Saturday, March 29, 2014

Zoo News Digest 14th - 29th March 2014 (ZooNews 891)

Zoo News Digest 14th - 29th March 2014 (ZooNews 891)

The problem with many zoos

Dear Colleagues,

Would you believe that it rained all day in Dubai on Wednesday? That is ALL day. Most roads flooded at one time or another and in spite of a lot of crazy drivers I reckon a huge percentage of people actually left their cars at home (I learned the following day there had been 704 car accidents in Dubai alone on that single day) . I say this because the queues for taxis have never been to so large. I spent the afternoon at the 'Veterinary Outlook Forum' over at the Trade Centre listening to various talks. What I really went for was to hear 'The Big Discussion on the Future of MENA's Zoos'.  Only there wasn't one….a discussion that is. There were three short presentations by Dr. Gerald Dick from WAZA, Dr. Reza Khan from Dubai Zoo and Mark Craig of Al Ain Zoo. All very interesting but no discussion, no debate, no questions. So a little bit of a waste of time other than catching up with people.

I don't suppose anyone would be surprised to learn that the zoo story of the week was about the lions being euthanased in Copenhagen Zoo. Every newspaper has covered the story, some of them a few times over. If anything this has got more attention than Marius the giraffe. I fully understand and support the decision by Copenhagen but like I said in the case of the Giraffe….it would have been better carried out quietly and behind closed doors. Others agree with me. The problem today is that when something happens of interest the whole world knows about it in minutes through Twitter and Facebook, and very sadly most of that world are not prepared to investigate and learn more. The press continue to use their 'slaughtered/murdered' terminology instead of the quiet clean cull... euthanasia. Their use of words suggests that these animals were tortured, abused and killed for pleasure. They were not of course. The people who did the deed were caring kind zookeepers just like you and I. This was a management decision with the consideration of the species at the fore. So many of the newspapers question why? And yet very few of them actually investigate the reasons. Of those that do most tend to ignore the reasons or gloss over them. Some, happily talk sense. Others are complete idiots. Trying to tie the story in with the proposed Danish ban on shechitah or 'kosher/Halal' killing is ridiculous.....but it makes a point. Why isn't the press jumping up and down and asking their countries to impose a similar ban? Religious ritual slaughter is cruel and unkind and a few thousand years out of date. It NEEDS banning. Zoo euthanasia is caring and kind.
One thing I do note from this latest incident was that more zookeepers are understanding why it was done. The death of Marius has had an effect. Some of those who were not supportive last time have done some reading and research and now understand….they don't like it….but they understand. None of us have to like it. I certainly don't. Sadly a few zoo staff along with most of the public who are intimidated by their peers or  have kept their blinkers on and made no effort to understand at all. It is so easy to become the prey of emotion. The biggest pity is the zoos out there who miss the point completely or use it as a springboard to promote themselves. I have friends and colleagues within the zoo world who disagree with me. I respect their opinions and I would like to believe they respect mine. Presently I have not come up with a single argument as to why I should change my thoughts on zoo euthanasia within the greater scheme of things.

It would be far better if the press and the animal rights were to focus their attention on events and situations which really matter like Canned Hunting and the cruel death of the tigers in Zhanjiang. But they don't. One or two papers may take such stories up now and again but their interest is short. They want to titillate their readers with stories of torture.

Blackfish is still ticking away in the background. Follow the link below for more sense on the subject.

I don't quite understand how Karachi Zoo will gain recognition from 'the world association of the zoo' by the acquisition of  'a rhinoceros, a giraffe and a hippopotamus'.....I mean they have already been taken in by some trickster selling them White Lions as something special.

Sadly my surgery was cancelled and it will be a week before I know of a next viable date. I am anxious to get it all over and done with.

With regards to LinkedIn. I get several invitations to connect each week. I am prepared to connect but not if I cannot see any zoo, wildlife conservation interest in your profile.
So does advertising on Zoo News Digest Vacancies work? One advertisement posted last week had over 6,000 views in just two days.

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 :

Peter Dickinson
10 Cheshire View
Appleyards Lane

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


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

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Topeka Zoo's patriarch giraffe receiving end-of-life care
At 23 years old, Jesse is one of oldest giraffes in captivity
Jesse, a 23-year-old giraffe at the Topeka Zoo, is experiencing health issues suggesting his long life may be coming to an end, Topeka city officials said Wednesday.

Jesse, who is one of the oldest male giraffes currently living among zoo populations, is experiencing front hoof problems, as well as some muscle atrophy in his neck and arthritis in his rear legs that makes it hard for him to lie down and get back up.

Topeka Zoo officials said in a news release that they have been monitoring problems associated with Jesse’s advancing age and have discussed with USDA regulators what indicators the zoo will use to determine when the animal’s health is no longer manageable.

Jesse was born at the Topeka Zoo on April 15, 1990, and has sired six offspring, making him the patriarch of the zoo’s giraffe herd.

The zoo’s animal care experts have consulted with a large-animal radiologist and a farrier — a specialist in equine hoof care — about a condition known as laminitis, a disease that affects the feet of hooved animals. After being treated

Do You Want To Buy a Zoo?
Franklin Zoo For Sale

Part of the beautiful Franklin countryside, minutes from the southern motorway and a very easy commute from Auckland and the international Airport, this is a rare opportunity to develop a successful animal facility. The location allows access to passing tourists and visitors from all over New Zealand.

In the past the Zoo has been home to many species of animals: elephant, zebra, emu, deer, llama, primates, birds, lions, bobcats, serval cat, reptiles, native birds, wallaby, deer who have been cared for by qualified staff, vets and many volunteers. The sanctuary has been vital for animals that required special housing and/or needs when there was nowhere else for them to go.

This facility was open 7 days a week and was well used by visitors, schools and community groups, providing park like surroundings with many picnic and play areas for families. It has also been used as a venue for weddings, engagements, tourists, Christmas and company parties.

Plans are available for the proposed food preparation and cafe areas which would have allowed the zoo to offer exceptional facilities for day visitors and to further expand the c

Playing With Lions is Never a Good Idea

Moscow zoo condemns more killings of animals at Copenhagen zoo
The Moscow Zoo does not approve of yet more killings of animals at the Copenhagen Zoo, where, after Marius the giraffe was killed, four African lions - two old ones and their two ten-month-old cubs - were put down because of the arrival of a new male.

"While The Moscow Zoo understands the whole situation, we cannot approve of such a decision because we believe that in the absence of conditions for keeping all the animals, new ones should not be acquired, even for the purpose of improving genetic diversity," Moscow Zoo said on its website.
An animal should not be killed just because it is old, it said.
"We often receive complaints about 'old animals' in our enclosures, but that is our principled decision. Whenever there is a choice, we try to keep the animal alive no matter what, even if it does not look the way one would want it to," Moscow Zoo said.
It emerged earlier that a pair of old African lions and their two ten-month-old cubs were put down at Copenhagen Zoo.
The Danish zoo explained this decision by receiving a young African male lion from another zoo on March 24.
Very soon the lion will be mated with two lionesses born two years ago at the zoo to make up a new pride of lions in Copenhagen. Regrettably, the zoo does not have room for accommodating all its predators, and an unpopular decision was made about the euthanasia of two old lions and two lion cubs.
In nature, in the event of changes in the pride (

Opinion Piece: Copenhagen Zoo Could Put Zoos Out of Business
he Copenhagen Zoo may not know it yet, but like all other conservation-minded, live collection, natural history institutions (e.g. zoos, aquariums, marine parks, etc.), the zoo’s ultimate goal is to put themselves and other zoos out of business.

Zoos often claim, and rightfully so, that they hope to one day restore a great majority of imperiled species to the wild and render the need for zoo-administered conservation breeding programs obsolete.

Unfortunately, one Danish zoo may do this all by itself and quite prematurely, before the mission of accredited global zoo communities is accomplished. Knowingly or unknowingly, it is selfish of them.

In essence, the accredited communities of zoos endeavor to eventually eliminate the need to breed or display captive wildlife through honorable intentions of creating conservation success stories for wildlife on the brink of extinction. The Copenhagen Zoo, on the other hand, seems unmoved by the notion that it may become solely responsible for precipitating the “dishonorable” disappearance of zoos.

Such a “mass extinction” of zoos could conceivably be triggered and accelerated by their continued callous decision making to the great appreciation and delight of ardent anti-captivity animal rights activists around the world.  I suspect many activists are rejoicing as we speak. Yes, sadly, the actions of the Copenhagen Zoo could generate a global zoo extinction before these conservation centers have the opportunity to restore threatened and endangered species to the wild, if that is even possible in the foreseeable future. I hope I’m exaggerating.

My sentiment is all in reference to their latest animal “casualties.” In the wake of the Copenhagen Zoo’s decision to cull a healthy bull giraffe last month, the EAZA accredited zoo announced this week that it also just euthanized four lions, including two cubs. This news has generated public outrage and spurred perhaps unprecedented dissension among professional zoo, aquarium, and marine park colleagues.

I suggested in a social media forum that this was not a brilliant PR move or because the zoo dispatched another healthy animal or animals, but because the Copenhagen Zoo seemed to casually dismiss the influence of public sentiment, particularly here in the United States where we already have some misguided and

Tough decisions in nature conservation
It is easy to criticize zoos and aquariums when healthy animals are culled, particularly when they are from endangered species. It's not always easy to understand the logic behind such a decision, but to get a picture of why good zoos take particular actions, one has to understand the context and the alternatives.
Wild populations of animals are collapsing at an alarming rate. Since 1997, for example, the population of giraffes in Africa has plummeted by more than 50%, with two subspecies becoming extinct in the wild, and leaving only 240 members of another subspecies in a single population center. This pattern is replicated all over the world; it is driven by our increasing need for natural resources such as palm oil, agricultural land, or living space.

Animal reserves in the most vulnerable areas are struggling to protect their animals from the scourge of poachers, while other habitats are destroyed by the effects of deforestation and increasingly climate change, a problem that all of the world's governments acting in concert have been unable to check even slightly.

Indeed, governments have been unable even to uphold their obligations under the Aichi Targets to assist in the protection of endangered species and to teach their populations about the value of biological diversity, obligations that have been almost entirely outsourced to zoos and museums.

Zoos inherited a legacy of animal keeping from a previous age that did not understand the havoc we are wreaking on the planet. Since the establishment of national and regional zoo associations and the dawning of greater scientific understanding of our effect on nature, zoos have become essentially a last line of defense in the protection of animals.

Do we wish that humans would stop destroying the natural habitats of wild animals? Of course; but this is not happening.

Our choice then is clear: Do we use the legacy we inherited to protect animals from human activity, or do we leave them to take their chances, knowing that their chances of survival are slim and for many species almost impossible?

If we accept that some action is better than none, then we also have to accept that managing viable populations of animals over the long term until their habitats are stabilized requires some difficult decisions, including the culling of healthy animals that won't help the species stay adaptable and immune to disease.

It's worth remembering that some of the world's foremost biologists, population biologists, animal geneticists and other experts have thought deeply and philosophically about these choices. Faced with the alternatives, it's not hard to see why they chose as they did.

Say we did stop zoos from breeding and transformed them into "sanctuaries"; Immediately we would need to give up the notion that we can save our most endangered species from extinction -- the infrastructure in the wild just isn't there for some species and in many EAZA zoos we care for species that are already extinct in the wild. Next we would need to decide what to do with the animals: Should we keep them in these new sanctuaries, unable to breed, until they die?

Animal rights organizations would like to make sure that nobody enjoys seeing such animals and learning about them from zoo visits, yet these visits are what pay for everything we do, from education through to conservation. Over 1.5 billion visits will be made to EAZA zoos during the Decade of Biodiversity, with all of those visitors learning about nature. Who would be there to offer nature conservation education if zoos did not exist?

Zoos in reputable zoo associations worldwide are the fourth largest donors to conservation in the wild; are animal rights groups going to replace the hundreds of millions of dollars that zoos currently donate? No, because ultimately they do not care whether species have a future in the wild.

We cannot possibly release all of our animals back into a wild that is under siege, and which they would have to share with wild populations that are as large as their habitats can currently accommodate.

Who would carry out the Aichi Target obligations which all European nations have signed up to? Would taxpayers really be willing to foot larger bills to pay for this

Paddy Power opens bets on which animal is likely to be killed next at Copenhagen Zoo
Paddy Power has opened up betting on which animal is likely to be killed next at Copenhagen Zoo, after four healthy lions were put down this week.
The bookmaker, which was recently ordered to withdraw an advert that offered a “money back if he walks” guarantee for betting on the Oscar Pistorius murder trial, singled out a zebra at the zoo as a 5/1 favourite of being killed next, followed by a polar bear at 8/1.

Odds on an antelope have been put at 6/1 and 14/1 on a tiger, while a hippopotamus is the "current outsider" at 40/1.

Paddy Power said they had tried to negotiate buying any remaining lions, but their offer has been refused by Ulrich Lindegaard Christensen, the zoo’s sales manager, who told them “he could not take their offer seriously”.

Copenhagen Zoo faced international outcry after it euthanised a healthy giraffe because of its breeding procedures, before then putting down a pair of adult lions and two cubs.

After shooting Marius the giraffe in the head, zoo

Opinion: Killing Healthy Zoo Animals Is Wrong—And the Public Agrees
Scientist calls lion, giraffe deaths "zoothanasia"—or heartless elimination.
The four lions killed by the Copenhagen Zoo this week, as well as  the healthy young giraffe named Marius put to death in February, didn't have to die.

A global uproar has followed the deaths of two African lions and their two ten-month-old cubs. Their lives ended because the zoo wants to introduce a new male to the remaining females to bear more lions.

The same outcry was heard when a healthy young giraffe named Marius, who had the wrong genes for the facility's breeding program, was killed with a bolt to his head—so as not to contaminate his body with poisons. The giraffe was publicly dissected and then fed to the zoo's carnivores, including lions.

None of the deaths were euthanasia, which is a mercy killing when an animal is suffering or lingering near death and must be "put down," as zoos always refer to such situations.

Rather, it was "zoothanasia," or killing done by zoo workers because an animal is no longer needed for one reason or another and is deemed to be a disposable object rather than a sentient being. (Related: "Opinion: Killing of Marius the Giraffe Exposes Myths About Zoos.")

The "Marius Effect"

Many people around the world were outraged by Marius's death. I call this the "Marius Effect."

Many of them had never previously voiced their opinion about the common killings of what are disparagingly called "surplus animals" by zoos, or had spoken out about other animal issues. (See "National Zoo Deaths: 'Circle of Life' or Animal Care Concerns?")

While some workers at the zoo and elsewhere said the giraffe had to be killed because he didn't fit into the zoo's breeding program, and therefore couldn't be used as a breeding machine (like dogs at a puppy mill), countless others disagreed. An online petition asking the zoo to hold off on the killing until another home was found received tens of thousands of signatures.

Marius was killed despite the fact that another facility had offered him a home in which he could live out h

At the Copenhagen Zoo, Humans Can Be Animals
You’d think killing a giraffe would be enough.  Never mind that the giraffe was perfectly healthy, or that its killers worked at the Copenhagen Zoo—which, as a rule, much prefers its giraffes alive than dead—or that they killed it in front of a group of children, or that the children watched the giraffe be dismembered and fed to the zoo’s lions (teachable moment?)—or that when word got out, the zoo received the condemnation of animal lovers everywhere.
You’d think the zookeepers would learn their lesson.  You wouldn’t think that, a month later, they’d kill four healthy lions.

Were they the same lions to whom they had fed the giraffe?  I don’t know.  I stopped reading.  But I bet even Dr. Moreau is on his island somewhere thinking, those Danes are nuts.

Their excuse for the killing the giraffe was that they were worried about inbreeding.  OK, maybe, I guess.  Still seems exces

Danish Zoo Killings Denounced by Rabbi as Hypocritical Amid Slaughter Ban
A Danish zoo’s slaying of healthy animals proves that animal welfare concerns are a false justification for Denmark’s recent ban on ritual slaughter, a prominent European rabbi charged.
Citing the need to make room for new animals and prevent inbreeding, the Copenhagen Zoo killed four healthy lions earlier this week and a healthy giraffe last month.
The killings, which prompted an international outcry, make it “more apparent that this [shechitah ban] is less about animal welfare, and much more about the politics of immigration and integration,” Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, said in a statement on Thursday.
Denmark’s agriculture minister, Dan Jorgensen, issued a new regulation last month making it illegal to slaughter animals without stunning, posing a problem for Jewish and Muslim ritual slaughter. He said the ban owed to animal welfare considerations.
Goldschmidt suggested that’s false.
“Since there is little or no religious slaughter in Denmar

Don't forget

Zoo Biology

  1. Commentary
  1. You have free access to this content
    Elevating the priority of zoo animal welfare: the chief executive as an agent of reform (pages 1–7)
    Terry L. Maple
    Article first published online: 16 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21117
  1. Research Article
  1. You have free access to this content
    Factors Associated With Uterine Endometrial Hyperplasia and Pyometra in Wild Canids: Implications for Fertility (pages 8–19)
    Cheryl S. Asa, Karen L. Bauman, Sarah Devery, Martín Zordan, Gerardo R. Camilo, Sally Boutelle and Anneke Moresco
    Article first published online: 1 APR 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21069
  1. Commentary
  1. You have free access to this content
    “Use it or lose it”: Characterization, implications, and mitigation of female infertility in captive wildlife (pages 20–28)
    Linda M. Penfold, David Powell, Kathy Traylor-Holzer and Cheryl S. Asa
    Article first published online: 28 DEC 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21104
  1. Husbandry Reports
  1. You have free access to this content
    Allegheny woodrat (Neotoma magister) captive propagation to promote recovery of declining populations (pages 29–35)
    Timothy J. Smyser and Robert K. Swihart
    Article first published online: 4 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21114
  1. Research Articles
  1. You have free access to this content
    Boldness towards novelty and translocation success in captive-raised, orphaned Tasmanian devils (pages 36–48)
    David L. Sinn, Lisa Cawthen, Susan M. Jones, Chrissy Pukk and Menna E. Jones
    Article first published online: 28 DEC 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21108
  1. You have free access to this content
    The influence of ambient noise on maternal behavior in a Bornean sun bear (Helarctos malayanus euryspilus) (pages 49–53)
    Megan A. Owen, Suzanne Hall, Lisa Bryant and Ronald R. Swaisgood
    Article first published online: 17 DEC 2013 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21105
  1. You have free access to this content
    Implementing unpredictability in feeding enrichment for Malayan sun bears (Helarctos malayanus) (pages 54–62)
    Marion Schneider, Gunther Nogge and Lydia Kolter
    Article first published online: 9 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21112
  1. You have free access to this content
    Implementing a low-starch biscuit-free diet in zoo gorillas: The impact on behavior(pages 63–73)
    E.H. Less, R. Bergl, R. Ball, P.M. Dennis, C.W. Kuhar, S.R. Lavin, M.A. Raghanti, J. Wensvoort, M.A. Willis and K.E. Lukas
    Article first published online: 4 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21116
  1. You have free access to this content
    Implementing a low-starch biscuit-free diet in zoo gorillas: The impact on health(pages 74–80)
    E.H. Less, K.E. Lukas, R. Bergl, R. Ball, C.W. Kuhar, S.R. Lavin, M.A. Raghanti, J. Wensvoort, M.A. Willis and P.M. Dennis
    Article first published online: 13 JAN 2014 | DOI: 10.1002/zoo.21115

City zoo a signature away from being recognised internationally
Induction of a rhinoceros, a giraffe and a hippopotamus in the cages of Karachi Zoo can help win recognition by Karachi Zoo on the world association of the zoo.
It is a pre-qualification for any of the zoo in the world to have five bigger animals to get world-class recognition.
In this regard a summary by the administration of Karachi Zoo is sent to Sindh Chief Minister Secretariat about two weeks back for the purpose of approval.
The application is a follow up of Qaim Ali Shah Chief Minister Sindh’s visit to Karachi Zoo where he was informed by the zoo administration about the lacking of these animals.
Karachi Zoo has lions and tigers but does not have rhino, giraffe and hippopotamus, said director Zoo Fahim Khan talking to Daily Times.
The induction of five big animals including elephant, rhino, lion, giraffe and hippopotamus would help acknowledge Karachi Zoo on international level. We have sent summary to Chief Minister Sindh for approval to purchase giraffe, rhino and hippopotamus and we are waiting for CM Sindh to sign the summary, said Fahim.
Referring to Rs 10 million grant for the development of Zoo announced by CM Sindh, Fahim said so far the amount has not been received.
On Wednesday, Chief Secretary Sindh Sajjad Salim Hotiana also visited the Karachi Zoo and directed officials to bring more ani

How Two Women Brought a Sea Change to Conservation (Op-Ed)
When renowned Bronx Zoo naturalist William Beebe added Gloria Hollister and Jocelyn Crane to his research staff nearly a century ago, his decision to employ two female scientists was considered novel enough that it required some justification. The zoo's founding ornithology curator went out of his way to acknowledge that he didn't care whether they were men or women. What mattered most in a researcher, said Beebe, is "what is above the ears."

Hollister arrived in 1928 with a master's in zoology and three years' experience in cancer research at Rockefeller University. Crane, who joined in 1930 after earning her bachelor's in zoology, had already published in the prestigious Journal of Mammalogy. Yet despite their qualifications — which paralleled those of their male colleagues — some media focused more on the women's sex than their scie

Are zoos and aquariums improving public understanding of biodiversity?
In response to the UN Strategic Plan for Biodiversity – created by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) (a partner of CBD) launched a campaign (in 2005) to assess current public understanding of biodiversity and to ensure that this understanding improved as a result of refined science communication within zoos and aquariums.

WAZA have been undertaking an assessment of the success to which zoos and aquariums around the world effectively educate the public about biodiversity and this month the results were released.

By conducting a survey of visitor knowledge before and after their exposure to biodiversity information, WAZA were able to gauge the success of education facilities and interest levels of the public. Additionally, the backgrounds of visitors were established which is important to ensure information is communicated at the correct pitch and style.

Altogether, information from 6000 visitors at 30 zoos across the world was gathered. Although, it may be difficult to fully assess biodiversity understanding from these surveys due to such a small sample (there are 700 million annual visitors worldwide to zoos and aquariums).

The average zoo and aquarium visitor is 35 year old (mean age) women (59.3%) who spent 15 years in formal education and were repeat visitors to the zoo or aquarium (59.9%). A majority (86.4%)of visitors had watched a nature documentary in the last 12 months and so had an active interest in nature and wildlife, although only 12.7% were a member of a nature-orientated or conservation group.

Within the survey – before and after visitation – participants were asked about their understanding of biodiversity and understanding of pro-biodiversity actions (large scale and small scale). Before visitation, 9.9% displayed a strong understanding of biodiversity and 69.5% had a basic understanding of the concept of biodiversity, meaning they knew it was a biological concept. On a scale of one to ten, the mean understanding was 2.99+/-1.2. Younger respondents had a better understanding of biodiversity which is indicative of an increase in targeted education about biodiversity and conservation within schools and to school-age individuals. Additionally, those who watched nature shows had a better understanding of biodiversity and what it means. This increased knowledge as a result of education via media may also be partially responsible for an overall increased public trust in science in recent years. These groups also had a greater knowledge of actions (large and small) that would promote biodiversity.

On a scale of one to ten, knowledge of actions that could positively influence biodiversity averaged at 4.9 and increased to 5.17 after visiting. The percentage of people who could identify personal actions to take increased from 50.5% to 58.8%. Suggestions of actions included recycling, responsible consumption of goods and services and supporting relevant organisations.

Biodiversity literacy increased to 75.1% post visit, an increase of 5.6% and visitors to European and Middle-Eastern zoos had a greater understanding of biodiversity and positive actions than Asian and African zoos. In addition, visitors to South American, African and Asian zoos showed lowest increase in knowledge. It is important that this is addressed considering these regions contain areas of such high biodiversity in urgent need of protection.

Several other researchers and organisations have undertaken similar assessments including the Union of Ethical Biotrade who found (during a study that took place from 2009) that out of 11,000 individuals, 28% had a partial understanding of biodiversity whilst 39% had a good understanding. Balmford et al. (2007) undertook research at seven British wildlife attractions and found that informal visits had little to no impact on conservation knowledge or ability to act positively.

From this, it is clear that a more standardised approach to assessment needs to be taken so clearer statistics can be universally established. There also needs to be further research provided and innovative ideas est


Diary of a Primatologist


Ex-city zoo curator Ingrid Schmidt-Buchanan dies
Ingrid Schmidt-Buchanan was known as the Madam of the Cat House – that’s “cat,” as in lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs, said her son, Sean Schmidt.

During her long career working at zoos in Germany, Omaha and Albuquerque, Schmidt-Buchanan helped to raise as many as 50 newborn big cats who were ill, injured or rejected by their mothers.

She was also a pioneer, becoming one of the first women to work in zoo administration as a supervisor and collection curator at a time when zoos were operated almost exclusively by men, and she was among the early zoo officials to push for keeping animals in larger spaces that more resembled their natural habitats.

Schmidt-Buchanan helped start the Cheetah Species Survival Plan at the Rio Grande Zoo to breed cheetahs in captivity, thereby decreasing the need to remove them from the wild and in many cases introduce zoo-born animals to the wild. The program later served as a model for animal breeding programs at other zoos throughout the country.

Schmidt-Buchanan died at her Sierra Vista, Ariz., home on March 17 from complications of lung cancer. She was 72. At her own request, there was no funeral or graveside service, her son said.

Schmidt-Buchanan became one of the public faces of the Rio Grande Zoo, often traveling aboard the Albuquerque Journal’s corporate jet, piloted by publisher Tom Lang, to pick up baby gorillas, polar bears, and other animals from zoos and holding facilities around the U.S. and Canada.

As a thank-you to Lang, the zoo named a baby polar bear “Lear” after the publisher’s jet, and named other animals after members of the publisher’s family, said former zoo director Ray Darnell.

She was born Ingrid Hartz in Germany and even as a child had an affinity for animals. She rode and showed horses, and took part in equestrian events, said her s

Extinction v. Captive Conservation: The Fate of the Three Amigos
Recently, in a legal ploy designed to undermine the “Three Amigos” provision of the Appropriations Act of 2014, the Friends of Animals (FoA) filed a federal lawsuit to try and stop the conservation of three endangered antelope species.

In a legal and legislative skirmish beginning in 2005, conservationists and animal rights activists have battled over the fate of three endangered antelope. It began when US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) added the scimitar-horned oryx, dama gazelle and addax (a|k|a the Three Amigos) to the Endangered Species list– but allowed an exemption for legal trade and hunting of captive bred specimens here in the United States. FoA and other animal rights activists filed a federal lawsuit hoping to overturn the exemption and block these captive conservation efforts. Subsequently, in 2009 they got their wish, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the FWS exemption, putting the Three Amigos in jeopardy of extinction once again. Then, in January of this year, the Appropriations Act of 2014 was passed and signed into law by President Obama with a “Three Amigos” exemption that once again cleared the way to conserve the endangered antelope throug

Tigers slaughtered in show of social stature for Guangdong businessmen
Police seize body of freshly killed tiger and discover video evidence of electrocution and torture after raid in Zhanjiang
More than 10 tigers have been killed as "visual feasts" in China to entertain officials and rich business people, state media reported.

Police in the port city of Zhanjiang, in the southern province of Guangdong, seized a freshly slaughtered tiger and multiple tiger products in a raid this month, said the Nanfang Daily, the mouthpiece of the provincial Communist Party.

Local officials and prominent businesspeople gathered to watch the tigers being killed as "eye-openers" to show off their social stature, it said. Video footage of a killing two years ago showed the tiger, kept in an iron cage, having an electrified iron mass prodded into its mouth with a wooden stick and passing out after being electrocuted for more than 10 seconds, the paper said.

An experienced cattle or pig slaughterer is normally hired to butcher the carcass, it said, adding that tiger bones sold for an average of 14,000 yuan (£1,360) a kilo while the meat fetched 1,000 yuan a kilo.

Police said a butcher – who jumped to his death while trying to escape arrest in a raid – had killed more than 10 animals, the report on Wednesday added. "The tigers were probably anaesthetised for transport. But buyers would check them to make sure that they were alive before the killing," it quoted an unnamed source as saying.

Most buyers of the meat and bones were business owners who would then give them to officials as gifts, the paper said.

Tiger bones have long been an ingredient of traditional Chinese medicine, for a supposed capacity to strengthen the human body. While they have been removed from official in

"Show to kill the tiger", China local paper in HNWIs (Translated from Japanese)
Canton (Guangdong) ShoJinKo of AFP = [current events] China Southern (Zhanjiang) city, was to target the wealthy and local officials as "entertainment pleasure to the eye", tiger of 10 or more animals are in front of the audience in that it has been killed, state media reported. China or corpse smuggling purpose Siberian tiger from car From what local agencies paper of the Chinese Communist Party, Southern Daily (Nanfang Daily) was communicated to the 26th, in the raid that local police have made ​​this month, tiger one animal that was just killed tiger multiple products that were seized with.  The newspaper, reported that a wealthy businessman from officials and local, and had gathered to watch the event in order to show off the social prestige of their own. The video was taken two years ago, how pushed the mass of iron in the mouth with a stick of wood, tiger put in the cage made ​​of iron, faint to shed electricity for more than 10 seconds there is captured that was.  In addition, it has become customary for to dismantle the corpse of Tiger hired slaughterhouse worker of cattle, pigs skilled, 14,000 yuan per kilogram average (about 230,000 yen), tiger bone: 1 meat you are told that it had been buying and selling 1000 yuan kilometers (about 16,000 yen).  According to the police, a meat processing company that had killed 10 or more animals so far. This skill in the art, died by jumping from the building to try to evade arrest when subjected to investigation.  As the story of anonymous sources, the newspaper has reported, "tiger had been anesthetized probably at the time

Steve Irwin had one of the weirdest deaths imaginable: stung multiple times in the heart by a stingray which had probably mistaken him for a tiger shark. His final words, we now know from his cameraman, Justin Lyons, were: "I'm dying."
But according to that same cameraman, it would be wrong, quite wrong for that dramatic last footage and those now famous last words ever to be shown to the public. Well, I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree more strongly. It's what Steve would have wanted, and it's what his public deserves.
I loved watching Crocodile Hunter, so did my kids, so did an estimated 500 million viewers around the world. Irwin was huge. And the reason he was huge--besides his manic energy, infectious enthusiasm, and those ridiculous khaki shorts worn on every conceivable occasion--was that in almost every episode he diced more closely with death than any TV wildlife presenter before or since.
"Will he get eaten by a 20-foot Salty? Or chomped by a Great White? Or stung to death by a scorpion or a box jellyfish?"
These were the kind of questions perpetually on viewers' lips as they thrilled to the Crocodile Hunter's latest insane adventure. And Irwin played up to it because he knew that was the essence of his appeal. That's why he gave his shows titles like Ten Deadliest Snakes and (the show he was filming when he died) Ocean's Deadliest.
Irwin was not an illusionist. His stunts were for real, and his audiences knew they were for a real. If Irwin had flinched when, for example, he allowed the world's most venomous snake--the inland taipan, aka the fierce snake--to nuzzle up to his bare hand in the middle of the Australian outback, that would have been it. Curtains. He w

Journal of Threatened Taxa
The International Journal on Conservation & Taxonomy
ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)
March 2014 | Vol. 6 | No. 3 | Pages 5513-5592
Date of Publication 26 March 2014 (online & print)
DOI: 10.11609/JoTT.26mar14.5513-5592
Population genetics implications for the conservation of the Philippine Crocodile Crocodylus mindorensis Schmidt, 1935 (Crocodylia: Crocodylidae)
-- Ma. Rheyda P. Hinlo, John A.G. Tabora, Carolyn A. Bailey, Steve Trewick, Glenn Rebong, Merlijn van Weerd, Cayetano C. Pomares, Shannon E. Engberg, Rick A. Brenneman & Edward E. Louis, Jr. Pp. 5513–5533
On the status of Snow Leopard Panthera uncia (Schreber, 1775) in Annapurna, Nepal
-- Som B. Ale, Bikram Shrestha & Rodney Jackson, Pp. 5534–5543
Morphological and molecular identification of acridid grasshoppers (Acrididae: Orthoptera) from Poonch division, Azad Jammu Kashmir, Pakistan
-- Naila Nazir, Khalid Mehmood, Muhammad Ashfaq & Junaid Rahim, Pp. 5544–5552
New species of genus Hersilia Audouin, 1826 (Araneae: Hersiliidae) from India
-- G.B. Pravalikha, Chelmala Srinivasulu & Bhargavi Srinivasulu, Pp. 5553–5557
A new species of the genus Tylorida Simon, 1894 (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) from a rocky outcrop in the northern Western Ghats, India
-- Siddharth Kulkarni, Pp. 5558–5561
New records of opisthobranchs from Lakshadweep, India (Mollusca: Heterobranchia)
-- Deepak Apte & Vishal Bhave, Pp. 5562–5568
On the occurrence of the Fishing Cat Prionailurus viverrinus Bennet, 1833 (Carnivora: Felidae) in coastal Kerala, India
-- Ranjini Janardhanan, Shomita Mukherjee, P.V. Karunakaran & Ramana Athreya, Pp. 5569–5573
Coprological prevalence of gastrointestinal parasites in carnivores and small mammals at Dhaka zoo, Bangladesh
-- M.M. Rokib ur Raja, Anita Rani Dey, Nurjahan Begum, Uzzal Kumar Kundu & Faishal Al Ashad, Pp. 5574–5579
Rediscovery of Beddome’s Coralsnake Calliophis beddomei Smith, 1943 from the type locality
-- S.R. Ganesh & Eric Ramanujam, Pp. 5580–5582
A sight record of Rhesus Macaque Macaca mulatta (Primates: Cercopithecidae) in Karnataka, India
-- Raghunath R. Belur & Sugandhi Gadadhar, Pp. 5583–5584
Further additions to the Odonata (Insecta) fauna of Goa, India
-- Parag Rangnekar & Rohan Naik, Pp. 5585–5589
Remarks on ‘A report on Lecanidae (Rotifera: Monogononta) from Andhra Pradesh, India’: misidentifications and status
-- B.K. Sharma & Sumita Sharma, Pp. 5590–5592

Why torment it in the first place?

Crocodile Attacks Man

The Truth about the Blackfish “Documentary” by Ken May
First of all, what gives me the right to weigh in on the Sea World vs. Blackfish debate? Unlike many of the self proclaimed “experts” who are animal rights activists masquerading as scientists or former Sea World employees who have never gotten close to a killer whale, I am a former marine mammal trainer who worked with Killer Whales as well as many other marine mammals for many years. I worked at Sea World San Diego from August, 1974 through June, 1982. I feel that I have as much of a right if not more so than most of these people spewing misleading footage to CNN.

I was surprised and I am ashamed of CNN for labeling this propaganda a documentary. And that’s what it is everybody, pure propaganda. And because a Sea World trainer died in Orlando, Florida and CNN played this pack of dribble over and over on what I used to consider a professional network, the animal rights activists’ movement is finally gaining undeserved momentum after so many years of trying.

There have always been some sort of group gathered outside the main gates at Sea World trying to influence the masses as to their cause, whether it be animal rights, religion, politics, or some other platform. I remember one year, a group was handing out toothpicks with little American flags attached to them for a small donation outside of the main gate to the park. I don’t remember what their cause was about but I do remember one of our feeder pool dolphins dying and when they researched the cause of death, they found a handful of these little American flag toothpicks inside of him. Where were the animal rights activists then?

Blackfish has two central premises that are simply wrong: One, that life at Sea World is harmful for the killer whales and the trainers working with them and two, that Sea World tried to cover up the facts surrounding the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010 and the history of Tilikum, the killer whale involved in the incident. To make their point, the film conveys falsehoods (downright lies), manipulates viewers emotionally, and uses questionable filmmaking techniques to create “facts” as they see them. I’ve always believed that truthful facts were facts and that facts are not created to serve a need. Printing or televising something to the general public without double checking and triple checking the facts is shameful (just ask Dan Rather for those of you old enough to remember). This type of medium is manipulative, garbage journalism which is either used to create a sensation, generate publicity, or fill an agenda. Blackfish blatantly did all three and again, shame on CNN!

Let me respond to the first premise by saying that nobody, and I mean NOBODY takes care of and protects the marine mammals better than the animal care and marine mammal training departments at Sea World. We treated the marine mammals in our care as if they were our children. I never observed even a hint of abuse by anybody in the care of these magnificent animals. Everybody was 100% on-board with ensuring their well-being.

It’s hard to take a hard line against the statement that working with killer whales can be harmful to the trainers working with them after the death of an experienced trainer and various injuries to trainers over the years. Of course there are risks involved. We knew that going in. But we took precautions to maximize our safety. We never worked with a killer whale alone without a backup trainer on hand. We kept detailed records of each training or show session down to critiquing each behavior. We communicated among ourselves our thoughts and feelings. We were all seasoned trainers with years of experience to rely on. And the real secret to effective training is working with each animal at a pace that is quick enough to keep their interest and slowly enough to avoid aggression. It was my experience that the animals, whether they be killer whales, sea lions, or dolphins, seemed to enjoy the mental challenges during the training process, enjoyed the interactions with the trainers, gained a mutual respect with each trainer, and really what it boils down to is that like everything else, it is all about the relationship.

Personally, I feel that this is where the animal activists and Blackfish really miss the mark. They can’t seem to understand the deep relationships born out of love and respect between the marine mammals and the trainers and animal care staff. They seem to be too concerned with tearing things down as opposed to building something great.

I didn’t know Dawn Brancheau personally. I do know that she was a marine mammal trainer for 14 years and held the love and respect of her fellow trainers. She may have made a mistake by putting herself into a position of vulnerability. She may have gotten too comfortable around the killer whales, particularly Tilikum who was not targeted as an animal to get into the water with based on past history. Or, in the course of doing everything that she has done many times before, it just happened that Tilikum had an opportunity to grab her and bring her into the water. I don’t know because I wasn’t there! I have my own ideas, opinions, and questions based on my experiences working with killer whales but again, I wasn’t there! And neither were any of the press, animal activists, Sea World employees, other former trainers, snack bar personnel, well you get the point. Even the park guests who witnessed the event don’t know for sure exactly what happened nor could they know.

Dawn lived for her work with the killer whales according to her family and knew that there were risks. And according to her family, she would absolutely hate the way that Sea World is being portrayed and the bad press they have received. And Sea World never hid anything from the public about Dawn Brancheau’s death. They just didn’t give opinions and hyperbole based on what may have happened. They refused to make speculations without knowing the facts. If that upsets people in today’s world of instant gratification, that’s tough.    

The film makes an impression that Sea World is out of control collecting killer whales. The fact is Sea World has not collected a killer whale since 1978. I know because I was waste deep in the breeding and research pool at the Shamu Stadium when three killer whales arrived San Diego. That’s over 35 years ago folks. Almost every killer whale at the Sea World parks were born there and the few older killer whales that weren’t born at the park were transferred to a Sea World park because their prior home either closed or was not suitable to properly sustain them. In fact, Tilikum came from a park in Canada and Corky, who is over 50 years old and resides in San Diego, used to reside at Marineland of the Pacific in Palos Verdes, California before it closed its doors.

The film depicts how Sea World cruelly separates calves from their mothers. In one instance, the film highlights a whale named Takara and intimates that she was a calf when separated from her mother. Takara was separated from her mother but the real fact is she was 12 years old when this happened.

Another instance involved a younger whale named Kalina who was 4 ½ years old at the time. Sea World made the decision to move Kalina because she became disruptive to not only her mother but to the other killer whales as well and felt it necessary to maintain a healthy social structure. A decision like that is not made without a lot of thought, taking all factors into consideration, but always with the intention of doing what is in the best interest of all of the killer whales. We as humans do the same thing because just as killer whales are a social group, we are as well.

I can go on for hours but let me start concluding by saying that Sea World is not perfect. There were some things that irritated me when I worked there and like any employee, I had opinions and frustrations. Looking back, some of the animal facilities could have been a little better. But of course, I worked at Sea World in its infancy (I am now considered a Sea World Pioneer which really makes me feel old). Those old facilities are gone. Sea World’s facilities today are the most modern and best maintained in the world. The new Shamu Stadium is simply fabulous (I worked at the old Shamu Stadium which is now where the dolphin show is).

Though safety is paramount, we didn’t have some of the safety features that today’s trainers are accustomed to. But of course, over the years, everything evolves. Experience and time (and money) lead to better facilities with better safety features and procedures and even right now, Sea World is thinking of ways to make it even safer.

But Ken, what about those trainers getting injured? Well, I have opinions on what I would do if I were the director of training but again, I’m no longer th

 Giraffe Monitoring Volunteer - Kenya

An independent blog encompassing the best new ideas & topics in the zoo world, striving for a progressive and integrated approach to both in-situ and ex-situ wild animal conservation.

Smuggler caught with 22 bears running free in his car tried to convince customs officials they were dogs
A Chinese smuggler was caught red-handed with 22 baby bears running free in his car - but when questioned by police, the man claimed that he thought the animals were dogs.
Wu Meng, 28, told border patrol guards in south-west China that he was going to sue them when they took away what he described as rare pedigree Akita puppies.
When a vet confirmed that all 22 of the furry animals were not dogs and were in fact bears, Meng

Dolphins illegally in the EU? Dolphinarium owners refusing DNA analyses
 The animal protection organization ProWal and the Whale-and Dolphinprotection-Forum (WDSF) are looking for evidence in the dolphinarium in Constanta, town in the EU country Rumania, of their illegal import of dolphins from Taiji/Japan. None of the 30 dolphinariums in the EU answered when asked about the DNA analysis of the dolphins held in captivity in zoos and pleasure parks, which would have no doubt given insight into the origin of the dolphins. The Washington Species Protection Act (CITES) forbids the import of dolphins for commercial use. Last September ProWal inspected the dolphinarium in Constanta, Rumania, after the organization was told that dolphins were held there, which came from the brutal drive-hunts in Taiji. ProWal found only two of the original three dolphins, which were bought for Euros 500.000 from a zoo in Peking under the pretense that these were captivity-bred dolphins. He was told that one dolphin had died. The Rumanian dolphinarium owner, furthermore, maintained that these dolphins were second generation. This, however, could time wise not be possible, the dolphin-protection organization replied, since the only successful breeding of a dolphin happened as proven in 2003 and this dolphin calf did not survive. The dolphin protectors, furthermore, pointed out that there was no documentation of any successful breeding in the second generation ever in Peking. To the contrary, China, Russia and the Ukraine belong to the group of the largest buyers of dolphins caught in the wild from Japan. The Rumanian government in Bucarest also refused to hand over documentation regarding DNA analysis and so did the dolphinarium owner in Constanta. Juergen Ortmueller, CEO of the WDSF: “We are missing here transparency from all the dolphinariums in Europe, which are hiding behind their own creation the EEP, so that nobody from the outside can find out what is going on.” A financial investor from Suceava in Rumania by the name of Popescu, contacted ProWal last fall asking for support to construct a new private dolphin pool, because he stumbled onto our website by searching the internet and was under the impression the ProWal is an org

Life with Elephants                                                 
It’s easy to recognize Thainess by elephant images marked on an item. Thai people and Thai (Asian) elephants are most of the time coming as families.

Thai elephants have been a long time characterized in Thai culture through tales of Thai history and Buddhism, since the strong bond between elephants and Thai people that it is found in Thai proverbs, songs and so on, which amazed many Thais who just came to realize that. Some of minority groups in Thailand also have elephants in their home as family members, especially mahouts.

A mahout is known as an elephant caretaker. For most of Thai people, they seem to be only a worker feeding elephants and cleaning whe


The Zoo Biology Group is concerned with all disciplines involved in the running of a Zoological Garden. Captive breeding, husbandry,cage design and construction, diets, enrichment, man management,record keeping, etc etc


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