Monday, April 16, 2012

Zoo News Digest 12th - 16th April 2012 (Zoo News 813)

Zoo News Digest 12th - 16th April 2012 (Zoo News 813)

Dear Colleague,

With something resembling despair I wonder why the BBC and a reputable paper like The Telegraph gives up column inches and video space to the story "Female Bengal tiger and a Siberian tiger give birth to three cubs". This only goes to show the zoo to be undoubtedly irresponsible, ignorant and dysfunctional. If they had half a bit of decency and common sense they would euthanase the cubs now instead of compounding the mixed race problem that exists in the tin pot places the world over. The statement "Although the zoo lacks a specific breeding programme for the critically endangered Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers" just shows that they don't know what a breeding programme is about. Bringing in another Siberian or Bengal to breed with would not improve things at all and if they believe it would then it just proves my case.

Would you call John Hume a Conservationist? Just because someone keeps a lot of Tigers (take a look at China) does not make one a conservationist so why should keeping a lot of Rhinoceros make one any different? Particularly when one is stockpiling horns and asking for the trade in Rhinoceros horn to be legalised. I wonder if John has ever sold any horn on the hoof to China?

The loss of White Oak is a tragedy. The hints that this was coming have been around for a while. I do hope that some benefactor will appear and keep it going.

I am delighted to read that there are twice as many Emperor Penguins as previously believed. See 'Scientists use satellites to map penguins from space'. This story really has taken off and is being covered as recent news by just about every newspaper worldwide. Why is it then that I seemed to know about this around four months ago?

Very little correspondence in relation of my mention of the 'Baby Zoo' in the last Zoo News Digest. Did you think I was kidding? Watch this space?

Please take time out to read the CAPS report "Inspecting Zoos - A study of the official zoo inspection system in England from 2005 to 2011". I have skimmed through it once and when I get time I will go through it another couple of times. I am sure you will find it an interesting read and find much to criticise. For myself though as an ex-zoo inspector (recently removed from the list because I have been away from the UK for so long), and as someone who has worked in zoos for 40+ years and as Zoo News Digest publisher the holder of more zoo confession secrets than a Catholic Priest I probably do see this report differently to many others. I have inspected and been inspected and know from personal experience and that of others just what goes on. I still believe the system in the the UK is the best in the world but I KNOW it needs refining and improving. There are zoos in the UK I would close tomorrow given the chance.....but there are hundreds elsewhere I have visited I would close today. Enjoy your read.

Meanwhile I am enjoying my holiday at home in Thailand. The Songkran Festival is in full swing. Here below is just part of my day yesterday. Three days to go and loving every minute of it.

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Only haredim allowed entry to Beersheba zoo
Public zoo visitors discover it is open only for haredi public. Following complaints, visitors were allowed inside only if 'appropriately dressed'
The fourth day of the holiday drew large numbers of travelers out of their homes, but those who chose to visit the Beersheba zoo found closed gates. The zoo was open for the haredi public only, visitors argued, without any prior notice. A small sign on the zoo's gate confirmed the allegations, while the zoo's management insists that entrance to the zoo was not limited.
"We arrived at the zoo at 9:50, 10 minutes before it opens," said Avigail Kanterovich, who arrived at the zoo with her family, friends and their children. "We tried to buy tickets, and the cashier told us they will not allow us to enter, since it is only for haredim today."
According to her, there was no prior notice, and nowhere did it say that the zoo would be closed for visitors today according to religious affiliation. "They performed selection at the entrance, and didn't allow even national-religious people to enter. Only the haredim."
Kanterovich said that only after a long argument they were allowed entrance. "We were furious. They let us wait in the sun for 20 minutes, and no one came to talk with us." According to her, only later the management put up a sign stating the entrance was restricted to haredim only. Eventually they were allowed in the zoo.
The municipality: Living in harmony
Another visitor, Yael, also saw the sign. "Outside, the public was mixed," she recounts. "Eventually they let us in, but everything inside was separated for boys and girls." Yael too said the visitors had to wait outside for a while before they could enter.
The zoo's manager explained that the site was closed due to a special event for the Orthodox public, but everyone who wished to enter could do so if appropriately dressed.
The Beersheba municipality said that as part of the holiday's event, the city held an event for the ultra-Orthodox public at the zoo. However, contrary to the allegations, entrance was allowed to everyone who wanted to participate in the event.
"In Beersheba we're living in harmony, religious,7340,L-4215246,00.html

The World Is Watching
Although I left my heart in Africa last year a part of it now resides in Thailand, a country I’ve never been to, as I follow the day-to-day progression of events at two internationally respected wildlife sanctuaries. The Elephant Nature Park (ENP), and Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand (WFFT), have been repeatedly raided by armed government officials from the Department of National Parks (DNP) in what appears to be retaliatory actions for statements made by ENP and WFFT decrying the illegal wildlife trade in Thailand, and the Thai government’s suspected complicity.
It began on February 8, when ENP founder Sangduen Chailert, known as Lek, was asked to produce proof of ownership for the elephants at her sanctuary after an anonymous phone call claimed she was sheltering over 70 illegal, wild elephants. Lek was able to produce the documentation for the actual 30-plus elephants at her sanctuary, most of them elderly and disabled from spending their lives in the logging and tourism industries. Approximately 100 officials vacated the premises after reviewing her documentation, having disrupted the park for a full day

Hard Times Force Famed Refuge's Sale
White Oak Served as Retreat for World Leaders, Artists—and Rare Animals
For decades, Howard Gilman, a New York arts habitué and heir to a lumber and paper company fortune, indulged his two great loves—ballet and animal conservation—at White Oak, an elegant plantation in this tiny town on the Florida-Georgia border.
On a 7,400-acre swath of pine stands that hugs the meandering St. Mary's River, Mr. Gilman built expensive habitats for his rare-animal collection as well as dozens of cottages and recreation facilities for his friends and guests, who included world leaders, movie stars, dancers and other artists. Anyone invited to stay at White Oak had the run of the house, with all food, lodging and sporting activities completely free of charge.
Ballet master Mikhail Baryshnikov and actress Isabella Rossellini were frequent visitors; The Sundance Institute, the organization behind the famous film festival, brought playwrights to write and rehearse. Bill and Hillary Clinton hunkered down for six days at White Oak in the spring of 1999, strategizing for Mrs. Clinton's first Senate run as storm of the Monica Lewinsky scandal passed.
But the plantation's role offering respite and refuge is ending: Last week, the Howard Gilman Foundation, which owns White Oak, put the property up for sale. The foundation, which estimates the value of the property at $30 million

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
Why is there no major holiday to really celebrate plants?
Some combination of the feasting of Thanksgiving (in recognition of our dependence on plants for food of course), the outdoor flower gawking of hanami (Cherry Blossom Festival), the car races of Memorial Day (and just where do all fuels originate?), and the gift giving of Christmas (because plants are so giving!!) seems about right to me.

April’s links at  (NEWS/Botanical News) are to encourage you to start your own holiday:
· In the USA, over 338,000 acres of farmland are planted in tobacco. What if all that tobacco went into vehicles’ engines instead of peoples’ lungs? All hail the latest biofuel.

· The perfume industry depends on the fixative properties of ambergris which comes from whales (enough said about that). Scientists have discovered that fir trees could provide an equivalent material.

· We produce tons of sewage creating a disposal and sanitation problem for us. Here come bacteria willing to take it off of our hands and give us electricity in exchange.

· Plants don’t need to be processed or harvested or “work“ to offer wide ranging benefits. The Japanese practice of “Forest Bathing” has been researched demonstrating the widespread physiological as well as psychological benefits of spending time in forests, around plants.

· And so it is especially tragic that we harm plant communities without even knowing it. Human noise has been shown to disrupt pollination and seed dispersal. We change our planet with every step we take.

So while you’re planning your Plant Appreciation Holiday, head on out for inspiration in the Amazon right now from the comfort of your computer with Google StreetView:!/Amazon

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter:  – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.


Zoo and Aquarium Visitors More Concerned About Climate Change than General Public
National Survey Shows That Sense of Connection with Animals Affects Beliefs
People who visit zoos and aquariums are more concerned about climate change than other Americans and are willing to take action to help because they feel a connection with animals. The findings are in the final report, "Global Climate Change as Seen by Zoo and Aquarium Visitors," analyzed by the Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CLiZEN). The Network is led by the Chicago Zoological Society (CZS), which manages Brookfield Zoo.
Researchers surveyed more than 7,000 zoo and aquarium visitors at 15 accredited zoos and aquariums around the country and found that visitors are more concerned about climate change than the general public. For example, 64 percent of zoo and aquarium visitors say they are concerned or alarmed about global warming, compared to only 39 percent of the general public. Also, 35 percent of the general public report being disengaged, doubtful, or dismissive with regard to global warming versus only 17 percent of zoo and aquarium visitors. Non-visitor attitudes were collected via a survey by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
"We have long suspected that people who visit zoos and aquariums care more about environmental issues and that their sense of care is tied to the connection they feel to the animals they see in our institutions. These findings give us the opportunity to help visitors understand climate change and to provide educational information about what they can do to make a difference," said Alejandro Grajal, Ph.D., senior vice president of conservation and education for CZS.
Nearly two-thirds of surveyed zoo and aquarium visitors believe that human actions are related to global warming, and the majority of visitors think that global warming will harm them personally, as well as future generations. These findings suggest that zoo and aquarium visitors are a prime audience for clim

Female Bengal tiger and a Siberian tiger give birth to three cubs
Jaguar Zoo in southern Mexico has three new members, a litter of half-Bengal, half-Siberian tiger cubs born on 3 April.
The zoo, 26 miles south east of the city of Oaxaca, mated their 12-year-old Siberian male tiger named Yagul with an eight-year-old female Bengal tiger, Yaki, to produce the litter of three.
"Despite being from two different subspecies, the cross-mating was done successfully and the cubs are in good condition," said the zoo's veterinarian, Felipe Ramirez Sanchez.
Although the zoo lacks a specific breeding programme for the critically endangered Siberian tigers, also known as Amur tigers, Ramirez said that they hope to find a Siberian female to mate with Yagul to produce fully Siberian cubs.
"The Siberian tiger species is in danger of extinction. Currently there are fewer than 2,000 of them in the wild," he noted, saying also that they will start searching for a Siberian mate in other Mexican zoos. Bengal tigers are more numerous and are only considered threatened," he said.
The zoo receives around a

Open Letter to Indonesia President Yudhoyono to Save Orangutans
Your Excellency,
We, the undersigned, have devoted much of the past half-century to the study of great apes and the advocacy for their protection. That is why we are gravely concerned about the ecological damage caused by man-made fires in Sumatra, and why we write to you today as Patrons of the Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP) to ask you to halt this destruction.
The fires set to clear forest land in the Province of Aceh for oil palm plantations currently threaten the Leuser Ecosystem, which includes some of the most important great ape habitat in the world. Experts believe that as many as 300 critically endangered Sumatran orangutans may perish in the fires, pushing the species even closer to extinction.
In 2005, the Government of Indonesia signed the Kinshasa Declaration on Great Apes, which articulated the need to “ensure the effective enforcement of legislation protecting great apes.”
The Leuser Ecosystem is classified

Wanted: Rhinos for breeding
Sabah wildlife officials are on the lookout for more rhinos to take part in an ongoing breeding programme of the highly endangered animals.
State Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said they were hoping to capture more of the elusive animals, particularly those that were capable of breeding.
Researchers have estimated that there are fewer than 30 rhinos in the wild in Sabah and most of them are within the Tabin wildlife sanctuary and Danum Valley conservation area in Sabah's east coast.
The breeding programme is being carried out at the Borneo Rhino Sanctuary in Tabin where wildlife researchers are hoping to get a male named Tam to breed with two females named Puntung and Gelogob.
The sanctuary was given a boost recently when the Sime Darby Foundation provided an additional RM6.4mil grant for the various rhino conservation programmes there.
Since 2009, the foundation has provided RM5mil that went towards patrolling for poachers, maintenance of the paddock and facilities, rhino quarantine facilities and other operational costs.
"It was clear to us that the programme was worth continuing," said Borneo Rhino Alliance executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne.
He said the alliance applied for the grant extension from the Sime Darby Foundation and was granted RM6.4 million (S$2.6 million) for the next three years.
He described the past three years' effort at the sanctuary as eventful.
The sanctuary is a programme run by the Sabah

Anglerfish on show at Blackpool aquarium
A rare fish which lives up to 1,000 metres below the surface has taken residence at an aquarium in Blackpool.
Sealife Blackpool claim it is the first aquarium in the UK to exhibit the deep sea anglerfish.
Senior aquarist at the centre Martin Sutcliffe said the fish are very difficult to keep in captivity as they have to be kept dark and at 11C.
He said: "We weren't sure what visitors would make of them as they are ugly looking but they have proved a hit."
The aquarium has taken receipt of four anglerfish which can grow up to two metres (6.56 ft) in length.
They have to be stored in separate tanks because their skin is very sensitive and even shrimps can scratch it.
Mr Sutcliffe said: "Very little is known about the fish as they are a deep sea animal which is why I think people are so intrigued by them.
"They are weird and wonderful things. They can eat mackerel whole - which are the same

Interview with a Big Game Farmer (and Rhino Conservationist)
Chalk this one up to interesting and potential careers. Businessman and entrepreneur John Hume, who was featured in the most recent edition of National Geographic, talks about his herd of rhino’s and how safely and humanely farming their horns as a business can save the rhino from extinction.
What do you do for a living?
Game ranching on 2 different farms in South Africa, primarily for the purpose of breeding both Black and White rhino, which are both severely threatened by poaching because of the Eastern demand for their horn. One is an intensive game ranch, where rhinos are kept in large camps and the other ranch is an extensive wildlife system, with various other species of game on it too. It is a more natural system, like a small reserve and rhinos roam freely on this ranch.
How would you describe what you do?
Most of my time is spent on trying to save the African rhino from extinction and managing my other businesses which afford me the income required to look after the rhino.
I want people to know that you can safely and humanely farm a rhino’s horn. All of my rhino’s are dehorned(thus making it less likely a poacher will kill them).
The rhino has to be anesthetized to do the dehorning. So we dart it and the drug takes about 5 minutes to be effective and we take 15 minutes to do the rest of the procedure.The rest of the procedure comprises cutting off both horn about 80 mm above the flesh. If you go below this say at 40mm you would hit the quick and just like your toenail, if you cut above your quick there is no pain at all.
The animal is awakened after about 20 minutes. The horns will grow out again at about 100mm per year.
My rhino are all dehorned and live a very normal life doing everything that a normal rhino does including fighting but we have less damaging injuries with the rhinos because they have short blunt horns.
What does your work entail?
Managing the managers on two

Animal rights groups seek performance ban
Animal rights groups are calling for a ban on all animal performances in China, including live shows, petting zoos and photo sessions.
However, their campaign - which also calls for a ban on dolphin shows - is said by some to have gone too far.
Animal performances and circus shows, especially in Beijing, have "seriously impaired the country's and city's image with brutality and savage behavior", Liu Huili, an animal rights supporter and researcher with Green Beagle, a Beijing-based non-governmental organization, said at a symposium on Saturday.
Attendees at the symposium, including researchers and volunteers from Green Beagle, China Zoo Watch and the Beijing Loving Animals Foundation, proposed the performance ban, especially in the capital city.
China Zoo Watch conducted a study from January 2011 to the end of March, in which it sampled more than 40 zoos nationwide. It found that animal performances, which it claims often involve acts of cruelty, are common nationwide.
About 50 percent of urban zoos, 91 percent of animal parks and 89 percent of aquariums offer such performances, according to the survey.
Performances include animal wire walking, jumping through fire loops, standing upside down and boxing, which "might seriously impair the animals' physical and psychological health", Liu said.
In Beijing, the wildlife park in Daxing district offers shows of dogs jumping through fire loops, and another wildlife park near the Badaling section of the Great Wall features wolves and tigers jumping across fiery circles and bears playing with flaming sticks, the survey found.
Both parks declined to comment on the issue when reached by China Daily on Sunday.
Liu Nonglin, a senior engineer of the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, said a zoo should be a demonstration site for animal protection.
Liu said people could also be hurt by many zoo animals or catch diseases. However, he said, a total ban on animal performances would take time and require public cooperation and a change in attitudes.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued a circular in 2010 banning animal performances nationwide, but the rule does not apply to aquariums.
However, as the circular didn't specify penalties, animal performances and petting zoos featuring wild animals remain a common practice, said Sun Xiaochun, a ministry official.
"It (the circular) is more of a warning than a regulation," she said, adding that the ministry might revise the rules to impose tougher punishments.
But not everyone agrees with the campaign against animal performances.
Zhou Haipeng, 22, a student at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said he found animal performances, especially by dolphins, very loving and informative, rather than cruel and merciless as depicted by the activists.
He said he first went to the Beijing Aquarium in 2008, when he arrived in the capital for study, and was very impressed.
"The dolphin show was cute," said the student from South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. "That was the first time I saw a dolphin in the flesh."
Zhou said it would be sad if animal performances are banned, especially the dolphin shows.
"People, especially those from inland cities, could see and touch animals and become further aware of how to protect them, which is a good

Scientists use satellites to map penguins from space
Scientists counting emperor penguins from space have found twice as many of the birds in Antarctica as expected.
The discovery is reassuring for a species seen as under threat from global warming and will provide researchers with a benchmark for monitoring the giants of the penguin world in years to come.
Using high-resolution satellite images to study each of 44 colonies around the coastline of Antarctica, experts said on Friday they put the total emperor penguin population at 595,000, or roughly double previous estimates of 270,000 to 350,000.
"It's good news," team leader Peter Fretwell of the British Antarctic Survey said in an interview.
"It gives us a bit more confidence not only that there are lots of emperor penguins out there but that we can actually keep track of them as well."
Seven of the colonies studied had never been seen before.
A key advantage of satellites is that they can capture multiple images in one go, whereas visiting dozens of remote colonies in temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius would be hugely expensive and time-consuming.
Still, conducting a penguin roll-call from space is not simple. It took a special technique known as pan-sharpening to increase the resolution of the satellite images to differe

Gaza zoo features mummified animals
A trip to the zoo usually means the chance to see live exotic animals on display, but the Dream Park El Janoob Zoo in Khan Younis on the Gaza Strip showcases its animals in a different way.
Visitors are treated to an entire exhibition of mummified animals. Workers embalm dead animals such as lions and tigers that are then placed in cages.
This gives people the chance to stroke the furry creatures without being attacked, as would happen with a living wild animal.
The reasons for a seemingly morbid method of displaying animals is due to financial shortages in shipping of live creatures from countries like Egypt and Senegal and ongoing challenges in importing goods into Gaza.
Israel has imposed land, air, and sea blockades on the territory since 2007, in a bid to prevent illegal smuggling of weapons and military material from reaching its Islamist rulers Hamas.
Among the visitors are school children, and like Rwan Ghames, they are very well aware of the reasons for displaying mummified animals at the local zoo.
Zoo owner Ziad Owadah maintains the mummified animals, and says that it would be a waste to get rid of them considering how expensive they we

Stolen penguin back safe in Australia Sea World
A trio of men faces charges after allegedly stealing a penguin from Sea World on the Gold Coast of Australia's Queensland and then bragging about it online.
Dirk, one of the park's 29 fairy penguins, was found under Southport pier Sunday night, frightened but apparently not hurt.
The theft on Saturday night was the first of an animal in the park's 40-year history, the park's spokeswoman Renee Soutar said on Monday.
Police alerted Sea World after someone saw pictures of the penguin on Facebook allegedly posted by the three men, who were releasing it nearby.
Sea World then reached out to local media to get the public's help in finding the penguin. Someone then spotted

Farming aquarium species to save them

Shawn Garner watches over 18 tanks of hundreds of tiny sea horses, bobbing among the artificial sea grasses and plastic zip ties provided to give their tails a hitching post.
“It’s the coolest animal in the world,” he said, showing them off with a touch of both pride and awe. “It has a head like a horse, a tail like a monkey and a pouch like a kangaroo.”
Garner, supervisor of the Mote Marine Laboratory’s sea-horse conservation lab, is one of several experts across the country trying to raise ornamental fish and other wild marine species in captivity. These researchers, many working at aquariums and zoos, are engaging in the kinds of farming operations once reserved for fish sold in food markets and restaurants.
For sea horses, the stakes are high. Nearly one-fourth of the 36 sea-horse species assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature are threatened with extinction.
Three factors account for the deaths of tens of millions


London Zoo, Old Bailey and Victoria & Albert Museum on new stamps from Royal Mail


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Toronto Zoo Elephant Update April 2012

The elephant crates have started to arrive at Toronto Zoo and yet the fate of these animals has still not been properly addressed. It has been wrong all the way down the line. Refresh your memory and read Toronto Zoo Elephants In Trouble.

No-one is in any doubt that a move elsewhere is not the right thing to do, unless of course suitable financial support were given to Toronto, but right now I, amongst so many others who actually genuinely care about these animals believe that the move to the PAWS is the wrong move to make. Euthanasia would probably be a kinder option.

Are the Toronto Zoo councillors really going to sit back and watch these animals move to somewhere where their health is compromised? Are all they really concerned about is their kickback from Bob Barker and their chance to hobnob with a bunch of ignorant celebrities? (I am not including those with a little knowledge here).

Councillor Michelle Berardinetti seems determined to ignore the Tuberculosis issue. In fact she denies that it exists. Hear it from the horses mouth here Go to November 6 2011 - Part 2. Councillor Berardinetti has been lamed my name dropping in my eyes. Not something I take great credence from

In 'Toronto Zoo Elephants in Trouble' I asked the question:

"Were the councillors kept in the dark over the TB question?"

Well it seems they were not. Read the three documents below. If the councillors were unaware at an early stage then they certainly not now. What are they going to do about it?

Are elephants really any better off in the so called 'sanctuaries'? Have a think about it.

Deaths in "sanctuaries" under 47:

Ruby (Rafiki), 42 years old, PAWS (African, the funny thing is PAWS tried to claim she was 50...)

71, 26 years old, PAWS (African)

Tinkerbelle, 39 years old, PAWS (Asian)

Sabu, 30 years old, PAWS (Asian)

Barbara, 35 years old, Tennessee (Asian)

Tina, 34 years old, Tennessee (Asian)

Jenny, 34 years old, Tennessee (Asian)

Lottie, 47 years old, Tennessee (Asian)

Ned, 22 YEARS OLD, Tennessee (Asian)

Zulu, 34 years old, Tennessee (African)

The age of death in these institutions mirrors the majority of deaths in the AZA... (Source: Wayne Jackson)

It is not to late to save the Toronto animals. To have their wellbeing decided by the people who love and know them best, the keepers and staff of Toronto Zoo.

Read More About Elephants

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Zoo News Digest 1st - 11th April 2012 (Zoo News 812)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 11th April 2012 (Zoo News 812)

Dear Colleague,

Is plagiarism the sincerest form of flattery? I wonder? In fact it is theft. People stealing my work, my research and even my life. Yes my life. When they copy verbatim my experience and relate it as if it were own. Do they feel any guilt I wonder?

What do you think about the idea of a 'Baby Zoo'? Do you think it would appeal? There is no doubt in my mind that it would. We have similar today with farm animals. Petting zoos. People like baby animals. Facebook is awash with cutey cutey photos and their gooey sugar coated comments in the genre of 'Aaaaaah' and 'Loveleeee' and 'I want one'. Then there are the 'Daily Adorable' web sites. It is all a bit stomach churning for me. I don't knock it though (well perhaps just a little bit) as anything which gets people interested in animals has got to be a good thing. Interest should lead to a little research and investigation amd hopefully this will lead to knowledge. Back to the 'Baby Zoo'. It would not work. Animals grow up. All zoos breed animals to some degree so all zoos have babies some of the time. This 'Baby Zoo' would be different however. This would be babies all of the time. Babies deliberately pulled for hand rearing. Deliberately taken from the wild, parents and siblings slaughtered just to obtain them. No doubt there would be the attendant declawing and defanging. Why? Just so a group of uninformed people can pet and cuddle them. Ultimately the animals which survived this cruel, unkind and unnecessary youth will end up as psychological cripples and then be 'donated' to a zoo. Sadly, very sadly, this 'Baby Zoo' is a likely possibility. Some of the baby Chimpanzees and Orangutans which have recently been smuggled into the UAE are probably destined to go somewhere just like that. Perhaps this is where the Baby Orangutan and Silvery Gibbon illegally held by the Emirates Park Zoo/Abu Dhabi Kids Park have already disappeared to.
Look through the links below and you will see that the Emirates Park Zoo/Abu Dhabi Kids Park have a new website. They proudly declare that they are members of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) and International Zoo Educators Association (IZEA) as well as stating that "we work closely with the Al Ain Zoo, the Sharjah Breeding Centre and Sir Baniyas Island.". Frightening in many ways and just one of the reasons that I become disillusioned about the state of play in the zoo world in general. Such disillusionment has its flames fanned by emails people send me and stories I hear. It may seem like just a story but I met a guy in a bar the other night .... I might just have brushed off what he told me but the details were too precise. Dolphins dying in a dolphinarium. Not just one or two. Not heard figures like that since the 1960's. Horrible!

Not that I would go over to the side of the anti-zoos because I have always been anti some zoo, the crap Dysfunctional Zoos. The anti zoos appear to be having a special week. Check out the links below. Their whole problem, though they don't see it as such, is that they twist the truth. It is never quite a lie but it is never quite the truth either. They then make things a whole lot worse by raking up the past with their muck rake. They cannot accept that a person or organisation can change.

And talking of change, Craig Busch says that he is about to and then moves into attack mode and harking on about teeth. What about the claws? What is he going to do there? If he is really sincere about change then he really needs to come out and admit responsibility (because he never has) and to be open about conservation....though if you watch the video interview, again see the links, you will note he is a bit confused, well more than a bit actually. Craig really does have to tell the truth because if he told his groupies and accolytes that the world was flat they would believe him. The truth has to be good move. But will he?

Hidden away in my Zoo News Digest Blog is an advert for a 'Zoo For Sale' Although advertised some time ago it is getting a massive amount of hits this week. I attribute this to the release of the movie "We Bought A Zoo". It strikes me that if you were looking to sell a zoo that right now would be the time to do it. Similarily the various articles I have written on HubPages shoot up and down in popularity as the subject is covered in the news. It is however very rare to see 'The Soapy Massage' to be knocked off the top spot. Peoples interest in sex seems to always come to the fore.

In principle I think the idea of 'Indian zoos to be graded on performance' is a wonderful idea but I am afraid that in India the fox has got into the henhouse (CZA). The numerous stories that hit the press show complete confusion. Okay, I know and appreciate that the press are sometimes to blame for the mix up but any suggestion of a breeding programme for white tigers is insane at best. India would be best closely examining the British legislation and mirroring it. True enough it may have its flaws (see links) but without a shadow of a doubt it is the best in the world.

The story 'Vietnam bear sanctuary struggles to fight off developers' I found very distressing. They were just building the first bear enclosures there when I wisited a few years back. The only bears were a couple of rescue cubs. Now it home to adults rescued from Bile Farms....and now corruption rears its ugly head. I can smell its vile stench even from where I am.

I am back home on holiday in Thailand for the Pattaya Songkran festival . The greatest and funnest water fight in the world. If you are in the area, look me up.


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Kids Park becomes Emirates Park Zoo
The Family and Children’s Zoo located in Al Bahia has officially changed its name from Kids Park to Emirates Park Zoo. The new name is to commemorate the UAE’s 40th National Day in December 2011.
Park owner Nasser Al Nuaimi said that the change was undertaken in support of the government’s efforts to elevate the status of the UAE as a country with a rich history and cultural heritage.
The zoo also aims to cultivate an appreciation of nature and wildlife, particularly among the youth. Visitors have access to interactive experiences allowing them to touch and feed the animals, as well as learn from professional guides.
Opened in 2008, the Kids Park Zoo was the first of its kind in the Capital. It is home to over 1,400 animals, wild and domestic. As part of its current expansion programme, the zoo is planning to increase this number to 2,000 and to introduce new species such as anacondas, hippopotamuses and sea lions.
The large-scale expansion will also introduce new facilities to the§ion=theuae

Fatal attractions: Wild side of the UAE
Shocking documentary by young Emirati reveals over 3,000 people in the UAE keep dangerous animals as pets
Over 3,000 people in the UAE have wild animals as domestic pets, reveals a hard-hitting documentary by a young Emirati filmmaker.
In what could be the boldest expose yet, Marwan Al Hammadi, 22, a third-year student of applied communications at the Dubai Men's College has produced a 15-minute short film titled Cats which zooms into villas and farms across the UAE where proud owners talk about their prized possessions as the majestic cats lounge around them.
The documentary, chosen from thousands of entries in a student competition, will be aired at the fifth Gulf Film Festival beginning in Dubai on April 10.
An exclusive preview of Cats on Tuesday indicated that the stories portrayed could be the tip of the iceberg. In a revealing preface, the film claims that over 3,000 people in the UAE have wild animals as domestic pets. Of those, many own three or more.
The Arabic commentary (with English subtitles) set against images on a mobile phone screen is no coincidence. "In fact, the idea of making the film came from the phone as pictures of exotic cats are being exchanged all the time. So I wondered who these people were and where the animals came from. I was surprised when I learnt the huge number of exotic animal owners, some of whom have more than 100 varieties, not just cats," said Al Hammadi, who directed the film along with Saeed Abbas Al Emadi, his junior in college.
The actual film opens with a pet owner pulling out a crate with a lion cub from his car at his spacious villa. He talks about how his family was shocked when he first brought the cub home. But they accepted him later, he says, even as the camera zooms in on the six-month-old cub at her playful best.
Another owner of a lion cub relates the challenges he had weaning away the cub from its mother in captivity. He asks his three children whether they love him or not. And they answer in the affirmative as they sit on a sofa, stroking their favourite pet.
A third owner of a two-year-plus cheetah is also sitting on a sofa in his villa with the animal by his side. He evidently got her when she was five months old and boasts about how she is with him "everywhere" - in the house, in the car and when he is with his friends. He even used to let her sleep on his bed.
Besides owners relating their experiences, images of chained or caged creatures at several homes stand out in sharp contrast to the sense of freedom these animals enjoy in the wild.
There is also a focus on the common practice of clipping animals' claws and teeth which is not just painful to the animals but denies them their basic faculties.
Inputs from a vet and an authority on exotic animals from Ras Al Khaimah stress the dangers of feeding them the wrong foods, raising them like domestic pets and bringing them illegally into the country. Even the cat owners acknowledge the need for a body that could help organise their tribe.
Al Hammadi said it took five months to complete the project which proved to be a huge learning experience.
"While filming, we actually got to play with some of the cubs, but we didn't feel right about it in the end. It was almost as if they had come here on a one-way ticket from the wild," he said.
There was another revelation: the pride associated with keeping exotic cats in the UAE. "It is in the personality of the people who live here. We live in a place of superlatives, the tallest, the biggest, the most exotic and so on. People want to apply that in their lifestyles as well. And they find ways to make it happen," said Al Hammadi.
As for how he managed to get access to homes with the big cats, he said he was refused by many owners.
He was thankful to those who consented as they did it in good faith. "My aim was only to depict reality, to show things for what they are."

Zoo raid unconstitutional, judge rules
The Hattiesburg American reports ( that Circuit Judge William Barnett ruled this week that the seizure of the animals without notice to the owners or an opportunity for a hearing violated due process clauses.
Barnett said Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks' regulations regarding the seizure of inherently dangerous animals requires three days' notice before officials obtain an order of seizure from justice court. Barnett said the department rules were violated because officials gave the three days' notice after the seizure order was already entered, thus denying zoo owners Gus and Betty White a hearing.
Barnett sent the case back to Forrest County Justice Court.
The return of the currently displaced tigers, wolf hybrids, leopards, cougars and a Rhesus macaque to the zoo is pending a full hearing in justice court.
"We'll all have our day in court. We expect to prevail," said Jim Walker, MDWFP spokesman.
Betty White said judges in the past have ruled in her favor.
"But it didn't do us any good because (MDWFP) didn't listen to the judge's orders," she said.

Rhino Summit in Nairobi develops action plan
The Nairobi based conservation centre of the African Wildlife Foundation, in short AWF hosted a continental meeting during the week, aimed to discuss strategies on protecting the rhinos, now under assault like never before. Prices for a kilogram of rhino horn have risen to an all time level of as much as 50.000 US Dollars, pricier than even gold, and with nearly 450 rhinos killed last year in South Africa alone, now a hotbed for organizied commercial scale poaching, NGO’s and conservationists from around the world came to Nairobi to seek solutions.
Helen Gichohi, President of AWF, said in her statement: ‘Wildlife authorities, private land rhino reserve owners, conservation organizations, and others have made valiant efforts to halt the rhino poaching crisis, but these disparate actions have sadly been no match for this epidemic that is plaguing Africa’. KWS Chief Executive Dr. Julius Kipng’etich also appealed to the meeting participants to urgently find ways and means to stop the menace, disclosing that in 2011 Kenya lost 24 of the endangered species, while reaffirming Kenya’s position to continue opposing any form of trade, which according to some participants has led to the increase in poaching in the first place, a thinly concealed reference to what many now see as a failed policy by the CITES Secretariat, caving in to powerful economic pressures from some Southern African states.
Kipng’etich also voiced his doubts over the effectiveness of dehorning as a sole measure to protect

Zoo targeted by protesters
Animal rights activists have been protesting outside a zoo farm in Wraxall, in North Somerset today. It's part of a national campaign saying it's wrong for animals to be held in captivity for entertainment.
Today, they encouraged vistors to Noah's Ark Zoo Farm to spend their money elsewhere.**
One of the campaigners, who wished only to be known as "Jenny" told us: "Zoos are an old Victorian idea and its a questions of making money out of showing animals - they should not be in cages. Zoos are not the place for animals. They wont show their natural behaviour, so what kind of education are you really showing the public?"
Anthony Bush, has worked at the farm for more than 50 years, and now owns it. He say's he's only trying to do the very best by the animals and it's not about making money.
"We've never made a profit, its never been the aim of running noah's ark, never has, will, but we do want to look after he animals well, we want to give

Read the comments below the following article. The amount of ignorance is only complemented by the biased ignorance of the article itself. The trouble is that Daily Mail readers actually believe this tripe.

Animals in British zoos live in conditions 'as bad as those in the former Soviet Bloc'
Animals in some British zoos are kept in conditions little better than those in former Soviet Bloc countries, it was claimed last night.
A major undercover investigation of zoos, wildlife parks, bird of prey centres and aquaria, revealed numerous cases of agitated animals and repetitive behaviour.
Other animals were in a state of apathy, while many enclosures were dirty and drinking water was stagnant or dirty.
Animals whose plight has been highlighted by the Born Free Foundation include a Bornean orang-utan living in ‘horrendous’ conditions and an Asiatic bear huddled against the wall of a bear pit at Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands.
A panther, an elusive and private creature, was pictured in a barren enclosure at the zoo at the Drayton Manor theme park in Staffordshire.
Although the panther, or black leopard as it is more properly known, did have access to some inside space, the charity is still concerned about the lack of stimulation for a breed that thrives on swimming, climbing and hunting.
And at Exmoor Falconry and Animal Park a kookaburra was seen housed in a ‘dilapidated garden shed’.
Some 25 English animal attractions were randomly chosen and inspected, as part of an investigation of more than 20,000 enclosures at 200 zoos and animal parks in 20 countries across Europe.
Will Travers, who founded the Born Free Foundation with his actor parents Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers, said: ‘In some respects, the enclosures we found in the UK are little better than those in former Eastern European countries which many only now be in the process of applying zoo legislation.
‘Whereas, in the UK, we have had modern zoo legislation since 1984 – nearly 30 years.’
The zoos have described the photos as ‘highly-selective’ and said it is impossible to get the full picture without doing extensive visits and questioning keepers and other staff.
Pictures of Dudley Zoo show an orang-utan that in the wild would live in the treetops of Borneo peering woeful out of a small, white-washed enclosure.
Mr Travers said that the enclosure, which appears to boast little more than a wooden climbing frame and a few tyres, has barely changed since he visited the attraction in the 1980s.
He told the Daily Mail: ‘The orang-utan very rarely comes to ground, it lives almost its entire life in the forest canopy, in a dynamic environment.
‘The trees move, the branches move, the seasons change, the seeds and the fruits change at the time.
‘But what we are looking at here is a static, sterile environment that bears no resemblance to any of the conditions in its natural habitat.’
Daniel Turner, the scientist who did most of the inspections while pretending to be an ordinary visitor, described the orang-utan’s plight as ‘horrendous’ and the animal as ‘lethargic, bored and deeply frustrated’.
The charity is also concerned about the zoo’s bear pit, where an Asiatic bear was photographed lying on a pile of woodchip and seemingly disinterested on what was going on nearby.
The woodchip covering provides comfort and allows the animal to get pleasure from digging.
But, at the time visited, the enclosure seemed to lack much else to interest the animal.
Mr Turner said: ‘Bears are very inquisitive animals, they need a highly mentally stimulating environment, with lots of foraging, climbing and privacy from view.
‘It looks completely disinterested and that’s not how bears are. They don’t just sit there, they are always foraging and looking for things and need to be kept mentally stimulated.’
The report states: ‘Many enclosures in 13 of the 25 selected zoos lacked the appropriate facilities, fixed furnishings, environmental complexity and enrichment that would permit and encourage the opportunity for animals to rest, seek shelter or privacy, exercise and carry out natural behaviours.’
The investigation also revealed some English zoos to do little conservation, breeding or scientific research.
There is also concern that not telling the public and, in particular, children to wash their hands after animal handling sessions will put them at risk of diseases such as salmonella.
Europe-wide, the enquiry revealed a ‘woeful’ lack of enforcement of the laws that cover zoos, leaving thousands of animals living in sub-standard conditions.
Mr Travers said that while the Born Free Foundation, which will present its findings to the European Commission later this month, would ideally like to see zoos phased out, it believes those creature that are kept in captivity should have the best possible lives.
He said: ‘We want zoos to meet their legal requirements, also their moral obligations and public expectations and the great majority worldwide don’t do that.’
Lib Dem MEP Bill Newton-Dunn, said: ‘The Born Free Foundation Report clearly shows that more must be done to raise the standards of many of our zoos in terms of better living conditions for animals but also with regard to education and conservation.’
The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums said the report contained many flaws.
Miranda Stevenson, the trade body’s chief executive and a zoo inspector, said: ‘They went into zoos anonymously and didn’t ask any questions, so you are bound to have inaccuracies.’
Dudley Zoo said that enriching its animals’ lives is part of the keepers everyday work, described the report and photographs as ‘highly selective’ and said the sunken enclosure for bears was a listed building.
CEO Peter Suddock said official inspections had given the zoo a clean bill of health and added: ‘Most Bank Holiday Mondays a handful of animal rights campaigners position themselves at entrances to various zoos across the country.
‘They anger visitors and irritate queuing members of the public. No doubt this latest Born Free report has been timed to create greatest impact.’
Exmoor Falconry and Animal Park, now Exmoor Owl and Hawk Centre, said the kookaburra is kept in a large, spacious open aviary and any use of a shed would only have been temporary.
Drayton Manor Zoo said the picture misrepresents its leopard enclosure.
A spokesman said: ‘It doesn’t depict the full enclosure, which is much larger than the photograph suggests and includes cubbing den facilities, as well as sensory and object stimulants as part of our dedicated animal enrichment programme.
‘We also have two leopards now as part of our ongoing commitment to the breeding of endangered animal species.’

Scott vetoes "Jurassic Park" bill sought by Lowry Park Zoo, approves dyeing chicks and bunnies
Giraffes, zebras and rhinos won't be roaming Florida's parks — not yet, anyway.
But if they do, they could be dyed blue.
Late Friday, Gov. Rick Scott vetoed a bill that had been pushed by Lowry Park Zoo officials that would have allowed zoos to lease state land to create breeding herds of everything from gazelles to elephants. But Scott said one reason he vetoed it is because the law already allows the state to lease land to anyone — even zoos.
Meanwhile he signed a wide-ranging agriculture bill, HB 1197, that exempts farms from having to pay local stormwater fees and bars local governments from regulating beekeeping.
The agriculture bill's most controversial provision lifts a 45-year-old ban on selling chicks, bunnies and dogs that have been dyed pink, blue or a whole rainbow of colors. Animal welfare groups and veterinarians had opposed the bill, which had been filed at the request of a dog groomer who wanted to color his show dogs for more dramatic effect. It takes effect July 1.
Scott signed 80 bills into law Friday, including the so-called "Caylee's law," HB 37, that makes it a third-degree felony to give false information to a law enforcement officer about a missing child. The bill was driven by public outrage over the death of 2-year-old Caylee Anthony and her mother's subsequent acquittal on murder charges.
He also approved SB 436, which stiffens the penalties for video voyeurism and clarifies that a person has a right to privacy in his or her residence. The bill was a reaction to two Bulgarian women discovering cameras inside their Hillsborough County apartment last year.
Scott also vetoed HB 865, which would have swapped a property tax with a sales tax in Pinellas County. The extra revenue could be used to pay for a new light rail system, which is estimated to cost about $1.7 billion. Although the swap would take place only if voters approved a sales tax in 2013 or 2014, Scott said it represented an opportunity for a large tax increase.
In a letter explaining why he rejected the zoo bill, HB 1117 — dubbed the "Jurassic Park bill" by environmental activists — Scott wrote that it "lacks sufficient safeguards" to "ensure the protection of state … lands, native species and habitats."
Also, Scott wrote, he believes the law already allows the governor and Cabinet and the five water management districts to lease state lands "for any use" that doesn't violate the state Constitution.
Scott's veto delighted Laurie MacDonald of Defenders of Wildlife, who said it "protects our public lands and it protects our native wildlife."
But the bill's sponsor, Rep. Shawn Harrison, R-Temple Terrace, said he didn't mind the veto because Scott assured him personally that the law already allows state officials to lease land to the zoos. They just haven't done it yet.
"I'm happy … that we've brought attention to the fact that Florida law already allows this to happen," Harrison said.
"We will be watching very closely any applications for this use," MacDonald warned.
The bill had been pushed by Lowry Park Zoo vice president Larry Killmar, who is president of the Florida Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He said Friday that the group will now "certainly plot forward" toward

Panda-moanium: 'The world is watching. And it's putting me off'Edinburgh zoo's famous couple have failed to mate. They turned to Guardian sex expert Pamela Stephenson Connolly for help

Dear Dr Connolly,

I am writing to you from a poorly constructed "love tunnel" at Edinburgh zoo. The people I have been contracted to (at vast expense) thought this would be a great place for a female co-worker and I to do the nasty. Seriously? All right, it's a contractual obligation for us to go through the motions of a little fluff and foreplay but, to my way of thinking, actual jiggy-jiggy is a grey area. To be honest, it just doesn't feel right, all those zoologist wetting themselves whenever I produce the slightest chubby. Is it so wrong to wish they'd all take a running hike? Or at least stick some Cialis in my bamboo shoots?

Please advise

Yang Guang

Dear Mr Guang

You are not alone. And that's an understatement. There can't be many males in the world – even famous sex workers like yourself – who can achieve erectile success with the whole world watching. Don't believe them when they say they've turned off your "panda cam". They may have stopped broadcasting to Nat Geo but I can assure you there's an HD feed to zoology departments in every institution of higher learning on the planet. And probably on YouTube too. Understandably, your performance anxiety is at a peak, and your male pride is at stake. But surely you've signed a "pay or play" deal? Under the circumstances, I recommend you keep Percy in his pack, rake in another million for your handlers, and take it easy for another year.

Dear Dr Connolly,

I am writing to you from a deliciously comfortable "love tunnel" at Edinburgh zoo. I'm hot, I'm ready, but unfortunately my love god is MIA. I thought I played it just right – being all "come hither" from a distance till the time was right – and I really thought this guy I fancied was feeling it too. But when it came down to it, he just pawed me a bit then sloped off for a wank. Ouch. Back home, I'm considered quite a catch, so this guy's done nothing for my self-esteem. Is he gay? Addicted to

Toronto Zoo’s ‘hidden work’ is saving endangered species
Some experts are calling it an extinction crisis.
Around the world, animals are disappearing at an alarming rate. Of the world’s 5,499 types of mammals, 79 have become extinct or extinct in the wild, 194 are listed as critically endangered, 447 are endangered and 497 are vulnerable, according to the “red list’’ of threatened species issued by a widely respected environmental group, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN.
Scientists, veterinarians, curators and other animal experts at the Toronto Zoo are waging an aggressive campaign — most of it behind the scenes — to prevent more than 100 of those species from vanishing.
There’s the Toronto Zoo visitors take in as they visit various enclosures and watch the curious habits of multitudes of creatures.
And then there’s the “hidden zoo,” engaged in species survival plans and other conservation efforts.
Zoo conservation staff participate in everything from habitat restoration, to captive breeding and reintroduction, veterinary and reproductive research, and the exchange of genetic information with other zoos.
It’s extremely detailed work.

Animal rights campaigners hold protest outside Dudley Zoo
ANIMAL rights protesters are targeting Midland zoos over the Easter bank holiday.
The Captive Animals’ Protection Society waved placards at families as they entered Dudley Zoo yesterday with logos reading: “Sad eyes and empty lives – the reality of zoos.”
They are planning to repeat their protest at the attraction tomorrow and members are due to attend Twycross Zoo in Staffordshire today.
The demonstrators warned that the bank holiday action would be followed up by at least 1,000 of their members staging a huge animal rights rally in Birmingham city centre on April 28.
Dudley Zoo chief executive Peter Suddock hit out at the protesters, saying: “They anger visitors and irritate queuing members of the public.”
Demonstrator Dean Bracher, Birmingham Animal Aid group co-ordinator, admitted that children arriving at the zoo could get upset by their banners, but he said it was part of educating youngsters about the unsuitability of keeping animals in captivity.
He said zoos’ traditional argument that keeping animals in captivity meant their survival could be guaranteed “did not wash any more” because 95 per cent of animals

“A Licence to Suffer”: Zoo report highlights how the law is failing animals in English zoos
Leading animal protection charity, The Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS), has today launched a groundbreaking report which lays bare the apparent failure of the law to effectively protect animals held in zoos in England.
The charity, which campaigns against the keeping of animals in captivity, said that the report will shed new light on the oft-held belief that animals in zoos in the UK fare better than in other countries due to the strict legislative framework designed to ensure zoos meet minimum standards. The summary report, entitled “A Licence to Suffer” relates the main findings from a study carried out by independent consultant, Jordi Casamitjana, which examined the practical application of the Zoo Licensing Act 1981 and found a vast number of widespread and systemic problems which, the charity says, indicates that the system is not only not working, but is fundamentally unworkable. The report features previously unpublished photographs from award-winning wildlife photographer, Britta Jaschinski, and a foreword by world-renowned animal behaviourist, Marc Bekoff.
The study, which encompassed a random sample of 75% of all zoos in England, used official zoo inspection reports completed by authorised inspectors

Circus link zoo received Government grant of £265k to support opposed elephant exhibit
A Freedom of Information Act request by campaigners at the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) has today revealed that Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm, which was shamed by an investigation by the charity in 2009, which revealed links with the notorious Great British Circus, has been given a massive £265,745 Government grant to fund plans for its proposed elephant exhibit.
The zoo, which misleadingly refers to the planned exhibit as a “sanctuary”, has been heavily criticised by leading animal protection organisations, who have unanimously called for a stop to the plans. The zoo had claimed that it would meet welfare standards laid out in guidelines written by elephant experts but authors of the guidelines made formal demands that any reference to their work be removed, and said that claims that the establishment could meet their strict code of practice were “farcical”.
The grant has been provided by the Rural Development Programme for England which is focused upon support for “farmers and foresters in delivery of environmentally beneficial land management practices”. The zoo mentions the grant on its website but the amount given remained undisclosed. With the true figure revealed, CAPS has branded the move “an apalling use of Government funds”.
Said Director of CAPS, Liz Tyson:
“Leading animal experts have been calling for years to see a complete end to the keeping of elephants in zoos, in recognition that they are inherently unsuited to life in captivity. Noah’s Ark continue to refer to their proposed exhibit

A couple of points here...Good Zoos ARE sanctuaries and 'experts'...well 'ex' is a has been and and a spert (spurt) is gas or water under pressure.

Jerez: Zoo animals facing starvation in the city that ran out of cash
Alasdair Fotheringham reports from Jerez, where public employees go without pay
One of the unexpected attractions of the small Andalusian city of Jerez de la Frontera, or just plain 'Jerez' as it is popularly known, is that it boasts one of Spain's finest zoos.
But it has a problem. Nobody knows how long Jerez - which has the dubious honour of being Spain’s second most indebted municipality after Madrid - can afford to feed the animals.
The omens are not good. Jerez's bankrupt town hall has already run out of money to pay its municipal employees - which includes school cleaners, police and fire services, health workers, even grave diggers - with any degree of regularity. It can’t pay for spare parts for the town’s buses and police cars, let alone the electricity bills. And there are fears that the animals’ food could be next.
“I’ve heard they are ok for now, but they’re in a crisis situation,” says one Jerez

Pandas' brief encounter fails, but the ducks did it
Once Tian Tian had ovulated, which occurs only once a year, she had just 36 hours to get pregnant
Making beautiful babies is clearly more of a problem for giant pandas than for rare ducks. Britain's panda pair, Tian Tian and Yang Guang at Edinburgh Zoo, ran out of mating time yesterday as their much-hyped but limited breeding season drew to an unsuccessful close.
At the same time it was announced that the world's rarest duck, the Madagascar pochard, had produced 18 ducklings in captivity in its native land – an achievement hailed as an "incredible step forward" in saving the bird from extinction.
The two pandas had been brought together this week when it became clear that Tian Tian, the female, had ovulated – an event that happens only once a year – leaving her a mere 36 hours in which to get pregnant.
The animals met in a "tunnel of love" between their two enclosures, but despite showing much mutual interest, wrestling, grunting and climbing

Lionman determined to move on from controversial past
Northland's controversial wildlife park has reopened, with lionman Craig Busch leading the pride.
The newly named Kingdom of Zion has had a troubled past - including the death of a zoo keeper, liquidation, and a bitter ownership dispute.
Today was a new beginning for the 36 big cats at the Kingdom of Zion as the public gathered for the park’s official opening, and the new owners are determined to restore the park back to its former glory.
The opening is a step towards restoring the park’s reputation but, speaking on RadioLive, Craig Busch admits there is still a long way to go.
“I think it’s an absolute mess and disgrace,” says Mr Busch. “Things have been put together in an unsafe way – very dangerous to be handled by the staff that used to be here.”
The cats are now receiving medical care.
“There is things to do with teeth that should have been sorted years ago and their teeth have gone rotten, and they’ve got big infections that can kill them. Another has got an eye problem.”
For Mr Busch today’s opening marks the end of his three year exile form the park.
He was dismissed in late 2008 after his mother Patricia took over, and they fought bitterly over the ownership.
A year later there was more bad publicity for Zion when horrified visitors watched as zoo keeper Dalu McCube was mauled to death by a white tiger.
Now Mr Busch says he is determined

Former Aceh chief denies orang-utans died in burn
THE man who signed the permit allowing 1600 hectares of carbon-rich peat forest and orang-utan habitat to be razed and turned into a palm oil plantation agrees his decision was ''morally wrong''.
However, Irwandi Yusuf, the former governor of Aceh who is seeking a second term in Monday's election, said he had done it as a wake-up call to the international community over its failing climate change policies.
Dr Irwandi, who himself once worked in a project to conserve elephants, signed a pledge soon after becoming governor in 2007 to protect all his province's primary forests, which lock away billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide.
He was also active in international climate negotiations arguing that Acehnese forests could be saved if international companies were prepared to pay to protect them - so-called REDD+ schemes.
But in Banda Aceh this week, Dr Irwandi announced his disillusionment with the REDD+ schemes and threatened to allow more burning if nothing changed.
''The international community think our forest is a free toilet for their carbon,'' he said.
''Every day they are saying they want clean air and to protect forests … but they want to inhale our clean air without paying anything.
''That concession, 1600 hectares, was like a pinch to the international community. Maybe I will make a threat to lift the moratorium [entirely] to

Gigantic aquarium opens in shopping mall with 3,000 fish, 264,000 gallons of water and the strength to withstand earthquakes
Behind the panes of the Aquadream aquarium, 3,000 sea creatures swim through 264,000 gallons of water - all within the confines of Casablanca's Morocco Mall.
So imagine the carnage that would take place if an earthquake were to hit the attraction, which has opened in the tremor-prone North African region.
Luckily, the firm that designed the tank built it with this nightmare scenario in mind, and it has already survived two small quakes during construction.
There were fears that an earthquake would cause it to break, sending water and marine animals cascading through the shopping centre.
But it has been built on its own special foundation and was not affected by two recent tremors.
The American firm responsible say they hope

Lions, tigers become problem pets in the Gulf
On a dusty day in the northern-most Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah, 40-year-old Jasim Ali wrestles playfully with his four-legged friend Teymour over a chew toy. But Teymour is not a dog -- he's a fully-grown African lion.
"There is a special language, I can say, between him and I," said Ali.
Ali rescued Teymour from a farm where, he says, he was a neglected pet.
"I treated him differently than how he had been treated before. So, a love story began between us. He would only eat if he saw me there. If I wasn't there, you would feel he was upset. He would wait for me."
With an African lion, love can be tough. Ali said he's been bitten several times -- always during play --- and although he trusts Teymour implicitly, he always treats him with caution and respect. Ali's main concern during playtime is that one of Teymour's claws may accidentally come out. "He could tear my flesh," he said.
Ali manages the Ras Al Khaimah Wildlife Park, set up a few years ago under the patronage of Sheikh Taleb bin Saqr Al Qasimi, one of the Ras Al Khaimah's royals. He has been adopting neglected and mistreated animals for more than 15 years.
Many of those animals, including Teymour, are endangered or exotic, and were initially bought on the black market.
Owning an endangered animal as a pet is illegal in the United Arab Emirates, a signatory of the Convention on the Illegal Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). However, the trade in endangered wildlife remains a problem in the Gulf, where owning expensive exotic pets, especially big cats, is the ultimate status symbol. A rare white lion sells for around $50,000 on the black market, Abu Dhabi Wildlife Center.
None of the pet owners we approached would speak on the record about illegally purchasing exotic animals, but many amateur videos uploaded online attest to their popularity among young men in the Gulf.
In one YouTube clip that was widely viewed in the region, a man frightens his friend by chasing him around the living room with a chained lioness. Another clip shows a group of men walking a cheetah on a leash in an indoor location. There's even a man trying to ride a fully grown lion.
It is all about bragging rights for the men buying these animals, says Ali.
"If someone buys a very expensive animal, he is boasting that he has enough money to get anything he wants," he said. "If he has a tamed wild animal like a lion, he is trying to show off that he is brave. But this is not courage; this is animal rights abuse."
It has largely fallen on private individuals like Ali, backed by the government, to care for neglected illegally obtained animals.

Wildlife at Lok Kawi in good hands: Dept
The Sabah Wildlife Department on Tuesday denied allegations that orang-utans and Borneo pygmy elephants are being mistreated at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.
Its Senior Veterinarian Officer, Dr Sen Nathan, said all animal lovers out there can rest assured that currently orang-utans, elephants and other wildlife at the park are in good hands.
He said this at a press conference at his office at the Wildlife Park.
Dr Sen addressed points brought up to Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, Datuk Masidi Manjun, in an email sent by Nature Alert's Chief Executive Officer, Sean Whyte.
Backing up his statement with photos, Whyte gave the thumbs down to the zoo keepers who he claimed were caught red-handed feeding orang-utans with junk food (potato crisps) and referred to it as a show that was put on to entertain visitors.
Dr Sen, who replied the email, said: "Let me assure you that this was a one-off case. The keeper concerned has been questioned and severely reprimanded to stick to the food items for token feeding which among them include prunes and raisins."
Token feeding is one of the regular enrichment activities at the park to reduce boredom. Other enrichment activities include hiding food material inside a bamboo and making ice cubes with fruits inside.
"Sometimes the zoo keepers would just throw some sunflower seeds on the ground so that it can be an activity for them to go and look for each seed.
These are the kind of activities that animals in captivity are being exposed to."
"It is not actually a show as Whyte mentioned in his email."
As for the issue of shelter which was also raised, he explained that although the outdoor exhibit will be renovated very shortly to further improve the facility, currently there is still ample shade available to protect them.
Orang-utans are kept in their night stalls during heavy downpours.
"That's where they sleep when the exhibit is closed. They are not left out in the sun or rain to be toasted and soaked," Dr Sen clarified.
Another point raised was on Whyte pointing out that more orang-utans would face the same situation of an orang-utan in the park which drowned in a moat.
To this allegation, Dr Sen said the drowning of their orang-utan in year 2007 was a very sad event and a tragic accident that he hoped to avoid in the future.
"A zoo keeper is stationed at the exhibit at all times to monitor the activity of the orang-utans.
"I must stress here that accidents happen to even the best of zoos."
Dr Sen gave an example of a critically endangered komodo dragon's tragic death which according to him, only number 5,000 in the wild.
The video of the poor animal croaking due to scaling an 8-foot wall can be seen at When asked about elephants being hit, he said he does not blame animal lovers for caring about animals to that extent as the perception of someone in that position is different from someone who is an animal trainer who knows the methods from A to Z.
"In Burma and Vietnam, the training methods to train an elephant

Sanctuary hits snag
THE Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary, which was expected to be ready by the middle of the year for the Borneo Pygmy elephants and other wildlife driven from their habitat, has hit a snag.
There is a shortage of experts to train the elephants.
In fact, there is only one specialist in the state.
He is Sabah Wildlife Department's elephant trainer Jibius Dausip, who is now tasked with recruiting and training mahouts.
Jibius, 48, from Tambunan, who had more than 20 years experience taking care of elephants, said he had seen many of his peers give up their careers as mahouts because it took a lot of sacrifice and dedication.
A mahout needs years of training and is expected to spend long periods away from his family while staying in the remote wilds of Sabah, including at wildlife reserves such as Tabin in Lahad Datu.
While training was mainly done with the elephants rehabilitated at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Jibius said the job went beyond normal working hours as he resided in the Park, always on standby in case of emergencies.
"Elephants are huge but shy creatures and not everyone can handle them.
"That is why you need to create a special bond with each individual elephant.
"This, of course, requires spending a lot of time together.
"I guess I am still in this business because I love working with elephants," said Jibius, who was trained in Thailand and Europe before coming home to Sabah to help train the

Scottish government's Edinburgh Zoo panda advert banned
A Scottish government advert has been banned for suggesting China had "gifted" two pandas to Edinburgh Zoo.
The press advert stated "the Chinese are gifting two giant pandas to live in Scotland, under the custodianship of Edinburgh Zoo".
But two animal charities complained that the text was misleading as the pandas had actually been leased to the zoo at a substantial price.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the advert was misleading.
It had featured in newspapers under the headline: "Celebration of links between Scotland and China as pandas arrive in Edinburgh".
It went on to state: "Now, in a symbolic gesture of friendship between the countries, and following five years of political and diplomatic talks, the Chinese are gifting two giant pandas to live in Scotland, under the custodianship of Edinburgh Zoo."
We considered that consumers would interpret the terms 'gift' and 'gifting' to mean that the pandas were given without payment”
The text continued: "The pandas' presence in Scotland is a sign of a strengthened alliance with China, and opens up new opportunities in trade, culture and education

The elusive freshwater dolphin of the sacred Ganga
Think of the word dolphin and the immediate image that is conjured is one of Bottlenosed Dolphins in the ocean which has made them the visual representative of all dolphins. However it comes as a surprise to some people to learn that there are several species of dolphin, like the Gangetic River Dolphin, that are also found in freshwater systems, rivers and lakes. These animals are not as eye catching and attractive as their sea dwelling partners but nonetheless they are endangered and

Kodiak brown bear escapes US wildlife refuge
An Alaska wildlife centre that takes in orphaned and injured animals is missing one of its larger residents.
The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre announced on Monday that a 136kg, 2-year-old female Kodiak brown bear escaped six days ago from its enclosure near Portage. The bear had been destined for a zoo in Sweden in early summer.
The centre is near Chugach National Forest land in the southernmost end of Anchorage, about 64km from downtown.
The bear was last seen last Tuesday night in mountains between the Portage and Placer valleys, the centre said. A spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the bear was

Indian zoos to be graded on performance
Do you know which is India's best zoo? Soon you will, with the authorities planning to grade the nearly 200 zoos in the country based on their performance on different scales. What's more, those faring poorly could even be penalised.
The Central Zoo Authority (CZA), which oversees the functioning of zoos across the country, is in the process of formulating a grading system which is expected to be in place within a month.
The grading will be done on a scale of 100 under categories like sanitation, planning, environment, human resources, animal enclosures and health, education awareness among staff, administration, visitor facility and overall upkeep.
All 198 CZA recognised zoos in the country will be graded by a team of experts and a certificate each based on their performance will be issued.
"We are coming up with a grading system like the one prevalent in Western countries. All facilities in zoos will be measured on various indices and they will be rated accordingly," B.S. Bonal, member secretary, CZA said.
The grading will be excellent (score of 90-100), very good (70-89), good (50-69), fair (30-49) and unsatisfactory (less than 30).
"The zoos falling in unsatisfactory category will be derecognised and would not be allowed to stay open to the public. A timeframe will be given to them to improve facilities, failing which they will be shut down," said Bonal.
The CZA has already discussed the grading system with zoo directors and all have shown interest in ratings. The grading system will improve the upkeep of zoos as it is likely to develop a sense of competition among various zoos.
The National Zoo Policy, 1998, gives clear directions for the functioning of zoos. It states that the main objective of zoos shall be to complement and strengthen national efforts in the conservation of the rich biodiversity of the country.
"To play the assigned role, the zoos need to have physically, genetically and behaviorally healthy and self-sustaining populations of desirable wild animal species," he said.
This is important not only for display but also as insurance against future exigencies and release/introduction/reintroduction operations in the wild, if required.
To provide financial support, zoos in the country have also been allowed to spend the revenue generated through sale of tickets for upkeep of the zoo rather than depositing in the state exchequer.
The CZA was established in 1992 to oversee the functioning of zoos and provide them with technical and other assistance for their improvement. Accordingly

Vietnam bear sanctuary struggles to fight off developers
Safe behind a 3-metre electric fence, a moon bear swings suspended on a rubber tyre, limbs stretched out to the four points of the compass.
Its mien, bulk and glossy coat all suggest a healthy, happy existence.
But the bear has not always had it easy.
A closer look reveals a missing paw, chewed off in distress over the years that it was locked in a cage, drugged and poked with a needle twice a day to extract its bile before it was rescued.
The Vietnam Bear Rescue Centre is operated by international organisation Animals Asia in Tam Dao national park, about 70 kilometres north of Hanoi.
Currently, 99 sun bears and moon bears live here, confiscated from bile farms or given up by pet owners.
There are around 4,000 bears in farms across the country, and only a few hundred left in the wild.
The sanctuary has been hailed as one of the most successful conservation stories in Vietnam, a country with a rampant trade in animal products and rapid deforestation.
But Animals Asia warns that its future could be at stake if plans to build a hotel in the area get the go-ahead.
The hotel plan is the brainchild of Truong Giang Tam Dao Joint Stock Company.
The company, set up in April 2011, sought permission to rent 48 hectares of land from the national park, under legislation introduced last year allowing tourist resorts with environmental credentials to be built on parkland.
But 6 hectares of the planned development is on land that Animals Asia says is theirs under an agreement with the Agriculture Ministry.
They hope to build enough enclosures on the land to house 101 more bears, implementing the second phase of their 3.4-million-dollar project.
However, when construction started in September, they were stopped by the director of the national park, Do Dinh Tien.
"As soon as soon as workers began digging for the foundations of the new bear enclosure, they were told to stop," Animals Asia country director Tuan Bendixsen said.
Just two days earlier, the park director wrote to the ministry for approval of Truong Giang's application to rent the land.
He has also said the sanctuary is missing required paperwork, including an environmental impact assessment.
Bendixsen said the centre has written approval from the prime minister and a decision from the ministry, and has already invested 240,000 dollars in compensation for the relocation of nine families.
He said any delay to the sanctuary extension could give the bile industry a boost.
"The Forest Protection Department works very hard to save bears from bile farms," he says.
"But they don't have enough resources.
If they have nowhere safe to take confiscated bears, they will have to leave them in the farms and what kind of deterrent will that be to the industry?" In another, Animals Asia said Tien's daughter is one of the four founders of the Truong Giang development company, a claim which appeared to be borne out by the company's registration papers.
The phone number and registration address given were for a grocery shop, whose owner told dpa she had no knowledge of a development company.
Tien denied that his daughter was a founder of Truong Giang.
"Many companies apply to develop land in the national park.
It's up to the ministry to decide who is allowed to," he said.
To resolve the dispute, the government's Administration of Forestry called a meeting in Hanoi last week with conservationists and ministry officials.
Authorities decided that Animals Asia was indeed missing some paperwork, but only of recent changes in environmental regulation.
The group was ordered to submit more documents, and a final decision on the issue was to be published in the next 10 days.
Tran The Lien, director of the government's Natural Conservation Department, said national parks in good locations are hot property at the moment.
"I am under a lot of pressure dealing with land disputes between eco-tourism projects and conservationists," he said.
He is currently working on another case in Ba Vi, 48 kilometres from Hanoi, where developers have clashed with local residents.

Aquarium to open new exhibit on threatened monster fish
There's something primal that leads people to wonder what's lurking below the surface of any large river. Humans seem to be hardwired to be both fascinated by, and somewhat fearful of, Volkswagen-
Soon a remarkable collection of freshwater fish that can reach such legendary sizes will be on display at the Tennessee Aquarium. The new River Giants exhibit, opening April 28th, features amazing species that grow to enormous proportions in the wild.
"These guys are the Goliaths of freshwater," said Thom Demas, the Aquarium's curator of fishes. "And, for the first time anywhere, people will have an opportunity to see a global collection of these giants in a single display."
Giant pangassius catfish, that can reach lengths of more than nine feet in the wild, will be joined by a seven foot beluga sturgeon, impressive Australian whiprays, beefy barramundi and a menagerie of other freshwater creatures from around the world. Demas says some species like marbled eels, ghostly-white alligator gar and wallago will add a bit of the weird to this collection of monster fish.
"The wallago catfish is one of my personal favorites," said Demas. "It has the face of a bullhead and an eel-like body. In Southeast Asia, wallago can grow to eight feet in length."
Redtail catfish, feisty fish with unique markings and very long whiskers, will be another crowd favorite. They'll be found prowling near the bottom of the exhibit while prehistoric-looking arapaima slowly patrol the waters above. Demas predicts guests will snap a lot of pictures of these massive predators. "The arapaima don't just look powerful, they're more than 100 pounds of pure, angry muscle." Demas and other staffers have been in the water working with lots of massive fish while getting the exhibit ready for visitors.
National Geographic Explorer Dr. Zeb Hogan has also had many face-to-face encounters with titanic freshwater fish. Among the 20 species he's highlighted for his popular National Geographic television

Embattled High Park Zoo saved by last-minute cash donation
The High Park zoo will likely stay open until December with the help of a local family. The Honey Family Foundation offered to match donations to the zoo fund of up to $50,000 for the next three years.
The announcement Monday evening was met with cheers from volunteers and zoo-goers. It means the beloved but embattled attraction will likely get the $100,000 it needs to run until the end of the year and buy time to develop a business plan, said councillor Sarah Doucette (Ward 13) at a meeting organized by Friends of the High Park Zoo.
She doesn’t know much about the foundation, which contacted her office last week through the Toronto Community Foundation, a group that funds revitalizing projects in the city. But their generosity has left her shaking, Doucette said.
The foundation “knew that after a while it gets harder to raise money. They wanted to give us a kick-start,” she added.
The zoo has already raised $40,380 through online donations, community fundraisers and donations from zoo-goers, which will allow it to stay open until June.
The foundation will match donations made to the city fund between April 9 and June 15, up to $50,000. They will also match donations of up to $50,000 for the next two years.
It makes saving the zoo less a dream and more a reality for its supporters who packed the Grenadier Cafe on Monday night.
“I feel much more confident now . . . it’s amazing,” said Joanna Van Viegen, who comes to the zoo with her two young children at least once a week.
Funding for the High Park Zoo was axed in February during contentious city budget negotiations. The move will save Toronto $114,000 a year. The animal enclosures, which date back to 1890, currently hold an assortment of deer, bison, yak and other kid-friendly beasts.
A baby llama was born last week.
Doucette hopes the foundation’s gesture will encourage other donors to step forward to keep the zoo open in the long-term. “Other corporations will say, hey your zoo is staying open and they will come forward in the future years,” she said.
Suggestions from the crowd also included paid guided tours and charging to feed the animals.
Still, Doucette said the zoo should be put back in the 2013 city budget, and that it was a mistake to remove it particularly without public cons


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