Lots of interest follows.
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If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.
I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.
Should we give up
half of the Earth to wildlife?
The orangutan is one
of our planet’s most distinctive and intelligent creatures. It has been
observed using primitive tools, such as the branch of a tree, to hunt food, and
is capable of complex social behaviour. Orangutans also played a special role
in humanity’s own intellectual history when, in the 19th century, Charles
Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, co-developers of the theory of natural
selection, used observations of them to hone their ideas about evolution.
But humanity has not
repaid orangutans with kindness. The numbers of these distinctive, red-maned
primates are now plummeting thanks to our destruction of their habitats and
illegal hunting of the species. Last week, an international study revealed that
its population in Borneo, the animal’s last main stronghold, now stands at
between 70,000 and 100,000, less than half of what it was in 1995. “I expected
to see a fairly steep decline, but I did not anticipate it would be this
large,” said one of the study’s co-authors, Serge Wich of Liverpool John Moores
For good measure,
conservationists say numbers are likely to fall by at least another 45,000 by
2050, thanks to the expansion of palm oil plantations, which are replacing
their forest homes. On
The Political Chimp
As of January 2018,
the symbolic Doomsday Clock reads two minutes to midnight. The current age of
global instability and uncertainty has revived discussion of an age-old
question: is war ingrained in human nature? Warfare has been studied for
centuries, by everyone from historians of ancient Greece to primatologists. But
something strange is happening to the way we consider the subject, especially
with respect to the study of chimp-on-chimp violence. Conspecific killing among
chimpanzees (i.e. when chimps kill one another) has become a particularly
political and controversial topic, and contending arguments seem to reflect the
ideological preferences and outlook of the researchers on either side of the
debate. At issue are the implications data about primate warfare might have for
our understanding of human violence.
A link between
chimpanzee and human warfare has been stated outright by leading
primatologists, who suggest that it demonstrates humans’ innate predisposition
for violence. I first encountered this controversy during graduate school.
Steven Pinker had just published The Be
Animal Trainers Gone
For the past 34
years, Terrie Williams has been studying Weddell seals. Every few years, she
heads to the Antarctic for 10 weeks at a time to study seal behavior. Her
recent focus is on how the seals navigate under the thick ice; in particular,
she’s looking for evidence that the animals rely on geomagnetic perception.
If she can prove
that seals use Earth’s magnetic fields to find their way, like sea turtles, it
will be the first time a marine mammal has been shown to do so. But, in the
process, Williams has also begun to change scientists’ understanding of how to
work with animals in the wild.
This year, she and
the animal trainers who recently began to accompany her on her expeditions
accomplished an important first. “We decided to try something pretty radical,”
Williams says, “which was to do the entire expedition working with Weddell
seals and never have to resort to se
oldest captive polar bear in the US, dies
The oldest captive
polar bear in the nation has died.
The Philadelphia Zoo
on Tuesday said that the 37-year-old bear, Coldilocks, was in declining health
and was euthanized.
Zoo officials said
Coldilocks had a variety of age-related medical issues, including problems with
her kidneys and eyesight, but that visitors wouldn’t have been able to tell as
the bear pounced playfully on toys, pulling them deep into her pool during early
Answer Call To Help Save Asian “Unicorn”
Global Wildlife Conservation Joins Zoos in Supporting
Critical Saola Conservation Breeding Center
Although no zoo has
ever cared for the antelope-like saola-and no biologist has ever seen one in
the wild-zoos and affiliated organizations around the world have generously
contributed or pledged more than $350,000 to support efforts that represent the
last best hope to save the critically endangered species: a conservation
breeding center. The fundraising campaign, which started Oct. 1 of 2017 and
ends July 31, has so far generated donations from 22 zoos and affiliated
organizations in North America and Europe.
Non-Chinese-Owned Giant Pandas Reach Advanced Age in Mexico City
It’s 10 am and Xin
Xin, now 27 years old and 102 kilograms (225 pounds), walks slowly down a
corridor to begin her daily training routine.
She is one of two
giant pandas at the Mexican capital’s Chapultepec Zoo, which is home to the
only members of that species worldwide that are not owned by the Chinese
Away from the gaze
of the zoo’s paying customers, Xin Xin undergoes a conditioning program every
day under the supervision of her trainer, Ulises, and a zoo veterinarian, who
offer her an apple – one of her favorite foods – provided she allows them to examine
her with a stethoscope and brush her.
After Xin Xin’s
routine is finished, Shuan Shuan, who is about to turn 30 and weighs 114 kilos,
has her turn.
“It’s a conditioning
program focused on allowing essential medical interventions,” the director of
Mexico City’s zoos, Claudia Levy, told EFE.
She said that during
the training routine the zoo’s team simulates the extraction of blood and
X-rays. The idea is to get the bears accustomed to these procedures and ensure
that thorough medical tests are stress-free.
Thanks to this daily
routine, the pandas establish a bond of trust with the zoo employees and will
not need to be anesthetized or coerced into undergoing medical exams when the
Even though Shuan
Shuan is Xin Xin’s aunt, the two are in separate compounds because giant pandas
are solitary animals and could harm one another if they lived together.
The care they
receive has allowed these giant pandas – the oldest in the world outside of
China, where that species
Rhinos Wanted – Dead
Major gaps between
South African and Namibian legislation that regulates the endangered species
trade allowed for the sale of at least 13 white rhino bulls from a South
African game park to a Russian big game hunting outfit in Namibia. Nine of
these rhinos were found to have died.
Illegal Import of Wild Elephants by China
In the last two
years, China has imported more than 80 live Asian elephants from across its
border in Laos and almost 100 juvenile African elephants from Zimbabwe. They
were all destined for zoos throughout China.
wildlife investigator and film-maker, Karl Ammann, last year Laotian Prime
Minister Thongloun Sisoulith publicly declared the trade in live elephants
illegal under national laws.
Global Warming Isn’t Killing Frogs — Scientists Are
Kermit the Frog sang
“It’s not that easy bein’ green” — and it’s apparently not that easy being a
green of the warmist persuasion, either. Because while the recent decades’
decline in frog populations has been blamed on “global warming,” it turns out
there’s another culprit, perhaps the most embarrassing one the warmists could
University of Utah
professors Henry Harpending and Gregory Cochran provide some background at
their blog “West Hunter,” writing, “Starting in late 80s, herpetologists began
noticing that various kinds of frogs were declining and/or disappearing. There
was & is a geographical pattern: Wiki says ‘Declines have been particularly
intense in the western United States, Central America, South America, eastern
Australia and Fiji.’”
befuddled by this, say Harpending and Cochran, because many of the frog
declines couldn’t be attributed to human impact (deforestation, mining, etc.),
as they were in remote areas such as the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve in
Tasmanian tiger just
another marsupial in the pouch
ill-fated Tasmanian tiger looked like any other marsupial when born but assumed
dog-like features by the time it left the mother's pouch, scientists said
Wednesday in shedding new light on its puzzling evolution.
Using CT technology,
they scanned all 13 juvenile specimens of the extinct carnivore found in
collections around the world, developing the first 3D models of the tiger from
birth to adulthood.
show in incredible detail how the Tasmanian tiger started its journey in life
as a joey that looked very much like any other marsupial, with robust forearms
so that it could climb into its mother's pouch," said Christy Hipsley, from
"But by the
time it left the pouch around 12 weeks to start independent life, it looked
more like a dog or wolf, with longer hind limbs than forelimbs."
wombats and the Tasmanian devil are also marsupials.
resemblance to the dingo, a wild dog native to Australia, is one of the
clearest examples of "convergent evolution" in mammals, which is when
two unrelated species evolve to look very similar.
The Tasmanian tiger
last shared a common ancestor with dogs and wolves around 160 million years
throughout Australia and N
Video: Man jumps
into lion’s enclosure in Thiruvananthapuram zoo......
In a shocking
incident, a man jumped into a lion's enclosure at the Thiruvananthapuram zoo on
Wednesday. He was immediately rescued by
the staff of ...
Bear or farmer?
Scientists find bears' eating habits are critical for maintaining vegetation
A new study looking
into brown and black bears in Alaska's Tongass National Forest has found that
the animals' occasional eating habits are extremely critical for maintaining
vegetation in the region.
Bears thrive in the
forest by feeding on Salmon, a fish which grows in the sea but migrates to
freshwater streams to spawn. The animals wait for their food to show up but in
the meantime, they gorge on berries or small fruits available nearby, according
to an Associated Press report.
France to let wolf
population grow despite farmers' fears
France is to allow
the wolf population to grow from about 360 now to 500 by 2023, despite protests
from farmers worried about their livestock.
A new plan announced
by the government represents a rise of nearly 40% in the wolf population.
eradicated by hunters in the 1930s, the wolf made its way back into France from
Italy in the 1990s.
Wolves are listed as
a protected species by the Bern Convention that France has signed up to.
Putting primates on
screen is fuelling the illegal pet trade
Why would animal
rights organisation PETA praise a film in which a group of apes are brutally
attacked by humans? The answer is that War for the Planet of the Apes, the most
recent movie in the franchise, used no real primates in its filming.
Yet while computer
generated imagery is now good enough to create realistic looking animals on
screen, some movies still employ actual non-human primates. In the last few
years, primate actors have been used in major Hollywood films such as The
Hangover Part II (2011), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Pirates of the
Carribean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (2017).
Regardless of how
these animals are treated on set, the reality is that they’re being placed in
unnatural environments and made to act for other people’s amusement against
their will. What’s more, there’s evidence that using real primates on screen
actually encourages the illegal pet trade. It’s estimated that more than 3,000
great apes and hundreds of thousands of other primates are traded as pets and
bush meat each year.
A recent study of
films released between 1990 and 2013 found 70 movies in which primate actors
appeared. Chimpanzees, capuchins and old-world
Nearly 100 Animals
Left Behind at Abandoned Zoo in Reynosa
figuring out what’s next after taking custody of dozens upon dozens of exotic
species discovered at an abandoned zoo near Reynosa.
Officials say no one
was at the Parque Recreativo y Ecológico Aventura Animal when they went to shut
Among the species
are an Arabian camel, macaw parrots, a black bear and at least 18 more types of
species and around 100 animals in total.
The only people
around were state police when they arrived to serve a search warrant after they
say someone filed an anonymous complaint. The complaint alleged, “killing,
mistreatment or cruelty to animals.”
Officials say they
found the exhibits without proper food or water.
A baboon was found
dead and a young tiger, unable to walk on his own.
Authorities say they
didn’t just discover exotic species but also found bags of marijuana and
They say the animals
recovered at the zoo will be handed over to the Tamaulipas State Commission on
Conservation and Financial Manag
Zoo and Wildlife
Solutions Training Courses
Implementation of the Zoo Licensing
For Local Authority
Officers and Zoo Professionals
24th and 25th April
2018 at Blackpool Zoo
£200 for Two Days
(£180 for BIAZA Members)
This training course
will provide participants with a full understanding of zoo licensing. The
course describes the law and what is required by licensed zoos, explains the
licensing and enforcement process and provides in depth insight into what
inspectors are looking for and how to prove your zoo complies with the
requirements of the Secretary of Sates Standards of Modern Zoo Practice. This
is a highly interactive course based on small group exercises and practical
tasks in the zoo.
TO BOOK PLEASE
Dan Ashe: Zoos and
Aquariums Adapt to Climate Change
In episode 59 of
America Adapts, Doug Parsons talks with Dan Ashe, the President and CEO of the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Previously, Dan was the Director of
the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for 7 years under President Barack Obama.
Topics discussed in
What is the
Association of Zoos and Aquariums and its role in conservation and adaptation;
How zoos can be
ambassadors in deep red states in communicating climate change;
Dan’s tenure as
Director of the Fish and Wildlife Service;
How state wildlife
agencies have, nor have not, stepped up on climate change planning;
Dan’s climate legacy
at the US Fish and Wildlife Service;
And a morale booster
to current FWS employees on why what they do is so important!
U.S. THE BIGGEST
IMPORTER OF ENDANGERED AFRICAN WILDLIFE TROPHIES
The United States
remains the biggest importer of trophy-hunted endangered animals in the world
in spite of Donald Trump’s recent public comments overturning a decision by the
US Department of Interior to allow elephant trophies into the United States.
In 2016 alone the US
imported 3,249 or 60% of the animal trophies from just six African countries –
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to
the trade database of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
One of the most
popular big game mammals for trophy hunters to kill are elephants. Donald Trump
has made specific reference to the horror of elephant trophy hunting before,
yet hundreds of American hunters, including the President’s own sons, have on
average imported around 200 elephant trophies annually. This excludes the
approximate annual haul of 150 tusks and hundreds of feet, ears, teeth, skin
pieces, and other elephant derivatives.
In countries like
Zimbabwe and Tanzania,
A Zoo Without
Borders: A Conversation with Beth Schaefer, General Curator at the Los Angeles
Since 2014, Beth
Schaefer has served as General Curator of the Los Angeles Zoo, making her
responsible for 1100 animals of over 250 species and their caretakers. She also serves as co-chair of the Gorilla
Rehabilitation and Conservation Education (GRACE) Center's Animal Care and
Welfare Advisory Group, which benefits Grueller's gorillas. Schaefer has
previously worked at the Houston Zoo, Disney's Animal Kingdom, the Center for
Great Apes, the Kansas City Zoo and the Charles Paddock Zoo. Following in the
footsteps of the late Mike Dee (the zoo's longtime General Curator), she has
brought her immense animal knowledge to the zoo and helped bring its animal
care programs to the next level. Here is her story.
Confessions of a zoo
With a proud smile,
Mr Cham Tud Yinn, 50, leads us around the Amazon Flooded Forest - the highlight
exhibit of River Safari, which features manatees swimming among large tree
trunks in a water tank.
Mr Cham is the
director of exhibit design at Wildlife Reserves Singapore and has worked on
projects in the Singapore Zoo and River Safari, including the Flooded Forest,
the largest freshwater aquarium in the world and one of Mr Cham's favourites.
He said: "We
wanted to mimic how trees in the Amazon become submerged when water level
Although his work
revolves around animals, Mr Cham rarely comes into contact with them. Instead,
his job involves nitty-gritty details such as plumbing and filtration.
Using the Flooded
Forest as an example, he said: "It is a big exhibit, and there is a lot to
consider - the volume of water in the tank, how to filter the waste from the
water such that it looks clean."
Mr Cham, who joined
the zoo more than 22 ye
Nest of critically
endangered Royal Turtle found in Cambodian river
have found a nest of the critically endangered Royal Turtle with 16 eggs on a
sandbar along Sre Ambel River in southwest Cambodia's Koh Kong province, the
Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) said on Monday.
"This is the
first nest of Royal Turtle found in 2018," the WCS said in a statement,
adding that four local community rangers have been hired to guard it until the
Listed on the
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as critically
endangered, Southern River Terrapin (Batagur affinis), locally known as the
Royal Turtle, is one of the world's 25 most endangered tortoises and freshwater
The Royal Turtle is
named because in the past only the royal family could consume its eggs, the
statement said, adding that it is designated as Cambodia's national reptile by
a royal decree in March 2005.
In Hul, an official
of Cambodia's Fisheries A
Throw them to the
Edna Molewa is there to think slowly, act
slowly and take decisions based on how she’s feeling that day.
She’s keen on
selling our rhino horn stockpile, has granted emissions compliance exemptions
to dozens of companies, including Eskom, and, in her previous portfolio, blamed
wet coal for the electricity blackouts which, as we now know, was caused by the
Guptas. My fear is that in Cyril’s rush to get rid of the rapacious termites,
he will overlook bumbling imbeciles like Edna.
In terms of
importance, the government ranks environmental affairs down there with sport
and recreation. Edna seems to think it’s lame to protect stuff like animals and
the climate. Take lions, for instance. I’ve never met Edna but from what I have
read it seems unlikely she’s a cat person.
Members of the
Arizona-based Safari Club International and Dallas Safari Club are also not cat
people. They are not even animal people, unless by animal people you mean
people who pay money to murder animal
Bugsologist - A
Five dugongs wash up
on Saadiyat beach in 'harsh blow' for the species
including a pregnant mother with a fully-developed calf, have washed up on
Saadiyat beach over the past few weeks in what may be the single biggest
fatality of one of Abu Dhabi’s most vulnerable species, according to the
Environment Agency Abu Dhabi.
The dugongs probably
died by drowning after getting tangled in a illegal drift fishing net known as
hiyali, according to the EAD, which has dispatched a team of experts to
investigate the deaths and intensify monitoring in critical areas.
“This discovery is a
harsh blow to one of Abu Dhabi’s most vulnerable species and it may be the
biggest single die-off of dugongs recorded in a decade,” said Dr Shaikha Al
Dhaheri, executive director of the terrestrial and marine biodiversity at EAD.
“It once again affirms the vulnerability of these iconic species to human
threats and the pressing need for fishermen to end irresponsible fishing
Abu Dhabi is home to
the world’s second-largest population of dugongs, with about 3,000 found mostly
in the waters around Bu Tinah Island, part of the Marawah Marine Biosphere
Reserve. Dugongs, their foraging habitats and their migratory routes in the UAE
have been protected under Federal Law No 23 and No 24 since 1999. The UAE is
also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Conservatio
The story of how the
chiru was saved from the brink of extinction
At 15,000 feet, the
early autumn winds had started to carry snow in their breath. On the road ahead
was a convoy of cargo-laden trucks lumbering up the mountain pass. The colours
were stark: a steel-grey road, brown mud tracks fast covering up with sleety
snow, Chinese border guards in faded blue.
We turned our faces
away from the unfriendly gust and took shelter under a stone column topped with
a bronze figurine. I looked down at my boots dusted with snow and then up at
the brass bovid looking down at me. This was why two of us were here: an odd couple
from India, my colleague and renowned conservationist, the late Ashok Kumar,
who was celebrating his 70th birthday, and I, about to embark on an expedition
like none other.
Toy designers show
keeping elephants amused not kids’ play
Richard M. and Laura S. Brown are combining arts and sciences to enrich the
lives of two Asian elephants at a local zoo, and the couple is hoping their
program goes national.
The Browns gave a
presentation, “Toys for Elephants: Designing and Building Enrichment Objects
for Elephants,” Tuesday afternoon in the Varis Lecture Hall at Tufts Cummings
School of Veterinary Medicine in North Grafton. The couple shared their
research as co-founders of the Handshouse Studio where the Toys For Elephants
program is based.
In 2010, the Browns
learned of two beloved 8,000-pound Asian elephants named Emily and Ruth living
at the Buttonwood Zoo in New Bedford.
The couple learned
about the elephants’ need for stimulation after talking with the zoo’s director
and took on the challenge of enriching the elephants’ environment with limited
funding, using art and design students.
Mr. Brown designed
the “Toys For Elephants” program and introduced it at the Massachusetts College
of Art and Design in Boston where he and his wife are faculty, in collaboration
with the couple’s studio in Norwell.
The results were
amazing – for Emily and Ruth, the students involved, and the community.
“Every zoo we’ve
visited all over the country tells us they need more elephant enrichment,” Mr.
Brown said. “We’re helping address the issue.”
Romeo the lonesome
frog is feelin' the love
A campaign to raise
$15,000 by Valentine's Day to fund a search for Romeo's Juliet before he croaks
generated $25,000, an environmental group said.
Romeo is the last
known frog of his kind. Given the normal life span of Sehuencas water frogs, he
has only about five years left to live, giving urgency to his love quest.
Wildlife Conservation teamed with dating website Match and the Bolivian
Amphibian Initiative to raise money for Romeo's last shot at romance.
around the globe showed their love this Valentine's Day for the world's
loneliest amphibian," the environmental group said in a statement dated
overwhelmed by the support from Match and all of the donors who generously let
Romeo into their heart this week," said Arturo Munoz, founder of the
Kamikaze sperm and
four-headed penises – the hidden ways animals win the mating game
We all know that
individuals fight over potential love interests. Just think of Daniel Cleaver
(Hugh Grant) and Mark Darcy (Colin Firth) scuffling – rather impotently – over
Bridget Jones in a fountain. But you might be surprised to hear that the fierce
rivalry continues behind the scenes – in the form of sperm competition. This is
when the sperm of two or more males compete inside the reproductive tract of a
female, to fertilise the eggs, something that is widespread in the animal
It is generally
assumed that the sperm in a female's reproductive tract around the time of
fertilisation will belong to one male. But DNA fingerprinting has revealed that
even "monogamous" bird species that form exclusive pair bonds are not
as exclusive as was once thought.
In fact, extra-pair
young (those fathered by another male) are found in around 90% of bird species,
and extra-pair copulations (matings with a
New Meetings and Conferences updated Here
If you have anything to add then please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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
After more than 49 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/
or on Hubpages http://hubpages.com/profile/Peter+Dickinson
Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, an introvert, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.
"These are the best days of my life"
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | email@example.com | Skype: peter.dickinson48
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | firstname.lastname@example.org | Skype: peter.dickinson48