Saturday, June 25, 2016

Zoo News Digest 25th June 2016 (ZooNews 927)

Zoo News Digest 25th June 2016 
(ZooNews 927)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

Forget about the home aquariums….I wonder just how many Public Aquariums will now suddenly start displaying the Royal Blue Tang which never kept them before? Captive breeding of the species is debatable so almost inevitably these will be especially wild caught as are most marine fish. 'Oh it died…catch me another one'.

So the Buenos Aires zoo is to close. Is it a Good Zoo? I have no idea, I have never visited and have no recollection of anyone ever saying anything good about the place. Lots of negative comments though related to their Polar Bears do however spring to mind. The thing is, will the animals be better off somewhere else? I doubt it. It is all very well throwing out statements along the lines that the animals will be moved to a 'Sanctuary', 'Reserve' or remain in an 'Ecopark' they are STILL animals in captivity. The real Sanctuaries are GOOD zoos and making an effort to improve the Buenos Aires zoo makes far more sense than moving animals along to out of sight, out of mind locations. All it serves to do is make the Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta out to be some sort of ecological hero when he is nothing of the sort. In fact I don't believe the Mayor has got the remotest clue about zoos. Money is behind the move…I would bet on it.

It makes bile rise to the back of my throat when I read of certain people condemning 'Selfies' with captive animals when I know they are the first ones to commit the act. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". For myself....I condemn it but then I am not posting pictures of myself on line at every possible opportunity.

I believe that Zoobic Safari opening a Petting Zoo inside of the Harbor Point Ayala Mall is a hugely bad idea. Zoobic Safari and its sister collection the Residence Inn MiniZoo at Tagaytay are amongst the worst zoos I have ever visited.

So I say the worst....what was the worst? Well in terms of how animals were cared for it was probably Baturraden Zoo in Indonesia. There are others though, nearly or equally as bad. I hate to see animals cared for so badly but what really gets my goat are the big glitzy commercial popular places who have not the faintest ideas about conservation…or likely they do but don't give a damn. All they are interested in is money.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing…in fact it is a very dangerous thing. Every week, sometimes every day there are news stories quoting people who really should keep their mouths tightly closed. One day they are going to trip over their own tongues. In fact they are doing it already. See if you can spot them in the links below.

I am sympathetic of the conditions that the elephant in Maraghazar Zoo are being kept in and if Cher's millions can improve his lot then I am all for it. But as far as I am aware Cher has no elephant knowledge nor, as far as I can ascertain neither does her representative Mark Cowne. Sending him to check up on the situation is rather like sending a miner to assess a skyscraper.

All the way down the line it is the Animal Rights and the likes of Peta people who are following up on the activities in the bad zoos. It should not be that way. GOOD Zoos need to take the lead. They need to criticise and condemn. It is their failure to do so which gets us all dumped in the same shitty pot. We don't need to join hands with the AR's or even agree with them but we do need to say something or we are as bad as the bad zoos themselves.

"Legend has it that at age 17 he hopped a fence at the Philadelphia Zoo to spray-paint "Cornbread Lives" on the hind side of an elephant, a stunt to disprove"
"In April 1971, the Inquirer reported: "One graffiti artist was caught red-handed at the Philadelphia Zoo after spray painting an elephant bright red."
I hope this does not start a new trend in idiocy

Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 24,700 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 250,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 800 Zoos in 153+ countries? That the subscriber list reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 


How Boise Might Help Save the 'Last Unicorn'
Sometime this month—maybe next week, possibly the week after—someone will walk through the gates of Zoo Boise and the organization will achieve a milestone.

"We'll hit the $2 million mark," said Zoo Boise Director Steve Burns.

"It's quite... Well, that's quite remarkable, isn't it?" he said.

The $2 million isn't earmarked for the zoo or its exhibits, although Zoo Boise has significant needs, and its plans for growth are considerable. Instead, the $2 million will leave Boise to fund conservation efforts across the planet in an effort to save the very species zoo attendees love to visit.

"We have to do it. Society is changing and has higher expectations," said Burns. "People ask, 'Why do we have animals at the zoo in the 21st century?' It's a good question. For us, the answer is because these animals help us generate hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to help us protect their wild counterparts and, now, we've reached $2 million. That's our mission now."

It wasn't and isn't always the case. Many American zoos and aquariums don't collect or send funds outside their gates to help with global conservation efforts. What's more, Zoo Boise has taken the lead in what started as a controversial economic model but has resulted in a major success story. Its roots can be traced directly to Burns.

"I don't know if many people really know what a global force of nature Steve Burns is," said renowned animal biologist Dr. William Robichaud. "I've seen him speak before global organizations of zoos, and he's the guy saying, 'We need to be, foremost, conservation organizations—not just amusement parks with animals."

Zoo Boise's conservation efforts began about 10 years ago when Burns was thinking about leaving the zoo. He had applied for a job with a well known conservation nonprofit and when Clay Gill, then-board chairman of Frie

Can This Man Save SeaWorld San Antonio?
Carl Lum stands near the bottom of Shamu Stadium, close to the pool, and looks out at the arena.

He has a commanding presence—tall with broad shoulders—but with his unassuming polo shirt and khaki slacks he looks like any other employee. In a relaxed tone of voice, he talks through the changes that are coming. He points to the large, oval-shaped pool, long used for the killer whale shows. He gestures to the huge, multicolored fin that decorates one side and the two large monitors. “That will all be gone,” he says. “It’s just way too Hollywood.”

In the five months si

Cher joins campaign for Pakistani elephant
The plight of a lonely elephant in a Pakistani zoo has inspired help from pop icon Cher, who has sent a representative to oversee improvements in his living conditions.

Cher first became aware of 29-year-old Kavaan’s plight when pictures of the elephant in chains with only a dilapidated shed for shelter and a small, dirty pond to play in spread on social media.

Cher sent her representative, Mark Cowne, to Islamabad to check up on Kavaan, who has been kept chained for 27 of his 29 years at the Maraghazar Zoo in Islamabad.

“Mark got Kaavan Water, Shade & Unchained. MARK IS TRYING EVERYTHING TO FREE HIM,” Cher tweeted after Cowne visited the zoo.

Cowne told Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper that Cher would soon launch an international campaign to help elephants in captivity.

How do animals perceive their world in zoos and aquariums?
According to critics of marine parks, zoos and aquariums, captive animals (particularly dolphins, whales, elephants and primates) are utterly miserable creatures. The primary misery described by activists is that the animals are acutely self-aware, they miss the wild and their families, hate performing, feel like they are enslaved by humans, and hate being in cages and pools. They dream of freedom.

JAMA: No plan to pull elephant-cancer risk paper after PETA protest
JAMA has decided not to retract an article about cancer risk in elephants after receiving a request to do so from an animal rights group.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) recently protested the 2015 paper, which found that higher levels of a tumor suppressor gene could explain why elephants have a lower risk of cancer. According to PETA, the paper contained inaccurate information that could be used to justify inhumane treatment of elephants. At the time, the journal told us it considers all calls for retraction.

In an email sent to a representative of PETA over the weekend, Howard Bauchner, Editor in Chief at JAMA and The JAMA Network, wrote:

There is no evidence of scientific miscon

Taronga Zoo program helps corroboree frog back from brink of extinction
LET out a yell in the right place at the right time in the Snowy Mountains, and a corroboree frog is likely to answer your call.

And that croaky response is growing louder once again thanks to a conservation project aimed at saving the species from a deadly frog fungus.

Taronga Zoo, together with the state government and organisations, is leading a campaign to breed the species in captivity to bolster the corroboree frog’s wild population, estimated to have once dipped to as few as 50 adults.

New conservation project for threatened giraffe
Conservationists are launching a new effort to save one of the few remaining populations of Central African giraffe left in the wild.

Experts from Bristol Zoological Society are travelling to Cameroon this summer to begin a critical research effort to map the location of some of the remaining Central African or Kordofan giraffe using drone technology.

They hope to establish whether there is a sustainable population of this highly threatened giraffe subspecies that they can work to conserve and  help save them from extinction.

Wild giraffe numbers have dwindled from 140,000 to potentially 80,000 in just 15 years. There are now fewer giraffe left in the wild than African elephants, with giraffe numbers being around a fifth of those of African elephants. Population numbers of Kordofan giraffe are critically low, estimated at fewer than 2,000, in several fragmented populations throughout their range.

Bristol Zoological Society’s head of conservation science, Dr Grainne McCabe, said: “Kordofan gira

Inside the minds of zoo animals
Terry Maple, a professor of comparative psychobiology at Florida Atlantic University, and the former director of the Atlanta and Palm Beach zoos, has built a career on trying to understand animals and improve their environments.

When he saw the video of Harambe with a toddler at the Cincinnati Zoo, he says he thought he could tell what Harambe might have been thinking.

“What I saw was the gorilla was really grabbing at that kid very much like he was another gorilla,” Maple says. “Male gorillas often steal the babies from the mothers briefly and, you know, in a playful way. They don't hurt them and it didn't look to me like he was going to hurt this kid. But we are so much weaker than gorillas."

"When a gorilla grabs a person's arm, it could be a very, very tough interaction and it could hurt you or it could kill you. As you saw in the video, if you're watching it, he drug [the child] a bit through the water. And of course that's a concrete floor and that could have been disastrous as well. So it was a very dangerous situation — no human being needs to get in with a gorilla. It would be very risky even for an adult and this was a small child.”

Maple says zoos have changed a lot in the past decades, making them better environments for animals. 

“Landscape architects began to work in zoos and, rather than build buildings for animals, they started building landscapes,” Maple says. “That revolution start

14 animals that smell like snack foods
The animal kingdom is full of appetizing smells. While most of the time animals smell perhaps a bit on the musty or musky side, some animals produce scents that will make your mouth water. Here is a collection of animals who emit smells that will make you think you're in the kitchen rather than the great outdoors.

New Evidence Shows the Illegal Pet Trade Is Wiping Out Indonesia’s Birds
Indonesia has a long history of keeping birds as pets, but now it’s driving many species to the brink.

Indonesians on the island of Java have an old saying: A man is considered to be a real man if he has a house, a wife, a horse, a keris (dagger), and a bird.

The sprawling island nation is home to more than 1,600 species of birds, more than almost any other country in the world. It’s also home to the greatest number of species that are threatened by the bird trade.

Now a new study highlights just how severe a threat the pet trade is to Indonesia’s birds. The study, released Wednesday, has identified 13 species and another 14 subspecies that are at risk of extinction because of the pet trade.

“The number one thing I want people to know is that the bird trade is an incredibly urgent issue that needs addressing,” said Chris Shepherd, one of the study’s authors and the Southeast Asian regional director for TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring organization. “It is a conservation crisis that is being ignored.”

Among the species at risk of extinction is Indonesia’s national bird, the Javan hawk-eagle, a dark-brown raptor with a pointy crest of feathers extending from its head. According to the study, 300 to 500 mature hawk-eagles remain, and the number born each year is about equivalent to the number being taken from the wild for the pet trade. When the bird was elevated to a national symbol in 1993, there were fears that the special recognition would encourage demand rather than stifle it. Those fears have b

NICE WORK CHESSINGTON! Zoo keepers have just released hundreds of rare spiders into the wild… and some of them span THREE inches
The Fen Raft Spider is the biggest species in the UK with a span of up to three inches

The Surrey zoo has just released hundreds of the UK’S BIGGEST spiders into the wild.

The fen raft spider has a massive span of THREE INCHES and is the largest of the UK’s 660 species of eight-legged critters.

Now the boffins at Chessington have released them into the wild as part of a conservation effort for the endangered species.

Which is not good news for arachnophobes.

The fen raft are a protected species under

Japanese zoo and trust fund donate trucks to Sabah Wildlife Dept
The Sabah Wildlife Department received three Daihatsu Hijet mini trucks donated by Asahiyama Zoo and Borneo Conservation Trust Fund Japan to help ease the job of delivering food for the animals. State Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Kamarlin Ombil said each truck would be stationed at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here, the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary in Lower Kinabatangan and the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation centre in Sandakan. “Asahiyama Zoo director Dr Gen Bandoh managed to acquire donations from the Daihatsu Motor Company Ltd to get the vehicles after he explained the conflict between humans and elephants at the said parks and centre in Sabah. “I would like to appeal to potential donors from non-governmental organisations to emulate deed of the Asahiyama Zoo, Borneo Conservation Trust and Daihatsu through their respective CSR programs by contributing towards the conservation of threatened wildlife species,” he said during the handover ceremony at the Lok Kawi wildlife park this morning. Kamarlin said the conflicts between humans and wildlife, which occur due to forest-clearing for farming activities

Alaska Zoo responds to claims of grizzly bear negligence
A recent online petition is claiming the Alaska Zoo has been negligent in the care of its grizzly bear exhibit.

The petition accuses the zoo of failing to provide a sufficient habitat, specifically, “No forest for any comfort except for a couple of dead pine trees in their empty cage.”

Author of the petition, Amy Smith, says she launched the effort after seeing the bears on a trip

SeaWorld addresses sanctuaries
Though it was a meeting aimed at investors, several questions at Wednesday's SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. shareholder meeting were focused on animals, rather than financial performance.

A couple of those questions mentioned the National Aquarium in Baltimore's recently announced plans to build a seaside sanctuary for its Atlantic bottlenose dolphins by 2020.

The aquarium says it is scouting locations in Florida and the Caribbean and is soliciting donations. One of its dolphins, Jade, was born at SeaWorld in 1999 and transported to the National Aquarium in 2006.

"We have the utmost respect for the National Aquarium," Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said. "We certainly know they're going to take into account what we think are some health challenges of taking dolphins born and raised in an aquarium and placing them in an unfamiliar ocean environment, but having said that, we know they intend to pursue this experiment in a very mindful way and to monitor the health of their d

New Zoo is planned for Sabah. Should we be Happy?
One of Malaysia’s greatest natural assets is its world-renowned wildlife. That, though, is not always immediately apparent from the way native animals are treated and protected. The country boasts scores of national parks and protected forests, large and small, but much more work is needed to provide truly sage and permanent sanctuaries for threatened and endangered species.

But what of the country’s “wildlife parks” – zoos, in other words? We are asking because the Sabah government has floated the idea of setting up a new wildlife park in Penampang to better showcase the state’s famous biodiversity to the public. The plans are still in their initial stages, cautioned Masidi Manjun, minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, who have just announced them publicly.

“We will only proceed if all legal and cultural issues can be trashed out. We fully understand that native reserve has cultural significance to the natives in Sugud. We don’t want to be seen to be taking over native rights and that is the reason why the proposal needs to be discussed exhaustively,” he said but did allow that the new park, if established, would be considerably larger than the existing Lok Kawi Wildlife Park in Sabah. He has also floated the idea of relocating the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park to the new site. The latter wildlife park was set up in 2007 with both a botanical and zoological section to it.

Should we be excited about the prospect of a new zoo in Sabah? Not if we go by the nature of things in Lok Kawi. The zoo has come in for plenty of flak from animal lovers and conservationists over its treatment of captive animals. “[A] visit to this zoo offers a chance to see Sa

“Tigers from Cages to Black Market” 90% of Thailand’s Zoos and Tiger Farms Involved in Black Market
Mr Edwin Wiek, founder of Wildlife Friends Foundation-Thailand, during a seminar on “Tigers: From Cages to Black Market” said on Monday that about 90 percent of tiger farms and private zoos in Thailand are suspected to be involved in illegal trade in wildlife.
Referring to the recent raid of the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi and the eventual relocation of 137 tigers from the temple to a breeding station in Ratchaburi province, Wiek said that the number of tigers seized constituted

Dear Colleagues,
The June 2016 issue of ZOO’S PRINT Magazine (Vol. 31, No. 6) is online at <> 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 <>

King penguins off the sub-Antarctic Marion Island make epic trips to find food for their young, some swimming 2000km away from the island, crossing from the Indian Ocean into the Atlantic, and lasting for as long as four weeks.

This was among the findings of a year’s research at the sub-Antarctic Marion Island for Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University zoology master’s graduate Tegan Carpenter-Kling, who returned to South Africa last month on board the country’s newest research vessel, the Agulhas II.

The research conducted by Carpenter-Kling forms part of a large-scale project under the South African National Antarctic Programme (SANAP), of which NMMU’s Dr Pierre Pistorius is the principle investigator. The data she collected, which will form part of her upcoming doctoral studies, is unique in that she studied the foraging behaviour of12 of Marion Island’s top-predator surface-breeding species (which includes seabirds and seals), rather than just a single species, as most researchers have done in the past.

“I was trying to simultaneously track all 12 species to be able to identify areas of ecological or biological importance,” she said.

Besides discovering the epic journey King penguins make, which has not been documented before, Carpenter-Kling also discovered new foraging behaviour for Gentoo penguins – in that they alternate between short foraging trips, to feed themselves, and much longer ones, to find food for their young. She also recorded the deepest dive yet for a Gentoo penguin, which was over 200m.

The broader project, which is a collaboration between NMMU, the Department of Environmental Affairs, and the universities of Cape Town and Pretoria, involves mapping areas of conservation importance around the island, while also monitoring the impact of

Mishaps at the Atascadero Zoo
To nobody’s surprise, wild animals and humans don’t mix.

That was the fascination with lion tamers in the ring with wild cats. Everyone knew all the lion wanted to do was eat the man with the whip and a chair — I never quite understood the chair in that act.

 It was with interest that I followed the incident where the 4-year old boy fell into the enclosure that held a 400-pound gorilla. I don’t think those in charge at the Cincinnati Zoo had any choice but to shoot the 17-year old gorilla. Think of the angry folks who’d be out there if they didn’t kill the gorilla and the

In defence of captivity
Back to back human-wildlife encounters shocked the world in the past two weeks. Regrettably, these animals, like many others in the past, paid the ultimate price: their lives.

Curiously though, the reason these interactions made international headlines was not because they occurred deep in the wilderness or at the edges of human and wildlife cohabitation, but because they took place in the apparent safety of zoo enclosures.

In the Santiago Zoo, Chile, two African lions mauled a suicidal man who tried to feed himself to them. Only about a week later, a Western lowland mountain gorilla named Harambe handled a young boy who fell into its enclosure in the Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio.

Arguably these incidents were caused by human error: the former by a mentally unstable person; the latter, lackadaisical parenting or poor enclosure design. Yet at the end of the day, members fr

Is Being Color Blind Actually an Advantage?
The “new world” monkeys of South and Central America range from large muriquis to tiny pygmy marmosets. Some are cute and furry, others bald and bright red, and one even has an extraordinary moustache. Yet, with the exception of owl and howler monkeys, the 130 or so remaining species have one thing in common: A good chunk of the females, and all of the males, are color blind.

This is quite different from “old world” primates, including us Homo sapiens, who are routinely able to see the world in what we humans imagine as full color. In evolutionary terms, color blindness sounds like a disadvantage, one which should really have been eliminated by natural selection long ago. So how can we explain a continent of the color blind monkeys?

I have long wondered what makes primates in the region color blind and visually diverse, and how evolutionary forces are acting to maintain this variation. We don’t yet know exactly what kept these seemingly disadvantaged monkeys alive and flourishing—but what is becoming clear is that color blindness is an adaptation not a defect.

The first thing to understand is that what we humans consider “color” is only a small portion of the spectrum. Our “trichromatic” vision is superior to most mammals, who typically share the “dichromatic” vision of new world monkeys and color blind humans, yet fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and even insects are able to see a wider range, even into the UV spectrum. There is a whole world of color out there that humans and our primate cousins are unaware

High flying technology helping conserve WA's threatened black cockatoos
In a world first, researchers at Murdoch University have teamed up with industry to track endangered Carnaby's cockatoos in the southwest of Western Australia, using state-of-the-art technology developed in the Netherlands that will provide insight into threats to the endangered species.

Ouwehands Zoo Foundation donates 22,600 euros to protect bonobos
Back in 2002 Bonobo Alive constructed a field station in Salonga National Park in Congo. Since then 100 km² of bonobo habitat is being protected. Local villagers remove snares and make sure bush meat hunters are identified. At the same time a research project started to monitor the bonobo population. Next to this the natural diet of this threatened ape was analysed. So far all work was very successful. Considering the fact that bonobo’s more and more move out of the protected area it is a strong wish to enlarge it. Good for the bonobo’s, but in t

Rarest Cat in the World? Rescuing a critically endangered felid from conservation obscurity
In the early 1970's, the last tiger on the island of Java was seen alive in a tropical forest of the remote countryside.  For a decade or more after, rumors of their survival persisted. Spectral vestiges of what they once were, a wake of ambiguous evidence continued to surface, invoking both certainty and incredulity much the way a haunting might. Found guilty of merely existing, and of having nowhere else to go, the Javan tiger likely defied an extinction sentence until the mid-1980’s when Indonesia’s exploding human population, and the almost complete deforestation of the island, was more than it could bear. To say I obsessed about this loss as a child would in fact be to understate the matter. That the world lost the Javan tiger was a standalone story of great tragedy. That it happened however on the heels of losing the Bali tiger and Bali leopard, was the equivalent of a knockout heavyweight’s uppercut after a disorienting right hook to the head. Worse I know that

The planet’s last stronghold of wild cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) is losing genetic diversity at an alarming rate according to a new study from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) and partners published June 21 in the journal Biological Conservation. This is in direct contrast with the population of cheetahs in zoos, which is as genetically diverse as it was 30 years ago because of cooperative and strategically managed breeding programs, including the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan.

Highland zoo ordered to close over animal welfare concerns
A Highland zoo has been ordered to close over serious concerns about animal welfare.

The decision was made after complaints from visitors led to a special inspection of the Black Isle Wildlife Park.

A government vet called in by Highland Council found "serious deficiencies" at the North Kessock zoo.

The council will help rehome the park's animals, which include zebras, wildcats, llamas, meerkats, goats and emus.

The local authority issued a zoo closure notice to its owners on Wednesday, which they have 28 days to appeal.

The council said: "Findings of the special inspection and the specialist vet's report indicated that the zoo was found to be seriously below the standards required for operators to be in possession of a zoo licence, and was non-compliant

Zoobic opens petting zoo
A petting zoo was recently opened by the Zoobic Safari inside the Harbor Point Ayala Mall to introduce animals to the public.

According to Zoobic Park owner Robert Yupangco, the petting zoo will give little kids an introduction on how to take care of animals.

Dubbed as the Play Forest, the petting zoo will let children interact with the animals, showing them that they can be part of a bigger role in taking care of these animals. Animal trainers educate the children on how to properly feed, pet and clean their pets.

“It’s a place where kids can feed and interact with our very huggable and friendly animals such as bunnies, parakeets (love birds) and goat kids and sheep lambs,” he

India’s captive leopards: a life sentence behind bars
When an escaped leopard tackled a man at a poolside on a school campus in the southern Indian city of Bangalore early this year, the video went viral. The victim was one of the wildlife managers trying to recapture the animal. His colleagues finally managed to tranquilize it late that night and return it to a nearby zoo that was serving as a rescue center for a population of 16 wild-caught leopards. A week later, the leopard squeezed between the bars of another cage and escaped again, this time for good.

All the news and social media attention focused on the attack – and none on the underlying dynamic. But that dynamic affects much of India. Even as leopards have vanished in recent decades from vast swaths of Africa and Asia, the leopard population appears to be increasing in this nation of 1.2 billion people. The leopards are adept at living unnoticed even amid astonishingly high human population densities. But conflicts inevitably occur. Enraged farmers sometimes kill the leopards. Trapping is a standard response, but religious and animal rights objections have made euthanasia for unwanted animals unthinkable.

Thus anywhere from 100 to several hundred wild-caught leopards nationwide have ended up being trapped and locked away for life, in facilities that often cannot provide proper security, space, veterinary care, or feeding.

In the Bangalore incident, the attack victim, leopard biologist Sanjay Gubbi, managed to fight off the leopard and

2,000 animals at Tiger Temple 'starving'
2,000 animals remain at the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi with little, if any, food after authorities moved its tigers.

The recent Tiger removal has reportedly left the temple without any means for raising money to pay for animal food.

So, the Tiger Temple is now asking for food donations to feed the remaining animals.


Staff at the Tiger Temple said there have been no visitors at all to the temple after the relocation of 147 tigers to several breeding centres in other provinces between May 30 and June 4.

The relocation was carried out by the National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department under a court order.

The temple, once famous among tourists for its Bengal tigers from 2004 to last month, was accused of involvement in illegal wildlife trafficking.

Nathawut Phokaew, a temple boy (a layman serving monks at a temple in exchange for shelter and food), said on Wednesday after the tigers were removed, the temple had been

Zoos are the problem, not the solution to animal conservation
In the past month the deaths of animals in captivity have highlighted continuing concerns around conservation. Zoos are entertainment, and while they contribute to conservation they don’t provide any real solution. Wildlife can only be saved by empowering their protection in their own natural habitats—and that means we have to work with local communities and not against them.

On 28th May 2016, for example, Harambe, a captive born gorilla, was shot dead after a young boy fell into his enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo in the United States. One week earlier, two lions were destroyed at Santiago’s Metropolitan Zoo in Chile, and a week before that a Sumatran elephant called Yani died in the notorious Surabaya Zoo in Indonesia. An online discussion has exploded about each of these sad cases, but by and large it’s a debate that excludes the views of those most important for success.

Opponents of zoos such as Marc Bekoff, a behavioural ecologist and professor emeritus at the University of Colorado, argue that an animal’s life in captivity is a shadow of their experience in the wild. Proponents of zoos such as the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums counter that the conservation benefits zoos provide outweigh the isolated (albeit tragic) costs paid by the animals involved.

On social media zoo supporters say that captive animals serve as conservation ‘ambassadors’ for their wild counterparts, and that zoos are a ‘Noah’s Ark’ that provides a buffer against the decline of endangered species. In truth, this is a script that even the zoo industry has quietly abandoned.

While some species such as oryx, wolves and condors have benefited from captive breeding programmes, there is precious little evidence that zoo bred genetics are being used to strengthen wild populations of gorillas, elephants and dolphins. Zoos recognise that they have insufficient space to engage in successful breeding programmes for lar

Tiger Temple raid opens door to positive changes
Sybelle Foxcroft is the founder of Conservation and Environmental Education 4 Life (Cee4life), an Australia-based non-profit whose investigative report on Kanchanaburi’s “Tiger Temple” led to the recent raid.

Cee4life had presented the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP) in Thailand with two reports documenting overwhelming evidence that the temple was trading in tiger body parts.

Edwin Wiek, founder of the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, had attempted to discredit Foxcroft before eventually relenting and focusing his energy on tiger conservation. The focus now must be on the tigers and the continuation of what Foxcroft has devoted her heart and life to for the past decade.

Why did she have to waste precious energy defending her report against a small group of people who had missed the point - the report was what convinced the police and the DNP to finally take action. The Tiger Temple has finally been irrevocably exposed for the hellish, corrupt, abusive and disgusting place that many of us knew was hiding behind the monk's protective robes.

This story has huge repercussions for wildlife facilities and corrupt temples throughout Thailand. Tiger Kingdom, another tourist attraction, should also be closed. Sriracha Zoo is under scrutiny. It takes immense courage to expose these crimes and vision to find a solution that helps protect both the tigers and their environment.

Thailand closed parts of the Similan Island

Do wild animals that attack people need to die?
A marathon runner who was mauled by a bear in New Mexico on Saturday thought quickly, played dead and escaped injured, but alive. The female bear, which wildlife officials said was with her cubs when she was surprised by the runner, was captured and put to death.

New Mexico officials said they were confident they had the right bear, which wore a radio collar, and noted with regret that state law requires them to euthanize and test for rabies any wild animal that attacks or bites a person, no matter the circumstances.

The bear’s death was decried by some observers as an unjust sentence for an animal that may have been acting defensively. And it was the latest such killing to highlight the common reaction to most of the very rare attacks by wild animals on people in the United States: Capital punishment for the animal, and sometimes even for uninvolved animals nearby.

After a mountain lion pounced on a child in his Colorado yard last weekend, officials captured and killed two lions, saying it it is their policy to kill wild animals that may have been involved in an attack on humans. Last week, after an alligator dragged a toddler into a lagoon in Orlando, Fla., wildlife authorities trapped and killed at least six of the reptiles. Leaving them at tourist-filled Disney World certainly wouldn’t make sense, and Florida says it typically doesn’t relocate “nuisance alligators” – large ones “believed to pose a threat” to people, pets or property – because there are so many that killing individuals doesn’t affect the species’ population.

The justice system for wild animal attackers varies across jurisdictions, and sometimes by species. But there’s no Innocence Project

When Tiger Leaps
A tiger's soul-spark flares in the madness of captivity.
A YouTube video has been making its rounds on the internet. It is brief—less than a minute. The clip shows a young woman seated in front of a Plexiglas-enclosed tiger exhibit. She is smiling, posed, presumably for her family or friends’ cameras. Unbeknownst to her, the white tiger photo op behind her is on the move. He is silently approaching, step by restrained step.

Peel Zoo zookeeper defends dingo that bit her face
A ZOOKEEPER from Peel Zoo has defended the dingo that bit her face and landed her in hospital.

Emma Mitchell-Collett (23) was bitten by Shiloh, a three-year-old male dingo, who lives at Peel Zoo.

Ms Mitchell-Collett said it was important not to compare dingoes to pet dogs.

“Dingoes are not dogs and they cannot be truly domesticated,” she said.

“I love being a zookeeper and know these incidents are bound to occur at some point working with animals every day.”

A 21-year-old volunteer was bitten by Shiloh earlier this month when she entered his enclosure to put a harness on him for a walk.

Ms Mitchell-Collett tried to protect the woman.

“I intervened to remove the volunteer and was bitten in the process,” she said.

“We were both transported to the Fiona

Tadpoles hatch in seconds to escape predator
Although red-eyed tree frog embryos appear helpless within their jelly-coated eggs, they can hatch up to two days ahead of schedule, reacting within seconds to attacks by egg thieves. At the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama, scientists used high-speed video to uncover their rapid-hatching secret.

"Most people think of embryos as fairly passive," said Karen Warkentin, STRI research associate and professor at Boston University. "But evidence keeps accumulating that embryos of many species are actively engaged with their world, not only receiving information but also using it to do things that help them survive."

This is particularly true of the embryos of red-eyed tree frogs (Agalychnis callidryas). Native to Neotropical rainforests, adult frogs live in trees and lay clusters of 40 or so eggs on leaves, branches or other structures that overhang ponds or streams. Left undisturbed, tadpoles hatch after a week's development inside the gooey egg mass and drop into the water below. But the eggs are often attacked by hungry snakes or wasps and are also vulnerable to sudden environmental events like floods or heavy downpours. Developing embryos are able to assess the level of threat and have evolved a quick-release mechanism to escape the egg prematurely.

In a project led by Warkentin's doctoral student, Kristina Cohen, the scientists collected and studied egg clusters at STRI's open-air laboratory in Gamboa, Panama. By physically manipulatin

Buenos Aires zoo to close after 140 years: 'Captivity is degrading'
Buenos Aires has announced plans to close down its 140-year-old zoo, arguing that keeping wild animals in captivity and on display is degrading.

Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta said that the zoo’s 2,500 animals will be gradually moved to nature reserves in Argentina which can provide a more suitable environment. The 44-acre zoo in the Palermo neighbourhood will become an ecopark when it is reopened later this year.

“This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it’s not the way to take care of them,” said Rodríguez, at a ceremony on Thursday.

The new ecopark will be “a place where children can learn how to take care of and relate with the different species”, the mayor said. “What we have to value is the animals. The way they live here is definitely not the way to do that.”

Some of the zoo’s bird species will be released in the Reserva Ecológica, a riverside ecological reserve covering 864 acres in Buenos Aires. Older animals and those too infirm to be moved will remain at the current site.

The new ecopark will also provide refuge and rehabilitation for animals rescued from illegal trafficking, city officials said.
Buenos Aires zoo was one of the city’s main tourist attractions, but despite its popularity, the decaying zoo had been running a loss for its private concessionaires.

It had also attracted bad publicity in recent years, particularly regarding the desperate plight of its captive polar bears during the city’s oppressively hot summers. The zoo’s last remaining polar bea

Bowmanville Zoo to close this year
The exotic animals of the Bowmanville zoo — wolves, tigers, and baboons to name a few— will be looking for new homes after the east-end facility announced Thursday it will be closing at the end of the 2016 season.

At a press conference, zoo officials said recent “allegations” made by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) had led to a “catastrophically” low number of visitors— resulting in financial problems.

Earlier this year, the zoo’s director Michael Hackenberger stepped down after being charged with animal cruelty. The charges were due to a video released by PETA in December which appeared to show him hitting a tiger with a whip during a training session.

“Untrue allegations made by PETA in regards to a tiger incident have created a climate in which the zoo can no longer operate,” said Angus Carroll, the zoo’s director of communications, who estimated attendance is down 65 per cent since last summer.

“The zoo attendance is down dramatically, and in fact that hardly captures it. Catastrophically. So, there just isn’t enough money to run this zoo at this time,” he said.

In an interview, Brittany Peet, PETA Foundation’s director of captive animal law enforcement said “the blame lies solely on Michael Hackenberger.”

The Ontario Society for the Pre

Osaka aquarium boasts first successful artificial insemination of endangered penguin
The Kaiyukan aquarium in the city of Osaka said Thursday it has become the world’s first to succeed in artificial insemination of the southern rockhopper penguin, a species at risk of extinction.

The chick was born June 6 and has grown to weigh 724 grams. It is now on display at the aquarium.

The penguin is designated as a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Red List of Threatened Species.

The penguin, whose scientific name is eudyptes chrysocome, breeds on islands near Antarctica. Kaiyukan succeeded in the artificial insemination of the penguin for the first time since it began the attempt in 2011.

Using sperm obtained from Tokyo Sea Life Park, Kaiyukan performed artificial insemination on three female penguins in April. Three chicks were born in June, and DNA tests confirmed that one of them was conceived through artificial insemination.

Kaiyukan said it managed to tell an appropriate time for insemination thanks to its accumulated research data. “We’ll foster the chicks carefully so we can contribute to efforts to increase their offs

Darjeeling zoo to receive snow leopard from London
The Padma Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park (PNHZP) in Darjeeling, one of the highest high-altitude zoos in the country, is eagerly awaiting a new resident — a snow leopard from Dudley Zoological Gardens in London.

The two-year-old male snow leopard, named ‘Makalu’, will travel in air for about 16 hours with a stopover at Dubai before making an expected arrival at the Kolkata airport in an Emeritus Flight at 8.20 a.m. on Friday, from where the big cat will be transported to the park.

The snow leopard is named after the world’s fifth highest peak at 27,765 feet on the south-east side of the Everest.

One of the most elusive mountain cats, the snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is categorised as an endangered species in the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list.

“At this moment, the PNHZP has nine snow leopards. Eight of them are females while one is male,” V K Yadav, Member Secretary, State Zoo authority told The Hindu. The male big cat, named Subhas, is 14 years old.

The initiative to bring a male snow leopard to the zoological garden is seen as crucial to its conservation and breeding programme. Located about 7,000 feet above the sea-level, PNHZP has given six snow leopards, a pair each, to high-altit

SeaWorld on Saudi shores likely
 Deputy Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, second deputy premier and minister of defense, met with executives from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment here Tuesday.
SeaWorld's CEO Joel Manby said that his company was looking at all the options for expanding global operations in tourism and looking for new partners, including Saudi Arabia.

"Saudi Arabia has beautiful coastlines filled with marine life and wild animals and it is in need for a tourism push. We are waiting for the opportunity to go there," Joel said.

SeaWorld has over 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase zoological collections of ov

Tiger Temple crackdown spurs animal tourism overhaul
Tourists flocked to the temple for an opportunity to touch and snap a selfie with live big cats, earning the monks nearly $6m a year from ticket sales, according to the New York Times. The temple, Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, is situated west of Bangkok in Kanchanaburi Province, near another of Thailand‘s top tourist attractions, the Bridge over the River Kwai.

Police investigating the temple then found what they believe is a slaughterhouse and tiger holding facility at a home roughly 50 kilometres from Wat Pha Luang Ta Bua, which they suspect is part of a larger wildlife smuggling operation involving the Tiger Temple. The following day, police stopped a monk and two men leaving the temple in a truck with two tiger skins, tiger teeth and more than 700 vials containing tiger skin. Tiger parts are sometimes sold on the black market for use in traditional medicine, with tiger bone selling for as much as $353 per kilogram and tiger penis soup costing up to $320 a bowl, according to the New York Times.

The Prime Minister appears to have given up on bringing giant pandas from China to Wellington Zoo.
In a statement to ONE News, a spokesman for John Key confirmed there have been no conversations about acquiring the black and white bears since the cost of bringing them here was hotly debated last year.
"It’s a matter for Wellington Zoo," the statement says.
It was estimated it would cost $10 million to create a panda enclosure, with another $1.3 million each year to lease a pair from China.
The Government had lobbied hard for a deal, even suggesting New Zealand swaps two kiwi birds for two panda bears.

Today Wellington Zoo all but ruled the idea out, releasing a list of priority animals for the next decade, which did not include pandas.
It’s now interested in snow leopards, wombats and ring-tailed lemurs, saying it would find room for pandas if the Government covered the bulk of the costs.
City Mayor Celia Wade-Brown

As A Major Zoo Closes, 10 Reasons To Rethink The Concept
After 140 years in operation, the Buenos Aires Zoo in Argentina's capital plans to move almost all of its 2,500 animals to natural reserves.

Those animals too old or infirm to make the move will stay, but will no longer be kept on public exhibit. The zoo will become an educational eco-park where animals rescued from the illegal-trafficking trade may be helped and housed.

According to The Guardian, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta, the mayor of Buenos Aires, said in announcing this news on Thursday: "This situation of captivity is degrading for the animals, it's not the way to take care of them."

Good news like this brings with it an exhilarating surge of humanity and hope. Just last week, the National Aquarium in Baltimore announced plans to move its eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to an outdoor sanctuary — one with natural seawater — by 2020. That decision as well was driven by animal-welfare concerns.

An information fact sheet provided by the organization In Defense of Animals (IDA) reports that since 1991, 27 zoos have closed or will be closing their elephant exhibits; 13 zoos have sent elephants to the two elephant sanctuaries in the United States, one in California and one in Tennessee. This change comes in recognition, the IDA says, "that a traditional zoo cannot meet elephants' needs for space for movement and health maintenance, mental stimulation, and large social groups."

I don't mean to suggest that zoos or the e

Plan to fly rhinos to Australia comes under fire
An ambitious project to relocate rhinos from South Africa to Australia has been accused by some conservation researchers of being a waste of money.

The Australian Rhino Project charity, headquartered in Sydney, has attracted huge publicity for its plans to move 80 rhinos to Australia “to establish an insurance population and ensure the survival of the species”. It raised more than Aus$800,000 (US$600,000) in the year to September 2015, and hopes to start by flying out six rhinos later in 2016. The charity says that eventually, rhinos from the Australian herd could be sent back to Africa to re-establish wild populations there, when poaching — which is devastating rhino populations in Africa — becomes less of a threat.

But in a letter published in Nature this week1, four researchers warn that the project “is diverting funds and public interest away from the actions necessary to conserve the animals”. The million-dollar cost of moving 80 animals would be better put towards poaching prevention, the researchers say.

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About me
After more than 47 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an international independent zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.

"These are the best days of my life"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant