Friday, January 26, 2018

Zoo News Digest 27th January 2018 (ZooNews 981)

Zoo News Digest 27th January 2018  (ZooNews 981)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

I think it a huge pity that the International Zoo Educators Conference and the 6th International Congress of ZooKeepers are taking place at the same time in 2018….One in Al Ain, UAE and the other in Buenos Aires. No possibility of attending both. To make things worse still IMATA is taking place at the same time in Portugal. We were half planning to have a presence at each but that is no longer possible.

On the other hand the WAZA conference and the SEAZA conference are both taking place in Thailand this year and one following shortly after the other. No problems there.

You may be surprised to learn that I have not yet made it out to visit the Dubai Safari Zoo since it opened. Partly this is because of time and then again I don't own a car. This puts me in the same position of the many hundreds of housemaids who used to visit the old Dubai Zoo each week. Taxis are expensive and the Safari Zoo is a long way out. There has been a lot in the press and the collection was swamped with visitors the first couple of weeks. I wonder if this will continue. The newspapers give some glowing reports but elsewhere there has been some criticism. I am looking forward to making up my own mind.

Lots of interest follows. 


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,

Caring: A Conversation with Stuart Strahl, President and CEO of the Brookfield Zoo and Chicago Zoological Society
Dr. Stuart Strahl’s love of nature began at a young age. "I was born on Manhattan within a few blocks of Central Park, where my mother took me on frequent walks,” he remembered. “She told me that I always loved animals, from pigeons to squirrels. Mud puddles and the Central Park Zoo (which was a quite dismal zoo at the time) were my favorites, and my mother found it easier to clean up after a zoo outing.  Some of my earliest memories stem from those times. Luckily, my parents moved us to the suburb of Pelham when I was two years old.  My brother and I grew up exploring the old-growth forests of Pelham Bay Park, fishing the shores of Long Island Sound, and building rafts to catch frogs on a ½-acre wooded spring-fed pond, all within a mile of our home - it seems that we were always outdoors, 'on safari' and exploring nature.”  Visits to his grandparents' farm along a tributary of the Wye River on the Eastern Shore of Maryland also added to his sense of wonder about the natural world.

Dr. Ingrid Visser (Free Morgan Foundation) and Co. banned from entering the premises of Loro Parque
It is well known that in November 2011, at the request of the authorities of the Netherlands, Loro Parque has accepted at its modern OrcaOcean installations a young female orca Morgan who was found helpless, in an extremely poor condition in the waters of the Wadden Sea in June 2010. This decision to transfer the orca to Loro Parque was made based on the opinions of the experts who came to the decision that it was no longer possible to return her to the wild. Therefore, this solution was the only way to save her life. Here, in Loro Parque, she is now fully integrated into the existing orca group.

Nevertheless, ever since Loro Parque has accepted the animal in need of help, the radical activists from Free Morgan Foundation led by Ingrid Visser visit the park, normally before court hearings or before events aimed at discrediting Loro Parque. Inventing arguments supported by manipulated photographs, they are communicating false information to the public in order to advocate for the release of the orcas into the wild.

Despite the unfriendly attitude of these activists and their smear campaigns against Loro Parque, the park continued to allow them access to its installations, since Loro Parque, recognized by TripAdvis

SEAZA conference 2018 will be held on
28 Oct-2 Nov 2018

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Humane Society CEO Under Investigation for Sexual Relationship With Employee
The Board of Directors of the Humane Society of the United States, the nation’s most influential animal-welfare group, has hired a Washington law firm to investigate an allegation of workplace misconduct against its longtime chief executive, Wayne Pacelle.

The investigation, which began last month, is being run by Grace Speights, who leads the labor and employment practice at Morgan Lewis. Among the topics, insiders say, is an alleged sexual relationship between Mr. Pacelle and a female employee.

In a statement, Eric Bernthal, chair of the board of the Humane Society, said: “We believe it is important to deal in substance and not rumors, and our process is designed to ensure confidentiality and fair consideration of these issues.”

Mr. Pacelle, who did not respond to an email seeking comment, continues to work there. He joined the Humane Society in 1994, became its chief executive in 2004, and was paid about $380,000 in 2016, according to the charity’s lat

Today marks one whole year, 365 days, 52 weeks, since CZCL took full control of Safari Zoo.  It’s been a long, rollercoaster ride of a 52 weeks but it has also flown in many ways!  We’ve been through everything; threats of closure, the serious time of applying for, and the nerve wrecking, gut wrenching waiting game to see if we were to be awarded our first, very own, license to operate.

It’s been tough, we have the grey hairs and wrinkles to prove it, but we’ve made it through a whole 12 months and we have made some great strides in animal welfare with new and revamped enclosures, dietary revolutions, brand new education team and partnership with the best veterinary care team.

To mark this monumental day, we have compiled our celebration of CZCL achievements, so make yourself a brew, and maybe a cheeky snack as

Query on the captive husbandry of the Hairy nosed otter ( Lutra sumatrana) in ZooBiology.

Touch Tanks: The Importance of Hands-on Education
Whether it’s searching for starfish or petting a shark, touch tank experiences give aquarium visitors a unique perspective of life underwater. Touch tanks allow people to see, touch, and learn about marine life they may not otherwise encounter in nature. At AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, the welfare of the animals is just as important as the guests’ experience. Studies have shown that these living habitats can encourage both conservation and animal care. Several AZA facilities offer and promote these kinds of exhibits. Not only do touch tank exhibits provide visitors with hands-on educational and scientific opportunities, research suggests these experiences also offer social and psychological benefits, too.

Indonesia hints rhino sperm transfer to Malaysia may finally happen this year
Indonesia has signaled it may finally send a sample of Sumatran rhino semen to a breeding program in Malaysia, amid a growing urgency to keep the species alive.

Conservationists in Sabah, in Malaysian Borneo, where only two Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) remain, have since 2015 sought a frozen sample of sperm taken from a rhino in Indonesia’s own captive-breeding program in Sumatra to kick-start an artificial insemination attempt — but to no avail, as the Indonesian government repeatedly ignored its requests.

Now, though, a senior official says the sperm being stored at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS) may be sent to Malaysia sometime this year.

“We have discussed all of the aspects of the request, and submitted our analysis to the [environment] minister,” Wirat

China Is Decimating Southeast Asian Wildlife
The Chinese were among the first foreigners to do trade with the island of Sumatra. Six hundred years ago, villages would have been but infinitesimal specks in an inconceivably vast and sublime rain forest. In 1416, a Chinese report on Sumatra noted that “There are in the forests immense quantities of wild rhinoceroses, which the king lets catch by men.” The rhinos, the author goes on to explain, would be sent to China as “tribute” to the emperor. Later, in the midst of compiling a list of agricultural products and minerals to be found in Sumatra, the author’s mind drifts back to something even more valuable, and he abruptly ends his list by reminding his Chinese reader: “Besides, there are rhinoceroses.”

There are still rhinoceroses in Sumatra today, perhaps as few as 30, and they are still hunted. According to that 15th century Chinese account, as well as the testimony of early European visitors and explorers, rhinoceroses once swarmed on the island. Yet their population has all been but wiped out. What happened?

The answer is pretty straightforward: They were hunted and slaughtered for their horns. Many of those horns were sent to China, where they were used i

Can blockchain serve business, people and planet?
It comes as no surprise that most of the top risks identified in the latest World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, from biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse to water crises and extreme weather events, are environmental.

Make no mistake, addressing their impact on our wellbeing, enterprise and prosperity requires a profound shift in how we produce and consume, as well as in our orientation to nature — from egocentric to ecocentric, balancing human and biosphere needs.

Nevertheless, technology and human ingenuity have a significant role to play.

From quantum computing and artificial intelligence to DNA sequencing and advanced robotics, we have an opportunity to create transformative approaches for sustainability. And of all n

Kingut the tapir turns 40
Keepers at Port Lympne Reserve in Kent are helping Malayan tapir Kingut celebrate a milestone birthday.

The animal turns 40 on Saturday, which they say makes him the world’s oldest tapir of his kind.

Kingut is being spoiled with lots of back scratches and his favourite edible treats – carrots, apples, bananas and raisins – incorporated into a special cake.

Kingut was born in 1978 at Ragunan Zoo in Jakarta, Indonesia and was transferred to Port Lympne Reserve from sister park Howletts in 2008.

Malayan tapirs are the largest of the five species of tapir and are classified as endangered.

A closer genetic look at the quagga, an extinct zebra
New DNA evidence confirms that the recently extinct quagga is, indeed, a plains zebra. Science writer Ricki Lewis, who has a PhD in genetics, discusses the latest Danish research and a fascinating project in southern Africa to breed quagga-like zebras. Her piece was originally published by PLOS Blogs.

Like the dodo bird, heath hen, and woolly mammoth, the quagga vanished so recently that glimpsing its evolution is possible, using DNA from museum specimens and breeding modern relatives to select individuals bearing ancestral traits.

Turkish Cargo relocated Humboldt Penguins
Relocating lion cubs and endangered penguins to their new home, Turkish Cargo keeps protecting the wildlife.

By a well-done operation, Turkish Cargo relocated Humboldt Penguins, one of the eleven penguin species threatened with extinction due to unfavorable circumstances resulting from the climate change, to the Public Oceanic Aquarium in China from the Riga Zoo.

The thriving sub-brand of the flag carrier Turkish Airlines, Turkish Cargo not only achieves customer satisfaction thanks to its special cargo transportation services to 120 countries worldwide, but also contributes to wildlife survival.

ZOO'S PRINT Magazine | Vol. XXXIII | No. 1 | January 2018

Giant new safari park could be created on Norfolk quarry site
The visionary behind the new Watlington Safari Park, near King’s Lynn, believes it would be the first of its kind of the United Kingdom, bringing £3.57m per year to West Norfolk’s economy and providing a popular attraction for residents and visitors alike.

In a brochure sent to villagers Edward Pope, the man behind the idea, said: “I am passionate about the conservation of endangered animals and birds.

“For several years I have been provided a refuge and breeding programme for deer and antelope at my home in Norfolk.

“Now I want to build on that work by expanding this refuge to create an inspirational centre for education, a visitor experience that people can enjoy and a site for extraordinary wildlife encounters.”

Animals Rotating Habitats: A Conversation with John Walczak, Director of the Louisville Zoo
The Louisville Zoo has long been known for its appetite for innovative exhibitry. This is shown by its three AZA award-winning habitat complexes: Islands (the first American zoo exhibit to rotate large animals), Gorilla Forest and Glacier Run. Additionally, the zoo has taken a significant role in conservation by helping save the black-footed ferret from extinction. Since 2004, the Louisville Zoo has been led by John Walczak. Walczak's strong animal background, desire to create innovative habitats and focus on improving staff relationships has helped the zoo grow and flourish. Here is his story.

Beijing Zoo Pledges to Conserve African Wildlife
The African Wildlife Foundation and the Beijing Zoo today launched a partnership intended to enhance China’s participation in sustainable conservation of Africa’s wildlife and wild lands.

In an event at the Beijing Zoo, the partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding signifying the need for genuine concerted strategies and action in ensuring conservation of the environment, wildlife, and wild lands in a modernizing Africa.

The African Wildlife Foundation said the partnership “ushers in a new era of global allegiance to wildlife protection.”

Speaking at the signing ceremony, AWF President Kaddu Sebunya said, “China is increasingly providing leadership on conservation through proactive policies, and Africa – and the world – is watching.”

Founded in 1961 and based in Washington, DC, the AWF claims to be the oldest and largest conservation organization focused solely on the African continent. AWF today expressed its commitment to amplifying the African voice in wildlife and wild lands conservation, globally.

“This partnership gives us an opportunity to bolster our work in China, and an ability to push for greater Chinese involvement in Africa’s conservation agenda, in which China is a key partner. I believe this collaboration, ultimately, will enhance opportunities to promote greater China-Africa engagement in conservation as a whole,” said Sebunya.

Beijing Zoo, owned by the People’s Republic of China, is a public zoological park opened in 1906, and claims to be the most authoritative center of zoological research that studies and breeds rare animals from various sources, including Africa.

The Beijing Zoo is visited by mor

Urgent appeal launched by Bristol Zoological Society to help gorillas in Africa

Today (Wednesday January 24) Bristol Zoological Society has launched an urgent appeal for £10,000 to help build a safe haven in Africa for orphaned western lowland gorillas.

They are the innocent victims of the brutal bush meat trade which sees thousands of adult gorillas slaughtered each year.

A total of 22 of these orphaned gorillas are being cared for by a sanctuary in Mefou National Park in Cameroon with which Bristol Zoological Society has worked for the past 20 years.

Gorillas such as Shufai, who was found as a baby with gunshot injuries after his mother was killed by hunters  endured months of rehabilitation but eventually had to have his arm amputated above the elbow.

Similarly, Nona was hours away from death when she was rescued from a hunter’s camp. Wounded by the bullets that had killed her mother, she had been left for days without food or water. Nona was rescued just in time and taken to the sanctuary where she has grown into a beautiful young adult with a family of her own.

Now all the gorillas are in need of three bigger enclosures in which to live and remain safe.

Today Bristol Zoological Society is asking for help to raise the money needed for these enclosures. A team from Bristol Zoological Society is heading to Cameroon early in February to help build them.

Dr Grainne McCabe, head of field conservation and science at Bristol Zoological Society, said: “We hope everyone will want to help. These are amazing animals and every pound we receive will help to safeguard their future.

“When we started working with the sanctuary in 1998, all the orphaned animals were small and the initial enclosures were built with infant and juvenile apes in mind.

“Those orphans have now grown into formidable adults, and their space and grouping requirements have changed.”

She added: “Caring for orphaned apes is no easy task. While they may be cute and curious as infants, they soon grow into very large and very strong adults that are much more challenging to care for.”

Dr McCabe said larger enclosures built in the forest would allow several family groups and younger male gorillas to live together.

Western lowland gorillas are listed as Critically Endangered on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red of Threatened Species and without the efforts of sanctuaries like the one in Mefou National Park they could be lost forever.

If you would like to make a donation to the appeal, please go to

Bristol Zoological Society has been working on the conservation of western lowland gorillas in the wild since 2003 and also participates in a breeding programme which has seen two gorillas born at the Zoo since 2016.

Kuwait Zoo has no sick animals – Director denies rumour
 Director of Kuwait Zoo at the Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources (PAAAFR) Zahra Al-Wazan denied rumor circulated that zoo has sick animals, reports Al-Jarida daily. Al-Wazan said the management always removes and isolates any of the animals from the zoo whenever they are found to be suffering from disease to protect the safety of visitors, especially as the major objective of operating the zoo is to display the animals for sight seeing.

She stated the zoo is a modern landmark in Kuwait that receives over 500,000 visitors in a year; mostly foreigners visiting the country in the winter. She declared the management is planning to organize some activities for visitors every Tuesday when there will be special educational and cultural programs, while opening the doors to students in the m

Malaysia’s zoos are cruel to the animals held
Reports last week of the Wildlife Department finding nothing wrong with conditions animals are held in at the Kemaman Zoo only serve to reinforce the general perception these government officials always find in favour of zoos.

Often over the past decade I have often wondered if this is because the department don’t know what they are doing or, they don’t care about the welfare of animals.

Whenever a complaint is made the Wildlife Department have always come to the defence of the zoo. The department sees nothing wrong, hears nothing, and does nothing. This must make its job easy and it doubtless means it can remain close friends with its buddies responsible for all this cruelty. Pity the poor animals the department is prepared to leave suffering.

The Wildlife Conservation Act may as well have been written in invisible ink. It is not enforced.

Most educated people know Malaysia’s 40 or so zoos are, with one or two exceptions, places of appalling cruelty. Profits are always put before animal care.

The baby trade torturing orangutans to extinction
A horrifying, low groan stopped us in our tracks.

It was hard to work out which cage the noise was coming from. But then a long arm, with a massive human-like hand, reached out and gave us our first glimpse of a desperate and distressed ape.

This was Jono, an orangutan from Borneo. He had been alone in this cramped cage for five years.

Smugglers keep wildlife officials busy
It is only three weeks into the year and already four attempts to smuggle animals or bush meat into and out of the country have been foiled.

On Wednesday, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) thwarted an attempt to smuggle seven pythons through a courier service in Larkin, Johor.

The sender, who is believed to be from Taiwan, had declared the package as toys.

It is not known whether the reptiles were alive when found.

Mnangagwa bans live elephant trade
The previous political regime of former president, Robert Mugabe, was notorious for brushing aside such outcries.

But Mnangagwa, who is hoping to charm the world by rolling back his predecessor’s policies, appears to have hearkened to counsel and has since committed government to conservation efforts.

In justifying its elephant trade, government has previously argued that Zimbabwe has an unsustainably high elephant population which, at 86 000, exceeds the ecological carrying capacity of 54 000 elephants.

Conservationists, however, argue that exporting the elephants — which prefer the temperate Savanna climate to that of the Far East which fluctuates between the hot and cold extremes —was not the solution.

Information at hand indicates that following the December brouhaha, Mnangagwa gave audience to representatives of two concerned international conservation organisations, Tikki Hywood Foundation and the International Anti-Poaching Foundation (IAPF), who had visited the country intending to raise their concerns with him.

Mnangagwa assured them of his c

WAZA Statement

Date: 2018/01/23

on Wild-Capture of Elephants in Zimbabwe

WAZA Statement on Wild-Capture of Elephants in Zimbabwe

The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) welcomes the decision by the president of Zimbabwe to ban future sales of live elephants to foreign zoos, following the recent transfer of 34 wild-caught elephants to institutions in China that did not appear to meet the standards of animal welfare or conservation as agreed by the global captive-care community.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa also banned trade in other endangered species such as rhinoceroses, pangolins, and lions that are listed as Appendix I by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
Media reports and images shared around the globe in recent weeks showed a crude capture of elephant calves from the Hwange National Park that does not conform to international guidelines, and fails to take into account the well-being of the animals themselves. Elephants estimated to be five years of age and younger were sedated by sharpshooters in helicopters, then taken away by trucks while helicopters scattered the remaining members of the herd.

Mnangagwa's decision reversed the policies of his predecessor, Robert Mugabe, who actively sought overseas markets for Zimbabwe's wildlife. The Government of Zimbabwe previously indicated that such sales were necessary to fund conservation activities in the country, but a lack of transparency made it difficult to track how the funds were spent.

Equally troubling is the lack of due diligence regarding the zoos in China that received the elephants and whether they meet international standards required as appropriate and acceptable destinations.

WAZA's Code of Ethics calls on all members to "ensure that the source of animals is confined to those born in human care and this will be best achieved by direct zoo to zoo conduct." In the event that the capture of animals from the wild is necessary, members "must be confident that such acquisitions will not have a deleterious effect upon the wild population."

None of the Chinese zoos that received the elephants are members of WAZA.
Elephants are highly intelligent animals with complex social structures, and require expert care and knowledge to ensure that their social, physical and psychological needs are properly met. WAZA guidelines are clear that all wild-caught animals should come from reputable sources, do not impact on wild populations or reinforce commercial production of wild animals, and avoid the negative welfare consequences of indiscriminate capture.

WAZA expressed similar concerns regarding a capture and sale of elephants from Zimbabwe to Chinese zoos in 2015, and WAZA calls upon the Chinese zoos that have obtained elephants to work with established and accredited zoo breeding programmes to ensure that these wild captures are not a conservation risk and that the welfare of the elephants is of the utmost importance.

WAZA is the global alliance of regional associations, national federations, private companies, zoos and aquariums comprised of nearly 400 members in over 50 countries. For more information, please visit or contact

Orangutan briefly escapes enclosure at Greenville Zoo again
Greenville Zoo officials confirmed that an orangutan, who briefly escaped his enclosure back in July, squeezed out of his pen again Monday.

Zoo Administrator Jeff Bullock said the orangutan named Kumar escaped around 1:45 p.m. Monday, as contractors were working on his enclosure and repairing the mesh panels.

After crews left, Kumar was let loose in the enclosure and he reportedly found a weak spot, made a hole and squeezed out.

Bullock said Kumar stayed on top of the mesh of the exhibit and holding building, and when staff gathered around he went back inside the enclosure.

Kumar was reportedly out of the en

Marghazar Zoo admin fails to cater to animals in 2017
Despite repeated attempts by media to highlight the plight of animals and birds in Marghazar Zoo over the last year, the mismanagement and lack of attention from the high-ups of Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) persists and results in an unhealthy environment for the animals at the zoo.

Dr Bilal Khilji is the only veterinary doctor to look after the animals at the zoo and he too has been given the charge of deputy director a few years back.

The management of more than a hundred staffers of MCI is being managed by Dr Bilal which disallows the required attention towards the daily check-up of the animals’ feed and the overall zoo environment.

In 2017, two Nilgai’s died in the zoo, which is a slightly better statistic than in 2016, when 17 animals died including a zebra, hog deer, ostrich male, zebra foal, ostrich female, wolf, lion cub male, lion cub fe


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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