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I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
The ark, the
algorithm and our conservation conundrum
How did a stinky,
ugly plant become a higher priority for protection than the iconic Kauri tree?
In part one of a two-part series, Charlie Mitchell examines how an official
ranking of our endangered species came to be.
The little plant by
the lake appears to be dying.
Orange bubbles cling
along its stem like pustules, and it looks dry, wilted, like a figure slowly
It's a jarring
presence in the high country, not far from the Powerade-blue lakes that feature
heavily in the country's branding.
You likely wouldn't
notice the small herb, flattened against the dry earth, in such a vast
landscape. What betrays the plant, brings it to your attention, is the smell
for which it was named. The New Zealand fish-guts plant smells even worse than
Management Centre complete: Musanada
The Abu Dhabi
General Services Company, Musanada, has completed the AED20.58 million
construction and maintenance project of the facilities at the Delaija Wildlife
Management Centre, for the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD. The project
stretches over a gross area of 520,000 square metres.
Commenting on the
announcement, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD Secretary-General, said,
"Managed by EAD, the Delaija Wildlife Management Centre is a unique
facility and the first of its kind in the region in terms of its design and
size. EAD seeks to use this centre to provide facilities for breeding and
protecting endangered wild animals by maintaining sustainable groups through
breeding and reintroduction programs in their natural habitat."
centre that hosts approximately 6,300 animals belonging to four different
species, EAD breeds and manages specific endangered groups such as the Arabian
Oryx, sand gazelle, mountain gazelle and scimitar-horned Oryx by improving
genetic diversity to ensure their sustainability," added Al Mubarak.
"Researchers at EAD implement management and breeding plans in a properly
scientific and systematic way, in order to form a world herd to be included as
part of the local reintroduction programs inside and outside nature reserves as
well as the other international programs at the regional level, to help bring
animals back to their habitats to live normally after ensuring that all
necessary safeguards are in place."
Al Mubarak expressed
her hoped that the Delaija Centre would evolve to an outstanding breeding
facility comprising a veterinary hospital, an educational centre for raising
awareness of the importance of endangered wild animals, "as these are
closely linked to our culture and history, which is fully worth being
maintained for future generations."
For his part,
Suwaidan Rashed Al Dhaheri, Musanada’s Acting CEO, said, "Musanada is
engaged in delivery of these projects as part of its efforts to realise Abu
Dhabi Vision, striking balance between growth and conservation of the enviro
Disservice to India's Wildlife That Only It Can Fix
consequences of revealing information is there for all to see. The most obvious
example would be revealing the identity of a victim of a crime. In a recent
instance of callous disregard for privacy, the Delhi high court fined 11 media
houses Rs 10 lakh each for revealing the identity of the Kathua rape victim.
The bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar noted
that “We have to set our own limits” on freedom of expression. Another area of
reportage where discernment is required is the current practice of monetarily
valuing illegally traded wildlife or wildlife products in news articles. This
practice could have far reaching unintentional and destructive consequences for
India’s incredible natural heritage.
Wild animals like
tigers, leopards, elephants, macaques, langurs, geckos, star tortoises, snakes
and countless others are routinely snared or trapped; then butchered or kept
alive in hideous conditions to meet the demand from the clandestine wildlife
trade. The volume is staggering. For example, about 450 species of birds have
been documented in the birds trade by Rajat Bhargava, a scientist at the Bombay
Natural History Society. Plants and trees (e.g., red sandalwood, commonly known
as red sanders) are also traded illegally. Live animals, skins, bones, other
animal body parts, shells, logs of trees and plants are some of the “products”
in this trade. Occasionally, enforcement agencies apprehend the traders
involved and seize the products. Coverage of such seizures in news reports
should take cognisance of the fact that these are often animals and plants
threatened with extinction, not merely commodities that can be reported solely
in terms of their monetary value.
A cursory internet
search will reveal that
Want to know how to
‘handle’ snakes? Just leave them alone
It was around 2am
when an urgent ring of the doorbell woke me up. It was one of the watchmen of
our society, there was a snake and they wondered if I could ‘deal with it’. I
couldn’t deal with it—I am not trained to ‘handle’ snakes, but what I could do
was convince the small, but frenzied, crowd that the creature didn’t need any
handling at all. It was a common rat snake, as harmless as a sparrow in your
garden. A word of caution: Harmless doesn’t mean you pick or poke this (or any)
snake. Even the non-venomous variety can deliver a nasty, if not fatal, bite if
‘handled’ or disturbed. I pleaded the crowd to back away, giving the snake room
Later, when things
had calmed down, we chatted. I understood the fear, but it’s extremely
important to not panic when you sight a snake, or for that matter any wild
creature. Some of the watchmen, who have rural roots, nodded. As is ev
WAZA Statement on
Possible Wildlife Exports from DRC to China
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) remains opposed to a controversial
proposal to export gorillas, bonobos, okapis and other endangered wildlife from
the Democratic Republic of Congo to Chinese zoos as global conservation experts
gather this week for the 30th CITES Animals Committee Meeting in Geneva.
WAZA was among 16
signatories to a letter sent to the CITES Secretariat that expressed concern
over a possible agreement between DR Congo's environment minister and a Chinese
company that called for the export of over 60 rare animals.
"WAZA and its
member institutions and associations are committed to conservation," said
Doug Cress, Chief Executive Officer of WAZA. "At no time and in no way
would WAZA support taking these iconic, and in some cases, critically
endangered species from the wild. The excellent captive breeding programmes
that zoos and aquariums have managed for decades make transactions such as this
The DR Congo - China
In an unlikely story
of chance, hard work, shifting local taste and relative international
ignorance, Taiwan, just 180 km away from two of the world’s biggest consumers
of pangolin scales and meat—has what might be the planet’s highest
concentration of the world’s most-trafficked mammal.
Once called a
“cuddly cross between an anteater and an artichoke,” the animals curl into a
ball when threatened. They are considered a delicacy in China and Vietnam,
partly on the theory that blood and body parts are good for virility. They are
also used in traditional medicine to treat asthma, cancer and reproductive
problems, without any particular science to back up the theory. The
environmental website Animaticus estimates that anywhere between 105,410
and210,820 pangolins have been taken from the wild in Asia and Africa since
So how did the animals thrive in Taiwan? I
recently asked Kurtis Jai-Chyi Pei, a professor in the Institute of Wildlife
LIBEREC ZOO MAKES
ASTRONOMICAL BIRD CLOCK TO HELP SAVE ENDANGERED SPECIES
Many songbirds in
Southeast Asia are now on the list of threatened bird species, having been
decimated largely due to incessant capture for trade. Liberec Zoo in the north
of the Czech Republic is coordinating an EAZA (European Association of Zoos and
Aquaria) conservation campaign involving some 200 European zoos which are
striving to save these species from extinction. I spoke to the zoo’s
spokeswoman Barbara Tesařová and began by asking her to explain why so many
songbirds in Southeast Asia are threatened.
aquarium fails 2 animal welfare inspections
The new SeaQuest
Interactive Aquarium in the Littleton area is touted as an “interactive
experience” for kids to learn more about mammals, reptiles, fish and birds.
But complaints of
unsanitary, unsafe conditions at its new Southwest Plaza Mall location prompted
the FOX31 Problem Solvers to go undercover to reveal the behind-the-scenes
SeaQuest is a
petting zoo of sorts which opened only about one month ago.
Act stripped of key provisions in Trump administration proposal
administration unveiled a proposal Thursday that would strip the Endangered
Species Act of key provisions, a move that conservationists say would weaken a
law enacted 45 years ago to keep plant and animal species in decline from going
announced jointly by the Interior and Commerce departments, which are charged
with protecting endangered wildlife, would end the practice of extending
similar protections to species regardless of whether they are listed as
endangered or threatened. If the proposal is approved, likely by year’s end,
protections for threatened plants and animals would be made on a case-by-case
In another rollback
of a key provision, the administration wants the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to strike language that
guides officials to ignore economic impacts when determ
www.zoolex.org in July 2018
~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~
Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!
NEW EXHIBIT PRESENTATION
"Gorilla Rainforest" at the Royal Melbourne Zoological Gardens has been
operating for almost 20 years by now and thereby become a classic. The
planting was worth the major effort as the vegetation has been very lush
The submission of this presentation was started short after opening of
the exhibit and just recently finished. This is an example how we keep
track of submissions and patiently push for sending us missing details
to complete exhibit presentations in the usual quality. We trust that
you will help us finish your pending submissions for ZooLex.
Thanks to Alex Fernandez Santos and Eduardo Díaz García we are able to
offer the Spanish translation of the previously published presentation
of "Congo - Gorilla Island" at Gaiapark Zoo in the Netherlands.
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
How many hippos are
too many? Proposed cull raises questions
The hippo — really?
That’s the common response when tour guides in Africa tantalize travelers with
this question: “What’s the most dangerous animal on the continent?” Lion?
Rhino? Elephant? No, no, no. Eventually, the tour guide delivers the answer
with a twinkle in their eye: the hippo, yes, that water-loving, one-tonne
mammalian oddity. Despite their hefty and somnolent appearance, hippos are fast
and aggressive — a dangerous mix — and may kill several hundred people a year
(of course the most dangerous animal in Africa is not really the hippo at all,
it’s the mosquito — but no one likes a know-it-all).
Despite being one of
the most unusual animals on the planet — their closest relatives are whales and
dolphins — hippos don’t get a lot of love. They tend to be overshadowed by t
POLICE CRACK DOWN ON
ILLEGAL TIGER TRADE
For more than two
years, police and customs officials in the Czech Republic have been gathering
material in an effort to crack down on the illegal trade in rare animal breeds,
including tigers. The organised group gained financial profit through making traditional
Chinese medicine products from the slain animals.
At a press
conference on Wednesday Robert Šlachta from the Customs Directorate uncovered
more details about the case:
“The tiger we
discovered was shot in the eye and in the neck, so that the skin would stay
intact and could be sold on the black market. According to our information, the
cooking of the tiger meat took five to twelve days and all parts of the animal,
including the pelts, teeth or claws, were intended for commercial purposes.”
According to the
website Lidovky.cz, the sites raided by the police included Sapa, a large
Vietnamese market place on the southern outskirts of Prague, and a zoo park in
Doksy in north Bohemia, run by well-known circus owner Ludvík Berousek.
Mr.Berousek, who is
one of the three people arrested in the case, is accused of breeding tigers and
supplying their bodies to a taxidermist, who processed them and made products
for sale on the black market.
Also detained was a
Vietnamese national, who is suspected of organising the criminal activity and
ensuring the sale of these products in the Sapa market and elsewhere.
was carried out i
from textbooks as TCM ingredient
A primary school
science book and a related reference book for teachers will no longer mention
pangolins as being a pharmaceutical component, after a group questioned the
propagation of the belief's impact on animal conservation efforts.
Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation drew attention to
the question in a letter to the book's distributor, and the publisher
subsequently responded with its own letter to the foundation saying the
passages would be removed.
The science book for
the first semester of Grade 6 published by Educational Science Publishing House
mentioned pangolin parts as an effective ingredient in traditional Chinese
medicine, the publishing house noted in its reply to the foundation.
inappropriate to list the species as such because pangolins are under national
protection," it said. "After careful chec
Crocodiles Slaughtered in Retaliation for Attack on a Villager in Indonesia
A mob of angry
villagers has killed hundreds of protected crocodiles in Indonesia’s
far-eastern province of West Papua in what appears to be a retaliatory attack
after a person was killed by one of the reptiles.
Police and officials
say they were unable to stop the massacre and may press charges against
attackers, the BBC reports. Killing a protected species in Indonesia is a crime
punishable by fine or imprisonment.
A local villager was
reportedly killed early Friday while collecting vegetables on the premises of a
crocodile farm’s breeding sanctuary.
“An employee heard
someone screaming for help, quickly went there and saw a crocodile attacking
someone,” said the head of Indonesia’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency in
TIGERS, LION ESCAPE
FROM PRIVATE ZOO ENCLOSURE
Two tigers and a
lion escaped from their enclosure in a private zoo Biopark Štít in the eastern
Bohemian municipality of Klamoš on Monday morning. A police spokesperson said a
special task force, including a helicopter unit, was working to secure the area
until the animals could be sedated. Biopark Štít is a private facility that
breeds breeding animals threatened with extinction.
Tick bite possibly
to blame for pygmy hippo's death at OKC Zoo
The Oklahoma City
Zoo is investigating whether a tick bite led to the death of a pygmy
hippopotamus that only arrived at the zoo last December.
26-year-old pygmy hippo, was found dead in her enclosure on July 4 after more
than a week of intensive treatment and progressively worse health. Health
records obtained by FOX 25 show Francesca began to show weight loss on May 30,
but major health issues did not begin to present themselves until nearly a
Initially the zoo
believed the cause of death
After a 400-Year
Absence, A Rare Ibis Returns to European Skies
With its black body and wide wings, the bird flying
along Austria’s Salzach Valley on a mild summer day looks, at first glance, a
lot like a crow. But when it lands in a nearby meadow, it quickly becomes clear
that this is a very different animal.
iridescent feathers give it an almost magical appearance. Its long, curved beak
enables it to hunt for small animals, and its naked head, with feathers that
point straight into the air, Mohawk-style, make it look like no other bird in
This particular bird
even has a name: Liethe. It is a waldrapp, or northern bald ibis, a species
that is critically endangered in the wild. In former centuries, the species
occurred widely in northern and eastern Africa, Asia Minor, Arabia, and parts
of Europe. The ancient Egyptians revered th
Elephants with a
In the uMkhuze
section of iSimangaliso Wetland Park, part of the Lubombo Transfrontier
Conservation Area, elephants are flourishing. Following the reintroduction of
the species into the game reserve during the 1990s, the numbers rapidly grew to
a healthy 139 strong elephant population today. In a world where more than
30,000 elephants are lost to poaching each year, this is a true management
success story for conservation partner Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, but one
that, unfortunately, now has also started to present its own challenges. This
is because uMkhuze, one of South Africa’s oldest game parks (est. 1912), only
offers a range of 43,000 ha with a finite carrying capacity for these gentle
Only 150 kilometres
to the west of uMkhuze, Ezemvelo’s Ithala Game Reserve struggles with the same
challenge of effectively maintaining their blossoming elephant population
within the reserve’s approximately 30,000 ha protected area.
“There are various
ways in which an overpopulation of elephants can be managed. This includes
culling, contraceptives, as well as translocations. In both uMkhuze and Ithala,
contraceptive plans have already been put into action. This will, however, take
time to sign
This Snail Goes
Through Metamorphosis. Then It Never Has to Eat Again.
In the ocean off the
coast of Antarctica, a snail lives around scorching hydrothermal vents. Its
name is Gigantopelta chessoia. From the outside, it looks like any other
shelled slug. But on the inside, something strange is happening, scientists
report in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, like no metamorphosis ever
observed in any other animal on the planet.
“We’re calling it
crypto-metamorphosis,” said Chong Chen, a deep sea biologist at Japan Agency
for Marine-Earth Science and Technology who uncovered this hidden transition
that is unlike the external body changes most other animals undergo during
Once the snail
reaches a certain body length, its digestive system stops growing. Its teeth,
stomach and intestine make way for an expanding esophageal gland. The organ
gets so big, it takes up most of the snail’s body, and basically becomes a ne
threat that dams pose to primates in Guinea and Indonesia, critics say
A pair of proposed
hydroelectric dams that will encroach on the habitats of critically endangered
primates—in Guinea and Indonesia—are receiving fierce criticism from
conservation groups, who fault what they call inadequate scientific review of
the harmful effects of these big infrastructure projects.
The government of
Guinea was finalizing plans last week for the construction of a 294-megawatt
hydroelectric dam in the country’s Moyen Bafing National Park, which wildlife
experts say could lead to the loss of up to 1500 critically endangered western
chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes verus), a subspecies whose population has fallen
by more than 80% over the past 20 years. Guinea created the national park only
this year as a refuge for an estimated 4000 chimpanzees.
A dam planned for
Sumatra in Indo
Be Black and White
in Your Variation
A couple months ago
I went to Israel with one of my friends. We had to do a workshop for Jerusalem
Zoo where they invited many other keepers from other parks. The outcome was
great 36 people in total from about 7 different parks. As preparation for this symposium
we had to make 8 different presentations. From an introduction about ourselves
to a talk about communication etc. One of the presentations I had to make was
about motivation and reinforcement techniques
I thought im making
a route through the consequences skinner came up with to the motivation
subjects used today that fit in skinners diagrams with a connecting workshop. I
showed my presentation to my friend and he had a couple questions. To mention
that his background isn’t the same as mine so for him looking at such a
presentation might be a learning curve already. Anyway we get to a slide what
says Variation is the key, be black and white in your variation, I could see
question marks in his eyes. He asked me right away “Peter what do you mean?
Isn’t that a bit controversial?” I replied with yes, it is and that’s the goal.
I want to make p
The case for
introducing rhinos to Australia
Rhinos in Australia
might seem like an insane proposition – after all, we’ve had historically bad
luck with introduced species. But on reflection it’s not quite as crazy as it
There are five
species of rhinoceros in the world: two in Africa and three in Asia.
The world of all
five species is being rapidly destroyed and shredded, their savanna and forest
habitats sliced apart by clearings, fences, roads, and other obstructions.
Only Two Known
Mammals Like Spicy Food
Can you eat as many
chili peppers as a Chinese tree shrew? Probably not. A recent study found that
these tree shrews are the only mammal aside from humans known to deliberately
seek out spicy foods.
Researchers in China
found a mutation in the species’ ion channel receptor, TRPV1, that makes it
less sensitive to capsaicin, the “hot” chemical in chili peppers.
This is the channel
that acts as a pain receptor on the tongues and throats of mammals, alerting
the brain when it comes in contact with harmful heat. (Read the history of
spicy peppers in human cuisine.)
But thanks to the
genetic mutation, tre
traders and lion slaughterhouses exposed in damning report
After a document was
leaked in North West, the government this week finally made public its decision
to almost double the lion skeleton export quota to 1,500. By chance, this
coincided with the release of an explosive report, The Extinction Business, about
the lion bone trade by the EMS Foundation and Ban Animal Trading.
South Africa is
already the largest exporter of lion bones to mainly Vietnam, Lao PDR and
Thailand, countries which are at the nexus of the illegal wildlife trade. The
bones are mainly used for fake tiger bone wine, which is a bogus health drink.
In a letter
announcing the quota, the DEA says the decision is based on findings from a
survey (in year one of a three-year scientific research process) by the South
African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). The survey – Interim Report 1:
South African Lion Bone Trade – mentions only the 800 quota. One of the study’s
key researchers seemed startled by the 1,500 claim:
“The wording of that
quota letter … is a bit unclear concerning our involvement. All decisions were
made by the Scientific Authority and DEA and we provided no input on what the
quota should, or should not, be. We correctly excluded ourselves from this proce
The heat is on – and
that's great news for rare Siamese crocodiles
As temperatures soar
to record levels across much of the world, many people are complaining that
it's hot enough to fry an egg outdoors. Thirty-degree heat may be too much for
some, but for others it's just the ticket. Crocodile conservationists in Cambodia
have been assiduously checking their own thermometers for the past few weeks,
to ensure that it's hot enough to hatch an egg indoors – several clutches of
eggs, to be precise. And their devotion as surrogate parents has just reaped
spectacular rewards in the shape of 65 Siamese crocodile hatchlings.
The birth of these
crocodiles – at a captive-breeding facility in Phnom Penh managed by Fauna
& Flora International (FFI) in partnership with the Cambodian Forestry
Administration – is a momentous event for one of the world's rarest reptiles.
Given that the wild population is estimated at a mere 250 mature individuals,
this represents a dramatic increase in numbers, and offers a vital lifeline for
a species that is classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
have disappeared fr
Seven tonnes of
scales from endangered pangolin seized from cargo shipment in Hong Kong bound
for mainland China
More than seven
tonnes of scales believed to have come from endangered pangolins were found
hidden in a shipping container that arrived in Hong Kong from Africa, bound for
mainland China, customs officers said on Friday.
The 7,100kg haul –
the second-biggest seizure of its kind in a decade – had an estimated market
value of HK$3.55 million (US$450,000), according to the Customs and Excise
It was seized on
Friday when officers opened the 40 foot container for inspection at the Tsing
Yi customs cargo examination compound.
Its manifest claimed
it contained more than 880 bags of plastic raw materials.
Four brown bears
will be rescued from life of misery in Japan - and sent to zoo in Doncaster
Four rare bears are
to be rescued from a life of misery in a run-down museum in Japan – and moved
Yorkshire Wildlife Park is at the centre of a project to rehome the four Ussuri
brown bears who live in tiny metal cages all year round – even when it snows in
the depths of winter.
Staff from the UK
zoo will travel across the world to bring them 5,400 miles to their new home.
The park, at
Branton, near Doncaster, was chosen because of its global reputation for animal
welfare and conservation of at-risk species and for its support for rehoming
Ussuri brown bears
are currently classed on
Skeletons in the
Trader of Bones and Nemesis of Big Cats Everywhere.
Well done on your
decision to allow fifteen hundred lion skeletons to be shipped out of the
country over the next twelve months. That’ll teach them. They became
insufferable after finding out that we call them the king of the jungle and
their attitude has only worsened over the years.
You can’t go to the
Kruger Park these days without coming across flocks of lions copulating openly
on the roads. This is a terrible thing for our children to see. And if they’re
not shagging they’re trying to bite a tou
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' (many more before that) 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 people watcher, a lover, a storyteller, 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