Friday, February 28, 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Species conservation poised to benefit from DNA advances
A biologist at the University of York is part of an international team which has shown that advanced DNA sequencing technologies can be used to accurately measure the levels of inbreeding in wild animal populations.
The research by senior author Dr Kanchon Dasmahapatra, of the Department of Biology at York, and led by Dr Joseph Hoffman, of the Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, Germany, may help efforts to conserve rare species.
Laboratory studies show that inbreeding reduces fitness. However, studying the impact of inbreeding in wild populations has previously been challenging because this requires a detailed family tree. Previous DNA studies trying to establish the link between inbreeding and fitness in wild animals had limited success as they used only a small number of genetic markers – around 10.
But the new research, published in PNAS, has used high throughput sequencing, generating more than 10,000 genetic markers, to assess inbreeding in a captive mouse population as well as in wild harbour seals.
Using a zoo population of mice with a known family tree, the researchers first checked the validity of their method for measuring inbreeding. They then carried out autopsies and took DNA samples from harbour seals stranded on Dutch beaches. The study revealed that inbred individuals were more likely to suffer from lung parasite infection.
Dr Hoffman said: "We have shown that in some species inbreeding in the wild may be a bigger problem than previously thought."
Dr Dasmahapatra explained: "This technique can be used to establish if there is an inbreeding problem in wild populations so that possible remedial action can be taken."
The study included scientists from University College London, the British Antarctic Survey, Erasmus University and Utrecht University in The Netherlands, CNRS Montpellier, France, and Chicago Zoological Society, USA.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Laurie leaves ISIS
I was sad to learn that Laurie Bingaman Lackey will be parting company with ISIS. Anyone, anywhere in the zoos around the world which is party to the International Species Inventory System will be familiar with Laurie. Her tireless work keeping our records in order, answering correspondence has been greatly appreciated by me. Many will also be familiar with her from the training programmes she has run. I know that all will join with me in wishing her well for the future.
6th Annual Art and Science of Animal Training Conference
Saturday, March 22nd, 2014
University of North Texas
9:00am – 6:30pm
Registration now open!
For more information please click
IAATE International Symposium
The International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators Symposium
Brisbane 2014: IAATE Down Under
July 3-4, 2014
Hosted in Brisbane, Austraila
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Friday, February 21, 2014
Zoo News Digest 8th - 21st February 2014 (ZooNews 889)
It has been an interesting couple of weeks. For a start I had a biopsy. Next it was Lilli's birthday. She doesn't look her age whatever it is. So very difficult with Asian women who always appear at least half of what they really are. The Chinese complicate things even further by being a year old when they are born and then all considering themselves a year older come the Chinese New Year…and then there is their real Birthday whose date changes by a few days each year. We celebrated by going to a Chinese restaurant in Deira with family. There was my Lilli, Big Lilli, Small Lilli, ZshaZsha, Juli, Meri and myself. Only missing were ChoCho and Yayan who had gone back to China for the New Year celebrations. There was so much food I never thought we would get through it, but we did. I have always liked Chinese food and within the UK I would always have a takeaway or a meal out at least once a month. These past two years 'Chinese' has formed a much larger part of my diet….the oddest thing though is that I have never eaten anything which even closely resembles UK Chinese food. A good time was had by all, helped along by a little spirit. What was talked about? I haven't a clue as I don't understand a word but I enjoyed myself anyhow.
I caught up with Nikki Morrison for coffee. It has been a while and she looked very well. She was blonde last time I saw her. I think the new hair colour looks very good on her. Good to have a bit of a gossip.
On the zoo front there was a lot of movement after Copenhagen Zoo decided to cull their surplus male Giraffe and Longleat Safari Park went ahead and euthanased a number of lions. The Facebook groups and Twitter were alive with debates. This was followed by news reports, thousands of them. Definitely the most reported zoo story of 2014 so far. In fact it was quite difficult to find anything else out there in internet land. I have included a few of links below on the story because there were so many. I do though suggest you read all of my choice. Some purely stated the facts, others voiced their opinions. Opinions vary of course and I say 'vive la difference'. I am in agreement with the actions taken at both collections but don't expect everyone to agree with me. What I would hope though is that people would look into the issues a little deeper and perhaps learn something. What did dismay me however was the number of zookeepers who obviously had no understanding whatsoever of the EAZA breeding programme or euthanasia, this includes Jack Hanna. Then there were the opinions of the likes of Axl Rose and Ricky Gervais. Why on earth should their opinions be of any more value than Mrs Smith who lives on the corner? She may be a lot better informed. The comments that some made verged on the insane…..really. On Facebook they compounded the wrong by never even bothering to read the articles or previous comments or do a tiny bit of research. People's opinions were being manipulated by the press. I thought I would try and drive in a wedge to try and help educate and posted out: So Who Did It Right?
Did it make a difference? Perhaps to a few. The rest however went to comment on that without reading it. I really think that there are a lot of zoos out there who need to look at the issues in more detail. I had one Australian radio station and British newspaper contact me for a telephone interview. I declined. I don't mind a face to face over coffee but I gave up on other types of interviews some time ago. I am sick and tired of being mis-quoted. I reckon I get a request every month regarding one issue or another. I turn them all down.
Then along came the second Giraffe.
So the whole thing started again. I must have read more newspaper stories on the death of Marius the Giraffe than any other person. One thing which became very clear to me was how the journalist reporting was influencing their readers. Not many people read more than one or two news reports. Some of course read none at all but go on the hearsay of others. The root of the problem is that they believe that one report.
Putting things into perspective….Marius the Giraffe was killed with a bolt gun to the head. It was done kindly and with consideration by a caring staff. The cull was quick, painless and kinder than any of the thousands of cattle, sheep, pigs and horses killed on the same day. So how did some newspapers report it?:
"Innocent Baby Giraffe"
I could go on
Then the carcass was butchered to be fed to the carnivores. Some pieces taken for research. Here the papers used:
The Giraffe was butchered in front of interested onlookers which included children. This was educational. No-one was forced to be there. No worse than so much we see on TV today and a lot less gory than many popular computer games.
Somewhere along the way some newspapers and readers got the idea that the Giraffe was killed in front of children. It was not.
Some have argued that culling the Giraffe was not so different to someone paying to shoot a Black Rhino and the money go to 'conservation'. I see the point but to me at least there is a big difference between killing for pleasure and culling because it is necessary.
Others have said that if rearing young is enriching then it is strictly one sided and only the parent(s) are enriched. Fair comment? I reckon a life, any life, be it one year or ten years can be good....or bad. Marius had a good life, a caring mother and good professional keepers caring for him.
Probably the issue which split zoo staff thinking the most was the idea of that Copenhagen had allowed the birth of the Giraffe simply because a baby giraffe would draw in visitors. Then it was euthanased after it passed the cutey stage. If that were true then I would be up in arms and hammering at the gate. THAT sort of management I am 200+% against. I started in a zoo industry where exactly that sort of thing went on. I didn't know it at the time. I was new and green, there was not a lot of information to be had. It took a while for things to sink in. It still goes on of course in Dysfunctional Zoos which is one reason why I am so much against them. I am even more against those zoos….any zoo which hand rears and then kills which is the routine practice in Lion Farms or places like Sri Racha Tiger Farm which ship their surplus out of the back door to China. If it has to be hand reared then far better to euthanase at the start and do a serious review of management practices.
I am not against a zoo, any zoo, allowing their stock to breed and experience rearing young. Then, if genetically surplus and once they are independent and at the stage where they would naturally disperse in the wild, to kindly cull them. This would not apply to a zoo, any zoo, which was not part of a managed official breeding programme. I feel however that in the good zoo it should not be the sole choice but such management practice should be carried out alongside some contraception, breeding separation and bachelor herds.
All the media interest has forced most zoos into a corner to comment. Very cleverly done in some cases. Easy to quote that you were 'distressed', 'unsettled' or similar. I bet some are wishing that no-one will dig deeper than their stated opinion.
The event has caused me to think and re-think because I can always change my opinion, and sometimes do, as more facts and information becomes available. I am not afraid to change in the same way that I am not afraid to speak out. There are a number of my long-time friends and colleagues within the zoo industry who do not agree with me. I respect that...... So was my opinion changed?
No it hasn't. I still support Copenhagen's decision. Perhaps though they should have just gone ahead and did the deed one early morning before the zoo opened to visitors.
Disagree with me? Fair enough. It is likely I thought along the same lines as you once.
I note that I got a mention in the 'Birds in Zoos in England: An Assessment of Welfare, Conservation and Education in 2013' Okay I wasn't misquoted there but it was taken out of context.
Surabaya again….a little different this one. The zoo are fighting back. It will be interesting to see what the police investigation comes up with. I daresay some people are going to become extremely nervous.
Then there was Valentine's Day. The usual stories..nothing unusual.
Sad to learn of the death of the Elephant Keeper in China. My sincere condolences to his friends family and colleagues.
Biopsy results came in. Not good news but could be worse. C'est la vie.
My surface mail mail box is just not working out. Mail is going astray. Even lost my last but one passport for a while. So for now please send all paper mail, books for review etc to :
10 Cheshire View
Bear in mind it is NOT where I live. My mail will be forwarded to me to wherever I am from there. My contact phone number remains the same:
00971 (0)50 4787 122
00971 (0)50 4787 122
I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
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Police Unearth Evidence of Illegal Animal Transfers at ‘Zoo of Death’
Police in Surabaya said on Sunday they had found sufficient evidence to indicate that violations had occurred during the transfer of animals from Surabaya Zoo, hundreds of animals have died in unnatural and often harrowing conditions, amid increasing reports of mistreatment and mismanagement.
“We have found sufficient evidence to raise the status to a full investigation,” Adj. Sr. Comr. Farman, the Surabaya Police’s chief of detectives, told the Jakarta Globe on Sunday.
Farman said it appeared that the zoo, under the then-management of a caretaker team led by Tony Sumampau, the director of Taman Safari Indonesia, had violated the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law, which prohibits the trade in certain endangered species.
The law also stipulates that wildlife can only be traded with wildlife and not with other items.
Farman said police had found evidence that some animals from Surabaya Zoo were traded by officials for motor vehicles.
He said police had also obtained documents showing some animals had been sold for cash.
Another document showed Surabaya Zoo had agreed to transfer 34 animals to Pematang Siantar Zoo in North Sumatra in exchange for 200 stuffed animals.
Tony denied the allegation that the trades carried out under his management were illegal, saying they were made in the best interests of the animals, given that one of the main problems experts had long identified at the zoo was its inability to properly care for all of its animals.
He added that transfers out of Surabaya were based on recommendations from an independent team of experts, set up by the Forestry Ministry, to evaluate the health of the animals and the management system in place at the zoo.
“The team made many recommendations, including one that suggested releasing or trading species if their numbers were too high,” Tony said.
“If anything, I regret that the recommendation is no longer being carried out by the current management.”
Surabaya Zoo has in recent years come under inte
Former Zoo Chief Denies Animal Transfers Were Illegal
An official previously in charge of the management of Surabaya Zoo has acknowledged that non-conservation institutions were among those that received animals as part of a program to ease overcrowding at the facility, but denied that the process violated wildlife trade rules.
Tony Sumampau, the director of Taman Safari Indonesia and formerly the head of a caretaker team overseeing Surabaya Zoo, said on Tuesday that the institutions included a naval base in Surabaya, the tourism office in the town of Malang, and the East Java Police headquarters.
Tony said the transfer of the animals, mostly deer, was legal because it was approved by the Forestry Ministry, despite the recipient institutions not having any wildlife conservation function.
“As long as the [non-conservation institutions] have the proper license to own the animals, then it’s not a problem,” he said.
During Tony’s stint overseeing the zoo from August 2010 until July 2013, 397 animals were transferred to conservation institutions such as Pematang Siantar Zoo in North Sumatra; the Taman Safari Indonesia II park in Prigen, East Java; Lembah Hijau Animal Park in Bandarlampung; and a zoo in Banyuwangi, East Java.
“All of those transfers were conducted to minimize the population at Surabaya Zoo,” Tony said.
“This policy was based on evaluations and recommendations from an independent team formed by the ministry.”
He denied allegations that the transfers were a way for officials involved in the zoo’s management to trade the animals for money, cars or other items, and insisted the transfers were conducted solely for the purpose of keeping the zoo’s animal population to a manageable size.
Prior to Tony’s team taking over the management of the zoo, up to 500 animals were dying each year from 2006 because of overcrowding, lack of proper nutrition, disease and other problems.
On Sunday, police in Surabaya said they had found sufficient evidence to indicate that some of the animal transfers under Tony’s watch violated the 1990 Natural Resources Conservation Law, which prohibits the trade of certain species.
The law also stipulates that wildlife can only be traded with wildlife and not with other items.
“There is a Toyota Innova that was given by the Lembah Hijau Animal Park,” Tony confirmed.
“They wanted to help Surabaya Zoo because the z
‘Surabaya Zoo Lion’s Death Not Malicious’
Local police have decided to end their investigation into the Jan. 7 death of a male lion at the Surabaya Zoo after concluding that the animal’s death had not been caused by zoo staff.
“The lion died because it was strangled by the sling used to close the pen. It was able to reach out to the sling himself,” said Sr. Comr. Farman, chief of Surabaya Police’s detective unit.
He added that police had drawn the conclusion after investigating the location of his death and taking into account expert opinions.
Farman said the lion, named Michael, may have learnt to reach the steel cables that secured the cage as his keepers would usually feed him from above.
Rahmat Suharta, a veterinarian at the zoo, meanwhile said the lion was still very aggressive, especially at night — the time of his death — which was why zoo officials had not placed him in a display cage.
The police’s conclusion on the matter is similar to an analysis by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA).
During a hearing with the Surabaya legislature on Jan. 13, Widodo, head of the East Java BKSDA’s Area 3, said it was the lion’s aggressive nature that led to its death.
“Michael was still 17 months old, at this age, lions are very aggressive. Additionally, Michael’s pen is located near that of a female lion,” Widodo said.
Farman said despite having closed the investigation into the lion’s death, police would continue investigating other animal deaths at the Surabaya Zoo.
With the young lion’s death, there are now only four African lions left at the zoo. The lion had been rescued by the East Java BKSDA before it was sent to
Danish Zoo Kills Giraffe To Prevent Inbreeding
Saying it needed to prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed a 2-year-old giraffe and fed its remains to lions as visitors watched, ignoring a petition signed by thousands and offers from other zoos and a private individual to save the animal.
Marius, a healthy male, was put down Sunday using a bolt pistol, said zoo spokesman Tobias Stenbaek Bro. Visitors, including children, were invited to watch while the giraffe was then skinned and fed to the lions.
Marius' plight triggered a wave of online protests and renewed debate about the conditions of zoo animals. Before the giraffe was killed, an online petition to save it had received more than 20,000 signatures.
But the public feeding of Marius' remains to the lions was popular at Copenhagen Zoo. Stenbaek Bro said it allowed parents to decide whether their children should watch what the zoo regards as an important display of scientific knowledge about animals.
"I'm actually proud because I think we have given children a huge understanding of the anatomy of a giraffe that they wouldn't have had from watching a giraffe in a photo," Stenbaek Bro said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
He said the zoo, which now has seven giraffes left, followed the recommendation of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria to put down Marius by because there already were a lot of giraffes with similar genes in the organization's breeding program.
The Amsterdam-based EAZA has 347 members, including many large zoos in European capitals, and works to conserve global biodi
DALTON ZOO OWNER DEFENDS DANISH ZOO’S DECISION TO KILL GIRAFFE
HE owner of South Lakes Wild Animal Park in Dalton has defended a Danish zoo’s decision to kill a giraffe in a bid to prevent inbreeding.
The story of Marius the giraffe shocked the world when, on Sunday, Copenhagan Zoo announced it had killed the animal despite international outcry.
The male giraffe was killed using a bolt pistol and there was further outrage when it was revealed young children and families had witnessed its autopsy and the corpse being fed to the lions.
The zoo defended its decision and said the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria had recommended Marius be put down.
David Gill backed the Danish zoo through a post on his park’s Facebook page.
Mr Gill wrote: “Copenhagen Zoo did not have space for the giraffe as it was maturing and would have suffered from stress when being ejected from the group, its genetics were very well represented in the population making it an animal that would not be allowed to breed in the future.
“The decision to euthanase would have been taken via the zoo’s ethics committee, veterinary advice and consultation with the animal staff. Whilst it is always a last resort, euthanasia is a better option than being placed in a horrible zoo with low life quality and the danger of over represented genetics getting back into the very healthy and strong managed population for the benefit of species.”
Mr Gill also pointed out that Marius had been on the EAZA programme for over a year, with other members invited to take him.
“Despite all the media stories and
Zoo that’s not afraid to stick its neck out
THERE was much outrage across the world this week after a Danish zoo shot one of its giraffes dead.
As a crowd-puller for the zoo, even I could appreciate, it probably wasn’t going to be a winner.
They went one better than that at Copenhagen Zoo, however, by then publicly skinning the creature (after it was dead), chopping up the body parts and feeding them to the lions.
I’m not sure who’s running the public relations department at Copenhagen Zoo, but they may want to give themselves a shake. What’s their next big PR idea, a log flume at Auschwitz?
The giraffe had to be put down, the zoo tells us, because it had the wrong genes.
Castration was an option (for the giraffe, not the PR department – though it’s a thought) but was considered ‘cruel’.
Releasing the animal into the wild was, they thought, ‘unlikely’ to be successful.
A public evisceration before being eaten by lions!! That’s a funny idea of success if you ask me … and I’m sure many giraffes would share my viewpoint.
Our relationship with animals is a peculiar one.
I’ll wager a warthog would not have garnered as much sympathy. There aren’t that many doe-eyed warthogs about.
My wife is forever threatening to give away the rabbit we keep in a hutch in the back garden (note – going from doe-eyed warthogs to my wife in two sentences is not the best idea, given it’s Valentine’s Day, but stay with me).
Our two boys lost interest in looking after the rabbit about, ooh, two hours after we got him.
When they realised it couldn’t fetch balls or roll over on command, they moved on.
Yet whenever their Granddad threaten
Why It Makes Sense to Kill Baby Giraffes (Sorry, Internet)
A second Danish zoo has announced that it might kill a male giraffe. The news comes just days after the internet exploded with outrage when Marius the 18-month old giraffe was dispatched with a bolt gun and dissected in front of an audience that included children, before being fed to the lions at the Copenhagen Zoo. In a dark twist, the next potential euthanasia candidate, at the Jyllands Park zoo, is also named Marius.
The media circus began with protestors outside the Copenhagen Zoo on Sunday and a petition signed by 27,000 people to rehouse Marius in one of several zoos that had already indicated that their doors were open.
Then came the death threats to Bengt Holst, the zoo's director of research and conservation. And the emotional opinion pieces.
As this debate rages, it's crucial to remember that Marius was not just an exotic attraction: he was part of a larger conservation program that breeds animals with the specific goal of maintaining the diversity of each species' gene pool.
Giraffe controversy: To kill or not to kill? Former S'pore Zoo chief Fanny Lai weighs in
My husband is a Dane, so every year we will spend our summer near Copenhagen.
One of the highlights of these trips has always been to visit friends in Copenhagen Zoo, both the human and non-human kind. It is one of the oldest and most charming zoos in Europe with 155 years of history, and its S$48 million Elephant House, designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, is probably the best captive elephant display in the world. It radiates a great balance between research, education, animal welfare and customer service.
Therefore, we were surprised to read the news on Sunday that the zoo had made a public spectacle of euthanising an 18-month old male giraffe named Marius in front of visitors and then feeding the remains to its lions. It provoked an instant global debate on the ethical practice of zoos and put the spotlight on a practice that is well hidden from the public’s view by most of the zoos.
It is a fact that all zoos have to deal with the issues of surplus animals. The “good” zoos have a prudent Animal Collection Plan taking into consideration space constrain, genetic composition, inbreeding, animal exchange, contraception and castration with the purposes of research, conservation and education in mind.
However, most zoos prefer not to conduct invasive birth control procedure, as mating and breeding are natural behaviours and an enrichment activity for captive animals.
For giraffes, contraception and castration both require sedation that is highly risky as they may injure their necks when they fall af
How to solve a problem like Marius?
Zoos have had a pretty bad press last week. Copenhagen Zoo's killing of Marius, a healthy baby giraffe, and feeding him to lions as an educational exercise, was probably not the best way to advertise how well it was doing at breeding endangered giraffes.
And now a second giraffe (also called Marius) may be culled in Denmark next week. If you are a giraffe in Denmark right now, you might be checking to see if you're called Marius.
The first Marius should have been a huge success story for the modern zoo system, where accredited members agree to follow collective guidelines and husbandry techniques to promote the breeding of selected rare species. In Europe, this is co-ordinated by Eaza, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.
It's an enormous operation involving thousands of animals across 347 zoos, mostly in Europe. And because of extremely stringent entry requirements — mere membership of your national zoo governing body, for instance, does not automatically qualify you to join — it is safe to say that these are 347 of the best zoos in Europe.
By pooling resources and expertise, they achieve far more than individual members, or any zoo outside their membership, can achieve on its own. In terms of the human race trying to do the right thing by animals, Eaza is one of the best forums on the planet.
Thirty-eight zoos co-operate to breed reticulated giraffes, such as Marius I. Producing a surplus of such rare animals is a huge achievement.
There are 240 left in the wild, plus 126 in European zoos. The captive population is rising, while those in the wild decline.
I watched Bengt Holst, scientific director at Copenhagen Zoo, defend his actions on Channel 4 News, and agreed with him right up to where he said: "And so we decided to euthanise the giraffe."
Inside the breeding programme, no space was available. Outside the programme, he felt, he couldn't guarantee welfare. But if, for instance,
The Death of Marius: A Step By Step Analysis
A lot of internet outrage has been directed at the Copenhagen Zoo in the past week after they euthanized a young giraffe because his genes were too common. From what I’ve seen, there are a lot of misconceptions about what happened, and a lot of hyperbolic statements are being thrown around about the event. The different decisions made by the zoo are being mushed together to tell one nightmarish tale, with adjectives like “barbaric” and “cabalistic” used to describe the so-called “entertainment.”
But did the zoo really just hack a baby giraffe to bits to amuse its (clearly deranged) visitors? Let’s start from the end and work our way back to the beginning of the story.
The Giraffe Meat Was Fed To The Lions
Many people are upset that the remains were fed to the lions. But let’s be clear on one thing: lions are carnivores. That means that every meal they eat requires the death of another animal. There are no alternatives (not that are healthy for the lions, anyway). They cannot thrive on a vegetarian diet. Period. If it wasn’t giraffe meat, it would have been cow, pig, or sheep meat. So, if a zoo has 250 or so pounds of healthy, fresh meat—from an animal that lions eat in the wild, no less—what else should they have done with it? Let it spoil, throw it away? Why not let the animal’s death be beneficial to other animals at the zoo? It’s important to note that Marius was more than just food for the lions. As a new food type with novel sights, smells and textures, he served as enrichment. Though many have accused the zoo of providing visitors with barbaric entertainment, in reality, the entertainment was for the lions, enhancing their quality of life in captivity. Any other use of the meat would have been wasteful and a disservice to both the giraffe that was sacrificed and the other animals at the zoo.
Marius Was Necropsied In Front Of Guests
Perhaps the most venom has been directed at the zoo’s choice to necropsy Marius in front of paying visitors. Denise Cummins accused the zoo of “butchering an animal for entertainment” in Psychology Today, calling the event “nothing more than a canned hunt-blood sport.” In particular, many, like Jane Velez-Mitchell from HLN, have zeroed in on how the necropsy was performed “in front of an audience of children.” “That sends a horrible message to kids that violence toward animals is OK,” she stated.
First off, the giraffe was not “butchered” in public. The necropsy was performed behind the scenes, so it was far from a spectacle. Guests were notified of the event, and invited to witness it if they wished—which many did, from the crowd portrayed in the photos that have been circling. No one of any age was forced to see the dead a
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Gove urged to strip 'creationist' zoo of educational award
TV academic Alice Roberts and the British Humanist Association have written to Michael Gove raising concerns that a creationist zoo has been handed an award recognising the quality of its educational provision.
The Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in north Somerset was re-awarded a “quality badge” by charity the Council for Learning Outside the Classroom (CLOtC), which accredits venues that hold educational school visits.
But the move has been heavily criticised by Professor Roberts, president of the Association of Science Education, and the BHA, both of which have urged the education secretary to intervene and withdraw the award.
In their letter to Mr Gove, Professor Roberts and the BHA have panned the awarding of the quality badge to a “pseudoscientific organisation”, claiming it contravenes Department for Education guidance.
“Contrary to what the CLOtC states, it is clearly not the case that this organisation offers good quality learning outside the classroom; indeed, the zoo’s approach runs contrary to Government policy on the teaching of creationism,” the letter states.
“This reply also fundamentally misses the distinction between awarding a religious organisation and recognising a pseudoscientific organisation.”
Speaking to TES before the zoo was accredited, Professor Roberts said she had visited the venue and felt uncomfortable with schools taking trips there.
“My beef wasn’t that it was a creationist zoo and should be shut down, they’re allowed to express their own beliefs. But I don’t think they should be allowed to indoctrinate children,” she said.
“A lot of Bristol schools go there on school trips, if it’s parents taking their own children there then fine, but I don’t agree with school going on trips there.”
As the TES reported last month, Prof Roberts is calling for private schools to be prevented from teaching creationism in science, saying that it amounts to “indoctrination”.
According to the zoo’s website, it believes in “recolonisation theory”, which brings together both creationism and evolution, where life evolved thanks to a creator and over a much shorter period of time.
In a statement, the zoo dismissed the concerns, saying religious education and discussion of Christian views or creation were “not part of our educational package for schools unless specifically requested by teachers and parents”.
“There appears to be some deliberate misrepresentation of Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm by Prof. Alice Roberts and the BHA, implying the zoo teaches creationism and pseudo-science to school children as part of their organised visit. This is simply not the case,” the statem
What 'Blackfish' left on the cutting room floor
There is one essential truth emphasized by every former killer whale trainer who appeared in "Blackfish," a film featured on CNN and recently nominated by the British Academy Film Awards for best documentary:
They all speak movingly about how they respect and love the animals with which they shared their days and had a deep, special bond with them -- as do all professionals who work for zoological parks and aquariums.
But "Blackfish" ignores the essence of parks and aquariums -- their dedication to wildlife research, conservation, education and rescue of stranded marine mammals.
And, most importantly, it ignores their commitment to the animals' welfare, providing them with loving, state-of-the art care based on the latest advances in science and insights of experience.
Marine parks help wildlife, inspire, educate
Conservation scientists and wildlife researchers need marine parks and aquariums to learn how to better save animals in the wild. There's not a single mention of this in "Blackfish."
Today's pressing conservation and scientific questions cannot be answered by studying only marine mammals in the wild. Much research depends on detailed case histories or the control of experimental variables.
www.zoolex.org in February 2014
~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~ ~°v°~
Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!
NEW EXHIBIT PRESENTATION
Amphibian Ark at Paignton Zoo Environmental Park holds bio-secure
facilities for breeding endangered amphibians. It also serves public
education, research and the training of herpetologists for conservation.
Thanks to Frank Gómez (traductor) and Eduardo Díaz (editor) we are able
to offer the Spanish translation of a previously published presentation:
Ciudad Antigua. Íbises, Parque zoológico Amersfoort
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Zoo licence now needed at Normanby Hall - after 39 years!
NORTH Lincolnshire Council has been forced to seek a zoo licence from itself to continue keeping a deer herd at Normanby Hall Country Park.
The four-year licence, to be issued under a 33-year-old law, will cost taxpayers £1,100.
For the past 39 years the deer park, above, has been exempted from having to seek zoo status. But a review of the size has revealed the exemption should never have been granted by the former Scunthorpe Borough Council.
A North Lincolnshire Council spokeswoman said: “We look at zoos and exempt premises on an annual
Pittsburgh zoo settles federal investigation of mauling death by African painted dogs
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has agreed to pay $4,550 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of a settlement, ending the agency's review of the death in 2012 of a toddler who was fatally mauled after he fell into a wild dog exhibit, zoo officials announced Thursday.
The settlement, and waiver of the zoo's right to a hearing, closes the USDA's investigation of the death at the African painted dog exhibit. But, the zoo said in a news release, it is not an admission of liability.
"It is important that we are able to take this step to move forward in order for everyone to heal," zoo president and CEO Barbara Baker said in a statement. "Safety is always a top priority. All of our exhibits meet the highest USDA and [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] standards and we will continue to work with both agencies to ensure those standards are met and exceeded."
Members of the zoo's board of directors donated their own money for the settlement, according to the release.
"We want to demonstrate our full support of the zoo, Dr. Baker, and zoo staff," board chairman Rick Kalson said in the zoo's statement.
Maddox Derkosh, 2, of Whitehall was killed Nov. 4, 2012, after he fell over the railing at the exhibit and was mauled. His mother, Elizabeth Derkosh, had been holding him, and witnesses said the little boy wriggled out of her arms.
Investigations of the accident by the Allegheny County district attorney's office and the zoo's own internal review did not find any wrongdoing by the zoo, Ms. Baker said last year.
District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr. said in October 2013 that he would look into information that the safety committee at the zoo reported co
Observe to Learn: Exploring Animal Behavior
An App that every ZooKeeper Needs
Polar bear brothers in China zoo want mates
A polar-themed park in China has issued a global "marriage-seeking" bid for two polar bears in captivity.
The Harbin Polarland in Harbin, capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, announced the bid at a polar animal show on Valentine's Day on Friday.
Due to the lack of female polar bears in China, both bears remain without mates despite their relatively advanced ages.
The polar bears, though not brothers by blood, are named Tangji and Kede. When combined, their names read as the Chinese translation of "Don Quixote," the gentleman protagonist of the famous Spanish novel.
Their keeper said polar bears reach sexual maturity at the age of 5. However, the older bear is 10 years old, and the younger one is 9, making both "elder bachelors."
The bear brothers were wild bears imported from Russia in 2006.
There are few polar-themed parks in China, a
These Birds Are Dying So Rich, Powerful Men Can Improve Their Sex Lives
According to myth, though not supported by any scientific studies, the meat of houbara bustards has aphrodisiac qualities.
ery year beginning in November, the tawny, mottled birds known as houbara bustards make their annual migration southwest from their breeding grounds in Kazakhstan, China, and Mongolia. Most end up in the deserts of Pakistan.
Another migration, by some of the richest and most powerful men in the world, soon follows them there, armed with almost every kind of hunting weapon imaginable.
Well, no drones, so far. But for Pakistani environmentalists, this uncontrolled slaughter by foreign powers is almost as enraging. The hunters often deploy a trained falcon to swoop in on a houbara and slam it to the ground, the victim reduced to a violent flapping of wings and feathers torn loose from its flesh. (They preserve the memory in videos like this.) They also use shotguns on houbaras and target Siberian cranes and almost any other living thing foolish enough to come in range. A 2011 estimate—a guesstimate, really—put Asia’s houbara population at no more than 55,000 birds and sharply declining.
The houbaras, as well as the cranes, are nominally protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, and the hunters all come from countries that are signatories to that convention. Worse, many of them are heads of state or national leaders of those countries—among them the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. This year, UAE actually sent a large delegation to slaughter bustards in Pakistan while it was simultaneously signing a treaty to protect them in Kazahkstan. (The apparent ai
The plight of neglected animals at Casablanca’s Ain Sbaa Zoo
That humans suffer the worst deplorable situations imaginable on a daily basis is something that we might have grown accustomed to in Morocco. To see voiceless animals caged for life, deprived of food, and resigned to their plight, is heartbreaking and calls for alarm.
The Zoo of Ain Sebaa, located in Casablanca, the fledgling economic hub of Morocco, was an institution that was once the pride jewel of every Moroccan. The sad reality is that the Zoo has fallen on a downward hard times due to neglect and mismanagement for years, and has become more of a moral pitiful slow death of the animals living there under some of the most unsanitary despicable conditions those animals are subjected to everyday.
The zoo was a curious attraction to countless people from different ages and different parts of Morocco for decades. Now it is but a dilapidated long forgotten facility forsaken by time and misery and the misfortune of the resilient animals housed there.
The animals continue to make do with the meager rations they receive every now and then from the keepers. Lodged in cages with leaky roofs and clogged drains, many of these animals have surrendered to the benevolence of caring banana throwers here and there, pieces of meat here and there, and regular meals come most irregularly to them.
No one knows for sure how this fall from grace came about to afflict Ain Sbaa zoo, but we know for sure that it needs some urgent attention before animals start dying from preventable diseases and malnutrition.
Memories of kids begging their parents for weeks to get them to the zoo on the weekend were now just memories that haunt the conscience of those who still care. The sounds of their laughter as they were first introduced to a real monkey still resonate in my ears and in my hollow heart.
Visits to the Zoo taught kids to appreciate other forms of life and instill basic values such as respect for all creatures large and small. Respect for the animals that were not native to Morocco and were brought in as guests. They end up living in such unhospitable cages day in and day out.
The Zoo today is nothing but a stinky repulsive home to the very animals that were uprooted from their natural habitat only to end up bleeding life because they were uncared for, neglected, and deprived of the most basic needs. Perhaps the first feeling that hits you once you set foot on its ground is that of despair for the animals.
During the last visits that we made to the Zoo, we couldn’t see one single guard in charge of making rounds to monitor the tours. Previously, three thieves climbed the walls of the Zoo in their attempt to steal the Zoo’s only ostrich. Had there been a
Would a better zoo design have saved Marius the giraffe?
Changing attitudes toward animals have led zoo architects to rethink their designs. How do Israeli designers meet the needs of animals and visitors alike?
Many people were horrified by the news earlier this month that a young giraffe was put to death at a Denmark zoo to avoid undesirable mating. The giraffe’s killing by his handlers, and his flesh being fed to lions, aroused a public debate over the living conditions and treatment of zoo animals. In recent years, zoo planners have taken into account changing attitudes toward animals and the need to create comfortable environments for the animals while still maintaining visibility for human visitors.
“The medium is the message,” says Dr. Amalia Terkel as she drives carefully down the paths of the savannah surrounding the zoo at the Ramat Gan Safari. “Here you have a park and around it a city that’s all concrete. In the savannah the animals are free, and we’re the ones who are stuck inside a cage of metal and glass.”
An ostrich rapidly and confidently striding toward us appears to bolster Terkel’s statement when it begins pecking on the front windshield. “This unmediated access is the high point of the visit for children – it’s a little fear, a little excitement,” says Terkel, an experienced zoologist who has been with the Safari since its inception. The “medium” at the Safari, as at other zoos, is composed of fences, walls, trees, rocks, pits and pools – and like the message it seeks to convey, no part of it is genuinely natural, or random.
Around the world, zoos are a favorite design subject for architects, including the firm of Norman Foster, designer of the elephant display at the Copenhagen Zoo that is covered with broad glass domes reminiscent of those at the British Museum, which he also designed. A famous older structure is the penguin pool at the London Zoo, designed in the late 1930s by Berthold Lubetkin, a founder of British modernism.
The idea for the local safari was first proposed in the late 1960s and was built on the site of what was once a small petting zoo in the Ramat Gan National Park. The park director and eventual Safari founder, Zvi Kirmayer, convinced the mayor at the time, Avraham Krinitzi, to allocate 1,000 dunams of the park to build an open zoo.
The first shipment from Africa came in 1968, and within four years, elephants, giraffes, ostriches, lions, Thompson’s gazelles, Grant’s gazelles and various species of antelopes were being housed in a cantina in Eilat, before they were brought to the park, which was inaugurated in 1974. The zoo inside was built a decade later, when the old zoo in Tel Aviv was slated to be closed down.
The planning ideas that shaped the Safari derived from the relatively recent trend of viewing zoos as sites whose purpose is to educate visitors as well as entertain them. This vi
Celebrating Plants and the Planet:
I prefer questions to statements. They can initiate such interesting conversations. February’s news links at www.zooplantman.com (NEWS/Botanical News) ask unexpected questions:
· Were the mighty mammoths hunted to extinction, or did they follow the disappearance of wildflowers? An odd question, true, but researchers think it is worth asking.
· Would humans ever have evolved had grasses not developed to create the savannas? Maybe the fetish we have for lawns actually makes evolutionary sense.
· Are bromeliads, those epiphyte hosts to tree frogs, protecting tropical trees from predators?
· Can plants learn tricks? A research team has taught them one.
· Why does Australia appear to have so many plants and animals that use deception? Is it something about biodiversity or something about the Australian naturalists who focus on it?
The most fun new biology website I’ve seen lately is http://www.onezoom.org/
Have fun exploring the evolutionary connections between… well, everything
Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PlantWorldNews – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.
The February 2014 issue of ZOO’s PRINT Magazine (Vol. 29, No. 2) is online at <www.zoosprint.org> in a format that permits you to turn pages like a regular magazine.
If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <www.zoosprint.org/showMagazine.asp>
ISSN 0973-2543 (online)
February 2014 | Vol. 29 | No. 2 | Date of Publication 21 February 2014
Chiroptera Research Techniques and Conservation in Bangladesh - Report
-- Nurul Islam, Pp. 1-6
Professional Zookeeping, Evolution of Zoos, and Workplace Safety and Emergency: Parts 1-3 of ZOOKEEPING: An Introduction to the Science and Technology, Mark Irwin, John Stoner and Aaron M. Cobaugh, Editors & Summary by S. Walker
Conservation Breeding Specialist Group Divests 70% of Fossil Fuel Exposure, from the CBSG Office
Involving community, stakeholders and journalists for the conservation of Freshwater Biodiversity of Western Ghats
-- B.A. Daniel, Pp. 11-16
Can Indian ZOOS become a CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) destination? - A Review
-- Bipul Chakrabarty, Pp. 17-20
Indonesian Mahout Workshop - Forum Komunikasi Mahout Sumatera, Indonesia
-- Sri Nazaruddin and Heidi S. Riddle, Pp. 21-22
Cryptorchidism in a male Blue Sheep (Pseudois nayaur) at Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park
-- Pankaj Kumar and A.K. Jha, Pp. 23-24
National Seminar on "Current Trends in Lakes and Coastal Environments" (LACOSTE 2014) - Organized by Department of Earth Sciences, Annamalai University 28th and 29th March 2014
Mass congregation behavior of Milkweed (Danainae) butterflies in Sindhudurg District, Maharashtra
-- Milind D. Patil, Pp. 25-26
Passiflora alata Curtis (Passifloraceae), an edible fruit-yielding plant species - A new record for India
-- V.S. Ramachandran, C. Udhayavani and P. Lakshminarasimhan, P. 27
ZOO observes Golden Jubilee of Animal Welfare Fortnightly with Coimbatore schools and their students
-- R. Marimuthu, Pp. 28-30
Zoo Outreach Organization and VOC Park Mini Zoo commemorates World Wetlands Day
-- R. Marimuthu and K. Asokan, Pp. 31-32
Noah's Ark Zoo Farm: Buta the elephant arrives at her new home
NOAH'S Ark Zoo Farm in Wraxall welcomed a new arrival at its Elephant Eden site on Thursday. Buta, a female African elephant, became the first to move into the largest purpose-built elephant habitat in northern Europe where the zoo hopes to establish a herd.
Buta was transported to the new 20-acre area from Knowsley Safari after four months of special training.
Buta has arrived first, to be followed shortly by Nissim, a 19-year-old bull from the same herd at Knowsley Safari, who will join her again at the visitor attraction.
Zoo supporter Ann Widdecombe, above, is set to officially welcome the new elephant on Friday.
Noah's Ark has been working with Knowsley Safari, which is based in Merseyside, for nine months to arrange the move.
Elephants Buta and Nissim will be joined by others as the Elephant Eden project develops to form a stable herd.
Buta and Nissim will remain at Noah's Ark for two years while Knowsley develops a brand new elephant barn, helping Noah's Ark begin its elephant program.
The 120-acre zoo has appointed a new team of experienced elephant keepers and support staff to run the new facility.
The project has been led by Noah's Ark Zoo Farm's director Anthony Bush at a cost of £2 million, assisted by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs grant funding.
Mr Bush said: "Eleph
An Open Letter on Cetaceans in Our Care
We would like to take this opportunity to provide facts in the light of the continued circulation of inaccurate messages that have been shared by some who may be misinformed about our animals and our conservation efforts.
Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit society—proceeds directly support our conservation, research and education programs. Our team of 1,500 staff and volunteers provide exceptional care to our animals and are deeply committed to ocean conservation. One of the most impactful ways we do this is by raising awareness and through public engagement.
We are a leader in managing our cetacean populations, which includes our belugas and Pacific white-sided dolphins. On September 16, 1996, Vancouver Aquarium took a leadership role and became the first (and only) aquarium in the world to make a commitment to no longer capture cetaceans (whales and dolphins) from the wild for display and to only care for:
Cetaceans that were captured before 1996
Cetaceans that were already being kept in a zoo or aquarium before 1996
Cetaceans that were born in a zoo or aquarium
Cetaceans that were rescued from the wild and rehabilitated, but deemed non-releasable by the appropriate government authorities
We do not and will not capture wild cetaceans for display. The last dolphin collected for the Aquarium was in 1971 and the last cetacean of any kind was collected in 1990 when our beluga whale, Aurora, joined us. Our responsible breeding program, managed in partnership with accredited institutions in North America, enables us to maintain a population of marine mammals at the
China’s panda pair to leave for Belgium
A pair of giant pandas are leaving for Belgium on Saturday, on lease from a breeding center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province.
Xing Hui, the male and Hao Hao, the female, are both 4 years old and are bound for Belgium's Pairi Daiza zoo for the next 15 years, as announced during Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo's September visit to China.
China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas, the world's largest research base for the species, confirmed on Thursday that the pandas were "in a good condition and ready for the trip."
"It's the first time that we have sent animals abroad for so long [15 years], and we hope they adapt to life in Belgium as soon as possible," Zhang Hemin, head of the center, said.
The center receives panda lease applications from around the world. Usually, the lease term is 10 years.
The pair are expected to arrive in Brussels on Sunday. Two
Lemur conservation crisis
NIU anthropologist Mitch Irwin is among experts making a case
in journal Science for ‘world’s most threatened mammal group’
A group of the world’s top lemur conservationists and researchers, including NIU anthropology professor Mitch Irwin, has published a “Policy Forum” article in the Feb. 21 issue of Science, urging emergency action to prevent extinctions of these unique primate species, found naturally only in Madagascar.
The 19 article authors note that the country’s five endemic lemur families make up “the most threatened mammal group on Earth.” The situation has worsened following a 2009 political crisis that saw the ouster of the Malagasy president.
Led by Christoph Schwitzer, head of research at Bristol Zoo Gardens in the U.K., the researchers advocate for adoption of an emergency conservation action plan, detailed in a document published Aug. 1, 2013, on the website of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Schwitzer serves as vice-chair for Madagascar of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.
Irwin had a hand in writing both the Policy Forum article and the IUCN document.
“With the Science publication, we want to draw people’s attention to the urgency of the plan and its funding goals,” Irwin says. “Since the 2009 political crisi
Cambodia-Laos dam threatens existence of rare dolphin
The last population of Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong could be driven to extinction by a planned hydropower dam on the Laos-Cambodia border, conservationists said yesterday.
The building work and the Don Sahong dam itself would change the water quality and could kill off the population of just 85 of the aquatic mammals remaining in the Mekong, World Wide Fund for Nature said.
“Plans to construct the Don Sahong dam in a channel immediately upstream from these dolphins will likely hasten their disappearance from the Mekong,” said WWF Cambodia’s country director Chhith Sam Ath. There are an estimated 6,000 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the world, most of them in the river of that name in Bangladesh, but with pockets of fewer than 100 individuals in the Mekong as well as the Philippines, Burma and Indonesia, according to WWF. The group called on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen to request that Laos halt the construction of the 240-megawatt project.
Laos last year announced construction would start in 2014, despite objections from wildlife groups and some of the countries affected, which say the dam will also disrupt fish mig
Five tiger cubs seized in Thai police wildlife haul
Thai police said Thursday they have seized five wild tiger cubs along with hundreds of other animals being smuggled to neighbouring Laos, for apparent onward sale in Vietnam or China as delicacies.
Highway officers on Wednesday stopped a pick-up truck in the northeast which was apparently headed for the Laotian border, a policeman told AFP.
A search revealed the endangered tiger cubs, all of them around a month old.
There were also hundreds of other creatures including monitor lizards and turtles, he said, adding traffickers use Thailand as a transit point to Laos and then to buyers in lucrative Asian markets.
"The final destination is either Vietnam or China where they like to eat these animals," according to Captain Pornchai Sangsila.
"The tigers will normally be kept in Laos for one year to be raised before being sold on."
Two Thai men have been charged with illegal possession of protected animals.
Television showed footage from Wednesday night of the baby tigers cradled by handlers and being bottle-fed milk.
Under international law the trade in tigers and tiger parts is strictly banned, except for non-commercial reasons such as scientific research.
Thailand is one of just 13 countries hosting fragile tiger populations -- estimated at fewer than 300 in the wild -- and is a hub of international smuggling.
Worldwide, tiger numbers are estimated to have fall
Chinese zookeeper dies in elephant enclosure
A zookeeper died in an elephant enclosure on Wednesday afternoon in southwest China's Yunnan province, a source at the zoo said.
The man, 46, was found dead at about 4:30 p.m. He had injuries to his head, according to the zoo of Kunming, the provincial capital.
It is not yet known whether
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