Thursday, February 23, 2017

Zoo News Digest 23rd February 2017 (ZooNews 945)

Zoo News Digest 23rd February 2017 
(ZooNews 945)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

There was a discussion on one of the Facebook zoo groups this week as to whether membership of ABWAK (the Association of British Wild Animal Keepers) was worth it. There were those who thought it was too expensive. If you are a tax paying British citizen then membership can be free. You are entitled to claim for membership to one professional body on your tax form so cost should not be an issue. Some lucky zoo staff are lucky enough to have their employers pay for membership…for anyone in their employ for more than 12 months. If your zoo doesn't do this then I would encourage you to have a word with the directors. It is in 'their' zoos interest to further their staffs education.

I had been working in zoos for several years before ABWAK was formed and attended the very first formative meeting. I saw that such an organisation was important then and I believe it is even more important today. Way back then zoo staff included some rather unsavoury characters and of course none of these attended the meeting. They weren't interested. ABWAK represented from the beginning the cream of the profession as it does so today. ABWAK members are the staff who really care, are eager to learn and contribute.

Remember it was ABWAK which took a leading role in the development of the first nationwide UK ZooKeeping course. This is so important for those who genuinely want to pursue the career. It continues to get better in each phase.

In the discussion on Facebook there were mentions that some of the articles in 'Ratel' (the excellent journal) were of little interest. Well that is up to members. Every one of them can contribute. Believe me you know things and have observed things that none of your peers are aware of. Did you know that 'Animal Enrichment' had not even been "invented" at the time of the formation of ABWAK? In fact it was several years later before the first articles started to appear. The American Association had been going a few years longer (I was a member of that too) did not go into that subject either till later and yet today we recognise it as one of the most important tenets of our profession.

I look back with some pride on one particular issue of 'Ratel' where every single one of the articles was written by present or former members of The Welsh Mountain Zoo staff…an accomplishment which I don't believe has yet been equalled.

I say 'Profession' and look upon myself as a Professional Zoo Keeper regardless of whatever title I hold or have held over the years…..but the 'Profession' is very sadly not fully recognised as such in most parts of the world….and it needs to be. Membership of ABWAK should not be about getting free entry to various zoos. True, it's great when you can get it but really membership is about being stronger together, sharing your knowledge and learning from others.

In recent years we have seen the arrival of the ICZ, The International Congress of ZooKeepers making ABWAK members part of a huge International family of Zookeeping Professionals. So I encourage everyone to be an ABWAK member. If you are not you simply become 'somebody who works in a zoo'.
If you are in the US, Australasia, the Philippines or elsewhere you owe it to yourself and the animals you care for to be a member of your local professional association.


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 52,000 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 800 Zoos in 153+ 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, 



Protocol delays opening of $272m Dubai Safari, says municipality chief
The opening date of $272 million (AED1 billion) Dubai Safari Park has been pushed back as the municipality adheres to an “animal protocol”, Dubai Municipality director general told Arabian Business.
The safari, which covers an area of 119 hectares in the Al-Warqa Fifth district, was scheduled to open last year, but a confirmed date of opening has yet to be announced. It will be home to 1,000 animal species, of which over 350 will be rare and endangered.
“We should be ready in the next three months, with the opening taking place this year. We have been bringing the animal but there is an ‘animal protocol’ that we need to follow,” Hussain Nasser Lootah said.
“You bring them blindfolded and so they don’t see the new area. They are released slowly so they get use to the new env

Wildlife conservation breeding in Iran
However, for conservation breeding and the implementation of A.R.T. scientists have to know more about reproduction physiology. Artificial insemination in large Felidae can be an important tool. Most of non-domestic felids are endangered because of isolation, habitat destruction, inbreeding and so on.

Research into semen collection methods and cryopreservation of sperm needs scientific collaboration and that’s why vets, conservationists, and also geneticists work together.

Kija (literary meaning daughter) and Rika (literary meaning son) are the two Persian leopards living in captivity in Tehran zoo. Kija is not young enough and despite years of living together the two have not mated naturally for unknown reasons. So recently a team comprising of Iranian and foreign researchers and vets have succeeded in collecting semen from the male leopard, preserving it and waiting for the female to be prepared for future pregnancy.

Africa's Other Elephant Is Fading Fast
When Richard Ruggiero first saw the gold mine from the air, he was reminded of one of Dante’s circles of hell. It In the midst of Gabon’s Minkebe National Park—a huge protected area the size of Belgium—there was “a gaping hole in the forest more than half a mile wide and long.” On the ground, the mine was a “noisy, crowded, polluted, lawless confusion”—a hub of 6,000 miners, prostitution, drugs, and arms trafficking. And amid the chaos, Ruggiero and colleagues found caches of ivory, high-caliber weapons, and huge, grey carcasses. That’s when they knew that the forest elephants of Minkebe were in trouble.

Contrary to popular belief, Africa isn’t home to just one species of elephant—but two. The savannah or bush elephant is the familiar one that tourists see on safaris, and that turns up in nature documentaries. The forest elephant is smaller, darker, straighter of tusk, and rounder of ear. Its i

Japan zoo culls 57 monkeys carrying ‘invasive’ genes
A Japanese zoo has culled 57 native snow monkeys by lethal injection after finding that they carried genes of an “invasive alien species”, officials said Tuesday.

The Takagoyama Nature Zoo in the city of Futtsu in Chiba prefecture east of Tokyo, housed 164 simians which it believed were all pure Japanese macaques.

But the operator and local officials discovered about one-third were crossbred with the rhesus macaque, which in Japan is designated an “invasive alien species”.

A city official told AFP on Tuesday that Japanese law bans the possession and transport of invasive species, including the crossbreeds, and that culling of them is allowed under the law.

He said the monkeys were put to death by lethal injection over about one month ending early February.

The zoo operator held a memorial service for the monkeys at a nearby Buddhist temple to appease their souls, he added.

Snow monkey-rhesus macaque crossbreeds wer

Panthera Statement on Proposed U.S.-Mexico Border Wall And Impact on Wild Cats and Other Wildlife
In the wake of President Trump’s executive order advancing his administration’s intention to erect a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organization, issued the following statement:

Panthera opposes the construction of a border wall that would disturb the natural movement and dispersal patterns of wildlife, including cougars, ocelots and jaguars, between Mexico and the United States. Fencing has already broken natural connections between wild cat populations in some areas of the border. Further fortification, as proposed by the Administration, would fragment wildlife populations already under pressure. 

“Apex predators like wild cats are among the first species to disappear when humans disrupt and fragment natural landscapes, leading to impoverished ecosystems with impacts on both wildlife and people,” said Dr. Luke Hunter, President of Panthera. “The unique habitats of the borderlands were once inhabited by five species of wild cats. Only two, the cougar and bobcat, are still relatively secure on both sides of the border.”

Panthera’s CEO Dr. Alan Rabinowitz, who envisions a single connected jaguar population throughout its remaining range, added: “Largest of American cats, the jaguar once

Rhino orphanage attacked. Please help.
In a brutal manifestation of how out of control the rhino situation is in South Africa, Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage was attacked, baby rhino/s killed, care-givers savagely beaten and a young woman sexually assaulted.

Nepal’s biggest zoo to be built in Tanahun
Tanahun will soon host the country’s largest zoo. The process to build an ‘animal sanctuary’, at Bhanu-Ghansi Kuwa municipality of Tanahun district, is already in progress, according to Yagya Nath Dahal, assistant spokesperson for Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. Spread over an area of 425 hectares, the zoo will be home to all animal and bird species found in Nepal. The decision to establish the zoo in Tanahun is in accordance with the government’s policy to build an animal sanctuary in each province. “Our goal is to establish the zoo as a venue for wildlife research,” Dahal informed. “The zoo will also be a milestone in the de - See more at:

5-meter crocodile ripped off man's leg after he PETS its snout while feeding it
- A monstrous 800 kilo crocodile, the star of a Malaysian zoo, attacked a zoo worker that was feeding it

- The victim’s colleague barely managed to pry the croc’s jaws open and pulled the man out of its mouth

- According to the chief of police the crocodile bit the man’s right leg off in the attack and managed to severely mangle the man’s right arm

Himachal saves brilliantly plumaged western tragopan from extinction
 As the population of the western tragopan, a brilliantly-coloured Asian pheasant species, hovers on the brink of extinction globally, Himachal Pradesh is engaged in breeding its state bird in captivity.

The world's only breeding centre in Sarahan town, located some 160 km from this state capital, has 26 breeding birds. Five chicks were born in 2016.

"Currently, we have 12 female and 14 male western tragopans," breeding centre biologist Lakshmi Narasimha told IANS.

The pheasantry is jointly funded by the Central Zoo Authority and the wildlife

Antimicrobial substances identified in Komodo dragon blood
In a land where survival is precarious, Komodo dragons thrive despite being exposed to scads of bacteria that would kill less hardy creatures. Now in a study published in the Journal of Proteome Research, scientists report that they have detected antimicrobial protein fragments in the lizard's blood that appear to help them resist deadly infections. The discovery could lead to the development of new drugs capable of combating bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics.

The world's largest lizard, Komodo dragons live on five small islands in Indonesia. The saliva of these creatures contains at least 57 species of bacteria, which are believed to contribute to the demise of their prey. Yet, the Komodo dragon appears resistant to these bacteria, and serum from these animals has been shown to have antibacterial activity. Substances known as cationic antimicrobial peptides (CAMPs) are produced by nearly all living creatures and are an

New study reveals what penguins eat
The longest and most comprehensive study to date of what penguins eat is published this month. The study, published in the journal Marine Biology, examines the diets of gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) at Bird Island, South Georgia over a 22 year period and is part of a project investigating the Southern Ocean ecosystem and its response to change.

Egg-free surrogate chickens produced in bid to save rare breeds
Hens that do not produce their own chicks have been developed for use as surrogates to lay eggs from rare breeds.

The advance -- using gene-editing techniques -- could help to boost breeding of endangered birds, as well as improving production of commercial hens, researchers say.

A team led by the University of Edinburgh's Roslin Institute used a genetic tool called TALEN to delete a section of chicken DNA.

They targeted part of a gene called DDX4, which is crucial for bird fertility.

Hens with the genetic modification were unable to produce eggs but were otherwise healthy, the team found.

DDX4 plays an essential role in the generation of specialised cells -- called primordial germ cells -- which give rise to eggs.

Researchers say that donor primordial germ cells from other breeds could be implanted into the gene-edited chickens as they are developing inside an egg. The surrogate hens would then grow up to produce eggs containing all

Facial Recognition Software: The Next Big Thing in Species Conservation?
How do you care for the creatures you love? You shoot them with tranquilizer darts, capture them in cages, embed microchips, pierce their ears or make them wear funny collars.

For scientists who monitor endangered species, these are tried-and-true methods to count and track individuals in a given population—along with photography and experts’ sharp eyes. But capturing or sedating an animal can be stressing (and could cause physical harm), and boots-on-the-ground counts can be inconsistent and costly. Sometimes, getting up close and personal with animals isn’t feasible.

So researchers asked a question that’s come to define a generation: Can a computer do this?

If the LemurFaceID system is any indication of preliminary success, it sure can. Biologists and computer scientists at Michigan State University built a facial recognition system that, with a little training, correctly identified individuals in a set of red-bellied lemur photos with

There is a moral argument for keeping great apes in zoos
I get apprehensive whenever someone asks me about my job. I’m a philosopher who works on the question of how language evolved, I reply. If they probe any further, I tell them that I work with the great apes at Leipzig zoo. But some people, I’ve discovered, have big problems with zoos.

Plenty of philosophers and primatologists agree with them. Even the best zoos force animals to live in confined spaces, they say, which means the animals must be bored and stressed from being watched all the time. Other critics claim that zoos are wrong even if the creatures aren’t suffering, because being held captive for human entertainment impugns their dignity. Such places ‘are for us rather than for animals’, the philosopher Dale Jamieson has written, and ‘they do little to help the animals we are driving to extinction’.

But I want to defend the value of zoos. Yes, some of them should certainly be closed. We’ve seen those terrible videos of solitary apes or tigers stalking barren cages in shopping malls in Thailand or China. However, animals have a good quality of life in many zoos, and there’s a strong moral case for why these institutions ought to exist. I’ve come to this view after working with great apes, and it might not extend to all species equally. However, since great apes are both cognitively sophisticated and h

Speciation is not all about good looks: For stick insects, the right partner should smell good too
An attractive scent is just as important as good looks when it comes to choosing a mate -- at least among stick insect populations.

According to a new study, fragrance is an important factor in stick insects' choice of mate. It could explain why, when looks are deceiving, the insects are still able to show a preference for mates from the same species -- a key to evolutionary success.

The findings, published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, are part of an 18-year research programme, in which scientists at the University of Sheffield and Royal Holloway, University of London, examined stick insect populations in California, in the US, to try to understand better what drives new species formation.

In evolutionary terms, the ability to avoid mixing genes with other species is important to preserve differences between species and evolve characteristics that are advan

What Mirrors Tell Us About Animal Minds
A couple of weeks ago, an editor at The Guardian tweeted an image of a bald eagle staring at its reflection in a body of water. “This photo of an eagle taking a hard look at itself is not a metaphor for anything that's been in the news recently,” he wrote.
At the time of this writing, the image has been retweeted 62,000 times.

And it prompted one of my colleagues at The Atlantic to ask: “Are eagles intelligent enough to recognize their own reflections?”


In March 1838, a young and little-known biologist named Charles Darwin asked the same question. On a visit to London Zoo, he stepped into a cage with an orangutan named Jenny, and marveled as she played with a mirror. He noted that she was “astonished beyond measure” at the glass. She examined it, kissed it, made faces at it, and contorted her body as she approached it. What did she see in the mirror? Did she recognize herself? And perhaps most importantly, how could you even tell?

Psychologist Gordon Gallup Jr. came up with a way, over a century later. In 1970, he got four captive chimps accustomed to a mirror

Republicans begin effort to gut the Endangered Species Act
On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held hearings on legislation to "modernize" the Endangered Species Act, part of a push by Republicans to roll back environmental regulations and protections. The Republicans on the committee, led by Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), and three of the five witnesses at the hearing argued that the 1973 law to keep animal species from extinction impedes oil drilling, mining, and farming, and infringes on the rights of states and private landowners. The proposed legislation would make it harder to list animals on the endangered species list and li

Penguin found decapitated in car park after being stolen from German zoo
A penguin has been found decapitated near a car park after being stolen from a German zoo.

The young bird went missing from the Luisenpark in Mannheim on Saturday, sparking a police investigation.

A passer-by found the penguin’s body on Thursday morning, mounted on a fence on the edge of a nearby car park.

Climate Change Has Already Harmed Almost Half of All Mammals
The effect of climate change on endangered species has been wildly underestimated, a new study has found.
A survey of studies has determined that climate change has had a particularly dire effect on mammals and birds on the endangered species list. That includes about half of the mammals and almost a quarter of the birds on the “red list” kept by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), according to a study published in the journal Nature Climate Change. The study found that about 700 species on the list were affected by the warming planet.
The findings show that climate change is already a major threat to many species on Earth, not at some vague point in the future, said James Watson, a researcher at the University of Queensland in Australia. Watson said most climate studies on biodiversity focus on the effects climate change could have 50 to 100 years from n

The Future of Zoos: Challenges Force Zoos to Change in Big Ways
For a mother escorting her kids through the Philadelphia Zoo, it was a close encounter of the ferocious kind. Directly in front of her as she strolled down the zoo's main walkway was a Siberian tiger, a 400-plus-lb. carnivore capable of tearing apart a wild antelope. But rather than panic, the family laughed. The tiger was out of its lair, but its pathway was at a safe, meshed-in distance from onlookers, and after a few moments of looking around, the tiger moved on.
The tiger's trail, dubbed Big Cat Crossing, is part of a bigger initiative called Zoo360 that has changed the way humans and animals experience the nation's oldest zoo. There's no question the experience is compelling for the humans. On a recent visit, I watched children drop their lunches in awe of white-faced saki monkeys hanging out in the trees. I witnessed one couple stop mid conversation when a gorilla lumbered overhead, and saw more than a few families startled by the appearance of a large cat that seemed eerily close to them. But the bigger impact of Zoo360, says its chief operating officer, Andrew Baker, may be its effort to transform the experience of animals in captivity.
At a time when scientists know more than they ever have before about the inner lives of animals--and when concerns about animal rights loom large--many experts think that zoos need a major overha

This is What Zoos of the Future Could Look Like
A slew of challenges from animal rights activism to financial pressures have forced the leaders of American zoos to rethink their footprint and purpose.
The cutting-edge zoos that could emerge in years to come look different depending on their location, size and structure. Here are three types—and sizes—of zoo adapted from the thoughts of visionary landscape architect Jon Coe. They represent just the tip of the iceberg for how zoos might change in the coming decades.

Safari Park Educates Indonesians on Animal Welfare
 Recent incidents of animal cruelty in Indonesian zoos, which often keep underfed animals in tiny cages, have led to international outrage, further damaging Indonesia’s already poor reputation in animal welfare.

But there's some good news. Bali Safari and Marine Park, owned by Taman Safari, will now provide animal conservation and education on animal welfare, making them one of a few institutions in Indonesia dedicated to raising awareness and protection of wildlife.

The World Animal Protection currently gives Indonesia an overall Animal Protection Index of D, with A being the highest and G the lowest.

In regards to animals in captivity, the index indicates there is legislation in place already to protect captive animals in Indonesia, but it is only partially applied throughout the country.

A 2015 report published by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry said there are only four wildlife parks in the country, three of them owned by Taman Safari, including the Bali Safari and Marine Park.

Bali Safari and Marine Park's veterinarian, Kadek Kesuma

Galapagos giant tortoises make a comeback, thanks to innovative conservation strategies
The Galapagos Islands are world-famous as a laboratory of biological evolution. Some 30 percent of the plants, 80 percent of the land birds and 97 percent of the reptiles on this remote archipelago are found nowhere else on Earth. Perhaps the most striking example is the islands’ iconic giant tortoises, which often live to ages over 100 years in the wild. Multiple species of these mega-herbivores have evolved in response to conditions on the island or volcano where each lives, generating wide variation in shell shape and size.

Over the past 200 years, hunting and invasive species reduced giant tortoise populations by an estimated 90 percent, destroying several species and pushing others to the brink of extinction, although a few populations on remote volcanoes remained abundant.

An 'Arctic' safari in the Scottish Highlands
The temperature is below zero and a bitter wind is tugging at our clothes. In the distance, the Grampian hills are catching the early sunlight but it’s dark in the shadows of the wood. Curious eyes are trained on us from beneath the trees – a pack of grey wolves are just metres away. It’s rare to see these beautiful creatures at such close quarters: wolves are naturally wary. The privilege of the moment is lost on six-year-old Nelly. Her toes are aching with cold.

We’ve come to Scotland to seek out some of her favourite polar animals, creatures she’s so far enjoyed only in books and wildlife shows on TV – but wolves are not on her list.

With a polar explorer as a father, I feel drawn to all things Arctic. This area of the Highlands has a particular resonance, as it was where my dad spent his final years. It reminded him of north-west Greenland, where we had spent happy years living with a remote Inuit community. Our visit is an opportunity for me to show Nelly this special place and introduce her to the kind of animals I grew up with.
I’m not normally one for zoos, but the Highland Wildlife Park is unique. It’s run by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which also operates the zoo in Edinburgh, and its focus is on threatened species usually found in northerly locations.

In winter, this can feel like an Arctic landscape. The Cairngorms national park has some of Britain’s harshest weather and the heaviest snowfall in Scotland, creating snowfields that stretch to the horizon. Lochs, lochans and waterfalls can be frozen solid. Blizzards are common and temperatures frequently dip below -10C. Hurricane-force winds can blast through the glens, making them feel as wintry as the summits. In the higher altitudes, blizzards,

Zoos to be standardized to combat animal abuse
The government plans to standardize all zoos and conservation institutions in the country following a series of reports of animal abuse at several zoos.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said standardization would be stipulated in a ministerial regulation that was being prepared.

“Because [if there’s no standardization], it could create problems, such as those at Surabaya Zoo and Bandung Zoo. These zoos have been criticized by the community,” she said in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, on Saturday.

Siti was referring to mismanagement plaguing the Surabaya and Bandung zoos.


** ***
** **

New Meetings and Conferences updated Here

If you have anything to add then please email me at
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

Recent Zoo Vacancies

Vacancies in Zoos and Aquariums and Wildlife/Conservation facilities around the World

About me
After more than 48 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 writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, 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

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Zoo News Digest 16th February 2017 (ZooNews 944)

Zoo News Digest 16th February 2017 
(ZooNews 944)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleague,

The biggest zoo news this week….it has been everywhere. Somebody has named a cockroach 'Tom Brady'….who? Exactly. I haven't a clue who Tom Brady is and whereas it would take me less than a minute to find out I won't bother because I am not remotely interested. Actually I tell a lie…I am interested…but not in Tom Brady but in the type of story which tickles the fancy of the press. Well done Zoo Atlanta, but sorry I haven't carried the cockroach story.

Biggest story today is the armed takeover of Ocean Adventure in Subic. I have been following and posting zoo related stories for many years now. I cannot recall anything similar happening anywhere before. Okay the documents I have posted are a little bit difficult to read….but you can do it. Like my earlier exposes on Phú Quốc Safari in Vietnam there is nothing in the press yet. As I know many news agencies follow Zoo News Digest perhaps someone will follow up.


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 52,000 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 800 Zoos in 153+ 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, 



Armed Takeover of Ocean Adventure

Dormouse might be first tree-climbing mammal shown to echolocate
A rare rodent isn’t just blind as a bat: it may navigate like one too. The tree-climbing Vietnamese pygmy dormouse seems to make ultrasonic calls to guide its motion. If that’s confirmed, it would be the first arboreal mammal known to use echolocation.

Apart from bats, dolphins, whales, rats and shrews – which use calls in the audible range – few mammals echolocate as vision is usually more efficient. But Aleksandra Panyutina at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow and her team thought the dormouse was a good candidate. They had access to two of these seldom-studied, mainly nocturnal rodents at the Moscow zoo, where keepers had noticed that they were able to climb with remarkable agility despite poor eyesight. They also have big, bat-like ears. “We suspected that they use echolocation,” says Panyutina.

To find out, the team first confirmed the rodent’s poor vision by analys

Selling Utopia: Rewriting The History Of Wolves In America For Public Consumption
I’ve been in this game long enough that I’m always shocked when someone comes to me with a story of animal exploitation that I’ve never heard of. And yet, it happens, far more often I’d like. There is, apparently, an inexhaustible number of people eagerly awaiting their chance to “teach” the public about the animals they’re exploiting. Which brings me to the Great American Frontier Show: Wolves of the World. I had never heard of the show, which was founded by a man named Michael Sandlofer, a number of years ago. Mr. Sandlofer passed away in 2016, so I will be as respectful as possible in the writing of this article. The article will, however, be honest, and forthright.

The Sandlofers have owned and trained captive wild animals for entertainment purposes for decades. They even had performing bison at one point. From as early as 1979, they’ve had animal shows performing for audiences, at a price, while claiming the animals were all “resc

DOE Warns Saei Park Over Zoo Conditions
Saei Park management has been warned to raise the standards of its zoo facilities and apply for a permit or risk prosecution.

Speaking to ISNA, Mohammad Reza Bazgir, the head of Tehran’s office of the Department of Environment, said of the three unlicensed zoos in the Iranian capital, only one has failed to heed the DOE’s warnings.

“The management of Mellat and Chitgar parks have taken steps to raise their standards and are in the process of acquiring permits to operate their animal facilities, but Saei Park has not taken a single step,” Bazgir was quoted as saying by the news agency.

“If they don’t bolster their standards and apply for a permit, we’ll have no choice but to list Saei Park as an illegal zoo and deal with them through legal channels.”

Currently, Tehran has 12 wildlife centers.

DOE has instructed all animal reserves to adhere to standards pertaining to the animals’ nutrition and care, in addition to their cage condition.  Wildlife facilities must submit regular reports about the species, numbers, addition and remova

For These Monkeys, It's a Fight for Survival
On their Indonesian island, crested black macaques are hunted for meat, kept as pets, and threatened by a shrinking habitat. Can they be saved?
If it weren’t for a cheeky monkey named Naruto, who, as the story goes, stole a photographer’s camera in an Indonesian park and snapped a selfie, crested black macaques might still be languishing in obscurity.

The photo later went viral, and Macaca nigra suddenly had millions of online fans just as the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which sets the conservation status of animals, was working toward listing the punk-haired, amber-eyed species as among the world’s 25 most endangered primates.

In 2015 Naruto’s selfie sparked a copyright lawsuit including the animal welfare group People fo

“Harming National Treasures”: Lanzhou Zoo Sparks Controversy (Again) for Apparent Panda Negligence
Visitor photos of a mouth-foaming, lethargic-looking panda at Lanzhou Zoo has caused outrage on Weibo. As the zoo’s conditions are called into question for the umpteenth time, some say that China’s so-called ‘national treasures’ (国宝) are not being treated equally. The controversy is especially noteworthy because China maintains strict control over the pandas it sends abroad.

Cage-Free Western Sydney Zoo Submitted For Final Decision
A proposed privately operated zoo in Western Sydney has been referred to the NSW Planning and Assessment Commission for a final decision.

The 16.5-hectare zoo, to be located within the Western Sydney Parklands at Bungarribee, 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, is masterplanned by Aspect Studios.

Sydney Zoo is a new $36 million zoological park and is set to be an iconic tourist attraction located in the Bungarribee Precinct, Western Sydney Parklands. The new Sydney Zoo will work in collaboration with the Western Sydney Parklands Trust and Blacktown Council to contribute to enhancing social and cultural infrastructure in Western Sydney.

The site is located approximately 33 kilometres west of Sydney’s CBD, and approximately 15 kilometres east of Penrith. It is in close proximity to the Great Western Highway, M4 Western Motorway and Westlink M7, providing excellent access to both the state and regional road network and surrounding parkland areas.

The total contribution to the NSW economy is estimated at $45 million per year and is expected to boost employment with 160 jobs during construction and at least 120 jobs during its operation.

Tough early life makes wild animals live longer
Scientists from the University of Exeter found that male banded mongooses that experienced poor conditions in their first year had longer lives.

However, there was no difference in the number of offspring they fathered - suggesting those born into poor conditions "live slow, die old" while those with an easier first year "live fast, die young".

Surprisingly, the males that fathered the most pups were those that grew up when conditions were highly variable. These males also lived long lives, like those born into poor conditions.

"Growing up in a poor or unpredictable environment isn't necessarily bad - it can have advantages," said lead author Dr Harry Marshall, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation of the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus.

"It's not clear why variable early-life conditions were the best for male mongooses in terms of longevity and reproduction. It might be that male mongooses that experience different challenges in their first year are better prepared for those challenges later on."

The researchers used 14 years of data on wild banded mongooses (Mungo

Act now before entire species are lost to global warming, say scientists
The impact of climate change on threatened and endangered wildlife has been dramatically underreported, with scientists calling on policymakers to act urgently to slow its effects before entire species are lost for good.

New analysis has found that nearly half (47%) of the mammals and nearly a quarter (24.4%) of the birds on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list of threatened species are negatively impacted by climate change – a total of about 700 species. Previous assessments had said only 7% of listed mammals and 4% of birds were impacted.

“Many experts have got these climate assessments wrong – in some cases, massively so,” said Dr James Watson of the University of Queensland and the Wildlife Conservation Society, who co-authored the paper with scientists in the UK, Italy and the US.

IUCN updates 'red list' of endangered species - in pictures
 View gallery
Published in the Nature Climate Change journal, the analysis of 130 studies reported between 1990 and 2015 painted a grim picture of the impact of the changing climate on birds and mammals already under threat.

Most researchers tended to assess the impa

Free-choice digital interactive enrichment and human-animal interaction
As orangutan (Pongo spp.) and chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) populations decrease, captive individuals play an important role in species’ conservation management making information about their cognitive stimuli and enrichment essential.

There is a growing empirical support demonstrating improved welfare in captive animals when they can exert control over their environment.1 Research shows that great apes can successfully interact with digital media devices2&3 and there can be behavioral changes when presented with digital enrichments.4 However, to date, there have been no studies that look at the effect of free-choice using digital interactive mediums, and the implementation’s impact on human visitors’ attitudes to

Momentary Victory In An Ongoing War
At the beginning of 2017, Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey Circus announced that after 146 years of entertainment with animals, it was closing its doors for good. “Big picture” animal rights groups, who remained fixated on “sticking it to the man on behalf of animals everywhere” instantly declared victory, announcing the vanquishment of the #1 animal exploiter in the United States. Much of the public, and those more capitalistically minded expressed confusion or horror, that there was something wrong with the iconic establishment, or that “animal rights” should be put above the needs and wants of human businessmen.

The remainder of us within the conservation community, those who understood the depths of such an announcement, began poring over press releases and articles, attempting to suss out the long-term plans for the captive wild animals which have long been a staple for Ringling Bros.. We knew, unlike the public–who widely and ignorantly cheered for the “retirement” of elephants from Ringling Bros. Barnum Bailey Circus–that a circus who ceases to use animals in their show, or who otherwise closes its doors, is

Alameda wildlife park joins British and Irish zoos
The Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (AWCP), Gibraltar’s only zoo, was recently awarded provisional Membership of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).
The AWCP is now officially one of the smallest zoos in BIAZA and is mentored by the smallest member: Shaldon Zoo in Devon.
This comes after years of development and twelve months of hard work that began with an initial inspection in January 2016 by BIAZA’s Nic Dunn Director of Shaldon Wildlife Trust, who also assisted throughout the initial application and will continue to mentor the AWCP during the provisional period.
Stewart Muir, Director of Living Collections, Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust, also assessed the park and made recommendations.
The Kusuma Trust funded their visits.
Coupled with the BIAZA milestone is the AWCP’s ‘Stategic Plan 2016-2021, Building on Success’. This follows in February 2017

~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~

Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!



The "Heart of Africa" at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is a themed area that
features lions and many other species of savannah animals. With the
exception of hidden moats, the lion exhibit is at the same approximate
elevation as the adjacent savanna. Therefore, the lions and the guests
have an unobstructed view of foraging hoofstock.



With 42 presentations and two discussion panels, a dense programme is
waiting for participants of the first international zoo design
conference since 2004. The first day is dedicated to "zoo design trends
and developments" including a discussion on "zoo strategies and design
answers". The theme of the second day is "enrichment for welfare" with
speakers from around the globe. The third day is about "technical
aspects of zoo design" and will end with a discussion on "working with
external experts" before a visit to Wroclaw Zoo in the afternoon.

ZooLex together with Wroclaw Zoo organizes this international zoo design
conference. The conference will take place in Wroclaw, Poland, from 4th
to 7th April 2017.

Please use this link for information and registration:

Exhibitors will be accomodated in the order of registration. Please
check out your opportunities and contact MCC Consulting Ltd. for booking
your package:


We keep working on ZooLex ...

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization is a non-profit organization
registered in Austria (ZVR-Zahl 933849053). ZooLex runs a professional
zoo design website and distributes this newsletter. More information and

Thoughts for Behaviour: Who is Training Who?
Did you guys meet my brother yet? Ok, he is a man that means a lot to me and gives me quite some inspiration. In the beginning of December we had a trip after almost a year not seeing each other. Together we planned to go to Kiruna (The most northern city of Sweden) to see the northern lights through a sled dog trip in the forest. It was magical and I want to tell you all please do this once in your life. It took us quite a while but that meant as well that we had a long time to talk together about everything and anything. Real bonding on such a trip.

My brother is a salesman for for T-mobile. He only has this job for maybe 8 months now I would say if not less but h

What Packy taught us (Opinion)
This past week has been an especially sad one for the Oregon Zoo. On Thursday, we said goodbye to Asian elephant Packy, one of the zoo's oldest residents, and one of the best-known, most beloved animals in the world.

As a young conservation biologist attending grad school at Syracuse in the early 1980s -- long before I returned to Portland to be zoo director -- I traveled across the country one summer, visiting family in the Northwest but also intent on seeing Portland's zoo and meeting the legendary elephant. He was majestic, standing 10-foot-6 at the shoulder with a bearing I can only describe as regal. The intelligence in his eyes was startling. I had never seen anything like him.

Nearly everyone in the Portland area knows Packy, of course -- he inspired books, songs, and parade floats. For years, a giant mural of his profile graced the old Skidmore Fountain Building at the west end of the Burnside Bridge. And, with his likeness embellishing our logo, Packy was literally the face of the Oregon Zoo. But apart from his celebrity, or perhaps because of it, Packy's most important legacy stretches far beyond our region.

When the zoo moved to its current Washington Park location in the late 1950s, Dr. Matthew Maberry, our first veterinarian, helped design facilities that gave elephants much more freedom than was common for zoos of that time. That change encouraged normal social interactions and natural breeding among the elephants, which led to something of a modern miracle: Packy, the first elephant born in North America since 1918.

The birth was so unprecedented that until Packy hit the ground (shortly before 6 a.m. on April 14, 1962), no one knew that an Asian elephant's gestation period is 20 to 22 months. That was the first thing Packy taught us -- and each year brought more knowledge, profoun


** ***
** **

New Meetings and Conferences updated Here

If you have anything to add then please email me at
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

Recent Zoo Vacancies

Vacancies in Zoos and Aquariums and Wildlife/Conservation facilities around the World

About me
After more than 48 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 writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, 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