Tuesday, April 30, 2019



Young conservationist from India receives Dutch prize for international nature conservation thanks to her creativity and ingenuity

Arnhem, 30 April 2019 – Divya Karnad (34), a conservationist from India proves that successful conservation is often accompanied by creativity and ingenuity. One of her measures for endangered shark species involves her working together with well-known Indian chefs to promote alternative seasonal seafood dishes that reduce the shark bycatch. On Friday 3 May 2019, she will receive the Future For Nature Award 2019 and a sum of 50,000 euros awarded by the guest of honour Russell A. Mittermeier. The Future For Nature Awards will be held at the Safari Meeting Centre in Burgers’ Zoo. The other two winners of this Dutch prize for international nature conservation are Olivier Nsengimana (34) from Rwanda and Fernanda Abra (33) from Brazil.

Determined to fight for nature
Passion, determination and creativity: three characteristics which the winners of the Future For Nature Awards have in common. From one hundred and twenty-five entries from all over the world, an international professional jury once again selected three young and talented people who are making a difference in the protection of nature. Divya Karnad (India) protects sharks along the Coromandel coast of her homeland. Olivier Nsengimana (Rwanda) is the national protector of the endangered Grey Crown-Crane. Fernanda Abra (Brazil) has been very successful in reducing traffic casualties among certain animal species along the thousands of kilometres of Brazilian highways.

National and international celebrities support the work of Future For Nature
For the twelfth consecutive time, the 2019 Future For Nature Awards will be presented at Burgers' Zoo. In the past, the internationally recognised nature conservation prize was presented by icons such as Sir David Attenborough, Jane Goodall, Frans de Waal, Redmond O’Hanlon and Doutzen Kroes. His Royal Highness King Willem-Alexander was guest of honour at the tenth edition. We are proud to add Russell A. Mittermeier to this impressive list of people who support the Future For Nature Foundation.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Zoo News Digest 25th April 2019 (ZooNews 1019)

Zoo News Digest 25th April 2019  (ZooNews 1019)

Photo by 
Jörg Asmus



Dear Colleague,

So we have had some more Black Tiger cubs born in Vandalur Zoo in Chennai. There have been a few of these pseudo-melanistic cubs captive born in India since 2010, usually alongside white cubs. I would be extremely interested to know where the previous cubs are now and where the new ones will be going? I have no problems with white tigers or for that matter black tigers being born where they naturally occur....the genes are there. It is when people start to deliberately breed for colour that I see it as wrong. It strikes me that there a group of unscrupulous 'zoo' people who would give their eye teeth and a lot of money to get these animals so they can create the latest fashion animals for the zoo world. Perhaps the breeding is already taking place. It would take several years of inbreeding to create the next Frankentiger.

Two Tiger accidents in just a few days. They say these things come in threes...I hope not. I do hope though there are full investigations and we are all able to learn just what happened and so we can all learn. There is as always the inevitable debate as to whether it should be one or two keepers working carnivores. Personally I believe that one is better.

Working in Dubai for a few days. Back home to Thailand on Saturday. I will try and answer pending emails on my return.

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

Lots of interest follows


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 109,500+ Followers on Facebook( and over 109,700 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 900 Zoos in 155+ 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,

Animal Welfare: a top priority, but how on earth do we measure it?
‘Animal welfare’ is now included in the majority of zoo mission statements, it’s fundamental in activist campaigns and government agendas, and it’s a top priority for animal caretakers- all of which should be seen as great progress.

But as demands increase for evidence that animals are experiencing good welfare, the question that many facilities are therefore facing is: how on earth do we measure it?

Condition improving for zookeeper attacked by tiger at Topeka Zoo
The director of the Topeka Zoo says a zookeeper who was attacked by a Sumatran tiger remains in intensive care but her prognosis for recovery is good.

The zookeeper was attacked Saturday while in the outdoor tiger habitat of Sanjiv, a 7-year-old male tiger.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports zoo director Brendan Wiley said the zookeeper was talking Saturday night. Wiley said she remained in intensive care Sunday but could be transferred out of the unit soon.

A zookeeper suffered 'lacerations and punctures' in a tiger attack at the zoo in Topeka, Kansas
A zookeeper is recovering in the hospital after she was attacked Saturday morning by a tiger at the Topeka, Kansas, zoo.

The woman and a 7-year-old male Sumatran tiger named Sanjiv were both in the tiger habitat shortly after the zoo opened when the tiger "essentially tackled our keeper," Zoo Director Brendan Wiley said at an afternoon press conference.
The zookeeper suffered "lacerations and punctures to the back of the head, neck, back and one arm," Wiley told reporters.

Wildlife expert: There is no question why this happened VIDEO

Bengal tiger bites former Las Vegas entertainer at Arizona nature park
Johnathan Kraft, a former performer on the Las Vegas Strip and founder of Keepers of the Wild Nature Park, was bitten by Bengal Tiger Bowie Monday, April 22, during a severe thunderstorm.

According to a release posted on Facebook, the incident occurred during a period of heavy rain and lightning as well as hail.

Kraft, who is also the director of the nature park in Valentine, Arizona located roughly 140 miles southeast of Las Vegas, was concerned for the tiger’s safety and was in the process of shifting Bowie’s gates to allow the ti

Vol 34, No 4 (2019): April

Fourteen animals were saved in a month
On March 20th, 2019, Save Vietnam’s Wildlife successfully rescued two Chinese pangolins from Song Thanh Nature Reserve, Quang Nam Province. Beside some minor injuries and dehydrated, they are in a good condition and now under our care at the rescue center in Cuc Phuong national park.

"Zoo Nerding" in Western Australia: The wonders of Perth Zoo!
I  am currently doing my PhD at the University of Birmingham, funded by the UK's Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), via CENTA, a consortium of universities and research centres. As part of my PhD, I am required to do a work placement, doing something relevant to my career goals but significantly different from my PhD project. When the placement was introduced during my PhD induction back in October last year, I remember jumping

Antwerp ZOO encourages mating of penguins with a special light effect
By installing special lamps in Antwerp Zoo that show the sexual maturity of the king penguins, the zoo hopes to stimulate the breeding process.

Penguins see differently from humans. By installing special lamps, the king penguins in Antwerp Zoo will now see pink and purple spots on the beaks of their peers as soon as they have reached sexual maturity, just like they would in nature. The effect should better match pairs and stimulate the breeding success of the endangered species. The experiment is unique in Europe.

The light emitting plasma lamps (lep-lamps) contain UV-light, which brings out the pink and purple spot naturally, previous research has indicated. "As the first zoo in Europe to do this, we are setting a trend," said Jan Dams, coordinator of animal care at the zoo.

Are dingoes just feral dogs?
Australia’s dingoes are both iconic and shrouded in mystery: were the dogs’ ancestors, introduced to the continent at least 5,000 years ago by unknown Asian seafarers, domesticated? Should modern-day dingoes be considered feral or wild, just another dog or a species unto themselves? These questions are central to the fate of dingoes and Australia’s biodiversity.

Last year the government of Western Australia, the state encompassing the nation’s western third, declared that dingoes will no longer be considered native fauna. Instead they’ll be classified as non-native wild dogs, no different than feral pets. That designation will allow them to be killed in unlimited numbers.

Birds of prey stamps released by Royal Mail
The new stamp collection features original images produced by British photographer Tim Flach, who has taken a mix of portraits of these majestic birds, showing them close-up and in flight.

“I think it’s great that Royal Mail has chosen to put a focus on the birds of prey that we have in the UK,” says Flach. “I’m really mindful of the fact that we’ve never been more separated from nature. And, the stamps really let us better understand what these animals are.”

The defining characteristic of birds of prey is that they are carnivores. Raptors catch and carry their food with their feet and have exceptionally good binocular vision.

A rare antelope is being killed to make $20,000 scarves
Giovanni Albertini is accustomed to opulence. At this checkpoint on the Switzerland-Italy border, a two-hour drive from Milan, he spends his days evaluating well-coiffed travelers and scouring their Gucci and Louis Vuitton luggage for contraband. He and his Swiss border patrol colleagues have assessed diamonds, pricey wines, and caviar, among other luxuries.

But the drab scarf spread out before him now would not immediately impress. Wrinkled, beige, speckled with tiny, crinkly hairs, its only embellishment was a small fringe at each end. And yet this seemingly unremarkable wrap could be another valuable piece of contraband.

UK government supports global action to fight illegal wildlife trade
Schemes to combat poaching and protect species like marine turtles and grey parrots from being illegally traded, are among fourteen new projects set to benefit from a UK government fund to combat wildlife criminals around the globe.

Ministers have today marked Earth Day (22 April) by announcing that the schemes will each receive a share in £4.6 million from the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund.

Conservators Center seeks healing after death of intern
Conservators Center Director Mindy Stinner thinks of Alex Black every day.

On December 30, 2018, Black, a 22-year-old husbandry intern, was attacked and killed by a lion during a routine cleaning. The lion, Matthai, was then shot dead. He’d been born at the center in 2004 and spent his entire life there.

Sitting in her office nearly four months later, Stinner recalls the days and weeks that followed the tragedy.

“It was absolutely the worst day of my life,” she says, “and I feel like the worst day in the life of the Conservators Center. It was devastating for Alex Black’s

Study shows zoos and aquariums dramatically increase information needed to help save species
Despite volumes of data currently available on mankind, it is surprising how little we know about other species. A paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) confirms that critical information, such as fertility and survival rates, is missing from global data for more than 98 percent of known species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Conservators Center seeks healing after death of intern
Conservators Center Director Mindy Stinner thinks of Alex Black every day.

On December 30, 2018, Black, a 22-year-old husbandry intern, was attacked and killed by a lion during a routine cleaning. The lion, Matthai, was then shot dead. He’d been born at the center in 2004 and spent his entire life there.

Sitting in her office nearly four months later, Stinner recalls the days and weeks that followed the tragedy.

“It was absolutely the worst day of my life,” she says, “and I feel like the worst day in the life of the Conservators Center. It was devastating for Alex Black’s family. Her loss of life was truly horrible and we were, quite honestly, emotionally shocked and numb for a little bit because it’s just such an incredible trauma. And we really had to turn all of our attention to making sure we knew what had

SeaWorld publishes decades of orca data to help wild whales
The endangered killer whales of the Pacific Northwest live very different lives from orcas in captivity.

They swim up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) a day in pursuit of salmon, instead of being fed a steady diet of baitfish and multivitamins. Their playful splashing awes and entertains kayakers and passengers on Washington state ferries instead of paying theme park customers

How do we decide which species are endangered or threatened?
The eagle’s populations once dwindled to fewer than 500 nesting pairs, thanks in part to the widespread use of a pesticide called DDT, which thinned their eggs, as well as habitat loss and hunting. The U.S. banned DDT in 1972, and the bird was protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act of 1973. Thirty four years later, bald eagles had recovered sufficiently to be removed from listing.

In the Shadows of Lions
Behind every image of African wildlife on social media, there is a story. Some stories put a spotlight on the tireless conservation efforts made to protect these animals, while others show a dark side, especially when it comes to unethical and misleading tourist activities.

10 steps of a bear checkup
Dr. Jorg Mayer annually takes a group of students out to Bear Hollow Zoo in Athens to perform an annual bear checkup.

The checkup typically takes place a month or so before the bears hibernate for winter and a lot of preventive medicine happens during this exam, according to Mayer, associate professor of zoological and exotic animal medicine at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

So what exactly is involved in this annual exam?

New Sydney Zoo ruffles feathers of neighbouring Featherdale Wildlife Park
A cage-free zoo set to open in western Sydney this year has again ruffled the feathers of a rival outdoor wildlife attraction, less than a year after its out-of-court settlement with Taronga Zoo over the right to use the name "Sydney Zoo".

Sydney Zoo, a new $36-million development in the Western Sydney Parklands at Bungarribee near Eastern Creek, is now in the midst of a tussle with the 47-year-old Featherdale Wildlife Park - and cuddles with koalas are at the centre of it all.

The most important threats to brown bear populations in Iran
Iran is a vast country with an area of 1,623,779 km2 in which there are 164 mammal species including the Asiatic black bear and brown bear. Human-bear conflict is the main reason for the brown bear number reduction and range collapse in this country. In this short article, I summarize the most important threats to brown bear populations in Iran:

Orca Morgan, a well-known name that has regularly appeared at VTL Photography. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 we visited Morgan in Loro Parque to see how she was doing. In recent years there has been much to do around the killer whale, and it still is. In the meantime a lot has changed for Morgan, she has become a lot bigger and she is the mother of little Ula. Mid January , reports came out in which activists claimed that little Ula was possibly seriously ill. So it's high time for a new update!

The Tapanuli orangutan: Status, threats, and steps for improved conservation
Ever since the Tapanuli orangutan (Pongo tapanuliensis) was described two years ago (Nater et al., 2017) it has frequently been in the news for two primary reasons. First, because of the excitement generated by the discovery of the first new extant great ape species since 1929. Second, because of the immediate threat posed to the new species by the development of a hydrodam to generate electricity (Sloan, Supriatna, Campbell, Alamgir, & Laurance, 2018). As the species has only been described recently there is no paper that summarizes its status and threats even though some of that information is available from a previous study where this species was still considered a population of the Sumatran orangutan (Pongo abelii) (Wich et al., 2016). In this letter, we aim to remedy this gap by providing a succinct overview of the status of and threats to the Tapanuli orangutan, as we

Work with endangered animals is insurance policy for future, zoo says
Hamilton Zoo, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, says its work to protect endangered species with its breeding programme is more important now than it has ever been.
It was founded by Murray and Gloria Powell in 1969 as the Hilldale Game Park, primarily to raise pheasants.

Later, in 1981, it was taken over by the Hamilton City Council.

Hamilton Zoo now houses over 600 native and exotic animals and last year saw 140,000 visitors through the gates.

'It is a rollercoaster': looking after 4000 animals in Taronga Zoo's wildlife hospital
It's not an easy job looking after over 4000 animals, but for the 17 staff members at Taronga Zoo's wildlife hospital, it's a rewarding job.

The day starts at 7am with a team meeting followed by checking-up on the injured animals or preparing them for release, as well as yearly health checks of the entire zoo population. Hospital staff also care for another 1400 animals annually brought in by the public, including blue tongue lizards, red belly snakes and rainbow lorikeets.

Costa Rica sanctuary still saving sloths after quarter of a century
It's pretty surprising to see a 27-year-old jump into her mother's arms and insist on being held like a baby.

At the Sloth Sanctuary outside of Cahuita, Costa Rica, though, such a sight is ordinary. Particularly when the 27-year-old is a sloth named Buttercup and the mother in question is a human.

Best Practice for Hand Rearing Lions and Tigers - Gail Hedberg Presentation

The Heartland Zoo Tragedy Everyone Forgot
The names of the three fugitive chimpanzees hunted down, shot, and left to bleed out on the baking Great Plains by a well-armed posse were Tyler, Jimmy Joe, and Reuben. Reuben’s loss hit the hardest; he was the original celebrity chimp of Royal, Nebraska (pop. 63). The lone survivor, Ripley, enjoyed his freedom on a local neighbor’s tire swing in a scene simultaneously Rockwellian and Orwellian; he was returned safely to his cage at the zoo. Fourteen years later, the man behind it all, Dick Haskin, lives with the painful memories of the primate massacre.

Joy, one of Houston Zoo's baby elephants, has recovered from a difficult case of herpes
For more than a week, Houston Zoo keepers were unsure if Joy, one of their youngest Asian elephants, was going to survive.

She had contracted the herpes virus, called EEHV (elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus), the zoo announced Friday — a virus that afflicts both Asian and African elephants across the globe and has a 85 percent mortality rate.

How poachers of this rare frog became its protectors
In Peru, there’s a drink that some call frog juice. It’s a traditional preparation, made of raw, skinned frogs blended with ingredients such as maca root and honey. This “tonic” is mostly sold as an aphrodisiac, though it’s also claimed to cure everything from asthma to osteoporosis. (No scientific evidence exists for its efficacy.)

The frog of choice is the Lake Titicaca water frog. Things have become so dire for this once common amphibian (which got the nickname “scrotrum frog” from the many folds of its skin) tha

2 black, 1 white tiger cubs at Vandalur zoo
Two black tiger cubs and a white tiger cub are the new attractions at the Aringar Anna Zoological Park in Vandalur.

According to a press release from the park, a female white tigress Namrutha sired with a male tiger Nagula, which has the white gene. Three cubs were born to Namrutha -- two females and one male.

Countries home to Saiga antelopes develop new roadmap to save the species
Range States have agreed on a set of concrete conservation priorities guiding the work under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Concerning the Restoration, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Saiga Antelopes (Saiga spp.) up to 2025.

The agreement came at a workshop held from 1-4 April and jointly organized by CMS and CITES as well as the International Academy for Nature Conservation of the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN INA) with funding from the German Ministry of the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU).

IF YOU CAN INTERACT WITH THEM IT IS NOT CONSERVATION: Fake sanctuaries and naive tourists
I was 21 when taken by ignorance and naivety, I left to volunteer in a famous sanctuary of baboons and cheetahs in Namibia. I do not deny it: what had prompted me to have that experience, was the idea of ​​being able to sleep with the monkeys and being able to pet the cheetahs; on the other hand, what did I know, 5 years ago of what was behind these interactions? Behind these places?

A decade of efforts to save the world’s loneliest turtle
The last known female Yangtze giant softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) died during a fifth artificial insemination last Saturday in Suzhou Zoo in China's eastern Jiangsu Province, signifying the defeat of efforts to sustain this endangered species.

A joint team made up of domestic and international experts from the zoo, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA) is working on the exact cause of death.

Aquarium dolphins’ move from Baltimore may be delayed
It looks like Baltimore’s dolphins may be around for a little longer than expected.

The National Aquarium in Baltimore announced plans in 2016 to move its Atlantic bottlenose dolphins out of the Marine Mammal Pavilion on Inner Harbor Pier 4 and into a first-of-its-kind North American dolphin sanctuary by the end of 2020, in an effort to provide “an environment in which they can thrive.”

At the time, 2020 seemed a long way off. But with that deadline now less than two years away, aquarium president and CEO John Racanelli says they may need more time.

Racanelli said the aquarium has still not found a location to create its desired protected seaside sanctuary for the dolphins, which could hold up the move. “It might be an extra year,” he said. “We want to do it right.”

Racanelli said the aquarium has focused on possible sites in the Florida Keys,

A Bulgarian vulture's odyssey into Yemeni war zone
Nelson was in a tight corner, tied up and imprisoned by men who believed he was a spy. It didn't look good.

When he was captured, they found a satellite tracker attached to his leg, more sophisticated than much of the equipment they had in Taiz, a town on the front line of Yemen's catastrophic war.

Nelson, they decided, was transmitting military secrets.

In any war it is bad news to be accused of spying. In Yemen, an isolated, dusty and desperate place, suspicions can race round groups of armed men and harden minds. Even if you're a vulture.


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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 http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/Hubpages http://hubpages.com/profile/Peter+Dickinson
Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Until recently 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 storyteller, 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

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Zoo News Digest 18th April 2019 (ZooNews 1018)

Zoo News Digest 18th April 2019  (ZooNews 1018)

(Sorry. I don't know the photo source)

Peter Dickinson



Dear Colleague,

I have always had a strong affection for old buildings. If historic I feel I know them for I will have visited them in books or movies if not in the flesh. They are like the tallest biggest trees in the forest and demand a sort of reverence regardless of what they represent. I have visited Notre Dame four times and I have an emotional attachment to it entwined with private personal memories and so I was both saddened and shocked to watch it burn on TV.
At the same time I am horrified at what is happening to our planet on a daily basis. A 'new' Notre Dame will be there, standing looking beautiful long after my ashes have grown cold. What of the rest of our world? Forests felled, Species gone forever, forever, forever!

I am not against hunting. It has its place. I have hunted for food, for pest control and for culling. I was satisfied by a good clean quick kill. I see more often the need to cull out certain animals or even entire families for the benefit of the environment and other species. I also see nothing wrong in someone paying to cull an animal that would be killed anyway out of necessity. If that money truly goes back into conservation then it has to be a good thing. There is so little true wild anymore it has to be managed. I can foresee the necessity to cull tigers in some Indian forests in the not too distant future. It is already overdue for leopards in some.
My problem is when animals are killed for pleasure. Canned hunters are in serious need of psychiatric assessment. There is something wrong with them. Which is where I am against the import of hunting trophies. By all means let hunters get their jollies and contribute to conservation (which canned hunting doesn't) but allowing them to take bits of animals back home so they can get their rocks off again and again makes the bile rise in my stomach.

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

Lots of interest follows


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 109,500+ Followers on Facebook( and over 109,700 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 900 Zoos in 155+ 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 cheap and shady business of taking selfies with tigers
Tinder realized it had a tiger problem in the summer of 2017. Too many of its users were featuring photos of themselves crouched next to big cats like tigers and lions, animals that, had a random Tinder user approached them under normal circumstances, would probably try to eat them.

That is what tigers and lions do when they are living in the wild and going about their business. But the tigers “posing” with Tinder users weren’t roaming free; their handlers at zoos and entertainment venues had made them available for pics through sedation or other harmful practices. Over the course of the 2010s, taking a selfie cuddling a tiger became easier and cheaper than ever.

Pertinax is one of the elder statesmen of Paignton Zoo in Devon. The 37-year-old Western lowland gorilla has long been dogged by constipation; animal experts decided on this move after oranges and even a course of tinned prunes failed to bring relief.

There are some good scientific names for the technique: microbiome restorative therapy; faecal transplant; transfaunation. It’s used on humans, on farm animals and is even being used to help save endangered species. Call it what you will, it’s still not something you want to dwell on at mealtimes…

Pertinax weighs-in at a healthy 200 kilos, achieved on a vegetable diet. The old boy is effectively retired and living separately from the Zoo’s three boisterous youngsters, Kiondo, Kivu and N’Dowe. One of his keepers, Gemma, says: “He’s always had a problem with constipation. He eats the same diet as the others and lives in the same environment, but they poo normally and he doesn’t.”

An Enduring Conservation Legacy: The San Diego Zoo Panda Team
Successful and enduring conservation inherently demands that a cross-disciplinary team approach be implemented. So, when I look back at the San Diego Zoo’s Giant Panda Conservation Program, I can say without hesitation that when—more than 25 years ago—San Diego Zoo CEO Doug Myers and, former giant panda program head, Don Lindburg forged a team-centric strategy for our efforts, they set us up for success. Through the persistent efforts of scientists, animal care, and public outreach specialists, the San Diego Zoo Giant Panda Team dedicated itself to improving the plight of giant pandas through the application of scientific findings to panda management, and engaging the public in the plight of this once-endangered conservation icon.

Developing a Metric of Usable Space for Zoo Exhibits
The size of animal exhibits has important effects on their lives and welfare. However, most references to exhibit size only consider floor space and height dimensions, without considering the space afforded by usable features within the exhibit. In this paper, we develop two possible methods for measuring the usable space of zoo exhibits and apply these to a sample exhibit. Having a metric for usable space in place will provide a better reflection of the quality of different exhibits, and enhance comparisons between exhibits.

Connecting spots, connecting cultures through Persian leopard conservation in Turkmenistan
The Ustyurt Nature Reserve is a spectacular place. The Ustyurt plateau was once the bottom of the Tethys ocean. As you walk on it you come across relics that are as far as 100 million years old: shell traces in the limestone, and ferromanganese nodules of different size. And shark teeth. The terrain broken by chalk deposits in the form of rocks and random cracks looks like Mars. Steep cliffs called chinks tower over the plains, used by goitered gazelles. Its muddy and salty portions, called salanchak, are the gazelles’ refuge from wolves, as their heavy paws sink into them, giving a breather to these lanky ungulates who can then safely escape. The chinks have dee

How birders helped pinpoint hotspots for migratory bird conservation
Many bird populations are crashing, largely because they migrate such long distances and are at risk from human influence at every link in their migratory chain.

One favourite, the tiny Canada warbler, is among those that find themselves in trouble. Although this bird weighs only as much as a AAA battery, each spring it flies more than 5,500 kilometres from its winter home in South America to breed in Canada, stopping in Mexico, Texas and Michigan along the way. The Canada warbler makes this incredible journey as many as eight times over the course of its life.

No sightings of Sumatran rhinos in key areas of Sabah, extinction likely
No Sumatran rhinoceros have been detected in Sabah by the latest surveys, indicating that the species may have become extinct.

However, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew expressed optimism that these habitats remained suitable for this species during the question-and-answer session in the state assembly sitting on Wednesday (April 17).

"My ministry, through the Wildlife Department, has in the past collaborated with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) like Borneo Rhino Alliance and WWF Malaysia to conduct rhino population surveys at the forest reserves of Ulu Segama and Ulu Malua as well as Tabin Wildlife Reserve, and identified as the key areas for this species.

Ethical considerations on Parrots in presentations and current recommendations by the EAZA Parrot Taxon Advisory Group

Arrival of Belugas Postponed
The arrival of two beluga whales from Shanghai, scheduled for Keflavík International Airport tomorrow, has been postponed, Morgunblaðið reports. The reason: inclement weather in Iceland this week and the fact that Landeyjahöfn harbor, from where the whales were supposed to sail to Vestmannaeyjar islands, is yet to open for the season.

Merlin Entertainments and the charity Sea Life Trust, organizers of the project, do not believe the belugas would survive the three-hour ferry ride from Þorlákshöfn harbor to Vestmannaeyjar islands. The ferry ride from Landeyjahöfn harbor, located about 80 km (50 mi) farther east and open only part of the year, takes only half an hour.

Competing conservation ideologies: Troubled times for reporting on Namibian wildlife
Two competing ideological narratives have emerged in African wildlife conservation. The one is based on so-called ‘compassionate conservation’, aligned with the mostly Western animal rights movement, the other based on the human rights of the owners of the wildlife, the local people who live with wild animals. In Namibia, wildlife is thriving under the second narrative, which endorses consumptive use of wildlife.

It's science: Viewing zoo animals reduces your stress levels
Imagine a beautiful day checking out the animals at the Detroit Zoo in Royal Oak, feeling a bit calmer and happier. There's actually some science to that.

The results of a recent wellness study conducted by the Detroit Zoological Society and Michigan State University researchers found that viewing animals reduces stress levels.

According to a news release, study participants were hooked up to electrodes in a lab, given a verbal math test and then asked to deliver a speech off-the-cuff.

Then the participants were separated into three groups and showed a video of either a plain white screen, Detroit traffic or animals at the Detroit Zoo.

MSU scientists measured stress indicators, like heart rate, skin conductance, and facial reaction. The results showed that stress levels were lowest in the group who were shown animals.

Stop feeding the animals, says zoo
Shanghai Zoo is urging visitors to stop feeding the animals, saying that swans, wild geese, bears and tortoises are suffering health problems as a result.

The number of visitor has been rising this spring, along with an increase in the number of animals with intestinal obstruction and digestion problems, the zoo said.

The zoo is taking measures including enhanced patrols, more signs and more leaflets. It is also organizing activities to drive home the message that unnecessary feeding is not welcome.

Swans, wild geese and ducks are particularly vulnerable, said keeper Zhang Zhihao.

"Many tourists bring bread and biscuits to attract swans, wild geese and ducks at the water platform," he said. "However, swans, wild geese and ducks never eat these foods in the wild.

Importance of Zoo Animal and Wildlife Research

Chick hatches on Sado Island from egg of crested ibis gifted to Japan by China
A chick has hatched from an egg laid by a crested ibis, an internationally protected species, which was given by China to a conservation center on Sado Island off Niigata Prefecture, the facility said Monday.

The Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center confirmed that one of the eggs laid by 3-year-old Guan Guan had hatched for the first time since she arrived in Japan last October.

Conditioning Animals With A Social Structure
Since starting my career, I’ve worked with a huge amount of animals with different social structures, from Killer whales and dolphins, to Chimpanzees, Takins, Bush dogs, Lions, and even Elephants. I’ve also worked with a lot of humans, perhaps the most complex of all but we can agree all of these species have a completely different type of social structure. Because of the often complex relationships these animals have with each other when training social animals there are a few things to remember.

Often for our blogs and Facebook group we are constantly searching for interesting training/enrichment videos to share on social media. These videos often inspire me and others here at Zoospensefull, to think about what can b

400,000 African pangolins are hunted for meat every year – why it’s time to act
Pangolins, a group of unique African and Asian scaly mammals, are considered to be one of the most heavily trafficked wild mammals in the world. They are hunted and traded for their meat, scales, and other body parts, and used as traditional medicines in parts of Africa and Asia.

Of the eight pangolin species, four are found in Africa. These are the white‐bellied, black‐bellied, giant, and Temminck’s ground pangolin. Three of these species live in Central African forests. The tree-dwelling white-bellied and black-bellied pangolins, weighing approximately 1.5 to 3kg (comparable to a small rabbit), and the ground-dwelling giant pangolin can weigh up to 33kg (the weight of a small Labrador dog).

Tree dens play a critical role in panda lifestyle
In a paper recently published in the journal Biological Conservation, an international team of conservationists highlights the importance of tree dens for pandas raising infants in native habitats. The study, conducted in Fengtongzai and Foping Nature Reserves in China, analyzed the difference in microhabitats of cave dens and tree dens used by female pandas. The result of the research suggests that conservation efforts need to take into account key resources, such as large old trees that provide important microhabitats that support rare and endangered wildlife.

"Pandas are found in different kinds of forests in China," said the study's lead author, Wei Wei, an associate professor at China West Normal University. "Old growth forests provide large tree cavities for den sites, but pan

Network ensured Kumamoto zoo's survival during 2016 quake crisis
The night the Kumamoto quake struck three years ago, veterinarian Atsushi Matsumoto, 46, was working overtime at the Kumamoto City Zoological and Botanical Gardens, when everything around him, himself included, began shaking violently.

First, he checked the safety of the zoo's ferocious animals. All five, including a tiger, a snow leopard and a lion, were safe and sound. But phone calls started pouring in from worried local residents, asking, “Has a lion escaped?”

Lions rescued from 'Europe's worst zoo' have been stranded in tiny pens in Albania over bureaucratic red tape preventing them from leaving the country to finally start a new life
Three lions rescued from 'Europe's worst zoo' are stranded in Albania – held in bare, tiled pens just a few metres square.

Twelve-year-old Zhaku and his eight-year-old sons, Boby and Lenci, are caught in a bureaucratic wrangle over documents allowing them to leave the country to start a new life.

Since October they have been held at Tirana Zoo after being released from a private animal park in southern Albania where they were malnourished and kept in shocking conditions.

How Dangerous Are Cassowaries, Really?
Today, it’s time to revisit the Tet Zoo archives, and post this (now very old) section of text on cassowaries. It first appeared here (at Tet Zoo ver 2) back in May 2007. I haven’t finished on the Mesozoic maniraptorans, by the way (for parts published so far see part 1, part 2, part 3).

South African police seize 167 rhino horns after tipoff
South African police have seized 167 rhino horns believed to have been destined for Asia.

Two suspects were arrested in the sting operation in the North West province on Saturday, which followed a tipoff. Police said it was one of the biggest hauls of rhino horns in the country.

“We arrested them on Saturday in the Hartbeespoort dam area. They were driving in a vehicle and they were intercepted,” said Brig Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the Hawks, an elite police unit. “It was an intelligence-driven operation that led to the arrest of the two. They were found in possession of those 167 rhino horns.”

The suspects, aged 57 and 61, are expected to appea

Massive haul of ivory seized in anti-smuggling crackdown
China customs recently seized 2,748 ivory tusks weighting a total of 7.48 metric tons after cracking down on a major smuggling case in a joint operation.

Tusks are illegally transferred from African countries and imported into China under the guise of "wood", officers from the General Administration of Customs said on Monday.

The smuggling case was cracked on March 30 after a joint operation lasting three months. The action was conducted under the cooperation of police forces from several cities including Hefei, Nanjing, Beijing, Fuzhou and Qingdao.

KILLER CASSOWARY: World's most dangerous bird kills Florida owner
A large, flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea killed its Florida owner when it attacked him after he fell, authorities said Saturday.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun that a cassowary killed the man Friday on his property near Gainesville, likely using its long claws. The victim, whose name was not released, was apparently breeding the birds, state wildlife officials said.

“It looks like it was accidental. My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked,” Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the newspaper.

Cassowaries are similar to emus and stand up to 6 feet (1.8 metres) tall and weigh up to 130 pounds (60 kilograms), with black body feathers and bright blue heads and necks.

Petting zoos harbour nasty bugs – research
Wash your hands extra carefully next time you visit a petting zoo.

New research presented at this year's European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Amsterdam, Netherlands this weekend has shown that petting zoos can create a diverse reservoir of multidrug resistant (MDR) bacteria, which could lead to highly virulent drug-resistant pathogens being passed on to visitors.

The study, by Professor Shiri Navon-Venezia of Ariel University, Ariel, Israel and colleagues, explores the prevalence, molecular epidemiology, and risk factors for animals in petting zoos becoming colonised by MDR bacteria.

Petting zoos are a popular attraction around the world, allowing direct and indirect exposure of both children and adults to a diverse range of animal species.

After Columbia Theatre show, what's really best for the tigers?
A national debate over the plight of tigers came into local focus last week when Montana-based illusionist Jay Owenhouse brought two rare Bengal tiger cubs to perform at Longview’s Columbia Theatre on Thursday.

The theater received thousands of emails after “Big Cat Rescue,” a Florida animal sanctuary, took opposition to Owenhouse’s show. No protesters appeared to show up, and Owenhouse’s show debuted without a hitch to about 350 attendees.

The conflict raised an elemental question: What is the best way to ensure tigers and other endangered animals have a future on this planet? And what role do zoos and other forms of captivity or management have in preserving them?

SeaWorld lays off undisclosed number of employees
SeaWorld has laid off an undisclosed number of employees around the country in a move it says is aimed toward improving efficiency.
SeaWorld Entertainment spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson-Beasley told the Orlando Sentinel on Saturday that the layoffs occurred Friday. She declined to say how many employees were let go or where or how much the company is saving.

Consommé of cane toad, anyone? MONA puts a feral feast of invasive species of the menu
Cane toad, sea urchin and fermented weeds aren’t on most people’s dinner plates.

But that’s exactly what is being served up at Hobart’s controversial Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) over the next few months.

The ‘delicacies’ are part of an exhibition dubbed Eat the Problem, which aims to challenge ideas of conventional eating and sustainability.

“Invasive species are a problem but we can re-frame them; how are they actually a resource?,” artist and curator Kirsha Kaechele said.

When Cleethorpes was home to a two-ton killer whale named Calypso
From the tropical creatures at The Jungle Zoo to the sea lions that used to perform at Pleasure Island, Cleethorpes is no stranger to amazing animals from around the world.

However, there was a time when the resort was home to one of the most impressive and recognisable mammals to have ever existed, a species whose captivity has provoked fierce controversy ever since they were first plucked from the oceans to entertain theme park guests – the killer whale.

The black and white predators, also called orcas, have been a source of fascination to people for centuries, and are known for their highly social behaviour and striking intelligence, not to mention their awe-inspiring size with some growing to more than 30 feet (9.8m) in length and weighing up to 6 tons.

Vulnerable smooth-coated otters face poaching threat

China devours Asia’s wildlife
There is a monster chewing its way through the wildlife of its smaller, weaker Southeast Asian neighbours. The monster can change forms – like a shape-shifter – but it goes by one name: China. The region’s wildlife is rapidly disappearing, being sucked into the vortex of the illegal wildlife trade that leads to China.

In the Myanmar border town of Mine Lar, Shan State, everything from tree-dwelling civets to clouded leopards, from tiger claws to elephant skin, and from pangolin scales to bear gall bladder is on sale, with the vast majority of customers coming over the border from Yunnan. In its September 2018 issue, National

Giant turtle faces extinction as last known female dies in a Chinese zoo
The Yangtze giant soft-shell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei) may become an extinct species after the only captive female, and one of only four known living individuals, died at a zoo in Suzhou City yesterday, April 13.

The turtle, a member of the largest freshwater turtle species in the world, died after an attempt to artificially inseminate the more than 90-year-old specimen by a team of scientists, Friday, April 12.

Chinese language media reports say that the turtle, which is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, showed abnormal signs after the procedure, and died after a 24 hour rescue attempt.

‘Panda Diplomacy’: A $24 Million Zoo Enclosure Angers Some
It was designed by Bjarke Ingels, the renowned Danish architect, and cost $24 million to build. It was inaugurated by Queen Margrethe II, Denmark’s reigning monarch. And it now accommodates a celebrity couple with peculiar eating habits and an almost year-round animosity toward each other.

Welcome to Copenhagen Zoo’s new panda house.

Officials at the zoo estimate that the combination of adorable animal starpower and innovative Danish design will draw an additional 400,000 visitors per year.

“For such an iconic animal, we needed an iconic setting,” said Bengt Holst, the zoo’s director. “You wouldn’t put the Mona Lisa in an ugly frame.”

Critically Endangered Echidna among wildlife menagerie seized in Philippines
A large seizure of 450 live wild animals from the island of New Guinea has been made in the southern Philippines, comprising hundreds of birds, dozens of reptiles, and a single Critically Endangered Western Long-beaked Echidna Zaglossus bruijni.

Former SA Zoo employee says nighttime themed events traumatize animals
A former San Antonio Zoo employee is blowing the whistle on what she describes as routine trauma for animals.

Her concerns stem from the popular themed attractions being held at night.

The former employee says she raised the same concerns to management during her time here but nothing was done.

"I was not fired, I quit," said Marjorie DeRusha-Morris. "I am disgruntled there is no question about that. I am disgruntled because of the treatment of the animals and the treatment of staff that stood up for the animals."

First sighting of gaur in Surin wildlife sanctuary in 15 years
For the first time in 15 years, a gaur has been spotted inside a wildlife sanctuary in Surin's Kap Choneg district, a wildlife official said on Saturday.

Wutthikul Ngampanya, chief of Huay Thapthan-Huay Samrarn Wildlife Sanctuary, said the gaur, which appeared to be around 10 years old, was spotted on Tuesday and Thursday.

The motion sensor camera, mounted on a tree near a small pond where wild animals come to drink, captured monochrome pictures of the gaur.

Wutthikul said it was the first time that a gaur has been seen at the spot in 15 years.

Verify: Are there more tigers in Texas than in the wild?
Texas is a national leader in a lot of obvious ways like energy, technology and construction. But have you ever heard there are more tigers in Texas than in the wild? Sounds crazy enough that I needed to verify it.

I first read that claim in a new book by Pulitzer Prize winning author Lawrence Wright in his new book “God Save Texas. Here’s what he wrote: “The Humane Society of the United States estimates there are more tigers living in captivity, in Texas, then the 3000 that are thought to be living in the wild.”

The big cat con: Inside Africa's shocking battery farms for lions
The growing appetite for 'conservation holidays' has shone a light on the dark – and poorly regulated – industry of lion farming, where felines are destined not to be 'released into the wild' - but to be shot by trophy hunters and their bones exported to Asia for use in traditional medicine.

Beth Jennings, 25, is mad about animals. After leaving school she worked for Dogs Trust, and then opted to spend a holiday looking after lion cubs rather than lying on a beach. Though it was called ‘volunteering’ she had to pay to do it: £1,500 for two weeks working at a game park in South Africa, plus £1,000 for flights and jabs. But she knew the wild lion population was in crisis, and this was her chance, according to the UK agency that sold it to her, to prepare orphaned cubs ‘for their eventual release into the wild’. She saved for more than a year, using her 21st-birthday money.

What it's like to visit the largest bat house colony in the world
Without bats, there’d be no tequila.

So, with Cinco de Mayo less than a month away, you might consider toasting the world’s only flying mammal on April 17, which is National Bat Appreciation Day.

You might also consider a trip to see these incredible creatures – roughly 500,000 of them! – as they emerge from the bat houses at Gainesville’s University of Florida, the largest colony in the world living in purpose-built structures.

Paul Ramey is the assistant director of marketing and public relations (and bat advocate, his e-mail signature states!) for the Florida Museum of Natural History – also on the UF campus – and he fields countless inquiries from local and out-of-state visitors eager to watch the nightly show.

And what a show it is.

Japan's otter and owl cafes are Instagram hotspots, but experts warn of 'a lifetime of cruelty'
It's not every day you get to sip a latte and snap a selfie with an otter, an owl or a hedgehog — and an increasing number of cafes in Asia are cashing in on the novelty.

Penguin hatched through artificial insemination growing quickly
The world’s first king penguin conceived through artificial insemination is growing so quickly that he's now as big as his parents.

The fluffy brown-feathered Kamogawa Sea World resident was born in September 2018.

In July 2018, the theme park, working with a U.S. research team, artificially inseminated several female king penguins. One of them deposited eggs, and the male chick was hatched.


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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 http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/Hubpages http://hubpages.com/profile/Peter+Dickinson
Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Until recently 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 storyteller, 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