Friday, November 17, 2017

RZSS supports community outreach work in Mongolia to help Pallas’s cat.


RZSS supports community outreach work in Mongolia to help Pallas’s cat.


Photo credit - Jon-Paul Orsi



RZSS supports community outreach work in Mongolia to help Pallas’s cat.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) is supporting key outreach work in Mongolia to help better understand one of the least studied cats in the world, the Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul). 

RZSS has been working with local communities to help increase the understanding of this little known species as part of the Pallas’s Cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA), of which the RZSS is a founding partner.

RZSS Cat Conservation Officer David Barclay said:
“There are large gaps in our knowledge of Pallas’s cats across the species range and this limits our ability to create effective conservation strategies. The community outreach, involving threat surveys, community engagement and delivery of educational materials provides us with new information and allows us to give something back to help raise awareness of the species.

“The PICA partnership with Nordens Ark and the Snow Leopard Trust, funded by Fondation Segré and global Pallas’s cat zoological collections, aims to do this by learning more about the species and the threats they face in the wild. This means working with local people throughout the cat’s natural range to help raise awareness of the species and help us gain a greater understanding of how people interact with the cats to help inform global conservation efforts.


PICA was established in 2016 by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Nordens Ark and the Snow Leopard Trust and is working with numerous partners, including field researchers, small cat specialists, the IUCN SSC Cat Specialist Group and other international zoological collections.   

A major challenge for the conservation of small cat species like the Pallas’s cat is establishing accurate baseline knowledge. The PICA project is active across multiple ranges where it is gaining new data about the distribution, threats and the ecology of the species whilst combining that information with camera trapping surveys, interview studies, and education programs to help develop the first ever global action plan for the species.

It is believed that Pallas’s cat faces many threats including the poisoning of prey species for pest control, hunting for skins and body parts, habitat loss and population fragmentation. Work being undertaken by PICA aims to collect data on such threats and use this to support future conservation action.  

Pallas’s cats are short stocky cats mainly grey / brown in colour with dark spots on the head and a dark-ringed tail allowing them to blend into their rocky and grasslands habitats which span from Iran in the west to China and Mongolia in the east.  With their thick fur they are perfectly adapted for surviving the harsh climatic conditions of Central Asia and can be found in the high mountain plateaus at elevations exceeding 5,000m above sea level.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Zoo News Digest 13th November 2017 (ZooNews 975)

Zoo News Digest 13th November 2017  (ZooNews 975)

 




Peter Dickinson

elvinhow@gmail.com

 

Dear Colleague,

Bit of a busy news week. See links. Many won't like my comments.

Sad to learn of the death of Khalil Mia, the elephant keeper in Tripura zoo. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and colleagues. I will be a hard time for all.

Accidents happen and undoubtedly this was the case with Nadezhda Srivastava, the experienced tiger keeper in Kaliningrad Zoo. 'Keeper error'. She never had any intention of going into the enclosure with the tiger. Still in critical condition zoo bosses are now talking of "disciplinary and possibly criminal action". Hardly the nicest thing to be saying when one of your staff is laid up in a hospital bed. 'Under investigation' should be enough.

I wonder what bosses would be saying in Dreamworld if that tiger had suddenly turned on its "handler". How I hate that word! There should be no situation when anybody ever has to handle a tiger. Zoo Keepers should never go in with them. And pulling the tail? I only have to think back a few years to the video of the infamous Craig Busch doing the same thing and the amount of negative comments it got….the same every time it is filmed in a Chinese Zoo. “Open hand taps to the facial area is the safest way to refocus tigers who are challenging each other". Totally unnecessary if you don't go in with them.
Tiger Kingdom use the same method only they use a stick "Sticks are held by trainers at all times for safety. From a very early age the cubs are taught that biting and clawing are not permitted. This has to be instilled in them every day for the rest of their lives, it is the only way it can make it possible for a human to be in the same enclosure as a man eating animal." Note 'man eating animal'.

These are not toys or there for people to act out their Tarzan fantasies…..and I don't care how much financial gain is made for conservation….Dreamworld needs to find another way. So many less reputable collections in Asia are copying them and tigers are suffering as a result. I have yet to meet a truly professional zoo person who does not condemn the practice….only they won't say it openly because of the money raised for conservation in these big flashy commercial organisations. What they are doing is WRONG. Zoo legislation in Australasia needs changing.

What of Lillith the Lynx. Right from the start I had my doubts that the animal had made a 'massive leap to freedom' and my suspicions compounded by the number of days it took for the animal to be reported missing. There is a true story hidden away there somewhere. It will come out eventually. The recent news of a second Lynx dying whilst being moved makes me think that perhaps the first one was being moved also when it made its break for freedom. I don't believe it killed several sheep...that's another story.
What is inarguable however is, like it or not, it needed to be shot. The law required it. You can only go around playing with traps for so long. Tranquiliser guns outside the zoo boundary are a serious mistake. 

The article on Pittsburgh Zoo (second link today) is getting a lot of interest. I have written at length on this AZA/ZAA in 'What Makes a Good Zoo - A Personal Journey' but I quote in part from there here.
"Around the world there are many noble caring (and other) zoo associations. SEAZA (South East Asian Zoo Association), CAZA (Canada's Accredited Zoos and Aquariums), JAZA (Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums) ZAA* (Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australasia), They are too numerous to include here.
*Note the Zoo and Aquarium Association of Australasia and the Zoological Association of America share the same acronym.
Sadly, not all Associations are created equal. Some are prepared to overlook conditions to increase membership. This cannot be and is not a good thing. To my mind things go very wrong is when they give the position of president to someone whose own zoos display chained up tigers for the public to pose with and does 'fun filled' shows of Orangutans and dogs.
The latest Association to emerge is the AAZA (Arabian Association of Zoos and Aquariums). This is long needed and has just recently published its excellent objectives and code of ethics. They have a difficult task ahead of them. Initial meetings invited all collections holding wild animals. Sadly many of these places have little or no understanding of 'The Five Freedoms' let alone Conservation, Research or Education. Will these places be prepared to change? It remains to be seen. Sadly within the Gulf region there is tremendous ignorance surrounding wild animals. The black market supplies a thriving demand for Cheetah, Big Cats and baby Orangutans. The freaks are there too, the White Tigers, White Lions, Tigons and similar. There is little doubt in my mind that many of these creatures are much loved but in many instances the people holding them just don't know that what they are doing is wrong or illegal. They hold such power that nobody will tell them. And what will happen to them when they become too large, unhandleable or boring? They will be 'donated' to a zoo. A zoo which doesn't want them but is not in a position to refuse or perhaps too ignorant or lacking in caring to do so. Hence the large number of Tiger/Lion hybrids that have recently arrived in the Philippines. They have literally been dumped upon them.
Of course there may be very valid reason why a collection may not become a member of its National Association. In the case of the AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums) they have recently implemented policy against 'free contact' with elephants. There is then no choice except in that a collection that was previously in the AZA can now choose to leave the AZA or radically change its husbandry methods over to protected contact. As far as I am aware the AZA are the only zoo body in the world who have adopted and insist on this change. Whereas I don't personally agree with it I do respect their stance.
Many will foresee the need to join another Association. There are many reasons why they may want or need to, but what if the other association's members look at things in a different way? Can you really hold hands with zoos which promote hybrids and colour morphs, posing and cub petting?
Return for a moment to what I was saying about the Zoo Federation and The National Zoological Association. The same situation exists today in the US as did back in the UK in the early 1970's. I don't suppose many in the US have really thought too deeply about it but I have. Zoos have a choice. The AZA (American Association of Zoos and Aquariums founded 1924) or the ZAA (Zoological Association of America founded 2005). Why two? Well formerly there was just the AZA. The requirements for membership for the AZA are quite strict. They are sticklers for the Five Freedoms, Education and Conservation Breeding Programmes. Those zoos which applied and failed 'lost face' and were asked to rectify their mistakes before applying again. In some cases it meant spending money to correct the errors and some collections didn't like that (sound familiar?). Others hated the idea of having their breeding controlled by someone else. The list goes on. The real reasons for the formation of the ZAA are not those which are stated on their website.
Now I am not suggesting that all members of the ZAA are bad. There are some truly wonderful member collections, in fact some are members of the AZA as well. Sadly though there are some very disreputable collections, Bad Zoos amongst the ZAA membership. It is a pity that the ZAA do not recognise that. Zoos really do need to call each other to task.
Look at the requirements for AZA membership and then think on this. Any current member of the AZA would sail through an inspection by the ZAA. Very few ZAA members would pass an inspection by the AZA.
Think also on the fact that the AZA are members of WAZA (World Association of Zoos and Aquariums) but the ZAA (Zoological Association of America) are not. Why not?"

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If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
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Jambo Topeka: A Conversation with Gary Clarke, Retired Director of the Topeka Zoo
Gary Clarke is often credited as being one of the first modern zoo directors in American zoo history. He directed the Topeka Zoo from 1962 to 1989. During that time, he developed a number of groundbreaking exhibits and innovative practices. Among Clarke’s achievements were being the first president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and creating the zoo world’s first indoor tropical rainforest building. After retiring from zoos, he had a second career guiding African safaris. Here is his story.





Pittsburgh Zoo was kicked out of important conservation programs when it left national association
Although the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium said nothing about it at the time, the zoo had to close its king penguin exhibit two years ago and temporarily close its river otter exhibit because the zoo left the country’s largest zoological association in a dispute over how it cares for its elephants.

Leaving the 93-year-old Association of Zoos and Aquariums — which represents 235 institutions, including almost every major zoo in the country except Pittsburgh — in 2015 led to some obvious impacts right away, including the closure of the zoo’s Sea Turtle Second Chance program, losing a $5,000 grant for a playground and state grants, and zoo members’ loss of free, reciprocal visits to other AZA zoos.

But another, little-discussed side effect was that the Pittsburgh Zoo could no longer be automatic members in some Species Survival Plan programs — a step that led to losing the king penguins and river otter.

That occurred two years ago. But it only came to light in September after one of the Pittsburgh Zoo’s Amur tigers died, and th




Nanga and Sukamara, Thailand’s Repatriated Orangutans Finally Released Into Borneo’s Forest
Nanga and Sukamura, two orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) who were repatriated from Thailand in 2006 were finally released in Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park, Katingan Regency, Central Borneo.

In total there were 12 orangutans released into the wild on November 10-11, 2017. This group consisted of four males and eight females.

"It took 11 years of rehabilitation for Nanga and Sukamara to be released into the wild," said Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Director Jamartin Sihite on Friday (11/10/2017).

Nanga and Sukamara are the names given by caretakers at BOSF Nyaru Menteng for both orangutans.

In the 11 years, Nanga, a 16-year-old female, and Sukamara, a 20-year-old female, live in Nyaru Menteng, at a BOSF-run rehabilitation center near Palangkaraya, Central Borneo.

When Nanga was six and Sukamara was eight, they were repatriated from Thailand after becoming part of a theme park’s attraction. Because they lived in a human environment since their childhood and accustomed to being fed, they needed to l



Confessions of a primate researcher in Singapore
Kate and Spade, Blackberry and Burberry, Snow White and Snowflake - Miss Sabrina Jabbar, 27, rattles off these names with a chuckle.

They are names given to unique mother and child combinations of an endangered primate species in Singapore - the Raffles' banded langur.

A primate researcher, Miss Jabbar is part of a working group here led by primatologist Andie Ang to understand and better protect the species. She is also a volunteer at the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore).

Miss Jabbar said that although people often think that primates are indistinguishable within species, they have u




Survey aims to help save finless porpoise in Yangtze
A scientific survey on the Yangtze River to review the status of the endangered finless porpoise was launched in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Friday. Its findings are expected to be released in March.

Financed by World Wildlife Fund and local foundations in the province, the survey is the third to be undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture since 2006. It is being led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Hydrobiology.

"Allowing for the decline in porpoise's population and distribution, the survey can show variations more accurately if carried out every five to six years," said Hao Yujiang, a researcher at the institute who is in charge of the work.

The survey will cover waters along the middle and lower stretches of the Yangtze and its two connecting lakes - Poyang and Dongting.

"We will calculate population and distribution of




The tricky business of defining new species
What gives an animal — or any living organism — the uniqueness required to be classified as its own species? Scientists can't agree.

Many of us grew up thinking that animals were different species when they couldn't interbreed. But all sorts of examples have contradicted this, such as the fact our ancestors bred with Neanderthals.

So how do scientists classify species?

It turns out the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. At last count there were over 30 different species concepts being used by scientists.

Ever since humans started naming species there have been arguments about where to draw the line.

"Many cases are clear cut but there are also many cases where it's hard to tell," says Kevin Thiele who heads up the Western Australian Herbarium and a program on taxonomy for the Australian Academy of Science.

"A species is an expert interpretation rather than objective fact."

It's often obvious when one animal is different from another: a lion is very clearly not a tiger. But sometimes the distinction is not so clear.




Romain Pizzi is saving endangered animals, one operation at a time
n 2012, the conservation charity Free The Bears approached Romain Pizzi with an unusual patient. One of the most innovative wildlife surgeons in Europe and perhaps the world, Pizzi is short, with a goatee, dark receding hair and muscular forearms which, when held out ready for surgery, give him the look of an otter on hind legs. A specialist in laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery - commonplace in humans, but until recently rare in veterinary medicine - he has operated on giraffes and tarantulas, penguins and baboons, giant tortoises and at least one shark, and maintains a reputation for taking on cases others won't. If you're in possession of a tiger with gallstones, or a suspiciously sickly beaver, you call Pizzi. As Matt Hunt, CEO of Free The Bears, told me recently,"We have other vets who are incredibly talented. But Romain is one of a kind."

The patient in question was a three-year-old Asiatic black bear called Champa. Known as moon bears for the white, crescent-shaped markings on their chests, Asiatic black bears are threatened across Asia, where their bile, paws and bones are used as ingredients in traditional medicine. Bears in bile farms are crammed into tiny cages with catheters surgically inserted into their gall bladders to drain the fluid. Countless bears die from infection and open wounds. As a result, moon bears are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of T




Number of captive pandas reaches 520 worldwide
The total number of successfully bred giant pandas reached 63 on October 6 this year, with the worldwide figure now standing at 520, according to Xinhua Chengdu.

The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has bred 11 giant panda cubs in eight litters, with the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre breeding 42 in 30 litters - a historical high. Giant pandas sent to France, US, Japan, Spain, Belgium, and Vienna have also given birth to cubs.




Escaped Lynx: Zoo's big cat arrangements face inspectors
A zoo where a big cat escaped - and remains on the loose - is to be put under scrutiny by inspectors.
The Eurasian lynx, about twice the size of a domestic cat, escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth at some point in the last three weeks.
The zoo has been closed while staff try to capture the Lynx.
Ceredigion Council will carry out an inspection of the zoo later this month.
The wild cat is described as being tan and white with dark spots on her back and legs, with a thick, stubby tail which is no more than six inches long.
It is believed Lilleth escaped after making a "giant leap" over an electrified fence to get out of the zoo.




Escaped lynx kills seven sheep. Is this a stark warning for release application?
Seven sheep have been killed by a lynx in Wales.
The captive Eurasian lynx escaped from Borth Zoo, Aberystwyth almost a week ago and after several days in the wild, it killed seven sheep in one attack.

This is the same species proposed by Lynx UK Trust in its release application that is being considered by Natural England

The National Sheep Association (NSA) understands that the cause of death was determined by post-mortem conducted by Welsh government officials which confirmed a single bite to the neck and subsequent internal bleeding. NSA understands two sheep were partly eaten, while the remaining five appeared to be killed purely out of instinct.




Escaped lynx: Borth zoo's big cat 'humanely destroyed'
A wild cat which escaped from a Ceredigion zoo has been "humanely destroyed", the county council has confirmed.
Lilleth, the Eurasian lynx, escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom at some point in the last three weeks.
The council said despite "exhaustive efforts" to recapture her, it received advice that the risk to public safety had "increased to severe".
Earlier on Friday, the council said the zoo would be put under scrutiny.




'Safety was paramount': council defends decision to shoot Lillith the lynx
One of the team of marksmen contracted by a council to kill Lillith the lynx has defended shooting the escaped animal, saying “action had to be taken”.

The Eurasian lynx was shot after straying into a caravan park near Aberystwyth town centre almost two weeks after its escape from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom.

Locals raised the alarm and Ceredigion county council ordered the animal to be killed after declaring it a threat to public safety.

Andrew Venables, a marksman who runs a local firearms training school, said that something had to be done to resolve the situation: “The very sad truth is the fact an animal was allowed to escape in the first place and that the owners were unable to catch it over a three-week period of grace,” he said.




Campaigners to consult on plan to release lynx
The Lynx UK Trust, which claims it has found considerable support for a release among landowners in Argyllshire and Inverness-shire, says it now wants to consult with the general public.

The trust’s chief scientific adviser, Paul O’Donoghue, said they were searching for a village hall that would be big enough to hold the number of people who are expected to attend.

“We will be making a statement on the proposed release site and there will be an open invitation to attend the meeting,” he said.

“A lot of groundwork on the planning process was gained during the preparation for our application for a trial release at Kielder, and we will be taking that knowledge to the next site. Scotland provides some great habitat for lynx.”

On the Kielder application, which is currently being considered by Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, Mr O’Donoghue said the trust was in regular dialogue with the statutory agencies.

Mr O’Donoghue was undeterred by claims by the National Sheep Association (NSA) that a lynx which escaped from a




Zoo could sue council for killing lost lynx: Owners consider legal action against authority that shot animal ‘no more dangerous than a fox’
The owners of an escaped lynx last night said they were considering legal action against a local council that ordered a marksman to shoot it dead.
Lilleth, an 18-month-old Eurasian lynx, had been missing from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth, for almost two weeks after it leapt over an electric fence and out of its enclosure.
Baited traps, heat-seeking drones and even a police helicopter were employed in the hunt to try and catch the elusive animal.
But after she was spotted asleep under a caravan in a holiday park, which was closed for the winter season, on Friday, Ceredigion County Council decided drastic action was needed.




Claims that second lynx has died at zoo where animal escaped
A seaside zoo reeling after the loss of Lillith the lynx, shot dead after leaping out of her enclosure, is facing criticism after claims emerged that a second lynx has died.

The owners and staff of Borth Wild Animal Kingdom have been devastated by the killing of Lillith, a young female shot dead on the orders of the local authority on Friday amid fears she was prowling too close to homes.

On Monday, the Lynx UK Trust claimed it had found out that a second animal died last week while being moved within the west Wales zoo by keepers.




TOOLKIT FOR EVALUATING THE OUTCOMES AND IMPACTS OF SMALL/MEDIUM-SIZED CONSERVATION PROJECTS
WHAT IS PRISM?
PRISM is a toolkit that aims to support small/medium-sized conservation projects to effectively evaluate the outcomes and impacts of their work.
The toolkit has been developed by a collaboration of several conservation NGOs with additional input from scientists and practitioners from across the conservation sector.
The toolkit is divided into four main sections:
Introduction and Key Concepts: Provides a basic overview of the theory behind evaluation relevant to small/medium-sized conservation projects
Designing and Implementing the Evaluation: Guides users through a simple, step by step process for evaluating project outcomes and impacts, including identifying what you need to evaluate, how to collect evaluation data, analysing/interpreting results and deciding wh




Animals may be put down if zoo is forced to close
A zoo has been told by a local council that it must close down as it has never had the correct planning permission.
East Herts District Council has turned down all retrospective planning applications that Ventura Wildlife Zoo, near Ware, had since entered.
The zoo, which if forced to close will see animals put down, is still looking for ways to fight the decision.
An online petition to save the zoo from closure has been supported by more than 1,000 people.
Since it opened last summer the zoo has had an estimated 45,000 visitors.




South Lakes Safari Zoo scandal coverage receives industry-wide recognition for The Mail at the O2 Media Awards
THE case of the South Lakes Safari Zoo scandal has been thrown back into the spotlight after The Mail’s reporting of the issue was honoured with a regional award.

At the O2 Media Awards North West 2017 - held in Manchester last night - the newspaper was awarded the trophy for Most Memorable (Print) story for the zoo deaths investigation.

The exposé of animal deaths at South Lakes Safari Park, which went global, was heralded as a shining example of excellent local journalism.

This summer, The Mail exclusively revealed for the first time how almost 500 animals - including tigers, lion cubs and giraffes - died at South Lakes Safari Zoo in less than four years.

The shocking log, which provides a distressing catalogue of injuries and illnesses endured by a wide range of species at the site between December 2013 and Septembe




Scientists hope to clone perfectly preserved lion cub belonging to extinct species
A perfectly preserved lion cub has been discovered in permafrost on the bank of Tirekhtykh River of Abyisky district in Yakutia. The cub, found by local resident Boris Berezhnov, belongs to a long-extinct lion species. Scientists have now expressed the possibility of making its clone, thereby reviving the species.

The discovery was unveiled in Yakutsk on Thursday, November 9. The animal is said to be between one and a half to two months old, however, it is not clear if it was male or female. The cub was so young at the time of death that it had not fully developed yet. The facial features though are fully visible even after being buried for about 50,000 years.




World zoo, aquarium managers to meet in Bangkok
More than 300 administrators of zoos and aquariums from around the world are expected to converge on Bangkok next October for their 73rd annual conference.

In the photo, Assoc Professor Dr Parntep Rattanakorn (chairman) and Benjapol Nakprasert (director-general) of Thailand’s Zoological Park Organisation, sign on November 7




Zookeeper who was mauled by a tiger in Russia now faces PROSECUTION after bosses accused her of failing to lock the animal's cage
An experienced zookeeper who was badly mauled by a tiger in Russia is now facing prosecution over the attack, it has been revealed.
Nadezhda Srivastava, a 44-year-old mother-of-three, was left in critical condition after being savaged by male tiger Typhoon at Kaliningrad Zoo at the weekend.
But she now faces disciplinary and possibly criminal action after zoo bosses accused her of 'a gross violation of safety regulations' by failing to check a gate between sections of the tiger enclosure was locked before going to feed the big cat.





1,235 fish found dead at Tokyo aquarium
A major Tokyo aquarium has lost almost all of the fish inside its largest tank, likely due to lack of oxygen.

Sunshine Aquarium resumed public display of the tank Thursday after suspending some operations the day before and announcing that a total of 1,235 fish, accounting for 94% of the fish in the massive Sunshine Lagoon tank, had died.

The mass deaths occurred after the aquarium stopped a bubble-producing cleaning device for the tank to enhance the effectiveness of chemicals added to the water to treat some unhealthy fish.

It continued to supply oxygen to the tank through another device and had spotted nothing abnormal by Tuesday evening, but a security guard noticed many dead fish the next morning, it said.

Only 73 fish of 23 kinds survived, according to the operator.

The fish tank is 12 meters in length, 9.6 meters in





SeaWorld internal emails show executives' frustration over 'Blackfish'
SeaWorld executives complained about catering and music acts canceling in the aftermath of the “Blackfish” documentary, according to the company’s internal emails that were filed in court documents this week.

“This whole [expletive] thing [expletive] me off,” Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld's former corporate communications vice president, wrote in a December 2013 email after singer Willie Nelson refused to perform at the theme park. “God we look like idiots.”

The emails were filed in court documents as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit from a group of investors that sued in 2014 a




Animals aplenty, space at a premium in Africa's oldest zoo
"We wish the natural environment could be recreated for the animals. It's not normal for an elephant to live in a tight space and on hard ground," said Mona Khalil, who heads the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals.
The confined spaces for the animals was one of the reasons Giza Zoo lost its accreditation with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2004.
It was built in 1891, not long after the inauguration of the Suez Canal, and extends over about 344,000 square metres (410,000 sq yards) planted with exotic trees from abroad.
Amid the eucalyptus and palms, a metal suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel harks back to an era when Egypt strove for modernity and scientific progress.
The zoo boasts 4,500 animals of 28 species, according to Mohammed Raja





An Urgent and Critical Need for Ocean Conservation Action: A Conversation with Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
 In the late 1970s, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (of Hewlett-Packard fame) were looking for a family project to support, apart from the proposals that came from their family foundation. They were presented with the idea of the Monterey Bay Aquarium to transform an abandoned sardine canning city from a long-dead industry and spotlight the marine life of Monterey Bay. Since it opened in 1984, the Aquarium has been at the cutting edge of aquariums in exhibitry, husbandry and conservation. It is often regarded as the best aquarium in the United States- if not the world. Its longtime leader is Julie Packard and her passion for ocean conservation and accomplishments in protecting marine life are unparalleled. Here is her story.





Animal Welfare: Sleep is Good for You – and for Animals Too!
Staff from the Detroit Zoological Society’s Center for Zoo Animal Welfare and Ethics have been observing the barn owl living at the Detroit Zoo to study his sleep patterns. Jim’s home in the Barn is a popular spot for visitors – Thoroughbred horses, donkeys, steer and pigs also live there. And while barn owls are nocturnal, spending the majority of the daylight hours sleeping, the noises and activity in the Barn may cause mild disturbances during the owl’s normal sleep cycle. Jim has lived at the Detroit Zoo for many years and appears to be healthy and happy, but it is important that we look at other measures of welfare.





Gaziantep Zoo attracts interest with new additions
Turkey’s biggest zoo in Gaziantep was visited by three million people this year from January to October.

The Gaziantep Zoo, established by the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality in 2001 in the Burç Forest, is home to 7,000 animals of 300 species and became one of the most popular venues in the city shortly after its establishment.

The zoo, the fourth biggest in the world in terms of its variety of species, also reached 3,110,000 visitors last year.

Can, a chimpanzee cub who was abandoned by his mother and taken care of by zoo officials and Cesur, a lion cub who was found in a car and taken under protection, are among the most important exhibits that have recently drawn visitors to the zoo.

A large part of the visitors are local tourists, said Celal Özsöyler, the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality head of the Wildlife Protection Department. “The zoo draws great interest from locals of neighboring cities like




Dreamworld explains why tiger slapped in video
TWO tiger handlers have been slammed on social media after a Dreamworld attendee filmed them dragging a tiger by its tail and slapping it over the head.
The video, posted by Instagram user Xy Latu, features the handlers in the enclosure with two tigers.
One of them drags the tiger down a grass hill by its tail before the other man hits it on the head twice.




SeaWorld Reports Attendance and Revenue Drops in Q3 2017
During the three months ended September 30, 2017, the company amended its existing agreement with Loro Parque concerning the orcas at that park. The agreement was amended in order to end its business relationship due to a contractual dispute.





Demi Lovato cuddles rescued cubs at controversial Black Jaguar White Tiger foundation in Mexico
Demi, who added diamond earrings, pulled her dark locks back into a bun to play with the adorable cubs.
She shared an Instagram photo of herself for her 62.2 million followers as she cradled one of the youngest rescues at Black Jaguar White Tiger.
Demi captioned the picture: 'Thank you so much @blackjaguarwhitetiger for letting me play with your rescued cubs. What an amazing way to start off the morning!'
Demi also posed with the founder of the charity, Eduardo Serio.
Eduardo wrote on a picture he shared to his 6.4 million plus followers: 'Such a lovely human...'
The former Disney star spent time with the cubs and shared the footage to her Instagram stories.




China butterfly smugglers jailed and fined by Jinan court
Three people have been jailed in China after they were caught smuggling thousands of dead butterflies into the country, state media report.
Authorities discovered a haul of colourful butterflies in early 2016 when they opened packages that were supposed to contain clothing.
They were bought online and posted to China to be framed and sold.
The group were given five, seven and 10-year sentences, the official Xinhua news agency reports.
They were also fined by the court in Jinan, eastern Shandong province. Many of the butterflies were rare or protected species.
It is believed to be the largest





Elephant kills mahout in Tripura zoo
A 50-year-old mahout was trampled to death by an elephant on Wednesday in Tripura's Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary and zoo near here, officials said.

"Khalil Mia and his colleague were nurturing two tuskers and suddenly one of them attacked the mahout. Though the mahout was taken to hospital, his life could not be saved," a sanctuary official said.

He said that the Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary and zoo authority has decided that following this incident, some additional steps would be taken after taking advice from the wildlife e



Data Science & Zoos | Aquariums




How Many White Rhino Species Are There? The Conversation Continues
Is there one white rhino species, or two? And what, if anything, can we do about these intractable debates on lumping versus splitting?
Rhinos – I mean, all living rhino species – remain a popular topic of discussion in zoological circles, this mostly being a consequence of the disgusting and heart-breaking loss of so many individuals due to the horn trade. Here I want to discuss one specific rhino-themed issue that isn’t that well known – nor that much discussed – outside of the specialist rhino community: namely, are there two living species of white rhino?
Until recently, the consensus view was that white rhinos are one species (Ceratotherium simum), consisting of two subspecies: C. simum simum in the south of Africa, and C. simum cottoni in ‘the north’ (by which I mean – historically – Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Central African Republic). The two can be distinguished in virtually all measurements (pertaining to skull and tooth dimensions, limb bone lengths and so on), southern white rhinos are generally larger (males can be 2000-2400 kg as opposed to 1400-1600 kg), longer-bodied, have a longer palate, more concave skull roof, and more prominent grooves between their ribs and around the tops of their limbs while northern white rhinos seemingly are longer-limbed, have a straighter back, smaller, lower-crowned teeth and a straighter skull roof (Groves et al. 2010). Southern white rhinos are also supposedly hairier on the body and ears. Genetic evidence indicates that the two forms diverged about 1 million years ago (Groves et al. 2010); more specifically, between 750,000 and 1.5 million years ago. There are also report





Vaquita porpoise capture operations end on Sea of Cortez
cientists have decided to halt their efforts to capture endangered vaquita porpoises on the Sea of Cortez.

The announcement followed the death of an adult female vaquita just hours after it was captured Saturday afternoon off San Felipe.

Another vaquita calf had been captured October 18 but had to be released that same day because it was in danger of dying from stress.

“There have been no additional attempts to rescue a vaquita porpoise since November 4th and there will not be future attempts during the remaining period of the VaquitaCPR field operations,” said Steve Walker, a communications advisor with the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF).

The San Diego based nonprofit has raised funds for the rescue operation – dubbed VaquitaCPR – which was aimed at establishing a captive breeding program in Sa




Goodbye to the Friend I Never Met
Saturday was the day I finally gave up. The last hope for the vaquita marina, the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean, is gone. On Saturday, biologists working in the Upper Gulf of California announced that the latest animal they had captured in an effort to save the species had died in captivity.

For the first half of 2017, I was knee deep in a story I’ve been following since I got to Mexico six years ago. In summary, an animal that had found itself on the wrong side of rampant poaching practices is all but wiped out and the last option is a Hail Mary plan to round them up into captive pens and hold them until such time as humans stop sucking at ocean stewardship. (For a full review of the vaquita’s tragic tale, I really encourage you to read the story.)

But there was always a problem with this strategy – no one had ever tried to catch one before. It was possible they wouldn’t go quietly into pens.

“If captivity fails, then, well, we tried,” NOAA biologist Barbara Taylor told me in the spring. “It’s game over.”

After Saturday, I think it’s game over. The vaquita doesn’t do captivity. The first animal caught by biologists got so stressed out that it had to be released. The second died wit





Leaked Monkey Jungle Photos Show Injured Ape and Dirty Cages, Angering Activists
Monkey Jungle got its start in the '30s when Joseph DuMond released a troop of monkeys into a dense patch of South Dade wilderness and then opened it as a one-of-a-kind attraction "where humans are caged and monkeys run wild." More than seven decades later, the 30-acre roadside park — which allows some monkeys to roam freely while visitors gaze at them from an enclosed path — still makes that promise.

But the park has come under fire this week after a person who claims to be a former employee posted online dozens of photos that purportedly show real conditions behind the scenes at the facility, including dingy, soiled cages and bleeding sores on the park's gorilla, King.





Fundraising for a Better Zoo: A Conversation with Dr. Donna Fernandes, Retired Director of the Buffalo Zoo
 The Buffalo Zoo is one of the oldest in the nation and by 2000 was beginning to show it. The institution desperately needed new life and a more modernistic approach. Fortunately, Dr. Donna Fernandes led the Buffalo Zoo to a renaissance during her seventeen-year tenure as President/CEO. She efficiently redeveloped the zoo through $50 million worth of capital projects. Although she retired this summer, Fernandes will forever be remembered for changing the course of the zoo. Here is her story.




Zoo authority comes up with ‘kits’ to handle rescue operations
Each kit will contain a tranquilizer gun, drugs, other items needed to rescue , capture animals

With clinical precision, a young leopard was safely rescued on the premises of Mysuru zoo after it strayed into the premises recently, triggering panic in the city’s popular tourist destination. The animal was later released into the wild.

Taking it as a case in point, Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) is mulling over sharing its expertise on rescuing and capturing wild animals with mini-zoos located across the State in a bid to help the teams lend a helping hand when coming across such cases in other parts of the State.

Besides sharing its skills , Mysuru zoo, which has many experienced animal keepers who are adept in identifying animal behaviours and acting accordingly, will keep the directors and forest officers working at the mini-zoos updated on various issues for addressing man-animal conflicts.

“The recent leopard rescue shows the zoo’s strengths in successfully handling rescue operations. The animal was caught unharmed — thanks to the coordinated efforts of the zoo vets and keepers. If we share knowledge and protocols, it will be useful in handling suc




Zookeepers Don’t Exist
If I would tell you that you are not a zookeeper what would you say?

We have an instinctive survival mode like many other species. We know what we can eat and what we should’t eat and what we can do or what we should’t do due to dangerous outcomes. We also know that particular outcomes could be very joyfull. How do we know all those things? I find that a lot has to do with connecting the dots. When you eat this your stomach feels bad so you won’t eat it again. Or when you eat something that is very good you want more of it. There is an association between you eating it and the satisfaction that comes afterwards. This accounts for the behaviour we show on a daily base. When I work I get payed when I don’t work most likely payment won’t come. Back in the day you had to hunt to eat. When you hunt and you get something to bring back to the camp with you your hunt was successful because the association between the search and the animal you got to bring back to the camp makes the whole camp happy. There is a lot of associations going in in the world we are living in. People are made by their experiences and the outcomes of their actions. We call this Associative Learning.

Associative Learning or Classical Conditiong is discovered by I. Pavlov in the 1800s with his salivation experiment with dogs. He started to find out how animals associate events. He concluded that he might have discovered how animals learn. See the Video.




The wild ass returns
On 24th October 2017, a first group of nine animals was released into an acclimatisation enclosure on the edge of the Altyn Dala protected area in central Kazakhstan. The animals had been transported 1200 km by helicopter from Altyn Emel National Park in the southeast of the country. They will be released in early spring. This is the first step in a multi-year project that aims to restore the full range of large herbivores to this unique area of steppe habitat.

Kulan once ranged across the Middle East and Central Asia – from the Mediterranean to the east of Mongolia. During the last two centuries, their range has been dramatically reduced to less than 3% of their former range. Although the species is doing relatively well in Mongolia, the Central Asian subspecies is classified as Endangered and only persists in small isolated populations in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.




Bonobos help strangers without being asked
A passer-by drops something and you spring to pick it up. Or maybe you hold the door for someone behind you. Such acts of kindness to strangers were long thought to be unique to humans, but recent research on bonobos suggests our species is not as exceptional in this regard as we like to think.




Twin baby chimpanzees make first public appearance at Nagoya zoo
A Nagoya zoo on Tuesday held the first public viewing of its twin baby chimpanzees, saying the pair — born last month — are growing well and are in good health.

The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens said it is rare for both chimpanzees to be healthy. This is the ninth time that twin chimpanzees have been born in Japan.

If all goes well, the new arrivals will be the second brood of chimpanzees to be nursed by their mother, after a successful case at the Noichi Zoological Park of Kochi Prefecture.

In Nagoya, the 30-year-old mother chimp, named Kazumi, held her infants nonstop, wary of her surroundings as she moved around.

A nursery school toddler on a field trip pointed excitedly to the chimpanzees as the mother chimp, carrying her twin

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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 http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/


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 | elvinhow@gmail.com | Skype: peter.dickinson48