Saturday, June 16, 2018

Zoo News Digest 16th June 2018 (ZooNews 999)

Zoo News Digest 16th June 2018  (ZooNews 999)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

Heading away to my adopted home for a week and time is a bit tight so thought I best get this out today. I hope you find the links of interest.

 "good zoos will not gain the credibility of their critics until they condemn the bad zoos wherever they are." Peter Dickinson

Did you know that advertising your vacancy or product on ZooNews Digest can potentially reach 78,000 + people?

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 77,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 78,000 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,

The 10 Biggest Mistakes of Trainers
One of the worst parts is working with people that think they know everything. You know that I’ve been this way before and saw all the bad outcomes coming from it. It all happened when I worked with Sea Lions for about 2-3 years. I felt like I was a confident young man and this reflected to “I know it all” well… biggest mistake in my career. Over the years I worked with a lot of different trainers one better than the other. I’ve worked with trainers that had huge ego’s. The hardest part is not just themselves but what kind of reflection this has to the team. Very narrow minded unmotivational people, short term thinkers. They can actually give you the feeling you don’t excist. Very hard to work with. Don’t become this way. Luckily on an early stage I got put into place to get back on track. In the training world being open minded and flexible in choices is a key aspect in having success with your animals.

The Darwin Initiative is helping to save the Andean bear
The Darwin Initiative is a UK government scheme, operated by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which works to support international projects with the aim of upholding both biodiversity and the natural environment. Since 1992, the scheme has supported over 1,000 projects in 159 countries, awarding £140m in total.

The Darwin Initiative funds and supports projects which target several biodiversity conventions, including:

Saving the ‘Asian unicorn’: Wildlife experts gather for pioneering conference
Renowned conservationists have gathered on the coast to discuss saving one of the world’s critically endangered species.

Racine Zoo receives 'sensory inclusive' certification
The Racine Zoo recently became the first Wisconsin zoo to receive certification as a sensory-inclusive facility.

The designation was created through a partnership with KultureCity, a nonprofit organization recognized nationwide for using its resources to revolutionize and effect change in the community for those with sensory needs.

This new initiative aims to promote an accommodating and positive experience for Racine Zoo guests with sensory issues.

Path to certification
The certification process included staff training by leading


After Relocation, an Endangered Species Stops Avoiding Predator Scents
Attempts to save animals from extinction often include relocating them to zoos or another location safe from threats. But a study published in Biology Letters today (June 6) suggests that this isolation could have unintended consequences. The authors found that after just 13 generations, northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus)—small, carnivorous marsupials native to Australia—sequestered on an island without predators no longer avoid predators’ scents as do their counterparts on the mainland that coexist with predators. This could make the animals more susceptible to predation when they are reintroduced to habitats with predators.

“This [paper] is really important because one of the challenges in much of the world—and especially in Australia—is trying to reintroduce species to places with . . . predators. Many of these reintroductions or translocations fail,” says Dan Blumstein, who studies the evolution of behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, and did not participate in the work. “What this shows pretty convincingly is that the complete loss of all predators for relatively few number of generations of captivity leads to the loss of predator discrimination abilities.”

Northern quolls are about the size of a s

When it comes to the illegal wildlife trade, it appears that Ape trafficking falls under the radar and is little known in comparison to the thriving global business in elephant ivory, rhino horns, tiger bone wine, and other wildlife products.

What is most alarming is that Ape smuggling involves trade in ‘LIVE’ animals!    They are some of the most endangered, intelligent and sensitive animals on earth. Although recent studies have found there are more gorillas and chimpanzees than previously believed, their numbers are still rapidly declining.

Secret trafficking pipelines start from the lush forests of Central Africa and South East Asia, and then travel through loosely policed ports in the developing world, ending up in wealthy homes, circuses and unscrupulous zoos thousands of miles away. On the way, the pipeline is lubricated by corrupt officials and run by transnational crim

10th European Zoo Nutrition Conference
Marwell Zoo
January 17-20, 2019

Do Conservation Strategies Need to Be More Compassionate?
At a moment of best-selling animal intelligence books and headlines about songbird language and grieving elephants, it’s easy to forget that nonhuman minds were until recently considered — by most serious-minded scientists, anyway — to be quite simple.

Well into this millennium, animal consciousness was regularly dismissed as either nonexistent or profoundly dissimilar to our own. Animals were considered “conscious in the sense of being under stimulus control,” as the famed psychologist B.F. Skinner opined so neatly in 1974, expressing a conventional wisdom that dated to the zoological musings of Aristotle. The notion of animals as thinking, feeling beings was relegated to the edges of serious discourse.

Those days are past, buried by an avalanche of scientific findings and history-of-science critiques. More people than ever worry about the welfare of farmed animals; pets are practically citizens; and wild animals too are increasingly regarded as beings with whom peopl

What’s Still Threatening Coastal California Condors?
In recent years, however, conservationists noticed a worrying trend: Condors living in coastal environments, such as near Big Sur, California, had fewer successful egg hatchings than condors living further inland.

“As many as 40 percent coastal-living California condor breeding pairs showed evidence of eggshell thinning,” Dodder explained.

Researchers have hypothesized that the coastal condors’ diet might partly explain why.

California condors are scavengers that primarily subsist on carrion, the decaying flesh of dead animals. For coastal condors, that means a large part of their diet is made up of

Lack of skilled staff blamed for animals’ deaths at Peshawar Zoo
The management on Tuesday denied any negligence on its part in handling the animals at the facility and blamed the deaths at the Peshawar Zoo on the lack of skilled staff.
A government committee, which was constituted to investigate the deaths of dozens of animals at the zoo and fix responsibility, has held the management of the facility responsible for poor handling of the animals and failure to improve the habitat for the animals and birds.

The report pointed out lack of required and qualified staff, mishandling and mistreatment of animals, harsh living conditions, chopping of trees and th

Dalian sea world apologizes over video of trainer putting lipstick on beluga whale
A Chinese sea world has apologized online after video went viral of one of its trainers putting lipstick on the mouth of a beluga whale.

The 10-second clip was uploaded recently to the popular short video platform Douyin, apparently by one of the trainers at the Shengya Ocean World in the seaside city of Dalian. In the clip, a female trainer laughs while painting the animal’s mouth red. The post was captioned “very pretty!”

Five dead tiger cubs found trafficked by car in central Vietnam
Vietnamese police discovered the corpses of five tiger cubs upon inspecting the trunk of a car in the central province of Nghe An on Tuesday afternoon.

The four-seater car's occupants Bui Van Hieu, 26, and Hoang Van Thien, 27, said they were transporting the tiger corpses to a local buyer who would have used them to brew wine.

The dried cubs weighed a total of over 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and would've been sold for about VND70 million ($3,080), the men said.

Police have detained Hieu and Thien, along with Nguyen Van Chinh, 33, who had been escorting the haul along National Highway 7A in a different car. Investigation is continuing.

Tigers are facing extinction in Vietnam, where the animals are trafficked for their meat, decorative skin and claws. Th


“What the FUNK” Secret Koala Cull Part-1
ase Study: What Not To Do! What were you thinking, Victoria?

Cape Otway Region Victoria: The koalas based along Victoria's Great Ocean Road are a popular tourist attraction. Millions of people have continued to visit them each year since their introduction by the Victorian Government in 1985. They have been the object of numerous studies and increased interest over the years, as well as a source of enjoyment for locals and tourists alike.


Animal charities to open European circus elephant sanctuary
Animal rights groups say they will establish Europe's first sanctuary for former circus elephants.

World Animal Protection and Elephant Haven said Monday that the sanctuary will be created in France and certain sites will be operational by this fall. The groups say the project came about after lobbying by the Danish Parliament, which recently announced its commitment to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

They add that 14 other Euro

Belfast Zoo monkey dies following escape
A monkey from Belfast Zoo has died after being hit by a car.

The spider monkey, which had escaped from the zoo on Saturday afternoon, was "clipped by a car" on the M2 in north Belfast that evening.

Zoo keepers had been tracking the monkey before the incident occurred. It was taken back to the zoo, but died shortly afterwards.

Belfast City Council said it was


Only Remaining Polar Bear in S. Korea to Move to British Wildlife Park
The only remaining polar bear in South Korea, which has been living in a zoo south of Seoul for more than two decades, will move to a wildlife park in Britain later this year, zoo officials said Monday.

The planned relocation of the bear, named Tongki, from the Everland zoo to Britain’s Yorkshire Wildlife Park came as the zoo has looked for ways to provide the aged bear with a better living environment after other polar bears of the zoo died.

Animal activists have also called for better living conditions for Tongki.

Everland zoo officials said they reached agreement with the British zoo on Tongki’s relocation in November.

Born in 1995 at a zoo in the southeastern city of Masan, Tongki moved to the Everland zoo two years later. Considering a bear’s life span is 25-30 years, the 24-year-old Tongki is about 70-80 in human years. It has been living alone i

William Trently: It’s time to move beyond aquariums, touch tanks and dissection
So there are aquariums and touch tanks at science centers and entertainment venues throughout the land. Many host educational activities for kids, such as fun games or marine animal dissection.

Often I’ve patronized restaurants that feature a huge fish tank decorating the reception area. Lolita, the orca at the Miami Seaquarium, performed twice for me. My formal education included the dissection of a shark, a cat, a human. I have always loved educational science-oriented centers, and my children have enjoyed the touch tanks and other exhibits.

Over the years, however, I have come to frown on aquariums, touch tanks and traditional dissection. I now see a tragic unfairness in the way animals are treated by humans. I am not alone in that understanding; with the rise of social media and more open communication worldwide, there are growing numbers of like-minded individuals. A sampling of this way of thinking follows below.

With all the stresses inflicted upon marine animals by human activity, why add to them unnecessarily by harvesting squids for dissection when alternative methods are available, such as virtual dissection? Why disrupt their ecosystem further if we don’t need to? And why go through with what can often be a horrific journey for these animals, stolen from their everyday normal lives into traps and temporary stor

Batu Secret Zoo welcomes Indian rhino Bertus
The Batu Secret Zoo and conservation institution in East Java welcomed a new family member on May 18 -- a male Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) called Bertus.

The 10-year-old rhino, which was born in Rotterdam Zoo in Holland, traveled almost 48 hours from Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland, his home for the last eight years, to Batu Secret Zoo.

Bertus is the first Indian rhino housed at an Indonesian zoo.

Veterinarian Irwanda Kusuma Wardhana said his arrival meant that the zoo had gained the trust of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.

"We started negotiations [to bring Bertus to Indonesia] in 2015. The establishment of the cage and exhibit started last year. The design was based on the European standard of 7,500 square meters,” Irwanda added.

Bertus was transport

Management held responsible for animals’ death in zoo
Terming the situation prevailing at Peshawar Zoo “alarming”, an inquiry committee has held the top management of the facility responsible for the death of animals.

Following the reports of death of animals and birds in the zoo, the provincial government constituted an inquiry committee headed by Kabir Afridi, the additional secretary of higher education, which submitted its findings to the government a few days ago.

“The vet officer, his subordinates and admin officer were advised about the health, precautionary measures and habitat development of the animals. Despite all this, the animals are dying which is an alarming situation for the administration,” the committee said in its concluding remarks to the inquiry report.


Killarney wildlife park shuts 'because of red tape'
Too much red tape and new regulations have forced a popular Killarney wildlife park and visitor attraction to close after 25 years.


New Bristol Zoo chief says taking role 'like coming home
THE NEW chief executive of Bristol Zoological Society has said that taking on the role means he is ‘coming home’.

Coming into the role, Dr Justin Morris takes on the responsibility for Bristol Zoo Gardens and the Wild Place Project in Easter Compton,

Dr Morris, who was born in Whitchurch and lived in Bristol in his early years, has previously held senior posts at the British Museum and at the Natural History Museum in London. Most recently he has been director at the Somerleyton Estate in East Anglia, which covers more than 5,000 acres.

No monkey business for illegal farm
Officials on Friday raided a monkey farm in Preah Vihear province over the facility’s lack of permission to raise hundreds of monkeys in Preah Khlaing commune.

According to an Environment Ministry report, the monkeys were kept by 35-year-old Mey Sengky, who confined them without permission.

Roun Yet, chief of Tbeng Meanchey district, said that the farm manager was previously notified but did not heed the warning.

“We cooperated with a working group composed of the provincial forestry administration and national officials,” Mr Yet said. “We, along with the military police, had to ensure security to seize th

Lyme Disease vaccine set to become available soon, as first trials successfully passed
n an exciting announcement, French drug manufacturer Valneva has announced that they’ve successfully completed their first-ever human trial of a vaccine against the disease. The vaccine, which is reportedly up to 96% effective, might soon be available in the UK and US at a “reasonably low” price.


Does the US have a pet tiger problem?

Taj was a four-month-old tiger cub when purchased at a Texas truck stop by the driver of an 18-wheeler lorry. But after Taj began tearing up the truck’s cab, the driver contacted Austin Zoo to get the animals off his hands. The zoo now looks after the fully grown 17-year-old Bengal tiger male.

Taj is one of as many as 7,000 tigers living in the US either in zoos or privately owned, according to some estimates. That’s nearly double the estimated 3,890 tigers still prowling in the wild around the world.

Many of America’s tigers could be in pe

Faecal transplants could help preserve vulnerable species
New gut bacteria can expand the diet of animals like koalas and rhinoceroses.

Koalas are among the world’s fussiest eaters, consuming only the leaves of eucalyptus trees — and just a few varieties of eucalyptus at that. Research now suggests that the animals’ discriminating diet is determined in part by the bacteria that live in their guts, which seem to restrict an individual koala’s ability to digest certain species of eucalyptus.

The finding, which was presented on 8 June at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) in Atlanta, Georgia, comes amid a growing interest in how an animal’s microbiome influences its ability to adapt to environmental change. Researchers studying koalas and other vulnerable species are trying to find out whether altering an animal’s gut bacteria through changes in diet — or even faecal transplants — can increase its chance of survival.

That is an urgent question for the koala (Phascolarctos cinereus), whose habitat in Australia is

PETA Blames Florida Zoo for Tiger Cub Deaths
A private Florida zoo faced renewed accusations of animal abuse on Friday by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

In a federal lawsuit filed in Tampa, PETA claims Dade City’s Wild Things and its owners violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing patrons to handle, pet and swim with tiger cubs.

According to the lawsuit, Dade City’s Wild Things staff forced cubs to interact with patrons by forcibly grabbing the animals and not allowing them to escape. PETA also claims the cubs are prematurely separated from their mothers and suffer under bad conditions.

PETA filed a similar suit in October 2016. But during the protracted legal battle, owners Kathryn Stearns and her son Randall shipped 19 tigers to Oklahoma days before a court-ordered inspection. During the trip, one of those tigers ga


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About me
After more than 50 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

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Scientists confirm sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds

Scientists confirm sighting of one of the world’s rarest birds

Conservationists from Bristol Zoological Society have confirmed a sighting of one of the rarest and most endangered birds in the world.

A team from Bristol Zoological Society travelled to Panay Island in the Philippines in search of the elusive Negros bleeding heart dove and, after five days of trekking for eight hours each day, they managed to film the bird deep in the heart of the forest.

The species is so rare that it has only been filmed in the wild a handful of times. This is the first time it has been seen and filmed in recent years.

It is feared there are now less than 300 pairs of Negros bleeding heart doves left in the wild, named for the bright, blood-red plumage on their white breasts.

The Zoo’s Philippines conservation project is co-led by Dr Daphne Kerhoas, a lecturer in conservation science at Bristol Zoo. Dr Kerhoas filmed the bird and described it as a ‘career highlight’.

She said: “Not only are there very few of these birds left in existence, but they are also very shy, meaning they are rarely seen. We have spent many years searching for this bird but have never before seen one outside of captivity. To finally have seen and videoed one first-hand is fantastic.”

The bird was spotted in the North West Panay Peninsula national park, where Bristol Zoological Society is now establishing a new research station to continue monitoring and studying the species.

This will allow experts to carry out in-depth studies of endangered animals living in remote and previously inaccessible areas of the forest.

Dr Kerhoas added: “With so little information existing about these birds in the wild, this sighting gives us greater hope than ever before that there is a population worth protecting and that our efforts will be channelled in the right place at the right time. We are feeling extremely optimistic for the future of the conservation project of this striking bird.”

Negros bleeding heart doves are classified as a Critically Endangered species on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Bristol Zoological Society has been working in the Philippines since 2000 and has now started an island-wide survey of mammals and birds on the islands of Negros and Panay.

This new research effort will allow conservationists to build a much better picture of the richness of the biodiversity of the forest. It also means Zoo conservationists will be able to devote more time and resources to studying other endangered animals in the forests, such as Visayan warty pigs, ufous-headed hornbills, Visayan tarictic hornbills and Philippine spotted deer.

The presence of researchers will also discourage illegal hunting in the area as well as generating additional income for local people.

Bristol Zoological Society will also support future conservation work being carried out by its partner organisation in the Philippines, Panaycon.

The Philippines is home to more than 20,000 endemic species of plants and animals. However, 95 per cent of the country’s forests have already been cut down, mainly to grow crops. The Society is working to protect a host of endangered species and the habitats they live in and carries out vital research into the animals that live there.

Bristol Zoological Society’s conservation project in the Philippines is sponsored by Airbus.

The Society is a conservation and education charity and relies on the generous support of the public not only to fund its important work in the Zoo, but also its vital conservation and research projects spanning five continents.

For more information about Bristol Zoological Society’s work in the Philippines, visit

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

Why are there not any questions being asked about this?

Why are there not any questions being asked about this?

So apparently 6 Gorillas (Gorilla beringei bergingei), 8 Bonobos, 8  Chimpanzees, 4 Manatees, and 10 Okapi. All of which were Captive Bred in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are being supplied to Taiyuan Zoo and Anji Zhongnan Zoo in China.

I have not visited either of these Chinese Zoos but I have seen a few nasty news stories about them over the years but that really is not the point. What I am more interested in is where the animals from the DRC were bred. Can anyone enlighten me?

And I have not picked it up anywhere else. Usually the press is jumping up and down when elephants are exported from Africa. This move is more serious and it stinks.

I would hope that questions are being asked in high places in CITES offices and the various zoo bodies around the world.

I have nothing against China or Chinese Zoos in particular (just some of them) but something very very wrong is taking place here and somebody needs to act on it.

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant