Thursday, April 18, 2019

Zoo News Digest 18th April 2019 (ZooNews 1018)

Zoo News Digest 18th April 2019  (ZooNews 1018)

(Sorry. I don't know the photo source)

Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

I have always had a strong affection for old buildings. If historic I feel I know them for I will have visited them in books or movies if not in the flesh. They are like the tallest biggest trees in the forest and demand a sort of reverence regardless of what they represent. I have visited Notre Dame four times and I have an emotional attachment to it entwined with private personal memories and so I was both saddened and shocked to watch it burn on TV.
At the same time I am horrified at what is happening to our planet on a daily basis. A 'new' Notre Dame will be there, standing looking beautiful long after my ashes have grown cold. What of the rest of our world? Forests felled, Species gone forever, forever, forever!

I am not against hunting. It has its place. I have hunted for food, for pest control and for culling. I was satisfied by a good clean quick kill. I see more often the need to cull out certain animals or even entire families for the benefit of the environment and other species. I also see nothing wrong in someone paying to cull an animal that would be killed anyway out of necessity. If that money truly goes back into conservation then it has to be a good thing. There is so little true wild anymore it has to be managed. I can foresee the necessity to cull tigers in some Indian forests in the not too distant future. It is already overdue for leopards in some.
My problem is when animals are killed for pleasure. Canned hunters are in serious need of psychiatric assessment. There is something wrong with them. Which is where I am against the import of hunting trophies. By all means let hunters get their jollies and contribute to conservation (which canned hunting doesn't) but allowing them to take bits of animals back home so they can get their rocks off again and again makes the bile rise in my stomach.

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

Lots of interest follows


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 109,500+ Followers on Facebook( and over 109,700 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 900 Zoos in 155+ 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,

The cheap and shady business of taking selfies with tigers
Tinder realized it had a tiger problem in the summer of 2017. Too many of its users were featuring photos of themselves crouched next to big cats like tigers and lions, animals that, had a random Tinder user approached them under normal circumstances, would probably try to eat them.

That is what tigers and lions do when they are living in the wild and going about their business. But the tigers “posing” with Tinder users weren’t roaming free; their handlers at zoos and entertainment venues had made them available for pics through sedation or other harmful practices. Over the course of the 2010s, taking a selfie cuddling a tiger became easier and cheaper than ever.

Pertinax is one of the elder statesmen of Paignton Zoo in Devon. The 37-year-old Western lowland gorilla has long been dogged by constipation; animal experts decided on this move after oranges and even a course of tinned prunes failed to bring relief.

There are some good scientific names for the technique: microbiome restorative therapy; faecal transplant; transfaunation. It’s used on humans, on farm animals and is even being used to help save endangered species. Call it what you will, it’s still not something you want to dwell on at mealtimes…

Pertinax weighs-in at a healthy 200 kilos, achieved on a vegetable diet. The old boy is effectively retired and living separately from the Zoo’s three boisterous youngsters, Kiondo, Kivu and N’Dowe. One of his keepers, Gemma, says: “He’s always had a problem with constipation. He eats the same diet as the others and lives in the same environment, but they poo normally and he doesn’t.”

An Enduring Conservation Legacy: The San Diego Zoo Panda Team
Successful and enduring conservation inherently demands that a cross-disciplinary team approach be implemented. So, when I look back at the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Conservation Program, I can say without hesitation that when—more than 25 years ago—San Diego Zoo CEO Doug Myers and, former giant panda program head, Don Lindburg forged a team-centric strategy for our efforts, they set us up for success. Through the persistent efforts of scientists, animal care, and public outreach specialists, the San Diego Zoo Giant Panda Team dedicated itself to improving the plight of giant pandas through the application of scientific findings to panda management, and engaging the public in the plight of this once-endangered conservation icon.

Developing a Metric of Usable Space for Zoo Exhibits
The size of animal exhibits has important effects on their lives and welfare. However, most references to exhibit size only consider floor space and height dimensions, without considering the space afforded by usable features within the exhibit. In this paper, we develop two possible methods for measuring the usable space of zoo exhibits and apply these to a sample exhibit. Having a metric for usable space in place will provide a better reflection of the quality of different exhibits, and enhance comparisons between exhibits.

Connecting spots, connecting cultures through Persian leopard conservation in Turkmenistan
The Ustyurt Nature Reserve is a spectacular place. The Ustyurt plateau was once the bottom of the Tethys ocean. As you walk on it you come across relics that are as far as 100 million years old: shell traces in the limestone, and ferromanganese nodules of different size. And shark teeth. The terrain broken by chalk deposits in the form of rocks and random cracks looks like Mars. Steep cliffs called chinks tower over the plains, used by goitered gazelles. Its muddy and salty portions, called salanchak, are the gazelles’ refuge from wolves, as their heavy paws sink into them, giving a breather to these lanky ungulates who can then safely escape. The chinks have dee

How birders helped pinpoint hotspots for migratory bird conservation
Many bird populations are crashing, largely because they migrate such long distances and are at risk from human influence at every link in their migratory chain.

One favourite, the tiny Canada warbler, is among those that find themselves in trouble. Although this bird weighs only as much as a AAA battery, each spring it flies more than 5,500 kilometres from its winter home in South America to breed in Canada, stopping in Mexico, Texas and Michigan along the way. The Canada warbler makes this incredible journey as many as eight times over the course of its life.

No sightings of Sumatran rhinos in key areas of Sabah, extinction likely
No Sumatran rhinoceros have been detected in Sabah by the latest surveys, indicating that the species may have become extinct.

However, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew expressed optimism that these habitats remained suitable for this species during the question-and-answer session in the state assembly sitting on Wednesday (April 17).

"My ministry, through the Wildlife Department, has in the past collaborated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Borneo Rhino Alliance and WWF Malaysia to conduct rhino population surveys at the forest reserves of Ulu Segama and Ulu Malua as well as Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and identified as the key areas for this species.

Ethical considerations on Parrots in presentations and current recommendations by the EAZA Parrot Taxon Advisory Group

Arrival of Belugas Postponed
The arrival of two beluga whales from Shanghai, scheduled for Keflavík International Airport tomorrow, has been postponed, Morgunblaðið reports. The reason: inclement weather in Iceland this week and the fact that Landeyjahöfn harbor, from where the whales were supposed to sail to Vestmannaeyjar islands, is yet to open for the season.

Merlin Entertainments and the charity Sea Life Trust, organizers of the project, do not believe the belugas would survive the three-hour ferry ride from Þorlákshöfn harbor to Vestmannaeyjar islands. The ferry ride from Landeyjahöfn harbor, located about 80 km (50 mi) farther east and open only part of the year, takes only half an hour.

Competing conservation ideologies: Troubled times for reporting on Namibian wildlife
Two competing ideological narratives have emerged in African wildlife conservation. The one is based on so-called ‘compassionate conservation’, aligned with the mostly Western animal rights movement, the other based on the human rights of the owners of the wildlife, the local people who live with wild animals. In Namibia, wildlife is thriving under the second narrative, which endorses consumptive use of wildlife.

It's science: Viewing zoo animals reduces your stress levels
Imagine a beautiful day checking out the animals at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, feeling a bit calmer and happier. There's actually some science to that.

The results of a recent wellness study conducted by the Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan State University researchers found that viewing animals reduces stress levels.

According to a news release, study participants were hooked up to electrodes in a lab, given a verbal math test and then asked to deliver a speech off-the-cuff.

Then the participants were separated into three groups and showed a video of either a plain white screen, Detroit traffic or animals at the Detroit Zoo.

MSU scientists measured stress indicators, like heart rate, skin conductance, and facial reaction. The results showed that stress levels were lowest in the group who were shown animals.

Stop feeding the animals, says zoo
Shanghai Zoo is urging visitors to stop feeding the animals, saying that swans, wild geese, bears and tortoises are suffering health problems as a result.

The number of visitor has been rising this spring, along with an increase in the number of animals with intestinal obstruction and digestion problems, the zoo said.

The zoo is taking measures including enhanced patrols, more signs and more leaflets. It is also organizing activities to drive home the message that unnecessary feeding is not welcome.

Swans, wild geese and ducks are particularly vulnerable, said keeper Zhang Zhihao.

"Many tourists bring bread and biscuits to attract swans, wild geese and ducks at the water platform," he said. "However, swans, wild geese and ducks never eat these foods in the wild.

Importance of Zoo Animal and Wildlife Research

Chick hatches on Sado Island from egg of crested ibis gifted to Japan by China
A chick has hatched from an egg laid by a crested ibis, an internationally protected species, which was given by China to a conservation center on Sado Island off Niigata Prefecture, the facility said Monday.

The Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center confirmed that one of the eggs laid by 3-year-old Guan Guan had hatched for the first time since she arrived in Japan last October.

Conditioning Animals With A Social Structure
Since starting my career, I’ve worked with a huge amount of animals with different social structures, from Killer whales and dolphins, to Chimpanzees, Takins, Bush dogs, Lions, and even Elephants. I’ve also worked with a lot of humans, perhaps the most complex of all but we can agree all of these species have a completely different type of social structure. Because of the often complex relationships these animals have with each other when training social animals there are a few things to remember.

Often for our blogs and Facebook group we are constantly searching for interesting training/enrichment videos to share on social media. These videos often inspire me and others here at Zoospensefull, to think about what can b

400,000 African pangolins are hunted for meat every year – why it’s time to act
Pangolins, a group of unique African and Asian scaly mammals, are considered to be one of the most heavily trafficked wild mammals in the world. They are hunted and traded for their meat, scales, and other body parts, and used as traditional medicines in parts of Africa and Asia.

Of the eight pangolin species, four are found in Africa. These are the white‐bellied, black‐bellied, giant, and Temminck’s ground pangolin. Three of these species live in Central African forests. The tree-dwelling white-bellied and black-bellied pangolins, weighing approximately 1.5 to 3kg (comparable to a small rabbit), and the ground-dwelling giant pangolin can weigh up to 33kg (the weight of a small Labrador dog).

Tree dens play a critical role in panda lifestyle
In a paper recently published in the journal Biological Conservation, an international team of conservationists highlights the importance of tree dens for pandas raising infants in native habitats. The study, conducted in Fengtongzai and Foping Nature Reserves in China, analyzed the difference in microhabitats of cave dens and tree dens used by female pandas. The result of the research suggests that conservation efforts need to take into account key resources, such as large old trees that provide important microhabitats that support rare and endangered wildlife.

"Pandas are found in different kinds of forests in China," said the study's lead author, Wei Wei, an associate professor at China West Normal University. "Old growth forests provide large tree cavities for den sites, but pan

Network ensured Kumamoto zoo's survival during 2016 quake crisis
The night the Kumamoto quake struck three years ago, veterinarian Atsushi Matsumoto, 46, was working overtime at the Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens, when everything around him, himself included, began shaking violently.

First, he checked the safety of the zoo's ferocious animals. All five, including a tiger, a snow leopard and a lion, were safe and sound. But phone calls started pouring in from worried local residents, asking, “Has a lion escaped?”

Lions rescued from 'Europe's worst zoo' have been stranded in tiny pens in Albania over bureaucratic red tape preventing them from leaving the country to finally start a new life
Three lions rescued from 'Europe's worst zoo' are stranded in Albania – held in bare, tiled pens just a few metres square.

Twelve-year-old Zhaku and his eight-year-old sons, Boby and Lenci, are caught in a bureaucratic wrangle over documents allowing them to leave the country to start a new life.

Since October they have been held at Tirana Zoo after being released from a private animal park in southern Albania where they were malnourished and kept in shocking conditions.

How Dangerous Are Cassowaries, Really?
Today, it’s time to revisit the Tet Zoo archives, and post this (now very old) section of text on cassowaries. It first appeared here (at Tet Zoo ver 2) back in May 2007. I haven’t finished on the Mesozoic maniraptorans, by the way (for parts published so far see part 1, part 2, part 3).

South African police seize 167 rhino horns after tipoff
South African police have seized 167 rhino horns believed to have been destined for Asia.

Two suspects were arrested in the sting operation in the North West province on Saturday, which followed a tipoff. Police said it was one of the biggest hauls of rhino horns in the country.

“We arrested them on Saturday in the Hartbeespoort dam area. They were driving in a vehicle and they were intercepted,” said Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the Hawks, an elite police unit. “It was an intelligence-driven operation that led to the arrest of the two. They were found in possession of those 167 rhino horns.”

The suspects, aged 57 and 61, are expected to appea

Massive haul of ivory seized in anti-smuggling crackdown
China customs recently seized 2,748 ivory tusks weighting a total of 7.48 metric tons after cracking down on a major smuggling case in a joint operation.

Tusks are illegally transferred from African countries and imported into China under the guise of "wood", officers from the General Administration of Customs said on Monday.

The smuggling case was cracked on March 30 after a joint operation lasting three months. The action was conducted under the cooperation of police forces from several cities including Hefei, Nanjing, Beijing, Fuzhou and Qingdao.

KILLER CASSOWARY: World's most dangerous bird kills Florida owner
A large, flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea killed its Florida owner when it attacked him after he fell, authorities said Saturday.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun that a cassowary killed the man Friday on his property near Gainesville, likely using its long claws. The victim, whose name was not released, was apparently breeding the birds, state wildlife officials said.

“It looks like it was accidental. My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked,” Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the newspaper.

Cassowaries are similar to emus and stand up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) tall and weigh up to 130 pounds (60 kilograms), with black body feathers and bright blue heads and necks.

Petting zoos harbour nasty bugs – research
Wash your hands extra carefully next time you visit a petting zoo.

New research presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands this weekend has shown that petting zoos can create a diverse reservoir of multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria, which could lead to highly virulent drug-resistant pathogens being passed on to visitors.

The study, by Professor Shiri Navon-Venezia of Ariel University, Ariel, Israel and colleagues, explores the prevalence, molecular epidemiology, and risk factors for animals in petting zoos becoming colonised by MDR bacteria.

Petting zoos are a popular attraction around the world, allowing direct and indirect exposure of both children and adults to a diverse range of animal species.

After Columbia Theatre show, what's really best for the tigers?
A national debate over the plight of tigers came into local focus last week when Montana-based illusionist Jay Owenhouse brought two rare Bengal tiger cubs to perform at Longview’s Columbia Theatre on Thursday.

The theater received thousands of emails after “Big Cat Rescue,” a Florida animal sanctuary, took opposition to Owenhouse’s show. No protesters appeared to show up, and Owenhouse’s show debuted without a hitch to about 350 attendees.

The conflict raised an elemental question: What is the best way to ensure tigers and other endangered animals have a future on this planet? And what role do zoos and other forms of captivity or management have in preserving them?

SeaWorld lays off undisclosed number of employees
SeaWorld has laid off an undisclosed number of employees around the country in a move it says is aimed toward improving efficiency.
SeaWorld Entertainment spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson-Beasley told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday that the layoffs occurred Friday. She declined to say how many employees were let go or where or how much the company is saving.

Consommé of cane toad, anyone? MONA puts a feral feast of invasive species of the menu
Cane toad, sea urchin and fermented weeds aren’t on most people’s dinner plates.

But that’s exactly what is being served up at Hobart’s controversial Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) over the next few months.

The ‘delicacies’ are part of an exhibition dubbed Eat the Problem, which aims to challenge ideas of conventional eating and sustainability.

“Invasive species are a problem but we can re-frame them; how are they actually a resource?,” artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele said.

When Cleethorpes was home to a two-ton killer whale named Calypso
From the tropical creatures at The Jungle Zoo to the sea lions that used to perform at Pleasure Island, Cleethorpes is no stranger to amazing animals from around the world.

However, there was a time when the resort was home to one of the most impressive and recognisable mammals to have ever existed, a species whose captivity has provoked fierce controversy ever since they were first plucked from the oceans to entertain theme park guests – the killer whale.

The black and white predators, also called orcas, have been a source of fascination to people for centuries, and are known for their highly social behaviour and striking intelligence, not to mention their awe-inspiring size with some growing to more than 30 feet (9.8m) in length and weighing up to 6 tons.

Vulnerable smooth-coated otters face poaching threat

China devours Asia’s wildlife
There is a monster chewing its way through the wildlife of its smaller, weaker Southeast Asian neighbours. The monster can change forms – like a shape-shifter – but it goes by one name: China. The region’s wildlife is rapidly disappearing, being sucked into the vortex of the illegal wildlife trade that leads to China.

In the Myanmar border town of Mine Lar, Shan State, everything from tree-dwelling civets to clouded leopards, from tiger claws to elephant skin, and from pangolin scales to bear gall bladder is on sale, with the vast majority of customers coming over the border from Yunnan. In its September 2018 issue, National

Giant turtle faces extinction as last known female dies in a Chinese zoo
The Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) may become an extinct species after the only captive female, and one of only four known living individuals, died at a zoo in Suzhou City yesterday, April 13.

The turtle, a member of the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, died after an attempt to artificially inseminate the more than 90-year-old specimen by a team of scientists, Friday, April 12.

Chinese language media reports say that the turtle, which is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, showed abnormal signs after the procedure, and died after a 24 hour rescue attempt.

‘Panda Diplomacy’: A $24 Million Zoo Enclosure Angers Some
It was designed by Bjarke Ingels, the renowned Danish architect, and cost $24 million to build. It was inaugurated by Queen Margrethe II, Denmark’s reigning monarch. And it now accommodates a celebrity couple with peculiar eating habits and an almost year-round animosity toward each other.

Welcome to Copenhagen Zoo’s new panda house.

Officials at the zoo estimate that the combination of adorable animal starpower and innovative Danish design will draw an additional 400,000 visitors per year.

“For such an iconic animal, we needed an iconic setting,” said Bengt Holst, the zoo’s director. “You wouldn’t put the Mona Lisa in an ugly frame.”

Critically Endangered Echidna among wildlife menagerie seized in Philippines
A large seizure of 450 live wild animals from the island of New Guinea has been made in the southern Philippines, comprising hundreds of birds, dozens of reptiles, and a single Critically Endangered Western Long-beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijni.

Former SA Zoo employee says nighttime themed events traumatize animals
A former San Antonio Zoo employee is blowing the whistle on what she describes as routine trauma for animals.

Her concerns stem from the popular themed attractions being held at night.

The former employee says she raised the same concerns to management during her time here but nothing was done.

"I was not fired, I quit," said Marjorie DeRusha-Morris. "I am disgruntled there is no question about that. I am disgruntled because of the treatment of the animals and the treatment of staff that stood up for the animals."

First sighting of gaur in Surin wildlife sanctuary in 15 years
For the first time in 15 years, a gaur has been spotted inside a wildlife sanctuary in Surin's Kap Choneg district, a wildlife official said on Saturday.

Wutthikul Ngampanya, chief of Huay Thapthan-Huay Samrarn Wildlife Sanctuary, said the gaur, which appeared to be around 10 years old, was spotted on Tuesday and Thursday.

The motion sensor camera, mounted on a tree near a small pond where wild animals come to drink, captured monochrome pictures of the gaur.

Wutthikul said it was the first time that a gaur has been seen at the spot in 15 years.

Verify: Are there more tigers in Texas than in the wild?
Texas is a national leader in a lot of obvious ways like energy, technology and construction. But have you ever heard there are more tigers in Texas than in the wild? Sounds crazy enough that I needed to verify it.

I first read that claim in a new book by Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright in his new book “God Save Texas. Here’s what he wrote: “The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are more tigers living in captivity, in Texas, then the 3000 that are thought to be living in the wild.”

The big cat con: Inside Africa's shocking battery farms for lions
The growing appetite for 'conservation holidays' has shone a light on the dark – and poorly regulated – industry of lion farming, where felines are destined not to be 'released into the wild' - but to be shot by trophy hunters and their bones exported to Asia for use in traditional medicine.

Beth Jennings, 25, is mad about animals. After leaving school she worked for Dogs Trust, and then opted to spend a holiday looking after lion cubs rather than lying on a beach. Though it was called ‘volunteering’ she had to pay to do it: £1,500 for two weeks working at a game park in South Africa, plus £1,000 for flights and jabs. But she knew the wild lion population was in crisis, and this was her chance, according to the UK agency that sold it to her, to prepare orphaned cubs ‘for their eventual release into the wild’. She saved for more than a year, using her 21st-birthday money.

What it's like to visit the largest bat house colony in the world
Without bats, there’d be no tequila.

So, with Cinco de Mayo less than a month away, you might consider toasting the world’s only flying mammal on April 17, which is National Bat Appreciation Day.

You might also consider a trip to see these incredible creatures – roughly 500,000 of them! – as they emerge from the bat houses at Gainesville’s University of Florida, the largest colony in the world living in purpose-built structures.

Paul Ramey is the assistant director of marketing and public relations (and bat advocate, his e-mail signature states!) for the Florida Museum of Natural History – also on the UF campus – and he fields countless inquiries from local and out-of-state visitors eager to watch the nightly show.

And what a show it is.

Japan's otter and owl cafes are Instagram hotspots, but experts warn of 'a lifetime of cruelty'
It's not every day you get to sip a latte and snap a selfie with an otter, an owl or a hedgehog — and an increasing number of cafes in Asia are cashing in on the novelty.

Penguin hatched through artificial insemination growing quickly
The world’s first king penguin conceived through artificial insemination is growing so quickly that he's now as big as his parents.

The fluffy brown-feathered Kamogawa Sea World resident was born in September 2018.

In July 2018, the theme park, working with a U.S. research team, artificially inseminated several female king penguins. One of them deposited eggs, and the male chick was hatched.


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After more than 50 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog
Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Until recently 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

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Zoo News Digest 11th April 2019 (ZooNews 1017)

Zoo News Digest 11th April 2019  (ZooNews 1017)

Photo by Kathryn Willett

Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

I was horrified the other day when I learned of Singapore's seizure of 12.9 tonnes of African Pangolin scales. The largest seizure ever and estimated to have come from 36,000 animals. Then just a couple of days later the customs stopped ANOTHER smuggled consignment, this time of 12.7 tonnes. I hope against hope that they are able to find and prosecute the extremely nasty individuals responsible for this terrible crime. Somehow prison does not seem a suitable punishment... perhaps sending them off on a one way trip to the Black Hole.

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

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 109,500+ Followers on Facebook( and over 109,700 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 900 Zoos in 155+ 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,

Singapore makes another huge seizure of pangolin scales
Singapore intercepted a second shipping container packed full of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam in less than a week, authorities said on Wednesday, a combined haul that set a new record for the global transit hub.

The seizure of 12.7 tonnes of scales, worth an estimated $38 million, follows last week's haul of 12.9 tonnes. The scales in that seizure, the biggest of its kind worldwide in five years, were said to have come from about 17,000 pangolins.

"The container was declared to have contained cassia seeds," Singapore's National Parks Board, Customs and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said in a joint statement, adding that the shipment came from Nigeria.

Woman, 27, loses arm in savage attack by two caged bears at camp site near Blagoveshchensk
The unnamed woman suffered wounds to both arms and a video shot moments after the attack showed her face covered in blood as she lay on the ground moments after the attack.

The 27 year old camper is seen writhing and moaning from pain.

She was rushed to Amur regional hospital suffering from severe bleeding and pain shock.

Surgeons were unable to save her left arm which was amputated by doctors due to the severe damage caused by the wild bears.

How can Cambodia take on the mammoth task of fighting its illegal ivory trade?
In the first days of 2019, researchers at the Royal Zoological Society Scotland (RZSS) made a startling discovery: an ivory trinket taken from a market in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh was made from the tusk of an animal that has been extinct for more than 10,000 years. It was the first time that woolly mammoth ivory had been found in the Kingdom. It may not be the last.

Primate males with more ornamentation seem to have smaller testes, a new study finds
Gird your loins, ladies and gentlemen, because today we have a rather peculiar (but still interesting, and quite amusing) study to talk about. Hailing from the The University of Western Australia and the University of Zurich, the paper reports that flashy male primates tend to have smaller gonads, while their more average-looking counterparts sport larger ones. It all seems to be a product of how male primates handle social hierarchies and reproductive strategies.

There is no conservation justification for bringing the tapir back to Borneo (commentary)
The past few years there has been a dedicated lobbying/promotional campaign among local amateur naturalists, professional conservationists, and international researchers to bring back Malay tapirs, Tapirus indicus, to Borneo. A recent article in Mongabay is yet another push towards this intended goal. It is well-written and a welcome contribution to this important discussion. Unfortunately, it misses a few important points.

Since I am mentioned as “Finally… a tapir researcher willing to speak out” and quoted in the piece, I feel it is important to bring context to my statements and opinions, lest they stand alone, as if I am opposed to bringing the tapir back to Borneo just for the sake of being in the opposition. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I have worked with this

Indian turtles disappearing due to international illegal trade
Local myths about the use of their body parts, as well as an international poaching network feeding ‘traditional’ Chinese practices, have put Indian softshell turtles in peril. These softshell turtles, which get their name due to lack of scales on their outer shell or carapaces, are found in lakes and ponds as well as in the river systems of the Indus and Ganga drainages across India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. They are nature’s little helpers in keeping the rivers and waterbodies clean, breaking down rotting organic matter in lakes, ponds and rivers including dead bodies of humans and animals. Unfortunately, a brisk trade in their body parts means they are disappearing from the ecosystems where they were once familiar.

Zookeeper hospitalized after being 'nipped' by orangutan, Tampa zoo says
The worker, a member of ZooTampa's animal care staff, was giving the female orangutan its daily medication and vitamins when the primate "nipped the tip of the keeper's middle finger," according to a statement released by the zoo.

Phuket Zoo baby elephant benched from tourist shows over health issues
PHUKET: Phuket Zoo is been ordered to not use the baby elephant Dodo to perform work, namely performing tricks for tourists, until his health has recovered.

Animal Planet Going Behind the Scenes at San Diego Zoo in New Series (Exclusive)
Animal Planet is taking viewers behind the scenes at the San Diego Zoo in a newly greenlit series tentatively titled The Zoo: San Diego.

The show, which hails from the producers of Animal Planet's The Zoo and the upcoming series The Aquarium, aims to give a "revealing" look at what goes on inside San Diego Zoo Global, whose mission is to save species worldwide while inspiring passion for animals and nature. San Diego Zoo Global — which encompasses two parks, the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, as well as the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research — is home to more than 700 species and 6,500 animals. Their stories will be featured in every episode of The Zoo: San Diego, which premieres later this year.

Animal injuries at North Shore safari park: frequent or rare? Ex-employees, owner disagree
With thousands of exotic creatures roaming freely on 900 acres in Tangipahoa Parish, the Global Wildlife Center has maintained a Disneyesque reputation over nearly three decades since it began offering safari tours for children and adults to interact face-to-face with the animal kingdom. ­­

On most days, hordes of visitors climb into “safari wagons” that meander among bison, zebras, camels, giraffes and other species sauntering about the privately-owned North Shore enclave, which bills itself as “Africa in Louisiana.” Tourists feed the animals from the trams, in an up-close experience at what might be considered one of the world’s most expansive petting zoos, located on Louisiana 40 west of Folsom.

The state of NZ penguins
Kerry-Jayne Wilson MNZM and Dr Thomas Mattern have completed a comprehensive review of the state of NZ penguins and it has been released today.

“This is a review of all that we know, and don’t know about all six NZ penguins, with a list of research and conservation management priorities for each species” said Kerry-Jayne.

Based on this review, Dr Mattern is leading a group of experts to work towards research and  conservation goals outlined in the report under the banner “NZ Penguin Research & Conservation”. For a start, they will be focusing efforts on Little or Blue penguins/kororā and Fiordland penguins/tawaki.

Singapore bull run: Panther, hippo and other famous animal escapees over the years
The hunt for a bull on the loose is still ongoing at least 14 hours after it was reported missing from a dairy farm in Lim Chu Kang.

The animal escaped from its enclosure on Tuesday (April 9), and the Singapore Food Agency said that it is working with the National Parks Board and the farm to locate it.

They may be rare, but instances of animals on the run have been reported in Singapore in the past.

Joe Exotic to be featured in documentaries, "Dateline" prime time report and magazine articles
Even in disgrace, Joe Exotic remains somewhat of a media darling.

Journalists last month came from across the country to chronicle the former zookeeper's murder-for-hire case, so many that the judge moved the jury trial to a bigger courtroom.

Among those taking notes was Manuel Oteyza, producer of "Blackfish," the 2013 documentary that sparked a public backlash against SeaWorld and led the theme park company to end killer whale shows.

Keeper shares his passion for conservation
Keeper of the hoofed animals at the Johannesburg Zoo, Philemon Magoba is passionate about conserving the giraffe population which is vulnerable following habitat destruction in Africa.

Magoba explained that the giraffe population has dropped by 40 per cent since 2016, sparking the Joburg Zoo’s excitement when a new calf was born on 21 January to mom Lady and dad Madolo.

Historical trade of tortoiseshell reveals origins of modern wildlife trafficking networks
New research from the Monterey Bay Aquarium finds that historical tortoiseshell trade routes may have established the groundwork for modern illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The study published today in the journal Science Advances, "The historical development of complex global trafficking networks for marine wildlife," analyzes 150 years of tortoiseshell trade records and derives several realistic harvest models to explore the trade of endangered hawksbill sea turtles.

The study concludes that the tortoiseshell trade harvested nine million turtles, more than six times previous estimates.

"The beauty of tortoiseshell has been the hawksbill's curse," said the aquarium's assistant research scientist and first author Dr. Emily Miller. "The fact that the tortoiseshell trade patterns and the IUU fishing patterns overlap

How you can help East Anglia’s ‘zoo tycoon’ save 15 animals from extinction
Professor David Field explained the new strategy to business writer Caroline Culot which also includes seeing 150,000 people better connected with nature and 15,000 people’s well being improved.

From using his zoos to help those with dementia to launching ‘befriending’ schemes to simply encouraging young people to engage with animals rather than computer screens, Professor Field is taking the attractions to a whole new level.

THE DUCK IS famous for two things: really liking bread (even though they’re not supposed to be eating it), and wielding insanely complicated reproductive bits. More specifically, male ducks have corkscrew-shaped penises, while females’ reproductive tracts corkscrew in the opposite direction. It’s a disturbing consequence of an evolutionary arms race, the females’ countermeasure to notoriously aggressive males.

But you know who tends to get short shrift for their own bizarrely complicated reproductive system? That would be the rhino. Specifically, a female rhino’s cervix, a long canal leading into the vagina, swerves and squiggles all over the place. “It’s composed of a number of i

Memphis zookeeper Louie Bell — caretaker of TOM the tiger and other big cats — has died
During a career that lasted decades, Louie Bell earned his stripes — and a few actual scars — caring for TOM the tiger and other less celebrated animals of all types at the Memphis Zoo.

He lost the top half of his right pinkie when a chimpanzee slammed it in a metal door. Another time, he was clawed in the face by a tiger.

"She reached right out and sliced me open," Mr. Bell recalled in a 2012 interview with The Commercial Appeal, expressing fondness for the "playful" animal and blaming his own momentary youthful carelessness for his injury.

Medical Procedures; Conditioning A Blood Sample Behaviour
As trainers we are opened up too many challenges from the animals we work with. We try to give them the best care possible and sometimes medical procedures are part of this care. I’m constantly amazed with what trainers teach their animals, regarding cooperative care. Some go miles to teach their animals complex medical behaviours. Recently we posted a video about a voluntary gastroscopy and biopsy with a Californian Sea lion, incredible training by this team.

In this article we will be discussing blood samples, how can you teach an animal this behaviour and what you should think about. We will also touch on injections.

These 'Astroecologists' Are Using Star-Spotting Tech to Count Endangered Animals
Astrophysicists sometimes turn to thermal infrared technology to help them find and study stars. The technology’s been around for decades, and it’s constantly evolving to reveal more about the cosmos. Now, some of these scientists are bringing their expertise to the world of conservation. If thermal cameras are capable of spotting distant stars, well, they must be capable of finding animals here on Earth, right?

In what the researchers are calling the first official collaboration between astrophysicists and ecologists, a team from Liverpool John Moores University went in search of Bornean orangutans, a critically endangered species that hides in the forests of Borneo, a southeast Asian island. A presentation Tuesday at the Unifying Tropical Ecology Conference in Edinburgh, Scotla

Humans are not off the hook for extinctions of large herbivores – then or now
What triggered the decline and eventual extinction of many megaherbivores, the giant plant-eating mammals that roamed the Earth millions of years ago, has long been a mystery. These animals, which weighed 1,000kg or more and included the ancient relatives of modern elephants, rhinos, hippos and giraffes, reached a peak of diversity in Africa some 4.5m years ago during the Pliocene epoch (between 5.3m and 2.6m years ago). After this, their numbers slowly declined, in a trend that continued into the Pleistocene (2.6m years ago to roughly 11,000 years ago).

A conservation group is outraged at the seizure of what is believed to be the largest ever shipment of pangolin scales. Around 36,000 of the endangered mammals were killed for the shipment from Nigeria which was stopped in Singapore en route to Vietnam, which has the world’s second largest market for the scaly ant eaters, The New York Times reported.

In a statement by Singapore customs, the shipment was declared to contain “frozen beef” but inspectors found 12.9 tonnes of pangolin scales, packed in 230 bags, worth about $38.7 million. The shipment also included 177 kilograms o

Magic show featuring tigers sparks debate at Columbia Theatre
A deluge of emails and calls, most of them from out-of-state residents, hit the Columbia Theatre this weekend after a Florida-based big cat sanctuary group criticized the theater for renting out its space to a performer who uses live tigers and who has performed here previously.

Montana-based Jay Owenhouse operates one of the largest touring magic shows in the United States. He has performed twice before at the Columbia Theatre. In addition to stunts like suspended straitjackets and “sawn in half” illusions, Owenhouse features twin sister Bengal tigers “Shekinah” and “Sheena” in his performances. (Shekinah is a rare white tiger.)

Tiger shark rips open woman's face during diving lesson in aquarium
A woman was attacked by shark during a diving lesson - leaving her needing 70 stitches to cuts on her head and face.
Named in reports only as Nana, the learner diver was attacked by a sand tiger shark - cousin of the great white.
She had been diving inside the Laohutan Aquarium in the city of Dalian, southern China, when the shark attacked.

Devils Hole Pupfish Population Reaches 136 At Death Valley National Park
One of the world’s rarest fish species, the Devils Hole pupfish, has reached a population of 136 observable fish. This high spring season population count at Death Valley National Park follows years of substantially lower spring population counts, which triggered concerns over the chances of survival of this critically endangered fish.

In the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, scientists counted about 200 Devils Hole pupfish in the annual spring season surveys. There was a startling decline in fish numbers starting in the late 1990s.  Biologists were extremely concerned when less than 40 fish were counted in the spring seasons of 2006, 2007, and 2013.

Phuket Zoo faces probe over alleged abuse of baby elephant
Wanvisa Sangthong, a public relations staffer at Phuket Zoo, today denied the allegations that the baby elephant – which is actually named ‘Dodo’ – is suffering any form of abuse.

“This baby elephant is well taken care of. The baby elephant’s name is ‘Dodo’, and he is a male – and he is not forced to work hard.”

Asked why the baby elephant looks thin, Miss Wanvisa replied, “We take care of ‘Dodo’ very well. The elephant is just baby.”

Manas Thepparuk, Chief of the Phuket Provincial Office of the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), the government regulatory office responsible for all animals used for any form of work, agreed.

Poetic justice for a rhino poacher is nothing to feel good about
he story wasn’t subtle: A poacher attempting to hunt endangered rhinoceroses in South Africa’s Kruger National Park last week was instead trampled to death by an elephant and eaten by a pride of lions. Rangers alerted by his companions sought to recover his body and eventually found a skull and a pair of pants.

It was a comeuppance made for social media. Poetic justice, the natural order at work, a win for the animals — all were common themes, as they’ve been in other, similar incidents.

Karma aside, the would-be poacher also left behind a grieving family — his name and nationality were not immediately released, but reports say he had daughters. The details speak not to a rich man’s pleasure hunt gone bad but to a low-level actor in the global trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory.

Former staff claim bullying at Wellington Zoo prompts exodus of key staff
Toxic. Fearful. And a huge staff turnover. Working with animals may be a dream job, but past and present staff at Wellington Zoo claim the coalface reality is vastly different.

Two recent exit letters, shared with Stuff, describe life at the zoo, claiming animals are loved but some bosses are feared.

Staff members were reluctant to comment on the record, citing a workplace code of conduct and fears of reprisal, but confirmed that key staff - in core roles such as animal welfare and life sciences - had left in recent times.

52 Year Old Dolphin Gives Birth at Blue Lagoon Island
The team at Blue Lagoon Island has officially introduced its newest member of the family – a healthy and strong native Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin calf named Duchess.
Her mother, Princess, at age 52 is one of the oldest known dolphins under human care around the world. Duchess’ father is Stormy.

Duchess was born in the all-natural habitat on Blue Lagoon Island on November 21, 2018. The marine mammal team confirmed her gender a few weeks after her birth. They have been monitoring her health and progress daily.


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After more than 50 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog
Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Until recently 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