Monday, December 25, 2017

Zoo News Digest 25th December 2017 (ZooNews 977)

Zoo News Digest 25th December 2017  (ZooNews 977)

Giza Zoo - December 2017

Photo credit: Diego Cecilio

Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

Happy Festive Season to all.

My albeit too short vacation in the UK was mostly enjoyable. I picked up some nasty bug towards the end and am still trying to shake it off three weeks later. The weather in England was mostly miserable but days warmed by spending time with family. I stayed in Norwich. Nice City and somewhere I only ever recall driving through twice before in my life.

I was saddened to learn of the fire in London Zoo and the animal losses. Almost as soon as I learned of the tragedy I wondered how long it would be before PETA or the Born Free Foundation were putting the boot in. They were a lot quicker than I expected. It really sickens me that they seem to take pleasure out of the grief of others. There are some really sick people out there. Perhaps it has something to do with the burden of guilt that they carry. I don't think that any of them really care about animals.

Now we have lion cubs from Gaza offered up for sale on the internet. Inevitably the next thing will be some well minded group trying to rescue them. Well let me tell you for nothing that unless you sneak in at night with a group of Ninjas you are going to have to purchase them. This is what it is all about. There have been no 'rescues' out of Gaza has changed hands every time. It takes complications and cash to purchase a 'rescue'. Do it this time and it will happen again and again.

I was woken the other day by the phone on my pillow buzzing wildly. There were several excited messages and one short video clip of a tiger. This had been taken just moments before. The location was in deep snow at the edge of a forest in Northern China. My informants said that this was the first time a tiger had been seen for over 70 good news.

The ZooNews Facebook page has been buzzing this past couple of weeks. I am considering having a bit of a re-think and actually banning people from the page. Up to now I have only ever banned one person ever....after all the page is there to inform and educate. This latest 'raid' started when I posted this:

The problem, if that’s what it was, was when I posted a collage of photos and headed it "Why have the authorities not arrested this guy?" I had been sent similar collages of the same guy a couple of times before. Highly distasteful showing off with baby orangutans, chimpanzees and much more. Selfyitis in the extreme and something which promotes posing with animals and all the bad that comes with it. Well my comment brought something of a shitstorm from the 'posing with exotics extremists'. They are as bad as the Animal Rights Anarchists in being unable to think or see reason. Or possibly they just don't care. An "I'm all right Jack" attitude. 
A couple of days later I followed up on this with a one lined statement "If you are in favour of exotic animals as pets you are on the wrong page". Clear and precise in my eyes. I am against exotic animals as pets. I have been for many change of tack. It grieves me to see all these tigers, lions, baby chimpanzees and orangutans and much more being cuddled for selfies. Every last one of them torn from their mothers teats to give some sicko a thrill.
Perhaps I should have gone one step further and added I was not against the responsible ownership of exotic animals in private hands….but definitely against the 'pet' bit. Once again the 'Posing with exotics extremists' waded in accompanied by an army of hair splitting pedantics. Then there were the nasty personal attacks by little or know nothings. All this is nothing new, I have had worse, even death threats for sticking up for what I believe and know is right.

I find it laughable when some of these say "I will now stop following you" or words to that effect. Do they expect me to change my mind or say sorry? They should just go ahead. They won't though because they want to wait to comment again, they are trolls at the end of the day.

The most distressing thing about Facebook is people being allowed to comment when they have so very obviously not read the link that has been posted....and some have not even read the heading...and yet I persist. Education can be tough.

Lots of links below.


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 73,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 73,000 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 823 Zoos in 154+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out 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,

London Zoo to reopen TOMORROW after deadly fire killed aardvark and left four meerkats missing
AN AARDVARK was killed and four meerkats are also believed to have died after a huge fire broke out at London Zoo this morning.

Eight people were also injured when the blaze ripped through the enclosure, with nine-year-old Misha the aardvark, who shared an enclosure with the meerkats, killed in the blaze.

ZSL London Zoo statement - 24 December 2017
ZSL London Zoo can confirm that at approximately 6am on Saturday 23 December a fire broke out in the Animal Adventure section of the Zoo, and spread to an adjacent shop.

We have keepers living on site and they, along with our security team, responded incredibly quickly to move animals to safe locations within their enclosures.

The London Fire Brigade were on the scene within minutes and the fire was brought under control by 9:16am.

Those staff who were first on the scene have been treated on site for shock and smoke inhalation.

Sadly our vets have confirmed the death of our nine-year-old aardvark, Misha. An initial post-mortem showed that she most likely died from smoke inhalation whilst sleeping. The four meerkats unaccounted for are presumed to have died.

All other animals in the vicinity were assessed by our vets over the course of the day, but there is no evidence they were affected. We will continue to monitor them over the coming days.

We are all naturally devastated by this, but are immensely grateful to the fire brigade, who reacted quickly to the situation to bring the fire under control.

It’s too soon to speculate on the cause of the fire but we are working very closely with fire investigators to ascertain the cause.

After consultation with fire experts attending yesterday, we are able to safely open the zoo today.

The Zoo with be open from 10am today, Sunday 24 December.

Animal rights campaigners REVEL in London Zoo fire saying zoo creatures will ALWAYS suffer
Aardvark Misha perished in the fire yesterday at London Zoo and four missing meerkats are also presumed to have died.

PETA (People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals) said on Twitter: “Caging animals always comes with tragedy.

“No amount of time in a zoo can take away wild animals' natural instincts to roam, hunt, care for their young, or, when a fire breaks out, to flee – something which is terrifyingly impossible to do locked in a cage.”

 There are organisations and people out there that want you to believe and think there are 100's of #crush #phajaan #torture #training videos representing the #cruel way in which ALL #elephants are trained in Thailand (wild and domesticated). I spent 3 days actually viewing them (it was difficult) and what I found was the SAME footage used in ALL those different videos. The footage is filmed in the remote highlands of northern Thailand, west of the village Mae Jaem. Journos, photographers, PeTA and other interested parties were invited to witness this brutal centuries old ritual called 'crush' or 'phajaan'. This was organised by ENP (named Elephant Heaven at the time) in 2002. How this was organised and planned in the first place should make one wonder. A young female and a young male captured from the wild were put through this inhumane practice on separate days while the Westerners looked on documenting, photographing, and filming it - ENP & PeTA's emotive campaign to stop the traditional breaking of the wild elephant's spirit begins. You watch this video that looks disgustingly sickening and so blatantly cruel and downright torturous and you cant believe what you are viewing. Your heart aches (as did mine) for the poor wild young elephants that are and have gone through this. It has to stop! I 100% agree.  The video is going viral - our human emotion plays a big part, your emotions are outraged. The feeling one got from seeing this disgusting video, becomes a need to ensure your friends see it and feel what you felt. Everyone has to know about this cruelty that is inflicted on these young wild elephants, so you share and they share this new found knowledge about #crush/phajaan and ALL those wild elephants now working in tourism. People write about it, people are talking about it, more videos are created using the footage, more photos are released, screenshots are taken from the videos to create posters etc all from that couple of days in 2002.  Now the Chinese whispers have set in - emotive headlines and photos, and general lack of peoples willingness to actually read detail or double check facts, because what they see and feel for some reason doesn't need any further investigation. The original information, all of a sudden is placed/branded on ALL and EVERY elephant in Thailand because in order to train an elephant it has been through this. WRONG!  So now from what began in 2002 about the phajaan/crush ritual for breaking the spirits of wild captured elephants to become submissive to humans in order for them to be trained has now been morphed into ALL and EVERY single elephant you see in Thailand. Especially if they are used for riding and painting and doing shows. This phajaan/crush technique is not necessary for domesticated elephants. I have also noticed in the last 6 months some of the ppl who once used the words ALL and EVERY are now using the word "MOST". Lots of people realise if you see ALL and EVERY its a red flag and people are calling them out on it. Not one person on this planet can use those words about training of Thai elephants, not an expert and certainly not a keyboard warrior. The misinformed are misinforming others and now this morphed information has morphed into a campaign about anti elephant tourism. Those involved in the beginning when it was about stopping the ancient cruel practice of breaking a wild elephants spirit will NEVER admit or try to clarify this because it has overtaken and helped their 2002 original campaign. The Thai wild population depends on the Thai domesticated population to keep this species from becoming extinct - destroy elephant tourism, then one is fast tracking them into extinction. Break it down and its as simple as that! Again, I state, this crush/phajaan technique is not necessary for domesticated elephants. So for those who say I need to do "research" about what really goes on with domesticated elephants in Thailand, and that Im ignorant or blinded by brainwashing and or that I choose not to see the truth; and that I should watch ALL those videos about phajaan/crush - think again and further your own research, but you will need to dig deep and sift through ALL that propaganda. I challenge you to research the timeline of how the word spread about the "training" of Thailand's domesticated elephants and show me ALL those videos of different incidences of the breaking of young elephant's spirits that makes it "evidence" that this happens to ALL or even MOST.The word 'phajaan' means divorce/separation. The true phajaan ceremony is used to give blessing and strength to the party/parties involved. Examples would be a married couple divorcing and want a ceremony to pray for strength to get through it; or a child leaving home to go and live far away will be separated from his or her's family; or an animal being separated from its mother; or a child going off to school. Phajaan does not mean 'crush' or 'training' - it's a ceremony.

Gaza zookeeper puts lion cubs up for sale on Facebook
The owner of a private zoo in the Gaza Strip has put three lion cubs up for sale, saying he can no longer afford to feed them.

Mohammad Ahmad Jumaa took to social media to advertise the animals at 3,500 Jordanian dinars ($5,000) each.

Elephant Skin Auctions in Zimbabwe Are Booming—And Legal
“If you are looking for the toughest of leathers and the sturdiest of boots, elephant is the hide for you, as nothing compares to the strength of a custom elephant cowboy boot.”

So reads the website of the Paul Bond Boot Company, one of the firms that turn the gnarly-patterned hide of Earth’s largest land animals into boots, wallets, belts, suitcases, jackets, golf bags, pool cues, furniture, car and motorcycle seats, gun holsters, and whatever else well-heeled customers may fancy. Better yet, adds Paul Bond, “the tanning options are second to none, with several different textures and color

How do you celebrate half a century with an elephant?
Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York recently honored their herd’s matriarch, Siri, as she turned 50 years old! Asian elephant herd mates Romani (41), Targa (34), Doc (20), Kirinia (22), Mali (20), and Batu (2) were all on hand to celebrate the amazing occasion. The Zoo held a highly successful series of events, including Pennies for Pachyderms, a fundraiser for elephant conservation of which the International Elephant Foundation was a recipient.

Coinciding with World Elephant Day festivities, the Asian Elephant Extravaganza included a county proclamation declaring 2017 the “Summer of Siri”! Everything from Pachyderm Parties to special docent-led tours, to a Watermelon Smash was held to bring the entire community together to celebrate two generations with Siri.

We at IEF are so thankful for and in awe of the commitment by the Rosamond Gifford Zoo team that we thought you might like to learn a little bit more about them from Director Ted Fox and President of the Friends of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo Janet Agostini:

Educate, Entertain and Inspire: A Conversation with Chuck Wikenhauser, Director of the Milwaukee County Zoo
The Milwaukee County Zoo came on the map in the early 1960s with its groundbreaking predator-prey exhibits where carnivores and hoofed animals were put in close proximity, separated by moats. Since that time, the zoo has maintained one of the largest varieties of animals in the nation and one of the highest attendance levels for the size of its metropolitan area. For the past nearly 28 years, Chuck Wikenhauser has been director of the zoo, where he came after serving in the director’s career at the Pittsburgh, John Ball and Peoria Zoos. Wikenhauser has helped the zoo modernize exhibits, develop state-of-the-art husbandry programs and become a larger player in conservation. Here is his story.

Many Captive Species Have Permanent Sanctuaries: Finally, Whales and Dolphins Will Have Theirs
Animals kept in terrestrial and water zoos—zooed animals—clearly are not living anything that resembles a normal life. They suffer from all sorts of psychological and physical disorders and have lost the freedom to make choices and to control their own lives.

This piece and interview is a nice followup to an essay I wrote about an international meeting at the Detroit Zoo. Among the topics discussed at the meeting and in my interview was turning zoos into sanctuaries that are more for the individual animals. Because I fully support this move, I was pleased when neuroscientist and cetacean expert Lori Marino, president and chairperson of the board of the Whale Sanctuary Project, agreed to do an interview about this exciting new venture.

Marc Bekoff: Why did you and others found The Whale Sanctuary Project?

Lori Marino: We founded the Whale Sanctuary Project in 2016 because it became absolutely clear that, despite the mounting evidence for poor well-being in orcas, belugas and other cetaceans at marine parks, there was no existing alternative. So it was equally apparent that the next step in efforts to phase out the keeping of these animals in tanks was to create a permanent seaside sanctuary. Permanent sanctuaries exist for captive elephants, primates, bears, and members of all sorts of other species and there is no reason why that model could not be applied to captive cetaceans.

Many people ask why w

Santa's very big helper! Grinning orangutan guzzles down milk and rides on a 'sleigh' during festive party at a Philippines zoo
The animals at Malabon Zoo in the Philippines were joined by 200 orphans and Roman Catholic nuns
The event on Thursday starred smiling orangutan Pacquiao, named after Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao
 Zoo's founder Manny Tangco, who pushed Pacquiao around in a trolley, said: 'Christmas is for animals too'

Lynx death: Borth zoo lodges appeal against wild cat ban
A zoo which had two of its lynx die within days of each other is to appeal against a ban stopping it from keeping certain dangerous animals.

Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, in Ceredigion, has lodged an appeal with Aberystwyth Justice Centre magistrates.

The ban was enforced after a Eurasian lynx was "humanely destroyed" following its escape in October and a second lynx died in a "handling error".

Ceredigion council said it was aware of the appeal.

The zoo has been closed since Lilleth, the Eurasian lynx, escaped and was killed by a marksman after the council decided she posed a risk to the community.

It had planned to reopen on 1 December but this was quashed after the zoo failed to secure a firearms licence from Dyfed-Powys Police.

The proposed ban on kee

Gaza zoo tries to sell lion cubs fearing cost of care
Palestinian zoo owner has put three lion cubs up for sale, fearing he won't be able to afford to feed them as they grow.

Mohammed Jomaa said on Friday that many people were interested in the cubs, going for $3,500 each. However, none of the offers were serious, he added, as potential buyers share the same concern.

Instead, they bring their children to pet the two-month-old cubs at the southern Gaza zoo.

Most of Gaza's 2 million residents have other priorities. Poverty, unemployment and constant power shortages, coupled with the Israeli-Egyptian blockade on the territory since 2007, have stifled the economy.

International animal welfare groups have evacuated monkeys and lions,

Six-year-olds and chimpanzees will pay to watch punishment
You’re nice. You don’t enjoy others’ suffering, except of course when they’ve done wrong and you want them punished for the transgression. Maybe you’d even pay to watch that justice meted out. That desire is apparently natural in humans and animals, and it starts pretty young.

Small children and chimpanzees are gleeful when they see just punishment for antisocial behavior, according to a study published Dec. 18 in Nature Human Behavior (paywall) by researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany. “When misfortune befalls another, humans may feel distress, leading to a motivation to escape,” the study explains. “When such misfortune is perceived as justified, h

Grand Zoo... A Kuwaiti dream project
While many would like to visit the current Zoo in Al-Omariya area, especially during the winter season, a dream for a grand facility to host animals of various kinds is still lingering in the minds of people living in Kuwait.
The Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAFR) recently proposed a KD-112-million (USD 336 million) Grand Zoo project to be opened west of Jahra Road.
Top officials at PAAFR, including Director General Faisal Al-Hasawi and Deputy Director Dr. Ali Al-Qattan, told KUNA that the project, which will attract millions of visitors, was still in its early stages.
The project will be separated into five zones, which includes parking, entry and exit gates, and open-air animals' displays, in addition to areas for services, paths, and utilities.
The project will generate job opportunities for both Kuwaitis and expatriates. The private sector might be involved in the process of building the Zoo.
The project had been planned since the 1970s and 80s; however, it was put on halt due to the Iraqi invasion.
The project came back

Entire Nubian ibex herd euthanized at LA Zoo due to deadly herpes virus
The Los Angeles Zoo euthanized its entire Nubian ibex herd after it was found to be the source of a deadly strain of the herpes virus, which posed harm to other hoofed animals on the grounds.

Zoo officials said in October, six African antelope became ill and suddenly died. During the investigation, a strain of malignant catarrhal fever, or MCF, was found in the Nubian ibex at the zoo. The disease develops from the herpes virus and can cause death in other even-toed hoofed animals.

MCF cannot be transferred to humans, zoo staff noted, but in order to protect the other hoofed animals at the zoo, the Ibex were euthanized in November. There is no cure for MCF.

"The Nubian ibex could not be sent to any other facility housing hoofed animals, as those animals could contract the disease and die. It would have been irresponsible of the Zoo to send

Rescued Chimpanzees Face an Uncertain Future in Nepal

LATEST ZOOQUARIA: Issue 99, Winter 2017

Shutterstock bans images that feature monkeys, apes in unnatural settings
Shutterstock has decided to ban from their repository all images that feature monkeys and apes dressed or photographed in unnatural setting.

The decision came after animal rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) made an appeal to them and said that images of animals in unnatural settings can harm conservation efforts and reinforce illegal wildlife trade.

Shutterstock has removed and banned photographs and videos of monkey and ape species from their collection as well as from their subsidiary, Bigstock.

As many of us are aware, African mammals are under threat from poachers. Illegal hunters go after endangered elephants, rhinos, leopards, and other animals for their tusks, horns, and hides. With decades of slaughter in the Kenya and South Africa, it’s hard to visualize how many lives have been lost.

But a new report from the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) indicates the problem may be worse than previously thought, particularly when it comes to the rhinoceros. According to the report, rhino poaching increased by more than 9,000 percent between 2007 and 2014, increasing from 13 animals per year to 1,215 per year. The report, “Poaching Deaths: Visualized," illustrates the staggering numbers.

How can ‘canned’ possibly be a major threat to conservation on the basis advanced by Flack; namely, the absence of fair chase – where in theory, the hunter’s quarry has a (limited) chance to evade its own unnatural death? What on earth does fair chase have to do with conservation?

Whether a target is fairly chased or not, it still bleeds and dies and is removed from the environment.  On the contrary, there is an argument that the canned hunting of captive bred lions causes less damage to lion conservation in one respect than hunting wild lions, with all the damage the latter causes to pride dynamics.

No, the real objection that Flack has to canned hunting is that it is a reputational threat to the existence, ‘good reputation’(sic) and profitability of the whole hunting industry. He fears that the increasing public disgust ‘canned’ is causing is pulling down the whole trophy hunting in

Conservation Physiology of Tigers in Zoos: Integrating Stress Physiology and Behaviour to Monitor Their Health and Welfare
Big cats in zoos can face challenges associated with captive environments such as inadequate biological adaptation, increased occurrence abnormal behaviour and health-related problems. Conservation physiology is an emerging theme and a dynamic field of research, which aims to reduce these challenges of big cats captive management programmes through new scientific research integrating physiology and behaviour. This field of research applies cutting-edge physiological tools (e.g. non-invasive reproductive and stress hormone monitoring) in combination with traditional methods of behaviour and veterinary health assessments to provide a holistic account of how big cats respond to the captive environment. This book chapter discusses the applications of conservation physiology tools in the captive management of tigers in zoos. Our goal is to bolster tiger captive management in zoos by studying their stress physiology. Overall, the application of conservation physiology tools into captive management programmes for tigers and other big cat species can provide valuable information for evaluating and managing stress, thus improving tiger welfare.

Tayto Park zoo wants statistics on deaths withheld
Tayto Park has sought to prevent the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht releasing details of animal deaths at its zoo, claiming that the information would damage its business and result in negative publicity.

The department, which is the licensing authority for Irish zoos, has published information relating to animal mortality rates at Dublin Zoo and Fota Wildlife Park, which revealed that a total of 227 animals died at the two facilities in 2015.

However, Tayto Park has taken steps to prevent the release of the corresponding data in respect of its own animal collection. It wrote to the department in September to outline its objections to the publication of the statistics.

The objections were based on the contention that the release of the information would result in negative publicity for the the

ZOO OBJECTS Tayto Park seeks to prevent releasing details of animal deaths at its zoo – claiming that the information would damage business

Zoos are good for animals
According to, 59 percent of respondents are against zoos. It seems that people consider zoos to be inhumane for animals; however, I believe that this belief is misguided.

Common misconceptions of animals in zoos are that they are unhappy and being held against their will, or that they are being treated poorly. Although not every zoo in the world lives up to the highest standards of care, there are some public zoos, such as the Minnesota Zoo, which do take great care of their animals. In fact, most of today’s modern zoos enable the animals to full habitats with more than enough space for them to roam freely and be happy.

As Satch Krantz, director of Riverbank Zoo and Garden stated, “You’ve got to make sure you have animals that are not just physically healthy, but mentally healthy, moving around during the day and doing things in a natural way.”

The Foundation for Biomedical Research r

South China zoo allegedly trains dolphin
A South China zoo is being investigated by fishery authorities for allegedly training an endangered dolphin for a commercial performance.

An Indo-Pacific humpbacked dolphin performed for visitors to the Nanning Zoo in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on Saturday, according to a video sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

It was shot by Hu Chunmei, secretary of the Endangered Species Fund of the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation.

In a clip Hu showed to the Global Times, the China Class A protected animal shoots a ball at a basket and performs other tricks to receive fish from a trainer. Loud applause and cheers greet the performance.

An investigation will be conducted, Mo

Malaysia's last female Sumatran rhino has cancer.. and the prognosis isn't good
Sabah’s last surviving female Sumatran rhinoceros, Iman, has finally emerged from her mud wallow at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Lahad Datu, and is now receiving treatment.

Iman had been diagnosed with a tumour in her uterus last week. Since then, she had been camped out in her wallow, hampering any chances of her caregivers to extend medical aid.

Dogs (and Monkeys) Behaving Badly
It’s an unfortunate situation in which to find yourself when your favourite domestic animal likes to harass and kill your study species. That, however, is the scenario we have to deal with regularly in Bouhachem where domestic dogs owned by villagers harass and sometimes kill the Endangered Barbary macaque. Apart from worrying how this might be affecting macaque mortality, there is the tendency to want to “do something”, but anything we do has to be done carefully as the Barbary macaques are as scared of people as they are of dogs. In the example of the wounded female in the article, we saw off the attacking dogs and stayed around to ensure the female was unmolested as she made her slow, painful progress from the ground up into the tree. As soon as she was safe in the tree, we left because her nearby family members were too frightened of us to return to her side. You can download the artic

Crocodile lizard and snail-eating turtle among 115 new species discovered in the Greater Mekong
A brightly coloured crocodile lizard, a thriving mole population and a mountain-dwelling bat are among an astonishing 115 new species of flora and fauna discovered in Asia in 2016.

A report by wildlife charity WWF has revealed three previously unknown mammals, 11 amphibians, two fish, 11 reptiles and 88 new plants were found by researchers and scientists in the Greater Mekong region.

The large river basin stretches across parts of Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam and is already recognised as one of the world’s richest areas for biodiversity.

The new finds also include a new vibrantly coloured frog, a striped loach, a snake and a bent-toed

Tools to "inflict pain on wild or exotic animals" banned by Pittsburgh City Council. Zoo and Shriners Circus warn of impact
Pittsburgh City Council has approved a ban on the use of tools "capable of inflicting pain, intimidating or threatening pain" on wild or exotic animals. The legislation sponsored by Council President Bruce Kraus does not single out the Pittsburgh Zoo or the Shriners Circus but both opposed the bill and their representatives testified against it during more than an hour of public comment in a packed council chamber before the 6-to-3 vote of approval. Opponents maintain the new rules will jeopardize the safety of Pittsburgh Zoo staff and force an end to the charity-fundraising Shriners Circus event in Pittsburgh.

Some people in circus clown costumes carried signs opposing the bill. One Shriner wearing a fez shouted at council members as he left the meeting.

Your Mind is the Animals Problem
Day by day I’m trying to live and focus on the moment I’m in right at this point. It’s not easy I mean I’m always looking forward to events that will happen in the future. For example, I will have Christmas with my family and I’m looking forward to it at the same time I’m training dolphins what I should enjoy in the moment. If I’m too busy with what is going to happen in the future I forget what is going on in the moment. These days I’m doing more and more endurance sports, I’m reading a book that helps me going forward in this sport. The funny part is that when you do endurance sports that many endurance athletes will say that a lot is depending on what you are thinking. Especially when you want to perform or go for a long run.

I read a blog the other day about animals being always in the moment. What means that they wouldn’t look into the future planning choices for later events. It’s an interesting thought especially now we humans plan many things ahead of us all the time. Could animals do the same? Planning events to happen? While working out for my 2

Leading with Heart: A Conversation with Jackie Ogden, Retired Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
 Since it opened Disney’s Animal Kingdom in 1998, the Walt Disney Company has been a global leader in animal science and conservation. From 2007 until early 2017, the company’s Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts was Dr. Jackie Ogden. Until her recent retirement, she steered Disney’s Parks and Resorts team to provide top notch animal welfare, save species from extinction around the world and nurture the conservation leaders of tomorrow. Ogden is regarded as a compassionate leader in the zoo profession, served as Chair of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and mentored several important zoo professionals. Here is her story.

A Great City Has a Great Zoo: A Conversation with Phil Frost, Director of the Baton Rouge Zoo
Having served as a director since 1981, Phil Frost is one of the longest serving directors in the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Since 1998, he has served as director of BREC’s Baton Rouge Zoo. Currently, the Zoo is exploring a possible relocation. The goal is to find a more centrally located piece of land to main interstates and roadways, thereby opening it up to more tourist & local visitation, additional corporate support – all in an effort to become a world-class facility. As director, Frost is the zoo’s biggest champion to the possible move and wants to give new life to the zoo he’s devoted nearly 20 years to. Here is his story.

The Top Ten Ocean Stories of 2017
his year, the depths of the world’s oceans revealed a host of watery secrets, from octopuses that live in teeming underwater cities to the discovery of a massive new sunfish. Here at the Smithsonian, we highlighted key stories of ocean conservation successes at our first-ever Smithsonian Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, D.C. Hopeful stories continued to make news headlines: This year, sea turtle numbers are on the rise and two new marine protected areas were established—one off the coast of Easter Island and one in the Pacific Ocean off the Mexican coast.

At the same time, the seas also proved the source of tragedy and concern, from record-breaking storms to the decline of whales and porpoises to the continued reign of ocean plastic. As we do every year, the National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Portal team sifted through the deluge to bring you the top ocean news of the year, both good and bad. We hope at least one of these stories will leave you with a sense of optimism for the year to come.

Oldest Polar Bear in Captivity in U.S. Turns 37
The oldest polar bear in captivity in the U.S. celebrated her 37th birthday this week.

The polar bear's name is Coldilocks, and she lives at the Philadelphia Zoo where she's been since 1981. The zoo celebrated her big day with the birthday song and a cake only a polar bear cold love, made of peanut butter, honey, raisins, and fish.

Zoo officials say most polar bears only live for 23 years in captivity. They credit Coldilocks' long life to the care she receives from the zoo's veterinary staff and her keepers.

Multi-male groups positively linked to infant survival and growth in a cooperatively breeding primate
Cooperative breeding is a system where helper individuals care for breeding individuals’ offspring. As a result, social environment is likely to play a key role in regulating reproductive success. In primates, cooperative breeding is only found in the family Callitrichidae. Callitrichid males typically provide more infant care than non-breeding females, and in many callitrichid species, the presence of multiple males has been linked to infant survival. Leontopithecus chrysomelas (the golden-headed lion tamarin) is an endangered callitrichid found in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil. We used long-term data for wild L. chrysomelas to assess the influence of social group composition on reproductive success. Our survival model found that infant survival was negatively associated with group size, but this cost was mitigated by the presence of multiple adult males vs a single adult male. We also found that infants raised in groups with multiple adult males exhibited faster growth rates and higher adult weights than infants raised with a single adult male. This study adds novel evidence for the positive influence of adult males on callitrichid reproduction, demonstrating that adult males influence infant growth, as well as survival, in wild populations of cooperatively breeding primates. We suggest that social group composition, particularly the presence of adult males, be considered in future conservation strategies given its importance for reproductive success.

House of Commons Hansard Animal Welfare
I beg to move,
That this House has considered the Government policy on animal welfare.

It is a pleasure to speak under your chairmanship, Mr Robertson. It is often said that we are a nation of animal lovers and in many respects we are a world leader in animal welfare. That is something we can be proud of.

In the months since the general election we have seen a blizzard of activity from the Government that will build on that proud record. They have committed to putting CCTV into all abattoirs to prevent abuse; they have committed to increasing the maximum sentence for animal cruelty from six months to five years; they have committed to closing down the ivory trade in the UK, to remove loopholes allowing new ivory to be sold as if it is old ivory; they are banning neonicotinoids, pesticides that are wiping out bees and many other pollinators; they are bringing in measures to tackle plastic waste that is clogging up our oceans, as we have all seen on the extraordinary “Blue Planet” series; and they are banning microbeads, those tiny particles of plastic that are causing mayhem to marine life.

On a bigger scale, we have seen over the past few years the creation of a network of giant marine protected areas. Our 14 overseas territories represent the fifth-largest marine estate in the world and include some of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the world. This Government have committed nearly 4 million square kilometres

Governments unite to conserve the world’s heaviest flying animal
Asian range countries of the world’s heaviest flying bird, the great bustard, will coordinate the conservation of highly threatened populations of the species after a unanimous show of support at the Conference of Parties to the Convention on Migratory Species.

Weighing up to 46 pounds, the great bustard (Otis tarda) is the heaviest animal capable of flight. This iconic species is at risk of disappearing from the historic heart of its range: the Central Eurasian steppe. While global populations of great bustard are considered Vulnerable to extinction by IUCN, populations in Asia are at much higher risk, with likely less than 2,000 individuals remaining across a vast region. A proposal to improve cooperation to conserve the remaining populations was approved at the recent Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), an agreement with 125 signatory countries.

The Proposal for a Concerted Action for the Asian Great Bustard was developed and promoted by the Eurasian Bustard Alliance and Wildlife Science and Conservation Center of Mongolia after our research revealed the highly migratory behavior of the great bustard in Asia. International cooperation will be key to conservation of these populations of great bustard, which experience threats including poaching, poisoning, and collisions with power lines along their migratory journey.

A Concerted Action consists of a three-year period of increased communication and cooperation between range states, with the goal of improving the status of the species. The Concerted Action on the Great Bustard in Asia was proposed to parties of the Convention on Migratory Species for consideration by the Government of Mongolia, which had previo

 Les Zoos dans le Monde

Pittsburgh Zoo, Other Groups Demanding Changes To Controversial City Council Bill
The Pittsburgh City Council is expected to take up an issue on Tuesday that could affect what tools people who work with animals can use, and it could change the way the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium operates.
“We work really hard on trying to set up conservation programs and breeding programs, and we won’t be able to do those things if you effectively take away all those tools that we use,” said Henry Kacprzyk, the curator of reptiles at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

The bill, proposed by City Council President Bruce Kraus, is a revision of an earlier proposal that would have banned live animal acts from the city.

The revised version will allow the acts, but ban tools like electric prods, whips, or bull hooks.

“This revised portion takes the tools away we need to properly handle the animals, so essentially we can’t bring the animals,” said Paul Leavy, of the Shrine Circus.

Both the zoo and the Shriners say the wording of the bill gives the wrong impression – that many of the so-called “tools” outlined are outdated and no longer considered appropriate.

“Things that are in this bill, such as hacksaws, pitchforks, baseball bats, they’re not used. We would never condone any kind of abuse on our animals,” said Leavy.

“We don’t use force to get compliance fr

Panda-feeding is not all about playing with cute bears, it has life risks
Panda feeder Wei Hua is still recovering one year after a ferocious panda attack.

He was on a mission to train artificially bred pandas to adapt to the wilderness when, in late 2016, he was mauled by the very target of his benevolence.

Long, visible scars now cover his head, legs and arms. His left little finger has also lost the ability of movement, and he has to practice walking every day. Still, he longs to return to work and back to his beloved pandas.

Wei graduated with a postgraduate degree in wildlife protection in 2007 from a university in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Very soon he became head of the panda department at a Guilin city zoo.

However, a visit to the panda research base in Ya'an, Sichuan Province, changed his life. He quit his zoo job in Guilin in 2013 and immediately moved to Ya'an, where he worked a menial job clearing panda dung.

In order to rehabilitate China's wild panda population, the panda research center in Ya'an holds a program to train and release captive pandas back into the wilderness.

After being trained, female pandas are left in an enclosed section of forest to breed and raise their cubs, which will eventually be released back into the wilderness when they grow up.

Wei applied many times to participate in the rehabilitation program and was finally included in 2015. The program's staff must wear special "panda suits" sprayed with panda urine, which reduces the scent of humans in the panda's world.

One day in December of 2016, Wei was checking

 Celebrating Plants and the Planet:                

Theophrastus, Aristotle’s student, began the Western study of plants about 2,300 years ago. So it is especially wondrous that we are still discovering so much. December’s news at (NEWS/Botanical News) highlights just a very few of these wonders:

·         Travelers to southeast Asia and foodies worldwide know of the durian’s legendary smell. Fans love the fruit in spite of it. What are the evolutionary benefits of such a robust stench? Ask an elephant.
·         The benefits of ants to trees are well studied. But apparently there is more to discover. The trees even benefit from their guests’ feces.
·         An asteroid killed the dinosaurs. Except when something else did them in.Take simple algae, for example...
·         The raging fires in California’s wine country are a devastating human tragedy. Yet even the vineyards that did not burn may be changed forever. The vines do not forget the fires they have survived.
·         Field biologists studying foraging parrots through binoculars concluded that the birds are seed predators. Only when the researchers heedlessly ventured into the bush did they discover the real relationship between parrots and their food sources. A case for foolishness in research.

When the rhinos are all gone it may not affect our daily lives. When the orangutans disappear, it might not change our day. But when the insects disappear... approaching "game over."

170-year-old mystery solved: Why deer have deformed blood cells just like some people
Deer and sickle cell anemia sufferers have something in common: Their red blood cells contort into abnormal shapes. Now, researchers have pinpointed the molecular change in deer’s blood cells that causes this distortion. The discovery solves a mystery that has puzzled researchers since the 1840s, and it may help scientists nail down how misshapen blood cells defend some people from malaria.

Working out the molecular basis for sickling in deer is “a great step,” says pediatric hematologist Vijay Sankaran of Harvard Medical School in Boston, who isn’t connected to the research.

People with sickle cell anemia carry a mutation that tweaks the structure of hemoglobin, the molecule that ferries oxygen through our blood. This DNA glitch makes β-globin—one of the two types of proteins that make up hemoglobinstickier, causing the hemoglobin molecules to adhere and form stiff fibers. In turn, the fibers warp th

It's Really Hard to Know When a Zoo Animal Is Pregnant
Sex at the zoo is a highly managed affair.
 When zookeepers do not want a species to reproduce, birth control is in order. “Chimps take human birth-control pills, giraffes are served hormones in their feed, and grizzly bears have slow-releasing hormones implanted in their forelegs,” writes The New York Times. When zookeepers do want a species to reproduce—especially an endangered or threatened one—the couplings must be carefully arranged. An animal might travel 1,500 miles to meet a partner.

But after all this meticulous planning, zookeepers can hit a wall of uncertainty: It’s sometimes quite hard to know whether a female is pregnant. In the case of pandas, their keepers might not be entirely certain until the baby pops out.

There are animals where it’s easier, sure. Great apes, for example, are related enough to humans that regular old pregnancy tests can work. The problem is getting individual apes to pee on a stick. To get around this, the St. Louis Zoo built special gutters where the great apes slept, which would route the urine outside. In the morning, someone would go out to collect the urine. “But the female has to be alone to do that,” says Cheryl Asa, a former director of reproductive research at the zoo. The system worked well for great-ap

Legalising rhino horn trade: don’t charge in blind
Between 2008 and 2016, poachers killed more than 7100 rhinos in Africa. South Africa, which has nearly 80% of Africa’s rhinos, was the worst affected country, with more than 1000 rhinos killed each year over the last four years.

In 2015 and 2016, the total number of rhinos poached represented almost 6% of South Africa’s rhinos (if white and black rhinos are added up together), which is similar to the estimated population growth rate. This suggests that the situation is close to a tipping point where rhino deaths exceed births.

Statistics for 2017 haven’t been tallied, but the numbers are likely to be high again. Before 2008, South Africa was losing fewer than 25 rhinos to poaching per year. There is no consensus about the reasons for the increase in poaching.

Rhinos are killed for their horns, which fetch high prices on the black market. There are suggestions from 2012 that end user prices were as high as USD$65000/kg. Most poached rhino horns are smuggled to Asia, where their uses range from traditional or modern medicine to making ornaments. It’s also speculated that criminal syndicates store some in stockpiles in the belief that prices will increase in future.

In an attempt to stop the poaching, South Africa has developed a multi-sectoral approach that includes state and private entities and combines law enforcement with interventions like translocations. The poaching rate appears to have levelled, but this strategy hasn’t reduced killings to sustainable levels – or prevented the involvement of organised crime in rhino poaching.

Since limiting the supply of horn to the market has not succeeded, another strategy is to consider the opposite: increasing the supply by legali

‘Finding Nemo’ responsibly
The Maui Ocean Center hopes to have 20 percent of all its marine life on display acquired from aquaculture facilities — rather than the wild — by 2020, the center’s curator said last week.

“We believe this is the future,” John Gorman said during a Maui Nui Marine Resource Council meeting Thursday at the Pacific Whale Foundation office at the Ma’alaea Harbor Shops. “We’re talking with (institutions) to get this geared up so they’re more predominant and the industry standard rather than wild capture.”

The initiative coincides with a state Supreme Court ruling in September. It determined that the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ practice of doling out permits for commercial aquarium fish collection must comply with the Hawaii Environmental Policy Act.

The following month, a Circuit Court judge ruled that existing commercial permits for use of fine mesh nets to catch aquatic life for aquarium purposes are illegal and invalid. The judge ordered the DLNR not to issue any new permits pending environmental review.

Existing recreational permits, however, are still valid.

The department has maintained that existing aquarium fishing practices are “sustainable and environmentally sound,” according to its website. The DLNR also commented that it “appreciates that dozens of local businesses and families depend on the industry for their livelihoods.”

About 98 percent of fish in aquariums worldwide are caught in the wild, according to For the Fishes, a Hawaii nonprofit dedicated to prot

Santa Barbara Zoo prepares to evacuate over Thomas Fire
The Santa Barbara Zoo prepared to evacuate animals on Saturday after raging wildfires in Southern California put the zoo in a voluntary evacuation zone.

Zookeepers rushed to place animals in carriers in case the city issued a mandatory evacuation for the area, which is threatened by the Thomas Fire that is now sweeping through Santa Barbara County.

Released Jeju dolphins leave no trace after summer
The whereabouts of two released dolphins are still unknown, casting doubt whether it was appropriate to free them after some 20 years of captivation.

Two Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins were released in to the wildness at waters off Jeju Island last July. The two dolphins, caught in the late 1990s by fishing nets, were sent to a zoo in Seoul, to perform dolphin shows.

 Zoo starts crowdfunding campaign to protect endangered bird
A Toyama zoo has launched a crowdfunding campaign to collect funds to protect an endangered Japanese bird designated as one the nation's special natural treasures.

To supplement funding from the state and local governments as well as a private fund, the three-month campaign started on Dec 1 with an aim of raising 10 million yen ($88,780) to breed rock ptarmigans, called raicho (thunder bird) in Japanese, according to the Toyama Municipal Family Park Zoo.

As of Saturday, 1.65 million yen had been collected. Contributions from 3,000 yen can be made and donors will be rewarded with gifts such as pins of the bird, pictures, name plates and tours to see the species on Mt Tateyama in Toyama.

"We want to solicit wishes to save rock ptarmigans. It will be great if we get support from across Japan and abroad," said Yuji Ishihara, curator of t

Advocates push orca breeding law as SeaWorld’s policy appears murky
The announcement was rolled out to the world as a pledge. A promise.

In March 2016 SeaWorld declared it would end killer whale breeding, making the orcas in its care in the United States and abroad its last generation to live in captivity.

Later that year, California passed a law solidifying that change, banning breeding, performing and introduction of any new orcas into captivity in the state. Now advocates in Florida, home of SeaWorld’s global headquarters, are pushing for the same legal protection, fearful that "corporate policy can always change," said Animal Legal Defense Fund attorney Lindsay Larris.

Rep. Ben Diamond, D-St. Petersburg, drafted the Florida Orca Protection Act ahead of the 2018 Legislative session but said he is still debating whether it will be one of the six bills he is limited to filing.

With SeaWorld in rebuild mode after years of decline and plummeting attendance, Larris said there’s an urgency to protect orcas in Florida amid the unpredictably of a struggling, publicly held company.

But in a recent transaction that occurred across the Atlantic, done with no public announcement or fanfare, it appears SeaWorld has already acted against its own policy, the Tampa Bay Times has found.

On the Spanish island of Tenerife, SeaWorld last month surrendered six killer whales that had been on loan to Loro Parque after the zoo’s president, Wolfgang Kiessling, publicly


Pro-Environmental Behaviors: A Conversation with Jeff Ettling, Director of the Sedgwick County Zoo
 At 247 acres in Wichita, Kansas, the Sedgwick County Zoo is one of the biggest and best zoos in the nation. Much of this growth was due to Mark Reed, the zoo’s director from 1991 to 2016. This growth reached a pinnacle when Elephants of the Zambezi Valley opened, a state-of-the-art home for six African elephants recreating the Zambezi Valley. Jeff Ettling, the zoo’s new director, has pointed to Elephants of the Zambezi Valley as the standard for where the zoo should go in the future. He also wants to drastically expand the zoo’s field conservation work. Here is his story.

Plan to move Dusit Zoo to Pathum Thani taking shape
The AGENCIES in charge of Dusit Zoo in Bangkok yesterday confirmed that there is a plan to move the zoo to another site in Pathum Thani province, but refused to divulge details or make any comments.

His Majesty King Maha Vajiralongkorn on Thursday granted the deed for 300-rai plot in the Klong Hok area of Pathum Thani’s Thanya Buri district, to be used for the new zoo and the new head office of the Zoological Organisation of Thailand.  Natural Resources and Environment Minister General Surasak Karnjanarat received the deed from HM the King during an audience granted to Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha and senior government officials at the Amporn Sathan Hall inside Dusit Pal

Dusit Zoo quashes closure rumours
Dusit Zoo has quashed rumours it has immediate plans to close amid claims it will relocate to Pathum Thani. Rumours that the zoo was about to close in preparation to move the new location were false,...

Room heaters to keep city zoo animals warm in winter
With mercury levels coming down in the city, 1,500-odd inmates of the Nehru Zoological Park are taking advantage of the cosy conditions inside their tiny enclosure created by the authorities to keep them warm this winter.

The officials have not left single stone unturned to help the animals to brave the chill without much discomfort. They have installed room heaters in the enclosures, straw seats and covered the enclosures and cages with sheets of gunny bag.

“We are keeping animals warm and healthy by providing the artificial temperature in their cages,” said Nehru Zoological Park assistant director (veterinary) M.A. Hakeem.

Special care is being taken for cat family, including lions, tigers, and leopards. Their cages are covered and are under the supervision of veterinarians. Apart from providing warm atmosphere, their di

Bumper season for kiwi egg collection
A bumper harvest of kiwi eggs has marked the first half of this year’s kiwi conservation work in the Maungataniwha Native Forest in inland Hawke’s Bay. Conservationists working for the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust have lifted 32 eggs so far, compared to 46 for the entire season last year, and are reporting viability rates of 80 percent as opposed to the normal rate of around 65 percent.

Trust staffer Barry Crene said four of the Trust’s monitored kiwi had abandoned their nests this year, possibly due a very wet Spring. He had received reports of similar behaviour from other kiwi conservation projects across the North Island.

Crene said the Forest Lifeforce Restoration Trust would start lifting eggs from the second clutch before Christmas.

Animals killed in barn fire at Little Ponderosa Zoo
Several animals were killed in a barn fire at the Little Ponderosa Zoo in Clinton on Monday.

The fire started in the back of the main barn, which houses about 200 animals, including birds, reptiles, primates, dogs and even camels during the Christmas season.

The fire was reported at 12:13 p.m., according to Anderson County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Mark Lucas. All five county volunteer fire departments responded and were able to confine the damage to one barn.

Since 2015, Yorkshire Wildlife Park has had an on-going MoU and partnership with Hanoi Zoo, Vietnam to support improvements in animal management and care.  Wild Welfare helped introduce the two zoos and have provided peripheral support to both parties, however, Animals Asia Foundation have taken on the bulk of the on-going negotiations, translation and expert (veterinary and keeping) support through their in-country staff. This collaborative approach by a number of different organisations is a great example of how sharing expertise, resources and advice can help make a difference and support the changes that the zoo is hoping to make that can significantly make a difference to the animal’s lives within the zoo.  Earlier this year, Yorkshire appointed a dedicated member of staff to work with the zoo. Colin Northcott is the Deputy Carnivore Team Leader at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, and in November visited Hanoi zoo for the second time this year to oversee some of the on-going activities happening there.

Ventura Wildlife Park has been thrown a lifeline by the council
Ventura Wildlife Park has been given the opportunity to make its case in a new planning application to East Herts District Council (EHDC).

A petition was launched earlier this month when it was revealed that Ventura was facing enforcement action due to a lack of planning permission.

After collecting more than 3,000 signatures online, officers from EHDC met with Ventura’s director, Ashley Palmier.

It is understood that Ventura has been asked to resubmit a detailed planning application, outlining the “special circumstances” needed to justify its location o

Dubai Safari set to open 'in a few weeks'
Dubai Safari, home to the most diverse array of animals in the UAE, is set to open "in a few weeks" as finishing touches continue to be added to the city's latest tourist attraction.

Dubai Safari’s sprawling 119-hectare animal kingdom, which initially had planned to open on National Day, is now likely to open early next year.

Last month, safari chief Tim Husband told Arabian Business that the park was 90 percent completed.

Dispelling the myths of Jumbo: How 'world's biggest' elephant who inspired Dumbo suffered from violent night time rages and wasting bones
He was revered as the world's biggest elephant, thought to have inspired the creation of Disney classic Dumbo and even attracting the attention of royalty.

Jumbo the giant elephant attracted millions of visitors from across the globe to his home at London Zoo, and gave countless rides to his adoring fans - including Queen Victoria 's children.

His name also led to the word Jumbo being popularised, as a reference to something large, and for decades he was believed to be the biggest elephant to have existed.

As much as he was an attraction in life, Jumbo was also remembered in death as a hero. He was cut down in his prime at just 24, apparently dying after rushing head first into a train - an act of great sacrifice to save his keeper and a smaller elephant companion, Tom Thumb.

However behind his 'celebrity' status, was an elephant that suffered from violent night time rages, intense toothache and bone problems - possibly caused by the very public who adored him as they rode on his back and fed him sticky buns as a

Maryland Zoo welcomes 991st penguin chick

Rectal surgery brings big relief to aquarium shark
An aquarium in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region said it's been keeping a close eye on a 200-kilogram shark that just had successful surgery in a sensitive spot.

The resident nurse shark at Underwater World in the provincial capital of Nanning had apparently pushed too hard to pass an undigested fish in September, resulting in a prolapsed anus, park employees said.

Local veterinarians were finally called in on Thursday morning for the tricky procedure on the 3-meter shark they had to perform while keeping it submerged.

"The most difficult part about the surgery was doing it underwater," said Wei Jinni, an employee at the park.

Two vets and six technicians worked in w

Male monkeys with masculine faces draw long lingering glances
Female monkeys spend more time staring at males with strong masculine facial features. But it’s not clear why their gaze lingers like this.

Face structure often varies between male and female members of a species. In humans, men tend to have heavier brows, squarer jaws, deeper-set eyes and thinner lips than women.

Some researchers believe that facial masculinity signals mate quality, but this is hotly contested. To find out, Kevin Rosenfield, who was at Roehampton University in the UK when the study was performed, and his colleagues examined facial preference in monkeys.

They studied 107 free-ranging female rhesus macaques on the island of Cayo Santiago in Puerto Rico. Each female was simultaneously shown two photos of male faces, one of which was more masculine than the other. Masculine features included bigger jaws, longer noses, and smaller eyes.

When the two faces had

CITES again ignores Great Apes
The 69th meeting of the CITES Standing Committee just wrapped up and again nothing was done to address the lax trade regulations that currently allow live great apes to be illegally traded for the exotic pet and commercial zoo industries.

In fact, the CITES Secretariat itself ignored an instruction addressed to it in CITES Resolution Conf. 13.4 ‘Great Apes’, which states in part, “2. DIRECTS the Secretariat to: (d) report to the Standing Committee on the implementation of this Resolution at each of its regular meetings.”

The Secretariat did not prepare a report on Great Apes for this meeting, the only species ignored in this way. If the CITES Secretariat does not follow its own resolutions how can we expect governments to do so?

Exclusive: Instagram Fights Animal Abuse With New Alert System
Instagram is rife with photos of cute wild animals—including the exotic and endangered. A picture of someone hugging a sloth or showing off a pet tiger cub is just a click away on the massively popular photo-sharing platform, which serves 800 million users.

But starting today, searches for a wide range of wildlife hashtags will trigger a notification informing people of the behind-the-scenes animal abuse that makes some seemingly innocent wildlife photos possible.

Instagram will now deliver a pop-up message whenever someone searches or clicks on a hashtag like “#slothselfie.” The message reads, in part, “You are searching for a hashtag that may be associated with posts that encourage harmful behavior to animals or the environment.”

People can then click through to a page Instagram set up in its Help Center to provide a lot more information on wildlife exploitation. Instagram will use the same process for

A giant step backward on the treatment of orcas in captivity
It was my great hope that SeaWorld’s March 2016 decision to end its orca breeding and theatrical performance shows would be a catalyst prompting all other marine theme parks to get on board and move to the next, better chapter in our relationship with cetaceans. We imagined that the company’s commitment would close the chapter on the days of capturing or breeding them for public display and behavioral stunts. Once that chapter finally closed, future generations would look back with befuddlement that for so long human beings kept some of the most intelligent and awe-inspiring creatures on the planet in small pools, never intending to let them swim free again.

Media reports have now come to light about a situation that threatens to prolong the era of captive display of orcas. Loro Parque Zoo, based on the island of Tenerife in Spain, took custody of a rescued femal

Gorillas can develop food cleaning behavior spontaneously
Researchers from the University of Birmingham, University of Tubingen and University of St. Andrews have suggested that gorillas are capable of learning food cleaning behaviours without having to witness it in others first.

Though the authors acknowledge that general purpose social learning between individuals can help to increase the behaviour in frequency, their study of captive gorillas -- who haven't crossed paths with those who are already known to show the behaviour -- shows that food cleaning can be reinnovated spontaneously.

Their findings, published in PLoS ONE, challenge the interpretation of recently published data that suggested that wild gorillas acquire food cleaning primarily by learning from others.

A captive population of western lowland gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) at the Wolfgang Kohler Primate Research Centre in Leipzig Zoo, Germany, was provided with clean and dirty apples by the research team.

When the gorillas were provided with dirty apples, coated with sand, all subjects showed evid

Sumatran tigers fall 17 per cent and have just two strongholds
Sumatran tigers are running out of places to live. Their population fell by 16.6 per cent between 2000 and 2012, and the remaining tigers are trapped in shrinking forests.

“We’re really at a tipping point in terms of how much habitat is left that tigers need for their long-term survival,” says Matthew Luskin at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

The Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) is a subspecies of tiger, only found on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is critically endangered, due to poaching, the expanding oil palm industry and rampant deforestation.

Luskin and his colleagues spent a year tracking tigers through Sumatran forests, using cameras to track each individual animal. They combined their data with other scientists’ results, allowing them to accurately estimate how many Sumatran tigers are left.

Perth Zoo born numbats to be released into wild with radio collars
PERTH Fashion Festival came late for ten numbats who were fitted with radio collars on Saturday – the must-have marsupial accessory of 2017 – ahead of their release at Mt. Gibson Sanctuary this week.

A total of 19 Perth Zoo born numbats will be set free in the wild as part of a breeding program that aims to bolster numbers of the critically-endangered critters.

A Conversation with Beth Rich, Deputy Director of Animal Care and Health at the Milwaukee County Zoo
  In the upcoming years, the Milwaukee County Zoo will be going through its largest renovation in decades with several modern exhibits opening. In 2019, the zoo will open Adventure Africa, featuring a state-of-the-art habitat for African elephants. After that, black rhinos, river hippos, polar and grizzly bears, seals and sea lions, orangutans and many others will be getting new digs as well. A huge player in this modernization is Beth Rich, Deputy Director of Animal Care and Health at the Milwaukee County Zoo. Here is her story.

The Jackpot Myth
In this materialistic world, many of us are addicted to money because now we can buy stuff. Money can buy it all and some of us would even argue that money can even buy happiness. We go to a casino or buy lottery tickets to hope for the jackpot. Of course, it’s great when you win the jackpot we all can agree to that but then what? I want to point out the following… did you ever heard of those people who win the jackpot and how quickly they lose their friends or family and in some cases, they change completely as a person? They don’t really know what to do with all this money and lose everything in the first 6 months, is this because they think they can rule the world with money? I don’t know. Anyway, the point is do you need the jackpot to be happy? Do we think that with money you can buy happiness? To be honest I think less is better. You probably have seen some photos passing by camping in the forest of Sweden, its one of the best things in the world I think, you don’t need a lot to be happy to be honest. I think we set a very high standard for our expectation to the world.

But what does the jackpot mean for the animal?

Within animal training we describe the jackpot as the moment when we reinforce with a big feeding right after you want to stop the session because you reached a very good approximation in your training. We are all doing it. But is the jackpot so effective as we talk about? Yes, I do think it’s very effective. So Peter why do you call this blog the jackpot myth the

Loro Parque Statement
Loro Parque confirms that Morgan (one of the orca females housed in our facilities after being found almost dead and rescued in 2010 in the Wadden Sea) is pregnant. Pregnancies are a very frequent phenomenon in a modern zoological institution which takes care of tenths of thousands of animals from over 500 species. Commonly the gestational status of the animals is not communicated to the public, but in this case we have taken into consideration the exceptional public interest for Morgan.

This diagnostic was reached after a uterus ultrasound exploration due to a periodical medical check. The pregnancy was confirmed only four weeks ago.

The orca keepers and the veterinarian team of Loro Parque have the knowledge and expertise necessary to follow up the gestation, providing Morgan with the highest standards of animal care in the world.

Loro Parque considers the reproduc

Op-Ed: Hunters and predator breeders take aim at Star journalist
The Predator Association has served summons on Independent Media as publishers of The Star and a journalist, Shannon Ebrahim, following the publication of her article, Canned lion hunting damaging Brand SA. It’s claiming damages of R1,000,000.

In what is clearly an attempt to muzzle criticism aimed at its members, SAPA appears to be reaching beyond the journalist to environmental NGOs and activists she quotes who campaign against cruel hunting practices. Independent and Ebrahim will defend the action and believe they have a strong case on the merits.

The summons singles out the acclaimed documentary Blood Lions and specifically its lead consultant, Ian Michler, for what SAPA claims to be false statements that the hunting of “canned” lions is cruel, barbaric and macabre and that they are raised in cages to be shot by foreign thrill-seekers.

SAPA seems particularly stung by what it perceives in Ebrahim’s article to be a claim that its members are involved in illegal, unethical and poaching practices and unacceptable labour practices. Also that most operators and breeders are apartheid-era reactionaries.

There is a strong possibility that when Independent Newspapers defends the case, SAPA will be confronted by more than it bargained for. It is likely to be called upon to contend with claims and investigations of damning evidence from a wide range of organisations and environmentalists quoted in the Star article.

Blood Lions, for a start, has visual evidence of cruelty on farms where lions are reared for the bullet. Captive lion breeding for hunting has also been condemned by the African Lion Working Group (comprising 100 registered scientists), the Endangered Wildlife Trust, Panthera, Wildlands Trust, Wild Cat Conservation Group, International Union for Conservation of Nature, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, Four Paws, Coalition Against Lion Hunting, the NSPCA and the Humane Society International. All could probably be called on to give evidence in support of Ebrahim.

The quote on damage captive-bred hunting was doing to South Africa’s international image came from the then Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom.

“I think it has already damaged Brand South Africa,” he said on camera in Blood Lions. ‘The practice of canned lion hunting or breeding in captivity comes with a lot of negativity and therefore it does and probably will do further reputational damage unless we take some more decisive measures to discourage it.

“Our first step is to be in one mind as a country about whether we want this – is this something that we feel proud of as a nation? My feeling is I’m not proud of it.”

Dr Andrew Venter, the CEO of Wildlands, said he would be prepared to support Ebrahim if called to. “The South African captive lion breeding and associated hunting and bone trading activities,” he said in response to the summons, “are not regarded as bone fide conservation activities by the vast majority of conservation organisations, both in South Africa and globally, including the IUCN”.

“There is significant concern around the conditions under which the lions are bred, reared, hunted and slaughtered, with many conservationists and hunters finding the industry to be immoral and unethical in its behaviour and practice.”

Commenting on the lawsuit, the executive director of Humane Society International, Audrey Delsink, said: “It is intended to intimidate this journalist and others who see it as their duty to expose the cruel lion breeding industry for what it truly is. Ebrahim gave accepted representations of South Africa’s captive breeding and exploitation of lions. She merely collated general opinion and consensus of this shameful industry.

“SAPA should not waste the valuable time and resources of the judiciary, as well as this newspaper and journalist. This is a clear attempt to muzzle public opinion.”

Support for Ebrahim and Independent also came from tourism specialist Colin Bell. “One in seven South Africans are directly dependent on the tourism industry to put food on the table. My concern about the canned lion industry is that it potentially can damage Brand South Africa in such a bad way. Why risk that for the benefit of a few individuals?”

Shortly after SAPA issued the summons, it was slammed by 27 of the world’s top conservation and research organisations and individuals on another matter: a letter it wrote to the US Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, requesting the lifting of the ban by US Fish and Wildlife Services (USFWS ) on the importation of captive-bred lion trophies.

In an open letter to Zinke, the lion conservation community refutes SAPA’s claim that hunting of captive bred lions presents conservation benefits to wild lions. “There is no published, peer-reviewed evidence to support this statement,” they wrote. “The hunting of captive-bred lions neither benefits biodiversity conservation nor the conservation of wild and free-ranging lions.”

SAPA also claimed that if captive lion hunting was stopped, increased pressure would be placed on wild populations, but they provide no evidence whatsoever to substantiate this.

“SAPA states that if USFWS does not allow for the importation of lion trophies then these lions will be euthanised. It is unclear how this outcome would differ biologically from killing them in a captive hunt, or for their bones? Either way, the lions will be killed. 4

“We wish to express that SAPA’s letter is fraught with inaccuracies, false statements and a flawed viewpoint that is shaped for the economic benefit of captive lion breeders.”

Zoo vet technician helps rehabilitate endangered species
Jess Jimerson, a Houston Zoo veterinarian technician, recently came back from spending two weeks in Vietnam where she helped assist with the medical care of a local endangered species of pangolins.
Jimerson was able to have this opportunity because of the Zoo's Staff Conservation Fund, which provides grants for staff to do conservation work around the world in their fields.
"I thought, what animals have high needs that I could potentially meet with my skill set? I started looking at pangolins because they are a critically endangered species and there are eight different species of them, so I knew there were probably at least, in two different continents, facilities that might need help," Jimerson said.
Jimerson heard back from Save Vietnam's Wildlife, a young organization that was started in 2014, that hoped to improve their care of pangolins, and learn more about the animal, since little is known now.
The pangolin is a small mammal that is found all over mainland southeast Asia and in the islands, as well as in Africa. Four species live in Asia and four in Africa. Pangolins are elusive, being nocturnal and solitary. They like to stay in trees. Their whole body, except for their underside, is covered in scales. Pangolins do not have teeth, and they mostly eat insects like termites and ants. They do not do well in captivity, partially due to the

Reaching People: A Conversation with Ted Beattie, Retired President of the Shedd Aquarium
Since starting at the Cincinnati Zoo in the late 1970s to his retirement from the Shedd Aquarium in 2016, Ted Beattie was one of the most iconic and well-respected leaders in the zoo and aquarium profession. His work in marketing paved the way for zoos to market their exhibits and bring in guests through events and experiences like Zoo Lights and Boo at the Zoo. Beattie helped put both Zoo Knoxville and the Fort Worth Zoo on track to grow and develop during his stints as director. However, he spent the majority of his career as President of the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and established it as one of the best aquariums in the world and a leading force in conservation and science. Here is his story.

Vaquita: The Business of Extinction

Satellites monitoring endangered pink dolphins in Brazil's Amazon
Threatened by hydroelectric projects, pollution and fishing, Amazon pink river dolphins were now being tracked and monitored via satellite, an initiative in the Brazilian region to increase knowledge about a species on which little data exists.

Considered to be the "Ambassadors of the Amazon River", the freshwater dolphins were included by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature in the category of animals about which there is "insufficient data", reports Efe news

Perth Zoo records keeper marks 40 years employment
NOT many people can say they have been employed with a company for more than 40 years but Chris Wilson is an exception, with an exceptionally uncommon job.

Mr Wilson joined the team at Perth Zoo in 1977 and was the 20th keeper that had ever been employed; an occasion so momentous it was recorded in that year’s annual report.

Starting as a bird keeper, Mr Wilson held that position for about 10 years until his previous experience working at a lion park in Wanneroo landed him the position of senior zookeeper for the African savannah exhibition, which he left in 1997-98 after suffering a severe back injury.

“When I first started work the industry it was male dominated and we only had about 20 keepers that looked after over 420 species, in comparison to nowa

Walrus calves' big move sparks calls for aquarium boycott
An animal rights group is calling for a boycott to protest the transfer of two baby walruses from Quebec City to Vancouver.

The walrus calves are expected to move from the Aquarium du Québec, where they were born, to the Vancouver Aquarium before Christmas.

The Vancouver-based group, called the Lifeforce Foundation, says captive breeding can interfere with natural lifestyles, and that taking the walruses away from their mothers is insensitive and cruel.

"Why is there a rush to get them here by Christmas? Is it some kind of Christmas promotion?" said founder Peter Hamilton.

The aquarium said that despite the timing of the move, they are hoping to introduce the calves to the public in the spring.

The calves, a female named Lakina and a male named Balzak, made headlines when they were deliver

Separated since the dinosaurs, bamboo-eating lemurs, pandas share common gut microbes
A new study from North Carolina State University, the Smithsonian and Duke University finds that bamboo lemurs, giant pandas and red pandas share 48 gut microbes in common - despite the fact that they are separated by millions of years of evolution.
"The bamboo lemur's evolutionary tree diverged from that of both panda species 83 million years ago - that's 18 million years before dinosaurs went extinct," says Erin McKenney, a postdoctoral researcher at North Carolina State University and lead author of a paper on the study. "These species are also separated by thousands of miles and the Indian Ocean. Red pandas and giant pandas aren't closely related either, with their most recent ancestor coming 47.5 million years ago. Lemurs are primates, red pandas are related to raccoons, and pandas are related to bears.
"Yet all three species share these 48 gut microbes - more than 12 percent of the microbial types found in each species' gut," McKenney says. "The only common feature is their diet: all three species live almost exclusively on bamboo."
Bamboo is not easy to eat. It is physically tough, difficult to break down, a

Sea lions have unique whiskers that help them catch even the fastest fish
Astounding footage of Galapagos sea lions hunting was perhaps the highlight of the latest Blue Planet II. For the first time ever, these marine mammals were filmed working as a pack to drive tuna fish in to shallow, rocky waters where they could be caught. Yellowfin tuna are typically able to outswim all predators but the fastest sharks and marlins, yet the much slower sea lions were able to outsmart them thanks to an amazing display of movement and cooperation.
I've studied these animals for years as I'm fascinated by their remarkable whiskers. So what is it about sea lions that makes them such excellent hunters? Here are three of their key adaptations:
Superb sensing
One of the things you can see clearly in the Blue Planet II footage is just how quickly the sea lions respond to the movements of the fish. They are able to sense exactly where the fish are and react almost instantly, in order to herd them towards shallow waters.
Sea lions have amazing senses that allow them to detect fish, even in murky underwater environments. Like many predators, their eyes point forward so that they can easily focus on their prey. They can also open their pupils really wide to let lots of light in to their eye which helps them to see clearly underwater.

French Zoo Offers Rare Look at Baby Manatee
A newborn manatee is charming visitors at the Beauval Zoo in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, France. Baby Kali’na was born late October, coming in at around 33 pounds, and has since been under the meticulous care of her first-time-mother, Lolita. The six-year-old mom gave birth to twins—a rare occurrence among manatees—but Kali’na’s underweight sister was weak and drowned.
Manatees have long pregnancies, typically around 12 months. The mother gives birth in the water and guides her baby to the surface for its first breath. But the calf usually begins to swim on its own within an hour.

The man who risks his life to rescue zoo animals from war zones
Zoo animals are seldom seen at airports, but Queen Alia International airport in Amman, Jordan, is remarkable for its exotic arrivals. On 11 April, a flight landed carrying a bear called Lula and a lion called Simba, the only two surviving animals from Mosul zoo in Iraq. More than 40 other animals had died during the fight to liberate Mosul from Isil – either caught up in the bullets and blasts, or from starvation.

By the time Simba and Lula were rescued, they were emaciated, wounded and deeply traumatised. It would take two weeks for Simba to leave his shelter and explore his new home. Then, on 10 August, airport staff welcomed five lions, two tigers, two bears, two hyenas and two husky dogs from the Magic World – a zoo just outside Aleppo, Syria, which didn’t look much like a zoo after six years of civil war. Around 110 animals had died, the keepers were nowhere to be seen, enclosures were filled with filth and mortar shells, and the few creatures not wiped out by the war were getting worse by the hour.

The safe arrival of these animals in Jordan marked the culmination of  a particularly hard few months for Amir Khalil, 52, a vet who works for Four Paws, an Austria-based animal-rescue organisation, and the instigator of both operations.  Rescuing the animals was costly and dangerous. An Isil suicide bomber

Dusit Zoo should become a park
With a new land plot given to the Zoological Park Organisation by the palace, the country will soon welcome a new bigger zoo. The land, which was among nine plots bestowed to the government by His Majesty...

Wildfire threatens sensitive California condor population
Federal biologists were concerned Friday that a wildfire that has already consumed 143,000 acres was marching toward a California condor nest where a turkey-sized fledgling was close to taking its first flight.

“There are limited opportunities to protect that nest, which is in a cave on a hillside,” said Kirk Gilligan, deputy project leader of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Hopper Mountain California Condor Recovery Program. “But, if necessary, aerial water drops could cool things down.

“This fledgling is expected to take its first flight out of the nest any day now,” he added. “Trouble is, condors don’t generally get very far on their first flight.”

The nest is in the Los Padres National Forest’s Sespe Condor Sanctuary, along Sespe Creek and about six miles west of the community of Fillmore.

As of Friday morning, the nest was about two miles west of the advancing Thomas fire.

Besides federally endangered California condors, the Sespe is home to mountain lions, deer, coyotes, black bears and a herd of about 30 bighorn

Exhibits Are Like Movies: A Conversation with Ace Torre, CEO and Principal of Torre Design Consortium
 For the last four decades, Ace Torre and his firm Torre Consortium have been household names in the zoo design industry. He has become renowned for his innovative habitat designs often incorporating strong cultural, architectural and historical themes. Notably, Torre master planned designed most of the key exhibits at the Audubon Zoo, the Memphis Zoo, the Lowry Park Zoo and the Virginia Zoo. Here is his story.

Local fire crews help save elephant at Topeka Zoo
The Topeka Fire Department was called to a scene they don’t respond to every day.

Shannon, a 35-year-old African elephant was found lying down when staff arrived at the Topeka Zoo Sunday morning. According to zoo officials, she was lying on her side in an indoor space with other elephants standing guard.

When staff tried to encourage Shannon to stand up, but failed, they called in the Topeka Fire Department Technical Rescue Team and the Animal Search and Rescue Team to help.

“The first phone call we made was to the fire department,” said Zoo Director Brendan Wiley. “They were willing to help.”

The teams began the process of getting straps under Shannon’s side and attached her to a rigging system. When all was ready, the rigging was attached to a specialized hoist to help lift her up.

With the majority of Shannon’s body weight off t

Shannon the African elephant, 35, dies at the Topeka Zoo
A 35-year-old African elephant named Shannon died Monday at the Topeka Zoo.

The 5,500-pound animal, was found lying on her side for the second day in a row.

The Topeka Fire Department used straps and other equipment to lift her to an upright position, but the animal expired, the zoo announced in a tweet at 11:06 a.m.

Zoo director: ‘I don’t know if we would have done anything different’ regarding medical treatment of dead elephant
Brendan Wiley said that before the 5,500-pound elephant was pronounced dead at 10:41 a.m. Monday by the zoo’s chief veterinarian, Shirley Llizo, the Down Elephant Protocol was put into action for a second day in a row, utilizing four years of training by zoo staff, Topeka fire department rescue crews and a Kansas City-based equine rescue unit.

On Sunday morning, zoo staff found Shannon lying on the floor of the zoo’s elephant building. They believed she had been on the floor for several hours. Most elephants lie down for a couple of hours to sleep, Wile

Scientists Fight to List Cheetahs as Endangered
A group of passionate scientists have come together to demand that the International Union for Conservation of Nature list the cheetah as endangered.

Researchers with the National Geographic Society's Big Cats Initiative released a new study in the journal PeerJ on December 11 with updated numbers of the cheetah population in southern Africa—the biggest of its remaining habitat.

Pulling from millions of pieces of data from prior observations, the team says there are at least 3,577 adult cheetahs in the region, with a buffer area that could support a few thousand more. That number is the largest population of free-ranging cheetahs in the world, and less than half of the estimate published November 2016. As it stands,

Two weeks of free entry to Dubai Safari
The UAE’s much-awaited wildlife park Dubai Safari will be officially open to the public in January, a top official announced during the soft launch of the Dh1-billion facility on Tuesday.
For two weeks until then, visitors will be given free entry, Hussain Nasser Lootah, director-general of Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News.

He said the date for the official opening will be announced by the end of December. “We have opened on a trial basis now. We hope to open officially after two weeks,” Lootah said.
Later, he added, the visitors will be given free entry for two weeks.
“Our vision for this project, which is more than just a wildlife park, is to offer a highly engaging edutainment experience that fosters education on animal welfare, inspires a sense of learning about wildlife diversity and raises awareness on what makes wildlife protection a top priority,” Lootah said.
Hundreds of residents and tourists along with members of the media got a sneak peek of the new animal world — rich with greenery and waterbodies in the desert city — after the soft launch.
Residents and tourists, who turned up assuming the park was officially open from Tuesday, entered for free to have a close encounter with various species of animals roaming in open enclosures.
White lions from Timbavati in South Africa, orange and white Siberian tigers, giraffes, chimpanzees, hippos, peacocks, ostriches, antelopes, crocodiles and even hyenas stole the hearts of visitors, especially children.
Visitors were treated to a world’s first experience of driving through a waterbody in which crocodiles are exhibited. Driving through hippo and tiger exhibits was another first experience in the UAE while a water enclosure also offered an underwater viewing of a pygmy hippo, also for the first time in the country.
Dubai Safari is also home to the UAE’s largest walk-through aviary and largest troop of baboons, the glimpses of which enthralled the visitors.
Sad news
However, there was sad news from the enclosure of the white lions. The keepers of the lions confirmed to Gulf News that one of the first set of white cubs born to parents ‘Beauty’ and ‘Big Boy’ died soon after hitting headlines for being named by kids in a social media contest.
“We only have the male cub now, whom we are used to calling Banda though he was named Leo in the contest,” one of the keepers told Gulf News.
The female cub named Snowy was not given any other name by the keepers and died just after the contest, the keepers said.
Also, the visitors were disappointed that the biggest attraction expected to be at the safari — a group of elephants — had not yet arrived.
Tim Husband, technical director of Dubai Safari, said elephants and other animals would soon join. He said with more than 2,500 animals representing 250 exciting species, Dubai Safari is home to the most diverse array of animal species in the UAE.
The first phase of the Dh1-billion project sprawling over 119 hectares in Al Warqa’a 5 includes Asian, African and Arabian villages and an open Safari Village that offers a guided safari drive.
Paw prints of big cats form the symbol of the project that is home to the nation’s first open safari, where visitors will travel around in environmentally friendly electric vehicles to see animals roaming around in the wild.
Ticketing officials said the Asian, African and Arabian villages housing zoo enclosures of animals will be open from 9am to 9pm from Wednesday.
However, the Safari Village where visitors can go for an open Safari drive will be open from 9am to 6pm, with tickets being issued only till 4pm.
The park replaced the 50-year-old Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah which housed around 1,000 animals, birds and reptiles. They were shifted to Dubai Safari last month.
Utmost care is being given to the animals, right from their selection itself. Tests are done to ensure their fitness and experienced trainers and keepers from different parts of the world have been hired to take care of them.
A veterinary hospital, which will be extended with a research centre having a state-of-the art lab, is part of the project to offer treatment and care for the animals.
Air-conditioned artificial rocks, misting fans and chilled water will be used to keep them cool during summer. Pools, muddy ponds and other waterbodies will also provide natural habitat for animals.
Officials said Dubai Safari will host a breeding programme at the conservation centre that aims to release animals into the wild each year.
Safari facts
Dh1b: Project cost
119 hectares: Area
4 villages housing animals, birds and reptiles
2,500 animals of 250 species

Two siamang gibbons escape from Auckland Zoo enclosure
Two swinging gibbons made a leap for freedom from Auckland Zoo over the weekend.

At about 9.20am on Sunday Auckland Zoo's siamang gibbons Intan and Kera escaped to an area outside their enclosure, but they didn't get any further.

Auckland Zoo's curator of mammals Warren Spencer said the pair "gained access" just before the zoo opened for the day.

Squirrel Sex Is Complicated
It began with a bolt of lightning on June 7 and ended with a fire that eventually encompassed a staggering 48,000 acres of southeastern Arizona. By the time the blaze had been extinguished this past July, thousands of trees had been lost, including the vast majority of habitat for the already critically endangered Mount Graham squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus grahamensis). Surveys conducted this past September in the high-elevation forests of the Pinaleño Mountains, about three hours east of Phoenix, revealed that the squirrels’ population had fallen to an estimated 35 animals and that at least 80 percent of their habitat had been damaged by the fires.

Could this be the end of the Mount Graham squirrel, which was already once thought to be extinct and has been protected by the Endangered Species Act since 1987?

The answer to that question may lie not on the mountain itself but in the halls of Phoenix Zoo’s Arizona Center for Nature Conservation, where five Mount Graham squirrels form the core of a captive-assurance program that could help save the species from extinction.

There’s just one catch: We need to figure out how to get them to breed first.

That hasn’t been easy, says Stuart Wells, the zoo’s former director of conservation and science, who was in charge of the program until last month. The squirrels, it turns out, are extremely territorial, aggressive loners who attack and even kill other squirrels, including potential mates, that invade their home turf. That makes it impossible to keep the captiv

Southern Africa's cheetah population much smaller than believed
Populations of cheetahs in southern Africa have declined as farming and other human activities push deeper into the free-roaming cats' range, a new study co-led by Duke University doctoral student Varsha Vijay finds.

Fewer than 3,600 adult cheetahs remain in the region, which covers an area larger than France. A majority of the surviving cats -- 55 percent -- are found within only two habitats.

This new assessment is 11 percent lower than the International Union for Conservation of Nature's most recent population estimate in 2015, adding urgency to calls from scientists to uplist the cheetahs' conservation status from "vulnerable" to "endangered" in the IUCN's Red List.

Vijay and her colleagues published their findings Dec. 11 in the open-access journal PeerJ.

To conduct the study, they mapped and analyzed more than two million collared cheetah observations made between 2010 and 2016 across 789,700 square kilometers of open grasslands in Namibia, Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

"This is the area with the largest population of free-ranging cheetahs left on Earth. Knowing how many cheetahs there are and where they occur is crucial for developing suitable conservation management plans for the species,"

Jungle Jack: A Conversation with Jack Hanna, Director Emeritus of the Columbus Zoo
  Few zookeepers are as iconic as Jack Hanna. From 1978 to 1992, as director he transformed the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium into a great zoo and one of the biggest tourist attractions in Ohio. Hanna helped promote the zoo first by taking animals around the state for programs and later by making national appearances on television. In 1992 he became the Zoo’s Director Emeritus, a role he still has today. The Columbus Zoo now one of the best zoos in the world. Here is his story.

How Animals Think! Vol. 2
Im always trying to look at responses when people get the chance to do what they like to do or even when they have the control over choices. My mom always said you should do something you love and this is the way she has raised us. All of my siblings do something they like to do. The choices that we could make for our future made us more successful. I was reading a book what is called “Animal Minds” where they are talking about riding a horse, every time this person riding the horse walked back home she would come to crossing that would lead her home. At this moment, the horseback rider the horse which way do you want to go. The rider and the horse knew that both roads would lead back to their home. The funny part was that sometimes the horse chose left and sometimes the horse chose right.

As trainers, we seem to be very locked into what we want from the animal instead of thinking about what the animal would like. Of course, we can never have the answer on those questions of what they think and why but by observations we can see quick enough what they would like themselves. What the animal would like most of the time comes down to having some control over the session what I think is very understandable.

Look at Saonoi for example. She is an Asian Elephants who lives at Kolmarden Zoo in a herd of 5. Every morning the animals get washed and checked out completely. Saonoi’s success is pretty high except the behaviour that doesn’t have a high success rate, washing. When Saonoi is completely dry, she doesn’t want to be washed, although when she is a little bit wet the problem won’t be there. We can say here that it’s the

Big Cat Rescue is Caring for Big Cats and Ending the Trade
For the second time in less than a week, Big Cat Rescue has new cats arriving at the sanctuary!

We are taking in and will be the permanent home for an 11-year- old male jaguar named Manny and a 16-year- old female leopard named Nat from Omaha’s AZA-accredited Henry Doorly Zoo. What a December to Remember for the sanctuary!

Jamie and her team of Big Cat Rescuers are driving the cats to the sanctuary in our new Dodge van that we just purr-chased thanks to the incredible generosity of donors like you who read about our desperate need for a new van in our July annual appeal letter! We are so very grateful to have this van that is not only bringing Manny and Nat to their forever home right now but will help us rescue many precious exotic cats for years to come!

Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Nebraska is constructing expansive new natural habitats for

Follow that stork! How animals move through cities – mapped
New technology allows us to map the movements of animals in stunning detail. These seven maps from Where the Animals Go offer a glimpse into the lives of animals trying to make their way in our increasingly urbanised world

Chinese need to alter conservation message
When Chinese business communities first arrived in Africa, they never thought seriously about wildlife conservation issues. "It is just about animals, how important could this be?" they thought. Many Chinese businessmen who have been in Africa for more than a decade told me how buying ivory and eating wildlife were normal in the old days.

But now the situation is totally different. "Wildlife conservation, skills transfer and youth employment are our top three public diplomacy focuses," a Chinese diplomat in Kenya told me one time.

Research by wildlife conservation NGOs indicates that in China, the percentage of people who know about wildlife conservation issues - like elephants being killed to take their tusks for ivory - is very low. Fewer than 1 percent of Chinese people would have actually seen ivory in China, and some are even surprised there are legal ivory sales in China.

The situation in Africa is totally different. According to research, Chinese in Africa have extraordinary exposure to the illegal wildlife trade. In some countries, when governments did not pay much attention to the ivory trade, almost all Chinese would buy ivory trinkets - at least a bangle. Eating wild animals such as pangolins, antelopes and turtles was common, especially for Chinese construction workers who camp near wildlife habitats.

Few Chinese working and living in Africa would claim to be innocent of knowing where the wildlife products come from, and how illegal it is. Despite knowing ivory comes from slaughtered elephants and that pangolins are protected, Chinese in Africa did not say no due to three reasons: first, growing up in China and being less educated, they are not very conscious of wildlife conservation and why it is important. Lots may think: "Humans still have challenges, who cares about animals?" Second, wildlife products are significantly cheaper in Africa than in

Smithsonian Scientists Identify Early Indicators of Pregnancy in Cheetahs
A new study from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) is helping make headway in an area of animal management that has historically proven challenging: the breeding of cheetahs under human care. The study, which was published Dec. 13 in the journal PLOS ONE, has identified a specific protein, immunoglobulin J (IGJ), that is more abundant in the feces of pregnant cheetahs during the first month of gestation compared to those that are not pregnant. This finding could not only lead to the first-ever early cheetah pregnancy test but could also help zoos and other cheetah facilities address long-standing reproductive issues.

Until now, animal managers have not been able to determine whether a female cheetah is pregnant until at least 55 days into the pregnancy, in part because cheetahs frequently experience pseudopregnancies, exhibiting behavioral, physical and hormonal signs of pregnancy after mating even if they are not pregnant.

“If you spend weeks or even months breeding a pair and then you have to wait two more months to find out if the female is actually pregnant, it puts a hold on your breeding operation until you know,” said Adrienne Crosier, SCBI cheetah biologist, co-author of the paper and coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Cheetah Species Survival Plan (SSP), which matches cheetahs across the population for breeding. “This has made it really difficult to make timely decisions about preparing for the birth of cubs and repairing female cheetahs with new mates. With an early pregnancy detection method—and one that is non-invasive—we will be able to make management decisions sooner and more effectively across the SSP.”

The paper also provides the first step to understan

Mysterious nautilus hatch at Monterey Bay Aquarium
This video shot by the Monterey Bay Aquarium may be the first-ever video of a baby nautilus hatching. This mysterious species has existed in the ocean since the Triassic dinosaur period, and survived multiple mass extinctions.(Video courtesy the Monterey Bay Aquarium)

Living alongside elephants: a study of human and animal habitats

New hunting association formed after outcry over captive-bred lion hunting
A new association, representing the interests of professional hunters opposed to hunting captive-bred lions, has been formed in South Africa.

Former Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (Phasa) president Stewart Dorrington was elected as the body’s first chairperson.

Dorrington told News24 the mandate of the Custodians of Professional Hunting and Conservation South Africa (CPHCSA) was to “promote only ethical and responsible conservation-based hunting principles, such as hunting only under fair chase conditions”.

The formation of the new body followed an urgent meeting in Johannesburg on Wednesday, attended by some of the top guns in South African hunting circles.

It comes less than two weeks after constitutional and policy changes of PHASA (Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa) sent shock waves throughout the industry.

At its annual general meeting PHASA members voted to reverse the body’s 2015 resolution and policy, which opposed promoting the hunting of captive-raised lions.

Following the decision, PHASA members, including seven past presidents, resigned en masse, with sponsors and internationally-recognised hunting organisations voicing their strong disapproval.

Several affiliate hunting bodies, including the Operators and Professional Hunting Associations of South Africa, the Namibia Professional Hunting Association, Boone and Crockett Club, and the Nordic Safari Club, immediately stripped PHASA of its membership status on the continent and abroad.

There had also been a growing number of outfitters and professional hunters who have brought the South African hunting industry into disrepute.

“The decision to form the CPHCSA was necessitated by PHASA’s unpopular decision last month. Fellow neighbouring countries’ associations, sponsors and many PHASA members voiced their disgust and condemnation of this inexplicable action,” Dorrington said.

“The launch of CPHCSA breathes new life into professional hunting and conservation, and we aim to restore the integrity of the vast majority of South African professional hunters,” he added.

The Sumatran Rhino Has Been on The Brink of Extinction For 10,000 Years
The Sumatran rhino is one of the most threatened species on the face of the planet, but until now we never knew how bad things really were for the smallest, hairiest rhinoceros.
Scientists in the US have sequenced the genome of Dicerorhinus sumatrensis for the first time, and the results tells us not only that the population peaked almost a million years ago, but it's been staring death in the face for nearly 10,000 years.

"This species has been well on its way to extinction for a very long time," says rhino expert Terri Roth from Cincinnati Zoo's Centre for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife.

Fears over the Sumatran rhino's future aren't new, with the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species categorising

Crows are the only birds that have learned to carve hooks from sticks and hunt for food
Even famously intelligent chimpanzees do not have the ability to craft hooks.
Crows have the mental capacity to craft hooks out of sticks and use them as tools to fish out food, find researchers in the University of St Andrews (UA). Apart from Caledonian crows, only humans have demonstrated this ability.

The crows were found to be able to fashion sticks from the side branches of certain plants and make crochet-like hooks that they then used to fish out insects from between branches and other hard-to-reach spots.

Environment Secretary publishes bill to strengthen animal welfare
The Government has published a draft bill - Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) - which would increase the maximum prison sentence for animal cruelty tenfold, from six months to five years, in England and Wales. The draft bill also sets out that the government “must have regard to the welfare needs of animals as sentient beings in formulating and implementing government policy”. Subject to consultation on the draft bill, the government will legislate to deliver both aims.

The plans underline the government’s commitment to raising animal welfare standards, ensuring there will be enhanced protections for animals as we leave the EU.

Is a Bottleneck Effect Endangering Chinese Alligators?
The sleek Chinese alligators living inconspicuously in the murky wetlands of the Yangtze river are being pushed to the edge of extinction again. Less than 120 individuals survive in the wild. The trouble is that the captive population, present in sufficient numbers in two natural reserves in China, might be suffering from a population bottleneck, according to a recent study from Zhejiang University, Hangzhou.

Such a bottleneck happens when the population of a species shrinks so much that the surviving individuals are not just fewer in number but also contain fewer genetic variations.

If we were to compare the long strands of DNA between two individuals of the same species, we would find some subtle differences. These differences help the population adapt to changing environmental conditions, withstand the outbreak of new diseases, etc. The larger the number of individuals in a naturally healthy population, the larger the number of variations that confer adaptability – and more resilient will the population be to changes in its environment.

However, this is not the case when the population shrinks. Fewer individuals means fewer differences. For example, certain genetic variations present in some members of the population migh

Probe into ‘abused’ chimps kept in cages at Kuantan safari park
A safari park in Kuantan, Pahang, has allegedly been abusing three chimpanzees by keeping them locked in cages for over two years and never releasing them in the park’s bigger enclosure.

Sources told FMT that the two female apes and one male, named Botan (aged 16), Sumomo (18) and Gonbei (29), were kept in cages, akin to solitary confinement, in the Bukit Gambang Safari Park after the park was purchased from a Japanese company in September 2015.

Images and a video obtained by FMT from the sources showed the apes in cages measuring four by three metres. The cages were placed next to each other.

The chimpanzees were seen behaving aggressively in their cages.

In the video, one of the chimpanzees hit its metal cage repeatedl

Ciudad del Carmen Zoo will close due to lack of care for the animals
Due to failure to heed an order to properly care for and feed the 362 animals that inhabit the Recreational and Zoological Park of Ciudad del Carmen, the Federal Office of Environmental Protection (Profepa) ordered the temporary suspension of all the activities at the zoo.

In addition, the Profepa inspectors who visited the site reported that five felines and two hippos will be relocated in Silvestre Life Management Units (UMA) nearby, either from Tabasco or Yucatan.

The Opportunity to Do Something Global: A Conversation with Pat Simmons, Director of the North Carolina Zoo
Pat Simmons has often been regarded as one of the leading zoo directors in the country for the past three decades. She spent thirty years transforming Akron Zoo from a run down, financially struggling institution to a thriving boutique zoo with a variety of animals around the world, up close encounters for visitors, strong community support and strong education programs. In 2014, Simmons moved to the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, the largest walkthrough zoo in the world. As director, she has helped the phenomenal zoo continue to foster global change and be well positioned to grow in the future. Here is her story.

The Problem with Polar Bear Propaganda
On December 7, National Geographic shared a video in which an emaciated polar bear, hair clumped and skin hanging off its bones, drags itself over the tundra on Baffin Island, scavenging an animal skull from a rusty barrel. “This is what climate change looks like,” a caption declares ten seconds in. The captions go on to assert that with shrinking sea ice, polar bears are losing their platform from which to hunt seals and are starving as a result. The video quickly went viral. Though the footage was widely viewed and shared, not all agreed with the assessment from SeaLegacy, the conservation group that produced the video.

“Climate change has very little to do with it,” says Eric Ootoovak, a hunter and the vice-chair of the Mittimatalik Hunters and Trappers Organization in Pond Inlet, Nunavut, at the north end of Baffin Island. “You can really tell he’s sick. He’s not starving. If he was starving, he’d be able to move a bit more than that.” (On Twitter, biologist Jeff Higdon also suggested the polar bear might have had cancer.)

Environmental groups and Inuit in Canada have long had a fraught relationship, and it has only recently begun to improve. In 2014, Greenpeace apologized to Inuit for its decades-long campaign against seal hunting, which had led the European Unio


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About me
After more than 49 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 many more before 'hitting the road' 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, an introvert, 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
+971 50 4787 122 | | Skype: peter.dickinson48