Friday, July 31, 2009

International Vulture Awareness Day

International Vulture Awareness Day takes place the 5th September 2009. This is just a little over one month away!!!

Is your zoo one of the (just) seven listed worldwide which is contributing to Vulture Awareness? If not, why not? If you keep vultures then surely you should be doing something? Even if you don't keep them they do need help.

Why not get your education department to produce a poster and place it next to your vulture exhibit. Perhaps the poster could be designed by a local school. A competition even.

The plight of vultures worldwide is recognised within zoo circles but how much does the average visitor know? Vultures are important.

Learn more by visiting:

International Vulture Awareness day is just one of many wildlife conservation events listed on Zoo News Digest's 'Zoo Symposia' page. Check it out. Is your conference or meeting listed there? Please send events for inclusion to me:

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Zoo News Digest 24th - 29th July 2009 (Zoo News 609)

Zoo News Digest 24th - 29th July 2009 (Zoo News 609)

Peter Dickinson

Dear Colleagues,

I take the unusual step of including the first link, researched and written by Keith O’Brien, in its entirety. Interesting and well written. I don't agree with all the content (would I ever?) but it does make some very valid points and is an enjoyable read. On the question of anthropomorphism, I have always believed it to be an important quality of the persona of a good animal person. I believed it forty years ago and still do today. Entertainment....Yes definitely. Nobody but visits a zoo to be educated. Edutainment is the recognised key. Give people a good day out and send them home knowing and caring about something they had not thought about before. The “Russia’s Grizzly Coast” at Minnesota Zoo sounds brilliant. Any exhibit that keeps people for an hour is teaching. Those who watch will care.

I don't doubt the sincerity of the majority of so called 'animal sanctuary' operators because it really is all in a name. They are keeping wild animals captive and are really 'zoos' at the end of the day. It is they that seem to make a distinction and make statements like: "We also provide permanent refuge to surplus animals from zoos and other wildlife facilities, where they face euthanasia due to over-breeding. "Sorry, but I agree with euthanasia. It is part of the management tools to be utilised by responsible zoos within managed breeding programmes. Regardless of how 'planned' a breeding may or may not be there will always be 'surplus'. Surplus passed on to sanctuaries or rescue centres (which are just zoos by another name) is irresponsible. There are only a limited, very limited number of spaces in captivity. They should not be filled with 'useless' (meaning no disrespect) animals. This is passing on a problem that someone is afraid to deal with and actually damages conservation efforts. Spaces in captivity should be properly utilised and not filled with non contributing members of a species. Such slots may be filled for 20, 30 or more years.

The link about the new 'menagerie' at Wolverhampton left me wondering. It states "The animals have come from zoos, breeders, animal sanctuaries". Interesting. Which zoos sent which animals? Another case of dumping surplus stock?

Houston Zoo...$50 million!!!!!! Wow! That is going to be worth seeing.

I note that Dai Nam has got into a bit of trouble. Too many tigers. I visited once but the zoo section was not yet open. If I can scrape a few pennies together I may go again in a couple of weeks.

The story about Jodie Marsh and the cheetah annoyed me on two counts. Firstly you don't purchase a cheetah to "start a breeding programme". Two cheetahs do not a programme make. There are already two EEP's for cheetah. Having to actually purchase an animal suggests that the one already held is not in either of these established programmes and neither is the one being bought. Do correct me if I am wrong.

My man of the month is Thane Maynard. A special breed. Respect! I would welcome the opportunity to meet the guy. Maybe one day.

Lots of interesting stories this week. Enjoy and learn!

I have only written the one Hub this week:
Sri Racha Tiger Zoo - lots of photos.

Visit my webpages at:

I keep recomending Hubpages. Within an hour you could have your own webpage earning you a small passive income.

Read how with my "Quick Guide to Hub Construction."

I truly believe it will be worth your while.

This Weeks Books of Interest to the Zoo Professional

On with the links:

Goodbye, Jumbo - The identity crisis of the modern zoo
In zoo parlance, they’re known as charismatic megafauna. We’re talking lions, tigers, and other large creatures. They are the big-ticket beasts and the reason, historically anyway, why people have come to the zoo. Where there is megafauna, the thinking goes, there will be crowds.
That’s partly what made Ron Kagan’s decision so shocking. The executive director of the Detroit Zoo announced in 2004 that he was voluntarily sending his zoo’s two Asian elephants to a California sanctuary, where the land was plentiful, the weather temperate, and the elephants could roam. The reason, Kagan said, was simple. To paraphrase: The zoo, despite its best efforts, was essentially ruining the elephants’ lives.
“It wasn’t like an elephant died or something like that,” Kagan said recently. “There was just a progression, struggling for years, recognizing there was a problem, and that these were common problems for elephants. We just kept thinking, ‘What can we do?’ ”
Kagan’s choice, which is still reverberating in the zoo industry five years later, marks the latest twist in a long, often clumsy, historical shift - from animals caged for our delight, to a more enlightened conservation message, and finally to the notion that zoos can actually change human behavior by teaching us about the ways we’re damaging the natural world. Now more than ever, zoos are bringing the message of wildlife conservation to the forefront, making it not only part of their marketing plans, but their core missions. Indeed, some zoo directors now say conservation is the only pure reason for keeping animals at all.
Yet within this noble notion there is a fundamental and nagging problem: Zoos, despite their evolution, remain a form of entertainment, with the animals unwittingly playing the main roles. So if zoo directors are trying more than ever to do right by the beasts in their care, providing them in many cases with hyper-naturalistic, state-of-the-art exhibits and greater attention to what the animals might actually want, then it seems only a matter of time before they ask themselves some tough questions: Should they be keeping animals at all? If so, which ones, and why? Should elephants be in zoos? Should gorillas?
“If you asked somebody in our profession 10 years ago, ‘Is the gorilla happy?’, they would get really upset and say, ‘Why would you ask such an anthropomorphic question?’ ” said Kagan, 57. “But these sort of things now are legitimately a part of scientific study and assessment.”
Consequently, many, including Kagan, see changes on the horizon. Nigel Rothfels, the author of “Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo” (Johns Hopkins, 2008) believes zoos of the future will have fewer species and larger spaces for them to occupy. Those that choose to keep elephants and other large species, he argues, will likely do it better than ever before, putting significant resources into the projects. But most zoos, Rothfels believes, will make a different choice: they will give up the charismatic megafauna that people have come to expect. In other words, the biggest challenge for some zoos in the years ahead may be letting go“There may well be fewer zoos in the future,” Rothfels said recently. “But the zoos that will be there will be better.”
It makes for both an exciting and challenging time in zoos. Despite their critics, the institutions remain very popular. As the recent debate over Zoo New England’s troubled parks has revealed, people love their zoos. Even as government funding dries up, attendance at many zoos is steady, and even rising. And with the natural world in increasing peril - poachers killing elephants in Africa, climate change threatening habitats worldwide, and American children increasingly sealed off into safe suburban bubbles - many zoo officials feel that this is their moment, their chance to remind people why wildlife matters, before it is too late.
“We need to make that connection, and it’s not hard,” said Bill Conway, the legendary former director of the Bronx Zoo and now a senior conservationist at the Wildlife Conservation Society. “It’s very different to see an animal live, to make that emotional connection, to look it in the eye and have it look back at you.”
People have been collecting exotic animals for centuries. Babylonian royals, Chinese rulers, and Egyptian kings all dabbled in it, keeping at times alligators, bears, lions, and elephants in private collections. The purpose was often sheer entertainment. At animal parks in early China, fights are said to have been staged, sometimes between man and beast. Later, Europeans used animal preserves for hunting, and finally, in the 1700 and 1800s, modern zoos, with animals on display for public viewing, began to emerge in European cities.
In 1874, the first zoo in the United States opened to great fanfare in Philadelphia. With a brass band playing and flags fluttering, thousands of people arrived that morning and queued up to see the exotic wallabies, kangaroos, bears, and an Indian elephant.
In the 75 years or so that followed, others rushed to top Philadelphia’s early offerings, as American zookeepers engaged in something akin to animal “stamp collecting,” Conway said. The goal, generally speaking, was to acquire as many species as possible and house them, often alone, in simple cages. “One of this, one of that, one of the next thing,” said Steve Feldman, spokesman for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “Just so you could see what a tiger looked like.”
But in 1979, Kiki, the gorilla, stepped into a different world. Held captive for years amid concrete and bars at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, he was given a lush new exhibit, designed by his caretakers to resemble the wild African home where he had lived so briefly. There was grass and a stream, and then this shift: Not only did zoo officials believe the gorillas loved it, so did the visitorsA new push for hyper-naturalism began to consume zoos across the country while conservation efforts, practiced by some zoos for years, also began to take center stage. In 1980, the Cincinnati Zoo founded its Cat Ambassador Program to help raise awareness about the troubles facing cheetahs in Africa. Two years later, the San Diego Zoo pioneered conservation work that helped to bring the California condor back from the brink of extinction, and throughout the 1980s and ’90s, many zoos continued along these twin paths: raising awareness about the plight of animals while often housing them in environs that looked, if not felt, more true-to-life.
But some zoos stumbled upon a paradox: As much as people might care about the animals, they still wanted to be entertained. In 1995, the Kansas City Zoo opened a $32 million, 95-acre Africa exhibit, hoping it would help increase attendance by 50 percent within a year. But it didn’t happen. In an effort to make the sprawling exhibit feel natural, planners neglected to build many places where people could sit and cool down in the summer heat. People had to walk too far to see the animals. And the animals themselves were too hard to see.
“The issues just compounded,” said Randy Wisthoff, the zoo’s current executive director, who took the job in 2003.
Attendance declined, and a 2002 report commissioned by the local Friends of the Zoo told officials what they already knew: The zoo lacked “entertainment value.” What it needed was more safari rides, movie nights, and misting stations. And there was this conclusion, which cuts to the heart of the zoo’s modern-day dilemma. While visitors appreciated that animals might enjoy their nicer habitats, what zoo-goers really wanted was what they have always wanted: animals, up close, and ideally, doing something interesting.
“On the one hand, zoos want to be about conservation and education,” said Jeffrey Hyson, assistant history professor at Saint Joseph’s University and the author of a forthcoming book on zoos. “On the other hand, they’ve got to emotionally appeal to visitors and make things more fun. They’ve got to have birthday parties for the animals, naming contests. They’ve got to turn animals into personalities.”
In a recent study conducted by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums titled “Why Zoos & Aquariums Matter,” researchers surveyed more than 5,000 visitors and reported that zoos are indeed helping to shape the way people think about the natural world. Fifty-seven percent said their zoo visits strengthened their connection with nature. Fifty-four percent said zoos and aquariums prompted them to reconsider their role in environmental problems, and 61 percent talked about what they had learned.
But visitors don’t come to zoos “to eat their vitamins,” said Thane Maynard, executive director of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden. And so, zoos are trying to take on an ever more idealistic mission, while serving up fun by blurring the lines between the worlds of the humans and the animals.Chances to feed giraffes or lorikeets are popping up from Little Rock to Albuquerque, and stingray touch tanks are all the rage. Two years ago in Cincinnati, zoo officials built a show around an idea they weren’t even sure would work: a cheetah run. But work it did. Five days a week, before awe-struck crowds, the zoo’s cheetahs now reach speeds up to 40 miles an hour - a little over half their potential - chasing a dog toy on a pulley. The zoo now plans to invest $4 million in a more elaborate cheetah course while other new exhibits, like “Russia’s Grizzly Coast” at the Minnesota Zoo, are not only naturalistic, but bring the animals up close through clever tactics like heated rocks and well-placed pools of water.
“The bears spend a lot of the day - especially in the summer when it’s hot - in the water, swimming, playing with each other, and sometimes trying, and succeeding, to catch live fish,” said Lee Ehmke, director and CEO of the Minnesota Zoo, where the exhibit opened last year. “It’s awesome. People stay for an hour sometimes.”
The power of these close encounters, Ehmke said, is that people are being compelled to care. There is nothing, zoo officials argue, like being face-to-face with an animal. That makes people appreciate the beauty of nature, Ehmke said. As a result of its new exhibit, Minnesota zoo officials raised $15,000 last year that went directly to field conservation work, and they are not alone. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, accredited zoos raise roughly $70 million a year for conservation projects.
That fund-raising does not justify caging animals in the eyes of some animal rights activists. These critics argue that zoos would have a far greater impact if they spent their money solely on keeping animals free, not captive. And in Detroit, at least one zoo official believes that zoos should be focusing more on something else.
Ron Kagan isn’t against conservation; that’s part of the mission, he said. What he’d like to see more of, however, is in-depth discussion about animal welfare, how to best gauge it, and what to do about it if zoos are falling short of meeting animals’ needs. It’s a discussion that may lead to the conclusion that the zoos’ ultimate mission means giving up more of its animals, but Kagan’s all right with that.
He recently traveled to San Andreas, Calif., 120 miles east of San Francisco, and visited the sprawling sanctuary where he sent his two elephants in 2005. One of them, Winky, died last year, euthanized at age 56. But the other, named Wanda, is doing well, Kagan said. There in the grassy foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, she is living out her days on a 100-acre patch of land that, to him, anyway, seems pretty much like paradise.

Endangered Birds Released Into The Wild
Nine endangered light-footed clapper rails were released into the wild on July 22, 2009 as part of a captive breeding program partially funded by the Port of San Diego. The environmental effort took place at the Los Penasquitos Marsh east of Torrey Pines State Beach.

Chimpanzees Infected With SIV Do Develop And Die From AIDS, Contrary To Prevailing View
Although the AIDS virus (HIV-1) entered the human population through chimpanzees, scientists have long believed that chimpanzees don't develop AIDS. But a new study from an international team, including University of Minnesota professors Anne Pusey and Michael Wilson, shows that chimpanzees infected with SIV (simian immunodeficiency virus), the precursor to HIV-1, do

L.A. Zoo officials ordered to report to city council committee over USDA investigation into elephant, chimp deaths
City Councilman Tony Cardenas has ordered Los Angeles Zoo officials to appear before a council committee to discuss the U.S. Department of Agriculture's investigation into the deaths of an elephant and a chimpanzee at the zoo three years ago.The USDA, which enforces the Animal Welfare Act, cited the zoo for failing to get veterinary care quickly to the animals when they were stricken. (The elephant, Gita, was found down in her enclosure in June of 2006. The next month, a chimpanzee, Judeo, was bitten by a rattlesnake.)The zoo paid a $3,281 fine, but officials have steadfastly maintained they did everything possible to save both animals. The fine came

PETA opposes saving zoo
Dear Ms. Young and Commissioners:I'm writing on behalf of PETA regarding the The Zoo of Northwest Florida's pleas for public funding and to urge you to continue denying such requests. Not only is the zoo financially unstable, it also appears to have engaged in a contract that could transfer animals at the zoo to a private owner. An article in the December 18, 2008, edition of the Pensacola News Journal (enclosed) indicates that the zoo received a $100,000 "loan" from Marcella Leone, owner of a private menagerie in Stamford, Conn. The enclosed documents from the Florida Secured Transaction Registry, filed on December 30, 2008, seem to indicate that the zoo's animals were used as "collateral" for the loan (the documents specifically mention the zoo's baby orangutan, Indah). PETA has asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to investigate whether this transaction may constitute buying, selling, or otherwise engaging in commercial acts in violation of the Endangered Species Act. Leone's facility is not accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and is also not recognized as a sanctuary. All too often, animals at such facilities are passed on to exotic-animal breeders or dealers, private collections, pseudo-sanctuaries, shabby roadside zoos, the pet trade

Cincinnati Zoo's cheetah looks to set new land speed record for mammals
The Cincinnati Zoo announced this week that one of its resident cheetahs, an 8-year-old female named Sarah, will participate in an attempt to set a new land speed record for mammals. Sarah will vie for the record with another 8-year-old female cheetah named Nkosazana (which means "Princess" in Xhosa, one of South Africa's official languages) from a South African organization called Cheetah Outreach.The two cheetahs won't face off in a head-to-head race; instead, each will make three timed 100-meter dashes on an enclosed course in her home country. Nkosazana (or Zaza for short) will run first; her attempt at record-breaking will be held Aug. 15. A little less than a month later, on Sept. 9, Sarah will travel to the Kentucky Speedway near Sparta, Ky., where Cincinnati Zoo staff hope she'll be able to beat the time set by Zaza. The record-breaking attempts aren't just for fun, zoo officials said -- they're intended to raise awareness about the plight of

Mystery of the toucan's beak solved
Charles Darwin thought the toucan's oversized beak was a sexual lure for attracting potential mates, while some modern-day biologists suggested it was either for peeling fruit or to warn off territorial rivals. A new study has found, though, that the outrageously big structure helps to keep the bird cool in the heat of the tropical day.The beak of the toco toucan – the largest member of the toucan family – accounts for about one-third of the bird's body length, which is larger than the beak of any other bird for its size. When the 18th-century French naturalist

Villagers discover 'extinct' leopard cub eating a monkey
Conservationists in Bangladesh are celebrating after remote tribespeople discovered a rare and threatened leopard that was believed to have been extinct in the country for almost 20 years.Villagers in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in south-east Bangladesh captured the clouded leopard cub after they disturbed it, its sibling and their mother eating a dead monkey in the jungle. The others escaped, but the villagers captured the three-month-old and put it in a cage. It is understood the tribespeople planned to sell the animal but, after news of the discovery spread, conservationists persuaded them to release the leopard back into the wild. They did so yesterday."We are delighted. For

Borneo Sun Bear Conservation Centre To Be Built In Sepilok
A Borneo sun bear conservation centre will be set up in Sepilok here in an effort to prevent the endangered animal from becoming extinct.It will be next to the Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre in Sepilok, and the ground-breaking ceremony for the project was officiated by state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, here, Friday.Director of the sun bear conservation centre, Cynthia Ong, said the centre, to be built in three phases, would have facilities including a home that could accommodate 43 sun bears, a visitors'

Elephants putting strain on Kenya's ecosystem - report
ELEPHANTS ARE destroying Kenya’s national parks, trampling woodland and putting other species at risk, according to a new report.The giant mammals need vast areas of land to graze and trying to protect them inside parks is putting a strain on the rest of the ecosystem.The finding is part of a study that discovered Kenya’s famous wild animal population is dying off at the same rate inside protected parks as outside – 40 per cent in 20 years.Kenyan scientists concluded that a radical review of the country’s conservation policies was needed and that open spaces around the country’s network

Uttar Pradesh official imposes entertainment tax on wildlife park
The district magistrate of Lakhimpur-Kheri in Uttar Pradesh has decided to impose entertainment tax, which is normally applicable for amusement parks, on the Dudhwa National Park, officials said here Friday. In a letter sent to the national park's director last week, the district magistrate not only sought to know the revenue earned by the park over the past four years but also raised a demand for payment of 30% of that amount as entertainment tax. "I have not been able to figure out how such a demand could be raised by a district magistrate unless he does not understand the

Donkey Business - The only zebra in Gaza
Something didn't quite look right about the zebra, but it was hard to say exactly what. Of the several ramshackle zoos in Gaza, Marah, located not far from the Bureij refugee camp, is by far the cheeriest: The animals are lively, the enclosures clean, and children gather around the cage of a resting lion.Then again, the competition is hardly stiff: The zoo in Rafah features dead animals left to rot in their cages; another animal park, situated in a densely populated neighborhood in Bureij, recently shut down amid financial difficulties (and after neighbors complained of the smell). A third, also in Bureij, is so short of funds that a fox is kept in a grocery cart with a board over the top.Yet Marah, with its broken-down bumper cars and a pit filled with sadly deflated balls, had its own not-quite-right feel—particularly the zebra. Standing near the back of its cage, facing away from the spectators, the animal kept its head tucked down."It's really a painted donkey," admitted Mahmud Berghat, the director of Marah, when asked about the creature. Making a fake zebra isn't easy—henna didn't work and wood paint was deemed inhumane, so they finally settled

Biologists Rediscover Endangered Frog Population
Zoo, Museum, State and Federal Agencies Collaborate To Save Mountain Yellow-Legged FrogFor the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct frog has been rediscovered in the San Bernardino National Forest’s San Jacinto Wilderness. Biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) assessing suitability of sites to re-establish frogs and scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum retracing a 1908 natural history expedition both rediscovered the rare mountain yellow-legged frog in the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild, Calif.This re-discovery — along with the San Diego Zoo’s first successful breeding of the frog in captivity, and successful efforts by California Department of Fish and Game to restore frog habitat — renews hope of survival for this Southern California amphibian.Globally, amphibians are on the decline because of habitat loss, effects of climate change and the spread of a deadly pathogen called the chytrid fungus. The mountain yellow-legged frog is one of three frogs or toads on the federal Endangered Species List in Southern California. Prior to this recent discovery, USGS researchers

Tortoise plan would involve 1,000 acres
The latest Nye County desert tortoise habitat conservation plan would be a high-impact plan allowing the disturbance of up to 1,000 acres over 10 years, planner Kyle Walton told county commissioners Tuesday afternoon.Previous plans were termed low effect, covering up to 100 acres. A low-effect plan would mean it would be an insignificant impact to the environment and would fly under the radar when it came to having to comply with requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act."Up to 100 acres, we could probably justify. It is going to be the responsibility of the Fish and Wildlife Service to justify to the public that this is, in effect, a low-effect habitat conservation plan. The higher impact, the greater the number of acres that can be disturbed, the harder it is for us to make the case to the public that this is indeed a low-effect plan," said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Jeri Krueger.Nye County planner Kyle Walton, who gave

Worshippers cry foul as Madhya Pradesh ‘de-fangs’ Nagpanchmi
Nagpanchmi, the festival of snakes, which was celebrated Sunday, left many Hindu worshippers disappointed when they went to temples but found no snakes. The forest department had taken snake charmers to task for displaying the reptiles. Nagpanchami is a festival of snakes celebrated on the fifth day of the bright fortnight in the Hindu holy month of Shravan. People visit temples of Hindu god Shiva, worship snakes and offer them milk besides alms to the snake charmer who brings them. But now, there are no snake charmers seen in the towns and cities as the forest department has warned them of strict action if they bring the reptiles on Nagpanchmi. In the absence of snake charmers, many people have crafted images of snakes using cow dung on either side of the entrance of their houses to welcome the snake god. “We have been worshipping snakes on this day for ages but now our right to worship is being encroached upon by the government,” said B.L. Mehra who lives in the posh Kanchan Nagar locality of Bhopal. Hindu mythology is full of stories and fables about snakes, the most important

Zoo celebrates breeding success
A Cornish zoo has helped an endangered species of mammal by successfully breeding two rare Owston's Civets.The cubs are part of a breeding programme at Newquay Zoo, which also supports a conservation programme in the civets native home of Vietnam. Three years ago the zoo bred the first twins to be born outside South East Asia. A total of five cubs have been bred by the zoo - three of which have been transferred to other zoos in the UK. Owston's Civets are at risk from the illegal wildlife trade and trapping for their fur and meat. Stewart Muir, director of Newquay Zoo, said

VIN SUPRYNOWICZ: Save the habitat, kill the turtles
When -- in the name of heaven, I demand to know -- are those responsible for enforcing the Endangered Species Act going to do something about remediating the habitat devastation and starting to recover the minuscule remaining population, before it has dwindled past the point of no return, of that brave and noble beast, the poodle?What? Are you serious, Vin? There are, like, 68 million domestic pet dogs in this country, and the poodle is the seventh most numerous breed. There are millions of poodles out there.As a matter of fact, purebred poodles are among the 4 million to 6 million dogs euthanized in America each year because homes can't be found for them. America's dog and cat problem is not species extinction; it's overpopulation.Well, to anyone tempted to respond in that manner, let me clarify for you what the Endangered Species Act is really all about. You see, the number of poodles living in domestic captivity doesn't count. Once we have succeeded in getting the noble poodle listed as threatened or endangered -- as it most certainly is, in the traditional range of its wild habitat -- all that will matter is the number of wild, untouched acres set aside. Once you've developed a house and a yard and put two happy poodles in it, for purposes of the federal ESA, you might as well have just shot the pups, because you have destroyed wild poodle habitat, and we are going to count your poodles as "taken," meaning dead. In fact, we may have to take steps to stop you from allowing them to breed, up to and including "euthanizing" your captive slave dogs, since "Unlimited breeding of an endangered species in captivity is something the community has to look into." You think I'm making this up? Here in Las Vegas, Clark County's Desert Conservation Program -- a well-paid division of the county Department of Air Quality and Environmental Management -- is currently going hat in hand to the appropriate chain of federal agencies, asking "permission" to amend the so-called Desert Tortoise (and 77 other critters, including bugs and mosses) Habitat Plan, with the purpose of "allowing" the county to develop an additional 215,000 acres of adjoining stinking desert ....

‘More to zoo than feeding, cleaning animals’
Laura Tardieu has loved animals since she was a child, so it came as no surprise when she chose to work at a zoo. Tardieu is employed at Emperor Valley Zoo, where she has assumed the position of temporary zoologist since February. Dressed unpretentiously in a pair of track pants, polo shirt and sneakers, Tardieu looked quite relaxed while seated in the lobby of the Zoological Society’s office on the zoo’s compound during a recent interview. The 28-year-old shared her experiences at several foreign zoos and the changes she hoped to implement in the diets of the animals here at home.Her inspirationWhen she was ten, Tardieu said she was inspired by a documentary and knew at that point exactly what she wanted to do. “My dream was inspired by a film. There was a zoologist who was protecting elephants whose tusks were being hunted, and I felt strongly about that, and I said to myself ‘I wanna do what he is doing.’ That was

A hippo critical situation
HACIENDA Napoles was Pablo Escobar's pleasure palace, a 5,500-acre estate where the notorious drug lord reigned over million-dollar cocaine deals, parties with underage girls and visits by shadowy men of power.Escobar lived large here in his lush fiefdom 100 miles east of Medellin, far from the teeming slums where he began his life of crime. He built a bullring, an airstrip, an ersatz Jurassic Park with half a dozen immense concrete dinosaurs. He stocked a private wild animal park with hundreds of animals, including elephants, camels, giraffes, ostriches and zebras. He installed four hippos in one of the estate's 12 man-made lakes.Today, Hacienda Napoles is in ruins, taken over by jungle foliage and bats. The sprawling Spanish-style mansion has been gutted, scavenged by treasure hunters looking for stashes of gold and cash buried under the floors. Escobar is long gone, cut down in a hail of police gunfire.But the hippos are still here.More than 15 years after the government took control of Hacienda Napoles, the elephants, giraffes and zebras have long since disappeared, given away to Colombian zoos or left to die.But the hippos were never claimed because they were too large and ornery to move. Now the original four have multiplied to 16 and, far from starving to death, as some expected, they have learned to forage like cows. In fact, local authorities say they represent a safety hazard — and are standing in the way of plans to redevelop the late drug lord's estate.At night, several of them emerge from their watery habitats and roam for miles looking for grass to munch on. Three months ago, a male hippo was shot to death by ranchers after he wandered three miles from the rest of the herd to a neighboring stream.Weighing up to 3 tons, the hippos are not constrained by ordinary barbed-wire fences or gates."The problem is, you cannot manage them," said Francisco Sanchez, environmental officer of Puerto Triunfo municipality, which has control of the mansion

Hope of freedom for orang-utans dashed - 248 endangered primates left in cages after mining company pulls out of rescue
A world-renowned programme to return hundreds of orang-utans threatened with extinction to the wild has been thrown into disarray by the withdrawal of Britain's biggest mining company from Borneo.Dozens of orang-utans that had been due to be released this month have been left locked in cages after BHP-Billiton warned it could no longer guarantee the safety of the animals on forests it had been surveying for coal. With BHP's support over the past two years, orang-utans from a rehabilitation centre – made famous by the BBC TV series Orang-utan Diary – have been released onto BHP's land in Kalimantan. But last month the world's largest mining company told investors it was withdrawing from the area for "strategic reasons" which it declined to explain. A planned airlift of 48 adult orang-utans scheduled to take place on 20 July was cancelled a week before it had been due to take place. Lone Dröscher-Nielsen, the former air stewardess who cares for 650 orang-utans at the Nyaru Menteng Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, said BHP had warned that the Indonesian government was likely to hand its coal concessions to other companies who would not match its environmental stewardship of the land. She added that it now seemed unlikely the Anglo-Australia mining giant would fund a plan to a create a 250,000-hectare wildlife reserve in central Borneo that could have sited 1,000 orang-utans, a genetically

Living Coasts sees increase in visitors
ONE of Torbay's newer tourist attractions is seeing a recession-busting increase in visitors this summer.Living Coasts opened six years ago and so far this year has seen a four per cent increase in visitors which it says is due to its evolution into an all-weather attraction.It has had 59,000 visitors this year, an increase of 4,041 on last, and should total more than 100,000.When it first opened Living Coasts had a visitor target of 300,000.A spokesman said: "Who knows where we'd be if the economy was stronger? It seems more people are holidaying in this country, which is good for Torbay and good for us."Living Coasts has evolved into a

SF Zoo tiger attack victim arrested
A San Jose man attacked by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo has been arrested on suspicion of cocaine possession and being under the influence of a controlled substance. Authorities say 24-year-old Kulbir Dhaliwal was taken into custody Wednesday after the vehicle he was a passenger in was pulled over by San Jose State University police.Dhaliwal was allegedly carrying three grams of cocaine. The driver, 26-year-old Tarlok Dhaliwal, was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Kulbir Dhaliwal, his brother, Amirtpal "Paul" Dhaliwal, and their friend, 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., were attacked by a Siberian tiger that escaped its enclosure at San Francisco

Animal adventure as £1m menagerie opens
A £1 million menagerie of monkeys, meerkats and micro pigs has been created in Wolverhampton.After running an exotic pet shop for more than a decade, brothers Jimmy and Ben Wicks have sunk their life savings into creating Wickid Animal Adventure in Dunstall.The brothers from Wednesfield have spent the past year – and £500,000 each – transforming a patch of wasteland at the side of their shop in Gorsebrook Road into the animal park, which also has wallabies, genettes, skunks and birds of prey.The menagerie also has an exotic pet shop licence and will officially open to the public at 10.30am on Sunday, with admission costing £1.50. The site includes enclosures, a refreshment area and the brothers are working on a nocturnal animal house and pirate-themed aquarium.Jimmy, aged 39, has run Wickid Pets for 11 years and takes care of the wildlife, while Ben, 41, works on the enclosures and models. Father-of-two Ben said: “We bought the shop off the old landlord last May and have sunk absolutely everything into this. “The land was a complete dump at first and we have been working around the clock to bring it up to scratch.“Jimmy has been running the shop for years and is very respected in the field of exotic animals. I think he has always had a project like this in mind, ever since he was five years old and first went to Chester Zoo. There is nothing he doesn’t know about animals.”The animals have come from zoos, breeders, animal sanctuaries and Jimmy’s contacts from the pet shop world. There

Caught on film … the beast of Helensburgh
THE mysterious big cats of legend are on the prowl once more.A military policeman yesterday spoke of his shock after capturing what appears to be dramatic footage of a big cat prowling close to a Scottish naval base.Chris Swallow, a dog handler based in Faslane on the Clyde, said he was "stunned" to see a large black cat on a nearby railway line. The officer, in a friend's garden in the Churchill Estate in Helensburgh on 30 June, initially believed he was looking at a Labrador crossing

Houston Zoo starting work on $50 million African Forest
Moving away from the concept of bars and cages, the Houston Zoo in September will break ground for a $50 million African Forest, a 6.5-acre exhibit designed to give patrons the illusion they are strolling through an open landscape populated with chimpanzees, giraffes and other equatorial animals, zoo officials said Tuesday. Directors of Houston Zoo Inc., the nonprofit organization that manages the zoo, approved Phase 1 of the project Monday, said CEO and President Deborah Cannon. The exhibit is scheduled to open in December 2010. Plans ultimately call for expanding the exhibit to 13 acres, she said.Cannon said the zoo has raised 95 percent of the money needed for the first phase through foundations and other private sources. It will launch its first public campaign for funds to cover the remaining 5 percent.Jim Brighton, a landscape architect with Seattle-based PJA Architects, the project's designer, said the exhibit will tell stories about the African forest, not simply provide an opportunity to look at wild animals in captivity.“Traditional zoo exhibits concentrate on animals, what they eat, how big they are and so forth,” Brighton said

Whole-hog loving python, Ann, dies at Memphis Zoo
Ann, the Memphis Zoo’s reticulated python died this morning. She was 18.Ann last made news in March when she was fed a dead pig that weighed about 30 pounds.In fact, she feasted on whole hog once every two or three months and interested observers regularly contacted the zoo in order to attend her feedings.Ann came to the zoo 10 years ago and had been captured in the wild in Indonesia.A necropsy will be preformed

Baby Elephant Calf Makes Her Debut At British Zoo (VIDEO)
A female elephant calf made her public debut today at the Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, England. The calf, who has yet to be named by zoo staff, weighs 126kg (278lbs) and was born earlier this month.The zoo has seen its elephant population decline this year. Two of its elephants died from an elephant herpes virus. Zoo director David Field told the BBC the baby calf's birth was important for the zoo's endangered

Improper upkeep at Binh Duong wild animal farms
Three private breeding farms for wild animals in the southern province of Binh Duong have failed to meet required technical and safety standards, inspectors have found. The registration certificates of these farms had also expired, provincial inspectors said after carrying out checks on Dai Nam Zoo Co. Ltd., Thai Binh Duong Beer Company and Thanh Canh Enterprise.The three companies, which run zoos and collect entrance fees from the public to view the animals, have a total of 53 tigers, making the province the country’s leading locality in breeding the endangered species.Inspectors found Dai Nam Zoo Co. Ltd. raising 13 tigers although they had registered for seven.In total, the company was found raising 583 wild animals belonging to 71 species although its [expired] registration permits just 294 animals of 27 species.Dai Nam had designed the cages properly for the different species and had veterinarians to take care of them. However, the company did not record its breeding and raising methods or the measures being taken to ensure stable reproduction of the animals under captive conditions.The same violations were also found at the Thai Binh Duong Beer Company that had registered to raise 721 wild animals of eight species. Inspectors found the company was raising two unregistered wild animals but it was not clear which species they belonged to.Tigers at this farm had given birth to 15 young ones but 11 of them died due to in-breeding, the inspectors found.The farm should reinforce its cages to ensure absolute safety for humans as it is located among residential areas, inspectors said.They also found that the Thanh Canh Enterprise was raising nine tigers without informing concerned agencies regularly about their health. They also found that the bars on cages were not close enough to ensure human safety.One tigress at Thanh Canh’s farm had given birth to a young that died soon after, inspectors said, adding none of the companies had declared clearly their purpose for breeding wild animals.Tran Van Nguyen, deputy head of Binh Duong park rangers, said the agency had suggested to higher authorities that the registration is extended for the three companies.He also said the companies would not be allowed to raise the animals for commercial purposes, noting that Vietnam has signed the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) in 1994 and joined the International Tiger Coalition.An official from the inspection team said they had requested the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to instruct the park rangers to tag the tigers with microchips for better management.“I wonder why the Forest Protection Department has not attached microchips on the tigers,” he said. “Without this, the breeder can secretly trade the animal after concealing their reproduction.”On July 16, two men were arrested while transporting a dead tiger from a central province to Hanoi.Hoang Van Su and taxi driver Nguyen Trung Phong were found with a 60-kilogram frozen tiger and 11 kilograms of tiger bones in the trunk of the latter’s cab.Police said Su had hired Phong to carry the tiger and bones from the central province of Thanh Hoa to a buyer in Hanoi.Dr. Pham Trong Anh, an expert from the Hanoi-based Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, said the tiger was a baby of about 4-5 months. He said the bones belonged to at least two different tigers.It was unclear what the tigers had died of and whether they were wild or taken from illegal farms.In Vietnam, tigers are only found along the Truong Son Mountain Range in the central region. Experts estimate the country has less than 200 tigers left, as most have been wiped out to make traditional medicine.Tiger bones are believed to have aphrodisiac properties by many countries in the Far East and Southeast Asia.Too riskyEarly this month, the World Bank told a key international meeting on wildlife trade that experimenting with tiger farming is too risky and could drive wild tigers further toward extinction.“Extinction is irreversible, so prudence and precaution suggest that the risks of legalized farming are too great a gamble for the world to take,” World Bank Director Keshav Varma told the member countries of the 58th meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Standing Committee on July 9.Because of the unpredictability of the market environment and the small number of remaining tigers in the wild, there is “no room for experimentation,” Varma, who leads the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative, said after the meeting.“Commercial trading in tiger parts and its derivatives is not in the interest of wild tiger conservation.”“Given the unpredictability of the market environment along with the fact that there are only 3,500 tigers in the wild, there is no room for experimentation,” Varma told the International Tiger Coalition (ITC).The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) later endorsed the World Bank’s call for countries to ban tiger farming because of the uncertainty that it will have for the long-term conservation of wild tigers.“Stopping all trade in tiger parts, and phasing out these tiger farms, is of the utmost urgency if the tiger is to survive in the wild,” said Dr. Susan Lieberman, director of the species program at WWF International.“It is time for the world community to join together, with tiger range state governments, to stop all poaching of tigers for illegal trade, and WWF welcomes the engagement of the World Bank in these efforts,” she said.

Australia gets the hump – and reaches for the gun to settle its camel question
Brought to the country as beasts of burden in 1840, today there are one million camels eating the outback There are more than a million of them and they pose one of the greatest social and environmental challenges to Australia's outback. They munch their way through desert vegetation, further denuding this arid nation's heartland and threatening its sensitive ecosystem. They damage Aboriginal communities in their search for water, fracturing pipes and knocking air conditioning units off walls. And their population is more than doubling every eight to nine years. The camel – which was introduced to Australia in 1840 to help transport heavy goods to the remote interior

70-tonne whale meets its match after collision with cruise ship
Fatal collision highlights dangers posed to wildlife by giant passenger linersIt is a bit like the hedgehog-and-car encounter, scaled-up many thousands of times: a collision where there can only be one winner.Whales may be the world's biggest animals, but they don't stand a chance when hit by a mammoth cruise liner – as has just been proved in Canada.When the giant vessel Sapphire Princess docked at Vancouver after a trip to Alaska, it was found to have something remarkable impaled on its bow: a fin whale, the second biggest whale species after the blue whale, and thus the second biggest animal on the planet. This example was about 70ft long and weighed about 70 tonnes.But even such dimensions are no protection against a ship almost 1,000ft in length and weighing

Three's company: Female elephants explore new domain
The stage is set for the biggest romance Somerset County has ever seen.But only one of the two players is certain: Jackson, the bull elephant who lives at the International Conservation Center.He gets to pick his love interest from the new arrivals, Kallie and Bette – pronounced Bet.Jackson hasn’t yet been given the chance to decide: As is often the case in matters of the heart, timing is everything, and zookeepers want to get this one right.The ICC on Monday introduced the girls to their new 3.5-acre paddock and minutes later let Jackson out of the barn to roam his adjacent 1.5-acre stomping grounds. It was a get-to-know-you session, separated by a few iron bars.For the pachyderms, summer in Fairhope might just as well be springtime in Paris.The female African elephants, Bette in particular, quickly warmed to the 11,500-pound Jackson

Interactive: Spiny-tailed Lizard
Spiny-tailed lizards, commonly known as 'Dhabs' are slowly vanishing as development eats into their habitat.

Orangutans employ unique strategies to control branch flexibility
Orangutans are the largest habitually arboreal mammal. For them, as for all arboreal mammals, access to the abundant fruits and narrowest gaps found among the thin peripheral branches of tree crowns poses considerable safety risks and energetic demands. Most arboreal primates use flexed-limb postures to minimize problems caused by branch compliance and instability. Here, we show that Sumatran orangutans employ unique locomotor strategies to control compliance and allow access to the terminal branch niche for feeding and gap crossing. We calculated a “stiffness score,” which is a measure of the flexibility of the supports on which orangutans moved. We found that certain locomotor behaviors clearly are associated with the most compliant supports; these behaviors appear to lack regular limb sequences, which serves to avoid the risk of resonance in branch sway caused by high-frequency, patterned gait. Balance and increased stability are achieved through long contact times between multiple limbs and supports and a combination of pronograde (horizontal) and orthograde (vertical) body postures, used both above branches and in suspension underneath them. Overall, adult females seem to be

Parts of Giza Zoo declared antiquities
The Supreme Council of Antiquities added the Japanese Kiosk and Citadel Hill, both located in Cairo’s Giza Zoo, to the roster of Islamic and Coptic antiquities because of their architectural, archaeological and historic uniqueness. Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said that he plans to present the results of the report of the Archaeological Committee on the Japanese Kiosk and Citadel Hill to the Standing Committee of the Islamic and Coptic Antiquities in its next meeting.He explained that the committee had inspected the facilities in the zoos that were built at the turn of the last century during the reign of Khedive Ismail, which include a number of distinguished buildings and monuments. The committee recommended registering the Japanese Kiosk and Citadel Hill with the Islamic and Coptic antiquities.Minister of Culture Farouk Hosni, had reportedly said that the Giza Zoo “must be classified as an antiquity in the next meeting of the Standing Committee. It is an antiquity

Drainage specialist turns animal spy at Dartmoor zoo
Lanes for Drains had a very different task on its hands in Devon recently - spying on wild animals.Instead of using its sophisticated CCTV equipment to check for sewage blockages, the Lanes for Drains’ camera crew was called in to check on a mating pair of meerkats at Dartmoor Zoological Park.The pair, Sue and Timon, had moved into their new enclosure at the end of May and settled down to the business of starting a family almost immediately. But an essential part of the meerkats’ home is a network of tunnels built to mimic their natural

Zoo backs breeding plan for rare lizard
NEWQUAY Zoo is supporting a conservation breeding programme for Britain's rarest lizard.The sand lizard is only found on the heaths and dunes of South West and North West England and North Wales.It is also a European protected species.Zoo director Stewart Muir said: "This is Britain's rarest and only egg-laying lizard. Our population is from the Dorset race and managed with the Herpetological Conservation Trust and Natural England."They have a special enclosure situated outside our native wildlife centre in the village farm. Sand lizards are

Jodie Marsh helps zoo find female partner for cheetah
A ZOO is trying to raise thousands of pounds to find a female partner for its cheetah. Around 1,000 people came along to a fundraising event at Eagle Heights, supported by glamour model Jodie Marsh, to watch two-year-old Boumani run a five-second sprint to catch his dinner. A target total of €9,000 (£7,800) is needed to buy a female cheetah from Germany to start a breeding programme, but so far the zoo has only managed to raise £1,000. The fundraiser at the zoo in Lullingstone Lane, Eynsford, also featured treasure hunts, bird and reptile displays, and a tortoise race. Zoo director Alan Ames says Boumani is the only cheetah in the UK to run in front of the public. Mr Ames said: “He is the real star, he can get from zero to 70 miles per hour in three-and-a-half seconds. “The crowd think he’s great,

Panda picture postcard from China brings good news for Chester Zoo
A PICTURE postcard from China has delivered good news to conservationists at Chester Zoo about the success of a project it is supporting to protect giant pandas in the wild.The extraordinary image shows an adult panda leisurely crossing a river in China’s mountainous Sichuan province.It has delighted the conservation team because it is an important sign that their work is paying off.Chester Zoo, in conjunction with researchers from Liverpool’s John Moore’s University and the Sichuan Forest Department, is helping Chinese authorities protect the highly endangered

Cincinnati Zoo director Thane Maynard embraces 'animal guy'
It's an hour before gates open at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, and the giraffe yard looks like it's littered with oversized Milk Duds.A trim, tanned worker wearing khaki shorts and rolled-up shirt sleeves dutifully rakes the droppings into piles, then scoops them into a wheelbarrow. By the time he tackles the elephant house - whose residents eat 250 pounds a day and create much larger messes - his shirt is soaked with sweat.Visitors might not notice that the hard-working helper is executive director Thane Maynard, but his co-workers certainly do. For the past year, he's devoted Saturday mornings to lending a hand in different zoo departments."It helps the morale," says elephant handler Val Nastold. "And it gives him an opportunity to see what the grunts are doing. It's important, because we are the front line.

Who needs meat? Polar bears bite off more than they can chew to get to their frozen fruit and veg (Peter's note - great Photos)
As a carnivorous animal, you wouldn't expect a polar bear to get excited over fruit and vegetables.They're usually more concerned with capturing seals than ensuring they receive their five-a-day.However these inhabitants of Tokyo's Ueno Zoo were determined

Indy Zoo vet to treat mountain gorillas in Africa
A veterinarian from the Indianapolis Zoo will oversee the health of mountain gorillas in Rwanda, Congo and Uganda.Associate Veterinarian Dr. Jan Ramer will take a two-year-leave of absence from the zoo beginning Aug. 1 to serve as regional manager for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. She will be in charge of seven veterinarians and 15 guards and caretakers. She also will be involved with a health program for people in the area.The project has been working since

The zoo dilemma
THE fate of the world's 1,000 or so remaining zoos offers a barometer of changing social mores on wildlife. From the ancient practice of maintaining menageries of exotic animals for the entertainment of royal courts, the modern zoo was instituted by Sir Stamford Raffles (in an interesting local historical context) to bring animals to where people live. Nowadays, wildlife enthusiasts prefer going where the animals live. Raffles, an inveterate naturalist who gave his name to the Rafflesia flower now prominent in our tourism branding, set up the Royal Zoological Gardens in London in 1828, giving the word "zoo" to the world. Zoo Negara, established in 1963, was originally faithful to Raffles' idea of displaying wild flora and fauna for the edification of urban societies. In the four decades since, however, there have been fundamental changes in popular attitudes towards wildlife. Zoos have kept apace with these changing values by expanding into animal research and husbandry, shifting their role from cabinets of curiosities into centres for the study and protection of wildlife. Their very ethos has changed: what used to be called zoos have become "wildlife conservation centres", "bioparks" or "safari parks"; cages and concrete enclosures have given way to more open and free-ranging exhibits, where visitors might see captive animals in less obviously distressing habitats.But even this is not halting the decline in popular interest in and support of zoos. Where zoos used to boost attendance with performing parrots or elephant rides, these are now considered abusive of animals. Caught between declining interest and rising costs, Zoo Negara's present existential conundrum clearly needs a wider solution than its owner-operator, the Malaysian Zoological Society, can muster as a non-governmental organisation. Two questions need to be addressed: Is Zoo Negara worth keeping? And, if so, will there be sufficient political will for the government to step in with the money, more systematically than in the occasional matching-funds disbursements of the zoo's early years?Approaching its first half-century, Zoo Negara is now hemmed in by urban development. Proposals for relocation have sundered on the "not-in-my-backyard" syndrome as well as over the disposition of the zoo's 48ha of land, now far more valuable than ever anticipated in 1963. With mounting concerns over the welfare of its more than 5,000 specimens of nearly 500 species, the zoo's dedication to preserving endangered species would be tragically ironic if it is unable to maintain its own existence.

Conserving Big Cats Works: Proof Published from South African Leopard Field Study
The Munyawana Leopard Research Project at &Beyond Phinda Private Game Reserve in KwaZulu-Natal began in April 2002 and has been instrumental in the long-term conservation of local leopard populations. Guided by Dr. Luke Hunter and Guy Balme from Panthera, the research is the most comprehensive study on leopards ever conducted, specifically in terms of the length of study, the number of leopards collared and the outputs generated from the research. Since inception, 64 leopards have been collared (the highest recorded in previous studies was 31), over 13000 locations logged and more than 1600 direct leopard observations made.

Estonia to send three rare Amur leopards to US, Britain
Three extremely rare Amur leopard cubs that were born at Estonia's Tallinn zoo last spring will have new homes in US and British zoos, the Estonian institution said."The birth of all three cubs was an extraordinary event because there are only 50 Amur leopards still living in the wild," Mati Kaal, director of Tallinn Zoo, told AFP."All live in Amur, in an area surrounded by Russia, China and North Korea," he said. "During the last century, the number of Amur leopards has decreased dramatically due to human carelessness."Edgar, the largest cub, will make his new home at Erie Zoo in the US state of Pennsylvania, while another male, Toomas, and a female cub, Kaia, will go to Marwell Zoo in the county of Hampshire, southern England."We are not asking for any money, but the receiving zoo has to pay the costs of transport," Kaal said."Zoos across the globe cooperate very well and exchanging

Sharifs' burning tiger gets frosty reception in boiling Pakistan
Biting sarcasm tears into political family's plan to keep imported Siberian cat in chilled pen as Pakistanis roast amid power cutsWhen a Siberian tiger landed in the Pakistani city of Lahore last week, at the height of a sweltering summer, some worried that the blistering temperatures might prove too much for the rare animal.But in the end the heat proved too much for its owners, the politically dominant Sharif family, who, after a round of lacerating media criticism, have offered to give the hapless tiger up.The animal was flown in from Canada by Suleiman Sharif, a nephew of the opposition leader, Nawaz Sharif, who is known as the "Lion of Punjab". The Pakistani government banned the import of big cats last February.However, Sharif junior has got powerful connections: his father, Shahbaz, is chief minister of Punjab. So when the tiger landed at Lahore airport, it was welcomed by the chief minister's private secretary, who whisked it through customs.According to press reports, Suleiman planned to house the tiger in a chilled enclosure at the family's private zoo on the Raiwind estate, on the outskirts of the city. A second tiger had been ordered from Canada.The matter, when it hit the newspapers, prompted outrage, not so much because it highlighted the powerful dodging the law, which is nothing unusual in Pakistan, but due to the insensitivity of building a refrigerated room at a time when most Pakistanis are labouring under extensive electricity outages in roasting weather."It is hard to see the inhabitants of Siberia faring well in the heat and humidity of Lahore," noted an acerbic editorial in The News, which demanded an official investigation. Its competitor, Dawn, queried: "Wouldn't millions of Pakistanis … be outraged?"And so the tiger had to go. Today, the World Wildlife Fund office said the Sharif family had offered to donate the politically problematic animal to charity. "They contacted our office to say they are ready to hand over the animal. It's in their interest to give it up," said the charity's director for Pakistan, Ali Hassan Habib. "And so it should be. We want to use this opportunity to educate them."Habib said he would try to place the tiger with a suitable zoo in Lahore, otherwise the animal woul

VIP allowed to import Siberian tigers in violation of ban
The government has issued a permit to Suleman Shahbaz Sharif, son of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, to import a pair of Siberian tigers, a rare and highly endangered species, in violation of a ban.According to sources, the federal environment ministry issued the permit in the first week of June to Suleman Sharif for the Sharif Wildlife Breeding Farm, Jati Umra, Raiwind Road.International transport of endangered species is controlled and monitored by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES) whose secretariat is in Geneva. Its focal point in Pakistan is the Islamabad-based National Council for Conservation of Wildlife (NCCW). The sources said that a ban on import of tigers, lions and other big cats by the private sector imposed by the NCCW had been breached within four months.One of the tigers — a male — arrived at the Allama Iqbal International Airport in Lahore a couple of days ago from Toronto by PIA’s flight PK-790. The CITES permit No. P04/2009 was issued on June 4 and the same day the NCCW also issued a permit, No. F7– 6/78 NCW.Suleman Sharif had declared the value of the rare tiger — purchased from Norm Philip, Northwood Zoo and Animal Sanctuary, 2192 Cookson Lane, Sea Grave, Ontario, Canada — as $5,000. He spent $7,829 on air fare, etc. Customs duty and other taxes of Rs109,458 were paid by Sikander Pasha who had come to get the carnivorous beast of the endangered species cleared on behalf of Suleman Sharif who had reportedly got stuck in a traffic jam on way to the airport.A document of the NCCW says that the two permits were issued to the Lahore Zoo (for two white tigers) and Suleman Sharif (for two white tigers — one male and one female). The sources said the decision to ban import of big cats had been taken at a meeting presided over by Federal Environment Minister Hameedullah Jan Afridi on Feb 13 this year. At the meeting, the Director General of the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), Ali Hassan Habib, who is a member of the NCCW, referred to obligations under international conventions and said there was no need to allow import of big cats. He said that some people were indulging in illegal trade under the garb of operating zoos. NCCW’s wildlife conservator Umeed Khalid said a committee had been constituted at the council’s previous meeting to approach the WWF for drafting viable standards and legislation for import of big cats and keeping them in captivity. The Inspector General for Forests, Dr Iqbal Sial, — a retired BPS-20 official who had been hired on a contract and was holding the charge of the BPS-21 post — said import of big cats had been stopped until the legislation. According to the minutes of the meeting, ‘the ban on the import of big cats for the private sector will continue until legislation/standards are in place.’This reporter approached NCCW conservator Umeed Khalid and IGF Iqbal Sial several times over the past four weeks, and Mr Khalid said he was waiting for his boss’s permission to give information and Dr Sial termed the information ‘confidential’.Responding to this reporter’s queries at the Karachi Press Club on July 10, the environment minister had ordered IGF Iqbal Sial to provide the information to the media. Mr Afridi also called the IGF the following day in Islamabad and asked

Baby elephants spark fighting in Sri Lanka
Two baby elephants under five years old were taken away from their mothers, sparking anger in a world-renown elephant orphanage in central Sri Lanka, a local English newspaper said on Monday. The Island said the two baby tuskers were forcibly separated from their mothers by the Diyawadana Nilame Pradeep Nilanga Dela, the chief custodian of the Temple of the Tooth, on Saturday night at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, about 80 km northeast of the capital Colombo. Despite protests by some officials at the elephant orphanage, after hours of battle, the Diyawadana Nilame who was supported by nearly 50 persons including police and Army personnel finally managed to take the two elephants to the central town of Kandy. `I consider it as one of darkest hours in my career as an employee at Pinnawala to witness the struggle between the two mothers who were heavily chained, when their babies were taken away. We boast our cultural and religious values but we continue to be inhuman when it comes to dealing with animals,` a spokesman from the elephant orphanage was quoted by the paper as saying. Officials at the elephant orphanage said that it was not customary to separate baby elephants who depend on their mother`s milk. `If it is to be separated from its mother, the elephant has to be over five years old,` one official was quoted by the paper as saying. Officials from the Department of National Zoological Gardens said one of the



The Zoo Biology Group is concerned with all disciplines involved inthe running of a Zoological Garden. Captive breeding, husbandry,cage design and construction, diets, enrichment, man management,record keeping, etc etc


Journal of Threatened Taxa - July 2009

Contents Pp. 361-400.
PDF (200Kb)

Prey selection by the Barn Owl Tyto alba (Scopoli, 1769) in captivity
--V. Vanitha & R. Kanakasabai, Pp.361-365
Abstract HTML PDF (181Kb)

Occurrence and comparison of Jerdon’s Gecko Hemidactylus subtriedrus Jerdon 1853 with Termite Hill Gecko Hemidactylus triedrus (Daudin 1802) from Ananthagiri Hills, northern Eastern Ghats, India
--S.M. Maqsood Javed, S. Saravanan, Farida Tampal & C. Srinivasulu, Pp.366-369
Abstract HTML PDF (433Kb)

Record of the Genus Litus Haliday (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Mymaridae) from India, with description of two species
--Tabassum Rehmat, Shoeba Binte Anis & Mohammad Hayat, Pp.370-374
Abstract HTML PDF (318Kb)

Studies on Foliicolous Fungi – XXVI - a new species and three new records
--V.B. Hosagoudar, Pp.375-377
Abstract HTML PDF (327Kb)

A new species of the genus Schiffnerula (Englerulaceae) from Kerala, India
--V.B. Hosagoudar & G.R. Archana, P.378
Abstract HTML PDF (244Kb)

Additions to the flora of Sirumalai hills, Eastern Ghats, India
--R. Vijaya Sankar, R. Kottaimuthu & K. Ravikumar, Pp.379-381
Abstract HTML PDF (115Kb)

A checklist of malacofauna of the Vellar Estuarine Mangroves, India
--K. Kesavan, C. Palpandi & A. Shanmugam, Pp.382-384
Abstract HTML PDF (345Kb)

Oecophorid (Micro Lepidoptera) diversity from Shivalik hills of northwestern Himalaya
--P.C. Pathania, Rachita Sood & H.S. Rose, Pp.385-391
Abstract HTML PDF (198Kb)

Some notes on the butterflies (Lepidoptera: Papilionoidea) of Tantirimale Archaeological Site, Anuradhapura District, Sri Lanka
--M.D.C. Asela, R.A.K. Peiris, S.K.I.U. Priyankara, R.W. Jayasekara & D.M.S.S. Karunarathna, Pp.392-394
Abstract HTML PDF (256Kb)

First record of Thelyphonus sepiaris (Butler 1873) (Uropygi: Thelyphonidae) from Andhra Pradesh, India
--S.M. Maqsood Javed, K. Thulsi Rao, Farida Tampal & C. Srinivasulu, Pp.395-397
Abstract HTML PDF (316Kb)

Diets of Hangul Deer Cervus elaphus hanglu (Cetartiodactyla: Cervidae) in Dachigam National Park, Kashmir, India
--G. Mustafa Shah, Ulfat Jan, Bilal A. Bhat & Fayaz A. Ahangar, Pp.398-400
Abstract HTML PDF (174Kb)



Some of our exciting presentation topics include;

A Social Networking Website for Bear Rehabbers.

The Polar Bear Sustainability Alliance: Animal Care Professionals Driving Global Conservation Efforts.

Bear in Mind - A Management Supported Behavior Based Husbandry Program for Breeding the Andean at the Phoenix Zoo.

Andean Bear Out-Reach - Latin America.

Preliminary Results of Milk Composition from Free Ranging Polar Bears in Svalbard, Norway.

Lessons Learned - Managing the Husbandry of Abused Asian Bears at Sanctuaries in China and Vietnam.

Behavior Based Husbandry for Winter Denning: A Practical Application at Fortress of the Bear, Sitka, Alaska.

Veterinary Management of Bile Farmed Bears.

Integrating Asiatic Black Bears (Ursus thibetanus) into Social Groups at Animals Asia Bear Sanctuaries.




For further infomation:


The macaques are out!

Worth a watch...see how these things are planned out.


Invertebrate Keeping Workshop

  • Dear ASZK members

    ASZK is presenting an invertebrate keeping workshop on November 19th and 20th as part of its commitment to keeper training. Places are limited to 20 participants so book early to avoid disappointment.

    The workshop will cover many aspects of invertebrate keeping relevant to Australian zoos, wildlife parks, museums, and aquaria. The workshop program includes:

    Introduction to main invertebrate orders currently being used for display and education
    Housing – enclosure types, containment and managing environments
    Food and Water – providing them with what they need, how they need it.
    Breeding methods
    Acquisition – where to get invertebrates, collection techniques, suppliers, ethical acquisition, legislation and permits.
    Keeping records and managing populations
    Display techniques
    Health – health issues and strategies to avoid them
    Invertebrates in educational programs
    Tour of Melbourne Museum’s live invertebrate facilities
    Tour of Museum Victoria’s entomology collection
    Maintaining a butterfly house in Southern Australia – tour of Melbourne Zoo butterfly house and BOH facilities

    It will be run by Alan Henderson and Jessie Sinclair, co-authors of Bugs Alive: A Guide to Keeping Australian Invertebrates published by Museum Victoria. Patrick Honan, Invertebrate Specialist from Melbourne Zoo will also be presenting.

    The workshop includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. Workshop notes and a certificate of participation will be issued to all who attend.

    This is a wonderful development opportunity for entry level to trade level keepers.

    Venue and getting there

    The workshop commences each day at Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street Carlton. Main entrance is directly opposite the Royal Exhibition Building.
    The first day will commence at 9.30am. Day two will conclude at the Melbourne Zoo at 4pm.

    The registration brochure can be found on the ASZK website

    Liz Romer
    Executive Officer ASZK
    Phone: +61 (0)419791254


Gorilla Workshop 2010
Hosted by the Oklahoma City Zoo
May 11th-14th, 2010
The Oklahoma City Zoo is proud to announce that they will be hosting the 2010 Gorilla Workshop. The workshop will be held in Oklahoma City, May 11th through May 14th 2010. More details will be coming soon!


Save Indonesian Endangered Species Conservation Tour - February 2010

· Kerinci Seblat Tiger Corridor and Conservation Reserve, Sumatra
· Way Kambas National Park, Sumatra
Tanjung Puting National Park, Indonesian Borneo

SAVE INDONESIAN ENDANGERED SPECIES FUND is focusing on Sumatran Tiger, Borneo Orangutan, Sumatran Elephant, Borneo Clouded Leopard and Sumatran Rhinoceros.

Conservation Leader:
Dr Claire Oelrichs
Wildlife Veterinary Surgeon and Conservationist
Save Indonesian Endangered Species Fund Coordinator (SIES)


Indonesian local guides and rangers
Cost ex-Denpasar:
Full itinerary AUD $ 4,800; ***Short itinerary: AUD $4,300.
Prices based on shared rooms; single room supplement $300.

Aim of trip:
To assist with conservation of at-risk protected areas, endangered wildlife and human cultures through eco-tourism development.

Save Indonesian Endangered Species Fund
PO Box 330 Bangalow, NSW, 2479
contact: Claire Oelrichs
PH: +61 (0) 2 6687 1107


Final Orangutan SSP Husbandry Workshop Deadlines

Good Afternoon Everyone,

I wanted to make everyone aware that we are quickly approaching the final Orangutan SSP Husbandry Workshop deadlines. Currently registration is $155 ($125 + $30 late fee), or $170 with the pre-workshop trip included. Below is the list of final workshop deadlines.

August 1, 2009 - Registration is $160 ($125 + $35 late fee), or $175 with the pre-workshop trip included.

August 2, 2009 - Deadline to make hotel reservations at the 2009 Orangutan Workshop discounted rate.

August 15, 2009 - Final day to register for the 2009 Orangutan SSP Husbandry Workshop.

If you are attending the workshop but have not found the time yet to register, I would encourage you to do so quickly! Not only will you save yourself a couple of dollars, but our registration list is beginning to approach its cut off point.

Finally, I would like to add another exciting workshop announcement - Thanks to Richard Zimmerman of Orangutan Outreach ( we will be showing the Documentary GREEN during the workshop. Please see the link below for the trailer. Additionally, for those of you who are unable to make it to the workshop you can download the movie for free, however if you are attending I would encourage you to wait to watch it on the big screen!

If you have any questions please feel free to ask.


Thomas Heitz
Keeper I
Primate Department
Zoo Atlanta
800 Cherokee Avenue, SE
Atlanta , GA 30315-1440
Phone: 404.624.5939


Wildlife Without Borders - Critically Endangered Animal Conservation Fund

Grants available.Please see:


Dublin Zoo Elephant Facility Design Workshop
Thursday October 15th 2009 – Sunday October 18th 2009

When designing the Kaziranga Forest Trail at Dublin Zoo we asked the following questions:

How do Asian Elephants live in the wild and what do elephants need to really be elephants?

The inspiration for the entire design process came from nature and a deep respect for the animals concerned.

The design process was undertaken with open minds and we carefully listened to the very best people in the field of elephant care. The Dublin Zoo team is very proud about the end result, yet accept that we have not stopped learning about the complex needs of elephants. We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with you and sincerely hope that you will find it valuable.
Leo Oosterweghel, Director, Dublin Zoo

October 15th - Day One


October 16th – Day Two

Welcome & Introduction – The Evolution of The Kaziranga Forest Trail
Leo Oosterweghel, Director, Dublin Zoo

A Day in the Life of an Elephant – Developing a Design Mission:
Alan Roocroft, Elephant Business

The Grand Design, an Overview of Elephant Habitat Design
Grant Jones, Jones & Jones

Giant Footsteps, The Development of Dublin Zoo’s Elephant Programme
Gerry Creighton, Dublin Zoo

On site tour of the Kaziranga Forest Trail & Building with a short demonstration of the Protected Contact Training.

October 17th - Day Three

Laying the Foundations – A History of Elephant Management
Alan Roocroft, Elephant Business

Reaching the Target – Elephant Training in Dublin Zoo
Ciaran McMahon & Alice Cooper, Elephant Team, Dublin Zoo

The Winding Path – The History of Zoo Architecture
Grant Jones, Jones & Jones

To Err is Human – Lessons Learnt from the Design of the Kaziranga Forest Trail
Open discussion introduced and chaired by Alan Roocroft, Grant Jones & Leo Oosterweghel

The Bigger Picture – A Day in the Life of Dublin Zoo’s Elephant Herd
Dublin Zoo Elephant Team Members

It’s Not Easy Being Green – Planning, Planting & Maintaining the Kaziranga Forest Trail
Stephen Butler, Curator of Horticulture, Dublin Zoo

Evening Tour of Dublin Zoo

October 18th - Day Four

Extra, extra! Important Additions to the Elephant Habitat Design
Alan Roocroft, Elephant Business

Male Order, Bull Elephant Habitat Design
Gerry Creighton, Dublin Zoo & Alan Roocroft, Elephant Business

Workshop Conclusion – Any Unanswered Questions

Open Discussion Introduced & Chaired by Leo Oosterweghal, Alan Roocroft, Grant Jones & Gerry Creighton

Alan Roocroft,
16236 Swartz Canyon Road
Ramona, CA, 92065.
TEL: 760-788-1002.
Cell: 760-580-3480.
FAX: 760-788-1022.

Elephant behavioural consultant Alan Roocroft’s career spans nearly 40 years and five continents!

A renowned author and public speaker, Alan has been involved with elephants formerly as a keeper and supervisor and latterly as a consultant and elephant care specialist.

Alan’s consultancy – Elephant Business, based in the US, offers a wide range of elephant management techniques and husbandry practices to zoos, animal welfare organizations and government agencies responsible for the care of captive elephants.

His elephant management programmes are designed to aid zoo’s across the world to implement strategic husbandry plans in protected and free contact. His field studies in Africa, Sri Lanka and Thailand work with a variety of other species has enabled him to increase his broad knowledge of elephants and their care.

He imparts this knowledge in his writing, workshops, lecturing, mentoring and public speaking which he does with increasing regularity and in a variety of languages!

His elephant management school in collaboration with Hagenbecks Zoo in Hamburg, Germany has been over- subscribed every year since its inauguration in 2003.

Grant Jones

Jones & Jones
105 South Main Street, Suite 300
Seattle WA 98104 USA

Grant has practiced and preached ecological design for more than 40 years. His pioneering methodologies in landscape aesthetics, river planning, zoo habitat design, scenic highway design and conservation planning, including the development of new methodologies in GIS modeling, have set the standard for environmentally responsive
design and have brought the firm a stream of awards. Over the years Grant has brought his passion, expertise, and eloquence to many signature Jones & Jones projects, ranging from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tuscon to America’s first wildlife highway, U.S. Highway 93 through the Flathead Reservation in western Montana. A graduate of the Harvard School of Design, Grant has served as Director of Education for the Landscape Architecture Foundation, and has lectured at more than 30 departments of Landscape Architecture at universities throughout North America.

As Principal-in-Charge of the Woodland Park Zoo Master Plan, he coined the phrase “landscape immersion,” which launched the landscape immersion epoch in zoo’s (1975-present.) Grant’s work resulted in winning the 1980 American Society of Landscape Architects President’s Award of Excellence, as well as six AZA Annual Design Awards. Grant is highly regarded for his creative and imaginative ideas, particularly in developing strong master plan themes for Melbourne Zoo, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, St. Louis Zoo and San Diego Zoo.

International Vulture Awareness Day

Hello everyone,

As many of you will know, September 5th 2009 has been established as the first International Vulture Awareness Day. This idea has received enthusiastic support from East- and West Africa, the USA and Asia and it is hoped that this event will become an annual institution on the first Saturday of September. Participants are encouraged to run events and arrange local media coverage of relevant vulture conservation issues.

There is now a website for this event at which is a website for participating organisations and people to describe what vulture-orientated activities they will be doing on the day. There is also facility to provide links to participants’ own websites and provide contact information.

A Facebook-page has also been created and people have been invited to register their individual support for this event. Please register on this page by following this link:

Please visit the IVAD site and add your organisation to the list of participants, tell others about the IVAD, and also enjoy seeing who else from around the world is involved.

Your support in will be greatly appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require more information.

Apologies for any cross-postings.

Kind regards,

Campbell Murn


1st Annual Mazuri® Exotic Animal FeedNutrition Research Grant

Land O’Lakes Purina Feed is pleased to announce the Mazuri® Exotic Animal Feed Nutrition Research Grant, to support research in the area of exotic animal nutrition. Proposals may be submitted for up to $10,000. One or more grants may be awarded, but the combined total will not exceed $10,000 (to be determined by the awards committee). Funding will be considered for basic or applied research projects in the area of exotic animal nutrition. Research proposals will be evaluated by a panel of three committee members, comprised of at least one representative from academia and one representative from the zoo community. Grants will be ranked and awarded based on the quality of the proposal (50% of total ranking), importance of the research (25% of totalranking) and likelihood that the research will be accomplished and disseminated (25% of total ranking). No committee members, nor their institutions, may be considered for funding from this Grant during the fundingyear. A list of the winners of the grants will be provided to any entrant upon written request. A short (no more than 5 pages, not including references) proposal should be submitted, including all information described below. Note that incomplete proposals will not be evaluated.

To Apply: Submit proposals by email to

Proposals are Due by September 14, 2009. Grant awardee will be announced no later than November 1, 2009.

Required Items:


Principle Investigators, Co-Investigators and CollaboratorsPlease describe the responsibilities of each investigator towards the proposed research.

General abstractA brief (250 words or less) overview of the project, its relevance, and future applications written to a lay audience.

Purpose Statement & Background informationDetailed overview of proposal, relevance to exotic animal nutrition, and necessary background information.

Materials and MethodsHypothesis, experimental design, method of analysis, expected results and potential pitfalls should all be addressed.

Timeline of activitiesBriefly describe timeline for major activities, including dissemination.

DisseminationPlease provide information on the routes of dissemination of data collected in this project.

Budget and JustificationProvide rationale for each budgetary item. Provide information regarding additional support if the proposal is also supported by other funding sources.


Announcing the ASZK Des Spittall Scholarship for Keeper Research

Named in honour of the late Des Spittall, a life member of ASZK, the ASZK committee has launched the Des Spittall Scholarship for keeper research. This is open to people who have been a financial member of ASZK for 12 months or more. This is an annual scholarship up to the value of $2,000. Applications close 31st October 2009Please forward ‘Des Spittall Scholarship for Keeper Research’ application to ASZK President no later than 31st of October each year at email


For Zoo Jobs and Related Vacancies please visit:

For notification of Zoo related Meetings, Conferences, Courses and Symposia go to:


ZooNews Digest is an independent publication, not allied or attached to any zoological collection. Many thanks.

Kind Regards,

Wishing you a wonderful week,

Peter Dickinson
Zoo News Digest Blog

ZooNews Digest Webpage

Zoo Vacancies Blog

Hub Pages

Follow me on Twitter at: