of survival at a time when scientists say the planet is experiencing a “sixth wave” of extinction, with dozens of plant and animal species disappearing every day. Except Patty was in trouble.

A keeper found her on the ground of the exhibit, writhing

From the jungle: Fauquier’s connection to the National Zoo’s first gorillas
Kara Arundel has worked as a journalist for two decades in Florida, Virginia and Washington, D.C. And it just so happens that she is the daughter-in-law of the late Arthur W. “Nick” Arundel, the former publisher of the Fauquier Times and numerous other newspapers in the Virginia countryside.

It also happens that in 1955, as young Marine, Arundel ventured into the Belgian Congo on a month-long adventure safari to view Africa’s diverse wildlife. He boarded a commercial airliner carrying a pair of baby gorillas in each arm. Their destination was the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. It was the beginning of dramatic changes for the gorillas and for the zoo that would be their forever home.

​To research her book, “Raising America’s Zoo” about the National Zoo and her father-in-law, Kara reviewed thousands of pages of documents at the Smithsonia

Why do some people still trophy hunt?
Traditional hunting is one thing, but Justin Thomas questions the motives of those who kill animals simply for fun
Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition is the region’s go-to event for all things hunting and more. This annual event, which ran last week, prominently features archery, equestrianism and falconry and, in this regard, plays a role in promoting the UAE’s heritage. Falconry has a long tradition among the Bedouin of Arabia, where hunting small prey with falcons was a means of supplementing a sometimes meagre diet. Archery and equestrianism too, have a rich regional heritage. Falconry is majestic, equestrianism is elegant, and archery is graceful. Some aspects of modern-day hunting, however, are just plain ugly, perhaps even pathological.

Trophy hunting (the recreational killing of wild animals) for example, widely elicits a societal gag reflex. In 2015, photographs of a dentist, who allegedly paid $50,000 for the pleasure of killing a lion named Cecil, went viral. The backlash was huge: social media pulled its collective “shame on you” face and vigorously wagged the global finger of public outrage for a few days.

Holy Hurricanes, Batman
Whoa, you guys.  Mother Nature has been real active.  So much so, that I feel like a giant blobby blob.  She's out there twirling around at 83598mph, pulling up trees from their roots, flattening houses, and I'm sitting here slumped in my chair wondering where my next cheese fix is going to come from.
I don't mean to make light of the really scary hurricanes we've seen hit so many places over the past few weeks.  They destroyed lives and livelihoods.  They caused a tremendous amount of damage, especially in places like Houston, Puerto Rico, Haiti and Barbuda. 

There are literally ten zillion (plus or minus) things we could focus on when it comes to penning a blog on hurricanes.  But I want to focus on zoos.  And I want to focus on the positives.  You know why? Because I think we have to sort through some of the dark stuff in order to feel like what we (or rather, those of you who weathered the storms) are doing is important and recognized.

Here are some of the amazing things that I thought came out of the last two hurricane hits from a zoo perspective:

Off to the wild for 50 animals bred in captivity
The Wildlife Conservation Bureau will on Wednesday release 50 animals of four species from a wildlife breeding station into Mae Wong National Park in Nakhon Sawan.

The bureau said on its Facebook page ( that the “Songsat Kheunwana Peuapasomboon” project (Returning wildlife to the fertile forest) will see 30 brow-antlered deer (Eld’s deer), 10 slow lorises, three white-handed gibbons and seven small-clawed otters released. It said an artificial salt lick would be set up in the park the same day for the deer and other animals to use.

European Professional Zookeeper Qualification Framework Promo

Zoo Saves 1,500 Sea Turtles Displaced by Hurricanes Irma and Jose
A batch of freshly hatched sea turtles displaced by hurricanes Irma and Jose have been given a new lease on life as a Florida zoo ensured their safe release back into the wild.

Officials from Brevard Zoo, Barrier Island Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Sea Turtle Preservation Society delivered nearly 1,500 hatchlings and washbacks — young turtles literally washed back after swimming offshore — to the zoo’s Sea Turtle Center on Monday.

Staff and volunteers tirelessly cared for and watched over the green and loggerhead sea turtles as they recovered from the ordeal.

“Fortunately the turtles that we've received the last three days have been healthy, fairly new off the beach, a week, maybe two weeks old,” said Melanie Stadler, the Brevard Zoo's sea

Sea lion dies after being tied to a tree in someone's garden
A sea lion has died after being tied to a tree in someone's garden. Police in Ecuador have launched an investigation into the shocking display of animal cruelty.

Officials in Daule region, near the Pacific coast, rescued the adult male on Wednesday (13 September) after members of the public alerted them to it.
Images of the tortured creature showed it tied very tightly across the upper body to a tree in a private garden.

Vets from Pantanal Zoo took him to to safety but tragically he died on 15 September, according to Ecuadorian news site El Universo.

Police are now investigating how the animal came to be tied up to the tree. The offence could be punishable with up to three years in prison.

The Ministry of Environment had hoped to return the abused water mammal to his natural habitat. Sadly, that day wil

Zoo Miami may be closed up to 2 months after Irma
SOUTHWEST MIAMI-DADE, Florida - Hurricane Irma did not devastate Zoo Miami as Andrew did back in 1992, but the park may still be closed for up to two months to clear debris left behind.

Zoo spokesperson Ron Magill said all the park's mammals survived the storm, although a few birds died of stress.

The exact length of time the zoo will remain closed depends on being able to contract help to clear debris and repair fences.

"There are tons of debris that needs to be cleared and lots of trees that need to be up righted," said Magill.

Overall, the zoo feels lucky that it made it through Irma relatively intact, unlike 25 years ago when Andrew decimated the park, forcing it to be almost completely rebuilt.

The plan to reintroduce a big cat that might never have existed
“THIS is another animal from the distant wilds of the interior, whose skins the savages bring to the borders to barter with the Chinese.” With these words, published in 1862, Robert Swinhoe introduced the Formosan clouded leopard to the Western world. Europe’s consular representative to Taiwan, he had seen only a few flattened skins on the island, but this was enough for him to distinguish it as a species new to science. Unlike its relatives elsewhere in Asia, wrote Swinhoe, the Formosan clouded leopard had a short tail.

It was declared extinct in 2013, but this is no ordinary story about a large cat being wiped off the planet. There’s a catch. Plans are afoot to bring the svelte feline’s closest relative back to Taiwan – despite lingering questions over whether the clouded leopard ever existed at all.

Today, Asia is home to two species of clouded leopard. Neofelis nebulosa is found across the mainland from the Malay peninsula to the Himalayan foothills of Nepal. The Sunda clouded leopard, Neofelis diardi, is only found on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. Both are at risk of extinction and rarely glimpsed in the wild even by those who study them.

Their broad paws and flexible ankle joints make the

Kenya uses wildlife as barter for UN seat
 For a country to negotiate a place on the United Nations Security Council by using gnus and zebras as negotiating chips is a bold and unusual idea.

But that is exactly what the Kenyan government has seen fit to do.

In the next few weeks, 175 wild animals including hippopotami, giraffes and warthogs will be sent on the 7 000km journey to Southeast Asia.

"We would be very grateful if Thailand supported our efforts to obtain a seat on the UN Security Council, Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki told the group of delegates from Thailand who had arrived here to close the deal.

Rare camel arrives at Woburn Safari Park
A critically endangered camel has arrived at Woburn Safari Park.

Six-year-old Khan, a male Bactrian camel, arrived from Blackpool Zoo.

Khan is the first male camel to move to Woburn in 15 years and his arrival marks an important step for the conservation of the species.

Chris Smart, Head of Section for Reserves, said: “The arrival of Khan is very exciting for everyone at the Park, and we hope that we will see a new baby in the future.

"Bactrian camels are critically endangere

Endangered species of mouse deer released into wild
For the first time in the State, animal conservationists and forest department officials have re-introduced the endangered species of mouse deer into the wild. On Tuesday, forest officials released eight mouse deer, two male and six females, in the forests of Nallamalla, Amrabad.

For the next two months, field biologists and forest staff will closely monitor the adaptability and behaviour of the mouse deer, which are also known as Spotted Chevrotain, in their natural setting.

Once the mouse deer are found to be feeding on wild vegetation and have managed to adapt, those remaining in Nehru Zoological Park, Hyderabad will also be released into the wild.

The forest officials have created a protected enclosure of 2.14 hectares of natural forest area in the Mannanur range of Amrabad Tiger Reserve (ATR).

“The enclosure is completely protected by providing solar fence, watering facility through solar powered bore and CCTV cameras. Biologists and field staff will monitor mouse deer and their adaptability to wild vegetation,” officials said.

Mouse deer (Jarini Pandi in Telugu) are nocturnal and because of their small size they are smallest ungulates (large mammals) in the world. Though they are found throughout India, but due to destruction o

It's Like An 'Electric-Fence Sensation,' Says Scientist Who Let An Eel Shock His Arm
Electric eels sometimes leap out of the water to increase the power of their jolt — and one scientist has been trying to understand this behavior more fully by letting a small eel repeatedly shock his arm.

Ken Catania, a Vanderbilt University neurobiologist who has been studying electric eels in his lab, recently noticed something strange whenever he tried to fish them out with a net that had a metal rim and handle. The eels would leap out of the water to attack it.

"Electric eels, in my experience, had never done something like that where they come out of the water, and they did it in a very directed way," he recalls.

What's more, he had electrodes in the water so he could listen to their electrical output through a speaker. "So I knew that when they were attacking the net in this way, they were simultaneously giving off a high voltage discharge," Catania says. "That clue led me to think, 'Well, maybe this is sort of a defensive behavior.' "

He knew that these eels tend to interpre

This one is a keeper
Every morning, as some of us switch on their computers or open their shops. Ko San Win Naing feeds the Rhinos.

He goes inside the enclosure and calls for Pon Pon, the female rhino of the Yangon zoo. Her ears rotate, she moves her head, slowly. Confidently, she walks towards him. The two seem visibly happy to be reunited. They have their routine. He pats her on the back, she snorts out of pleasure. You’ve sent your first email or greeted your first customer, Ko San Win Naing has checked on his Rhino. The day can start.

Ko San Win Naing’s job is not a sinecure. Zoo keepers are always at the mercy of all sorts of dangers – these animals aren’t called wild for nothing. A distracted keeper can be bitten by a poisonous snake, a hidden tiger can pounce on a keeper cleaning his cage. Less heroic, but equally admirable, keepers have to cope with the pungent smells of the animals.

Ko San Win Naing has been working as a keeper for 20 years at Yangon Zoological Garden. He first looked after the monkeys, then tigers and then the  bears – perhaps the usual career trajectory for a keeper . Seven years ago, he wasn assigned to look after the rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses.

“My father worked as a keeper at the zoo for thirty years. His devotion to the animals was touching. He inspired me,” says Ko San Win Naing. Many keepers have worked in the

Declared extinct decades ago, a Javan tiger may have just been photographed in Java’s Ujung Kulon National Park
The species panthera tigris sondaica, better known as the Javan tiger, has been considered extinct for decades as there have been no confirmed sightings of the big cat that once stalked the jungles of Indonesia’s biggest island since the 1980s. But based on photographic evidence from Java’s Ujung Kulon National Park in West Java, the Javan tiger may be making a comeback.

This new photographic evidence of the Javan tiger’s continued existence was captured late last month but was only revealed to the media recently. It was taken by a park ranger while doing an inventory of banteng (a species of wild Javan cattle) on August 25. At the time, he saw a dead banteng being eaten by a big cat unlike any species known to reside in the park.

“My fellow ranger saw a large cat, but with stripes a bit different from the leopards usually found in Ujung Kulon. Finally, he photographed it, and we suspect it is either a type of

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:               
During the annual AZA conference last week many colleagues told me that they look forward to these emails and the referenced stories. Plants are cool and learning about them can inspire a deep love of nature. Much of the information here can be used in our education programs and exhibit signage.  September’s stories at (NEWS/Botanical News) are a small sampling of some of the eye-opening work of field biologists and a bit of a discussion on just what constitutes a practical approach to conservation:
·         It has become well known that chimpanzees and other animals seek out plants to self-medicate. Now scientists are following the chimpanzees to learn what they use so that their knowledge might be applied to human pharmacology.
·         It is also well known that plants produce nectar to attract pollinators. What is less well known is that the best quality, richest nectar is actually used to attract ants that will defend plants from predators.
·         Plants have many defenses but insects can be among the most formidable. So some plants create chemicals to turn predator insects into cannibals. Who can you trust these days?
·         The monarch butterfly has become every North American’s favorite conservation story. Why, everyone can and SHOULD plant milkweed and save the monarchs. But does all that milkweed planting really do the monarchs much good? Are we answering the wrong question just to feel good?
·         Twenty percent of the Earth’s plant species are threatened with extinction. Resources for conservation are sadly limited. Is every plant species equally valuable and worth an all-out effort?

Today the annual conference of the Association of Zoological Horticulture ( was to open in Naples, Florida. Hurricane Irma has changed that. I had planned to give a session titled “Frienemies: Working With Landscape Designers.” I still hope to eventually.

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors!

Follow on Twitter, Facebook Or visit –  new stories every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.

Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund Wins Conservation Award from Zoo Association
In recognition of its work in the protection and study of gorillas in Africa, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund has been awarded the prestigious International Conservation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Announced at the annual AZA convention in Indianapolis on Sept. 12, the award recognizes exceptional efforts in habitat preservation, species restoration and support of biodiversity in the wild.
The Fossey Fund is now in its 50th year of gorilla protection, with more than 150 staff in Rwanda and eastern Congo, working to save the critically endangered mountain gorilla and Grauer’s gorilla. The organization’s approach to conservation focuses on daily gorilla protection, scientific research, training future conservation leaders in Africa along with local children and adults through extensive education programs, and helping impoverished communities that live near the gorillas.
“We are so proud to have reached this milestone of 50 years—it is a significant achievement for any organization. However, this is not a role that we could have played without numerous partnerships, supporters from around the world, and the help of other organizations,” says Dr. Tara Stoinski, Fossey Fund President and CEO/Chief Scientific Officer. “The Fossey Fund works in close conjunction with the national park authorities of Rwanda and Congo, with scientists and other experts from around the world, and with an incredible team of support

Edinburgh Zoo to review panda breeding programme
Edinburgh Zoo is reviewing the last five years of its giant panda breeding programme following another failed pregnancy.
Earlier this week zoo officials announced its female Tian Tian would not give birth to cubs this year.
It is the sixth time Tian Tian has failed to produce a cub after moving to Edinburgh Zoo in 2011.
Zoo officials said they would now "be working closely with our Chinese partners" to review all the data.
'Life in captivity'
An Edinburgh Zoo spokeswoman said: "We always base our decision of whether or not and how to breed our giant pandas on the independently verified evidence of the breeding review.
"Over the next few weeks, we will be working closely with our Chinese partners to review not only this year's breeding season but all the scientific data from the past five years, to help us better understand the complex breeding process.
"The review process is currently being undertaken and we can't comment on future breeding activity until it is completed."
Sarah Moyes, campaigner of animal rights group OneKind, said: "We hope that Edinburgh Zoo's review into its giant panda breeding programme will conclude that Tian Tian should not be subjected to another round of artificial insemination, which is an invasive procedure for both animals.
"After years of unsuccessful breed

Danang park zoo closure proposed
According to the company, the 20-hectare zoo has been located at the park in Thanh Khe District for over the past 30 years.  
Currently, it is home to 24 animals of five species, comprising 13 deer, eight monkeys, one crocodile, 1 python and one civet.
Nguyen Thi Quynh Diem, deputy director of the company, said the zoo area is too small for the animals to live well. For many years, no new animals have been added; while most of the current ones are now old.
Meanwhile, the zoo also sees the shortage of operating

Beaver Water World owner gives update on when its hundreds of animals will be moved – and where the new site is
The owners of Beaver Water World have revealed that they are in the “final stages” of securing a new permanent site – and confirmed that it will be staying in the Tandridge district.

Hundreds of animals have faced an uncertain future for months after the zoo was served an eviction notice last September.

Landlord Beaver Branch Enterprises initially told the charity it needed to leave the site on Waylands Farm, in Tatsfield, by mid-December 2016 before extending the agreement until the end of March 2017, putting all the creatures in danger of being put down if they could not be re-homed.

The attraction is due to stay open at the site it has been at for 36 years until November 5, with the managing director revealing she is in the “final stages” of securing a lease for a new location in the same district.

Stella Quayle, managing director at the zoo, said: “We are still in limbo for now, but we are in the process of finalising the terms for the new site sub

How Animals Think!  Vol. 1
All the achievements humans have reached is done with Teamwork. From discoveries to inventions, you name it somewhere there was a team involved. We know that most of the time problem solving is easier when we are with a team. Beside the Teamwork that we need we have a particular satisfaction when there are more people in the room than just ourselves. If this is an intrinsic cause yes or no people need the social behavior to survive on this planet. At the end of the line Teamwork is the way to go. People cooperate with each other by helping each other succeed. We are social beings and need this for our survival.

Miami Seaquarium abandoned captive orca and dolphins before fierce hurricane
LOLITA, a captive orca at the Miami Seaquarium, has called the park home since the 1970s.
Despite this, the six-metre killer whale was abandoned in her uncovered tank, alongside several dolphins, as Hurricane Irma bore down on the Florida coastline.
The category four hurricane tore through America’s Sunshine State, ripping roofs of homes, flooding the streets, cutting power and inciting an evacuation of 5.6 million people. The death toll in the US currently stands at 22, and is expected to rise.
The aquarium was deemed particularly vulnerable due to it’s location on Virginia Key, a barrier island off the coast of Miami.

The Silent Forest: Pangolins
It’s a small, weird, solitary, nocturnal, armour-plated, ant- eating mammal.

It’s the most trafficked animal on earth.

It’s highly prized for it’s poor-quality meat, which will cost you $350US a kilo in a Hanoi restaurant, and the powdered residue of it’s roasted scales (that armour plating.) Why?

Cage-free zoo set to open at Blacktown in Sydney's west
Lions, elephants and marsupials will roam free at a new zoo at Blacktown in Sydney's west after it was approved by the New South Wales Planning Assessment Commission.

The Bungarribee zoo won't cage its animals with the aim to attract Sydney families to the zoo which will have large open spaces.

Sydney Zoo will build the $36 million park featuring over 30 exhibits including elevated board walks and glassed observation areas.

Indianapolis Zoo announces 32 nominees for prestigious Indianapolis Prize
Thirty-two animal conservationists from across the globe have been nominated for the prestigious Indianapolis Prize.

Regarded as the world’s leading honor for animal conservation, the Indianapolis Prize is awarded biennially by the Indianapolis Zoo. The winner will receive an unrestricted $250,000 cash award while five finalists will receive $10,000 each. The winner will also receive the Lilly Medal to commemorate the occasion.

Michael Crowther, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoo, said the nominees represent many of the “most significant and accomplished wildlife conservationists in the field today.”

“They are protecting species and creating successful conservation methods that ensure future generations will live in a flourishing and su

Terengganu resort in trouble over viral video of endangered sea turtle devouring hatchling
 A video of a turtle devouring hatchlings in a pool has gone viral and will likely land the operator of a resort near Pulau Kapas in hot water.

This is because the resort does not have a permit to keep sea turtles, much less declare the containment area as a sanctuary pool.

In the video, the turtle, believed to be of the green turtle species, is seen swimming in a pool with hundreds of hatchlings. In one scene, the turtle is seen crushing a hatchling’s head and devouring it.

The netizen who uploaded the video and picture on his Facebook account said the scene was captured at a 'Turtle Conservation Sanctuary Pool' at a resort near Pulau Kapas.

Jihia Koh, the netizen who posted the video on Facbook, claimed that he witnessed the turtle eating a hatchling until its eyes popped out. The carcass also drew other hatchlings to eat the remains.

He said he had informed the staff there but was told that this was “normal”. When asked why, the staff allegedly replied that there was "not enough food".

“I think this is seriously crazy. Hatchlings have a very low chance of survival in the wild, but it has no chance to survive here and this place is called

Lament of the apes: Chimpanzee sparks panic at Taiwanese zoo after escaping… only to look inside its enclosure through the window and head back in to get away from humans
A chimpanzee sparked panic at a Taiwanese zoo after escaping only to look inside its enclosure and head back in to get away from the human visitors.  
Sally, aged 35, escaped her display area and stunned tourists in the African Animal Area of the Taipei Zoo.
Visitors who tried to keep their distance from the chimp said the drama reminded them of the popular sci-fi series 'Planet of the Apes' - in which primates revolt and ultimately overthrow mankind.

MSU biologist learned what Przewalski's horse ate more than a century ago
A scientist from the Lomonosov Moscow State University's Faculty of Biology together with her colleagues has explained the changes in modern Przewalski's horses' food reserve (diet) that have occurred since the end of the 19th century. The results were published in the Scientific Reports journal.

Przewalski's horse is a species of wild horses, which had inhabited the Dzungarian part of the Gobi Desert until the middle of the 20th century, but went extinct by human's fault. Several individuals survived in zoos and became the ancestors of every Przewalski's horse living nowadays. Until the 90s they only were kept in zoos and breeding-grounds, but with their number growing, it was decided to try and reintroduce the species to nature. Now free Przewalski's horses can be seen in Mongolia and China. It is a rare example of man rectifying his mistakes.

Since the end of the 20th century in different countries which Przewalski's horses had historically inhabited (Mongolia, China, Kazakhstan and, since 2015, Russia) several projects of reintroduction (resettlement) of the horses to nature have been implemented. Dzungarian Gobi was the last region where they lived, and the wild horses had been exterminated too fast by humans, so there was no clear understanding of whether they prefer desert or steppe communities. Thus, different natural zones were chosen for the reintroduction. However, more than 20-year existence of the horses in the nature of Mongolia has shown that in Dzungarian Gobi (with desert and near-desert conditions) the reproduction of animals was significantly slower, than in the steppe part of the cou

'Significant' expansion to Yorkshire Wildlife Park could be a 'game changer' for town
A "SIGNIFICANT" expansion of one of Yorkshire's biggest tourist attractions could be a "game changer" for Doncaster, it has been claimed. A 150-acre expansion of Yorkshire Wildlife Park would create more than 300 jobs and give a £50m boost to the local economy, the Park has said, as it submitted plans for the ambitious project to Don

Experts to help streamline safety set-up at Bannerghatta
Authorities at the Bannerghatta Biological Park (BBP) plan to consult experts on better management of its safari.

This follows a ferocious fight between Royal Bengal tigers and white tigers at the park recently.

Following a security breach during safari on September 16, two white tigers sneaked through the gates separating the enclosures of Royal Bengal tigers and white tigers.

The BBP management will discuss the matter with officials from Zoo Authority of Karnataka during their two-day visit to BBP this week. It is the only zoo in the state which has a safari.

Santosh Kumar, BBP Executive Director, admitted that the incident occurred because of callousness of the staffers.

The condition of the injured white tiger Amar is improving. He had injured his jaw and paw. He also suffered injuries near his spine.

“Though the staff has been directed not to entertain tourists, there have been instances where accidents have happened when animal-keepers try to please tourists for tips. We serve notices to such staffers, but it has little impact. There have been insta

The elephants left snapped branches and warm scat in their wake. When they caught our scent, our sweat mixing with the sun-scorched grasses, they broke into a trumpeting jog and were gone.
Later, more materialized on the horizon, in the shade of the camel thorn trees, shades themselves. For such enormous creatures, they were nearly invisible but to the sharpest eyes. And those eyes belonged now to Dam, a short, compact man, a tracker from the local San people who stood in the back of the Land Cruiser.
“Oliphant!” he cried, leaning hard over the right side of the vehicle, picking out tracks in the sand. He tapped on the door, and we came to a whiplashing halt. Dam jumped down, checking a footprint, its edges corrugated and etched inside with smaller bubbles. He motioned, and Felix Marnewecke, the professional hunter and guide on this expedition, popped out of the driver’s side door. Strapping, ruddy, and blond, in his 40s, he seemed straight from central casting, wearing a

Zoo forced to cull antelope after bovine TB outbreak
Ten antelope at Paignton Zoo have been put down after contracting bovine TB – possibly from infected badgers.

The 10 Kafue Flats lechwe – two males and eight females – were put down after zoo staff took advice from the Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA), the government agency working alongside DEFRA.

Auckland Zoo buries dead animals at undisclosed location
Even in death Auckland Zoo's high profile animals continue to help animal conservation.

In August the Zoo put down Sumatran tiger Jaka after vets found a large inoperable tumour in his intestine. In April elderly giraffe Zabulu, father to 15 giraffe calves, died after falling ill and last year mother and son hippos Faith and Fudge passed away.

While the lives of zoo animals are open to the public, what happens after death isn't common knowledge. requested behind the scenes information.

Female elephant arrives in Harbin from Africa for date with mate
A new member from far afield Africa was welcomed by Harbin Northern Forest Zoo on Wednesday.

Bella, an 8-year-old female African elephant, was selected to have a blind date with a male elephant Doudou in the zoo.

About one month ago, the zoo took out ad for Doudou, a 9-year-old single African male.

However, the zoo found it difficult to find any perfect match in domestic zoos, especially an age-appropriate and healthy female one.

After failing to get a suitable candidate at home, the zoo expanded the target range to the elephant's hometown.

Thanks to zoo's efforts, Bella was finally discovered in Zimbabwe.

After she arrived at Shanghai, Bella was taken to Harb

Nicki Boyd – Behavior husbandry manager at San Diego Zoo “I have the best job in the zoo”
Nicki Boyd and is the Behavior Husbandry Manager at the San Diego Zoo.  Her educational background includes graduating from Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Masa College’s Animal Health Technician Program, with an Associate in Science Degree, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix.

Nicki has worked at the San Diego Zoo for 25 years in various departments such as zookeeper at the Children’s Zoo and Veterinary Hospital, animal handler in the Behavior Department, senior keeper, Team Area Lead, Animal Care Supervisor, Animal Care Manager, Personnel Manager, and now currently as the Behavior Husbandry Manager. Nicki is currently the president of the Red Panda Network which is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving habitat for wild red pandas. And she is also the Past President of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABM


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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
+971 50 4787 122 | | Skype: peter.dickinson48

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