Saturday, June 23, 2012

Zoo News Digest 19th - 23rd June 2012 (Zoo News 821)

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Dear Colleagues,

If I had thought about it I could have predicted it. PETA putting the boot in when people are grieving. They and other organisations like them do it every time. Do they really think that Duluth Zoo wanted their animals to drown? Do they think they don't care? Do they believe they are not hurting right now? They DO care. This was an act of 'God', a natural disaster. We are faced with global warming and changing weather patterns. WE cannot predict what is going to happen with the weather next. My Thai girlfriend lost her business and consequently our home because of the rain some months back. We did not expect it, we did not want it. We could not predict it. Yet PETA wade in through the waters of other peoples despair stabbing in their harpoons of vitriol. At the same time we CAN predict that if the Toronto Zoo Elephants if moved to the PETA sanctuary that there IS a high liklihood, a real possibility that they will catch tuberculosis. Do PETA care? Do they hell, they don't really care about anything that matters. They sit around waiting for someone new to hate. They don't just have their fingers up their backsides but their whole arms as far as their elbows. If PETA and others like them, like the Born Free Organisation really cared about suffering then they would be using their mountains of money to do something about the Fantasyland Zoo in Riyadh (see )

Still no news from GIZA zoo. Just what are they doing besides nothing?

So Adelaide Zoo is looking for a replacement for chief executive Professor Chris West. Good luck to them. Why have they not approached Zoo News Digest to place an advert? Zoo News Digest and Zoo Jobs reaches more zoo employees, at every level, in more zoos, more often and in more countries than any other publication. The zoo aware subscribe to zoo news digest.

Have you booked in for the International ZooKeepers Congress in Singapore yet?
Leave it to the end of the month and it will cost you more. If you are planing to go then best act now. See you there, I hope. Personally I believe that every zoo that is worthwhile should be paying for at least one of their staff to attend this meeting. It could be done by drawing names from a hat which would create a diverse mix of ages and experiences or by seniority or whatever. Important is that the staff attend as representatives.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.


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PETA demands Duluth zoo be prosecuted for animals' flood deaths
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals say that the Lake Superior Zoo was negligent in allowing 13 or 14 animals to die during the flood Wednesday, calling on Duluth City Attorney Gunnar Johnson to bring cruelty charges against the zoo.
However, Johnson said Thursday, his "very preliminary review" of the matter doesn't indicate that charges are warranted.
"Anytime someone makes allegations of cruelty to animals we take those allegations seriously," Johnson said. "We saw things in the infrastructure fail throughout the city. It's an act of God. A water structure (culvert) didn't work and it failed and that failure caused a series of events that led to the loss of these animals. That appears to be what happened."
PETA says the animals shouldn't

Why are the Elephants Still at the Toronto Zoo? (Part I)
The casino that may or may not be coming to Toronto is going to be the focus of much debate at City Hall over the next few months. As it should; it’s a big decision that will affect the city’s budget and landscape for years to come. 
The state of Toronto’s finances was a major concern for the better part of last year, and then suddenly, at the end of April, we found out we were going to have a budget surplus in the hundreds of millions. Surprise!
However, when Toronto City Council voted to send the Toronto Zoo’s three aging elephants to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Galt, California, way back in October, it was still recovering from 24-hour budget negotiations to slash spending; absolutely everything was on the block. So, when Councillor Michelle Berardinetti (Ward 35, Scarborough Southwest) presented Council, in a suprise motion, the option of getting the elephants off the books as soon as possible, it was a shrewd move. The annual maintenance cost of the elephants is $618,533, and the sooner they go, the sooner the Toronto Zoo, and the city, stops paying for them. The motion passed easily (31-4). And, yet, it’s now June, some eight months after the motion passed, and the three elephants – Toka, Thika, and Iringa – still call Toronto home. This blog post attempts to answer my favourite questions of all time: Why?
Before we get there, though, there are some things you should know about elephants, so you can truly understand the conflict. (And I think it’s safe to say that what has happened at the zoo over the moving

Elephants as Political Football (Part II)
As we all know, winters in Toronto are nothing like they are in Africa (this past winter excluded), and while the outdoor space for Toronto’s three aging African elephants is adequate, the indoor space leaves much to be desired. After going through the infrastructure review, and examining the costs of updating the elephant exhibit, it was decided that the Toronto Zoo could no longer adequately house the elephants without sinking many millions of dollars into a new facility. Money the zoo just doesn’t have.
In May 2011, the zoo administration consulted Toronto’s Zoo Board of Management, and it was announced the exhibit would be closed as soon as a new and appropriate home for the elephants could be found.
Although the zoo has decommissioned exhibits before, it has never closed one this size. The next task was for the zoo administration to come up with a list of possible sites that would be appropriate for the three “ladies,” as they are oft referred, to be sent to. But they never got that far. On October 24, 2011, Toronto City Councillor Michelle Berardinetti put forward a surprise motion, seconded by Councillor Raymond Cho (Ward 42, Scarborough-Rouge River), proposing that city council vote that the elephants be sent to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), in Galt, California. And when council handily passed the motion, it did something it had never done before: It took a decision out of the hands of the trained professionals at the Toronto Zoo and the Toronto Zoo’s Board of Management, and made it a political one. And this is why the decommissioning of the elephant exhibit

Elephant Philosophy (Part III)
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or the AZA as it's otherwise known, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to "the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation." In order to become accredited with the AZA, a zoo or aquarium must go through a lengthy and vigorous screening process. Fewer than 10 per cent of the approximately 2,400 animal exhibitors licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited. The AZA is aiming to be the gold standard by which one can judge a zoo. Two examples of AZA accredited exhibits include the San Diego Zoo, one of the most famous zoos in the world, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. However, the Toronto Zoo is not accredited by the AZA. That’s because it lost its accreditation earlier this year, over concerns about its governance. When Toronto City Council determined what should happen to the zoo’s elephants, instead of the professionals at the zoo who are hired for their expertise to make these decisions, the AZA lost confidence in the Toronto Zoo to run its affairs in keeping with the AZA’s best practices.
But it's not just a question of how the decision was made: AZA also sees animal welfare differently than the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the California sanctuary where Toronto City Council has voted to send the elephants.
PAWS began advocating to move the Toronto Zoo elephants to its facility through Zoocheck Canada, an animal welfare advocacy group, back in 2009. Former American television show host Bob Barker, apparently a big supporter of PAWS, who also has a long history of advocating for the spaying and neutering of household pets, even offered to foot the bill for transporting the elephants to the sanctuary at considerable personal expense.
PAWS wildlife sanctuaries are defined on their website as:
A wildlife sanctuary is a place of refuge where abused, injured and abandoned captive wildlife may live in peace and dignity for the remainder of their lives.
True wildlife sanctuaries do not breed or exploit for commercial activites (including, but not limited to: use of animals for entertainment or sport, sale or trade of animals, their offspring or animal parts and by-products.)
A true sanctuary respects the integrity of individual animals, providing safe, healthy and secure refuge in enclosures specifically designed for the unique animal which it supports.
The PAWS sanctuary in Galt, California is not certified by the AZA. The underlying philosophy that drives PAWS is that animals should not exist in captivity. At all. And there underlies one of the many conflicts in the saga of Toronto’s three elephants.
Much of the staff at the Toronto Zoo believes that animals should be cared for by humans. The ones in zoos, anyway. And they want that care to continue even when the elephants have left the Toronto Zoo. To them, I’d venture to say, sending their elephants off to PAWS is like sending your kid off to an out-of-province college, one that you suspect isn’t very good.
To the people at PAWS, the Toronto elephants have spent their lives in captivity being stared at, poked, and prodded, and they feel that the elephants deserve some peace and quiet now.
Again, I’d venture to say that everyone has their heart in the right place here. The question becomes: Who should decide

Elephants in Limbo (Part IV)
Under normal circumstances, board members of the Toronto Zoo, advised by the zoo’s management, and not Toronto City Council, would decide the fate of Toka, Thika, and Iringa.
So why did Councillor Michelle Berardinetti put forward a last-minute motion to send the elephants to the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary in California?
I spoke to Councillor Berardinetti at some length, and what I took from the conversation is that she felt that the staff at Toronto Zoo were dragging their feet in finding a place for the elephants to go. I also spoke to Councillor Raymond Cho, who sits on the zoo’s board, and who is a councillor in Scarborough, where the zoo is located, and he corroborated that story. The zoo was simply taking too long to come come up with a potential list of viable locations to transfer the elephants to, so council stepped in.
So, in some respects, this is an argument about due process, and what is and what isn’t a reasonable amount of time for a decision to be made. In May 2011, it was announced that the elephants needed a new home, and in October of the same year, Councillor Berardinetti felt that enough time had passed and it was her job to take action. Does five months to find an appropriate home for three, aging African elephants seem like an onerously long time to you?
And, here we are, it’s June 2012, and the elephants are still very much living at the Toronto Zoo. Why?
Because shipping three elephants thousands of miles away is not as easy as it sounds. The elephants need to be trained to stand in a crate, which takes time. The elephants also need to be healthy enough to make the long journey to California, and Iringa suffers from arthritis, so getting her to stand in a crate for hours at a time is already more challenging.
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that having been cut out of the process of finding a new home for their beloved elephants, some of the staff at the Toronto Zoo were upset. Many people have accused the zoo keepers of dragging thier feet in having the elephants crate trained. I don't know if that's true or not, but I do know that the elephants, today, are indeed crate trained.
But there’s more: Since the PAWS sanctuary was not well known to some at the zoo, a group of  volunteers took it upon themselves to do some digging, and they uncovered documented cases of elephant tuberculosis (TB) at PAWS. This was very distressing news, not only because TB can be fatal, but because this wasn’t initially disclosed to the zoo. The Toronto Zoo had requested health reports on the existing elephants at PAWS, as well as necropsy reports on the elephants that died at the sanctuary, and, just this past Wednesday, the lead veterinarian at the Toronto Zoo finally had a chance to look at those reports. Why did that take so long? Because relations between the zoo and the founders of PAWS have deteriorated to the point that they've only been speaking through lawyers. And this friction, I would say, is a direct consequense of taking a decision away from the people who are hired to make it and giving it to city hall.
To be completely fair, it's not unusual for elephants in captivity to develop TB, although they’re usually circus elephants, which tend to be of the Asian variety. The Asian and African elephants at the PAWS facility in California, which by all accounts is a beautiful and large facility, would not be housed together. But it’s the lack of transparency that has caused alarm bells to ring and is potentially why it appears we’re now at an impasse.
Will the Toronto Zoo administration bend to council's will and sign off on sending the elephants to a facility that has known cases of TB? Should they? I don't know the answer to that question. What do you think?
I do think it’s fair to say that the issue of relocating Toronto’s elephants has been a fiasco. Late last month, the Toronto Star reported that John Tracogna, Toronto Zoo’s CEO, was supposed to fly to California and visit the PAWS sanctuary, along with city councillors Giorgio Mammoliti and Michelle Berardinetti, but Pat Derby, the co-founder of PAWS, decided to kibosh the visit.
My takeaway from this whole elephant debacle? City hall should be more careful in the future when it decides to override the body it has set up to make certain decisions. Arms-length organizations are supposed to be just that, and unless it’s suspected that something shady is going down, it’s probably best to let people do what they’re

Britain's Got Talent, and Strange Bedfellows Too (More on PETA)
In recent decades the Circus community has been plagued by false accusations of animal abuse and mistreatment.  Animal Rights organisations such as PETA, CAPS and Born Free, as well as allegedly more moderate Animal Welfare organisations such as the RSPCA have ganged up to vilify a whole industry and community.  At the bottom of these brutal campaigns is the claim that “travelling circuses, by their very nature, cannot meet the welfare

Zoo’s elephants: Could another retirement option be Florida?
Officially the option is off the table, but proponents of the National Elephant Centre in Florida believe the Toronto Zoo’s trio of aging pachyderms would be better off going there than the California sanctuary they’re bound for.
The centre (called TNEC for short) is being built in an orange grove southeast of Orlando. Phase one of the estimated $12.5 million centre is slated to be completed at the end of this year, about 12 of the planned 91 hectares.
The centre hopes to accommodate 30 to 40 elephants once it’s built out in the coming years, though it will only house about seven or eight in its first year.
The non-profit won’t operate like a zoo, because it won’t always be open to the public, and when it is, customers will have to make reservations to get in.
Nor will it be a sanctuary like the PAWS facility, at more than 930 hectares, or one in Tennessee, because elephant breeding will take place.
TNEC is billing itself as a centre for “conservation and management.’’
The decision to send Toronto’s elephants to PAWS has resulted in a drawn-out dispute over whether that was the right choice. Things have become so heated that former game show host Bob Barker recently insisted on an “ironclad guarantee” that his promised gift of $880,000 would be used to pay for a flight for the elephants to California.
It’s not on the radar now, but some zoo staff at several levels, along with an active group of citizens, are holding on to the hope — albeit remote — that TNEC will be where Toronto’s elephants end up.
When Toronto City Council stepped in late last year and voted to transfer the zoo’s three remaining elephants to PAWS (when, after five months of searching, the zoo failed to secure a host after deciding to phase out the exhibit), senior zoo staff revealed they were in “preliminary discussions’’ with TNEC.
But TNEC hadn’t even put a shovel in the ground at that point, so it wasn’t considered a viable option for our beasts.
In the meantime, Zoocheck Canada, the animal rights group assisting PAWS in the transfer process, said this week the new deadline for flying the elephants to California is early August. Top Toronto Zoo officials aren’t committing to that date, however, as the zoo continues its controversy-laden due-diligence review of the sanctuary.
Despite city council’s direction to ship the three aging female African elephants Toka, Iringa and Thika to PAWS, opponents point to reports of tuberculosis among some of the sanctuary’s pachyderms.
“It would be unethical to send elephants to a place that has TB,’’ says one expert source who has knowledge of the situation at PAWS.
Over the past week the Star carried stories about three “positive’’ cases of TB among elephants at PAWS within the last year and a half. Two are deceased — PAWS says they died of arthritis — and one has been in quarantine for more than three years.
But supporters of the sanctuary, such as Toronto councillors Michelle Berardinetti and Glenn De Baeremaeker, say they’re confident the facility, near San Andreas, Calif., has strict quarantine protocols in place that will keep Toronto’s trio safe from TB exposure.
De Baeremaeker adds there’s been far too much “fear-mongering’’ surrounding the TB issue at PAWS.
PAWS remains the destination for our elephants, Joe Torzsok, chair of the zoo’s board of directors, said this week.
“Council has given the zoo a clear direction where to send the city’s elephants — and that is PAWS.  That is the direction the zoo is operating under,’’ he says.
A U.S. import permit has been obtained to ship the animals south.
Feelings run deep for and against the PAWS facility, where eight elephants currently live.
Opposition stems from the fact that the people in charge there are against the notion of capturing animals in the wild and breeding them in captivity, as zoos do.
Critics are also very uncomfortable with the strong ties PAWS has to the animal rights movement.
But supporters consider it a top-notch facility featuring elements such as a heated barn and Jacuzzi for the elephants.
On the other hand, phase one planning for TNEC calls for four interconnected pastures, each including ponds, mud wallows, dust bathing areas and other amenities. TNEC is receiving funding from 73 zoos as well as private donors, and the centre plans to seek accreditation from the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums, or AZA.
(The Toronto Zoo was an AZA member until recently, when the association revoked its accreditation over the city council decision to ship the elephants to non-AZA-certified PAWS. Toronto hopes to get its accreditation back next year.)
Noting the world elephant population is dropping drastically, Rick Barongi, chair of TNEC, says his centre will play a key role in breeding them.
Asian elephants are critically endangered, with only about 25,000 to 35,000 left in the wild, while African elephants, in the last 25 years, have dropped from an estimated 1.5 million to less than a half million.
Poaching and the ivory trade, habitat loss and disease are ravaging their populations.
The wild “isn’t safe’’ anymore for elephants, says Barongi, adding he finds that very depressing.
“We want to help elephants, and in the end do what’s best for (them) and (their) long-term future,” he says of his centre.
There are currently nearly 300 elephants in AZA-accredited facilities.
Barongi adds that bull hooks, instruments with sharp tips used to train and control elephants, will absolutely not be used at TNEC.
“Bull hooks are archaic,” says Barongi, who is also director at the Houston Zoo.
He says he’s well acquainted with the ongoing elephant controversy in Toronto and wishes to steer clear of it.
And he’s not about to disparage PAWS or those who run it, though he did say the zoo needs to get the best advice it can about the extent of TB at the sanctuary.
“PAWS is a good facility for certain elephants. I’ve known (PAWS co-founder) Pat Derby for some time. We may differ in some of our views, but I respect the lady. I won’t say we’re better this way or they’re better that way,’’ Barongi says.
TNEC officials say their centre will provide a necessity, as several North American zoos have phased out their elephant exhibits

Zoo and Aquarium Design

Climate change is simple: We do something or we’re screwed
Back in April, The Evergreen State College invited me to speak at a TEDx event called “Hello Climate Change: Rethinking the Unthinkable.” Videos from the event are now online.
My talk was called “Climate change is simple.” I’m proud to say that I used only 17 of my allotted 15 minutes.
I’ve put an annotated version of my slideshow beneath the video, linking to sources and adding thoughts. The only thing I’ll say about the video itself is that I’ve always thought these things would be better with a soundtrack. If anybody out there on the web wants to make a mashup with it, add some good beats, be my guest.

Dreamworld's Tiger Island loses original inhabitant with death of Mohan the white bengal tiger
ONE of Dreamworld's most famous stalwarts, Mohan the white bengal tiger, has passed away.
Mohan, 17, who came to the theme park's Tiger Island as young cub from the United States, passed away on Wednesday.
Known as the "King of Tiger Island", Mohan was one of the original tigers introduced to Dreamworld when Tiger Island opened in 1995.
As Mohan paced around his enclosure over the weekend, Tiger Island Manager Patrick Martin-Vegue - who raised him since he was young - said Mohan had been sick for some time.
Mr Martin-Vegue said Mohan had been off his food and had suspected renal failure.
Mohan, whose name meant "charming", was born on November 2, 1994.
When full-grown he weighed an average of 180kg and was white with light stripes.
Mohan was father to Rama, Sita, Sultan and Tai who were born at Tiger Island in 1998.
Thousands of visitors to Dreamworld viewed or met Mohan during his 17 years at the park.
A portion of proceeds from photos taken with Mohan, and other Tiger Island tigers, go towards Dreamworld's Wildlife Foundation's Tiger Island Conservation Fund, which directly supports tigers in the wild.
Dreamworld has donated $1.4 million to saving tigers in the wild since 2006, making the theme park the world's largest zoological contributor of funds to the 21st century tiger.
Funds raised help with anti-poaching measures, habitat restoration, education and monitoring in tiger populated countries.
Including Mohan, Dreamworld was home to 15

Elephant pregnancy mystery solved
The mystery of the elephant's long pregnancy has been unravelled by scientists.
A quirk of biology allows the unborn calf to develop in the womb for almost two years, giving it the brain power it needs to survive from birth.
The research, detailed in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, will help elephant breeding programmes in zoos.
It may also lead to the development of a contraceptive to control wild populations of elephants in Africa.
Dr Imke Lueders, of the Liebniz Institute of Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany, told BBC News: "It is very important to study the reproduction of elephants.
"The increased knowledge that we gained through this research can help in the future with elephant breeding management because we have an idea of how the pregnancy is maintained."
Marathon pregnancy
Elephants are highly sociable mammals with a high level of intelligence similar to that of great apes and dolphins.
They have the longest-known gestational period of any animal, lasting up to 680 days.
Elephants are born with an advanced level of brain development, which they use to recognise the complex social structure of the herd and to feed themselves with

Horror Zoo Abu Jarrah Riyadh Saudi-Arabia

SEE MORE HERE....expect to be shocked

Dead keeper's true identity a mystery
Thousands knew him as Dalu - the keeper killed by a tiger in Northland.
But he was also known by at least three other names.
Confusion around Dalu Mncube's identity has delayed an inquest into his May 2009 death, after police realised Dalu had used several names and came to New Zealand on a passport that was in his much-younger brother's name.
Dalu Mncube was also known as Clifford Mncube, Dalubuhle Ncube and Darlington Tembo a pre-inquest hearing into his identity was told yesterday.
Mr Mncube was mauled to death by a tiger while cleaning its cage in May 2009.
In her deposition to Whangarei coroner Brandt Shortland, police inquest officer Constable Andrea Magill said the true identity of Mr Mncube had not been confirmed and was unlikely to be.
Police inquiries after his death revealed he entered New Zealand on November 10, 2005, on a South African passport under the name of Clifford Mncube with a birth date

Toronto Zoo elephants’ move south delayed yet again
Another deadline for moving the Toronto Zoo’s three remaining elephants to a sanctuary in California will come and go, as the war of words continues amid growing concerns about tuberculosis at the U.S. facility.
Instead of the end of this month as originally hoped, a new date for the trio’s departure is now likely early August, according to the spokesperson for a Canadian animal rights group participating in the relocation process.
U.S. import permits have been obtained, says Julie Woodyer, a director with Zoocheck, the organization working on behalf of the PAWS sanctuary
But the zoo is not committing to that deadline, saying it’s still conducting a “due diligence’’ review of the PAWS sanctuary. City council has ordered that the animals be sent to the sanctuary.
Key stumbling blocks are reports that continue to filter out about tuberculosis at PAWS. The Star reported that a lab test last week showed an elephant at the U.S. facility tested positive for TB. That animal, Annie, has already been in quarantine for more than three years, PAWS co-owner Pat Derby said.
She forwarded the results to the zoo as soon as they came in.
But now the USDA is saying that two other elephants that died at PAWS in the last year and a half also tested “positive’’ for TB in necropsy

Tata Zoo only park in country to house African lion cubs
The Tata Zoological Park on Thursday became the only Indian zoo to house lions of pure African origin with the National Zoological Gardens (NSG) at Pretoria in South Africa sending it five one-year-old African cubs, two of whom are males and three females.
All the five lions arrived safely at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport Kolkata and were received by a four-member team of the zoological park. Later the cubs were taken to Jamshedpur in a truck.
The zoo authorities said the cubs would be kept in a special enclosure for 30 days after which they would be open to visitors.
The National Zoological Garden in Pretoria and the Zoological Society in Jamshedpur signed the pact for the cubs’ transfer as part of an exchange programme last year.”It is a long-term collaboration for exchanging surplus animals,”said Bipul Chakraborty, director, Tata Zoological Park.
He said this was a unique event as this was for the first time after India’s independence that pure African lions had arrived on Indian soil. None of the Indian zoos have pure African lions at present.
It may be mentioned that the Tata Zoo had approached the National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in 2010 for possible help in developing itself into an institution for conservation of endangered species, both of native as well as exotic varieties. The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa is one of the four top zoos in world and has achieved several milestones in conservation of wildlife in that country.
The proposal to provide five cubs was accepted by NZG after a team comprising Dr Abeeda Dawood, Conservation Manager and Mr Eugene Marais, General Curator of the Zoo, visited the Tata Zoological Park in October

Presented by: Active Environments and Shape of Enrichment
Hosted by: Moody Gardens, Galveston, TX
Dates:  December 3-7, 2012
Instructors: Gail Laule, Margaret Whittaker, and Valerie Hare

Active Environments and Shape of Enrichment are proud to present the sixth Training and Enrichment Workshop for Zoo and Aquarium Animals.  The Workshop returns to its original host institution, Moody Gardens, which thanks to Hurricane Ike, is newly renovated and offers exciting opportunities for participants.  This unique five-day Workshop is designed for keepers, aquarists, managers, supervisors, curators, and veterinarians working with all species of animals held in zoos, aquariums, rescue centers, and sanctuaries.  The Workshop will present an array of topics relating to the behavioral management approach to caring for captive animals, with a focus on environmental enrichment, positive reinforcement training techniques, and the problem-solving process.  

Workshop format includes lecture, discussion, small group projects, demonstrations, and hands-on training and enrichment opportunities with Moody Garden’s diverse collection.  Skills taught are directly related to enhancing staff’s ability to manage animal behavior, improve animal welfare, and provide optimal care for captive animals.  The Workshop format is designed to maximize the value for each participant and to address your specific situations, needs, problems, and objectives.  Be prepared to interact, share, and participate to make the experience as useful and relevant to you as possible.

The registration fee is $950 for a shared room or $1340 for a single and includes the following:
·         6 nights stay in the Moody Gardens Resort Hotel (double occupancy)
·         All workshop materials
·         All breakfasts, lunches and snacks during the workshop
·         Icebreaker, dinner, and closing banquet (3 dinners)
·         Commemorative Workshop t-shirt    
For those within driving distance the cost is $600                        

For more information contact:
Active Environments, Inc.
Tel: 805-737-3700   
Or Moody Gardens contact, Diane Olsen,
Also, see Shape of Enrichment Website:

Diane Olsen 
Assistant Curator/Behavioral Management Coordinator
Pelecaniformes TAG Chair
Moody Gardens
One Hope Boulevard
Galveston, Texas 77554
Phone: 409-683-4102
Fax: 409-683-4943

Wildlife park funds vet mission
THE Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster has helped to fly two specialist vets to Zimbabwe to try to save one of Africa’s most endangered large carnivores from extinction.
The Branton attraction raised over £3,000 towards the cost of sending a veterinary task force to carry out vital work to save the endangered painted dog breed.
YWP, which has three of the rare dogs, joined forces with Wildlife Vets International and the Painted Dog Conservation to launch the appeal for the SOS Painted Dog Campaign last summer.
Visitors were asked to donate money while posters and collection boxes were put up in vets and businesses across Yorkshire.
Director Cheryl Williams said: “We were delighted that the task force has been able to fly out to Africa. We had a brilliant response to the SOS Painted Dog

Emperor Penguin May Disappear By 2100
The bare fact is: the Antarctic sea ice is retreating due to global warming. But we are just learning what the consequences of this will be. The Economist devotes this week’s front page and special report to the issue, and researchers keep providing us with alarming data; the latest news: that one of most iconic Antarctic figures, the Emperor penguin, which became famous thanks to the documentary ‘March of the Penguins’ and the animation film ‘Happy Feet’, may soon be extinct.
This is the conclusion of an international team of researchers who just published their study in Global Change Biology. They made a population projection for the emperor penguin in Adélie Land, Antarctica, based on data from different sources.
‘The median of these simulations predicts a decline of the Terre Adelie emperor penguin population of 81% by the year 2100,’ they write in their study. ‘We find a 43% chance of an even greater decline, of 90% or more.’
The main problem for the emperor penguin is that they breed their children on the ice, so the retreat of sea ice affects them more than other sea birds. Also, they eat animals that feed on microorganisms growing under the ice. If this disappears, so it does the penguin’s food source.
‘As it is, there’s a huge mortality rate just at the breeding stages, because only 50 percent of chicks survive to the end of the breeding season,’ says Stephanie Jenouvrier, of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and lead researcher

India seeks $30m World Bank loan for wildlife
The environment ministry’s bid to seek US $ 30 million from the World Bank to checking poaching in around 600 national parks and sanctuaries could mean making India’s wildlife laws compliant with the bank’s norms.
The Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) for the proposed project circulated by the ministry speaks about the need to review relevant environmental and land acquisition legislation comply with World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard policies.
“Adhering to the principles and procedures and using the checklist of potential environmental and social issues laid out in this ESMF will help the implementing agencies to ensure compliance with the World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard

Rhino horn gangs can ‘forfeit’ bail
Rhino poaching syndicates had so much money they could afford to forfeit any amount of bail set by courts when their members were arrested, a policeman told a court on Tuesday.
Warrant Officer Jean Pierre Roux also testified that a Zululand man was the link between rhino poachers in KwaZulu-Natal and Chinese buyers who allegedly export the horns to the Far East.
Roux opposed bail for Vusi Mashaba, 40, of Zululand, and four foreigners who were arrested recently for dealing in rhino horn.
Mashaba appeared in the Germiston Magistrate’s Court, along with three Chinese nationals – Ke Sum, 29, his wife, Xiaju Chen, also 29, and Liu Zihou, 34 – as well as Malawian Harrison Noah, 26.
The bail application was adjourned to next week for an interpreter.
In his affidavit, Roux said the accused were arrested in Bedfordview and were found in possession of two rhino horns, weighing 10kg, five large elephant tusks and two leopard skins – all from animals on South Africa’s list of threatened or protected species.
“The suspects had received the horns from Mashaba and were in the process of sawing the horns into smaller pieces when arrested,” he said in the affidavit. “Mashaba was involved with the transporting and delivering of the rhino horns to the three Chinese suspects. He was involved with various other transactions regarding rhino horn. He is the middleman between the rhino poachers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Chinese buyers who export the horns to the East.”
Roux said if released on bail, there was a likelihood the accused would commit the same offence again, would attempt to evade trial, intimidate witnesses or try to conceal or destroy evidence.
The accused were part of a group involved in the illegal dealing of protected and specially protected game, he said.
According to statistics, Roux said that to date, 220 rhino had been poached this year compared to 83 in 2008 and 122 in 2009.
He said syndicates from the Far East were working with locals and foreigners to poach rhinos and export horns to Vietnam and China.
“These syndicates make a huge profit from the illegal sale of the horns. The two horns in question could be sold for about R5 million.”
Roux said the syndicates also had the money to pay the bail and legal fees.
“The syndicates, who usually pay the bail, fines and legal costs of their members, make a huge profit and can afford to forfeit any amount of bail the court may determine.”
He said there was still a lot of work outstanding in the investigation, including DNA and forensic results on the seized goods.
Two other foreigners, Chu Duc Gu Lit, 22, and Nauyen Dang Khahn, 24, of Vietnam, who were arrested during a second sting operation at the Midrand Golfing Estate, are still in custody.
They were found in possession

Next zoo boss faces a jungle of debt
THE world search for a new Adelaide Zoo head is continuing after former chief executive Professor Chris West officially stepped down yesterday.
Prof West ended a six-year stint as head of Zoos South Australia, returning to the UK to take the reins of the Royal Zoological Society of  Scotland.
He welcomed Wang Wang and Funi to the panda enclosure at the Adelaide Zoo in November 2009, but also endured the recent low of unmanageable debt.
Prof West, above, was unavailable for comment yesterday, but a zoo spokeswoman said the person given the task of leading the zoo out of financial ruin had not been chosen.
"The recruitment isn't about filling a void, it's about finding the right person for the job which, as previously stated, could take anywhere between three to six

To save rare animals, let people profit off them
Dr. Grey Stafford, Director of Conservation at the World Wildlife Zoo in Phoenix, Arizona, e-mailed me that he is upset because “lawyers and extremists” use government to change the way he runs his zoo. He says that bad training and conservation methods are “imposed on us by some outside party whose agenda is not in the best interest of conservation, animals or zoos.”
I’m not surprised. Liberal activists always think central planners make life better. My reporting has taught me: No They Can’t!
While we’re talking conservation, consider the Scimitar Oryx. It used to roam most of Northern Africa. Today, the Oryx is extinct in the wild.
But not in Texas. In Texas, it thrives.
That’s because Texas allows people to keep endangered species as private property. Some Texas ranchers converted their cattle lands into exotic wildlife habitats. Individuals pay to see the animals, and some pay to hunt. It’s a billion dollar industry

Endangered Sumatran rhino gives birth in Indonesia
A critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros was born Saturday at an Indonesian sanctuary, only the fourth birth in captivity in more than a century, boosting survival hopes for the species, say conservationists.
"Ratu gave birth to a male baby at 00:45 (1745 GMT Friday) on Saturday. Both the mother and the baby are all very well," conservationist Widodo Ramono, who works at a sanctuary on the southern tip of Sumatra island, told AFP.
The last three in-captivity births for Sumatran rhinos took place in the United States at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio. The father of the new born, Andalas, was himself the first Sumatran rhino delivered in captivity in 112 years. He was born in September 2001, according to the zoo.
Andalas was brought to Indonesia to mate with Ratu, a female who grew up in the wild but wandered out of the forest and now lives at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Way Kambas National Park.
Sumatran rhinos have suffered a 50 percent drop in population numbers over the past 20 years, largely due to poaching and loss of tropical habitat.
There are now believed to be fewer than 200 alive. Most reside in isolated pockets in Southeast Asia.
"Thank God, we are very grateful that all the delivery process went smoothly and naturally. We actually made some emergency preparation in case that Ratu need(ed) a surgery in delivering the baby," Indonesia forestry ministry's spokesman Masyhud said.
"It's really a big present for the Sumatran

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Siberian Tiger Escapes at Knuthenborg Safari Park

Siberian Tiger Escapes at Knuthenborg Safari Park 

On Wednesday morning a Siberian Tiger escaped at Knuthenborg Safari Park in Denmark. The tiger, was a recent arrival from Aalborg zoo.
The animal somehow forced and scaled a fence and climbed into an enclosure. No visitors were in danger at any time and the escape drill was quickly activated. The tiger was shot dead. The situation is being assessed. There have been no similar incidents in 40 years and steps are being taken to prevent a similar incident occurring.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

More on The PAWS TB Sanctuary

The following is the follow up to the email received in reply from Mayor Ford which was published in the last Zoo News Digest.

One wonders when if ever the Toronto Councillors will ever admit they are making the wrong move. I fear they are too stubborn or ignorant to do so.

Dear Mayor Ford,

I very much appreciate the reply one of your staff sent me, but to be honest I was hoping to receive something from you! I thought after all the e-mails I have sent you, we had a common interest of doing the right thing for Toronto Zoo Elephants, as per your comment in a newspaper article about wishing that the councillors had left Zoo business to Zoo staff that are paid by the City to make decisions! In my previous e-mails I have stated that I have passed on numerous newspaper articles about what has been going on between the Zoo Management and some of your Councillors, so the reply I received shows to me that it was a standard e-mail and not a personal one!

The P.A.W.S TB Sanctuary originally stated numerous times that they had never had any problem with TB, lately they admit that they have had problems with some of their Asian elephants, but refuse to admit any problems with their Africans! It turns out that one of their Africans has had TB, so where will out Toronto Girls be housed? They have an Asian female barn, an African female barn and two Asian bull barns, so no place for our girls?

At least one of your Councillors continues to deny any TB at the facility, even after the facility admits they have had TB in at least the Asians! Also at least one of your Councillors has stated that “TB or not, they have to be sent”! I really wonder if when they have or will have to find a retirement home or nursing home for one or more of their parents, “if they would consider sending them to a facility that was known to have residents with TB or other transmittable diseases”? But then, we are “only talking about three female African elephants, one that was actually born at the Zoo and was the first Elephant born in Canada and the fourth to be born in North America”! “Maybe if they were tax paying/voting residents of the City of Toronto, they would be considered  to be sent to an accredited facility like the National Elephant Centre located in Florida and will open in September! Why are certain members trying to push our three girls to a T.B Sanctuary a month or so before they can go to sunny Florida, I really hope they haven’t received financial support from one of these organizations?

The National Elephant Centre will be set up to work with our Elephants in a protected contact setup, unlike the P.A.W.S TB Sanctuary, where on their web site their founder Pat Derby can be seen hugging working hands on with their African and Asian elephants. I wonder if they know that Iringa  almost killed a Keeper back in November '93 and it is hard to say just how she would be in free contact again? She may have had only a bad hair day? This was well documented by the Toronto media and I found out while staying at  the Kuala Lumpur Zoo as a guest in their guest house during my six week Singapore/ Malaysia/ Thailand working Zoo/Elephant trip was sponsored by my wife, not by the City of Toronto tax payers!

I truly hope that both you and your Councilors finally make the right decision that makes the new home for Toka, Iringa and Thika the National Elephant Centre!

Have a Great Day and keep Cool!

Happy Days
The Retired Wanderin Elephant Man
-Professional Elephant Trainers
-Elephant Managers Association
-Canadian Association of Zoos and Aquariums
Retired: Toronto Zoo Keeper/ Public Relations/Marketing (on and off from July 1974 to February 2010)

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Polar Bear Escapes in Zoo

Polar Bear Escapes in Zoo

Polar Bear Escapes From Zoo Heavy rain and flooding enabled a Polar Bear to escape from Lake Superior Zoo in Duluth. Learn more Here

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Zoo News Digest 9th - 18th June 2012 (Zoo News 820)

Zoo News Digest 9th - 18th June 2012 (Zoo News 820)

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Dear Colleague,

My sincere condolences to everybody at Kolmarden. A terrible tragedy, so sorry.

The first link makes an interesting read. In it Damian Aspinall states 'If I had my way, I’d close down 90  per cent of all zoos tomorrow'. I am in 100% agreement with him there in fact I may well close down more than that and that includes a number within the UK where in spite of our excellent zoo legislation completely miss the a mile. In spite of this they remain extremely popular and lie to the public in their subtle ways. That will get some readers thinking. Back to Damian....I don't agree with everything he says, but then you wouldn't expect me to, would you? I actually believe he does not fully understand what good zoos are about in spite of working in two of the best. Too much hanging about with the loveys perhaps?

Hello Giza Zoo. I have not forgotten you. Just where are you up to with the Orangutan enclosure? In the the PAAZAB 23rd Annual Conference 2012 report it says "The executive committee and the attendance admired the work achieved at Giza Zoo in such a short period specially the Orangutan House  the Zoological Museum." So where is it? Why is it not ready? How long have the Orangutans been at the zoo exactly? I can check of course. Three to begin with, only two now.
From the Facebook page REVITALIZE THE GIZA ZOO "facts:  Up till today 17 June, 2012 the remaining 2 Orangutans have not been moved to the new enclosure, nor medical tests have been done to verify if they have been infected with same disease which the 3rd Orangutan died from in March 2011." Come on Giza, get your act together.

I read 'Animal cruelty and circuses don't always go hand-in-hand' with interest. As a child I loved circuses. The music, the smell and the excitement. When I started work in zoos back in 1968 there were circus people working in zoos and circuses. I got to know some of them. I saw things and heard things and I have hated circuses from then on. Some of those people are still working in circuses today. I would not dispute that there may be circuses somewhere where everything is good and training is all positive. All I can say is that the wool would not be pulled over my eyes as easily as it is by the writer of this article.

I've been rambling on about South Africa's part in the Rhino Horn trade for long enough. At last the press is taking some interest in the poachers in Safari Suits see 'Exposed: SA’s dodgy rhino deals'

Do you reckon the news that our primate ancestors may have their origins in Myanmar is going to upset anybody? I bet you it will. Let's prove or dispove before somebody starts tampering with what we have in museums....its been done before.

So Woburn have a new baby 'Deer'....sack the reporter....or whoever gave out the story. I see this mistake a hundred times in newspapers in Asia and the Middle East but not the UK Please!

Does Gaza deserve a zoo? Yes it probably does, but not the South Forest zoo. The sooner it is closed the happier I would be.

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Why I'm letting the gorillas I love go free: Son of legendary gambler John Aspinall reveals he's releasing the animals from his family zoo back to the wild
Damian Aspinall was still a babe in arms when his late father, the colourful zookeeper and society gambling club host Johnny, first left him in the care of the family who live next-door to their imposing Palladian mansion in the Kent countryside.
That was more than 50 years ago, and when he drops in to see them now, as he still does two or three times a week, ‘I feel as though I’m among my own cousins, aunts and uncles,’ he tells me warmly.
There may seem nothing very unusual about this, but accompanying Damian on one of these casual social visits, the extraordinary nature of his lifelong bond becomes movingly — and disconcertingly — apparent.
Approaching his neighbours’ home we are stopped dead in our tracks by a low, primal rumbling noise. ‘Don’t worry. They’re just asking why I’ve brought a stranger with me,’ he smiles, sensing my alarm.
Then, as we reach the door, the whole tribe comes bounding up to greet us, and though the head of the house — a huge, brooding chap — invites Damian in with a hairy-armed wave, it is clear from the menacing glint in his eye that uninvited guests aren’t welcome.
It wouldn’t be wise to argue. The neighbours in question, you see, are a group of lowland gorillas and even the smallest infant among them could yank a human arm clean out its socket. Damian is so familiar with them that he enters their paddock with barely a second thought, and the father, a 400lb silverback called Kifu, embraces him with a mighty hug before cheekily slipping a hand

Exposed: SA’s dodgy rhino deals
Conservation control failures and abuses are condemning hundreds of SA’s threatened rhino to horror zoos and breeding programmes feeding into the Far East’s traditional medicines industry.
Weekend Argus can reveal that scores, if not hundreds, of SA white rhino have ended up in the hands of Chinese and Vietnamese entrepreneurs linked to that industry, where rhino horn is used as a tonic and a traditional cure-all.
This is despite the recent tightening of export permit regulations under the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).
But some destinations where SA rhino have ended up could be even worse than Chinese breeding farms and Vietnamese zoos, where their horn is shaved for medical use.
In 2010 two Cites-listed rhino were exported to a company called Thai Skin and Hide – seemingly in complete defiance of international protocols under Cites which seek to ensure that rhino may only be exported to zoological institutions with adequate facilities, a strong conservation agenda and with no connection to the trade in animal body parts and derivatives.
The revelations come at a time when a powerful lobby is seeking to convince the international community to decriminalise the rhino horn trade, arguing that legal trade would reduce incentives for poaching the endangered animals.
Already this year, 245 rhino have been killed in SA for their horns.
Apparent failures to comply with Cites requirements and apply due diligence procedures, added to the seeming inability of the authorities to act decisively against rhino poachers, could weaken SA’s negotiating position ahead of Cites’s COP 2013 conference in Bangkok next year, where the SA delegation is expected to plead for a relaxation of controls.
Statistics provided by Water and Environmental Affairs minister Edna Molewa, in reply to parliamentary questions in April and May this year, reveal that 101 live white rhino have been exported from SA since 2007.
But the real number could be far higher; Cites’s own data shows that 193 rhino were exported from SA between 2007 and 2010 alone.
In response to Parliamentary question no 1 394, in May, no details were provided regarding importers and exporters, nor on whether Threatened or Protected Species permits were issued. In only 11 of 29 shipments had Cites protocols been

Color this chimp amazing
Psychologist suggests synthesthesia may underlie creature’s apparent memory feats
In what seems like a blow for humanity, a very smart chimpanzee in Japan crushes any human challenger at a number memory game.
After the numbers 1 through 9 make a split-second appearance on a computer screen, the chimp, Ayumu, gets to work. His bulky index finger flies gracefully across the screen, tapping white squares where the numbers had appeared, in order. So far, no human has topped him.
Ayumu’s talent caused a stir when researchers first reported it in 2007 (SN: 12/8/2007, p. 355). Since then, the chimp’s feat has grown legendary, even earning him a starring role in a recent BBC documentary.
But psychologist Nicholas Humphrey says the hype may be overblown. In an upcoming Trends in Cognitive Sciences essay, Humphrey floats a different explanation for Ayumu’s superlative performance, one that leaves humans’ memory skills unimpugned: Ayumu might have a curious brain condition that allows him to see numbers in colors. If Humphrey’s wild idea is right, the chimpanzee’s feat has nothing to do with memory.
“When you get extraordinary results, you need to look for extraordinary ideas to explain them,” says Humphrey

Bat rescuer awarded $6.1 million in libel suit
A former intern accused of cyberstalking a Mineral Wells bat sanctuary and its president was ordered to pay about $6.1 million in damages Thursday for what a judge called egregious, malicious and intentional defamatory statements she spread across the Internet, court documents say.
The lawsuit, filed in state District Court in Tarrant County, centered on accusations that Mary Cummins, who said she lives in the Los Angeles area, made libelous statements and videos about Amanda Lollar and the Bat World Sanctuary, which she founded and runs.
The videos and statements, the suit said, were pervasive on the Internet, using "robots" to game Google and other search engines so the defamatory material would appear high in search results. Cummins' claims eventually extended to accusations against Lollar's attorney, as well as her own attorney, whom she accused of sleeping during a deposition.
Among other statements, Cummins was accused of saying Lollar had given rabies vaccinations to humans, an accusation that boiled down to Lollar practicing medicine without a license, the suit said.
The result of such statements exposed Lollar to "public hatred, contempt or ridicule or financial injury," the suit said.
Bedford attorney Randy Turner of Bailey & Galyen said Lollar has been emotionally devastated by the Internet materials. She no longer goes to restaurants or movies, has her husband grocery shop, lost weight and experiences nausea and vomiting, he said.
"She's sort of become a recluse," he said.
Turner said he hopes the judgment will "make someone think twice before engaging in an Internet smear campaign."
Bat World Sanctuary is a nonprofit organization devoted to rescuing and rehabilitating bats. Judge William Brigham compared Lollar's reputation for caring for bats to noted British anthropologist Jane Goodall, who studies primates, according to a court transcript provided by Turner.
Cummins accused Lollar of performing "illegal surgeries" on bats without anesthesia, possessing and distributing controlled substances without a federal license, throwing dead bats in the trash, allowing interns to be repeatedly bitten by rabid bats, breeding bats illegally and neglecting her pet dogs, Turner said.
Cummins -- who said she has been sued for defamation at least three times -- also filed complaints against Lollar and the sanctuary with federal, state and local agencies including the Agriculture Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the

Flying the orangutan flag

Our primate ancestors may have emerged in Asia
Africa was thought to be the cradle for anthropoids, but new fossil fuels the debate
The ancestors of monkeys, apes and humans may have originated in Asia and not Africa as often thought, new fossils suggest.
The origin of anthropoids — the simians, or "higher primates," which include monkeys, apes and humans — has been debated for decades among scientists. Although fossils unearthed in Egypt have long suggested that Africa was the cradle for anthropoids, other bones revealed in the last 15 years or so raised the possibility that Asia may be their birthplace.
Now, an international team of scientists has unearthed a new fossil in Southeast Asia that may prove that anthropoids originated in what is now the East, shedding light on a pivotal step in primate and human evolution.
The fossil is named Afrasia djijidae — Afrasia from how early anthropoids are now found intercontinentally in both Africa and Asia, djijidae in memory of a young girl from village of Mogaung in central Myanmar, the nation where the remains were found. The four known teeth of Afrasia were recovered after six years of sifting through tons of sediment, often working with oxcarts, since even cars with four-wheel drive cannot penetrate the area. [ See Photos of the Myanmar Primate ]
The teeth of 37-million-year-old Afrasia closely resemble those of another early anthropoid, the 38 million-year-old Afrotarsius libycus , recently discovered in the Sahara Desert of Libya. The anthropoids in Libya were far more diverse at that early time in Africa than scientists had thought, which suggested they actually originated elsewhere. The close similarity between Afrasia and Afrotarsius now suggests that early anthropoids colonized Africa from Asia.
This migration from Asia ultimately helps set the stage for the later evolution of apes and humans in Africa. "Africa is the place of origin of man, and Asia is the place of origins of our far ancestors," researcher Jean-Jacques Jaeger, a paleontologist at the University of Poitiers in France, told LiveScience.
The shape of the Asian Afrasia and the North African

Pushy creationists score textbook victory with distorted science
Controversy is brewing after a number of international periodicals reported on evolutionary accounts being removed from South Korean science textbooks at the request of creationists.
The deletions, which included information about the archaeopteryx, a prehistoric bird used to explain evolution, were reported in reputable sources such as Nature, a British science journal, and the US weekly Time.
Here at home, evolutionary scholars sent a petition to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) expressing their opposition to the demands, which they said were academically inappropriate.
A poster on the website of Scientific American magazine responded to an article titled “South Korea Surrenders to Creationist Demands” with the comment, “This is hugely disappointing from a country that allegedly has the highest per capita intelligence in the world.”
Internet users have been expressing their concern ever since Nature first printed its article on June 5. A number of comments made sarcastic reference to US president Barack Obama’s numerous mentions of South Korea as an educational model.
As in the US, it is commonplace in South Korea for scholars from a religious background to dispute the theory of evolution. Some even demanded approval for the high school textbook “Creation Science,” which offers a Biblical explanation for the origins of human life.
But this is the first time such arguments have been accepted by a government agency. And it is especially awkward coming from a government that has been frequently accused of religious bias. So what happened?
On Dec. 5 of last year, the MEST received a petition titled “The archaeopteryx is not an intermediate species between reptiles and birds.” It requested the deletion of “academically inaccurate information” about the animal from the science textbook adopted by the nation’s high schools in 2011.
The Society for Textbook Revise [sic] (STR), the group responsible for the petition, wrote on its web site that its minimum aim was to have evolution listed as “a hypothesis, not a rule,” based on a “focused analysis of the flaws in evolutionary theory, which obfuscates the truth by taking an evolutionary world view on the origins of life, matter, and the


Save words, save species
What do nature and languages have in common? Strangely enough – a lot. Scientists recently found that the diversity of species and the diversity of languages are not only linked geographically but they also strongly depend on each other.

Sealed – deal on pandas
The agreement that will see Malaysia play host to a pair of pandas for 10 years has been inked.
The agreement is between the China Wild-life Conservation Association (CWCA) and Malaysia’s Wildlife and National Parks Department.
The signing ceremony was held at the Prime Minister’s Office yesterday and witnessed by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and He Guoqiang, the secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
He and the Chinese delegation arrived on Thursday and had earlier paid a courtesy call on Najib.

The great panda show - but no one is FOOLED
China’s much publicised loaning of two Giant pandas to Malaysia is hardly an event to be received with rousing merriment. The exercise is in equal measure preposterous and superfluous and is unworthy of festive fireworks.
In an atmosphere of economic imbecility and political pandering, the Malaysian government has come up with the kind of inane idea that exemplifies its governing greatness. Their little reform agendas now include Giant pandas. Under the greedy guise of conservation, two Giant pandas are to bear the burden of bridging diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia. How this is to be achieved is beyond baffling. But it yet again illustrates a blatant manifestation of Malaysia’s institutional pattern of exploiting animals to serve selfish human interests. To assume otherwise is grossly foolish.
'Special' country
Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon has reportedly said that China’s gesture in lending a pair of pandas shows that it recognises Malaysia as a special country. Yes, Malaysia’s specialities include licensing countless zoos to abuse animals for human fortunes. Malaysian zoos have for years abused and neglected their animals with complete legal immunity despite legislated codes of animal welfare clearly not being adhered to.
Their registry of crimes include drugging tigers for photo taking sessions, forcing elephants to ride tricycles, cramping orang utans into runty cages and trafficking totally protected wildlife! Zoos such as Taiping zoo, Danga Bay and A’ famosa, are fairly representative examples of these atrocious zoos and are in clear conflict of conservation.
Nonetheless, the Malaysian government has habitually dedicated itself to ignoring and facilitating animal abuse as animal welfare and conservation have never been on the forefront of their political consciousness. Hence, it is incredulous to imagine Malaysia being chosen for a conservation effort given its hideous track record.
So much money
This whole panda loaning scheme has also made apparent the very deep pockets of the Malaysian government. While they feign financial frugality, they are ever ready to take on the colossal technical and architectural tasks necessary to house the pandas. Malaysias decision to spend obscene amounts of money bringing in a non-native species for a decade long visit is further appalling given its complete and absolute disregard for its very own Malayan Sun bear.
The Malayan sun bears are routinely orphaned and victimised by habitat loss from excessive logging, poaching for bear products and surging demand in the pet and zoo trade. Amongst other conservation efforts, the 20 million ringgit, could well be spent on saving the endangered Malayan Sun bear.
Yet, the Malaysian government is not concerned in conserving them for they would serve no value to capital investments in China’s economic empire. While I do not begrudge Malaysia the industrious opportunities China has to offer in trade and commerce, it is important to underscore here that China is the leading capital of animal abuse, illegal wildlife trade and wild meat consumption.
Bad animal rights record
Across the world, elephant numbers are dwindling owing to China’s ruthless demand for ivory. China also remains the primary consumer of Traditional Chinese medicine and wild meat, the two commodities driving the illegal wildlife trade and pushing many endangered species to near extinction. And while China hands out pairs of pandas to various countries, their own horrific fur and bear bile farms kill, maim and brutalise bears every single day!
Across China, bears are kept in cramped cages, their gall bladders implanted with metal catheters and their bodies clamped down with metal grilles to enable the extraction of their bile! Their catalogue of abuses is endless! Therefore, like Stalin and Hitler advocating human rights, it is a complete travesty that the Malaysian and Chinese regimes should engage on conservation efforts given their respective reputations for animal cruelty.
Let us not be fooled by this farce! These pandas have

Save the red squirrel: Belfast Zoo plans captive breeding as numbers nosedives
Three caught in bid to protect native species
Three red squirrels trapped in the Glens of Antrim last week will form the nucleus of Northern Ireland’s first captive breeding programme for the animal.
Two female red squirrels were captured in Ballycastle and a male was caught in Glenariff Forest before being transported to their new home at Belfast Zoo on Friday.
Red squirrel populations have been declining across Northern Ireland for decades due to competition from invading grey squirrels introduced from America. Only a few individuals cling on in the city of Belfast — the last UK city to host a red squirrel population.
But in recent months, populations have plummeted still further thanks to an outbreak of the virulent squirrelpox virus. The disease is carried by grey squirrels, but is lethal to reds. Red squirrel numbers in Tollymore Forest in Co Down have crashed in the past couple of years after the disease swept through the population.
Belfast Zoo confirmed that three red squirrels had arrived to become part of a ground-breaking captive breeding programme — but stressed that they will not go on display to the public until they have settled in properly.
“This is the first time that the zoo has got so involved in an indigenous species,” zoo manager Mark Challis said.
Over the past decade, the zoo has become increasingly involved in native species conservation efforts, such as putting up birdboxes and batboxes and encouraging Junior Club members to make

In reply to information sent in April

The latest on the "P.A.W.S. TB SANCTUARY"
Thank you for your email regarding the elephants at the Toronto Zoo. I
appreciate hearing from you and I apologize for the delay in responding.
At the October 2011 City Council meeting, Council passed a motion directing
Toronto Zoo staff to make the necessary arrangements with the Performing
Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary to physically transfer the 3
elephants, Iringa, Toka and Thika to its facility in California.  Council
also authorized the transfer of legal ownership of the elephants to PAWS as
soon as arrangements can be made by PAWS to safely transport the elephants
and permits can be obtained.  Zoo staff are currently working with the PAWS
sanctuary on transport and permit arrangements, as per the directive issued
by City Council.
Thank you again for your valuable input on this important issue. Please feel
free to contact my office again at any time.
Yours truly,
Mayor Rob Ford
City of Toronto

Singaporeans eye wildlife park development
The Quezon City government and a group of Singaporean businessmen have offered to develop a portion of the 20-hectare Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center into a zoo or nature sanctuary.
The prospective investors along with city officials met Thursday with the chief of the Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau (PAWB), an attached agency of the environment department which manages the park.
The parties, however, declined to give full details of the proposal. Regina Samson, communications chief of the Office of the Mayor, also withheld the name of the Singaporean group which she said made an “unsolicited proposal” to transform 3.5 hectares of the park into a nature sanctuary.
Samson denied speculations that the investors were planning to build an amusement park on prime government land. “This is a protected area. This is protected by a national law,” she said.
“It depends on how much they want to develop,” Samson said when asked on the projected cost.
“We’re just going to listen to their proposal,” PAWB chief Mundita Lim told reporters before her meeting with the investors.
Any plan to develop the park “should be consistent with its natural beauty,” she said.
Lim explained that physical improvements in the park—especially those which would require cutting trees—were restricted by law because of its designation as a protected area right in the heart of the city.
The park administration also limits human activity in the park to protect the indigenous flora and the animals kept there. Though not considered a zoo, the park serves as a temporary shelter for confiscated, donated, or injured wild animals.
The NAPWC was declared a protected area in 2004 under

Flatheaded cats in the wild - first short video

Rare deer is a big hit at Woburn Safari Park
WOBURN Safari Park welcomed a new addition to their animal kingdom this week, with the introduction of a new bongo calf.
There are just 60 bongos left in the wild, most of them in Kenya, but thanks to the park’s endangered breeding programme, they can now boast seven of the deer, including a breeding bull.
The calf is the third bongo to have arrived at the park since the beginning of the year.
Head of Animal Welfare and Development Keith Harris said: “The arrival of the three baby Bongo calves this year are a wonderful addition to the

Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
To study Nature and biology is to celebrate connectedness. What organism
exists in perfect isolation?

June's links at <> (NEWS/Botanical News) highlight some particularly
fascinating relationships:

. What do Pacific manta rays have to do with tropical forests? That's
what a group of researchers wanted to know as their study of the rays
repeatedly led them back to the forests. Now a fascinating link between land
and sea has been revealed.

. A tragic link of land and sea is the destruction of seagrass beds
due to run off from the land and other human encroachments. But new research
shows these seagrass beds are more efficient at carbon sequestration than
terrestrial forests.

Tropical pitcher plants (Nepenthes) may be the second most
fascinating groups of plants after orchids in the dances they do with
animals. Now a new relationship has been uncovered: a pitcher plant that has
enlisted an ant to help it do its grizzly work.

. As elephants and rhinos have disappeared from Asian forests,
conservationists hoped that tapirs might pick up the slack in seed
dispersal. Scientists set out to determine whether this hope was justified.
The results are not encouraging.

. The disappearance of pollinators today is something so small and yet
with such huge consequences for plants and for humans. Where did our
reliance on insects for pollination begin? The oldest pollinating insects
yet have been discovered in Cretaceous era amber.

On this fine June day, take a moment to float away with the surreal nature
art of Cornelia Conrads.
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 Horticulture
Consulting & Design
Greening design teams since 1987

Abidjan zoo update report

Lion man 'knew about Mncube passport'
Lion Man Craig Busch knew about irregularities in a worker's passport before bringing him to New Zealand, a Whangarei coroner has been told.
An inquest into the identity of Dalu Mncube was held in Whangarei on Tuesday.
Mr Mncube, a big cat handler, was fatally mauled by a tiger at Zion Wildlife Gardens in May 2009.
At the hearing it was revealed that Mr Mncube was also known as Dalubuhle Ncube and Darlington Tembo and that Immigration New Zealand believed he may have entered the country on a false passport.
In a statement to police, Mr Busch's mother and Zion Wildlife Kingdom operator Patricia Busch said her son had offered Mr Mncube a job because he had previous experience in the field.
Mrs Busch said Mr Mncube had told her Craig threatened to report him to Immigration New Zealand if he did not side with him over issues at the park.
"Dalu told Craig that if that happened and he ended up in a cell, then Craig would be in the next cell because he knew about his passport and identity prior to him coming to New Zealand," Mrs Busch said in documents submitted to Coroner Brandt Shortland.
"I asked Dalu what he was going to do and he said that he would take holidays in September, and go back to South Africa and sort out his identity through his school records.
"Dalu wished to be known by

An Elephant In The Room
The attachment is Derby’s chapter in the book, An Elephant In The Room. She also talks about her experience with keeping Asians and Africans in the same barn together.
The entire book is available for download at the link below.  Enjoy the read.

Welcome to Gaza's zoo, where stuffed animals are the main attraction - video
The South Forest zoo opened three months after Israel tightened its blockade of Gaza in 2007. Most of the zoo's creatures – which range from hyenas to wolves, ostriches and chimpanzees – came through the tunnels with Egypt, but all is not as it first seems. Zookeeper Mohamed Owida explains how he has been forced to resort to taxidermy to preserve his lion and tigress, apparently

The Future of Zoos - Video

KMC unresponsive to FIA probe into animal smuggling
The Federal Investigation Agency in Karachi is completing its investigation into the alleged smuggling of wild animals into Pakistan though there has been no input from the Karachi Municipal Corporation, which is running facilities for captive wild animals in the city, sources told Dawn on Saturday.
They said the KMC administrator had not yet responded to the FIA’s letter and reminders sent twice on the subject.
KMC administrator Mohammad Hussain Syed was not available for comments.
The FIA probe was initiated on a request by Interpol, which had been approached by the Tanzanian government. Subsequently, the FIA, Karachi, had written a letter to the heads of the Karachi Zoological Gardens and Safari Park more than two months ago.
The letter, with the subject ‘Investigation of unlawful exportation of government trophies’, stated that the National Central Bureau (the local arm of Interpol), Interpol and the FIA, Islamabad, had asked for the provision of complete information about import of wild animals by Irfan Ahmed, proprietor of Osaka Traders Ltd, Karachi, as the company was alleged to have smuggled several wild animals from Tanzania into Pakistan.
The sources said the relevant heads of the government-run facilities for keeping wild animals had also been asked to submit a detailed report with supporting documents stating whether the wild animals were at the Karachi zoo and Safari Park.
The information required by Interpol included details about the credentials of Mr Ahmed.
According to sources, the zoo director replied to the FIA letter saying that the zoo never had an official agreement with Osaka Traders whereas the lions brought by the company were the property of Sindh wildlife department. Regarding the four elephants, the director stated that they were bought by the Safari Park.
The Safari Park director had forwarded the matter to the KMC administrator.
The FIA, according to a source, had contacted different departments, including the customs and Sindh wildlife department, and it was confirmed that Irfan Ahmed was a Pakistani animal importer. Officials had also relied on the information that had appeared in the press.
Four elephants and as many lions housed in the zoo and Safari Park had been ‘imported’ by Osaka Traders. The elephants reportedly arrived from Tanzania in 2009 under an agreement with the defunct city district government of Karachi (CDGK), while the lions were confiscated at Karachi airport by the customs in 2010 as the animals were allegedly brought in on an expired permit.
The lions, which arrived from Germany, first landed at Islamabad airport and then at Karachi. The customs after an investigation found both the ‘importer’ and the national flag carrier guilty and imposed penalties on them while the animals were declared a government property and kept at the zoo as the wildlife department had no facility to keep wild animals.
The company, however, challenged the verdict and a case

Why We Don’t Believe In Science
Last week, Gallup announced the results of their latest survey on Americans and evolution. The numbers were a stark blow to high-school science teachers everywhere: forty-six per cent of adults said they believed that “God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years.” Only fifteen per cent agreed with the statement that humans had evolved without the guidance of a divine power.
What’s most remarkable about these numbers is their stability: these percentages have remained virtually unchanged since Gallup began asking the question, thirty years ago. In 1982, forty-four per cent of Americans held strictly creationist views, a statistically insignificant difference from 2012. Furthermore, the percentage of Americans that believe in biological evolution has only increased by four percentage points over the last twenty years.
Such poll data raises questions: Why are some scientific ideas hard to believe in? What makes the human mind so resistant to certain kinds of facts, even when these facts are buttressed by

Scientists See Spots on Prehistoric Horses
According to a group of international genome researchers, one population of prehistoric Eurasian horses were either black, bay, or leopard-spotted bay and white. And given their Ice Age climate, those rock-and-snow-looking coats might have been ancient horses' best camouflage.
Consistent with 25,000-year-old cave drawings, genetic sampling of ancient horse bones confirm that horses carried genes for black, bay, or leopard-spotted coats, said Arne Ludwig, PhD, of the Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and the Research Group for Evolutionary Genetics, in Berlin, Germany.
By examining the DNA of 31 horses that lived between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago in modern-day Siberia and Europe, Ludwig found six of the sampled horses had spotted coats (18 were bay and seven were black). Ludwig said this marks the first time horse fossils have been tested for the leopard spotting gene--known by scientists as the "LP allele," which North American researchers identified in 2010.
These prehistoric Appaloosa-like horses could have had a considerable evolutionary advantage in the snowy, rocky steppes where they lived, Ludwig said. But that's only true if they were "heterozygotes," the term the researchers used to describe horses that possessed the kind of LP allele mutation that causes visible colored

Stinky Frogs Are a Treasure Trove of Antibiotic Substances
Some of the nastiest smelling creatures on Earth have skin that produces the greatest known variety of anti-bacterial substances that hold promise for becoming new weapons in the battle against antibiotic-resistant infections, scientists are reporting. Their research on amphibians so smelly (like rotten fish, for instance) that scientists term them "odorous frogs" appears in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research.

Pack of eight wolves maul woman keeper to death at Sweden's most popular zoo

And a few weeks ago

Swedish teenage girl hurt in freak wolf attackA fifteen–year-old girl who was visiting Sweden’s Kolmården Safari park a few weeks ago had to be rushed to hospital after one of the wolves suddenly attacked her and bit into her thigh.
“She panicked and it showed, and then one of the wolves bit her,” said Mats Höggren, zoological head of the park to local paper Norrköpings tidningar (NT).
When the attack occurred, the girl was visiting the park out of opening hours with some family members, accompanied by an employee at the park who is a friend of the family.
According to Höggren, the girl’s panicked reaction to seeing the animals was unanticipated as none of the others had realized she was actually scared of the wolves.
“Somehow they weren’t aware of the girl’s fears,” said Höggren to NT.
When she acted frightened, the animal’s natural reaction was to pounce, explained Höggren.
According to daily Aftonbladet, this is not the first time that visitors to Kolmården have been injured when

Will elephants die out in 20 years?Elephants are the largest living land animals on Earth today.The animal is a symbol of wisdom in Asian cultures and is famed for their memory and intelligence.  At the start of the 1980s there were over a million elephants, during that decade 600,000 were destroyed for ivory products. According to Samuel Wasser of the University of Washington, who is widely recognized as an authority on the subject, today perhaps no more than 400,000 remain across Africa.
It is a tragedy beyond reckoning and humanity needs to pay attention to the plight of the elephants before it is too late.
In the last few years an epic surge in poaching has resumed the killing thanks to the penchant for ivory in the Asian market and especially in China where ivory is now selling for over $1500 a kilo.
Recently Julius Kipng’etich, the head of the Kenya Wildlife service, made a plea at the Library of Congress in Washington DC in an unprecedented appeal for the world to save Kenya’s and Africa’s elephants from the plague of poaching that has in recent years seen the decimation of tens of thousands of elephants.
It is an appeal that follows from Kenya’s determination to torch about ten tons of ivory last July near Tsavo National Park in a show of disdain for the destroyers of elephants and disgust at the resumption of poaching. If this level of killing continues, if elephants continue to be slaughtered for trinkets and statuettes, in ten years time, most of Africa’s elephants will be gone and an ineffable symbol of majesty and wonder and the lynch pin in the ecology of an entire continent will have been consigned to oblivion.
The recent Senate Hearing in Washington DC called Ivory and Insecurity — The Global Implications of Poaching in Africa underscores the significance of this issue.
For while wildlife is at stake, Dr. Ian Douglas Hamilton, founder of Save the elephants, and John Scanlon the Secretary General of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and Senator John Kerry, underscored not only the implications of elephant and wildlife poaching, but also the criminal syndicates who make billions on the illegal wildlife trade and its impact on local populations in Africa, global security and even terrorism.
An urgent and concerted international will is needed to fund law enforcement to protect what remains of the elephant population of the world.
Growth in human population is a major concern. Millennial old elephant migration paths have been disrupted. Climate change is a menace to the elephant and all life.
But the wanton shooting of the innocents to satisfy vanity has reached a level of madness no-one can ignore, perhaps made most clearly in the recent destruction of 400 elephants in the Central African Republic by armed militia from Sudan.
The killing of elephants is not just a wildlife issue. The world now understands that it is a global issue.
How amidst NATO’s missile defense problems in Europe, a possible nuclear Iran and the economic failings of modern nations, unemployment and inflation, can the future of the elephant be so urgent?
It is not on the radar of the media nor is it a priority for most people. The answer comes from our ability to affirm life in its moral, ethical and I would urge humanity to consider, in its spiritual dimens

Animal cruelty and circuses don't always go hand-in-hand
Circus owners Bobby and Moira Roberts have been accused of mistreating their elephant, but the big top can be a safe and happy place for animals
Roll up, roll up for a ringside seat as the circus steps into the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, yet again. This week, it's the trial of Bobby and Moira Roberts, the owners of Bobby Roberts Super Circus, who are accused of causing Anne, Britain's last circus elephant, unnecessary suffering. They are accused of keeping her chained to the ground and failing to restrain an employee from beating her. They deny the charges.
It's the first prosecution of a circus personality since Mary Chipperfield's conviction for cruelty to a chimpanzee more than a decade ago. But for many, the words "cruel" and "circus" have become so entwined that many progressive, all-human shows have stopped using the C-word altogether, preferring the trendier term "cirque". The six animal circuses that remain, meanwhile, parade their horses, camels and llamas before dwindling audiences. Is it time we consigned the spectacle of performing animals to history?
A couple of years ago I would have said yes. But then, like many who condemn 'cruel circuses,' I hadn't been to one since childhood. I was brought up to believe that forcing animals to perform tricks is mean and distasteful. But when research for my book Circus Mania! in 2009 took me to a show at the Great British Circus, the UK's last circus with wild animals, to my surprise I came away with a different point of view.
Some things did make me cringe. When a horse went down on one knee to "bow" he looked as awkward as I felt watching him. But I was mesmerised by the gentle interaction between trainer Martin Lacey and his five Bengal tigers. There were no snapping whips or brandished chairs. The effect was similar to a domestic cat owner tapping a table and encouraging his pet to jump onto it in return for a reward. The tigers appeared intelligently engaged and it was hard not to believe Lacey's assertion that they enjoy their "organised play" in the way a dog enjoys fetching sticks thrown by its owner.
Backstage at Circus Mondao, I found camels, zebras and llamas completely comfortable being petted by visitors. As a performer pointed out: "If they were mistreated, they'd shy away from people, wouldn't they?" A protest against this circus in April accused the owners of animal exploitation, but while my subsequent interviews with current and former trainers convinced me that there have undoubtedly been instances of cruelty – just as there are cruel pet owners and brutal parents – training animals is not in itself unkind or exploitative.
In 2007, the Labour government backed a report that concluded there was no evidence that circus animals were kept in worse conditions than animals in other captive environments. Circuses generally move once a week over distances of 30 to 50 miles, which means the animals are less confined than often supposed. During the day the big cats mix freely in generous exercise enclosures, while the horses and camels I saw were kept in paddocks and frequently taken for walks. Lacey's tigers have been bred in captivity for several generations, and have often been reared by hand, so are used to humans from birth. If they didn't like their trainer, would he dare put his arm in their mouth?
The future of the circus undoubtedly lies in the theatrical daredevilry of all-human spectaculars such as Cirque du Soleil. In March, animal welfare minister Lord Taylor announced that the government would be banning travelling circuses from using wild

Bullhooks are OK, petting zoos are banned, under legislation awaiting vote by Atlanta Council todayBullhooks could be used on circus elephants, and petting zoos would be banned in Atlanta parks, under two proposals the Atlanta City Council is slated to vote on today.
The bullhook issue is part of a broader bill that a senior advisor to Mayor Kasim Reed said is needed so that Atlanta can take back its animal control ordinances from Fulton County. Fulton bans bullhooks. The petting zoo ban is part of a broader effort by the city parks department to control undesired activities.
Both measures are expected to sail through the council, given that they appear on an agenda crowded with matters including the planned adoption of the city’s 2013 budget, which takes effect July 1.


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