Monday, August 6, 2018

Zoo News Digest 6th August 2018 (ZooNews 1003)

Zoo News Digest 6th August 2018  (ZooNews 1003)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

There is more than the usual number of links in this issue but then there was much more of interest. Please skim through them.
You will find only a single mention of a donkey painted as a zebra. This though was the story of the week and there was scarcely a newspaper which didn't cover it. It is ridiculous what appeals to the masses. Not the first time this has been done of course. Last time it was in Gaza and this time in Giza.

I was saddened to see the notification of the passing of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz. One of the greats in the animal world. He will be sorely missed.

I have had a very busy week. Back in May I tendered my 3 months resignation and so my last working day was the 3rd of August. I was given a spectacular send off and a multiple of surprises which really did surprise me. I will truly miss Dubai, my friends and colleagues but most of all the Penguins and my team. It truly has been an interesting and rewarding six years of my life. I really could have stayed forever but a combination of factors made me decide it was time for a move. I will return to my discrete zoo consultancy work and its interesting challenges.

The Zoo News Digest Facebook page was especially busy these past few days. Criticism does not especially bother me if it is thought through and valid as it allows me the think. This time I ended up a little worried by the large number of ill-informed opinions that some of my readers have. I would laugh if I did not despair. There were the usual accusations that I am some sort of Animal Rights mole. I rest knowing that this is so far from the truth to be ridiculous. I have said it before but I will say it again…I believe all animals have the right to caring and correct ethical welfare. 

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

Did you know that advertising your vacancy or product on ZooNews Digest can potentially reach 79,000 + people?

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 78,000 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,

From sharks to chimps to moon bears: tales of a supervet
In 2012, the conservation charity Free the Bears approached Romain Pizzi, one of the most innovative wildlife surgeons in Europe, with an unusual patient. A specialist in laparoscopic (keyhole) surgery – until recently rare in veterinary medicine – Pizzi has operated on giraffes and tarantulas, penguins and baboons, giant tortoises and at least one shark, and maintains a reputation for taking on cases others won’t. If you’re in possession of a tiger with gallstones, or a suspiciously sickly beaver, you call Pizzi. As Matt Hunt, CEO of Free the Bears says, “We have other vets who are incredibly talented. But Romain is one of a kind.”

To Visit Or Not To Visit A Zoo Or Aquarium? The Future Of Wildlife Could Depend On Your Answer
Last week, as a Southern Resident killer whale (SRKW) mother was photographed off the Washington state coast pushing her deceased newborn toward San Juan Island, a heartbreaking glimpse into the plight of this endangered killer whale population in the wild, a British travel company made a ham-fisted announcement that somehow in the name of “animal welfare” it will no longer sell tickets to zoological parks that display killer whales.


Statement on the Life and Legacy of Panthera Founder and Renowned Conservationist, Dr. Alan Rabinowitz
The Board and staff of Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, mourn the loss of our co-founder and one of the world’s most visionary and widely admired wild cat scientists, Dr. Alan Robert Rabinowitz, who died today after a journey with cancer.

Panthera CEO and President, Dr. Fred Launay, stated, “The conservation community has lost a legend. Alan was a fearless and outspoken champion for the conservation of our planet’s iconic wild cats and wild places. As a lifelong voice for the voiceless, he changed the fate of tigers, jaguars and other at-risk species by placing their protection on the agendas of world leaders from Asia to Latin America for the very first time.”

Launay continued, “Inspiring a generation of young scientists, the boldness and passion with which Alan approached conservation was captivating and contagious. While we are devastated by his passing, we are comforted by the fact that his extraordinary legacy of advocacy for the most v


What Does the World Need to Understand About Wildlife Trafficking?
At first glance rhinos, pangolins and jaguars don’t seem to have much in common.

But there are a few things that link them. For one thing, they’re all targets of poachers and smugglers, who traffic in their body parts and threaten the species with extinction.

For another, all three species have benefitted from the hard work of Rhishja Cota, founder of the wildlife advocacy organization Annamiticus (named after the extinct Vietnamese Javan rhino).


Husbandry Training In The Zoo And With Pets
From the start of my career I have been exposed to shows with marine mammals with a lot of excitement. It has been a big part in my life to train animals for “show” behaviors. Lots of fun I have to say and learned so much on the way. From vertical spins with sea lions to ventral bows with killer whales, in my career the focus mostly has been for such high energy behaviors till I started to work with Killer Whales. I started to learn more and more about the importance of medical behaviors for better care of the animals. Over time I trained a deaf killer whale to pee in a cup and tubing with a fur seal.

Leadership Lessons From My Elephant
After spending over 25 years in the corporate world, I thought I had received a pretty good education on leadership. Over the years, I attended leadership classes, read books, listened to lectures and most importantly learned by doing.   If you had told me that some of the best leadership lessons I would learn were from an elephant, I would have laughed out loud. Recently, I took a trip to a place called Elephantstay in Thailand where I bonded with a beautiful elephant called Rasamee, who was about to become one of my greatest teachers!!!! 

Vol 6 No 3 (2018)

More than 100 Gold Coast koalas killed as a result of government policy
Almost half the 260 koalas shifted to make way for a Gold Coast shopping centre between 2008 and 2014, along with half those that remained in the fragmented bushland around Coomera Town Centre, are dead.

This was confirmed in Queensland’s budget estimates hearings on Wednesday, when opposition environment spokesman David Crisafulli questioned Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch about koala deaths in what is described as Queensland’s largest-ever koala translocation project.

Conflict resolution in socially housed Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii)
Peaceful conflict resolution strategies have been identified as effective mechanisms for minimising the potential costs of group life in many gregarious species, especially in primates. The knowledge of conflict-management in orangutans, though, is still extremely limited. Given their semi-solitary lives in the wild, there seems to be barely a need for orangutans to apply conflict management strategies other than avoidance. However, because of the rapid loss of orangutan habitat due to deforestation, opportunities to prevent conflicts by dispersion are shrinking. Additionally, more and more


Broken promises of Buenos Aires Zoo after mysterious deaths of animals
When the mayor of Buenos Aires announced in 2016 that the Argentinian capital’s 140-year-old zoo was to be shut down and redeveloped as an ecopark, animal welfare campaigners heaved a collective sigh of relief.

But after a string of animal fatalities at the former zoo, there is growing consternation among members of the public and activists that nothing has changed.

In the space of a few days, an 18-year-old giraffe called Jackie and a rare white rhinoceros called Ruth have died this month; activists – and the zoo’s former director Claudio Bertonatti – believe both fatalities were caused by staff negligence.

Once one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, the zoo faced public scrutiny in its later years on account of its small, antiquated enclosures, its proximity to a noisy, congested road and well-documented fatalities – including that of Winner the polar bear.

At the time of its closure, Buenos Aires mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta acknowledged that the situation in the zoo was “degrading for the animals”. He announced that the site would graduall


You study the tourism leaflets in the hotel lobby. Tomorrow is the last day of your holiday in Thailand, and you promised to take your kids to see some animals. Two adverts catch your eye. One is for an attraction called “Tiger Territory”, with a glossy picture of a tourist, her arms around a tiger. Beneath are smaller photos of children bottle-feeding cubs with a caption reading: “the perfect combination of tourism and wildlife preservation”. The other leaflet is for “Elephant Valley Park”, which promises visitors a walk with rescued elephants in their reserve, and a chance to watch their natural herd behavior.

You hesitate – something about the tiger attraction makes you uneasy, but while the kids like elephants, you know they’d really love to see a tiger. So, you decide on Tiger Territory. After all, it’s doing conservation. A win-win, right?


How captive breeding can help save endangered species
Since 2012, the Toronto Zoo has functioned as a kind of turtle daycare. That’s when it introduced a new program for the Blanding’s turtle, a species that’s classified as threatened in Ontario.

Turtles born there stay for two years — they’re released when they reach the size of a baked potato. The zoo released its first batch of turtles in 2014: this year it harvested and incubated 130 eggs.

The practice is known as captive breeding, and it can play a key role in preventing species from going extinct.

“Ultimately, why we do it is to get them to grow bigger in a safe, protected environment so that when we release them they're at a bigger size,” says Katherine Wright, coordinator of the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-a-Pond program.

The Ministry of Natural Resources collects eggs from areas where the adult population is doing well but young hatchlings stand little chance of surviving — on the shoulder of a road or in a farmer’s field, for example. The zoo relies on eggs harvested from the Brantford area, which is home to a self-sustaining population.

Every turtle is outfitted with a locator backpack, allowing researchers to track their survival — as the program is still new, it’s difficult to assess its impact.

But there are clear suggestions that captive breeding can make an important difference. In the case of the endangered loggerhead shrike, for instance, it bought researchers valuable time to try to help the species survive. The tiny songbird,

An interactive aquarium is coming to Folsom. Here’s why some residents aren’t happy.
If SeaQuest Folsom, an interactive aquarium, opens as scheduled this November, visitors will be able to explore tide pools, pet bamboo sharks, and feed lorikeets in the Palladio at Broadstone mall.

But some community members say the company’s history of legal troubles, alleged animal safety issues and emphasis on entertainment need more scrutiny before it’s welcomed into the Sacramento area.

Lauryn Goodspeed found out in April that SeaQuest was planning to open a location in Folsom, her childhood home. She said she was initially suspicious of its entertainment-focused mission, but hoped researching the compa


Al Ain Zoo continues Arabian sand cat conservation
The Zoo collaborated with the Cincinnati Zoo in the US and its Centre for Research of Endangered Wildlife, CREW, to facilitate the one-of-a-kind procedure.

CREW scientists began studying the reproductive biology of sand cats in 2003 and, in 2010, the first attempts at in-vitro fertilisation and embryo transfer were made at Al Ain Zoo. This led to the first-ever birth of sand cat kittens produced using assisted reproduction. At the same time, sperm samples from Al Ain Zoo's male sand cats were collected, frozen and taken to CREW's research laboratories in Cincinnati. Since then, scientists at CREW have been attempting to produce sand cats using artificial insemination, which removes the need to extract ova from female sand cats. Using sperm from one of Al Ain Zoo's males, success was finally earned in 2018 when three healthy kittens were born.

Unfortunately, complications during birth meant that they did not survive.

Omar Al-Blooshi, Director of Marketing and Corporate Communications at Al Ain Zoo, said, "Despite their death, the birth of the three cats is considered a great success. Careful research and planning by CREW scientists overcame several challenges with artificial insemination that had previously hindered success. We congratulate CREW and hope for more successful results in the future."

He added, "With the largest captive population of sand cats in the world, with 40 cats, Al Ain Zoo is making continuous efforts in the field of conservation and research of the sand cat. In collaboration with world-leading partners, our efforts have led to strategies for conserving the Arabian sand cat and in developing programmes and plans that protect the species. We carry out research to study the sand cat’s numbers and habitat in addition to carryin

Penchant for the exotic?
A restaurant in Lokhandwala, Mumbai has a large cage bearing two pygmy monkeys. When I sent a member of the State Animal Welfare Board to arrest the owners, we were told by the forest department that there was no law to confiscate foreign monkeys or arrest the owners. These smugglers will continue to display these severely endangered monkeys till I find a way to shut them down.

Last month a ‘pet fair’ took place in Pune, with exotic birds, fish and pedigreed dogs. Though it had no permissions, the police and the forest department took no action because there is no law that protects foreign species in India. The new chairman of the Animal Welfare Boarad had given the permission to hold the ‘exhibition’ as long as they did not sell the animals. (They secretly sold the animals in black.)

In Bangalore three months ago, a house was raided and three ball pythons were found. The forest department refused to register a case and the man then absconded and released the snakes in the o


Straight from the Source: How zoos and aquariums fight to stem mass extinction
 Chuck Knapp oversees Shedd Aquarium's conservation research, with a goal of saving endangered animals and ecosystems. He began volunteering at Shedd at age 18, earned a Ph.D. in wildlife ecology and conservation, helped win expansion of the West Side National Park in the Bahamas, and now oversees research ranging from sustainable fisheries and shark biodiversity in the Bahamas to migratory and invasive species in the Great Lakes region.

Al Areen ‘protects animals rescued from smugglers’
WILD animals under protection at Bahrain’s most popular nature reserve have been rescued from smugglers and not been bought to be showcased at the facility, according to an official.

Some of the animals, which activists say are alien to the desert habitat, have been confiscated from wildlife traffickers, said Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve mammals section head Isa Al Awadhi.

The facility, spread over an area of seven square kilometres in Sakhir, is home to lions, chimpanzees, cheetahs, jaguars and hyenas where they are being protected and well looked after, he added.


Brown bears cruelly kept in captivity for 17 years in Japan now safe in UK park
His 17 years in captivity were spent in a cruelly cramped cage measuring two by three metres.

Riku the bear had been kept at a museum in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s islands, as a tourist attraction.

But after making a 5,400-mile journey this week, he finally tasted freedom as he bounded out of a freight carton and into a new life at Yorkshire Wildlife Park.

Within minutes, he was slurping strawberry yoghurt from a syringe and was later joined by his brother Kai in an adjoining bear house. In a heartwarming moment, the pair vocalised to each other through a metal grid.

And those precious “chuffing” noises ­signalled success for

My Team and I on my last day + Some of the Penguins.


Lemur extinction: Vast majority of species under threat
Almost every species of lemur, wide-eyed primates unique to Madagascar, is under threat of extinction.

That is the conclusion of an international group of conservationists, who carried out an assessment of the animals' status.

This "Primate Specialist Group" reviewed and compared the latest research into lemur populations and the threats to their habitat and survival.

Lemurs, they concluded, are the most endangered primates in the world.

Animal conservation is big in the UAE, here’s why
As the story goes, it was on a tour of Al Ain’s early development projects decades ago that Sheikh Zayed laid the groundwork for conservation in the UAE.

Glancing over the plans for a new road, he noticed that there was a problem. It was an old tree, and growing in the middle of the proposed new route, it was soon to become a casualty. However, rather than allowing the tree to be chopped down, Sheikh Zayed demanded that the road be rerouted.

In today’s world of environmental crisis with our continual crimes against nature, the founding father’s gesture might not seem that big. But it was nonetheless significant for the then-collection of desert states on the cusp of nationhood.

It planted the seed of a nationwide ideology for conservation that defined not only Sheikh Zayed’s rule, but also the decades that followed.

Arongkron “Paul” Malasukum, 42, a resident of Woodside, New York, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Amos L. Mazzant, III, in Sherman, Texas, to nine months in prison to be followed by one year of supervised release for illegally trafficking parts from endangered African lions and tigers.

Malasukum previously pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly C. Priest Johnson to a one count information charging him with wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act.   

In papers filed in federal court, Malasukum admitted to meeting with undercover agents who were working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and purchasing a tiger skull from the agents. Malasukum also admitted to purchasing lion skulls from an auction house in Texas through the undercover agents, who were acting as “straw buyers” for Malasukum. Malasukum provided the undercover agents with cash and directed them on which items to bid and ultimately win. After the purchases, Malasukum shipped the tiger and lion skulls from Texas to his home in Woodside, New York. From New York, Malasukum shipped the skulls to Thailand for sale to a wholesale buyer.

As part of his plea, Malasukum admitted that between April 9, 2015 and June 29, 2016, he purchased and exported from the United States to Thailand approximately 68 packages containing skulls, claws, and parts from endangered and protected species, with a total fair market value in excess of $150,000.

The sentence was announced by Acting Assistant Attorney


Ecologists left hopping mad after Hong Kong politician calls for tadpole cull because ‘frogs are too noisy’
A Hong Kong politician has spawned a furore by calling for tadpoles in a public housing estate pond to be exterminated before they become “noisy frogs”.

Ecologists were quick to point out Yuen Long district councillor Ma Shuk-yin was jumping to the wrong conclusion in calling for a cull on the Tin Yiu Estate – as this could result in an increase in mosquitoes.

“Tadpoles compete with mosquito larvae for algae, so by removing them you’re likely to see an increase in the number of mosquitoes,” says Sung Yik-hei, an assistant research professor at the School of Biological Sciences with the University of Hong Kong.

Council approves funding to keep Jackson Zoo alive; director asked to leave
The Jackson City Council approved $200,000 in immediate funding Thursday to cover the Jackson Zoo's "depleted" budget.

The funding will cover basic expenses such as payroll and animal care for the months of August and September, until the next fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

"The zoo's budget has been depleted. There's nothing left," Chief Administrative Officer Robert Blaine said at a Thursday special meeting.

The money comes out of this year's budget and is on top of the $980,000 the city allocated for the zoo at the beginning of the year.

Blaine said the zoo management "has created a practice of borrowing from debt coverage" to make payroll and repaying th


Keeper questioned over fake zebra in Egypt
A zoo keeper in Egypt is to be questioned by a prosecutor after he allegedly painted a donkey to look like a zebra.
Egyptian authorities have referred a zoo keeper in Cairo to a public prosecutor for interrogation over allegedly painting stripes on a donkey to make it look like a zebra, an official says.

Late last month, a visitor to the government-owned International Garden municipal park in the eastern Cairo district of Nasr City posted a picture on Facebook, showing a donkey with smudges on its face.

The animal also had long, pointed ears - unlike those of a zebra.

The picture soon caused a massive stir on social media, drawing an initial denial from authorities.

However, Mohammed Sultan, the head of Specialised Parks in Cairo, on Thursday accused the zoo keeper of having painte


Scaring Animals Can Help Save Them
The kangaroo rat is a wildlife manager’s nightmare. It is a crucial species in southern California—aerating soils and dispersing native plant seeds. And the adorable, bouncing mouse is popular with the public. But it also has the same taste in real estate as powerful developers, many of its subspecies are endangered and the animals are nearly impossible to relocate. As with many declining critters across the world, there is pressure to save them but not many strategies to use.

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s experts tried four times to relocate populations of kangaroo rats without success. In one effort researchers moved about 600 animals to a lake area in the arid scrubland between Los Angeles and San Diego. Within a year they were all dead. The habitat seemed right—deep, well-drai

SeaQuest Awash in Complaints From Colorado Officials, Visitors
Despite failing two inspections and receiving a cease-and-desist order from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the new SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium is still open in Littleton. According to Christi Lightcap, the department’s director of communications, SeaQuest had been operating without a license mandated by Colorado's Pet Animal Care Facility Act since it opened on June 2. When SeaQuest could not pass a licensing inspection, the department ordered it to remove many of its birds.

On May 9, SeaQuest had filed an application with the CDA for a PACFA license that would allow it to house more than thirty birds, and also requested an exemption so that it could operat

When Redirection Becomes One of the Better Choices
Over time we all develop our own training style. Seeing other trainers is enriching for me just because you can learn so much about how and why people train their animals a particular way. Nobody is perfect and especially in the training world, many topics progress and chance all the time. Im nonstop thinking especially about the training style I have developed over the years.

Cheetahs sell for tens of thousands on 'gold mine' social media accounts across Middle East
Cheetahs are portrayed on social media as the perfect pet or status symbol. Some are filmed playing on the couch, others on expensive yachts – but all too many are available to buy.

Two years on since member governments of the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora agreed on measures to halt cheetah trafficking in the GCC, little has changed.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature categorises the cheetah as a “vulnerable” animal, just one step below “endangered”, in its red list of threatened species.

There are estimated to be fewer than 7,000 cheetahs in existence in the wild across the globe. Since 2016, 34 cheetahs have been offered for sale in the UAE on Instagram.

The most recent advertisement reported b


Motion to Agriculture minister over Zoo problems
Parliamentarian Magdi Malek submitted a motion Wednesday to the Parliament’s Speaker Ali Abdel Aal to question the Minister of Agriculture over withdrawing the Giza Zoo from the International Federation Classification.

“The zoo has been a landmark for all Egyptians of the past 50 years, but due to the extreme negligence of officials and those responsible, it has become unsustainable,” Malek said.

Malek also told Egypt Today that the government should call the officials responsible for the zoo to identify the problems to resolve in order for the zoo to regain its position in this classification and to keep it from collapsing.

A few days ago, Egyptian student Mahmoud Sarhan, 18, was visiting the zoo and took photos of the odd-looking zebra and shared them on Facebook, rendering them viral.

In a clear photo of the animal, it app


‘Wolf’ kills five deer in Marghazar Zoo’s F-8 enclosure
A wild animal killed five deer and injured one in an enclosure looked after by the Margazhar Zoo because of negligence on the part of zoo staff.

Sources said an animal, likely to be a jackal or a wolf, attacked the deer in an exclusive deer enclosure on a greenbelt between Faisal Avenue and a service road.

The enclosure is part of the Marghazar Zoo and houses more than 30 deer. Its affairs are supposed to be run by the zoo director and staff.

Zhengzhou zookeepers teach star elephant overcome disability
Undeterred by the scorching morning heat late last month, an eager crowd encircled the leafy elephant enclosure at Zhengzhou Zoo, in the capital of Henan province, craning their necks and hoping to snap photos.

The lone star of the scene was an aging Asian bull elephant named Babu. The average life span of elephants is about 50 to 70 years, and Babu, age 40 and weighing 4 metric tons, was about to eat brunch.

Unlike other Asian elephants who are able to put fo

Man's Horncastle zoo bid under threat from developer
A man's bid to turn his private collection of wild animals, including lions and a tiger, into a zoo is under threat.

Andrew Riddel has amassed 235 animals on land near his home in Lincolnshire and wants to expand their enclosures.

His site borders land owned by Allison Homes, which plans to build 80 homes there.

Mr Riddel dismissed the de

'Code Red' called at Kansas City Zoo after rhino partially escapes
Kansas City Zoo officials have given the all-clear after a rhino partially escaped its enclosure Monday morning.

A zoo spokesperson told 41 Action News zookeepers called a “code red” around 10:20 a.m. They were working in a behind-the-scenes part of the rhino building when one of the animals gained access to a zookeeper area.

Imara, a female rhino, was able to walk out of her stall and into the hallway because a padlock was not secured.

The zoo, out of an abundance of cauti

There Might Be Shark In Your Sunscreen
Millions of rare, deep-sea sharks are killed each year to support a multimillion-dollar industry—but which one might surprise you.

In remote regions around the world, fishermen pull sharks out of the deep and harvest their livers. Shark livers contain an oil, known as squalene, that’s widespread in sunscreen, lipstick, foundation, lotion, and many other cosmetics.

Count Behaviours For the Ultimate Learning Experience
As animal trainers we have to think about so many subjects during our training sessions. I remember this from when I started that its not just “good behaviour, just reinforce” there is so much more to it. After 7 years of my career I learned a strong and valuable lesson about training animals. It was in my killer whale time where they explained me this and why it was so important. Working with dangerous animals in semi protective contact is a very different ball game. You have to think not only about when the animals behave well but also where you are, what your exits are and who your spotter is. Lots to think about but this is not all…

Motivation is one the topic I’m very interested in. How can we have an effect on the motivation of the animals? We can change reinforcement and understand premack principle but there is so much more to just an apple or banana. I’ve learned that with counting the behaviors you ask that your success rate and the motivation level of your animal can change drastically.

Most likely when you start your session you have planned what you would like to do, what your behavioral goal is and what your reinforcement will be reaching your goal. In the session itself many things can happen and it’s sometimes hard to figure out why they do but what can help you is to count the behaviors that have a correct response and behaviors that have an incorrect response. The reason is si

Study: The Lorax Was a Forest Creature, Not an Eco-Cop
Ever since The Lorax, by Dr. Seuss (the pen name of Theodor Geisel, Class of 1925), was first published in August of 1971, it has captured the minds of countless young readers. It’s been translated into 15 languages, and by 2010, more than 1.6 million copies were sold. The spunky, furry orange creature called the Lorax, who “speaks for the trees,” is famous for his environmental ethics, as he demands that the Once-ler stop cutting down the Truffula trees to make yarn for the Thneeds.

In the book, as the landscape becomes dotted with Truffula tree stumps, the Lorax explains:

“NOW … thanks to your hacking my trees to the ground,

there’s not enough Truffula Fruit to go ’round…”

But what exactly did the Lorax mean by “my”? Did he consider himself the owner of the forest, as some critics have claimed

In conversation with… Jane Goodall
As Jane Goodall turns 80, Henry Nicholls talks to her about her remarkable career studying chimpanzee behaviour, her animal welfare activism, and accusations of plagiarism in her latest book.
In February 1935, the year of King George V’s silver jubilee, a chimpanzee at London Zoo called Boo-Boo gave birth to a baby daughter. A couple of months later, a little blonde-haired girl was given a soft-toy replica of the zoo’s new arrival to mark her first birthday. This was Jane Goodall’s first recorded encounter with a chimp.

Goodall turns 80 this week. In the intervening years, her research on a community of chimpanzees in Tanzania revolutionised our understanding of these primates, our closest living relatives, and challenged deepset ideas of what it means to be human. She then packed in her fieldwork to become an activist, campaigning tirelessly for a more enlightened attitude towards animals and the environment. Along the way she has received nearly 50 honorary degrees, and became a UN Messenger of Peace in 2002 and Dame Jane in 2004.

Though I have only crossed Lo

18th pygmy elephant killed in northern Borneo in four months
pygmy elephant was shot dead in Malaysia after it destroyed villagers' crops, making it the third dead elephant to be found in the last eight days in the northern Borneo territory.

The male elephant, believed to be about 4 years old, was found Monday by the side of a road in the state of Sabah, on the Malaysian part of Borneo, local wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga told AFP.

He said the "merciless" killing was carried out near a remote settlement, and authorities were investigating who was responsible.

"(The elephant) was killed out of revenge for destroying crops," he said, adding the crops included palm oil trees.

He said the creature's tusks remained intact, indicating the elephant was not killed by poachers seeking to sell its ivory on the black market.

Wildlife official Siti Nur'Ain Ampuan Acheh said in a statement: "From the position of the injury

Declining revenue to blame for across-the-board pay cuts at Jackson Zoo
The board overseeing the Jackson Zoo, in a fight for its survival, has approved pay cuts to its entire staff, Jackson Zoological Society Executive Director Beth Poff said.

The board slashed the pay of its hourly and salaried staff at meeting last week as revenue continues to drop and questions over the future of the zoo remain in limbo.

The cuts for hourly employees, whose pay ranges from $7 to $15 an hour, will now drop to about $8 an hour. Salaried employees will see their monthly paycheck drop by half.

"This will affect everyone. Hourly and salaried employees. We're in a dire situation," Poff said.

Poff said the zoo is already operating on a "depleted" staff of 32 employees and would need closer to 45 employees to fully staff the zoo's needs. 

Hourly zoo employees begrudgingly accepted th

Black Vulture from Riga Zoo Travels to Bulgaria for Release into Wild
A young black vulture born and bred at Riga Zoo has been sent this week to Bulgaria where it will be released into the wild as part of a reintroduction program, the zoo informed on Wednesday.

Riga Zoo, which prides itself on successfully breeding black vultures since 2014, is contributing two young birds that hatched this spring to the European Endangered Species Program for the black vulture.

Representatives of Riga Zoo said that the first nestling was flown by plane to Bulgaria on July 24, to prepare for its first independent flight over Balkan mountaintops. The other bird is scheduled to travel from Riga to Bulgaria in August.

On the same day, two other birds of this species, which has gone extinct as a nestling species in Bulgaria, were sent by Zoo Ostrava (Czech Republic).

The vulture from Latvia was named Riga after the zoo.

Upon their arrival in Bulgaria, the birds from Latvia and the Czech Republic were equipped with GPS tracking devices and taken to

Zoo staff praised for their bravery after helping firefighters tackle wildfire
Staff at Drusilla's Zoo near Alfriston in East Sussex are being praised for their bravery after helping firefighters tackle a major wildfire.

More than 1,500 visitors had to be evacuated from the site after the blaze broke out at Berwick Court Farm on Wednesday.

Relief for baboon left chained and caged in a zoo
ANIMAL welfare activists have come to the rescue of a baboon shown in an online video chained and pacing restlessly in a cage in a Bahrain zoo.

Animal Wealth Directorate officials and members of the Bahrain Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA) visited Tasneem Zoo in Shakura on Wednesday after the video went viral on social media.

“Along with the responsible government officials we visited the zoo after reading reports of the baboon in chains,” BSPCA president Mahmood Faraj told the GDN.

“The owner was very understanding and agreed to sort out the issue within two weeks.

“The BSPCA suggested that the animal (baboon) be unchained and given a larger cage where it can move freely.”

The video was part of an online petition launched on by visiting Harvard University scholar Colleen Hegarty demanding an improvement in conditions at Bahrain’s zoos, including Al Areen Wildlife Park and Reserve and Arman Zoo in Jasra.

Ms Hegarty is in Bahrain on a grant to study animal rights here, as part of her Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies.

Her petition, ‘Stop Ani


Relief for baboon left chained and caged in a zoo


Cheetah cub petting is simply a selfie opportunity
 At least 600 cheetahs are kept in captivity in South African tourism facilities, offering interactions and cub petting in the name of conservation and education. Do these facilities truly promote the survival of free-ranging cheetahs or is this just an easy revenue stream?

One or two of the about 80 captive cheetah facilities make genuine efforts to conserve the wild cheetah population by attempting reintroduction programmes. Others support breeding programmes of Anatolian shepherd dogs, that are used to address human-wildlife conflict with
predators like cheetah and leopard.

Cheetah Outreach in Somerset West fits in the latter category and have been supporting Anatolian shepherd dog projects for many years. As such, they have gained respect within the tourism industry. It was therefore even more shocking to find not only 12 adult cheetahs, but also two five months old cheetah cubs, and several serval, caracal, black-backed jackal, bat-eared foxes and meerkats at their facility.

Most of these ambassador species are available for petting and of course for the compulsory photo opportunity. Some of the adult cheetahs can even be hired for special off-site functions, such as corporate events, fashion shoots, and even weddings.


Lynx death zoo animal ban reversed by Ceredigion council
A zoo which saw two of its lynx die within days of each other has been allowed to keep dangerous animals again.

Borth Wild Animal Kingdom in Ceredigion had been banned from keeping certain animals including wild cats after the deaths in October.

But after an inspection of the zoo, Ceredigion council said it had decided to reverse the ban on the condition that a qualified and experienced keeper was employed.

The zoo has been asked to comment.

The ban was enforced after a Eurasian lynx called Lilleth was shot dead by a marksman days after its escape from the animal kingdom.

A second lynx, Nilly, later died following a "ha

Unisexual salamander evolution: A long, strange trip
The reproductive history of the unisexual, ladies-only salamander species is full of evolutionary surprises.
In a new study, a team of researchers at The Ohio State University traced the animals' genetic history back 3.4 million years and found some head-scratching details—primarily that they seem to have gone for millions of years without any DNA contributions from male salamanders and still have managed to persist. The research appears in the journal Evolution.

First, a bit about the unisexual Ambystoma salamander: They're female, and they reproduce mainly through cloning and the occasional theft of another salamander species' sperm, which the males of sexual species deposit on leaves and twigs and the like. When this happens, it stimulates egg production and the borrowed species' genetic information is sometimes incorporated into the genome of the unisexual salamanders, a process called kleptogenesis.

Scientists who study these amphibians and their relatives, which are also called mole salamanders, have theorized that the theft of sperm is part of what has kept th

If you’re applauding Thomas Cook for dropping SeaWorld and Loro Parque, you haven’t seen the other side of the two headed dragon
Loro Parque from its ticket and package sales services.

And if you’re a touchy, feely, save the animals type, you must be giddy with joy that Thomas Cook recognizes what you know to be the pain and suffering of captive animals.

Which could only mean one thing….

….You don’t know Thomas Cook.

You see, Thomas Cook is 12% (up from an initial 5%) own


Exclusive: Illegal Tiger Trade Fed by ‘Tiger Farms,’ New Evidence Reveals
IN THE LIVING room of a house at the end of a narrow country road in central Vietnam, a little way off the main highway, the skeleton of a tiger was laid out on the floor—the only complete one they had for sale, the man told the pair of visitors.

It was an attractive offer for someone looking to make tiger bone wine, a coveted brew made from bones soaked in rice wine, but what the visitors were interested in were the live tigers.

After some discussion, they were taken to a nearby house. Whoever owned the it clearly had some money. It was nicely painted, with a large cement front yard, plenty of trees, and several expensive SUVs out front. It was guarded by a high steel fence.

AZA, Conservation NGOs Call for Closure of “Tiger Farms”
In observance of Global Tiger Day on July 29, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) are reiterating a joint commitment to ending tiger farms that threaten the future of these endangered cats. The organizations today released a joint statement urging countries with tiger farms to immediately ban all trade in tiger parts, end tiger breeding for commercial purposes and phase out tiger farms.

An Asian elephant, Babu, struggles to eat in China
Undeterred by the scorching heat, an eager crowd outside the guardrail encircling the leafy elephant enclosure cranes their necks, hoping to snap photos at the Zhengzhou Zoo in China's Henan province. The lone occupant is a 40-year-old male Asian elephant, Babu.

Weighing four tonnes, Babu is about to eat brunch. Unlike other elephants who are able to put food in their mouth by merely wielding their trunk, Babu has to begin by bending both its forelegs slightly forward, placing food between its bizarrely short trunk and right foreleg, and then slowly lifting the food up high by gently curling its trunk before putting the food into his mouth, reports Xinhua news agency.

"A part of the elephant's trunk is missing!" exclaimed a kid.

After living in Zhengzhou for 30 years, Babu has become a superstar.

Babu injured his trunk, 22 years ago, when he was trying to impress his female neighbour by fiddling with the iron fence. The accident resulted in more than 40 centimetres of his trunk being


Watch How a Glucose Monitor is Helping a Diabetic Koala
Wearable technology is not just for humans. Quincy, a diabetic koala at the San Diego Zoo, is sporting Dexcom’s new G6 continuous glucose monitor (CGM). To make his life more bearable and to avoid multiple daily skin pricks to test his blood glucose levels, the CGM’s sensor and transmitter applied to Quincy send such data in real time to a smart device monitored by his caretakers.

The G6 continuously measures glucose and can take measurements up to 288 times a day and can sense trends, either up and down and how fast, and transmit customizable alarms and alerts.

Zoo staff hope the new sensor will allow them to get more detail about the in


Home Shark Tanks Are In. Just One Problem: Sharks Make Terrible Pets
After buying a palatial home outside Los Angeles, Elise Ingram and her husband debated what to do with a “very 70s” built-in circular seating area in the living room. They considered turning it into a wine cellar.

Instead, they opted to fill it with sharks.

The couple installed a 500-gallon aquarium, where they put a leopard shark and a houndshark, both about two feet long, three sting rays and a few yellow tangs.

It didn’t go swimmingly. The houndshark immediately began “frantically trying to get out of the tank,” Ms. Ingram said. She called the aquarium company to remove it. “He was messing with the vibe of the tank.”

One of the other fish in the tank fared even worse. It was chomped during a shark feeding frenzy and left “twitching in the corner.”

For some reason, sharks have become a new must-have accessory for luxury homes.

Real-estate developers and high-en


Captive tiger breeding breeds suffering. Thailand must enforce a ban
Tigers worldwide, and particularly in Thailand, are being bred to fuel the cruel wildlife tourism and traditional medicine industries.

At wildlife tourist attractions in Thailand, tigers are often used as photo props for tourist selfies.

Tigers are also suffering on a staggering scale to meet the demand for traditional medicine. There are long-standing beliefs that tiger body parts can cure everything from cancer to virility issues, when the reality is that scientifically-proven, cruelty-free alternatives are readily available.

The two trades are connected, with ongoing investigations suggesting that many tigers in tourism end up being killed for use in traditional medicine.

We’re urging Thai authorities to enforce a ban on captive breeding by 2020. Without captive breeding


WAZA Statement on Recent Thomas Cook Decision
WAZA statement regarding Thomas Cook's decision to ban trips to Loro Parque and SeaWorld

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) believes the Thomas Cook travel agency failed to consider the significant global conservation impact of SeaWorld and Loro Parque, as well as their continued dedication to high levels of welfare for animals in their care, when it announced this week that it would no longer include the marine parks in its travel packages.

Thomas Cook officials said in a statement that the company will no longer include institutions that keep orcas in captivity in their tours.

SeaWorld, based in the United States, has rescued over 31,000 animals in the past five decades through its SeaWorld Cares programme, including pilot whales, dolphins and manatees, among others. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund has also provided more than $14 million to animal and habitat conservation projects around the world.

Spain-based Loro Parque, meanwhile, recently launched a €2 million, four-year programme in collaboration with the government of the Canary Islands to study the effects of climate change in the sea, focusing on species such as algae, angel sharks and sea turtles. Loro Parque ha


WATCH: Surveillance video shows trio stealing shark by disguising it as a baby
Leon Valley police say a well-trained trio took Shark Week too far, stealing a horn shark from the San Antonio Aquarium Saturday afternoon.

According to Leon Valley police Chief Joseph Salvaggio, the group stole the shark from an open pool where visitors are allowed to reach in and pet the various species in the tank. Two men and a woman are wanted in connection with the theft.

Shark Returned

Accused shark thief: I was trying to save the shark
Over the weekend, Anthony Shannon was caught on surveillance camera grabbing "Miss Helen," a 16-inch-long horn shark, from the San Antonio Aquarium and taking off with her in a baby stroller. He spoke with CBS San Antonio affiliate KENS-TV about the incident.

"After everything happened, I told [the police] everything," the 38 year old said. "I was honest with them straight."

"I actually took a shark, which was wrong, but it needed help," he said.

Shannon was one of three people who took off with the animal. Leon Valley police say Shannon eventually confessed and was charged with felony theft.

"It was wrong to just take him like that. But, at that p

Study Find First Evidence That Leopard Geckos Can Make New Brain Cells
University of Guelph researchers have discovered the type of stem cell allowing geckos to create new brain cells, providing evidence that the lizards may also be able to regenerate parts of the brain after injury.

This finding could help in replacing human brain cells lost or damaged due to injury, aging or disease.

“The brain is a complex organ and there are so few good treatments for brain injury, so this is a very exciting area of research,” said Prof. Matthew Vickaryous in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the Ontario Veterinary College (OVC).

“The findings indicate that gecko brains are constantly renewing brain cells, something that humans are notoriously bad at doing,” he said.

Published in Scientific Reports, this study is the first

An Animal Welfare Risk Assessment Process for Zoos
To retain social license to operate, achieving and maintaining high standards of animal welfare need to be institutional priorities for zoos. In order to be confident in the delivery of high standards of animal welfare, a holistic evidence-based approach to welfare assessment is required. This should include a combination of institutional-level assessments, individual animal monitoring tools, and applied research targeted at advancing our understanding of species needs and preferences in zoos. Progress has certainly been made in the zoo sector in development of research programs and individual animal welfare monitoring tools. Comparatively less focus has been applied to institutional-level assessment processes. This paper aims to fill this gap and presents an outline of a welfare risk assessment process developed and trialed at three zoos over a three year period and discussion of the potential value it offers, as well as the limitations of its use.


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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' (many more before that) 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 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"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | | Skype: peter.dickinson48

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