Monday, May 7, 2018

Zoo News Digest 7th May 2018 (ZooNews 992)

Zoo News Digest 7th May 2018  (ZooNews 992)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

Over these past few weeks there have been two news stories of tiger cubs being rescued as they were being smuggled across the border from Mexico and into the US. They were then handed on to zoos with much press coverage following on. It is noble work and I am delighted that the cubs survived. Thinking on from here...the zoos don't want them. If a good zoo wants a tiger it will have no problem getting one. They will get their tiger through the officially sanctioned breeding programme for the subspecies they are interested in. These tiger cubs are 'Heinz 57' tigers, tigers of unknown parentage and valueless to the long term conservation of tigers worldwide. In fact they are harmful to conservation because in a good zoo they take up space that can be practically used for species.
It isn't just rescued smuggled animals which make such problems but those playthings of the wealthy which are presented to zoos once their owners have tired of them. It is difficult and sometimes impossible to refuse. So they are maintained for years at considerable expense and contribute little or nothing towards conservation. There could be educational value but saying something along the lines of "this animal was dumped on us" is not going to go down too well.

Sticking with tigers for just a little bit longer. This morning I had a meeting with a friend of mine. He told me of "pink tiger bone jewelry"....which made me sick to the stomach. I am familiar (or I thought I was) with all of the horrors of the Tiger Trade but this one was new on me. So I looked it up.
"she could also supply some of the more upmarket pink tiger bone jewellery and that the pink colour was the result of the tigers being deboned while only sedated." 
That is a horror story.

The article Zookeepers Have A Problem With Diversity I found interesting. To be honest it is not something I have thought a great deal about. From my own side I have worked with many zookeepers of other nationalities and colors so did not realise that there was a problem. I had thought before about 'class' in a zookeeper context. When I started in the late 60's roughly half of the keepers were the sons and daughters of doctors, lawyers and other professionals. It was almost a middle class profession. This in spite of the extremely long hours and horrifically low wages. The other half were drifters and ex circus employees. It will have changed today of course because of a multitude of reasons. All for better I am sure. That said the best zookeeper I ever worked with had a university degree but then so did the worst. I have

A statement I saw on Facebook this week "Exotic breeders are the life blood of zoos. Without them zoos are effed." I have little doubt that there a few specialist breeders out there who do make a contribution. The rest though are a nonsense supplying the bad zoos.

Did you know that advertising your vacancy or product on ZooNews Digest can potentially reach 77,000 + people?

Lots of interest follows. 


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

Ark, lifeboat or something wilder? Future of zoos under debate
Earth, in case you hadn’t heard, or noticed, is going through a sixth mass extinction. Animals and other life are disappearing the world over and it began well ahead of global warming, although the human-caused rapid climate change going on isn’t helping.

Scattered across the globe, attempting to deal with this, at least a little bit, are the world’s zoos and aquariums. You can debate about animals in captivity. You can argue about the environmental cost-to-benefit ratio of keeping an orca in a relative bathtub, a leopard in a studio apartment.

But to familiarize yourself with the efforts of the best of these animal havens is to understand that they work with sincerity and some urgency to try to understand and save endangered species, while also navigating public expectations and budgetary pressures.

In other words, they operate in “powerful ethical rapids,” in the words of the editor of “The Ark and Beyond: The Evolution of Zoo and Aquarium Conservation,” an eye-opening new book from the University of Chicago Press. But before we get to that book and its consideration of zoos, have a quick look around Chicago.

Lincoln Park Zoo, which you may think of as

Zookeepers Have A Problem With Diversity
Ask any zookeeper about the importance of diversity, and they’re likely to launch into a well-rehearsed speech about biological niches and the importance of the global diversity of species. Zookeepers are trained and passionate conservationists, and they know their stuff when it comes to this topic. But there’s another form of diversity that we don’t talk about nearly enough – zookeeper diversity. That is, the diversity of zookeepers themselves. It’s alarmingly low, and it’s something that we should really be thinking a lot more about.

I’ve visited many zoos across the United States. And I’ve attended many conferences, workshops, meetings, and professional development courses over the years. And without fail, the vast, vast, majority of the zookeepers, aquarists, curators, and other animal care professionals that I’ve met and observed have not been people o

Sarah Chin: A zookeeper’s tale of turning passion into action
To say that Sarah Chin loves animals is an understatement.

As a young girl, she preferred to spend recess playing with the class rabbits at kindergarten than with her schoolmates at the playground.

Instead of a cute puppy or a kitten, she once asked her mother if she could keep a pet snake at home because for her, reptiles are friends, not foes.

While other kids would aspire to become doctors, lawyers, and astronauts, she had wanted to become a veterinarian, a marine biologist, and even a pet shop owner.

And at a young age, she had made it a personal mission to rescue the different bugs and insects that had somehow found their way into their home.

Sarah, simply, has always been passionate about caring for animals.

This passion, which she has cultivated for many, many years, led her to pursue Zoology in college and become a zookeeper right in her motherland, Singapore.

Pink Tiger Bone Jewellery…A new tale in the context of the commodification of the tiger
She then mentioned that she could also supply some of the more upmarket pink tiger bone jewellery and that the pink colour was the result of the tigers being deboned while only sedated. She showed us images on her phone, one a tiger hanging on a meat hook being butchered and images of pinkish necklaces and bracelets.

Sentenced to life
July 21, a warm summer day in 2007, Yamuna gave birth to Vijay. Yamuna is from Delhi — her union arranged like many others — and the father, Laxman, from Bhubaneswar.

In the same year, on February 6, Kalpana was born to two Delhi inhabitants, Kaveri and Swaraj. Years later, as fate would have it, or as the world demanded, Kalpana met Vijay. She was introduced to him for the sole purpose of mating and reproducing at the Delhi zoo, continuing the line of tigers — more importantly, white Bengal tigers — in captivity.

There’s no romantic story here with tragedy lurking behind the surface. The Wildcat Sanctuary says that normal tiger behaviour in the wild would prevent the kind of inbreeding that would be necessary to produce white cubs. Furthermore, it alleges that captive inbreeding of white tigers results in high neonatal mortality rates, typically exceeding 80 per cent.

That’s not to say that white tigers have not been seen in the wild — sightings are just rare. The white colour of the Bengal tiger comes due to the lack of pigment pheomelanin. But somehow, in a country obsessed with fair and lovely skin tones, one reason so many visitors come to Delhi zoo

Four lions suffer paralysis at Lahore Safari Park
The administration of Lahore Safari Park is concerned because four lions of the African race are suffering from paralysis.

“The paralysis has affected their backside and they cannot move about like other lions,” said  Lahore Safari Park Deputy Director  Shafqat Chaudhry. “Their cubs are also likely to inherit the disease.”

Two male lions aged between 2.5 and three years and two female African lion are suffered from paralysis due to calcium deficiency, he said. He added that the lions suffer from this problem when they reach the age of six months and one year. “Due to consumption of beef continuously, the amount of phosphorus increases in their body and the quantity of calcium decreases. This leads to their bones weakening which then causes paralysis.”

A Unique Business: A Conversation with Bill Gersonde, Director of the Abilene Zoo
Bill Gersonde first made a name for himself when he turned around the Idaho Falls Zoo, bringing it from an antiquated institution on the verge of closure to a respectable facility accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Since 2010, he has served as Director of the Abilene Zoo. Gersonde has implemented a variety of creative ideas to push the zoo forward. He also currently serves on AZA's Wildlife Conservation Management Committee. Here is his story.

BSc (Top-Up) Animal Management and Applied Zoology Hons
The BSc (Hons) in Animal Management and Zoology Top Up course aims to create or develop animal management professionals with a broad understanding on managing farms, zoological collections or working within the field of conservation. Undergraduates will acquire advanced practical hands-on animal management skills whilst furthering business and enterprise skills needed to manage animal and zoological collections, including enriching the customer experience, education, environmental interpretation and animal encounters that reach beyond the boundaries of the collection.

Vocational relevance, professional standards and transferable skills for employability are central to this Bachelor’s degree. This will be through the inclusion of a high proportion of applied and work based learning elements which will ensure a high calibre graduate entering the industry. The programme will empower individuals to further develop their practical skills, academic research skills and core knowledge required to work in zoos, animal rehabilitation reserves, aquaria and animal collections or related animal industries both nationally and internationally.

Monogamy Anchored in Our Genes?
Biological anthropologists and evolutionary psychologists commonly take it for granted that human monogamy has a biological basis. Desmond Morris was an influential early advocate. His 1967 swashbuckling best-seller The Naked Ape proposed long-term monogamous human mating as an extreme expression of natural pair-bonding. Morris dismissed alternative mating arrangements in other cultures as relics of “obscure, backward tribal units”.

Bristol Zoo Crocodile habitat
Here are a few random photos from a project at Bristol Zoo, UK where we improved the Dwarf African Crocodile (Osteolaemus tetraspis) and Malayan river turtle (Orlitia borneensis) exhibits along with Aquarium Technology Ltd who were the main contractors. Pictures taken on the day the planting was being introduced and the pools being filled.

Koda Creative were contracted by ATL to spray concrete the pools, making a smooth surface to which ATL applied GRP waterproof liner. After this, we made washed out earth river bank, rockwork, two trees, fallen tree bridge, fallen tree enclosure divider and tree stump waterfall catcher.

Also during this project we fit in some extra work, a Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus) vivarium habitat.

World's oldest recorded spider spends entire life sitting in her hole, lives to age 43
Researchers in Australia monitored what is most likely the world's oldest spider on record, who died at age 43, outstripping the previous record-holder, a 28-year-old tarantula.

The lead researcher, Leanda Mason, said of the spider in question, "to our knowledge this is the oldest spider ever recorded, and her significant life has allowed us to further investigate the trapdoor spider’s behaviour and population dynamics,” according to a press release.

A sedentary creature, the female Gaius villosus trapdoor sp

Akron Zoo sets global sustainability standard for zoos with 'Big Hanna' compost system (photos)
The Akron Zoo has unveiled a composting machine named "Big Hanna," designed to help the zoo achieve its zero waste goal.

The zoo is the first zoo in the world to implement such a system, which will divert 47 tons of material away from landfills, said Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler at a public unveiling on Monday.

The Ohio EPA awarded the zoo a $160,000 recycling and development grant for the machine, which the zoo will match at $81,000.

Summit ReWorks provided $20,000 toward the sustainably designed building the machine occupies. Keep Akron Beautifully and Let's Grow Akron will purchase compost from the zoo.

The zoo has had an organic wa

Contrived extinction
Recently, the death of Sudan, the “last” northern male white rhino housed at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, was met with the expected paroxysms of grief around the world at the “loss of another species”. This is a classic case of an “extinction” that has been carefully contrived. I have no doubt many white rhinos still remain in South Sudan, and in a year or two, a “saviour” (most likely a Caucasian) will “discover” them to much fanfare and acclamation.

This is not a new phenomenon. In 2016, a population of over 100 lions was “discovered” by Hans Bauer of Oxford University in Alatash, Ethiopia. The same year, Iain Douglas-Hamilton of Save the Elephants “discovered” an adult elephant that had ventured across the border from Kenya into Somalia. Neither of these phenomena could have existed or occurred without human observation, but it only made news when they were observed by Caucasians.

This is typical of the conservation discourse in Africa, where not one of the so-called “authorities” on any wildlife species is black, nearly a century after the establishment of formal conservation structures. This can only be caused by two circumstances—either black Africans have n

Does The Animal Take Responsibility of a Time Out?
In the last 2 years I have changed my thoughts on many different topics. Reading books about psychology made me reflect a lot of different characteristics we humans have into animals. Anthropomorphism might come to mind with you reading this story but that’s not really what this is all about.

The other day doing my usual things I started to think about responsibility. You know how each and every one of us is responsible for their own thoughts, sayings and actions. We have the power to change our thinking and what we say. Nobody else has your responsibility. What comes to mind for me thinking about this is; do animals take responsibility from their own actions? In a good and a bad way?

 'There's a lot of fakery': insiders spill on the dirty tricks behind wildlife photos
The Brazilian photographer Marcio Cabral was stripped of a prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award last week after judges noticed that the anteater at the foot of a glowing termite mound in his picture looked an awful lot like the taxidermy anteater found at the entrance to the national park where he captured the shot.

If Cabral did use a stuffed creature in his photograph – a charge he strongly denies – it would be a new low for those claiming to document “wild” animals, and emblematic of a murky underbelly in the field. Among the tricks regularly used without disclosure to get magazine-worthy natural history images are the hiring of trained animals, the gluing or freezing of insects into position and the use of bait to lure subjects closer to the camera.

“There’s a lot of fakery,” says the US photographer Clay Bolt, one of the judges in this year’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year awards. Although the British Natural History Museum’s awards offer the “gold standard” f

Huge lion savages British wildlife park owner and drags him into enclosure as horrified tourists scream in fear
This is the distressing moment a British safari park owner was dragged away by a blood-thirsty lion after entering its enclosure at a wildlife park.

Horrified onlookers screamed in terror as the man, believed to be Brit expat Mike Hodge, was dragged along the ground of the big cat pen like a rag doll towards some bushes.

The shocking clip is believed to have been filmed at the Makarele Predator Centre, in Thabazimbi, South Africa.

According to reports Mr Hodge was the owner and had relocated from the UK with his wife Chrissy in 2003.

This month we returned to Vietnam to continue our collaboration with the Vietnam Zoo Association (VZA) and the work we are doing to set national standards in Vietnam.  Following a workshop in December 2014, co-hosted by Wild Welfare, Animals Asia and Change for Animals Foundation, both the VZA and a Vietnam government national working group were set up to discuss animal welfare concepts for captive wild animals.  Since then, we have been working with the VZA and its members, providing individual institutional support as well as association workshops and training in partnership with Animals Asia Foundation.  This month we met up with our colleague Mr Tung, Vice Chairman of the VZA to visit some of the members, taking the opportunity to understand the main animal management practices, problems and opportunities for future membership criteria.

We considered all aspects of zoo management practices, including enclosure design and infrastructure, public feeding opportunities, animal shows, off show exhibits, holding quarters, feeding and nutritional care, hand-raising provisions, veterinary support and keeper knowledge regarding husbandry and management. Government owned zoos and private facilities can have very different approaches and demands placed upon them, and we worked with both, to help identify a constructive approach to raising standards within the Vietnam zoo community that works for any facility regardless of ownership.

We also took the opportunity to join with Animals Asia, and meet with the Ministry of Agriculture to continue discussions in regard to developing zoo natio

What Ecologists Can Learn From Memes
On the other side of the country, Mason Fidino, a quantitative ecologist at the Urban Wildlife Institute at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo, was wondering something similar: How should ecologists and wildlife management teams be thinking about the internet, both as a source of information and as a tool to harness in order to get their message out?

Fidino’s training is in statistics, computer programming, and ecology, but he also runs his group’s Twitter account—a side project that no one quite taught him how to do. When the UWI played around the idea of a social media presence, he says, they decided, “Hey, let’s make this thing, and Mason will be in c

Animal rights activist takes a dive into sea lion pool to avoid angry audience member after protesters disrupt performance at zoo
Three animal rights activists have been arrested after disrupting a sea lion show at Antwerp zoo in Belgium.

One of the protesters was forced to jump into the pool after an angry audience member approached her as they held up placards saying 'stop shows with animals.'

The footage, which was caught on an audience member's phone, shows a trainer interacting with the animals during the sea lion performance at the zoo.

Anthropology professor helps create conservation program in Vietnam
A cohesive conservation plan protecting the Vietnamese environment—and primates—is now signed legislation, in part due to efforts of a University of Colorado Boulder anthropologist.

The plan, which was approved by the country’s prime minister last May, aims to expand protected forests, increasing habitat for primates.

Tonkin snub-nosed monkeys in Vietnam. Photo by Le Khac Quyet. At top of the page is an image of a red-shanked douc. Photo by Herbert Covert.

Worldwide, 75 percent of the world’s primate populations are in decline, while 60 percent are threatened with extinction, according to a study published in Science Advances last year. In Vietnam, 88 percent of primates are threatened with extinction.

A journal article titled “Primates of Vietnam: Conservation in a Rapidly Developing Country,” published in Anthropology Now in September, details the causes of environmental degradation in Vietnam, and future challenges and practices used to combat the rapidl

Environmental Health: A Conversation with Sharon Deem, DVM, PhD, Dipl ACZM, Director for the Saint Louis Zoo Institute of Conservation Medicine
The Saint Louis Zoo's WildCare Institute is one of the most well-regarded conservation programs at any zoo in the world. It features 13 centers around the globe that focus on biodiversity hotspots connected to conservation programs led by a staff member on the zoo. While not one of the centers, the zoo's Institute for Conservation Medicine works closely with the WildCare Institute. The Institute for Conservation Medicine is focused on solving issues related to environmental health around the world and is run by Dr. Sharon Deem. Here is her story.

Authorities seize 132 animals from zoo weeks after lion mauled keeper to death in cage
Animals at 'one of the worst zoos' have been seized by authorities just a month after one of its keepers was mauled to death by a lion.

The 132 animals were taken from the Nicolas Bravo Zoo in Mexico after its owners failed to provide suitable living conditions or legal documentation.

Following an inspection of the animal park, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection took away 132 animals, including primates, reptiles, bears and big cats.

Animal experts decided that the zoo failed to meet expected standards and is therefore unfit to house certain species at the park.

Tons of pangolin scales from Congo seized by Vietnamese customs
Customs officials in a port in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday seized nearly 3.8 metric tons of pangolin scales from Congo, in the biggest haul of the animal parts ever smuggled to the southern metropolis.

The pangolin scales were stored in two containers, declared as logs imported from Congo, that arrived in Cat Lai Port on Sunday.

Vietnamese authorities had received a heads-up from Congolese customs about the suspicious shipment and had been keeping a close watch on the two containers since their arrival from a transit port in Singapore, according to Dinh Ngoc Thang, deputy chief of Ho Chi Minh City customs.

Cargo scanning at Cat Lai Port following the containers’ arrival at 4:00 am on Sunday revealed suspicious empty spaces at the center of each container, surrounded by logs.

As no recipient has since come to cl

What to Expect From North America’s First Dolphin Sanctuary
According to the Associated Press, the National Aquarium has begun a three-year program designed to get its seven dolphins ready for release into this sanctuary. Fortunately, they just received a major boost from tour company Virgin Holidays, which pledged $300,000 to make this sanctuary a reality.

The AP reported that the years-in-the-making project is in the early stages of shopping potential locations in Florida and, in the meantime, is painstakingly readying the dolphins for the habitat transition.

For example, the aquarium is raising the temperatures of the dolphins' tanks so that algae will grow and start to emulate the real waters to which they'll be relocated.

This donation by Virgin Holidays fits right in line with the company's stance.

Tiger farms and illegal wildlife trade flourishing in Laos despite promise of a crackdown
Laos, a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, has long held a key role in the global wildlife trade. Corruption and a flow of easy money across its porous borders have allowed the illegal trafficking of pangolins, helmeted hornbills and other wildlife products, as well as the country’s notorious tiger farms, to thrive.

In 2016, the Laos government told the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) in 2016 that it intended to shut down the tiger farms. However, a Post Magazine investigation has found the farms are flourishing, with another major operation having opened since the pledge was made. One expert described the trade in tiger parts used for medicines and potency treatments as “out of control”.

Zoo has three months to sort ‘qualified’ management
AN animal park in north Ceredigion has three months to bring in “experienced and qualified” management or a hearing to stop them keeping dangerous animals will be rescheduled.

An appeal to the restriction on Borth Wild Animal Kingdom’s licence was due to hold a case management hearing on Thursday, 26 April, but it has been adjourned for at least one month to “allow all parties to come to an agreement”.

Councillors at the healthier communities overview and s

OPINION | How our lions are cruelly slaughtered - with government consent
It's been a bloody time for the South African canned lion industry.

Last week‚ a lion 'abattoir' was exposed on a farm in the Free State‚ where close to 100 lions were reportedly to be killed and their skeletons prepared for export to Asia. Shortly after news of the slaughter broke‚ a game reserve owner from Limpopo was mauled by one of his captive lions‚ Shamba. The lion was immediately shot‚ causing a social media outcry.

In a separate incident‚ six more captive lions were poisoned and their limbs cut off on another Free State Lion breeding farm‚ allegedly for use in tradition medicine.

Experts warn that the bloodshed - facilitated by the flourishing captive-bred lion industry and SA's Department of Environmental Affairs' recently implemented export quota of 800 lion skeletons per year – may just be the first sight of a new demon waking from the captive-bred lion industry.

The mass-killing of captive-bred lions in the Free State was exposed after captive-bred lions were transported in crates to a farm‚ to be killed and their flesh removed for the bone export trade. According to Beeld‚ a to

Animals are dying in Pakistan’s zoos & no one cares
Pakistan had become an unsafe place for humans after the launch of Global War on Terrorism; however, it is also becoming dangerous place for animals due to carelessness and sheer negligence.

A report unveiled on Thursday has exposed the mismanagement of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government as it claims that over 30 animals died in the Peshawar Zoo after inauguration by Chief Minister Pervez Khattak in February 2018.

The report is not compiled by outsiders as Kabir Afridi, Additional Secretary Higher Education was heading the investigative committee probing recent deaths. The report says that more than 30 species of bird and a Nilgai have died in the

Caribbean Journey: A Conversation with Tom Schmid, President and CEO of the Texas State Aquarium
Tom Schmid has been President and CEO of the Texas State Aquarium since 1999. Over the course of that time, the aquarium has grown in size, attendance, financial stability and optimal animal welfare. Schmid also served on the Board of Directors of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums for several years, including a year as its Chair. This year, the Texas State Aquarium rehabilitated and released over 1,000 sea turtles in the largest cold stunning event in history. Here is his story.

Saint Louis Zoo named best zoo in the country, again
The Saint Louis Zoo has been named the best zoo in the country for the second year in a row. Not that there was ever any doubt in our minds.

Saint Louis was voted No. 1 in the USA Today best zoo category in the 10Best Readers’ Choice Awards contest. The Saint Louis Zoo was one of 20 nominated U.S. zoos, which were hand-picked by a panel of zoo and family travel experts.

“We’re humbled to be chosen again as the best zoo by our dedicated fans in the St. Louis region, across Missouri and friends around the country,” Jeffrey Bonner, president and CEO of the Saint Louis Zoo, said in a statement. “Our visitors, volunteers, members, generous donors, employees, and especially the taxpayers of St. Louis City and St. Louis County are the real champions. It’s through their strong support that we can provide superior care for the animals, save wildlife in wild places, connect people with

First training workshop in a series kicked off in Indonesia as CITES strives to better regulate trade in captive-raised animals
A training workshop on the application of new CITES guidance on trade in captive-raised animals was held in Bogor, Indonesia from 1 to 4 May 2018, bringing together 50 participants from 11 Asian countries representing national CITES authorities, as well as international experts.

“Today, international trade in ‘wild’ animals and plants is in fact mainly in specimens from captive-raised or artificially propagated sources. The significant increase in this type of trade has given rise to concerns related to the control of the production and trade, and the consequences for the conservation of species in the wild, if management attention moves from in situ to ex situ,” says Tom De Meulenaer, Chief of Scientific Services of the CITES Secretariat. “We are actively working with Parties to help ensure that they can better meet their obligations under the Convention by developing guidance and providing necessary training.”

The guidance was used to assess legality, sustainability, and controls of facilities to ensure compliance with CITES – related provisions concerning captive breedin

A drug lord and the world's largest invasive animal
At his infamous zenith in the 1990s, Pablo Escobar's drug-fueled empire—a vast underworld syndicate built upon the United States' insatiable appetite for cocaine—made him one of the wealthiest criminals in history.

With income peaking at more than $30 billion, the drug-smuggling kingpin spent lavishly on a sprawling estate for his family and members of his Colombian cartel. The excesses of Hacienda Nápoles, featured on Netflix's wildly popular "Narcos" series, included a zoo stocked with exotic animals transported from around the world.

But when Escobar's empire came crashing down, the animals were relocated to new homes. Lions and giraffes, sure. But relocation isn't nearly as simple for the largest occupants of Escobar's zoo: hippopotamuses, the herbivores that are placid in appearance but several thousand pounds, territorial and dangerous.

In the years since, four original hippo inhabitants of Escobar's zoo have gone rogue and multiplied to more than 40 animals—but the count could be 50 … or even 60. No one knows for sure since the animals are difficult to track. The bizarre situation c

Landowner Aims To Bring Wolves Back To Scotland, Centuries After They Were Wiped Out
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995, they had dramatic impacts on parts of Northwestern United States. Decades later, a wealthy landowner wants to try a limited version of that experiment — in the Scottish Highlands.

Englishman Paul Lister is hoping to see the ancient Caledonian Forest of Scotch pine, alder and mountain ash regenerated, and wildlife long absent from the Highlands return. But as happened with the Yellowstone project, he's running into strong opposition.

The Highlands' rocky hills and windswept valleys, known to the Scottish as glens, are an austere, beautiful landscape. But some visitors are surprised to learn they were once heavily forested — before huma

Escaped gibbon forces zoo into emergency lock down
A zoo was forced to go into emergency lock down after a gibbon escaped from its enclosure.

Families were ushered into a restaurant for safety until handlers managed to recapture the gangly-armed siamang.

Twycross zoo near Leicester later confirmed that the gibbon was only on the run for less than 20 minutes and stressed that no public or staff were ever in danger.

Myrtle Beach zoo animals in 'psychological distress' according to federal report
The Sun News of Myrtle Beach reports the U.S. Agriculture Department reviewed the Waccatee Zoo in Myrtle Beach. The report describes two baboons, a macaque monkey and two black bears pacing, rocking back and forth and showing repetitive behavior.

Jeff Futrell's family owns the zoo. He says zoos get inspected, just like restaurants do, and are given time to fix any problems. When asked how owners would tackle issues listed in the report, Futrell said the zoo would "take care of them."

The federal inspection says more needs to be


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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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