Monday, April 2, 2018

Zoo News Digest 2nd April 2018 (ZooNews 988)

Zoo News Digest 2nd April 2018  (ZooNews 988)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

There are more links than usual. I skipped of to Thailand for six days to sort out my bank account. Success and a nice short break. My taxi driver was snuffling and coughing on my return to the airport on the 18th March. Half way through my flight home I started to feel ill. By the 20th I was really sick. Some sort of flu bug. I have had flu twice before in my 50 year zoo career but nothing like this. Usually I am knocked back for three days....but this....weeks later and I am only just beginning to feel half way human. To make things worse my partner caught the bug off me. Doing anything at all has been a trial for either of us. I have managed to get into work most days but my battery drained in hours. Still not out of the woods as yet. So my apologies for the delay.

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
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If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,

A ban on captive animals could speed up extinction
The recent death of the last male Northern white rhinoceros — and the imminent extinction of the vaquita porpoise — is a stark reminder we are not going to win every battle to save endangered species in the wild. We can rescue some from total extinction — and have already — but only the help of zoos and aquariums.

Wildlife populations are increasingly under stress from human activities and their impact on the environment. Population growth, habitat destruction and wildlife poaching — whether for sustenance or profit — are among the largest threats contributing to their extinction.

Rhino horn, for example, fetches upwards of US$60,000 per kilogram in countries where it is prized as a cure and status symbol. But this is bogus. Rhino horn is made of keratin, like our fingernails, and cannot cure disease.

We need a planet-wide shift in thinking abo

Opinion | Zoos aren't unethical
Zoos have been a fond pastime for many people. I remember how fun the zoo was when I was a child. I’d see all the animals lazily sitting around their habitats, from the mighty lions to the various birds that had enough different colors to fill a box of crayons. There were monkeys that couldn’t sit still, and a dimly lit reptile room where lizards and snakes of various sizes would stare stoically back at me, as if daring me to try and tap on the glass.

There’s no denying the fun I had visiting zoos, and I still enjoy the occasional visit now and then. Sadly, I can no longer enjoy it as I once did due to the negative controversy that I’ve started to hear surrounding them. Many people have come to view zoos as little more than prisons, denying animals their freedom and leaving them to be looked at by thousands. I’ll admit zoos aren’t perfect, but they aren’t as unethical as one would initially think. In fact, zoos have many conditions that ensure that animals are treated humanely.

While there are some who view zoos as cruel institutions, the government has procedures set for any constructed animal habitat. The A

The mysterious and tragic story of the Carolina parakeet, America’s only native parrot
It was winter in Upstate New York in 1780 in a rural town called Schoharie, home to the deeply religious Palatine Germans. Suddenly, a flock of gregarious red and green birds flew into town, seemingly upon a whirlwind.

The townspeople thought the end of the world was upon them. Though the robin-size birds left quickly, their appearance was forever imprinted on local lore. As author Benjamin Smith Barton wrote: “The more ignorant Dutch settlers were exceedingly alarmed. They imagined, in dreadful consternation, that it portended nothing less calamitous than the destruction of the world.”

You and I know that the birds weren’t a precursor of mankind’s demise — but in a way, there was impending doom ahead. These birds were Carolina parakeets, America’s only native parrot. Exactly 100 years ago, the last captive Carolina parakeet died, alone in a cage in the Cincinnati Zoo, the same zoo where the last captive passenger pigeon, named Martha, died four years earlier. The last “

World of Birds: A Conversation with Christine Sheppard, Retired Curator of Ornithology at the Bronx Zoo
For decades, Christine Sheppard was part of the legendary team of zoo professionals at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo. She spent most of this time as Curator of Ornithology, where she was responsible for managing one of the largest bird collections at any zoo in the world. Sheppard and her staff accomplished many advancements in bird husbandry, reproduction and research. Here is her story.

Why I Don’t Tell People I’m A Zookeeper
Look, being a zookeeper or aquarist is great. It’s the best job on the planet, we all know that. In fact, even science knows that. I challenge anyone to find a better combination of satisfying, dynamic, engaging, mission-driven, and cute-animal-filled. That type of awesomeness adds up to us being incredibly passionate about our jobs. Hell, even calling it a job can be a misnomer, since it’s likely something that we would do for free if we didn’t have expensive pet, coffee, and beer habits to pay for. Yet despite all of that, I find myself hesitating to tell people I meet that I’m a zookeeper. Far more often than College Intern Aspiring To Be A Zookeeper Me would have expected back more than a decade ago.

The last of their kind: how the wild white rhinos died
Much has been written about the death of a rhino called Sudan. He was the last surviving male northern white rhino, living out his days under armed guard in a Kenyan sanctuary.
Barring a technological miracle involving IVF and surrogates, his species, the northern white rhino, is destined to die with him. This two-tonne colossus will disappear on our watch, in full view.

Target Training a Distracted Animal

Mysterious Giraffe Disease Has Scientists Baffled
When Arthur Muneza was about to start his master's at Michigan State University in 2014, he faced a pivotal question: What did he want to study?

He considered many rock stars of the African animal kingdom: elephants, lions, even hyenas.

But then the biologist heard that few were studying the little-understood giraffe skin disease, and he knew he was onto something.

"We said, let's just go for it. Let's look at giraffe skin disease and see what we can get out of it," he says.

The mysterious condition, which is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, causes grayish, crusty lesions on giraffe necks and legs. It's unknown what, if any, environmental factors are to blame, or even if it's a compilation of several diseases that attack the

This week we were very sad to receive the news that our application to Lush to hold a Charity Pot party at our local Lush Oxford store was denied because we accept funds from zoos. We first learned about the Charity Pot fund from our lovely associates at EAST, who are linked to a zoo (that is also a rescue centre), Monkey World. We subsequently have attended many conferences run by zoo conservation groups that have had Lush-funded attendees. It never occurred to us that Lush was anti-zoo, and indeed, we have always been funded by zoos and during that time, have done 3 Charity Pot parties, ran an event in the opening week of Lush’s flagship shop in Oxford street, our team members have worked for Lush and wrote articles about Little Fireface Project for the internal staff newsletter, and our team has passionately supported the

Sloths Hot, Armadillos Not: Zoos Seek Affection for Overlooked Species
For $40, a visitor can spend 30 minutes, one on one, with Willy, a Southern three-banded armadillo, who runs around in circles in a small fenced enclosure, sniffing and eating crickets and worms at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh.

On a recent day, Willy had only one visitor. His neighbor, Vivien, a two-toed sloth, was booked solid for the day at $150 per half-hour.

The girl with the poison frog tattoos
A Devon doctor has anatomically correct tattoos of poision frogs on her arm to mark the first successful breeding program at a county zoo.

Dr Katy Upton is marking her team’s first successful breeding of each rare frog species at Paignton Zoo. She said: “I’m very proud of the work we do with these species and I love tattoos of the animals I work with. So far I’ve got two on my right forearm - Raniotmeya summersii - Summers' poison frog - and Ranitomeya sirensis – the Sira poison frog.”

She got her first tattoo at 18, but these two frogs are recent additions. They were done by Claire Jackson at Artium INK in Exeter. They took an hour each, with t

Discovering More About Our Elephants With Microsoft

25 Best Aquariums in the United States

Cover Page

Why Are Robin Eggs Blue?
Learn Why Wild Bird Eggs Come in a Rainbow of Colors
Blue is not the only pretty shade found in wild bird eggs. Eggshells can be a rainbow of hues, from simple white, cream, buff, and tan shades to lavender, mint green, yellow, teal, gray, red-orange, pink, and blue-green.

Eggs may be plain, or they may have markings in different colors, such as red-brown, deep purple, black, gray, or green. Spots, flecks, specks, splotches, blotches, and squiggles can all be marked on eggs and add to their color variations. Furthermore, some eggs may even be stained from nesting material, particularly in wet areas such as marshes or wetlands where decaying plants can leave smudges on eggshells.

Starting From Scratch: A Conversation with Greg Geise, Retired President/CEO of the Binder Park Zoo
Over the course of forty years, the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek, Michigan has evolved from land, a group of volunteers and a $15,000 check in the bank to a modern zoo featuring the worldclass Wild Africa. For the first 35 years of its existence, the zoo was led by Greg Geise. His leadership, vision and focus on professionalism helped the zoo grow into what it is today. Here is his story.

Frozen sperm won’t save the rhino — but stopping poachers might
When 45-year-old Sudan died this week in Kenya, the world lost a rhino but not a species. It’s true that Sudan was the last male white northern rhino on Earth. (Two females remain). But the northern white is a subspecies, not a full species, and it had already been functionally extinct for at least a decade.

The rest of the rhino species, however, given safe havens and adequate numbers of breeding individuals, can rebound. Unlike the northern white rhino, the southern white rhino — another subspecies and Sudan’s close kin — is a conservation success story: In the early 1900s there were fewer than 200 animals; today there are more than 20,000, primarily in South Africa.

Why are the stories of these two closely related rhino populations so different?

Was the Death of the Last Male Northern White Rhino the End of a Hoax?
Sudan, the last male of his kind, died on March 19, 2018, in Kenya. It’s now curtains for northern white rhinoceroses. His survivors are his daughter Najin and Najin’s daughter, Fatu.

The international media chronicled the poignancy of the 45-year-old’s death at Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a private reserve owned and operated by a Kenyan NGO in a long-term agreement with another NGO, Flora and Fauna International, UK.

In ancient Egypt, the penalty for killing a ‘bin chicken’ was death
In a time long before the term "bin chicken" existed, ibises were the subject of reverence rather than divisive debate.
Paleogeneticist Sally Wasef has dedicated her research to studying ibis DNA from ancient Egypt, where the birds were respected because of their representation of the god Thoth.

Animal control departments on Monday admitted to dozens of mammals dying in Isaan for the past seven months due to a strain of avian flu – a day after a disease specialist chided them for concealing the information.

The Department of Livestock Development in Surin said it knew about dozens of small carnivorous mammals infected with bird flu in 10 Isan provinces since August – which led 15 of them to die. The acknowledgment came a day after an expert said avian flu in Thailand was not being publicized enough.

“It’s not shared a lot on social media, but bird flu is still very important. If citizens are not aware, after birds die they could still prepare them as food,” said Teerawat Hemachuta of the Center of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Chulalongkorn University.

Teerawat said on Sunday that public health officials are not publicizing the issue because responsible disease control, livesto

Vulture News
The journal of the IUCN Vulture Specialist Group

Baton Rouge Zoo loses accreditation; inspectors cite animal escapes, outdated facilities
The Baton Rouge Zoo has lost its 40-year-old accreditation from the national Association of Zoos and Aquariums, an honor that zoo officials have touted in the past to defend their history of maintaining the zoo and providing quality care for the animals.

The accreditation decision came over the weekend and the Baton Rouge Zoo announced it Monday, on the heels of a vote last week to keep the Baton Rouge Zoo at Greenwood Park in north Baton Rouge. BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight and Zoo Director Phil Frost pushed for a relocation to Airline Highway Park, but they met fierce backlash from residents who argued the zoo had been neglected and questioned why the zoo could not be revitalized at its longtime home.

Trump's 'Wildlife Conservation Council' Is a Nightmare of Trophy Hunters and Gun Industry Executives
Contrary to its name, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s newly-created “International Wildlife Conservation Council” is filled almost entirely with people who enjoy shooting animals for sport.

The Associated Press reports that one member, Peter Horn, co-owns a private hunting preserve in upstate New York with Eric Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.; Horn is also an ex-vice president of the Safari Club International Conservation Fund and a vice president for gun-maker Beretta, and folks, it just gets more fucked up from here. We’ve got Erica Rhoad, the NRA’s director of hunting policy; Steven Chancellor, a GOP money man who has killed six elephants (and 18 lions, 13 leopards, and two rhinos, at least); and Cameron Hanes, a hunting TV show host and friend of Don Jr. who recently said that killing animals like elephants gives them “value.”

So, who are the other ladies on this council? Let’s check ‘em out!

Doing Something Different: A Conversation with Karen Fifield, Chief Executive of Wellington Zoo
Since 2012, Karen Fifield has served as Chief Executive of the Wellington Zoo in New Zealand. Since that time, the zoo has evolved from a relatively antiquated zoo into one striving for creativity and optimal animal welfare. Some of Fifield's initiatives have included adding a major exhibit on New Zealand wildlife, building a state-of-the-art veterinary hospital where guests can observe the medical care animals receive, installing an animal welfare committee and forming conservation partnerships. She also serves on the Australasia Zoo and Aquarium Board and the Animal Welfare Committee of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Here is her story.

What Aardvark Milk Reveals about the Evolution of Lactation
or decades, cow’s milk has reigned as America’s milk of choice. Even as alternative, plant-based milks made from almonds, soy or oats increasingly challenge the familiar frosted plastic jugs for space in refrigerators across the country, the bovine beverage remains ubiquitous—virtually everywhere, that is, except the Exotic Animal Milk Repository at the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Conservation Biology Institute.

“I have 400 or 500 samples of gorilla and orangutan milk in my freezer right now,” Mike Power says, without a hint of irony. Power heads up the milk repository, an assortment of milk collected at zoos across the country from more than 180 different species of mammals, more samples from more species than anywhere else in the world. And the collection is growing quickly. Just ten years ago, Power says, the scientific community knew virtually nothing about ape milk, let alone the milk of dozens of other exotic mammals whose samples now dominate the repository freezer. The newest addition? Weekly samples from Ali the aardvark, a proud new mother at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.

The milk repository’s collection allows scientists to study the nutritiona

Vol. XXXIII, No. 3   March 2018
Pub.dt.21 Mar 2018   

This is 1 of the most important training steps you need!
In 2005 I started to work at Ouwehands Zoo in the Netherlands. I worked under a great supervisor who taught me a lot over the years to come. One of his key points I never forget is to train animals to be used for anything and everything. He explained me that you should overdo it all the time. I was wondering what he meant by this and asked further. He said to me you know when I throw a brush all over the place, when would that happen? With another surprised look I answered, Never? He said a brush could just fall on the ground and if the animals are ok with the throwing they will for sure be oke with it just falling. He had a point but I got to wonder if this really works this way. While working In Ouwehands Zoo he showed me this technique many times. From then on I took this idea everywhere over the course of my career.

Desensitization: The process of using time or experience to change an animal’s perception of a stimulus from a value, either reinforcing or punishing, to neutral or no value. If reinforcement is not used, this is refer

T cell responses against elephant herpesvirus identified
Why are young Asian elephants more susceptible to elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV)? Some believe it is because juvenile elephants have not yet been able to mount an effective T cell response; however, little is known about the T cell response in either young or adult elephants who latently carry the virus. Now, for the first time, researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have been able to identify T cell immune responses directed against EEHV.

Their findings, published in the current edition of the Journal of Virology, could be the first steps in developing an effective vaccine for this deadly disease.

EEHV affects elephants in the wild and in captivity. It can be latent in adults but in young elephants it can be lethal. By the time symptoms are observed, the disease has often progressed to a point where treatments are not effective. Working with the Houston Zoo, Dr. Paul Ling, associate professor of virology and microbiology at Baylor, has played a role in regular testing of blood for the virus. When detected, treatment can begin immediately.

“Despite the availability of sensitive tests and protocols for treating EEHV illness, these measures are not always effective,” said Ling, who also is a member of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center. “The best line of defense would be a vaccine. By understanding how the adult elephant immune system is able to protect against EEHV, we are closer to developing a vaccine for juvenile elephants.”

In the current study, researchers followed the Houston Zoo herd, where several elephants are known to latently carry the virus. Using data from a past study that sequenced the genome of EEHV1A, the species of EEHV associated with the largest percentage of deaths, Ling and his colleagues focused on areas in the genome that are common to all herpesviruses, even those found

The Hard Truth about the Rhino Horn “Aphrodisiac” Market
The brazen slaying and dehorning of an endangered white rhino in a wildlife preserve near Paris last month spurred widespread outrage. Mainstream media coverage blamed its usual suspects: Asian men who supposedly buy rhino horn as a crude form of Viagra. But this prurient tidbit overlooks the main factors driving the illegal rhino horn trade—and may even be reinforcing false beliefs about the substance’s powers.

The reality behind the demand is far more complex. Historically rhino populations were decimated by uncontrolled trophy hunting during the European colonial era. These days the main threat to the surviving rhinos comes from the illegal rhino horn trade between Africa and Asia. Certain buyers in Vietnam and China—the largest and second-largest black market destinations respectively—covet rhino horn products for different reasons. Some purchase horn chunks or powder for traditional medicinal purposes, to ingest or to give others as an impressive gift. Wealthy buyers bid for antique rhino horn carvings such as cups or figurines to display or as investments. A modern market for rhino horn necklaces, bracelets and beads has also sprung up.

Most of the desire for rhino horn seems unrelated to any wish for a raging hard-on, experts say. There is one group of buyers in Vietnam that may partially reflect the stereotype of horny Asians seeking a rhino horn fix. A 2012 report by TRAFFIC International, the World Wildlife Fund's trade monitoring program, described how wealthy Vietnamese and Asian expatriate business elites in Vietnam would “routinely mix rhino horn powder with water or alcohol as a general health and hangover-curing tonic”—an extravagant version of a detox routine. That group also included some men who also apparently believed rhino horn could cure impotence and enhance sexual performance.

This example stands out because it is rare, however. Overall, conservationists say there is no sweeping aphrodisiac craze driving lust for rhino horn. “I would never say that (aphrodisiac) is never a use, because I’m sure people buy into the myth,” says Leigh Henry, senior policy advisor on species conservation and advocacy at the WWF. "But it’s not the widespread demand driving the rhino horn trade.”

The Vietnamese black market exemplifies how “urban myth and dubious hype” can encourage demand for rhino horn products—as both medicinal and status-boosting luxury products—the TRAFFIC report says. Black market dealers have also pushed the idea—supposedly sparked by local media gossip—that rhino horn can cure cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Popular Vietnamese Web sites mix unproved medical claims with luxury sales pitches. Slogans compare rhino horn with “a luxury car,” tout its ability to “improve concentration and cure hangovers,” and trumpet “rhino horn with wine is the alcoholic drink of millionaires.”

Secret swimming world of polar bears unveiled in Sapporo
A new underwater tunnel to observe polar bears swimming has been opened to the public at Maruyama Zoo here as part of a facility dedicated to polar bears.

From the transparent tunnel set up at the bottom of a pool, the large mammals can be viewed bombing through the water.

Lala, 23, and her 3-year-old daughter, Lila, seemed happy in their new home when the media were allowed in for a preview of the facility on March 9.

When Lala spotted a seal in the pool separated by a clear wall, she kept chasing the potential meal. Lila, on the other hand, paid no notice to the seal that might be a tasty snack out in nature and instead played with a tree branch.

The new two-story facility that cost 2.3 billion yen ($21.6 million) is one

Zookeeper bitten by gorilla at Tokyo zoo
A female zookeeper at Ueno Zoological Gardens in Tokyo sustained injuries Tuesday after a gorilla bit her right arm, police said.

The zookeeper was guiding the gorilla from an exhibition space to its living space when she was bitten, the police said. The zoo reported the incident to the police around 4:50 p.m.

The zoo is investigating how t

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:                

Plants are woven into the fabric of all creatures’ lives, but perhaps none so much as insects. March’s news at News) reveals some of these intricate tapestries:

·         A plant is being attacked simultaneously by both aphids and caterpillars! What is a plant to do??? Where to use its chemical defenses?
·         Our passion for helping Monarch butterflies has led to the planting of milkweed anywhere and everywhere. But from the butterfly’s perspective not all milkweed plantings are equally helpful.
·         Seeds ae dispersed by mammals, birds, reptiles and even fish. Now scientists have discovered a specialized seed dispersal relationship between certain plants and crickets.
·         Many tropical trees have adopted ant colonies for their defense. Sadly, not all ant colonies are equally courageous defenders.
·         A plant species that has been among the most popular house plants since Victorian times is native to the dark understory of Japanese forests. Until recently no one knew how they were pollinated.

Exciting times for new exhibits! In Rhode Island (USA) the Roger Williams Park Zoo will soon open the anticipated tropical exhibit while in Texas the El Paso Zoo has broken ground on an inspired exhibit featuring the flora and fauna of the local Chihuahuan Desert.

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

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

Avian Flu outbreak confirmed at Cape Town's Boulders penguin colony
The Table Mountain National Park has confirmed there is an outbreak of avian flu (bird flu) at the Boulders penguin colony in Simons Town.

"Table Mountain management would like to alert the public that several cases of bird flu in the penguin colony at Boulders have been confirmed by state veterinary services," TMNP spokesperson Merle Collins said.

"It is reiterated that this virus is a very low risk to humans, but is a real threat to domestic poultry. This strain of avian influenza virus (H5N8 strain) has been detected in a range of wild seabirds e.g. swift, sandwich and common terns, African penguins and gannets.

"The park is monitoring the situation closely and has now implemented the following precautions:
* With the exception of visitors on Boulders Beach boardwalk, nobody may access the main breeding colony.
* In instances where staff need to go off boardwalks to collect injured birds or hats, camera lens, caps etc dropped by visitors they in March 2018

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Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The Bay of the Rays at Zlín Zoo and Lešná Chateau in the Czech Republic 
is the result of remodeling a building for an attraction that keeps up 
with the attractiveness of the previously exhibited primates. Visitors 
are now invited to touch and feed Oman cownose rays with instructions 
from a video above the pool and under supervision of a keeper.



Thanks to Eduardo Díaz García we are able to offer the Spanish 
translation of the previously published presentation of "Yucatan 
Tropical Hall" at Zlin Zoo in the Czech Republic.


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

Crocodile attacks Mysuru Zoo worker, devours two of his toes
In a macabre incident at Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Gardens on Tuesday, a crocodile attacked a zoo worker and swallowed two of his toes, leaving the zoo officials shocked.

Zookeeper Stories

The Green Planet – how zoOceanarium and Meraas are creating a tropical rainforest in Dubai
Meraas and zoOceanarium have created a tropical rainforest in the very heart of Dubai – and visitors love it
The Green Planet has achieved the miraculous – bringing a rainforest to the desert. The tropical ecosystem in a bio-dome has been created and operated by zoOceanarium for Meraas in Dubai.

New report links South African government to commercial lion body part trade
A new report has revealed shocking insights into the development of South Africa’s controversial captive lion breeding industry.

Despite widespread international condemnation, South Africa’s controversial lion breeding industry has grown year-on-year and has links to wildlife trafficking, according to a new report Cash Before Conservation: An Overview of the Breeding of Lions for Hunting and Bone Trade, published today by international wildlife charity Born Free.

Born Free’s President and Co-Founder, Will Travers OBE, said: “As many as 8,000 lions languish in more than 200 captive breeding facilities across South Africa.

The briefing
What is biodiversity and why does it matter to us?
It is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions. If that sounds bewilderingly broad, that’s because it is. Biodiversity is the most complex feature of our planet and it is the most vital. “Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity,” says Prof David Macdonald, at Oxford University.

The term was coined in 1985 – a contraction of “biological diversity” – but the huge global biodiversity losses now becoming apparent represent a crisis equalling – or quite possibly surpassing – climate change.

More formally, biodiversity is comprised of several levels, starting with genes, then individual species, then communities of creatures and finally entire ecosystems, such as forests or coral reefs, where life interplays with the physical environment. These myriad interactions have made E

Animal Care Monitoring Tool Coming to ZIMS Thanks to Member Support
Optimizing animal care, welfare and conservation
Zoos and aquariums are leading the way in the conservation of endangered species and educating an estimated 700 million visitors annually about the magnificent and fragile interrelationships between humans, non-humans and environment.

The need for consistent indicators
As our members continue to lead the way in this important work, new monitoring tools are needed to provide access to meaningful, and actionable, insights on animal welfare. Understanding animal care and welfare norms makes identifying potential problems easier. An important first step is to define key indicators of excellent animal care and then track them over time. Monitoring key indicators over time will help surface issues faster, so they can be investigated and addressed in the most efficient manner possible.

Zoos of the British Isles
To view click HERE

Where are South Africa’s missing rhinos?
Hundreds of rhinos have been shipped from South Africa to disreputable zoos and breeding facilities across the world, despite losing more than 1000 rhinos a year to poaching.

Between 2006 and 2017, amid the onslaught of a national poaching crises, South Africa shipped about 900 live white rhinos overseas. These animals are now destined to live out their lives in the zoos and breeding facilities of China, North Korea, Singapore, Bangladesh, the US, Mauritius, Russia and Vietnam.

According to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) Draft Biodiversity Management Plan for White Rhinoceros, a receiving rhino facility abroad should only be deemed acceptable to acquire South African rhinos if it can show a high standard of husbandry and veterinary care.

The facility should also be able to maintain animal record systems, have written conservation action plans in place, contribute to scientific studies, promote education and demonstrate a risk management plan.

Ecuador Bird Banding Volunteer(s)
Want to learn more about tropical birds? Dr. Dusti Becker is recruiting volunteers to assist with a long-term avian monitoring and conservation project in the Andes of western Ecuador.

Summer Team: June 17-30, 2018     (5 positions available)
Winter Team: December 3-16, 2018  (3 positions remaining)

Life Net Nature banding assistants help with mist-netting of birds at several banding stations in different habitats and help conduct bird surveys at the Las Tangaras Reserve, Mindo, Ecuador.  We collect data to describe cloud forest bird communities and try to detect species responses to habitat variation, regional landuse and climate changes. Your participation helps sustain a unique protected area in a tropical biodiveristy hotspot - the Andes of Ecuador.
Reserva Las Tangaras, a 50-hectare nature preserve, boasts more than 25 species of hummingbirds, the largest regional Andean cock-of-the-rock display lek, and over 300 bird species, many of which are Choco and Andean endemics.  The reserve is also home to endangered capuchin monkeys, spectacled bear, cougar, and myriads of other wildlife species.
Volunteers set up and monitor mist nets, extract birds from nets, carry birds from nets to a banding station, and record basic ecological data in the field.  Training in handling, measuring and banding is included, but some previous experience is desirable, such as birding or skill with binoculars. Volunteers will have some time off to explore the Mindo area, and we will make a birding visit to higher-elevation Bellavista Reserve at the end of the monitoring project. 
Accommodation is in a large research cabin where you will have a simple bed with mosquito netting, showers, & indoor flush toilet.  Meals are delicious home-style Ecuadorian prepared by experienced local cooks.

The cost-share donation of $1650 to Life Net Nature covers transportation in Ecuador, meals, and lodging during the conservation research program, reserve fees, salaries for Ecuadorian cooks and para-biologists, and entrance and lunch at Bellavista Reserve on the final day of the project. Airfare to and from Ecuador and expenses in Quito before and after the project are not included.  The cost-share donation helps to cover costs associated with hosting the volunteer team and contributes to annual upkeep of the Las Tangaras Reserve supporting educational programs about cloud forest wildlife, providing a stipend to volunteer stewards, maintaining trails and signs, making repairs, and preventing damage to the local ecosystem.  Cost share donations provide over 60% of the funds to sustain the protected area. 

The conservation expedition begins and ends in Quito, Ecuador. Contact Dr. Dusti Becker at for further details.  Experience with mist-netting is desirable, but not required.  Students, recent graduates and others looking for hands-on training and resume building experience will benefit greatly from this project.

Visit more details about Life Net Nature and Reserva Las Tangaras. 

To apply, send a brief e-mail to Dr. Dusti Becker, stating your experience and interest in participating on a given team.  (Resume is optional, and helpful).  Dr. Becker will send you more information and an official Life Net Nature volunteer application form.  

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Vacancies in Zoos and Aquariums and Wildlife/Conservation facilities around the World

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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