Thursday, May 17, 2018

Zoo News Digest 17th May 2018 (ZooNews 994)

Zoo News Digest 17th May 2018  (ZooNews 994)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

The link which caught my greatest attention in this latest collection was Emirates Park Zoo and Resort Wins ‘Best Zoo Operator Award in the Middle East’...never heard of the award so perhaps it is a completely new thing and perhaps they deserve it. It is though going to depend on exactly how you judge just a thing. For me the primary role of a zoo is conservation and in that the main part of that is being a participant in recognised official breeding programmes. Emirates Park Zoo does not spring to mind here. I would be extremely interested to know which other UAE, or for that matter Middle Eastern Zoos were entered. There again conservation may well not have been a consideration.

I was disgusted at seeing the tiger that was taken to the school prom. The animal was so very obviously distressed...and hardly surprising given the wholly inadequate cage it was being displayed it in. Who exactly supplied the animal? We need to name them because it is organisations like that who are giving other zoos a bad name.

 "good zoos will not gain credibility from their critics until they condemn the bad zoos wherever they are." Peter Dickinson

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 77,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 78,000 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,

What’s In the Word “Conservation?”
In this theme, I cover some of the key questions surrounding the ambiguities of the definition of ‘conservation’. Throughout my many years working professionally in the captive koala sector, I have noticed a gradual shift in the meaning and understanding of the word ‘conservation’

The Definition of “Conservation”

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘conservation’ is the “preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife”.

What it doesn’t say, however, is how to preserve species and environments, what conservation is meant to look like, an

Holiday giants including TUI and TripAdvisor 'profiting from animal cruelty'
The world’s biggest tour group has been promoting tourist trips to an elephant “orphanage” in Asia where it’s claimed “many animals were bred – rather than rescued – and are chained for long periods and threatened with bullhooks”, an investigation claims.

TUI, which is also Britain’s leading holiday company, was also allegedly found selling elephant rides to tourists, even though it claimed to have stopped in 2015 on ethical grounds.

The tour giant – and some of the world’s other best known names in travel – are accused of profiting from animal cruelty by promoting attractions worldwide where animals may be caused to suffer behind the scenes to make them compliant for holidaymakers.

19 Exceptional Zoos and Aquariums Achieve AZA Accreditation
Twice a year, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission (the Commission) evaluates accreditation applications from the world’s best aquariums, nature centers, science centers and zoos. Most recently, the Commission reviewed 21 accreditation applications and 2 applications for certification. As a result of these rigorous assessments, AZA proudly announces that the following facilities are accredited:

Alexandria Zoological Park, La.
Audubon Zoo, La.
Brevard Zoo, Fla.
Dolphin Discovery Cozumel, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres, Mexico
El Paso Zoo, Texas
Fort Worth Zoo, Texas
Georgia Aquarium, Ga.
Houston Zoo, Inc., Texas
Jenkinson's Aquarium, N.J.
Louisville Zoological Garden, Ky.
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Conn.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Fla.
Ocean Park Corporation, Hong Kong
OdySea Aquarium, Ariz.
Rainforest & Aquarium at Moody Gardens, Texas
Sacramento Zoo, Calif.
San Antonio Zoological Society, Texas
Seattle Aquarium, Wash.
“AZA’s accreditation standards are widely acknowledged as the ‘gold-standard’ in the zoological profession, and our independent Commission grants accreditation only to those who have reached this level of achievement,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “AZA-accredited facilities are proven leaders in animal care, welfare, and conservation, contributing $216 m

There's an enormous difference between animal rights and conservation
I stopped buying Lush products a while ago, largely because of this issue (I didn’t want to give money to charities that use fear-mongering, hand-wringing anthropomorphism to actively fight biodiversity), and their treatment of the Little Fireface Project only solidified this. Now Lush has sponsored a conference whose end goal is essentially dead elephants, whether they want to admit that or not.

Animal Training VS Enrichment Programs; What Is More Important?
Throughout my career I discovered that the phycology of animals interest me most. Questions like why animals do their thing and why they have certain responses etc is an interesting part of why I enjoy what I do. Animal Training in general is a passionate part where I try to get better at and discover how my style of training works and what I’m actually doing. Meeting individuals that need different strategies that give you another perspective about the science of operant conditioning. Its cool to see how different species act different and are completely different on many different aspects when you train them. How you thought an animal would be is not at all what it is working with them up close. We learn so much through those interactions what helps us respect these animals even more.

Team Fiona: A Conversation with Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo
After spending time at three other zoos, Christina Gorsuch became Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2015. She oversees the care and husbandry of a wide variety of animals from lions to black rhinoceroses to Asian elephants to Mexican wolves to African wild dogs. However, soon Gorsuch would become most associated with hippos when she became social media famous as Coach of Team Fiona, the animal care team responsible for caring for the zoo's prematurely born hippo. Here is her story.

Lizards with toxic green blood may have evolved it to fight disease
Coursing through the veins of some New Guinean lizards, is blood so toxic it would kill a human 40 times over.

Besides being deadly, what makes it even more striking is its colour. It is such a bright shade of lime green it makes the reptiles’ muscles, bones and tongues green as well.

This colour comes from high levels of biliverdin – a green bile pigment produced as a waste product that causes jaundice in humans.

Not only are these reptile perfectly healthy, scientists think the prevalence of green blood among New Guinean skinks means counterintuitively this toxic b

Hippos Poop So Much That Sometimes All the Fish Die
At first, Chris Dutton and Amanda Subalusky had no idea why the fish were dying.

At a bridge on the border between Kenya and Tanzania, they noticed that whenever the Mara River rose by a few feet, dead fish would wash up on its banks, sometimes in the thousands. Storks, vultures, crocodiles, and hyenas made short work of the carcasses, so “if you weren’t there to see it, you’d never know it was happening,” says Dutton. Local rangers knew about the die-offs, but they blamed the events on farmers who sprayed pesticides in upstream fields.

It wasn’t the farmers. Through an increasingly bold set of experiments, involving remote-controlled boats, computer simulations, a makeshift dam, and vast tankers of excrement-filled water, Dutton and Subalusky identified the real culprits: hippos.

The duo, who are married, published their results in a paper with the remarkably polite title of “Organic matter loading by hippopotami causes subsidy overload resulting in downstream hypoxia and fish kills.”

At The Zoo, Harvard Medical Students Get A Different Kind Of Training
Sofina is sedated, sprawled out on an examination table as four medical professionals hover over her. The 8-year-old has had Type 1 diabetes most of her life, but it seems like her normal insulin isn’t helping. Sofina’s doctors worry she might have developed Cushing’s disease and they’re taking blood samples to figure out what’s wrong.

Joseph Rosenthal, a fourth-year Harvard Medical School student, will be the one drawing Sofina’s blood. This is a bit of a unique experience for him. He’s drawn blood before, but up until recently, the process has mostly been with humans. Sofina, who resides at the Franklin Park Zoo, will be his first ring-tailed lemur patient.

Veterinarian Dr. Alex Becket coaches Rosenthal through some of the unexpected hurdles, like spotting a vein and not something that just looks like a vein.

“Now keep in mind, that with fur, it might bunch up on y

When Conservation Is Just Another Way To Spell Exploitation
Anyone involved with the conservation of lions in South Africa knows, and shudders, at the mention of Ukutula Lodge & Conservation Center (usually and more aptly referred as Ukutula Lion Farm) Anyone who is not deeply involved with lion conservation is still most likely familiar with Ukutula’s name, and not for any good reason.
One of the largest predator breeding facilities in South Africa, Ukutula’s name has become synonymous with the cub petting industry, as well as with the canned hunting industry. In recent years, Ukutula has begun insisting that it “tracks” all the lions it sells as offal from its massive cub petting farm “in order to assure that they aren’t used for canned hunting”. All of the information which supposedly proves that claim, however, is “confidential” which means that the public can only take the word of a company which breeds and exploits lions for profit, as proof that they don’t actually sell them for yet another tier of profit, to the canned hunting industry.
And frankly, even if Ukutula published the names of the buyers of their lions, it’s not difficult to legally avoid “selling to canned hunting facilities”. An entity like Ukutula can sell their lions to anyone who is “unassociated” with any canned hunting facility, and legally state that they “do not sell to canned hunting facilities” while the person they sold all their lions to, will then turn around and hold a dispersal sale, auctioning or selling all the lions to canned hunting farms. And it’s not illegal. Nor is it illeg

Lions and Tigers and Bears Are Going Extinct
A research paper published April 12, 2018, in the online journal PLOS Biology, identifies the 10 most “charismatic” animals known and loved by humans that may soon become extinct, perhaps, in great part, because, most of us don’t realize how few of them actually exist.  They’re talking about elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, polar bears, gorillas, gray wolves, and, of course, pandas, that are all going the way of the dinosaur. Why don’t we know this? Why aren’t we paying more attention?

Most of us are captivated by and naturally attracted to animals, especially mammals. We often feel an emotional connection. The animals that are most popular with humans are everywhere we look, in the form of stuffed animal toys and cartoon and realistic images used in ma

'A rich conservationist is a rare species'
The Whitley Fund for Nature is celebrating a quarter of a century and looks set to successfully continue providing financial assistance to conservationists across the globe. To date, almost £15 million has been awarded to over 197 wildlife pioneers in 80 countries.

No mean feat in a competitive and challenging field not always financially sufficient or fortunate enough to provide long-standing support.

Seen by many as the 'Green Oscars', the awards target those working in nature conservation regarded as international advocates for bio diversity. Notable emphasis is on local projects in resource poor areas and funding  is provided for proven grass-roots conservation leaders in developing countries. Emphasis is on people and wildlife working in a mutually beneficial way.

Best in the field

The 2018 recipients of the prestigious prize consist of  six 'of the best in the field', from various backgrounds and regions.

Munir Virani's Kenyan project is saving the region's threatened vultures who due to negative cultural perceptions are often poisoned. The project aims to reverse this misguided thinking and it's hoped it will serve as a model for other African countries.

Symbio Wildlife Park’s Jarrad Prangell has been named Australasian Zookeeper of the Year
Symbio Wildlife Park is celebrating one of its team being named the best zookeeper in the nation.

Jarrad Prangell, 26, won the title of Australasian Zookeeper of the Year at the Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping (ASZK) Conference.

While finalists are not told who nominated them he is pretty sure it was Symbio’s owners Matt and John Radnidge.

Mr Prangell started working at the family zoo when the Radnidge family gave him an opportunity at 21. He has always had a passion for working with animals but growing up in Sydney’s Inner-West meant he would take every opportunity to explore the bush during camping trips and family holidays to the Blue Mountains and South Coast.

He loves all animals but his particular interest has always been reptiles. Now he gets to look after reptiles and amphibeans at Symbio.

“I grew up watching Steve Irwin. I always knew what I wanted to do and the Radnidge family gave me a chan

Zoo workers injured when 800-pound animal escapes
Two employees of a Rhode Island zoo suffered minor injuries when an 800-pound animal described as a "goat-antelope" escaped its enclosure.

The takin, native to the eastern Himalayas, escaped just after 9 a.m. Tuesday and was back in its enclosure by 10 a.m., before the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence opened to the public.

VIDEO: Florida school ‘sorry’ about live tiger at prom
A Florida high school has apologised for exhibiting live wild animals including a caged tiger at a jungle-themed prom in a hotel.

Friday night’s event for final-year students at Christopher Columbus High School, an all-male private school in the suburbs of Miami, featured typical prom entertainment such as a disco and dancers.

However, the party also included more controversial “entertainment”: a display of live animals, included a lemur, macaws and a tiger.

Video footage shared online by the sister of a student showed the animal pacing a small cage in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by a crowd of excited prom-goers.

Edinburgh Zoo welcomes endangered rockhopper penguin chicks
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo are celebrating the hatching of three endangered northern rockhopper penguin chicks. The chicks mark the most successful northern rockhopper penguin breeding season at the zoo in over 27 years. Only days old, the chicks will remain on their nests with their parents until they reach around 3 months. READ MORE: Edinburgh Zoo’s penguins have a new bubble machine and they love it Dawn Nicoll, senior penguin keeper, said, “We are very excited to welcome three new chicks to our rockhopper colony. It has been amazing to watch the new parents caring for their young and being very attentive, though we aren’t out of the woods yet as the first 30 days are crucial for a newborn chick’s development.

Puerto Vallarta Zoo will appeal decision of Profepa inspection
After revealing that personnel of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and Environmental Protection (Profepa) seized 54 animals from the zoo in Puerto Vallarta, the site’s director, Martín Castañeda, has prepared a criminal appeal against the federal agency for irregularities in documentation.

According to Castañeda, the agency, in the report, said that the animals were in perfect health and in appropriate environments for their stay, a contrast to the bulletin issued to the media, which indicated that there were no conditions for the healthy recreation of the animals seized.

“It is verified that in the development of the activities that the inspected person performs, related to the management of the wild life, no acts of cruelty are carried out, in turn they are observed in general in good apparent physical condition in all the housed specimens as well as it was observed that in the interior of the cages of each animal are troughs and drinking troughs”, dictates the inspecti

Appearance of exotic animal suggests possible existence of 'illegal zoo'
It is thought the animal, barely alive, had fled a cruel master, seeing as its neck and legs were bruised. It was caught by employees of the Mežavairogi animal sanctuary, who located and caught it after being tipped off that an exotic animal was roaming free between the Iecava and Baldone areas near Rīga.

It was delivered to the Rīga Zoo, and specialists are trying to wring it away from death's embrace. The animal was famished to the point that specialists at the Rīga Zoo weren't able, at first look, to tell if it's a male or female mara.

People with information about its possible master are asked to inform the authorities. Seeing as it's not the first exotic animal to be seen in the vicinity, it's possible there's a sinister scheme at work.

"It can't be excluded there's an illegal mini-zoo somewhere, or maybe someone is keeping exotic animals for fun," said Rīga Zoo director Ingmārs Līdaka.

Authorities were unable to find the owner of the wallaby, which had been taken into the zoo earlier. As it was discovered during freezing temperatures, the wallaby was named Sp

Students, parents outraged by caged tiger at high school prom in Miami
Some parents and students are outraged after organizers of a Miami high school prom featured a caged tiger for its jungle theme. The caged animal's presence angered some who called it animal abuse for the sake of entertainment, CBS Miami reports.

The Christopher Columbus High School prom took place Friday night at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport and Convention Center. The sister of one student posted video of the event on Facebook and called the decision "shameful."

She told CBS Miami that she and her family are longtime animal rights activists who consider the act animal abuse. They said the entire act was done in poor taste.

"Tigers are wild animals. They don't need to be displayed as objects for our amusement. They don't like the fire, the cage

Matchmaking for zoo animals
Zoos have always been places where people come to marvel at, and connect with, the wonders of the animal world. But with more and more species endangered in their natural habitats, zoos have had to change their stripes. They've shifted their focus to conservation, and gone is the old practice of bringing in exotic animals from the wild. But without them, zoos today have to re-populate from within. And it's complicated. It turns out that behind every baby animal crowds flock to see and biologists want to protect, there's an elaborate mix of science, software, genetics, and moving vans. It's no longer the old-fashioned birds and the bees at the modern zoo -- it's more like

Animals with babies -– always a sure-fire hit at the zoo. It's what all living creatures are biologically programmed to do: mate, rear young and pass their genes onto the next generation. But you might be surprised to learn that long before the babies. And even long before the making of the babies. There is this

Alleged wildlife smuggling kingpin jailed in Thailand
A court in Thailand has sentenced a Thai man believed to be a kingpin in the illicit wildlife trade to 2 ½ years in prison for smuggling rhinoceros horns, an organization that works with police to combat trafficking said Friday.

The group Freeland said the court in Samut Prakarn province convicted Boonchai Bach this week in the shipment of 11 kilograms (24.2 pounds) of rhino horns from Africa worth $700,000. The rhino horns were seized in December when a Chinese smuggler was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. A wildlife quarantine officer at the airport accused of assisting the smugglers was also arrested.

The group said a relative of Boonchai's was caught when he sought to pick up the shipment, implicating Boonchai as the financier and leading to

Emirates Park Zoo and Resort Wins ‘Best Zoo Operator Award in the Middle East’
Emirates Park Zoo & Resorts received a well-deserved recognition as it took home the ‘Best Zoo Operator Award in the Middle East’ during the 4th Theme Parks & Entertainment Development Forum, which was held at Meydan Hotel, Dubai on May 8th, 2018.

The 4th Theme Parks & Entertainment Development Forum is a platform that brings key decision-makers from across the MENA region to discuss, establish partnerships among industry experts and learn the ways of profiting from local and global investment opportunities in the leisure and entertainment division.

The award recognized Emirates Park Zoo & Resort’s excellence in service and efforts towards habitat preservation, while promoting safety and cleanliness habits at the highest level. The zoo continues to exceed in customer expectations providing them with an exceptional experience in terms of hospitality, entertainment and recreational activities in the Middle East.

zoo concepts for the 21st century shift focus to animal welfare
architectural competitions platform archstorming presents the three winning teams of its latest competition titled ‘coexist: rethinking zoos’. challenging the traditional concept of zoos, submissions propose interactive and imaginative alternatives such as elevated and non-intrusive paths, autochthonous species adapted to the climate and even 3D virtual animals. the winning proposals focus on improving the well being of animals and enhance the educational and scientific aspects of a zoo by including spaces for art, history and reflection.

Is that selfie really worth it? Why face time with wild animals is a bad idea
The phenomenon of kangaroo selfies hit the headlines earlier this month, when several tourists were injured while feeding wild kangaroos in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney. They may have wanted a memorable holiday snap, but ended up with rather more than they bargained for.

One news report described how the "cute and cuddly" animals had begun "viciously attacking people".

Is that really fair on the kangaroos? Of all the adjectives you could use to describe an animal that is territorial, fiercely maternal and has large claws, "cuddly" is pretty far down the list.

The problem with that description of the incident is that it suggests that the kangaroos were to blame for the injuries. In reality, it was the fault of the people getting too close and offering them the wrong food. Having become so used to being handed carrots, we can hardly blame the kangaroos for being "hopped up", as the news coverage punningly put it.

In India, another recent case ended in tragedy when a man attempted to take a selfie with a bear. The man reportedly turned his back on the bear and was then mauled to death.

World’s first different-sex Francois' leaf monkey twins debut in China
A pair of Francois' leaf monkeys made their public debut on Sunday at Guangzhou's Chimelong Safari Park in south China’s Guangdong Province.

According to the zoo, the pair is the first set of different-sex Francois' leaf twins ever born in captivity.

Currently, there are a total of 14 Francois' leaf monkeys living in the park. Xiao Xiao, their mother, gave birth to the pair in April. The babies were born with bright orange fur which will turn black within two to three months, reports Chinese news portal China News.

Maritime Aquarium Eliminates Nearly All Single-Use Plastics
As a leader in Long Island Sound and ocean conservation, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is doing its part for the environment by significantly reducing its employ of single-use plastics.

According to a news release, gone from the aquarium's cafeteria and theater concessions stand are all drinking straws. Guests now have the option of boxed water or beverages in glass and aluminum containers, instead of in plastic bottles.

Additionally, plastic silverware, coffee lids and food containers have been replaced by biodegradable substitutes. In the Aquarium's gift shop, plush animals no longer are stuffed with plastic beads, toys no longer have cellophane wrapping and purchases no longer go into plastic bags.

"Plastics are pervasive in the consumer wo


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I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

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About me
After more than 50 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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