Monday, August 29, 2016

Zoo News Digest 29th August 2016 (ZooNews 937)

Zoo News Digest 29th August 2016 
(ZooNews 937)

George Stubbs’s painting of a rhinoceros, 1790-92

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

 If I have said it once I must have said it a hundred times. The only way that Good Zoos are going to get taken seriously by our critics is when we start to condemn the bad zoos and to criticise our peers. It should not, must not be left to the anti-zoo lobby. Each time we fail we give them another step up the ladder and each time they climb we go down one.

If you missed the item about the arrest of Animal rights activist Singky Soewadji after he questioned the recent removal of 420 animals from Surabaya Zoo I suggest you read it and give it some thought. It would be easy to rejoice the arrest of an animal rights activist but I don't believe you should. He has asked a question that really does need to be answered. There is so much corrupt politics surrounding Surabaya and the fact that it is actually illegal to say anything about the zoo. So I'm asking. What species of animals? Where did they go. Take it from me that there is not another collection in Indonesia that was/is in a position to take these animals and if they were divided up here and there then it would be frying pan to fire. So did they go to a dealer? Really though it is not me who should be asking these questions but the World and National Zoo Associations….but they won't, will they?

Exciting times ahead for the UAE. The new Dubai Safari Zoo opening seems to stepped back a month or three but it will happen soon. Following on behind that there will be another UAE Safari Park and this one "The biggest Safari Park in the World". Then there are two, possibly three new aquariums planned for the coast and returning to Dubai again 'The Rainforest' has just opened this week. They say that Japan has the highest number of zoos (based I believe on population size) but the UAE must be in the running somewhere. Zoos Of The United Arab Emirates

We are rapidly approaching 2017. It may seem too far ahead to plan but it isn't. I have asked my staff to book their annual leave now to avoid any clashes and so ensure smooth running. This is just what the zoo world should be doing with their planned meetings and conferences. Too often you see two similar events taking place on two different continents at roughly the same time making it impossible to attend both. Send me you meeting plans to include here Zoo Conferences, Meetings, Courses and Symposia

The Zoo Jobs Blog spot gets a lot of international attention. One recent advert reached over twenty thousand and had over four thousand actually read it in less than 24 hours. Advertising here reaches the right people and definitely works. However there are those few who write to me and send their CV's. Sorry folks I am not hiring and I have not the time to pass these on. First rule of applying for a job is to actually read the advert and follow the instructions.

The news item about dogs in North Korea's Pyongyang Zoo caused a bit of interest. It is however not so unusual. I recollect visiting a number of zoos (and I have not been to North Korea yet) where dogs were on display. In fact I remember seeing them in some UK zoos in the 60's.

The article on the Yemeni Leopards surprised me. I thought that all in the zoos would be long dead by now. I asked people 'in the know' some six months ago and they just shrugged their shoulders.

Did You Know?
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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, 


Secrets of how primates can live at extreme altitude revealed
It can be lonely at the top. Snub-nosed monkeys live at a higher altitude than any other non-human primate – but they are also among the rarest of all primates.

The latest genomic analyses may help to explain exactly how they have adapted to life in the thin air found in their habitat and perhaps inform their conservation.

Snub-nosed monkeys were once fairly common across Asia, before climate and geological processes conspired against them. Mountain-building activity in the area associated with the formation of the Himalayas and the Tibetan plateau created physical barriers that isolated monkey populations from one another.

The deterioration of environmental conditions during the last ice age helped keep those populations apart.

By about 300,000 years ago, the monkeys had been isolated for so long that they had split into five distinct species. Golden, black and gray snub-nosed monkeys live in the mountainous forests of southern China, the Tonkin snub-nosed monkey inhabits northern Vietnam and the

Japan zoos could be an endangered species
Hanako, a female elephant at the Inokashira Park Zoo in Tokyo, died in May at the age of 69. The news was widely reported because Hanako was a famous fixture of the zoo, where, according to then-Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe, she “gave dreams and hopes to children,” a strange observation if you review Hanako’s long life.

A friendship gift from Thailand to Japanese children in 1949, the elephant did not adapt readily to her new home at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo. In fact, she killed two men, one a zookeeper, the other a drunk trespasser. Difficult to control, she was chained up and lost weight. Eventually the zoo transferred Hanako to Inokashira, where the head zookeeper took special care of her.

But while she gained back her weight and “started to show some affection,” the Tokyo Shimbun reported that her unpredictable nature reemerged, requiring she be fed “at a distance.” Last October, an English-language blogger named Ulara Nakagawa started writing posts about Hanako’s atrociously cramped living conditions. She contacted experts in other countries and a petition was circulated to send Hanako back to Thailand, where she could spend the rest of her days in more natural surroundings and be with other elephants, which live in herds. The petition collected 300,000 signatures.

Visitors to the zoo who heard of this plan told the Mainichi Shimbun that Hanako should stay because she brought joy to local residents. Her zookeepers admitted that her living situation was not ideal due to budget constraints, but in any case she was too old to be moved. When Hanako died, Nakagawa wrote that maybe it was for the best, since now the animal was freed from her misery. Local residents wanted the zoo to replace her, even if it seemed obvious that a new elephant would simply in

Why we must save the Buenos Aires Zoo

Getting to the Truth Behind Thailand’s Infamous Tiger Temple
Buddhist animal sanctuary or commercial theme park? The truth about the now defunct Tiger Temple probably lies somewhere in between

It was a special sort of gruesome. Forty dead tiger cubs that had been found in a freezer at one of the world’s most famous tiger reserves were laid out before the world’s press, flies swarming their now slowly decomposing frames.

More than 500 officers from Thailand’s Department of National Parks (DNP) swooped on the Tiger Temple, in the town of Kanchanaburi, a couple of hours’ drive west of Bangkok, on May 30, following years of allegations of illegal breeding and trafficking

Zoo Science Volume 4 Sept 2016
Zoo Science for Keepers and Aquarists v4

This Former Killer Whale Trainer Is Taking on SeaWorld
SeaWorld has been a lightning rod for controversy in recent years, and no one knows that better than John Hargrove. On this week's episode of the Inquiring Minds podcast, Hargrove—a former SeaWorld animal trainer—recounts his experiences working with orcas in captivity. From heavily medicated killer whales to the tragic death of his colleague, Hargrove paints a picture of an entertainment company in crisis.

SeaWorld, a nationwide chain of parks well known for its displays of marine animals, purports to blend "imagination with nature" and enable visitors to "explore, inspire and act." It's perhaps most famous for its orcas. Also known as killer whales, orcas are actually the largest member of the dolphin family. They weigh thousands of pounds and are, in the words of National Geographic, "one of the world's most powerful predators." SeaWorld's treatment of orcas has come under intense scrutiny; the 2013 film Blackfish recounted the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau and showed the dangers (for both whales and humans) of keeping orcas in captivity. Hargrove a

Killer Whales, SeaWorld and the Truth About John Hargrove
In his book Beneath The Surface and in his public statements, author and former SeaWorld trainer John Hargrove tries to have it both ways.

On one side, John Hargrove is espousing animal activist dogma. On the other side, John Hargrove is praising his experience in the marine park industry, praising SeaWorld and trying to help a celebrity buy killer whales.

The only thing that is clear, John Hargrove has a book to sell you.

The Real John Hargrove loves SeaWorld and his time as a trainer. From his interviews with a young intern who was looking to become a marine mammal trainer, to his engagement with people on social media about his love of killer whales, or touting off the sound care the animals receive at SeaWord – the Real John Hargrove espouses the ben

The Region's First Indoor Tropical Forest Opens Doors to Offer Unparalleled Sensory Experience
Meraas, a Dubai-based holding company has announced the opening of The Green Planet at CITY WALK in Dubai, the region’s much awaited and only standalone educational and recreational bio-dome, featuring over 3,000 stunning plants and animals.

The striking variety of species housed at The Green Planet recreates a lush tropical forest for visitors to immerse themselves in the intimate and unique sensory experience. The facility also mimics the habitat to the point of regulating the temperature and humidity levels of the venue so that visitors can not only see what life is like in such an ecosystem, but can also have a vivid first-hand experience.

Upon entering the origami style glass building, visitors are greeted at the ‘Flooded Forest’ for a first look of the extraordinary forest floor, complete with a giant aquarium filled with species such as arapaima, arowana and graceful stingrays. Visitors are then guided to the top of the bio-dome where they are presented with a magical panoramic view of the largest indoor, man-made and life-sustaining tree in the world. As visitors slowly descend through the biome

Zoo design will continue to evolve
Stacey Ludlum is a senior zoological designer at PGAV Destinations, a St. Louis-based design and architecture firm. You can read more of her writing at her blog, Designing Zoos. Her views:

“We are at a precipice of a major evolution in zoos as we know them. In recent years, progressive, thought-leading zoos have already begun to lead the transition from a recreation-centered, wholesome fun family experience to what could be described as a conservation experience. ... Although many zoos have long viewed on-site and off-site conservation programs and research as essential to their core, we will be seeing these programs taking on a much higher level of import to the day-to-day workings of zoos. ...

Every experience at the zoo will (teach) visitors about conservation — especially conservation that the zoo itself is leading. ...

Future zoos will be much more selective in their animal collection, choosing species that are especially suited to the climatic conditions, the staff expertise and the individual zoo's conservation mission. Exhibits will be larger, more varied, provide flexibility for the staff to change environments and social groups and allow a variety of educational interaction opportunities. Guests will be taken deeper into the stories of the animals, how the zoo cares for them and what the zoo is doin

 Vol. XXXI | No. 8 | August 2016
ISSN  0971-6378 (Print)
0973-2543 (Online)
Date of publication 24 August 2016

Dear Colleagues,
The August 2016 issue of ZOO’S PRINT Magazine (Vol. 31, No. 8)
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 <>

Zoos of the future may be animals' last, best hope
Zoos across the country are frequently in the news. Sweet, heartwarming photos of new baby animals are offset by frightening, dangerous events.

Zoos inspire debate and change: Buenos Aires announced it is shutting down its zoo. Sea World will no longer breed orcas. The National Aquarium decided to retire its dolphins to a seaside sanctuary.

While public outcry continues on the subject of keeping wild animals in captivity, many institutions work hard to maintain healthy homes for their animals and work toward research and conservation.

We asked experts to weigh in on their visions of the future of zoos.

Zoos are the last, best hope for many endangered animals, says Joe Gaspard, director of conservation and research at Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.

“If we think it's tough going on a day-to-day basis for humans, it's a tougher world out there for animals,” he says. “The sad truth is that many just don't thrive in the wild anymore.”

Zoos will continue to be safe havens from poaching and habitat loss caused by human encroachment and climate change, and zoo organizations will continue to take the lead in research and conservation to fight species extinction worldwide, he says.

“In totality, zoos provide more funding for conservation than all the well-known conservation organizations, like the World Wildlife Fund and others,” says Ken Kaemmerer, the zoo's curator of mammals. “By supporting us, you play a part in conservation in the field.

“Zoo detractors say, well, you can just look at a video. To a degree, yes, but there's a limit to the effect that has on a person versus seeing the live animal. What really tugs at your heart is seeing the live animal,” he says.

In that way, zoo animals act as ambassadors for conservation efforts around the globe, Kaemmerer says. Changes may come over time in the number and variety of animals on exhibit, he says, but it is unlikely that zoos ever will cease to exist.

The Highland Park zoo includes about 4,000 animals representing 475 species on 77 acres. Attendance averages betwe

The Middle Flipper is...(Part 5)
....a dolphin who plays keep away.

One of the most unique experiences in a dolphin trainer's life is their first six months on the job.   Most of us naively assume that after an internship, a helpful membership to IMATA*, and surviving the Holy Trinity of job applications, swim tests, and interviews, we've Made It once we land our first position. 

Oh, we think.  We've finally Achieved Our Dream!

Israeli Surgeons Save Rare Nubian Vulture
Beak makeover at Ramat Gan Safari Park saves giant bird starving to death after it suffered a blow to the mouth.
A 22-year old Nubian vulture slowly starving to death because of beak trouble has been saved by the Ramat Gan Safari surgeons.
The operation was crucial more than to the bird himself. It could be critical to the species, since the unnamed avian is the last breeding male of his species left in Israel.
Some years ago, the bird, who was born at the Hi Bar Hacarmel animal rescue center and has lived there all his life, suffered a blow to the beak, after which it grew crooked – like our nails, beaks keep growing throughout life. Finally he couldn't

Baby aye-aye born at Durrell
A baby aye-aye has entered the world at Durrell Wildlife Park - the first to be born at the park in more than a decade.

The birth is the result of the introduction of mum Ala - who arrived from a zoo in Japan - to Durrell's young male Pan.

The pair had never bred before.

Staff at the Wildlife Park say they are "over the moon" at the bre

Thailand's tiger tourism expands despite raid on infamous tiger temple
Thailand's tiger tourism business is booming and the captive tiger population is growing fast, experts say, more than two months after Thai wildlife authorities found scores of dead cubs while rescuing animals from the popular Tiger Temple.

Animal rights activists called on tourists to shun Thai animal attractions, which they say are cruel and should be shut down, after the Tiger Temple in Kanchanaburi province, west of Bangkok, closed in June.

Thai wildlife authorities vowed to inspect other tiger attractions, and confiscated 24 tigers from two venues, but the scrutiny has been short-lived.

"On the ground, nothing has changed," said Jan Schmidt-Burbach, a Bangkok-based wildlife adviser for the World Animal Protection NGO. "The Tiger Temple case has brought attention to the topic but is unfortunately limited to the temple itself."

A July report by World Animal Protection shows that the number of captive tigers in Thailand's tiger entertainment industry jumped 33 percent, from 623 tigers in 2010 to 830 tigers in 2015-2016. Eight new venues also opened

Lions, tigers and poodles? Dogs a big draw at Pyongyang zoo
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's latest gift to the residents of Pyongyang, the renovated central zoo, is pulling in thousands of visitors a day with a slew of attractions ranging from such typical zoo fare as elephants, giraffes, penguins and monkeys to a high-tech natural history museum with displays showing the origins of the solar system and the evolution of life on Earth.

But one of the most popular attractions might come as a surprise to foreign visitors. Just across from the hippopotamus pen and the reptile house, dozens of varieties of dogs — including schnauzers, German shepherds, Shih Tzus and Saint Bernards — are on display in the "dog pavilion."

One, a King Charles spaniel, was presented as a gift to Kim's father, Kim Jong Il, by "the U.S. company Tapco" in 1995. According to plaques above their pens, which — dog lovers will be relieved to know — are spacious and clean, Kim Jong Un himself chipped in by giving the zoo its schnauzers, poodles, German shepherds and a Chihuahua.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung, who pursued a sort of detente with Pyongyang called the "Sunshine policy," presented the North with a Jindo dog that now resides in the zoo.

North Korea's own national dog — yes, it has one, the puffy white Pung San breed — lives in a pen next to it.

Though somewhat shocking to those accustomed to thinking of dogs as companions or household pets, the zoo display may actually reflect an increasingly fond attitude toward dogs in North Korea. While dog meat is still a common dish in the North, and in China and South Korea as well, a small but growing number of North Koreans are keeping canines as pets.

People walking dogs on leashes can now be seen from time to time in Pyongyang and some other cities. And instead of suggesting recipes, signs in the dog pavilion describe the best way to train a pet dog, suggesting that patience and kindness work better than ha

What Are Zoos For?
For the media zoos make good copy: ‘Twin Panda Birth Surprises Atlanta Zoo Staff’; ‘Rare White Lion Cubs Born at Georgia Zoo’; ‘Bristol to Welcome Pair of Andean Bears’. The implication is that the public are delighted and that this news is good news.

Doubtless, visitors, and particularly children, get immense pleasure from a day out at the zoo. And often much entertainment. A few days ago, at Tiger World in Rockwell, North Carolina “hilarious footage captured the moment an angry monkey took his temper out on a family by throwing his poo at them” (Mirror, 15 August). There may even be some drama. In June this year, at Cincinnati Zoo, Harambe, a 450 pound silverback gorilla (who would have had the strength of eight men) grabbed a three year old boy who had climbed into

Twin South China tiger cubs born at Nanchang Zoo
Twin South China tiger cubs have been born at Nanchang Zoo in East China's Jiangxi province, making the total number of the endangered species at the zoo 26.

The cubs were born on May 13 and have passed the 90 to 100 days of observation period.

"Both of the twins are male and now weigh nearly 10 kg," said Song Guoshou, a zoo veterinarian.

The mother is from Nanchang Zoo and the father is from Luoyang Zoo in Henan Province.

The indigenous Chinese tiger is listed as highly endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

As of the end of 2015, there were only 131 South China tigers

Mammoths may become protected to stop ‘laundering’ of elephant tusks
Woolly mammoths could gain protection under the world’s toughest wildlife and conservation trade rules — despite having become extinct 4,000 years ago.

The move, which would be made under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites), follows the emergence of many tons of ivory mammoth tusks from the Siberian tundra as climate change melts the permafrost in which they have been embedded.

The proposal to limit trade in mammoth ivory is on the agenda for the Cites conference in Johannesburg, South Africa,

Animal rights activist arrested in Surabaya for questioning removal of animals from infamous “Zoo of Death”
Indonesia’s much criticized ITE law has once again been used by state officials to arrest somebody for criticizing a government institution for possible corruption online. This time, the institution in question is Surabaya’s infamous zoo, which has been beset by constant scandals involving mismanagement and horrific animal mistreatment, leading it to be dubbed the “Zoo of Death” by some.
Animal rights activist Singky Soewadji was arrested by police on Monday for allegedly defaming the zoo by questioning the irregularities in its recent removal of 420 animals.
"We have received suspects and transferred the evidence from the East Java Police investigators," said Surabaya State Attorney Didik Farkhan on Monday as quoted by Detik.
Singky was arrested under Indonesia’s ITE law, which criminalizes any online statements that could be considered slanderous or defamatory. He was reported to the police by the Indonesia Zoo Association (PKBSI) Chairman Rahmat Shah and PKBSI Secretary Toni Sumampou.
Singky took his arrest in st

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No more Bornean Orangutans to be located at Jackson Zoo
Jackson Zoo Deputy Director Dave Wetzel was informed by the Orangutan Species Survival Plan of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums that the longtime Bornean orangutan residents would be permanently moved to other AZA properties.

The call was the end result of a Jackson Zoo requested consultation of this endangered species due to the birth of a baby boy in November of 2015. The female "Kimmie" (or "Sabah") has been attentive in her care of her offspring, but despite supplemental feedings and additional multivitamins, the keepers felt that the baby was not developing as expected.

They requested input from the Orangutan SSP of the AZA, who sent representatives from Chicago, Illinois, and Fort Wayne, Indiana, for a day long evaluation on August 8.

The infant, was indeed developing a little slower than normal.

Also discussed was the behavior of the adult animals, which had changed since the arrival of the much-anticipated newborn. Kimmie lost interest in the male, "Pumpkin," and discouraged his attention towards the baby.

The age and layout of the exhibit itself made "shifting" (moving the

Granby lion attack caused by human error, investigation finds
Quebec's workplace health and safety board (CNESST) has confirmed the initial hypothesis on how a 14-year-old lion at the Granby Zoo mauled a zookeeper earlier this month.

Employees 'in shock' after lion mauls zoo worker
According to the CNESST's findings, the incident happened during mealtime. The zookeeper brought the lion's food into an isolated corridor.

Normally, once the food is there, the worker leaves the corridor, and the animal is let inside.

In this case, however, the hydraulic door separating the worker and the lion was accidentally left open.

Granby zookeeper 'recovering well' following lion attack
The lion attacked the woman, leaving her with a broken neck and serious lacerations.

A few days after the incident, she was discharged from the hospital, and the director of the zoo told the CNESST she plans to return to work shortly.

The CNESST found the door was left open due to human error.

Additional security measures

Nathalie Dufour, a spokeswoman for the CNESST, said the zoo already had security measures in place leading up to the attack.

"They're already applying this polic

Three ways zoos can deal with extreme food shortages and starving animals
Gaza zoo has finally evacuated its last few remaining animals, while residents at Venezuela’s main zoo have not been so lucky. More than 50 animals are reported to have died of starvation at Caricuao zoo in Caracas in the past few months as food shortages hit humans and animals alike. There’s no easy solution for zoos faced with these situations, but they can take steps to minimise the impact of economic difficulties on the animals in their care.

Since the diet of a zoo animal is so crucial for its health, being without the special dietary provisions in adequate amounts can be extremely detrimental. In fact, many years of research have been dedicated to ensuring that the majority of species in zoos can have the appropriate calculated diet. Zoo nutrition groups have been established and computer programs have been specially developed to plan

 Preserves Yemen's Arabian Leopard as a Symbol of Resurgence
Entrepreneur, philanthropist and conservationist Haitham Alaini understands that continued positive changes in his home country are the result of an ongoing commitment to safeguard its resources. One of its most revered natural inhabitants, the Arabian leopard, was only recently considered nearly extinct before the Foundation for Endangered Wildlife intervened to combat the dire situation with its extensive grassroots education efforts. A living emblem of the Yemeni people as it is legally recognized as the official national animal, Alaini sees the magnificent species' struggle as representative of the current environmental issues adversely affecting his fellow countrymen. By slowly remedying the plight by replenishing its numbers in the wild, he insists that the indigenous will serve as an inspirational symbol of national resurgence.

Haitham Alaini works diligently with the not-for-profit organization, the Foundation for Endangered Wildlife, and its specialized sister team, the Foundation for the Protection of the Arabian Leopard, to defend the critically endangered subspecies. The ultimate goal of the group is to create the conditions for a sustainably managed population of the felines that will flourish and live in harmony with local communities. As their population of roughly 200 is severely fragmented throughout the country, it is imperative that citizens recognize the connection between the great cats' survival and their own in order to assist with the movement. Among all the dangers influencing the revitalization of these rare animals, arguably the largest challenge is defending them from the illegal trade for private pet ownership or for their skins. While spreading information on the subject and installing cameras in their habitats have become powerful tools for the foundation, ultimately, lobbying for the establishment of secure areas and staunch government defense against poachers remains paramount to the program's success.

Beyond securing the feline's native populace in in the Arabian Peninsula country, Haitham Alaini and the members of the foundation also hope to improve the breeding record of the captive individuals in the zoos of Yemeni cities Sana'a and Taiz. There are currently four resident Arabian leopards at the former institution that have bred at least twice, but none of the cubs have survived to adulthood; happily, the latter has been much more effective, with nearly 20 cubs descended from four wild-caught individuals that now

NTCA proposes big open zoos for tiger safari
Now, tiger safari will be encouraged in buffer and fringe areas of tiger reserves in order to reduce pressure of tourism from core/critical tiger habitats and to foster awareness for eliciting public support. This is akin to a large open zoo quite popular in African countries where tourists throng to view wildlife in natural, but controlled habitat.
National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA), Delhi, has issued guidelines recently for establishment of such safaris. As per the guidelines, the area of a safari park may be as large as possible but it should be minimum 40 hectares, extendable as per requirements. It must be ensured that the biological requirements of the animals kept therein are fully met. Clearance under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 will have to be taken, wherever applicable.
The tourism activities in the tiger reserves are regulated by the normative guidelines on tourism issued by NTCA as well as by the prescriptions on eco-tourism as contained in the tiger conservation plans of the tiger reserves. The last three years average visitation will be taken into consideration while determining the need for a tiger safari. A proposal for tiger safari can be placed before NTCA if the carrying capacity is 100 per cent utilised.
Popular tiger reserves like Tadoba-Andhari, Kanha and others will be immensely benefitted as the heavy rush of tourists inside core area has disturbed the wildlife. Besides, these tiger reserves are now facing growing tiger population and some of the wild cat

Perth Zoo orangutan released into Sumatran wild
The male orangutan, named Nyaru, is the third to be released from the zoo.

The eight-year-old ape was put through "Jungle School" ahead of its departure - learning to find food and water, make a nest and stay in the trees.

"His natural skills and the skills we had taught him before leaving the zoo enabled him to explore and settle into his new world," Perth Zoo primate supervisor Holly Thompson said.

"It was amazing to watch an animal I have known since birth navigate the jungle canopy."

Nyaru has been fitted with a radio transmitter and will be tracked by biologists for up to two years through the dense terrain.

Perth Zoo is the only zoo in the world releasing Sumatran orangutans into the wild.

A previous release, a male named Semeru, died from a snake bite two years after its arrival in the rainforest.

Temara made world history in 2006

The current accreditation landscape within the zoo and aquarium community is complex, in part due to the global diversity of members and membership options available. The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) is the umbrella organisation for around 280 direct member zoo and aquarium facilities. There are also approximately 1,300 associated members through its regional association members, of which there are 22. These regional associations either represent a single country or specific region or encompass a number of different countries. Within the regional associations there are further national associations, not necessarily members of WAZA, but potentially members of another regional association member. Within this latter community of associations there could be in the region of around 1,000 more zoos and aquariums, while on top of that there could be 6,000+ facilities that are not a member of any association or accredited. Still with us?! So with potentially up to 10,000 zoos out there, just what does accreditation mean for animal welfare in captivity?

In the mainstream, an accreditation process is usually carried out in an industry body to demonstrate their or their member’s ability to meet standards. It helps provide a public position on the standards and is usually independently reviewed to avoid bias. A good accreditation process is on-going, meaning it is constantly reviewed and evaluated on its effectiveness. In regards to the zoo community and in simplistic terms, accreditation is usually used to differentiate the good zoos from the bad zoos. Those that are held accountable to an accreditation process, should in theory have better standards than those who are not. But is the zoo community actually achieving this or is accreditation currently failing to address animal welfare and actually acting as a barrier to innovation within zoos and aquariums? By trying to conform to the norm and appease a wide audience, are some more experienced association bodies being prevented from taking the next innovative and possible brave steps in animal welfare care?

There are obviously risks around what having poor accreditation processes means for animal welfare. It fails to address animal welfare concerns within the industry that result in animal suffering. It also dilutes the efforts being made to improve animal welfare around the world and reduces the credibility of the accreditation process. Finally, poor accreditation could potentially cause a depression in animal welfare by focusing on producing minimum standards or existing to only support achievable standards, rather than developing high standards that compliment current thinkings in animal welfare science. Accreditation standards should reflect the zoo community’s commitment to advances in animal management and care through our own and others applied research, and this includes standards that may sometimes require substantial shifts in how animal welfare is perceived and managed.

WAZA has its own membership requirements (and a recently launched Animal Welfare Strategy), and within the association members there are varying accreditation processes pertaining to animal welfare which members should comply to. A good accreditation process can determine who is meeting a high standard of welfare within the community and equally who is not. A good process should underwrite the global zoo narrative on animal welfare, and provide a transparent approach to the zoo community’s varied audience.

Firstly it’s important to differentiate between industry accreditation and national standards. Most institutional members of the regional associations will also be held accountable by a national governmental standard and some associations will use this national legislation as their sole guiding standard, or in conjunction with their own standards. A major concern with this approach is that a national standard often represents something that is achievable and consequently is a set of minimum standards, thus not necessarily providing the high standards of care and welfare required. A good accreditation process should represent best practice and high standards. 

Within the WAZA membership, there is a significant variation in what welfare accreditation means to each association. While some accreditation processes suitably meet high standards of care,the implication of these variations worldwide, is a potential lack of accountability on specific animal welfare concerns and globally animal welfare is harder to address effectively, despite the availability of standards and policies.

Good animal welfare measures must start with a good animal welfare definition. This might seem obvious, but as it’s historically been very difficult to define animal welfare, it is actually harder than you think. The difficulties this creates for zoos, regional zoo associations and regulatory agencies to systematically measure and improve animal welfare across multiple institutions, habitats and species is clear. As a result of the lack of consensus on a definition for animal welfare and how to measure it, there are many different ways that welfare is interpreted and consequently managed, resulting in varying standards of care. Historically welfare models have focused on minimising negative welfare states in animals, but more recently with the conception of the advanced five domain model for assessing animal welfare compromise, the 2012 Cambridge declaration on animal consciousness and other evidence-based research, the promotion of positive welfare states is being used in welfare models of assessment. WAZA itself has now adopted the five domain model that highlights most potential sources of welfa

Topeka Zoo isn't worried about mixing elephant species
Topeka Zoo officials say it isn’t that uncommon to see two different elephant species living together.

The zoo welcomed Shannon and Cora to their new home Wednesday. Shannon an African elephant and Cora an Asian elephant joined Asian elephant Sunda an African elephant Tembo.

Zoo Director Brendan Wiley says the Topeka Zoo is just one of three zoos’ across the nation that house mixed species of elephants. He says it was common for zoos to house multiple species in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but in the late 80’s and into the 90’s zoos moved away from that model and began to focus on one species.

“What we know now is that some of those health concerns, we’re learning,” Wiley said. “They’re not as valid when we see pairs of elephants like Tembo and Sunda and Cora and Shannon that have been together for so long, those health concerns aren’t there.”

In the future the Topeka Zoo will focus on only housing A

Singapore Zoo trials new outdoor system that cools air to 24°C
The Singapore Zoo is trying out a new outdoor air-cooling system that can bring down temperatures to as low as 24°C, while using less energy than an average air conditioner.

The Airbitat Smart Coolers were developed by Innosparks, a subsidiary of ST Engineering. Four units were put on trial on Thursday (Aug 25) at the Singapore Zoo’s ticketing area, and they could be introduced to the other three parks managed by Mandai Park Holdings — River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park.

The cooler has a “cold water core” that produces chilled water for a two-stage cooling process: First, warm air is drawn into the unit and cooled by the chilled water; next, the air is passed through an evaporative panel to produce “super-cooled” air.

Innosparks, which took 18 months to conceptualise and produce the units, said typical coolers chill air to an average of 27°C to 28°C, compared to Airbitat’s 24°C. Each unit has coverage of 45 to 60 sqm, depending on its specifications.

According to the firm, the unit can result in energy savings of up to 80 per cent compared to the average air conditioner of an equivalent capacity. The combined energy and water cost can be as low as S$2.50 a day, over an eight-hour cooling cycle.

During the trial period, Inno

Dutch zoo is ready for pandas' arrival
Sixteen years ago, when 56-year-old Dutch tycoon Marcel Boekhoorn decided to acquire the Ouwehands Zoo, about 90 km from Amsterdam, to sustain his passion for wildlife, he had two dreams to fulfill.

One was to inject investment and expand the visitor flow to the zoo, which boasts of hosting more than 3,000 animals in the picturesque town Rhenen. After an investment of about 40-million euros, the number of visitors has increased five-fold and the zoo, set up in 1932 after being converted from a chicken farm, receives almost one million visitors annually.

The second dream was to acquire two

Are SA rhino calves being exported to Thailand?
A permit appears to have been granted for eight South African rhino calves to be exported to a zoo in Thailand.

Earlier this month Allison Thompson of the organisation Outraged SA Citizens Against Poaching (OSCAP)  posted online that she had received “credible information” of the “imminent export” of as many as thirty rhino calves to Thailand. Speculating that the country was not, in fact, the intended final destination of the animals, she warned that they may end up being re-routed to China.

The exporter was identified as Manus Pretorius of a company called Mafunyane, which describes itself as an “international trader in quality wildlife”.

All of which raises a number of questions. Has a permit, in fact been issues, and if so, for how many animals? How ethical is it to sell off rhino calves in the middle of a major poaching crisis? Is it even legal to trade in live rhinos? And what about the people doing the exporting – what are their motivations?

According to a statement by Albi Modise, the Chief Director of Communications for the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA), his department “does not issue export permits to private individuals as this is the mandate of Provincial Nature Conservation Authorities”, adding that “the applicant applied in the North West Department of Rural, Environment and Agricultural Development (READ) and READ will be able to confirm if the permit was issued”.

Unfortunately I have not been able to get confirmation that the North West Province READ has actually issued a permit.

South Africa’s white rhino population (along with that of Swaziland) is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on the International Trade in the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). According to CITES, international trade in species included in this appendix “may be authorised by the granting of an export permit”. Such a permit “should only be granted if the relevant authorities are satisfied that certain conditions are met, above all that trade will not be detrimental to the survival of the species in the wild”.

Pointing out that the DEA’s role is to ensure that all applications to export rhinos from South Africa meet the criteria outlined both by CITES and in the Natio

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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 independent international 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