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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,
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
Chinese, Indian tourists lead cruel social media trend that’s driving
Thailand’s captive-wildlife industry
On the shabby
outskirts of a seaside resort in Thailand, a Chinese couple in beachwear lean
across the back of an adult tiger. The big cat yawns with weary insouciance as
two handlers cajole it around its pen and prod it with bamboo sticks. In a
smaller enclosure, another couple giggle as they dangle their infant son over a
juvenile tiger. Nearby, a tourist in his 20s poses as if in mid roar over two
dozing young tigers before – prompted by the handlers – grabbing their tails
and putting them up to his mouth, as guffawing friends watch on.
This is the
disturbing new face of wildlife tourism in Thailand, where tigers are
hand-reared to provide social-media images for foreign visitors. Every day,
busloads of tourists are whisked away from their sunloungers to spend an hour
or so posing for pictures with u
The dog squad
sniffing out the critically endangered Baw Baw frog
Rubble is a
seven-year-old border collie — a classic working dog.
But the pooch has
never herded a single sheep.
No offence to
livestock, but Rubble has always had a higher calling — first as a
search-and-rescue dog, and now as a conservation detection dog.
Rubble and brother
Uda are employed to sniff out some of Australia's most elusive and endangered
Wild Animal Health
Fund awards 13 grants for zoo animal, wildlife research
he Wild Animal
Health Fund has awarded 13 grants for research on zoo animals and wildlife for
2018 totaling $105,407. The fund, in its seventh year, is a program of the
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.
Much advancement has
taken place in veterinary medicine for domestic animals over the past century,
according to the AAZV. Sources for research funding have included governments,
the food animal and fiber industries, veterinary schools and other animal-related
institutions, pharmaceutical companies, and, to a lesser extent, the public.
But research funding for zoo animals and wildlife has not been abundant. Until
the AAZV founded the Wild Animal Health Fund, only one other major funder
supported research for these animals.
Animal Health Fund is building a donor base of concerned citizens who are
passionate about zoo animals and wildlife and understand the threats
Yellow Fever hits
Golden Lion Tamarin population in Rio de Janeiro’s Atlantic Forest
Mico-Leão-Dourado (AMLD; Golden Lion Tamarin Association), along with the
Brazilian Ministry of Health and Ministry of the Environment reported that the
first confirmed death of a Golden Lion Tamarin (GLT) to yellow fever occurred
on 17 May 2018. Until this report we did
not know if GLTs were susceptible to the disease. Our main concern is that this disease has the
potential to reduce significantly an already small and fragmented GLT
population. The continued existence of an assurance population of GLTs in
captivity is an essential safeguard for species survival.
Yellow fever was
unknown in our area during the four decades of our work. The current outbreak
of yellow fever began in Minas Gerais state in December 2016, and quickly
spread to Rio de Janeiro state. The
first human deaths in Rio de Janeiro state occurred in Casimiro de Abreu
municipality, which is the center of the GLT geographic distribution. In 2017, a few howler monkeys were reported
to have died due to yellow fever in Macaé, Rio de Janeiro state, b
ANIMAL WELFARE AND
PUBLIC SAFETY ADVOCATES APPLAUD SENATE ACTION TO RESTRICT POSSESSION OF
DANGEROUS BIG CATS
The Animal Welfare
Institute, Big Cat Rescue, Born Free USA, the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative
Fund are celebrating the introduction of the Big Cat Public Safety Act (BCPSA) in
the US Senate. Championed by Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, the
bill would ensure that unqualified individuals, including chronic animal
abusers, are prohibited from obtaining and keeping dangerous big cats like
tigers, lions, leopards and pumas.
By reintroducing the
BCPSA, senators from six states across the nation are joining more than 130
bipartisan members of the US House of Representatives in calling for an end to
the unregulated trade and nationwide abuse of captive big cats. Recent national
headlines have documented public outrage at the inhumane display of a tiger at
a high school p
PETA slams Auckland
Zoo for euthanising lions
decision to euthanise two elderly lions has been slammed by People for the
Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Kura, 19, and her
daughter Amira, 17, were put to sleep on Wednesday in what staff described as
the "best call" for the animals.
Scoring Resource Center
scores and fecal color provide insight into how a diet is being digested by an
animal and the state of gastrointestinal health. The following fecal condition
scoring scales have been obtained from a variety of sources. We have credited the authors where we can,
and encourage you to submit additional scales or corrections to
attributions. More info is at the bottom
of this page.
In male dolphin
alliances, 'everybody knows your name'
It's not uncommon in
dolphin society for males to form long-lasting alliances with other males,
sometimes for decades. Now, after studying bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay,
Australia, for more than 30 years, researchers find that these males retain
individual vocal labels rather than sharing a common call with their
Opinion: Africa is
Some imagery that
comes to our screens can be tough to stomach, and every now and then Africa
really tests one’s emotional make-up.
There is a
primordial energy in the wilds of Africa, where ecosystems still function
naturally, and wild animals are, well, wild. The following photos submitted to
our Photographer of the Year competition reflect what goes on all day every day
out there in the wild, where animals kill to survive and where individuals
(weak and strong, old and young) often suffer horribly in the process.
Cincinnati Zoo just
got a $50 million gift. But it's just the beginning of a big plan
It started with
Three deer, six
raccoons, a hyena and an alligator. A circus elephant – and over 400 birds.
That was most of the
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden collection when it opened its doors in
institution has certainly grown and evolved in the last century.
But Thursday morning
marked the beginning of the the zoo's most expansive change yet.
announced a $50 million gift – the largest in its history – from Cincinnati
philanthropists Harry and Linda Fath.
That donation is
also the foundation of the zoo's $150 million capital campaign and new master
plan, efforts that aim to transform a
You talking to me?
Scientists try to unravel the mystery of 'animal conversations'
like to rumble, naked mole rats trade soft chirps, while fireflies alternate
flashes in courtship dialogues.
Welcome to the weird
and wonderful world of 'animal conversations'.
team of academics undertook a large-scale review of research into turn-taking
behaviour in animal communication, analysing hundreds of animal studies.
orderly exchange of communicative signals, is a hallmark of human conversation
and has been shown to be largely universal across human cultures.
The review, a
collaboration between the Universities of York and Sheffield, the Max Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, and the Max Planck
Institute for Psycholinguistics in the Netherlands, reveals that this most
human of abilities is actually remarkably widespread across the animal kingdom.
While research on
turn-taking behaviour is abundant, beginning mor
First gorilla born
in captivity in Europe dies in Basel Zoo
Goma, the first
gorilla to be born in a European zoo, has died aged 58 in Basel.
Basel Zoo reported
on Friday that the female ape had died of old age surrounded by her family.
Apart from the usual
signs of old age there was nothing wrong with her and until recently she was in
robust health, the zoo said.
Loved by a
generation of Basel residents, Goma was born in the city zoo in 1959 and was
initially raised by the family of then zoo director Ernst Lang as it was feared
her inexperienced mother would not care for her properly.
Entertainment, Inc. Announces Removal of All Single-Use Plastic Straws and
Single-Use Plastic Shopping Bags from its 12 Theme Parks
As part of its
mission to protect animals and habitats worldwide, and just in time for World
Oceans Day, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) today announced that all
12 of its theme parks have removed all single-use plastic drinking straws and
single-use plastic shopping bags.
environmental achievement is a testament to our mission to protect the
environment, the ocean and the animals we share our planet with, which are
currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution,” said John
Reilly, interim chief executive officer for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. “We
see the harmful effects of plastic pollution in the animals we rescue and
rehabilitate, and therefore, recognize the importance of doing our part to curb
Recent news and
studies have shown alarming consequences of the growing threat of plastics to
our oceans and wildlife. The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental
advocacy group, estimates that eight million metric tons of plastics enter the
ocean each year, on top of the estimated 150 million metric ton
7 of 11 missing
animals from Santa Fe College zoo found
Seven of the 11
missing animals from the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo have been found, the
college announced Monday night.
Three Florida box
turtles, two red-foot tortoises, a skink and a squirrel monkey were found at an
apartment near Santa Fe’s northwest campus, which is off of Northwest 39th
Avenue. The animals were taken overnight between May 29 and 30, according to
the college’s news release.
Two gopher tortoises
and two box turtles, which were discovered missing May 24, have not been found.
Gopher tortoises are
a protected species, and it is a third-degree felony to harm or tamper with
them. The two missing tortoises were on medication to prevent a deadly virus.
Santa Fe said in the
statement that the Santa Fe College Police Department was working with the
Alachua County Sheriff’s Office. Law enforcement receiv
This Is Why The
Animal Schools You Every Day
While I just came
back from a travel to Jerusalem I started to think about why many of our
training sessions end up in something we didn’t plan at all. Within the
workshop I had to give together with a coworker we talked a lot about
motivation strategies and communication. The planning of sessions and how
important it is to have a “toolbox” full of techniques and strategies for you
to respond to the behavior the animal shows you within your session. But a toolbox isn’t build up easy.
Did you ever observe
that the animal seems to “play” with us? Or is it even playing? Might it not
just be us adding emotions into a situation we shouldn’t?
There are quite some
thought about if the animal school you yes or no. Looking from the outside to a
training session there is a lot going on for the trainer to respond to but that
doesn’t mean we want to end up schooled by the animals we work with. Who trains
who (Read another blog about this topic HERE) depends on the skillset and
patience of the trainer. The success and teamwork reached with the animal
depends o so m
is fined for code violations
New developments are
affecting the status of a Walk on the Wild Side, a nonprofit locked in a
dispute with Washington County over the keeping of exotic animals at a former
horse farm north of Hillsboro.
A hearings officer
decided Monday (June 4) that the nonprofit violated county code twice. One
violation was its feeding and management of exotic animals on land zoned for
farming, and the other was its failure to obtain county permits for structures
to house the animals.
The maximum penalty
of $10,000 — $5,000 for each violation — was imposed.
Steve Higgs and
Cheryl Jones, the owners, can reduce that penalty by 50 percent if they remove
the animals, show they are in compliance with state wildlife regulations, and
either remove the structures or obtain the proper per…….The other change would
broaden an exemption from the ban if there is a certification by the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or if an application for certification is
awaiting approval. The proposed grace period is one year, after which the
exemption would expire.
Achieves American Humane Certification for Animal Welfare
Discovery facilities in the Mexican Caribbean have achieved certification
through the global American Humane Conservation program for the welfare and
humane treatment of the animals under their care. Dolphin Discovery, located in
Isla Mujeres, Dolphin Discovery Dreams in Puerto Aventuras, Dolphin Discovery
Cozumel, Dolphin Discovery Playa del Carmen, Dolphin Discovery Riviera Maya in
Puerto Aventuras, and Dolphin Discovery Tulum in Akumal passed rigorous
third-party audits to earn the prestigious Humane Certified™ seal of approval,
joining an elite group of less than four dozen institutions worldwide to
achieve certification under the American Humane Conservation program.
and Welfare in Natural Disasters
Elephant Riding: The
The Asian Elephant
in Thailand is a critically endangered species, facing a very high risk of
extinction. For the Thai Asian Elephant, the primary cause of this is habitat
loss. The forests and grasslands needed to support a population of elephants
have been disseminated by human activity and simply no longer exist.
Domesticated elephants are the answer to creating a sustainable future for Thai
elephants but providing a supportive environment for elephants in an elephant
village or camp/centre requires money. For the Royal Elephant Kraal Village
(the Kraal), like other such dedicated, protective centres, tourism is an
important source of income. Providing an ethical and humane riding experience
for visitors is critical if their programs are to be continued in the long
Recently claims have
been circulating on the internet and media, maintaining that this practice is
damaging for the elephants, even cruel. The Royal Elephant Kraal strongly
disputes this assertion and this article sets out some of the facts, and the
maths, to demonstrate that elephants are well able to easily carry the weight
of humans on their backs. The Kraal has gone to great lengths to ensure that
the elephants in its care are well-treated, that their participation in the
riding program is beneficial and that the equipment used for rides is well
designed and comfortable for the elephant. The emotive claims against the
practice liken the experience of carrying people on the elephant’s back to a
human carrying a 50 pound backpack for nine hours a day and purport that it
will lead to permanent spinal injuries (FN 1). Instead of making exaggerated
comparisons between the human experience and that of animals in order to appeal
to people’s emotions, always a risky exercise, let’s look at the facts.
referenced above states that an elephant giving rides is equivalent to a human
carrying around 50 pounds (approximately 22.9 kg) for 9 hours a day. In this
instance, the ratio of weight of the backpack being carried to an average human
body weight of 75kg would be 30.5%. Note that, to the elephant’s advantage,
this is not an equal comparison, as humans are bipedal and elephants are
quadrupeds, making the dispersion of the extra weight more stable and balanced
for the elephant.
So, if the weight of
a human is 75kg and the weight of a male elephant is 5000kg, then the weight of
the human on top of the elephant would be equal to 1.5% of the elephant’s body
weight. The elephant is actually only carrying what would be for a human the
equivalent of 1.12kg on his back, a lot less than the 22.9kg backpack.
With regard to the
weight of a female elephant, averaging 2700kg, the human weight of 75kg would
be equal to 2.8% of the female elephant’s weight. The elephant is actually only
carrying what would be for a human the equivalent of 2.1kg on her back. Hardly
strenuous considering that the average weight of a woman’s handbag is between
2.35 and 10kg!
An elephant can
carry up to 25% (FN 2) of its body weight without causing any discomfort or
pressure to its body or spine.
unverified assertions, let’s look at the facts regarding the weight that an
elephant at Elephantstay and the weight that an elephant at the Ayutthaya
Elephant Palace/Wang Chang (the Royal Elephant Kraal’s tourist centre) carries
as a comparison of its body weight. Table 1.1 below sets out the weight of some
of the elephants at Elephantstay, the average weight of the mahout and the
average weight of Elephantstay participants and shows the weight percentage to
the elephant’s body weight.
However, at Wang
Chang, in addition to the mahout and the tourist(s), the elephant is also
carrying a yang (chair/howdah) and blankets/padding. Table 1.2 below provides
the combined weight of the following: a yang, blankets/padding, mahout, and two
male tourists (allowing a few extra kilograms to the average weight of humans).
Now, let’s look at
Rumruay, as one of the lightest elephants in weight at the Kraal, as an
example. Her weight equals 2081kg and 25% of her body weight is 520.25kg. The
285kg combined weight that she would be carrying during a typical ride is
considerably less than the 25% of her body weight that she is capable of
carrying without discomfort or pressure on her body or spine. Table 1.3 below
makes the same comparison for the other elephants at the Kraal showing that
they carry a fraction of the amount that they are physically capable of
As well as providing
an exciting experience for the human passengers, the elephants benefit from the
practice of elephant rides. Riding provides socialisation, stimulation and
exercise. The Kraal’s pregnant elephants give rides and have produced 69 successful
births which is also a testament to the benefits of riding. Wang Chang has been
designed as a model for how to provide ethical elephant tourist rides.
Elephants at the centre are not giving rides all day but sporadically
throughout the working day. The elephants that give rides work on a rotational
basis which ensures that they can rest in between each ride. Rides are between
10 to 30 minutes in duration and on flat ground with running water available
along the walk for the elephants to refresh themselves. They are provided with
shelter, food and water for drinking and showering throughout the day. Misters
are used in the elephant rest area, to create a cool and comfortable
environment. All elephants are given rostered days off from working at Wang
Chang providing rides.
The Kraal’s yangs
have been specifically designed to be as light as possible for the elephants.
The thickness of the blankets/padding provides a cushion to ensure that the
yang is not rubbing on the elephant’s skin or causing friction and irritation
to the elephant. The yang’s frame sits on either side of the elephant’s back to
ensure there is no direct pressure on the elephant’s spine, a practice followed
by many other kraals in Thailand. The Royal Elephant Kraal and Wang Chang work
closely with the Tourism Authority of Thailand in relation to their promotional
videos as they want to promote elephants that are healthy, humanely treated and
have an excellent standard of care. This high standard of care and treatment
(and also safety) is widely recognised. The Thai Royal Palace frequently sends
VIP visitors, including visiting royalty from other countries, to Wang Chang to
view, interact with and ride the elephants.
elephants come from many different backgrounds and have many different
histories, most we know of and some we don’t. There is nothing we can do about
their pasts, but we can provide them with a safe haven of love, care, food,
exercise, and stimulation and a future that is far better than their past. Not
all elephants in Thailand have been put through the “crush” or “breaking of
their spirit” in order to be able to let humans ride them. A UN report on
“crush” and other training techniques, quoted from Gone Astray, states that,
“An elephant born in captivity is brought up amongst human beings and its
training is humane from the day it begins; but a wild beast parted from the
herd and its mother must suffer agonies before its will is broken.” (FN 3) The
breeding program at the Kraal allows for human/elephant interaction from the
moment they are born. They learn to trust and bond with humans and
relationships form and grow. Positive reinforcement and food is used with all
training techniques, including training to be ridden.
Before jumping to
conclusions about the effect of the elephant riding program on the elephants,
consider the facts and make an informed decision regarding your participation.
Facts and mathematics indicate that the practice of providing elephant rides is
neither strenuous for the elephant nor damaging to the elephant’s back and/or
spine. Additionally, our experience and anecdotal evidence suggests that the
elephants benefit in many ways from giving rides.
I would like to
acknowledge and thank the following for their assistance with the preparation
of this article: Narelle McGlusky, Ewa Narkiewicz, Michelle Reedy and Jonathan
Prepared by Belynda
Elephant Kraal Village, Ayutthaya, Thailand
The Link Between
Elephants and Human Trafficking
One of the most
beloved activities for tourists traveling in Thailand is to ride on elephants.
The camps offer fun interactions like watching elephants paint, feeding bananas
to baby elephants, and mini treks through the jungle. People are likely familiar
with the criticisms environmental and animal-friendly folk level toward these
camps for the maltreatment of elephants—but what these critics almost always
miss is the elephants’ most trusted companion: their caretakers, the mahouts.
Mahouts used to hold
a much more revered and well-paid position in society, due to the degree of
expertise, experience, and physical strength it takes to work so closely with
such large, intelligent, sensitive—and dangerous—animals. In the best scenarios,
the mahout and elephant develop a lifelong bond of love and trust through which
they can work together. However, the increasing demand for cheap tourist
attractions drives prices down and caretakers are forced to take work well
below the minimum wage.
reintroduction perspectives : 2018
This sixth edition
of the Global Reintroduction Perspectives provides 59 case studies covering
invertebrates, fishes, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and plants. We hope
the information presented in this book will provide a broad global perspective on
challenges facing reintroduction projects trying to restore biodiversity.
Santa Barbara Zoo
becomes Certified Autism Center
The Santa Barbara
Zoo is the first zoo on the West Coast to become a Certified Autism Center.
It's a certification
near and dear to the heart of Santa Barbara Zoo School Director J.J. McLeod, a
mother of three kids under the age of six.
McLeod says her
5-year-old son is on the autism spectrum, so she knows what parents face when
they plan a busy day out at a high sensory place like a zoo.
Patna zoo to ban
plastic from June 5
he Sanjay Gandhi
Biological Park, better known as Patna zoo, will ban plastic with less than 50
microns of thickness from June 5.
The zoo, which is
spread in 152.95 acre area, is home to nearly 800 animals and trees of around
300 species. “The major theme this year will be to discourage the use of
plastic and make the visitors aware about the harmful effects of plastic.
Plastic with less than 50 microns of thickness will be prohibited on the
premises. A notice has been issued by Union ministry of environment and forests
to make all zoos, national parks and sanctuaries free from plastic litter by
the World Environment Day, which is celebrated on June 5,” a zoo official told
this newspaper on Sunday.
have turned into one of
conservation receives a shot in the arm
In a boost to pygmy
hog conservation, Barnadi Wildlife Sanctuary located in Udalguri and Baksa
districts near the Assam-Bhutan border received six more critically-endangered
pygmy hogs on Saturday, taking the total of such releases into the sanctuary to
22. The release was carried out as part of the ongoing Pygmy Hog Conservation
Programme (PHCP), which is an attempt to save the species and its habitat as
part of a collaborative project of Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust,
IUCN/SSC Wild Pig Specialist Group, Assam Forest Department and the Union
Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change with EcoSystems-India and
Aaranyak as local partners.
release into the wild, the hogs were taught to survive independently at a
pre-release facility at Potasali in Nameri Tiger Reserve. The released hogs are
monitored by using field signs (nests, forage marks, footprints and droppings)
and sometimes, camera traps,” an Aaranyak spokesperson sa
A sense of disgust
known for their liberal attitudes toward sex, are also generally open-minded
when it comes to new foods -- as long as the grub is clean.
Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute have now found that a bonobo's
curiosity transforms into caution when food is presented with or near feces,
soil, or bad smells. Their study was published in the journal Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society B.
In nature, parasites
and pathogens are everywhere, and many enter our bodies by riding along with
food. We therefore need a way to detect these hitchhikers with the help of our
studies suggest that animals evolved a system to protect against such threats,
now known as the adaptive system of disgust," explains Cecile Sarabian,
lead author of the study. "For example, bodily fluids are universal
disgust elicitors in humans, and recently, we published evidence that the same
reaction exists in our primate cousins."
In a series of
Zoo keeper sends
lions scampering away in fear as he breaks up a fight in the pride using just
A zoo keeper sent a
dominant male lion scampering away in fear - using just his slipper.
In the highly
amusing video, owner Oleg Zubkov breaks up a scrap between the pride of lions
at his park in Ukraine.
In the footage,
filmed at Tagan safari park in the Crimea, the big cats are seen picking on one
of the group's smaller females.
The Power of
Partnerships: Zoos Joining Forces with Animal Welfare Organizations
A snippet of my
quite controversial post over at Blooloop.com about my naively optimistic wish
of eliminating the US vs THEM mentality that has invaded every aspect of our
“But my real wish,
my dream, is of, “what an amazing world this would be’ if we could all join
forces. We could unite over a common cause: working to protect the remaining
non-captive animal populations from extinction. Let’s join together the very
best characteristics from both sides of the aisle. Join the mega audience of
zoos and aquariums, (with an attendance greater than all professional sports
combined), with the marketing, messaging and PR skills of the animal rights
New Meetings and Conferences updated Here
If you have anything to add then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.
Recent Zoo Vacancies
Vacancies in Zoos and Aquariums and Wildlife/Conservation facilities around the World
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 http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/
or on Hubpages http://hubpages.com/profile/Peter+Dickinson
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 storyteller, 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"
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | email@example.com | Skype: peter.dickinson48
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Skype: peter.dickinson48