Saturday, May 27, 2017

Zoo News Digest 27th May 2017 (ZooNews 957)

Zoo News Digest 27th May 2017  (ZooNews 957)






Peter Dickinson

elvinhow@gmail.com

Dear Colleague,

I am just back from a short holiday in Thailand. It was a good one because I feel like I now need another holiday to recover. I did have a number of zoo visits planned but thunderstorms put paid to that idea and so the time was spent catching up with various girlfriends instead. It wasn't time wasted. That said I am very happy to be back home.


Have you noticed the number of zoos which are now gaining membership to zoo bodies outside of their geographical region? We have Ocean Park, Hong Kong and Sentosa, Singapore who have joined the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Several Middle East collections are already members of EAZA. This has to be a good thing. Both EAZA and the AZA have rigid realistic inspections before membership is granted. This is the way forward. So often I see it quoted "International Zoo Standards" when no such thing exists. The more collections that go with EAZA and AZA the closer we will get to that goal. I just feel it a pity that the UK government inspections could not be carried out to licence abroad because they are (in spite of various critiques) some of the best in the world. There are other good organisations out there but some are really about 'you scratch my back and I will scratch yours' and have lost my respect…not that I suppose they give a damn.



Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 59,000 'Like's' on Facebook and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 820 Zoos in 154+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.


I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, 
not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.

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New Zealand’s ambitious plan to save native birds: Kill every rat, stoat and possum
New Zealand has set itself an environmental goal so ambitious it's been compared to putting a man on the moon: ridding the entire nation of every last rat, possum and stoat.

The idea is to give a second chance to the distinctive birds that once ruled this South Pacific nation. When New Zealand split away from the supercontinent Gondwanaland 85 million years ago, predatory mammals hadn't evolved. That allowed birds to thrive. Some gave up flight altogether to strut about the forest floor.

Then humans arrived, bringing predators with them. Rats stowed away on ships. Settlers introduced brushtail possums — an Australian species unrelated to North American opossums — for the fur trade and weasel-like stoats to control rabbits. The pests destroyed forest habitats and feasted on the birds and their eggs. More than 40 species of birds died out and many others remain threatened, including the iconic kiwi.





Nine rhinos found massacred at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
Nine fresh rhino carcasses have been found massacred at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa’s oldest game reserve and the cradle of global rhino conservation.

The mid-week massacre confirms fears that the historical park has become the new ground zero in the battle to save the species, rapidly matching casualties sustained by Kruger National Park.

This is despite the fact the domestic ban on rhino horn trade was effectively lifted when the Constitutional Court, in April, rejected a government appeal to preserve a 2009 ban on the domestic trade

Conservationists have warned that the lifting of the moratorium would spell a full-out onslaught by illegal poaching syndicates, putting the country's already battered rhino population at further huge risk.

Two suspected poachers from Hazyview in Mpumalanga have recently been arrested, and a .375 calibre hunting rifle has been recovered. It is not immediately clear whether the two were caught in the reserve, or out





'Extinct' Venomous Snake Rediscovered
Most people have never heard of the Albany adder—a small, venomous snake native to South Africa with a brilliantly patterned body and pointy eyebrows. The extremely rare reptile hadn't been seen in almost a decade, and scientists feared it was extinct—until now.

A team of herpetologists recently announced the discovery of a lifetime—four Albany adders, alive and well.

The expedition had set out last November to find the long-lost snake, and after a week of scouring bushes, lifting up rocks, and cau






 www.zoolex.org in May 2017

~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~  ~°v°~

Hello ZooLex Friend,
We have worked for your enjoyment!

              ~°v°~

NEW EXHIBIT PRESENTATION

The porcupines at Naturschutz-Tierpark Görlitz are a real visitor 
attraction. Visitors can see the animals on eye-level and hand-feed 
them. Participants of the International Zoo Design Conference who joined 
the post-conference tour to Görlitz enjoyed the animal-visitor 
interaction, but many cannot implement something like this at their zoos 
for safety reasons.


Here is the German original:

We would like to thank our intern Jonas Homburg for preparing this 
presentation.

              ~°v°~

REVIEW OF THE 2017 ZOO DESIGN CONFERENCE

This conference took place in Wroclaw, Poland, from 4th to 7th April 
2017 and was a big success. 250 participants from 39 countries enjoyed 
the programme with 42 presentations. The conference started with an ice 
breaker at the Wroclaw Hydropolis Water Museum and ended with a farewell 
party at the Zoo. Many participants also enjoyed the pre- and 
post-conference tours to Jurapark, Opole Zoo and Görlitz Zoo.

Here is a review with photos, testimonials and the programme:
Presentations will be published as they become available.

                      ~°v°~

We keep working on ZooLex ...

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





Lahore Zoo's only elephant, Suzi dies
The only elephant in the Lahore Zoo, Suzi, died on Saturday morning.

Imported in 1988, Suzi was a popular attraction at the zoo and had captivated generations of audiences since its inception at the zoo.

Officials at the zoo could not confirm a cause of death before the medical report was made available.

Speaking to Dawn, the Director of the Lahore Zoo Mohammad Shafqat said, "We won't be bringing a solo elephant, instead we'll bring a pair the next time."

Up until Saturday, only Karachi and Lahore zoos had elephants.

Suzi had spent more than 25 years of her life at the Lahore Zoo. The natural life span of elephants according to Zoo officials is about 50 years.

Zoos usually experience an influx of visitors during the holidays as people throng recreational spots, with zoos being po





A Life Devoted to the Modern Conservation Zoo: A Conservation with Zoo Legend Rick Barongi
The year is 1990 and Disney wants to build a fourth Florida theme park around animals and containing a replicated African safari. However, there’s one problem: the Imagineers who design the park know little about how to build naturalistic habitats for animals and meet their needs. When Disney consulted legendary Bronx Zoo director Bill Conway, he recommended contacting Rick Barongi then curator at the San Diego Zoo. While others likely would have said a massive safari recreating Africa in Central Florida couldn’t be done, Barongi took on the challenge and within a few years was working full time as the designer of the animal habitats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which opened in 1998. Luckily, I got to do a phone interview with him about undertaking this challenge and his entire 40 year career for Zoophoria.





The OLD Dolphins
There are definitely many reasons why I consider myself lucky.  One of those reasons is that I've had the pleasure of knowing more than my fair share of Old Lady Dolphins.  Considering today is Mother's Day in the U.S., I think today's topic is pretty fitting.  In fact, I'd like to go even further and talk about a very special lady I got to know at my last job.





Chimp escapes enclosure at Honolulu Zoo prompting evacuation scare
A chimpanzee at the Honolulu Zoo caused a small scare for zoo visitors and staff Sunday.

Honolulu Zoo exhibit to remain closed after chimpanzee escapes
Elvis the ape escapes from zoo enclosure, injures volunteer
According to a city spokesperson, a chimp scaled the wall of the exhibit around noon before jumping off into the chimp holding area.

The spokesperson says the chimp never made it into a public space, but some zoo patrons were cleared from the area.

It took zoo staff ten minutes to get the animal back into his pen.

The spokesperson says all chimps will be kept in their holding pens until zoo staff can complete assessment of the exhibit's wall.

This isn't the first time the Honolulu Zoo has dealt with animals on the loose.

Almost two years ago, a 15-year-old male chimpanzee named Pu'iwa jumped off a barrel to escape from his cage.

A worker shot the chimp with a tranquilizer gun after Pu'iwa was later found sitting on top of the high wall outside the enclosure.

In the summer of 2012, Elvis the ape was able to leap over a moat from a wooden feeding platform to grab on to the outside wall and climb out.

Zookeepers didn't think he was capable of making the 12-foot leap. In a successful effort to get Elvis back in to his cage, zookeepers used CO2 canniste





Zookeeping all in the family for mom, daughter
Mother’s Day is usually a time when moms and their children get together to reminisce over brunch and flowers or maybe a long-distance phone call. But for mother-daughter zookeepers Jane Kennedy and Katie Garagarza, every day is cause for celebration.

The two Escondido women have worked together at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for 21 years, after Garagarza decided to follow in her mother’s well-worn footsteps. Kennedy, 59, is one of the park’s lead zookeepers and is known as the “Rhino lady” for her decades of devotion to saving the critically endangered African species. Garagarza, who at 37 is a senior zookeeper and has spent more than half her life working in the San Pasqual Valley animal park, most recently with Australian mammals.

Besides the family connection the women are also close friends, colleagues, animal experts and passionate conservationists.

“Working together has made our relationship much deeper than just a regular mother-daughter thing,” Garagarza said. “We have so much more in common and we can bounce ideas off each other.”

The two don’t work in the same department, but they do cross paths every day and are frequently together in their off hours spending time with Garagarza’s three children: Sofia, 7, Tomas, 5, and Elena, who will soon turn 4.

“I’m very proud of who she is, what she’s become and what she’s doing with her life,” Kennedy said of Garagarza, who’s a single mom. “She’s a great mother and role model for her children. And I’m impressed by her dedication to conservation of all these species that are in such desperate need of our help.”

Another of the park’s longtime employees, associate nutritionist Michele Gaffney, said she’s enjoyed watching Garagarza grow from girlhood to motherhood at the park.

“I have spent a lot of time with bot




How can we help the living by looking at the dead?





In Zoos We Trust (In A Post-Truth World)
Americans’ relationships with traditional authorities has been evolving. Our distrust of the media and obsession with ‘fake news’ is the strongest and most recent illustration of this erosion that in actuality, has been occurring over the last decade.





Penguin enclosure runs up Rs 10 lakh power bill
The cost of maintaining the seven Humboldt penguins at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale (VJB) Udyan and zoo in Byculla only seems to be increasing by the day.
The BMC will have to shell out over Rs 1 crore every year only as the electricity bill of the interpretation centre where the seven flightless birds are currently housed. Zoo officials said they have been receiving an electricity bill of up to Rs 10 lakh every month for the interpretation centre since it wa





Abilene Zoo: Jaguar ‘wriggled' way out of enclosure to escape
An Abilene Zoo investigation has determined “the most likely chain of events” that led to a jaguar’s escape from its enclosure and ultimately resulted in the death of a spider monkey.

The escape occurred May 15.

“It has been determined that the escape began when the animal (Estrella) scaled a 12-foot-tall artificial rock wall and forced her way under the cable and netting top,” said Bill Gersonde, the zoo’s executive director.

“She gained access to a crawl space between that rock wall and a cinderblock wall, scaled the cinderblock wall and forced her way out of an approximate 8-inch gap between that wall and the exhibit mesh top.”

The investigation included representatives of the zoo’s veterinary, animal care, and maintenance departments. The team, according to the release, examined living quarters – shared by sister jaguars Estrella and Luna – in a search for clues.

According to the investigation, the fact that Estrella is 120 pounds and of “active age” as a two-year-old cat “certainly contributed to her ability to wriggle out of the enclosure.”

The spider monkey, after being attack





Plants enter our lives daily and in ways we may not even notice.  May’s stories at www.zooplantman.com (NEWS/Botanical News) remind us of some of the contributions plants make to our human lives:




Girl dragged into water by sea lion receives treatment for rare 'seal finger' disease
The young girl who was pulled off a dock by a sea lion in Canada is being treated for a rare bacterial infection sometimes called “seal finger,” ABC News reports.
The sea lion yanked the girl into the Richmond, B.C. harbor on Saturday after some people on the dock started feeding the animal breadcrumbs.
Video of the incident quickly spread across the internet, showing the sea lion pop out of the water, bite the girl’s dress, and drag her under water. A man then jumps in to get the girl back to safety.
Officials at the Vancouver Aquarium tell ABC that the child is getting medical treatment because of concerns that bacteria from





Polar bear project at Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park wins top honour
The Gold Award was presented by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) for the park’s Project Polar initiative which created a unique 10-acre reserve which is home to four male polar bears. The award recognises the excellence of the park’s work in establishing the large, naturalistic polar bear reserve with dens, pools and rolling landscapes. The park’s enclosure, one of the largest in the world, is home to Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby. “It is fantastic to receive the award for something we care passionately about and work hard at,” said Simon Marsh, animal collections manager at the park, based at Branton, near Doncaster. “We wanted to show that pola






Erik Meijaard: How to Stop the Rot in Orangutan Protection
With some 10,000 orangutans having died a premature death in the past five years, there clearly has been collective failure by governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement effective conservation management for these species.

Sumatran orangutans have been Critically Endangered for a while, indicating severe population declines in the recent past and projecting similar declines in the near future.
Bornean orangutans were slightly better off, so we thought. But based on the first robust population trend analysis, recently conducted for Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, indicating a 25 percent decline in 10 years, this species is also likely to be listed as Critically Endangered.

The facts speak for themselves. Based on extensive community interviews, some 1,500-2,200 orangutans are killed in Kalimantan annually. We further estimate that we are losing some 3,000-6,000 square kilometers of habitat every year on Borneo, and this similarly translates in the loss of several thousand animals. These dead orangutans are real, not the fiction of some science crackpots!

The Indonesian government officially concurs with the above findings and thus recognizes that there has been little if any progress on its own goal of stabilizing all wild orangutan populations by 2017. Last year's Laporan Kinerja of the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), the Indonesian conservation authority, indicates that in the nine sites where the government is monitoring Bornean orangutans, there have been average population declines of 26.5 percent and 28.2 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively. If accurate, this indicates the orangutans are miles away from population stability, and rapidly heading towards extinction.

How is it possible that after nearly five decades of hard conservation action we are still largely failing to achieve results? Let me summarize a few reasons.

First, with more than 75 percent of orangutans living outside protected areas where forest is rapidly being converted to non-forest, orangutan conservation is obviously challenging.

Second, there is a lack of funding. In a recent report I calculated that the total allocated funding for orangutan conservation in Kalimantan was about $20 million. Half of this was through government budgets for protected areas, provincial conservation agencies, and national-level coordination, and the remain





Animals still in cages a year after Buenos Aires zoo closure
he roars of lions, snorts of rhinos and trumpets of elephants still blend with the cacophony of honking buses and screeching cars passing nearby in one of the most heavily congested areas of Argentina's capital.

A year after the 140-year-old Buenos Aires zoo closed its doors and was transformed into a park, hundreds of animals remain behind bars and in a noisy limbo.

Developers last July promised to relocate most of the zoo's 1,500 animals to sanctuaries in Argentina and abroad, but they had made no firm arrangements to do so. And a new master plan announced Tuesday still doesn't specify how they will accomplish it. Many of the animals are so zoo-trained that experts fear they would die if moved, even to wild animal preserves.

Conservationists also complain that the remaining animals still live in antiquated enclosures widely considered inhumane by modern standards — and say the city government's new plan gives few specifics of how improvements will be made.

"It's gone from bad to worse," said Claud








GUEST BLOG – DEREK GOW: A STATEMENT TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF CONSERVATIONISTS
Today’s guest post comes from Derek Gow. Derek is an ecologist, farmer and specialist in reintroducing native species; he pioneered the captive breeding and reintroduction of water voles almost 20 years ago, is a key player in the return of beavers to Britain, and is currently working on projects to reinstate white storks to our countryside.

I have been lucky to work on Derek’s farm and field projects over the last few years, and recently he wrote the below speech for a Wildlife Trusts event. Keen to spread the message to a wider audience, I was happy to post it on his behalf.

Me and so many other young people are at a crossroads as we seek to spend the rest of our lives in nature conservation. How can we attempt to haul up the boat if it is already sinking? What follows is a plea to do better, think better, and to never give in.





Exported baby elephants distraught
Pictures and a video were recently published on the Focusing on Wildlife website of some of the calves that are at the Hangzhou Safari Park. They were shown being kept behind bars and walking on concrete floors. The images were obtained by an animal welfare advocate named Chunmei Hu, the former general secretary of the Chinese Green Development and Endangered Species Fund. The video has since been reviewed by elephant experts, including co-founder of the Kenya-based Elephant Voices, Joyce Poole, who concluded that “their housing is totally unstimulating. They look like sad, locked-up little kids.”

Although the government and ZimParks are not very keen on revealing how many baby elephants have so far been exported to China, conservationists who have been vigilantly following the developments believe 17 of the calves ended up at Shanghai Wild Animal Park, 15 at the Beijing Wildlife Park and six at Hangzhou Safari Park.

A 2016 report on elephants in Asia said a tot





An Open Letter to Vancouver Park Board Members
Dear Park Board Members,
I know you've gotten a lot of feedback over your recent decision about Vancouver Aquarium. As someone who lives on the opposite end of the continent, who am I to pitch in another voice? Well, I had a very successful career as a marine mammal trainer for the past 12 years, and just recently left to pursue another passion.  However, I am still very connected to the marine mammal community.

There is something really, really special about that place.  I've only been once, but it is - in my opinion - one of the best aquariums in all aspects: research, animal wellness, habitat design, conservation messaging, insanely advanced and open-minded veterinary care, rescue/rehabilitation...and it doesn't hurt that it's in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.  Please believe me when I tell you that Vancouver Aquarium lives its conservation message.





The Truth About the Deadly Cat Trade
There’s a missing link in South Africa, not the one between homosapiens and modern humans.It’s a link between cub petting and the fast growing trade in exploiting and killing lions, and it’s one to which tourists seem extraordinarily blind.

Cuddling playful lion cubs, volunteering to feed and care for adorable young cats or walking with them may seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity. But what visitors don’t see is that for these big cats, this seemingly innocent start in life leads to canned hunting of lions for the overseas trophy trade, to lion farming in cruel conditions, or to the slaughter of these kingly creatures in order to meet the demand for their bone in the Far East.





Endangered species conservation: Partners making a difference
Loretta Lynch once said, “We all have a responsibility to protect endangered species, both for their sake and for the sake of our own future generations.” Conservation of these species is an ongoing challenge that requires the help of many people working toward a common goal.

“We are a brand that stands for conservation,” says Carrie Kuball, Mazuri® Sales and Technical Support Manager. “Whether they are someone’s pets or an endangered species in the wild, we want to help make exotic animals’ lives better no matter where they are in the world.”

One of the ways Mazuri® supports endangered species conservation is through sponsored partnerships of organizations with similar goals.

Species360: Global information serving conservation
Species360 is an international non-profit organization that maintains the ZIMS online knowledgebase of wildlife in human care.

“Our database helps more than 1,050 institutions in 90 countries give the best care possible to their unique animals,” explains Peter Donl





Fight against deadly fungus wins Paignton Zoo a top award





How a Tiny Worm is Irritating the Most Majestic of Giraffes
What is a fly to a giraffe?
It’s difficult to imagine a single insect even coming to the attention of these peculiar animals, which weigh in at thousands of pounds and routinely stretch their necks to heights of more than 14 feet. In Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, however, Michael B. Brown, a wildlife conservation researcher, has noticed something that might be harder to ignore: Whole clouds of insects swarming around the necks of these quadrupedal giants.





Kaufman Calls on North American Aquariums to Refocus on Conservation in the Wild
Les Kaufman, a Professor of Biology and a Faculty Research Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, recently took part in the annual Regional Aquatic Workshop (RAW), hosted by the New England Aquarium (NEAq). The week-long workshop featured representatives from many of North America’s professional aquariums, in addition to vendors from industry and technology who support these institutions.

Prof. Kaufman organized a plenary panel, in collaboration with colleagues from NEAq’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, to examine global priorities for aquatic conservation. The panel illuminated pathways to more effective conservation of aquatic habitats and species by drawing upon three case studies: sharks and rays (Hap Fatzinger, Director, North Carolina Aquariums), coral reefs (Joe Yaiullo, Long Island Aquarium), and tropical freshwaters (Mike O’Neill, NEAq, and a member of Kaufman’s team studying fish biodiversity in Lake Victoria). Prof. Kaufman framed and concluded the panel, while the other three speakers gave accounts of conservation successes achieved through regional coop





Vancouver park board worries whale fight could sour relations with aquarium
Vancouver Park Board commissioners are worried their relationship with the Vancouver Aquarium could suffer if their cetacean ban battle ends up in court.

“If it goes to court, that’s going to make things tough. (The relationship) soured a bit in 2014 when they took legal action on our jurisdiction on a (cetacean) breeding ban,” said park board chairman Michael Wiebe. “But we have a (lease) with them until 2029 and they will continue to be a world leader in marine science.”

On Monday evening, the park board voted six-to-one in favour of a ban on cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium. Three resident cetaceans — false killer whale Chester, Helen the white-sided dolphin, and Daisy the porpoise — will be allowed to live out their lives at the aquarium.

Erin Shum — the lone commissioner who opposed the ban — said the bylaw puts “millions of taxpayer and resident dollars on the line” should the aquarium decide to fight back.

“The legal and financial implications of this decision have not been adequately addressed,” said Shum.

Aquarium president and CEO John Nightingale has not rule





Ligers and tigons: activists aim to outlaw 'inhumane' breeding of frankencats
A coalition of US conservation groups has launched an attempt to outlaw the breeding of so-called frankencats, where big cats such as tigers and lions are crossed with each other to create unusual and often unhealthy specimens.

A petition filed with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday calls for an end to the “inhumane” interbreeding of large felines, claiming that the practice clashes with federal animal welfare laws because of the increased probability of resulting health problems such as cancer, cleft palates, arthritis and depression.

Pairing a male tiger with a female lion creates a tigon, while a male lion and a female tiger produces a liger. Some breeders, such as Oklahoma-based Joe Schreibvogel, who also goes by the title Joe Exotic, have taken this a step further by breeding liligers, the offspring of a male lion and a female liger, and tiligers, the result of breeding a male tiger and a female liger.

Research has shown this cross-breeding can heighten the risk of various ailments. Tigons can experience dwarfism while gigantism is known to occur in ligers. Hercules, a liger who resides at the Myrtle Beach Safari wildlife reserve in South Carolina, was named the world’s largest living cat in 2014, weighing 922lb.

White tigers occur when two Bengal tigers that carry a recessive gene that influences coat colour are bred together. White Bengal tigers have also been crossed with Siberian tigers in order to create a larger animal, which can be affected by even more inherited health problems.

The offspring are prone to becoming cross-eyed, as well as facing other maladies, due to their genetic past. Scientists have found





Baby elephants to be exported to Dubai zoo
A spokesman for the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has confirmed that all CITES requirements have been met for the issue of export permits, and that the United Arab Emirates CITES Scientific Authority has issued the necessary permits for importation of the elephants.

Eden Game Farm is a private game farm and registered game dealer in the Grootfontein district, near Etosha National Park. The farm is owned by a Swedish national.

The sale of baby elephants from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to China in 2015 attracted heavy criticism from wildlife experts and activists alike, after some elephants died and others showed signs of malnutrition and neglect.

The MET spokesman said he was not concerned about the same happening in this instance, as Eden Game Farm had satisfied all the relevant compliance procedures. He said that the baby elephants would be kept in isolation after capture, and inspected prior to





The vanishing animals that future generations will never see
Some of the world’s most exotic animals could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned, with future generations growing up in a world without many of the species that are alive today.

The WWF claims that some animals, such as the vaquita porpoise, could be wiped out in the next few months.

Some would now be extinct had zoos not provided a ‘Noahs Ark’ from which to reestablish populations.






Scientists to probe dolphin intelligence using an interactive touchpad
Using optical technology specifically developed for this project, dolphins at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, are at the center of research from an interdisciplinary team from Hunter College and Rockefeller University. The system involves an underwater computer touchscreen through which dolphins are able to interact and make choices. The system, the first of its kind, will be used to investigate dolphin intelligence and communication by providing them choice and control over a number of activities. Researchers believe this technology will help extend the high-throughput revolution in biology that has brought us whole genome sequencing and the BRAIN project, into the field of animal cognition.





Rescued – only to die of poor care
Thousands of protected animals seized by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) have died in the hands of the authority in the past year due to mishandling.

These animals, many of which are endangered species and exotic, were being smuggled or kept illegally by local pet owners when they were seized.

A source said the lack of expertise and knowledge to handle these animals in captivity led to their death.

Among the animals that died in Perhilitan custody were 1,000 Indian Star tortoises and 10 juvenile and baby langurs.

These two species were seized from illegal dealers in mid-2016 and March 27 respectively.

Other animals that have died in the Perhilitan rescue centres include Asian Leopard Cats, small primates including endangered gibbons, and exotic white-rumped Shamas (murai batu).

The source said these animals were among many other seized species kept at the department’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai, Perak, and at Sungai Tengi, Selangor.

These two husbandries are Perhilitan’s main holding cen





‘You’d come in and think, what’s dead or escaped?’: inside Britain's most controversial zoo
It’s 2pm at South Lakes Safari zoo. “Free entry!” reads the cheerful banner tacked on to the rustic wooden entrance gate. “Hand feed a baby giraffe!” But these enticements seem to have missed their mark today: I’m the only visitor. The enormous gift shop filled mostly with stuffed animals is empty of humans. The £20 family meal deals at the “Maki” zoo restaurant remain untouched. I trudge up the long, circular path, past sodden vultures hunched behind coiled barbed wire, pacing big cats and many upbeat, brightly coloured signs telling me the names all the animals have been given. The zoo’s miniature train is not in operation today, due to a lack of passengers.

Why is no one here? Perhaps because it’s a rainy, grey Wednesday in March. More likely, though, it’s the unsettling reports that have been appearing since last June.

When the zoo’s licence came up for renewal last summer, government inspectors revealed that 486 animals had died between December 2013 and September 2016, many of them in cruel circumstances. The zoo had already been in the headlines because, on 24 May 2013, a 23-year-





Learning from zoos – how our environment can influence our health
We are told that we are a nation of couch potatoes, lacking the will and the strength to turn around the obesity tanker. We all need a little help in our quest for a healthier life and design can play a crucial part. If we designed our towns, cities, homes and workplaces more like animal experts design zoos, we could be one step nearer to reaching our fitness goals – as long as we can have some fun along the way.

It is reported that British people will be the fattest in Europe by 2025 and that if we want to reverse this we should have a healthier lifestyle by exercising more and eating less. But we are often made to feel guilty for not sticking to theses healthy lifestyle plans. I would suggest that before we start blaming people for adopting sedentary lifestyles, we should be taking a step back to look at the design of the environments, towns and cities in which we live.





Chimpanzee drowns at Odense Zoo
Fleeing from the group, a male chimpanzee fell into the moat and couldn’t swim
Ricardo, a 20-year-old chimpanzee who came to Odense in 2015 from a French zoo as part of a breeding program, drowned in the moat of the chimpanzee enclosure at Odense Zoo earlier today.

The animal died after trying to escape from the others in the group – the consequence of a long period of escalating tensions between them.





How Tory U-turn on the antique ivory trade will threaten elephants in the wild
Back in January I wrote an article for The Conversation applauding China’s announcement to close its ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017. A shocked but delighted conservation lobby hailed the move as a potential turning point in the protection of wild elephants.

But now the UK Conservative party has quietly dropped a manifesto commitment to ban the ivory trade. I am as concerned today as I was happy back in January.

China’s announcement followed a major global conference in September 2016. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – imagine a sort-of UN for the illegal wildlife trade – recommended that its 183 member states “close their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency”.

In line with the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto promise “to press for a total ban on ivory sales”, the government also responded positively by announcing plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory. Britain’s rules would be among the world’s most stringent.

There are more than 2,000,000 pieces of ivory in Britain’s h





Singapore now world’s second-largest shark fin trader
Despite various moves here in recent years, such as hotels removing shark’s fin from their restaurant menus, for example, Singapore has moved up the ranks to become the world’s second-biggest trader of the product, a report has found.

Traffic, a wildlife-trade monitoring network, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which published the report, noted that an in-depth analysis of the trade in Singapore was hampered by a lack of detail in the Singapore Customs’ import and export data, TODAY reported on Friday.

They urged the government department to begin recording data on the trade using the internationally recognised harmonised system (HS) codes developed by the World Customs Organisation, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has told them that this was under way. The use of HS codes to classify goods, including shark commodities, was introduced in 1967, Singapore Customs told TODAY.

The report indicated that Singapore should “immediately scrutinise” its practices including its HS codes, which do not distinguish the different types of shark products or provide for all protected species.

The analysis of Singapore’s role in the shark and ray trade found that, on the export front, the country placed second after Hong Kong, with trade valued at US$40 million (S$55 million) between 2012 and 2013.

This was 11.1% lower than Hong Kong’s US$45 million. Singapore is also the second-largest importer of shark’s fin after H





Outstanding Student to Outstanding Professional: Alumna Rachel Emory's Role in the Care of Elephants in Captivity
In 2014, Rachel Emory won the Outstanding Undergraduate Academic and Promise in Zoology award. She was recognized at Michigan State for her performance aRachel standing next to an elephant in Indias an undergraduate inside and outside the classroom. She worked at the MSU museum in the care of vertebrate collections, participated in undergraduate research, had two internships in her field, and built a network of staff, advisors, and peers who supported her and learned from her during her time at state. Two weeks after graduation, Rachel moved to Oklahoma to take on her dream position as Elephant Keeper at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Since then she has traveled to India to work with rescued elephants and been promoted to Lead Elephant Caretaker. She is a member of a team that has built an incredibly successful platform of commitment to the health and care of elephants in captivity. I reached out to her to learn more about her role at the zoo and elephant care internationally, as well as her transition from being a student in the Zoology program at MSU to being a professional in the zoological field; here is what she had to say:





When animal rights extremism exposes the worst of humanity
It's hard to feel sorry for a man with a gun who hunts elephants for sport. But that's one of the many problems with animal rights extremists. In their religious zeal to place the world's beasts on an equal footing with people, they always manage to snatch defeat when an emphatic victory is handed to them. How ironic, really, that attempting to save animals sometimes exposes the worst of human traits.

But irony has been a word bandied about way too often in the past week. It's why I've come to feel such sorrow over the events following the death of Theunis Botha. Amid all the carnage inflicted on the world over the past seven days, you may have missed the news about the passing of this 51-year-old fo





Karnataka: What’s the beef! Our zoos hit hardest
There's a change of menu for the carnivores in all zoos across the state. Come Saturday and the big cats like the tigers, lions and leopards will be fed sheep and goat meat as the Union government has banned cattle slaughter

The move is expected to dig a deep hole in the zoos' pockets as   mutton is much costlier.  The worst hit could be the century-old Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Park or the Mysuru Zoo, the Bannerghatta National Park and Shivamogga Zoo which have fed their carnivores, beef for years.

With the ban in place, they will have to give up buying cow and buffalo meat for their animals as cattle covers all  bovin








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About me
After more than 49 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog http://zoonewsdigest.blogspot.com/

Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, an introvert, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.


"These are the best days of my life"




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Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant