Monday, July 5, 2021

Stuck for Enrichment Ideas? Check out the following Links.

Stuck for Enrichment Ideas? Check out the following Links.

Chimpanzee Enrichment

Animal Enrichment versus Routine Zoo Vacancies

Zoo Vacancies 

Regular Updated Zoo News (Please like and follow)

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

Saturday, March 27, 2021





Since last summer, the Paris Zoological Park has been participating in a scientific project on Humboldt penguins , in partnership with the Hubert Curien Pluridisciplinary Institute (IPHC) of the CNRS and the University of Strasbourg, and the Polar Department of the Scientific Center of Monaco.


This multidisciplinary project makes it possible to refine the techniques and perfect the procedures before going to apply them in the natural environment, in Antarctica, with the constant concern to develop new study methods making it possible to reduce or even eliminate any disturbance on the animals due to the study itself . Beyond this help, which allows to significantly shorten the development phases before going to apply them in extreme environments, it also turns out that studying our penguins makes it possible to answer certain targeted questions for which it is impossible to respond in a natural environment (lack of history on individuals, disappearances during studies, etc.)



As already done in the natural environment by CNRS research teams, the approach of animals by a rolling robot makes it possible to have a reduced impact on the behavior of the colony .


At the Zoological Park, the project started its second study phase in January with the work of a Master 2 student for a period of 6 months, who will take care of this rolling robot “Rover”, but not only.


If this new step will allow the robot to try out different appearances in order to find the one that will allow you to go unnoticed within the colony , it will also be accompanied by other technological innovations, in particular for remote cardiac monitoring. animals without having to capture or stress them.


In addition, an automatic weighing platform will be set up. It will make it possible to obtain, record and transmit the weights of the penguins which will pass voluntarily over them. This information will provide the animal team with precise and constant monitoring of a very good health indicator, the weight of individuals, thanks to this autonomous system.


The animals will be identified automatically by two means: their chip and a camera linked to visual recognition software . Developed by the Scientific Center of Monaco, this technology, which uses powerful artificial intelligence algorithms, will thus be at the service of the health of our animals, while it will allow in Antarctica to better understand variations in weight over time. the life cycle of these extreme birds. Our visitors will be able to see this technology at work… and modestly keep the weight of our penguins to themselves!


Original Paper

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

No, the Tasmanian tiger has not been re-discovered


No, the Tasmanian tiger has not been re-discovered


A leading Tasmanian tiger expert says new images purportedly of the extinct thylacine are, in fact, of a totally different species.

Neil Waters, president of the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia, released a video on Monday claiming he had new images of a baby Tasmanian tiger, taken from a camera trap in north-east Tasmania.

Mr Waters said the images had been authenticated by a veterinarian, and he had submitted them to Nick Mooney, honorary curator of vertebrate zoology at the Tasmanian Museum.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the museum released a statement saying the images did not show a Tasmanian tiger at all.


“Nick Mooney has concluded, that based on the physical characteristics shown in the photos provided by Mr Waters, the animals are very unlikely to be thylacines, and are most likely Tasmanian pademelons,” a museum spokesman said.

“TMAG regularly receives requests for verification from members of the public who hope that the thylacine is still with us. However, sadly, there have been no confirmed sightings documented of the thylacine since 1936.”

A pademelon is a small wallaby.

The thylacine, also known as the Tasmanian Tiger, went extinct in 1936, when the last surviving member of the species died in Beaumaris Zoo in Hobart.

The creatures looked similar to dogs – they are often called Tasmanian wolves – but had short ears, stripes, and on the females a pouch to carry offspring.

There were about 5000 in Tasmania at time of European settlement, but introduced animals, habitat destruction and hunting quickly pushed them to extinction.

In the video released by the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia, titled WE FOUND A THYLACINE, Mr Waters strolls through “some little town that grows a bit of hops, for all the beer”. As he narrates the video – which appears to have been shot on a hand-held camera – Mr Waters drinks from a can of Boags Draught.

“In the last 10 days, I’ve probably been acting a bit weird,” he says. “That’s because, when I was checking the SD cards, I found some photos, that were pretty damn good.”

“I know what they are. And so do a few independent expert witnesses, expert canine judges, feline judges, and a vet. I have left the images with Nick Mooney from the museum. He’s having a look at them.

“I can tell you there is three animals. We ... believe the first image is the mum. We know the second image is the baby, because it’s so tiny. And the third image is the dad.

The mother and father are “ambiguous”, a broadly-smiling Mr Waters says. “However, the baby is not ambiguous. The baby has stripes, a stiff tail, the hock, the coarse hair, the right colour.

“Not only do we have a family walking through the bush, but we have proof of breeding.

“Congratulations everyone. We have done it. Cheers.”

Mr Waters has previously claimed his group spotted a thylacine in Adelaide in 2016. That sighting was dismissed by the South Australian Museum at the time.

Saturday, February 13, 2021




            An international group of primatologists led by the Pan African Sanctuary Alliance (PASA) — with support from San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO — are providing a new home for 25 monkeys that were confiscated from wildlife traffickers. The monkeys all appear to be young and suffering from malnourishment and stress. They represent six different species native to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). This confiscation is one of the largest in recent years, and reflects the crisis in criminal trafficking that is hitting Africa’s native wildlife.

            “This is the largest rescue in our 20-year history,” said Gregg Tully, executive director of PASA. “The monkeys were poached in DRC and then driven along a known route for traffickers. We’re grateful that authorities in Zimbabwe confiscated the animals. Otherwise, they would be sent to China or a tourist attraction, with no possibility of being reintroduced to the wild.”

            PASA’s goal is to return the young primates to their native country, where they can be placed in an accredited sanctuary. The group has been collaborating with the leaders of Jeunes Animaux Confisques au Katanga (J.A.C.K.), a PASA-accredited sanctuary in Lubumbashi, DRC that has experience caring for and rehabilitating chimpanzees. The long-term goal is to re-wild these individuals, which include lesula monkeys, Allen’s swamp monkeys, gray-cheeked mangabeys, L’Hoest’s monkeys, putty-nosed monkeys and golden-bellied mangabeys. The monkeys will be given appropriate medical care at J.A.C.K., and assessed for their readiness to return to native habitat. To accommodate such a large group at one time, the team determined that new facilities needed to be constructed.

            “We’re creating state-of-the-art enclosures for these monkeys,” said Franck Chantereau, president and founder of J.A.C.K. “Thanks to the funding we received, we were able to move quickly; and we’re excited about this progress, but we aren’t taking anything for granted. Too many lives are on the line.” 

            San Diego Zoo Global, the Columbus Zoo and GaiaZOO responded to the immediate need by providing funding for the enclosures and ongoing care of the group of youngsters. 

            “Our organization is very involved in the effort to stem the tide of wildlife trafficking,” said Dean Gibson, director of primates at San Diego Zoo Global. “We regularly provide refuge for wildlife that have been confiscated in the United States. Although it has been a difficult year for our organization due to COVID closures, when I alerted our leadership to the plight of these young monkeys, they thought it was important for us to contribute to their rescue.”

            San Diego Zoo Global supports work with communities in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest, with efforts to both protect primates and their habitat. 

            “We have been working with local communities in Cameroon for years, to promote forest health and protect the gorilla and chimpanzee populations that call the Ebo Forest home,” said Megan Owen, Ph.D., corporate director of wildlife conservation science at San Diego Zoo Global. “Understanding that we need to restore species and protect ecosystems in order to have a healthy world is important to us.”

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

Monday, January 11, 2021

"A Discussion about Poop Soup: The Case for Transfaunation"


"A Discussion about Poop Soup: The Case for Transfaunation"


January 18, 2021, at 8:00 pm eastern (Happy Hour begins at 7:45 pm eastern).  Please register in advance.  Registration is free.  Seating is limited.


We learn new things about our animals, their care and management, and ourselves daily. It is easy to think back to 5 or 10 years ago and recognize how far we’ve come. It is equally as easy to leave some of the ideas (good AND bad) in the past, for that is sometimes where they belong. However, it is equally important to review some of those “old” ideas with the lens of increased knowledge and perspective gained over time (lest we let a good idea go prematurely). The concept of transfaunation (aka – fecal transplant, fecal microbiota transplant (FMT), stool transplant, etc) has been around since the beginning of recorded time in humans, and currently receives attention for specific GI bacterial infections. In domestic animals, it has been used for centuries to treat poor digestion and associated maladies. Recently, we’ve started to become aware of (and employ) the practice across a wide range of taxa in our care. This will be a brief discussion of the practice, some pertinent literature and examples, and how it might be something for you to consider in better managing the health and care of your animals.


Presenter: Mike Maslanka, Senior Nutritionist and Head of the Department of Nutrition Science for the Smithsonian National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

Knapdale’s beavers boosted by successful reinforcement

 Knapdale’s beavers boosted by successful reinforcement 

Work to reinforce the population of beavers in Knapdale Forest in Argyll has come to a successful conclusion with the endangered species now more widespread and breeding throughout the area.

Scottish Beavers, a partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and the Scottish Wildlife Trust, released 21 beavers into Knapdale Forest between 2017 and 2019 to bolster the population, with monitoring continuing throughout 2020.

The reinforcement project has increased the genetic diversity of Knapdale’s beaver population, which is important for its future survival. The new beavers brought to Knapdale were primarily sourced from Tayside and originate from Bavaria, while the original Scottish Beaver Trial population was sourced from Norway.

A successful pairing between beavers with Norwegian and Bavarian origins has not yet been detected, but it is likely to take place in the near future.

The isolated Knapdale population is now on a more secure footing as a direct result of this reinforcement. It is hoped it will connect with other populations in future, through either natural expansion or further releases in the area around Loch Awe.

Gill Dowse, Knowledge & Evidence Manager, Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “The Scottish Beaver Trial was a landmark conservation project that showed how beavers can create and restore important wetland and native woodland habitats.

“A limited number of beavers were introduced during the Trial so it was important to go back and release more beavers, giving them a good chance to thrive. After three years of fieldwork we can be confident this reinforcement project has been a success, and that we have done all we can to bolster the wild population in Knapdale.”

Dr Helen Taylor, RZSS Conservation Programme Manager said: “Monitoring the beaver population in Knapdale for the past three years and tracking the fortunes of these newly-released animals has painted a clear picture of a steadily growing population that is beginning to spread out into all the various waterways available in Knapdale Forest.

“It’s been fantastic that the project provided an initial solution for moving beavers from high-conflict areas in Tayside into Knapdale, where their positive impacts on the environment and on native biodiversity are clear to see.”

The final report from the Scottish Beavers Reinforcement Project, published today, contains a number of recommendations to secure a long-term future for beavers in Scotland.

These include developing a national conservation action plan for beavers, permitting reintroductions in other suitable areas of Scotland, and widening the ‘founder base’ by introducing more animals from Europe.

As the number of beaver trials in the UK increases, the report makes a number of recommendations for the welfare of animals within these projects. These include developing a genetic database of all beavers involved in translocations within Britain.

The project partners also hope that the Scottish Beavers project can act as a template for efforts to reintroduce beavers responsibly, both in other areas of Scotland and in other countries.

Gill Dowse added: “Encouraging a thriving beaver population in Scotland is an important step towards tackling the crisis facing nature. Bringing them back helps a huge range of other species, from dragonflies to otters. There are also substantial benefits for society, ranging from improved water quality to new opportunities for wildlife tourism.

“To ensure we fully benefit from the return of beavers and minimise future conflicts it is important to develop a clear action plan for the future of this protected species.”

Dr Taylor added: “After a 400-year absence from this country, beavers are back and we need to ensure they have a long-term future in Scotland, and throughout Britain. This means creating clear management strategies for the species that include monitoring both numbers and genetic diversity to ensure we avoid issues down the road.

“We also need to make space for these incredible ecosystem engineers, build a better understanding of where the most suitable release sites for beavers are, and learn to live alongside them once again so that everyone can enjoy the benefits of beavers, while reducing human-wildlife conflict.”

Scottish Beavers is a partnership between the Scottish Wildlife Trust and the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland created to continue the work of the Scottish Beaver Trial, which reintroduced Eurasian beavers into Knapdale Forest in 2009.

The reinforcement took place at the site of the original Scottish Beaver Trial in Knapdale Forest, mid-Argyll, on land managed by Forestry and Land Scotland. The project was licensed by NatureScot, which coordinated the monitoring requirements at the site and funded the trapping of beavers in Tayside for translocation.

The Scottish Beavers Reinforcement Project was supported by funders including players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant