Monday, January 1, 2018

Zoo News Digest 1st January 2018 (ZooNews 978)

Zoo News Digest 1st January 2018  (ZooNews 978)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

I was accused last week of being "soft animal rights". Well I am none too sure exactly what that means but if it means that I believe animals have the right to expect the best possible care and husbandry in a captive setting then yes…that's me! ZooNews Digest is NOT neutral as some have suggested it should be. For the most part I do not comment on the links I post but sometimes I do. I am as much entitled to an opinion as my readers. I am pro GOOD zoos and very much anti BAD zoo. Pity is that many people don't know they are working in a bad zoo. Some do know it of course but stay on because they care about the animals and know the situation will become worse without them. They have my highest respect.

I do hope the situation will improve worldwide in 2018.

I have just noted that the Digest I posted out to members on Xmas day did not get sent. Too many links, too long, it would seem. I will post it out tomorrow in two parts.

Thank you for the support that you have all given me in 2017. It is appreciated.


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 73,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 73,000 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,
Gun-Toting Zoo Owners in Showdown With PETA and the Feds Over Baby Tigers
One day in October, Randy Stearns walked out to a Florida campfire, dressed in a fringed leather top like a modern-day Davy Crockett. “Hello, friends, Randy the Tiger Man,” the animal trainer greeted the camera, which was set between a teepee and totem pole out in the woods near his family’s Dade City zoo.

“You can’t believe a damn thing you see on the news,” the 34-year-old declared in the filmed fireside chat posted on Facebook. “Just look at me. I’m the newest Charlie Sheen. Every time you go on, there’s something on about us, the park…”

Then Stearns took aim at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)—a constant topic in The Tiger Man’s online videos. “Kind of like Rambo, they drew first blood,” Stearns said. “We had to go out there, defend ourselves.”

Just two months before, the wannabe Jack Hanna stood guard at the zoo’s gates with a holstered weapon, joining supporters flaunting neon “PETA Kills” T-shirts. They were protesting, and allegedly delaying, a court-ordered inspection of the private, unaccredited zo

New scandal at zoo where escaped lynx was shot and another was accidentally strangled as python ‘freezes to death’ and ‘underfed’ squirrel monkey also dies
It is now believed two further animals, a Burmese python and a squirrel monkey,  have died since Lilleth the lynx escaped in November.

Dean and Tracy Tweedy took over the zoo in May 2017 after buying it from Jean and Alan Mumbray for £625,000.

The Mumbrays ran the zoo, then called the Borth Animalarium for 17 years before retiring.

Their son, Mark Cook told the Times the python 'froze to death' and the squirrel money 'died because it wasn't being fed properly'.

Singapore Zoo’s polar bear Inuka celebrates its 27th birthday
A birthday cake made from agar-agar topped with a salmon head made the perfect treat for Singapore Zoo’s resident polar bear Inuka, which celebrated its 27th birthday on Tuesday (Dec 26).

The bear, which is in its 70s in human years, was presented with the novel cake to the delight of around 400 visitors.

What next? Now Brexit apparently ’threatens zoo breeding programmes‘
British zoos are desperate for the government to make a deal with the EU on the issue

Kirsten Pullen, the chief executive of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (Biaza), said animals with shorter life spans such as rare types of rodent could be among the most vulnerable to a cliff-edge departure.

And she said the Government‘s “lack of clarity” about its vision for is “very concerning” and causing a lot of uncertainty for the sector.

Warning of the dangers of no Brexit deal, Miss Pullen said: “It is hard to pinpoint a particular species within our breeding programmes because all of them could potentially be impacted if we suddenly can‘t deal on a European basis, or it‘s much harder to deal on a European basis.”

This could result in zoos having to “re-evaluate” what they can do, she said.

Currently there is effectively free movement of zoo animals across the EU as all member countries sign up to the same high standards of animal health and welfare.

Zoos often give their animals to one another as part of coordinated breeding programmes, so they can find a mate and draw on a bigger gene pool.

 ----------------------------- in December 2017

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



Asian Forest is a themed area for Asian primate species at Tokiwa Zoo in 
Japan including a gibbon exhibit that we are pleased to present. Two 
family groups of white-handed gibbons are managed on two islands that 
are designed based on habitat surveys on Sumatra to offer the gibbon 
species' typical three-dimensional brachiation opportunities.

We would like to thank Kenji Wako for preparing this presentation.



ZooLex Gallery:
With support of many volunteers around the world, we have been able to 
publish 368 presentations (including translations) of 228 exhibits from 
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Promotion for ZooLex:
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design conference in Wroclaw, Poland, from 4th to 7th April. 250 
participants from 39 countries enjoyed a programme with 42 
presentations, pre- and post-conference tours to Jurapark, Opole Zoo and 
Görlitz Zoo.

Here is a review with photos, testimonials and the programme as well as 
several of the excellent presentations. We upload them as they are sent, 
while Wroclaw Zoo is preparing proceedings.

ZooLex Editors:
We also wish to thank all those who have taken their time to compile and 
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The quality of ZooLex publications is ensured by our editorial board 
whose members edit and comment on all newsletters, Gallery presentations 
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We welcome Dr. Terry Maple, behavioral research scientist, professor 
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We wish to thank all our editors for their valuable support:
Barbara Brem, Stephen Butler, Jon Charles Coe, Lee Ehmke, Monika Fiby, 
Jonas Homburg, Kimio Honda, Jonas Livet, Ivan Lozano Ortega, David 
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Exhibit presentations were translated from English to Spanish by Eduardo 
Diaz Garcia and from German to English by Jonas Homburg.

Our free monthly newsletter is distributed to a steadily increasing 
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our correspondents it is translated and distributed in German, Spanish 
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We wish to thank our correspondents for this valuable support:
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Cooperation with WAZA:
Links to the ZooLex Gallery are available on the website of the World 
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Sponsors are the only financial support for ZooLex. Thanks to these 
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Season's Greetings to all our supporters and readers and our best wishes 
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We keep working on ZooLex ...

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Judge denies petition to free elephants from Connecticut zoo
Judge James Bentivegna denied a petition seeking to free three elephants from the Commerford Zoo Tuesday, rejecting the argument that the animals should be granted legal personhood.

The Nonhuman Rights Project filed the lawsuit in November, with the hopes of garnering a writ of habeas corpus for three elephants from the Goshen zoo — Beulah, Karen and Minnie.

The Florida-based group contended that, considering their cognitive abilities and sense of self, the animals should be considered autonomous beings and thus legal persons who cannot be detained under the law.

Its petition included an overview of research into the herbivores’ world view, pointing to a series of abilities possessed by elephants, including the ability to plan, communicate, have an awareness of self and of others, solve problems, understand causation and engage in teaching to pass down knowledge, claiming these as examples of their “complex cognitive abilities sufficient for common law personhood and the common law right to bodily liberty, as a matter of common law liberty, equality, or both under Connecticut common law.”

Bentivegna denied the group’s petition for a writ of habeas, writing that “the c

London Zoo lion family is so inbred that two out three cubs are dying: Pride are all descended from small group of 'founders' that shared the same grandparents
The lions at London Zoo are part of a breeding programme in which 70 per cent of cubs are dying, a study has found.

The lions are all descended from a very small number of ‘founders’ brought over to Europe in the 1990s.

But the ‘extremely high degree of genetic similarity’ of the founders’ offspring is ‘detrimental’ to their health, according to researchers.

Nepal's last known dancing bears rescued
Nepali authorities have rescued the country's last known "dancing bears", officials said on Sunday, ending the medieval tradition of abuse of the beasts for entertainment.

The Himalayan nation banned performing bears back in 1973 but the illegal practice- a traditional occupation for some street performer communities, lingered on in parts of its southern region.

Police and animal charities said they spent more than a year hunting the captors of the sloth bears bef ..

A New Species of Giant Octopus Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight
You wouldn’t think a giant octopus could hide in plain sight for decades. But researchers have now learned that the giant Pacific octopus (GPO)—the largest known octopus on Earth, ranging from California to Alaska to Japan—is actually two species. Now that we’ve been properly introduced to the new “frilled giant octopus,” we’ll need to learn more about it to ensure its survival.

This discovery isn’t a total surprise. Scientists have suspected for decades that giant Pacific octopus might be an “umbrella name” covering more than one species. In 2012, researchers from Alaska Pacific University and the US Geological Survey found a genetically distinct group of GPOs in Prince William Sound. Unfortunately, they’d collected only small snips of arm tissue for DNA analysis before returning the octopuses to the wild, so they couldn’t find out whet

Zoo Review: London and Chester Zoos
The spring of 2017 brought the first of two trips to Europe for me this year. My previous post shared my experiences at two of Poland’s best known zoos. This post explores two of England’s most beloved zoos, London and Chester Zoos.

Having a few long-time friends from England, I’ve been lucky to spend quite a bit of time in this beautiful country. I’ve visited the south west region several times (visiting Paignton Zoo and Eden Project in the late 1990s), but as many times as I have fallen in love with London, I had never once visited the famed Zoological Society of London’s crown jewel, London Zoo. The experience of visiting the London Zoo and the Chester Zoo back-to-back allowed for some stark contrasts and very few, but very key, parallels indicating the strong trend of Euro zoo evolution toward immersive storytelling.

Let’s begin in London.

Advanced tech breeding for endangered species
The Sabah Wildlife Department, with the support from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, has initiated a programme on the application of advanced reproductive technology in the conservation of endangered wildlife species in Sabah.
Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga (pic) said the national significance initiative under the 11th Malaysia Plan began in 2010.

"We have appointed an non-government organisation, Borneo Rhino Alliance (Bora), to assist us, and they now have two wildlife veterinarians, a senior laboratory technician and two research students on their payroll, as well as their rhino keepers," he said in a statement Wednesday.

Tuuga said this in response to an article published recently in a news portal quoting two wildlife experts based in Sabah who expressed their fears on the status of endangered wildlife species, including Sumatran rhino, banteng, elephant, sun bear, orang-utan and pangolin, in the State.

He said amongst their partners in the

Is the UK’s only female polar bear pregnant?
Because there is no test to tell if a polar bear is pregnant, there is no way of knowing if all the weight Victoria has been piling on is because she is about to give birth.

But this is the crucial time when the patter of little polar bear paws is heard.

Last year Victoria – the UK’s only female polar bear – put on a staggering 440 pounds plus in weight only not to be pregnant.

But this time it is hoped the extra weight may produce a little polar bear – or two.

Staff at the Highland Wildlife Park at Kincraig have kept Victoria well-fed on fish and vegetables and treating her as if she is about to give birth.

She is currently out of public viewing because it is believed she is pregnant after mating with Arktos – one of the two male polar bears at the zoo – last spring.

Polar bears usually give birth to twins, with new-born cubs being around the same size and weight as an adult guinea pig.

The last polar bear cub born in the UK was in 1992 at Flamingo Land in Yorkshire.

And the last born in Scotland was on November 15, 1991, when female Ohoto was the second cub to Mercedes at Edinbu

 Journal of Threatened Taxa

Vol 9, No 12 (2017)

Saving Sudan
The world’s last male northern white rhinoceros has wandered alone, for almost a decade, in his own enclosure in a game reserve sprawling 27 square miles along the northwestern foothills of Mount Kenya.

The private pen in Ol Pejeta Conservancy is a perk earned with age by the rhino, named Sudan. At 44 years old, he has lived longer than most of his species.

Rhinos have been around for over 30 million years, outlasting multiple ice ages and ancient giant predators. Then humans came along and, in a few centuries of hunting and habitat loss, whittled them down to just a few thousand individuals. Of the northern white species, only three are known to be alive today. Their survival has rested on Sudan’s massive shoulders since October 2014, when the only other fertile male, a fellow captive named Suni, died.

By April this year, all attempts at getting Sudan to mate with one of the only two remaining females, also in Ol Pejeta, had failed. The conservancy has turned to fellow singles for help, using a profile of Sudan on the dating app Tinder with information on how to donate toward the $9 million needed to research a possible solution — but time is running out to develop methods to ensure these giants remain on the face of the Earth.

On a recent chilly morning in October, a park ranger named James Mwenda stepped gently into the enclosure. Mwenda has worked as Sudan’s p

Borth zoo appeal date set for dangerous animal ban hearing
A zoo which had two of its lynx die within days of each other is to appeal against a ban stopping it from keeping certain dangerous animals next month.

Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, Ceredigion, lodged an appeal at Aberystwyth Justice Centre earlier this month.

It has been closed since the animals' deaths in October.

"We hope that come the new year we can work closely with Ceredigion council to resolve any outstanding issues and open the zoo again to the public," it said.

The ban was enforced

It is canned killing, not hunting, that hampers conservation efforts
The three greatest evils that have beset conservation in South Africa in recent times have been:

1. The canned killing of game;

2. The intensive breeding and manipulation of game to produce unnatural colour variants and animals with exaggerated horn lengths; and

3. The rise in prominence given to untried and untested views of animal rightists and anti-hunters.

Ragunan Zoo Targets 150,000 Visitors Per day on End of Year Long Weekend
Popular tourist destinations are an option for residents to fill the year-end holiday season throughout Christmas and New Year. Ragunan Wildlife Park, also known as Ragunan Zoo, is still a favorite place for family recreation.

Ticket prices are affordable for this capital city tourist destination, as visitors are charged IDR4,000. So when there are holiday moments like Christmas today, many people flocked to visit the zoo.

Wahyudi Bambang, Head of Public Relations at Ragunan Zoo, said the zoo’s management targets obtaining 150,000 visitors per day during this long holiday. For annual, targets five million visitors.

Wahyudi admitted a decrease in visitors whe

North America weather: Canadian zoo moves penguins indoors because of cold temperatures
Temperatures have dropped so low in Canada that Calgary Zoo has had to move its penguins indoors.

As an extreme-cold warning was in effect for the country – temperatures hit a frosty -25C late this week – zookeepers thought it safer to move the penguins to their indoor enclosure.

Larissa Mark, manager of communications at Calgary Zoo told Global News that: “On cold days lik

William and the vile tiger lie: Prince praised Laos for closing horrific big cat farms last year... but they are booming and tourists can select live tigers for £340,000 each - then feast on them
When the country at the heart of Asia's brutal wildlife trade promised to shut down its tiger farms, Prince William and conservationists worldwide hailed it as a watershed moment in the battle to save the species.

The Prince personally congratulated officials from Laos on their landmark decision to abolish the money-spinning farms where tigers are bred in pitiful conditions to be slaughtered to feed Chinese buyers' hunger for their bones, meat, claws and skins.

But more than a year after the announcement, a Mail on Sunday investigation inside Laos has found the tiger farms flourishing and the trade in tiger parts used as medicines and potency treatments booming, with one expert describing it as 'out of control'.

This comes despite millions of pounds in aid from countries including Britain to tackle the country's criminal syndicates which

Review on Animal Welfare
Animal welfare is a concept with both ethical and scientific dimensions, which consists of animal positive and negative experiences. Important ‘negative experiences’ are pain and frustration and important ‘positive experiences’ can be expressed in play, performance of appetitive behavior, health and physiology. Welfare varies in a continuum from very poor to very good and those kept in a good welfare can provide a good/better service. In most cases, most countries are improving the treatment of animals and improve the productivity as well as the economic values. It is true that most proportions of developed country livestock owners realize as animals are sensitive to beatings and mistreatment unlike that of developing countries. They has formulated regular ways of awareness creation to the public and are endorsed to the community what the minimal animal welfare standards to be esteemed. The welfare issue in Africa is not well kept, hence poor productivity and production is a common feature. The marketing places, transporting, farming place, slaughtering houses, and areas such as feeding, sheltering and watering places are the commonest ones where welfare deprived. Most of the present works in

Zoo attacks and the people who survive them
Zoo attacks in the UK are thankfully rare occurrences. But occasional lapses in safety, horrific though they are, have led to some remarkable survival stories. BBC News Online investigates.

The use of untrained teenagers as animal keepers in British zoos would send shivers down the spine of health and safety executives today.

But the practice was remarkably common during the 20th Century when small zoos sprang up in towns and cities across the country, as Richard McCormick can testify.

Richard, who now lives in Harrogate but grew up in Coventry, got a job at the city's Whitley Zoo in 1966, not long after leaving school.

"At first, I looked after the parrots," he said. "Then, after a few weeks, they gave me the elephant, the bears and Harry the hippo to look after."

Despite his rapid introduction to the wor

Why the lynx effect would be a boon for Scotland
During a difficult year, the lynx provided a welcome fragment of good cheer. It seems the big cat could be making a return to the wilds of Scotland after an absence of several hundred years. There are many things to like about the reintroduction of a Champions League predator to the Scottish countryside, not least of which is that it would greatly inconvenience and outrage farming and agricultural types. Indeed, Scotland’s farmers were so perturbed by reports of the lynx’s return that several of them undertook a study trip to Norway for the purpose of building a case against the lynx.

Unsurprisingly, the Norwegian harvesters warned their Scottish brethren that reintroduction of the lynx would be an “absolute catastrophe” for Scotland’s sheep population. The Norwegians claimed that 20,000 sheep were lost last year to the predations of the lynx and unnamed others. Curiously, they couldn’t produce a specific number of deceased sheep th

Another Disgrace Zimbabwe; another ‘Elephant’ Disgrace
It’s supposed to be a ‘new Zimbabwe’ isn’t it? You can’t have a new Zimbabwe when your tourism and wildlife sectors continue to be shamed by the actions of your Parks Authority.

The current Wildlife Minister (Oppah Muchinguri) has blindly followed the lead of your previous Wildlife Minister (Saviour Kasukuwere; who has now been expelled from the Ruling Party) with regard to this disreputable practice. It’s past time for someone at the highest level – and that is the new President – to review this policy, which has so many in the Wildlife World feeling so outraged with Zimbabwe. I know first-hand that there are a lot of Parks Authority staff who are also outraged by this ongoing practice. Hopefully now, in this ‘new Zimbabwe’, they will be less afraid to make their own beliefs public.

We understand that overall you have spent more dedicated time in the field monitoring elephant families than anybody in Zimbabwe. From first hand knowledge and experience, what would you like to tell President Mnangagwa?

I’ve said it all a million times, even when I was still in Zimbabwe:

I saw for myself, over these many dedicated years, just how intelligent and human-like these animals are. I witne


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If you have anything to add then please email me at
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

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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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