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Zoo News Digest Nov-Dec 2017

Zoo News Digest
Nov-Dec 2017


13Nov2017

Jambo Topeka: A Conversation with Gary Clarke, Retired Director of the Topeka Zoo
Gary Clarke is often credited as being one of the first modern zoo directors in American zoo history. He directed the Topeka Zoo from 1962 to 1989. During that time, he developed a number of groundbreaking exhibits and innovative practices. Among Clarke’s achievements were being the first president of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and creating the zoo world’s first indoor tropical rainforest building. After retiring from zoos, he had a second career guiding African safaris. Here is his story.
 
 
 
Pittsburgh Zoo was kicked out of important conservation programs when it left national association
Although the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium said nothing about it at the time, the zoo had to close its king penguin exhibit two years ago and temporarily close its river otter exhibit because the zoo left the country’s largest zoological association in a dispute over how it cares for its elephants.
Leaving the 93-year-old Association of Zoos and Aquariums — which represents 235 institutions, including almost every major zoo in the country except Pittsburgh — in 2015 led to some obvious impacts right away, including the closure of the zoo’s Sea Turtle Second Chance program, losing a $5,000 grant for a playground and state grants, and zoo members’ loss of free, reciprocal visits to other AZA zoos.
But another, little-discussed side effect was that the Pittsburgh Zoo could no longer be automatic members in some Species Survival Plan programs — a step that led to losing the king penguins and river otter.
That occurred two years ago. But it only came to light in September after one of the Pittsburgh Zoo’s Amur tigers died, and th
 
 
 
Nanga and Sukamara, Thailand’s Repatriated Orangutans Finally Released Into Borneo’s Forest
Nanga and Sukamura, two orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus wurmbii) who were repatriated from Thailand in 2006 were finally released in Bukit Baka-Bukit Raya National Park, Katingan Regency, Central Borneo.
In total there were 12 orangutans released into the wild on November 10-11, 2017. This group consisted of four males and eight females.
"It took 11 years of rehabilitation for Nanga and Sukamara to be released into the wild," said Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) Director Jamartin Sihite on Friday (11/10/2017).
Nanga and Sukamara are the names given by caretakers at BOSF Nyaru Menteng for both orangutans.
In the 11 years, Nanga, a 16-year-old female, and Sukamara, a 20-year-old female, live in Nyaru Menteng, at a BOSF-run rehabilitation center near Palangkaraya, Central Borneo.
When Nanga was six and Sukamara was eight, they were repatriated from Thailand after becoming part of a theme park’s attraction. Because they lived in a human environment since their childhood and accustomed to being fed, they needed to l
 
 
 
 
Confessions of a primate researcher in Singapore
Kate and Spade, Blackberry and Burberry, Snow White and Snowflake - Miss Sabrina Jabbar, 27, rattles off these names with a chuckle.
They are names given to unique mother and child combinations of an endangered primate species in Singapore - the Raffles' banded langur.
A primate researcher, Miss Jabbar is part of a working group here led by primatologist Andie Ang to understand and better protect the species. She is also a volunteer at the Jane Goodall Institute (Singapore).
Miss Jabbar said that although people often think that primates are indistinguishable within species, they have u
 
 
 
Survey aims to help save finless porpoise in Yangtze
A scientific survey on the Yangtze River to review the status of the endangered finless porpoise was launched in Wuhan, Hubei province, on Friday. Its findings are expected to be released in March.
Financed by World Wildlife Fund and local foundations in the province, the survey is the third to be undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture since 2006. It is being led by the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Hydrobiology.
"Allowing for the decline in porpoise's population and distribution, the survey can show variations more accurately if carried out every five to six years," said Hao Yujiang, a researcher at the institute who is in charge of the work.
The survey will cover waters along the middle and lower stretches of the Yangtze and its two connecting lakes - Poyang and Dongting.
"We will calculate population and distribution of 
 
 
 
The tricky business of defining new species
What gives an animal — or any living organism — the uniqueness required to be classified as its own species? Scientists can't agree.
Many of us grew up thinking that animals were different species when they couldn't interbreed. But all sorts of examples have contradicted this, such as the fact our ancestors bred with Neanderthals.
So how do scientists classify species?
It turns out the answer is not as straightforward as you might think. At last count there were over 30 different species concepts being used by scientists.
Ever since humans started naming species there have been arguments about where to draw the line.
"Many cases are clear cut but there are also many cases where it's hard to tell," says Kevin Thiele who heads up the Western Australian Herbarium and a program on taxonomy for the Australian Academy of Science.
"A species is an expert interpretation rather than objective fact."
It's often obvious when one animal is different from another: a lion is very clearly not a tiger. But sometimes the distinction is not so clear.
 
 
 
Romain Pizzi is saving endangered animals, one operation at a time
n 2012, the conservation charity Free The Bears approached Romain Pizzi with an unusual patient. One of the most innovative wildlife surgeons in Europe and perhaps the world, Pizzi is short, with a goatee, dark receding hair and muscular forearms which, when held out ready for surgery, give him the look of an otter on hind legs. A specialist in laparoscopic, or keyhole, surgery - commonplace in humans, but until recently rare in veterinary medicine - he has operated on giraffes and tarantulas, penguins and baboons, giant tortoises and at least one shark, and maintains a reputation for taking on cases others won't. If you're in possession of a tiger with gallstones, or a suspiciously sickly beaver, you call Pizzi. As Matt Hunt, CEO of Free The Bears, told me recently,"We have other vets who are incredibly talented. But Romain is one of a kind."
The patient in question was a three-year-old Asiatic black bear called Champa. Known as moon bears for the white, crescent-shaped markings on their chests, Asiatic black bears are threatened across Asia, where their bile, paws and bones are used as ingredients in traditional medicine. Bears in bile farms are crammed into tiny cages with catheters surgically inserted into their gall bladders to drain the fluid. Countless bears die from infection and open wounds. As a result, moon bears are classified as vulnerable by the IUCN Red List of T
 
 
 
Number of captive pandas reaches 520 worldwide
The total number of successfully bred giant pandas reached 63 on October 6 this year, with the worldwide figure now standing at 520, according to Xinhua Chengdu.
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding has bred 11 giant panda cubs in eight litters, with the China Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre breeding 42 in 30 litters - a historical high. Giant pandas sent to France, US, Japan, Spain, Belgium, and Vienna have also given birth to cubs.
 
 
 
Escaped Lynx: Zoo's big cat arrangements face inspectors
A zoo where a big cat escaped - and remains on the loose - is to be put under scrutiny by inspectors.
The Eurasian lynx, about twice the size of a domestic cat, escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth at some point in the last three weeks.
The zoo has been closed while staff try to capture the Lynx.
Ceredigion Council will carry out an inspection of the zoo later this month.
The wild cat is described as being tan and white with dark spots on her back and legs, with a thick, stubby tail which is no more than six inches long.
It is believed Lilleth escaped after making a "giant leap" over an electrified fence to get out of the zoo.
 
 
 
Escaped lynx kills seven sheep. Is this a stark warning for release application?
Seven sheep have been killed by a lynx in Wales.
The captive Eurasian lynx escaped from Borth Zoo, Aberystwyth almost a week ago and after several days in the wild, it killed seven sheep in one attack.
This is the same species proposed by Lynx UK Trust in its release application that is being considered by Natural England
The National Sheep Association (NSA) understands that the cause of death was determined by post-mortem conducted by Welsh government officials which confirmed a single bite to the neck and subsequent internal bleeding. NSA understands two sheep were partly eaten, while the remaining five appeared to be killed purely out of instinct.
 
 
 
Escaped lynx: Borth zoo's big cat 'humanely destroyed'
A wild cat which escaped from a Ceredigion zoo has been "humanely destroyed", the county council has confirmed.
Lilleth, the Eurasian lynx, escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom at some point in the last three weeks.
The council said despite "exhaustive efforts" to recapture her, it received advice that the risk to public safety had "increased to severe".
Earlier on Friday, the council said the zoo would be put under scrutiny.
 
 
 
'Safety was paramount': council defends decision to shoot Lillith the lynx
One of the team of marksmen contracted by a council to kill Lillith the lynx has defended shooting the escaped animal, saying “action had to be taken”.
The Eurasian lynx was shot after straying into a caravan park near Aberystwyth town centre almost two weeks after its escape from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom.
Locals raised the alarm and Ceredigion county council ordered the animal to be killed after declaring it a threat to public safety.
Andrew Venables, a marksman who runs a local firearms training school, said that something had to be done to resolve the situation: “The very sad truth is the fact an animal was allowed to escape in the first place and that the owners were unable to catch it over a three-week period of grace,” he said.
 
 
 
Campaigners to consult on plan to release lynx
The Lynx UK Trust, which claims it has found considerable support for a release among landowners in Argyllshire and Inverness-shire, says it now wants to consult with the general public.
The trust’s chief scientific adviser, Paul O’Donoghue, said they were searching for a village hall that would be big enough to hold the number of people who are expected to attend.
“We will be making a statement on the proposed release site and there will be an open invitation to attend the meeting,” he said.
“A lot of groundwork on the planning process was gained during the preparation for our application for a trial release at Kielder, and we will be taking that knowledge to the next site. Scotland provides some great habitat for lynx.”
On the Kielder application, which is currently being considered by Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage, Mr O’Donoghue said the trust was in regular dialogue with the statutory agencies.
Mr O’Donoghue was undeterred by claims by the National Sheep Association (NSA) that a lynx which escaped from a 
 
 
 
Zoo could sue council for killing lost lynx: Owners consider legal action against authority that shot animal ‘no more dangerous than a fox’
The owners of an escaped lynx last night said they were considering legal action against a local council that ordered a marksman to shoot it dead.
Lilleth, an 18-month-old Eurasian lynx, had been missing from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth, for almost two weeks after it leapt over an electric fence and out of its enclosure.
Baited traps, heat-seeking drones and even a police helicopter were employed in the hunt to try and catch the elusive animal.
But after she was spotted asleep under a caravan in a holiday park, which was closed for the winter season, on Friday, Ceredigion County Council decided drastic action was needed.
 
 
 
Claims that second lynx has died at zoo where animal escaped
A seaside zoo reeling after the loss of Lillith the lynx, shot dead after leaping out of her enclosure, is facing criticism after claims emerged that a second lynx has died.
The owners and staff of Borth Wild Animal Kingdom have been devastated by the killing of Lillith, a young female shot dead on the orders of the local authority on Friday amid fears she was prowling too close to homes.
On Monday, the Lynx UK Trust claimed it had found out that a second animal died last week while being moved within the west Wales zoo by keepers.
 
 
 
 
TOOLKIT FOR EVALUATING THE OUTCOMES AND IMPACTS OF SMALL/MEDIUM-SIZED CONSERVATION PROJECTS
WHAT IS PRISM?
PRISM is a toolkit that aims to support small/medium-sized conservation projects to effectively evaluate the outcomes and impacts of their work.
The toolkit has been developed by a collaboration of several conservation NGOs with additional input from scientists and practitioners from across the conservation sector.
The toolkit is divided into four main sections:
Introduction and Key Concepts: Provides a basic overview of the theory behind evaluation relevant to small/medium-sized conservation projects
Designing and Implementing the Evaluation: Guides users through a simple, step by step process for evaluating project outcomes and impacts, including identifying what you need to evaluate, how to collect evaluation data, analysing/interpreting results and deciding wh
 
 
 
 
Animals may be put down if zoo is forced to close
A zoo has been told by a local council that it must close down as it has never had the correct planning permission.
East Herts District Council has turned down all retrospective planning applications that Ventura Wildlife Zoo, near Ware, had since entered.
The zoo, which if forced to close will see animals put down, is still looking for ways to fight the decision.
An online petition to save the zoo from closure has been supported by more than 1,000 people.
Since it opened last summer the zoo has had an estimated 45,000 visitors.
 
 
 
South Lakes Safari Zoo scandal coverage receives industry-wide recognition for The Mail at the O2 Media Awards
THE case of the South Lakes Safari Zoo scandal has been thrown back into the spotlight after The Mail’s reporting of the issue was honoured with a regional award.
At the O2 Media Awards North West 2017 - held in Manchester last night - the newspaper was awarded the trophy for Most Memorable (Print) story for the zoo deaths investigation.
The exposé of animal deaths at South Lakes Safari Park, which went global, was heralded as a shining example of excellent local journalism.
This summer, The Mail exclusively revealed for the first time how almost 500 animals - including tigers, lion cubs and giraffes - died at South Lakes Safari Zoo in less than four years.
The shocking log, which provides a distressing catalogue of injuries and illnesses endured by a wide range of species at the site between December 2013 and Septembe
 
 
 
Scientists hope to clone perfectly preserved lion cub belonging to extinct species
A perfectly preserved lion cub has been discovered in permafrost on the bank of Tirekhtykh River of Abyisky district in Yakutia. The cub, found by local resident Boris Berezhnov, belongs to a long-extinct lion species. Scientists have now expressed the possibility of making its clone, thereby reviving the species.
The discovery was unveiled in Yakutsk on Thursday, November 9. The animal is said to be between one and a half to two months old, however, it is not clear if it was male or female. The cub was so young at the time of death that it had not fully developed yet. The facial features though are fully visible even after being buried for about 50,000 years.
 
 
 
World zoo, aquarium managers to meet in Bangkok
More than 300 administrators of zoos and aquariums from around the world are expected to converge on Bangkok next October for their 73rd annual conference.
In the photo, Assoc Professor Dr Parntep Rattanakorn (chairman) and Benjapol Nakprasert (director-general) of Thailand’s Zoological Park Organisation, sign on November 7 
 
 
 
Zookeeper who was mauled by a tiger in Russia now faces PROSECUTION after bosses accused her of failing to lock the animal's cage
An experienced zookeeper who was badly mauled by a tiger in Russia is now facing prosecution over the attack, it has been revealed.
Nadezhda Srivastava, a 44-year-old mother-of-three, was left in critical condition after being savaged by male tiger Typhoon at Kaliningrad Zoo at the weekend.
But she now faces disciplinary and possibly criminal action after zoo bosses accused her of 'a gross violation of safety regulations' by failing to check a gate between sections of the tiger enclosure was locked before going to feed the big cat.
 
 
 
1,235 fish found dead at Tokyo aquarium
A major Tokyo aquarium has lost almost all of the fish inside its largest tank, likely due to lack of oxygen.
Sunshine Aquarium resumed public display of the tank Thursday after suspending some operations the day before and announcing that a total of 1,235 fish, accounting for 94% of the fish in the massive Sunshine Lagoon tank, had died.
The mass deaths occurred after the aquarium stopped a bubble-producing cleaning device for the tank to enhance the effectiveness of chemicals added to the water to treat some unhealthy fish.
It continued to supply oxygen to the tank through another device and had spotted nothing abnormal by Tuesday evening, but a security guard noticed many dead fish the next morning, it said.
Only 73 fish of 23 kinds survived, according to the operator.
The fish tank is 12 meters in length, 9.6 meters in
 
 
 
SeaWorld internal emails show executives' frustration over 'Blackfish'
SeaWorld executives complained about catering and music acts canceling in the aftermath of the “Blackfish” documentary, according to the company’s internal emails that were filed in court documents this week.
“This whole [expletive] thing [expletive] me off,” Fred Jacobs, SeaWorld's former corporate communications vice president, wrote in a December 2013 email after singer Willie Nelson refused to perform at the theme park. “God we look like idiots.”
The emails were filed in court documents as part of an ongoing federal lawsuit from a group of investors that sued in 2014 a
 
 
 
Animals aplenty, space at a premium in Africa's oldest zoo
"We wish the natural environment could be recreated for the animals. It's not normal for an elephant to live in a tight space and on hard ground," said Mona Khalil, who heads the Egyptian Society for Mercy to Animals.
The confined spaces for the animals was one of the reasons Giza Zoo lost its accreditation with the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2004.
It was built in 1891, not long after the inauguration of the Suez Canal, and extends over about 344,000 square metres (410,000 sq yards) planted with exotic trees from abroad.
Amid the eucalyptus and palms, a metal suspension bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel harks back to an era when Egypt strove for modernity and scientific progress.
The zoo boasts 4,500 animals of 28 species, according to Mohammed Raja
 
 
 
An Urgent and Critical Need for Ocean Conservation Action: A Conversation with Julie Packard, Executive Director of the Monterey Bay Aquarium
 In the late 1970s, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation (of Hewlett-Packard fame) were looking for a family project to support, apart from the proposals that came from their family foundation. They were presented with the idea of the Monterey Bay Aquarium to transform an abandoned sardine canning city from a long-dead industry and spotlight the marine life of Monterey Bay. Since it opened in 1984, the Aquarium has been at the cutting edge of aquariums in exhibitry, husbandry and conservation. It is often regarded as the best aquarium in the United States- if not the world. Its longtime leader is Julie Packard and her passion for ocean conservation and accomplishments in protecting marine life are unparalleled. Here is her story.
 
 
 
Animal Welfare: Sleep is Good for You – and for Animals Too!
Staff from the Detroit Zoological Society’s Center for Zoo Animal Welfare and Ethics have been observing the barn owl living at the Detroit Zoo to study his sleep patterns. Jim’s home in the Barn is a popular spot for visitors – Thoroughbred horses, donkeys, steer and pigs also live there. And while barn owls are nocturnal, spending the majority of the daylight hours sleeping, the noises and activity in the Barn may cause mild disturbances during the owl’s normal sleep cycle. Jim has lived at the Detroit Zoo for many years and appears to be healthy and happy, but it is important that we look at other measures of welfare.
 
 
 
Gaziantep Zoo attracts interest with new additions
Turkey’s biggest zoo in Gaziantep was visited by three million people this year from January to October.
The Gaziantep Zoo, established by the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality in 2001 in the Burç Forest, is home to 7,000 animals of 300 species and became one of the most popular venues in the city shortly after its establishment.
The zoo, the fourth biggest in the world in terms of its variety of species, also reached 3,110,000 visitors last year.
Can, a chimpanzee cub who was abandoned by his mother and taken care of by zoo officials and Cesur, a lion cub who was found in a car and taken under protection, are among the most important exhibits that have recently drawn visitors to the zoo.
A large part of the visitors are local tourists, said Celal Özsöyler, the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality head of the Wildlife Protection Department. “The zoo draws great interest from locals of neighboring cities like 
 
 
 
Dreamworld explains why tiger slapped in video
TWO tiger handlers have been slammed on social media after a Dreamworld attendee filmed them dragging a tiger by its tail and slapping it over the head.
The video, posted by Instagram user Xy Latu, features the handlers in the enclosure with two tigers.
One of them drags the tiger down a grass hill by its tail before the other man hits it on the head twice.
 
 
 
SeaWorld Reports Attendance and Revenue Drops in Q3 2017
During the three months ended September 30, 2017, the company amended its existing agreement with Loro Parque concerning the orcas at that park. The agreement was amended in order to end its business relationship due to a contractual dispute.
 
 
 
Demi Lovato cuddles rescued cubs at controversial Black Jaguar White Tiger foundation in Mexico
Demi, who added diamond earrings, pulled her dark locks back into a bun to play with the adorable cubs.
She shared an Instagram photo of herself for her 62.2 million followers as she cradled one of the youngest rescues at Black Jaguar White Tiger.
Demi captioned the picture: 'Thank you so much @blackjaguarwhitetiger for letting me play with your rescued cubs. What an amazing way to start off the morning!'
Demi also posed with the founder of the charity, Eduardo Serio.
Eduardo wrote on a picture he shared to his 6.4 million plus followers: 'Such a lovely human...'
The former Disney star spent time with the cubs and shared the footage to her Instagram stories. 
 
 
 
China butterfly smugglers jailed and fined by Jinan court
Three people have been jailed in China after they were caught smuggling thousands of dead butterflies into the country, state media report.
Authorities discovered a haul of colourful butterflies in early 2016 when they opened packages that were supposed to contain clothing.
They were bought online and posted to China to be framed and sold.
The group were given five, seven and 10-year sentences, the official Xinhua news agency reports.
They were also fined by the court in Jinan, eastern Shandong province. Many of the butterflies were rare or protected species.
It is believed to be the largest 
 
 
 
Elephant kills mahout in Tripura zoo
A 50-year-old mahout was trampled to death by an elephant on Wednesday in Tripura's Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary and zoo near here, officials said.
"Khalil Mia and his colleague were nurturing two tuskers and suddenly one of them attacked the mahout. Though the mahout was taken to hospital, his life could not be saved," a sanctuary official said.
He said that the Sipahijala wildlife sanctuary and zoo authority has decided that following this incident, some additional steps would be taken after taking advice from the wildlife e
 
 
 
Data Science & Zoos | Aquariums
 
 
 
How Many White Rhino Species Are There? The Conversation Continues
Is there one white rhino species, or two? And what, if anything, can we do about these intractable debates on lumping versus splitting?
Rhinos – I mean, all living rhino species – remain a popular topic of discussion in zoological circles, this mostly being a consequence of the disgusting and heart-breaking loss of so many individuals due to the horn trade. Here I want to discuss one specific rhino-themed issue that isn’t that well known – nor that much discussed – outside of the specialist rhino community: namely, are there two living species of white rhino?
Until recently, the consensus view was that white rhinos are one species (Ceratotherium simum), consisting of two subspecies: C. simum simum in the south of Africa, and C. simum cottoni in ‘the north’ (by which I mean – historically – Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad and Central African Republic). The two can be distinguished in virtually all measurements (pertaining to skull and tooth dimensions, limb bone lengths and so on), southern white rhinos are generally larger (males can be 2000-2400 kg as opposed to 1400-1600 kg), longer-bodied, have a longer palate, more concave skull roof, and more prominent grooves between their ribs and around the tops of their limbs while northern white rhinos seemingly are longer-limbed, have a straighter back, smaller, lower-crowned teeth and a straighter skull roof (Groves et al. 2010). Southern white rhinos are also supposedly hairier on the body and ears. Genetic evidence indicates that the two forms diverged about 1 million years ago (Groves et al. 2010); more specifically, between 750,000 and 1.5 million years ago. There are also report
 
 
 
Vaquita porpoise capture operations end on Sea of Cortez
cientists have decided to halt their efforts to capture endangered vaquita porpoises on the Sea of Cortez.
The announcement followed the death of an adult female vaquita just hours after it was captured Saturday afternoon off San Felipe.
Another vaquita calf had been captured October 18 but had to be released that same day because it was in danger of dying from stress.
“There have been no additional attempts to rescue a vaquita porpoise since November 4th and there will not be future attempts during the remaining period of the VaquitaCPR field operations,” said Steve Walker, a communications advisor with the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF).
The San Diego based nonprofit has raised funds for the rescue operation – dubbed VaquitaCPR – which was aimed at establishing a captive breeding program in Sa
 
 
 
Goodbye to the Friend I Never Met
Saturday was the day I finally gave up. The last hope for the vaquita marina, the world’s smallest and most endangered cetacean, is gone. On Saturday, biologists working in the Upper Gulf of California announced that the latest animal they had captured in an effort to save the species had died in captivity.
For the first half of 2017, I was knee deep in a story I’ve been following since I got to Mexico six years ago. In summary, an animal that had found itself on the wrong side of rampant poaching practices is all but wiped out and the last option is a Hail Mary plan to round them up into captive pens and hold them until such time as humans stop sucking at ocean stewardship. (For a full review of the vaquita’s tragic tale, I really encourage you to read the story.)
But there was always a problem with this strategy – no one had ever tried to catch one before. It was possible they wouldn’t go quietly into pens.
“If captivity fails, then, well, we tried,” NOAA biologist Barbara Taylor told me in the spring. “It’s game over.”
After Saturday, I think it’s game over. The vaquita doesn’t do captivity. The first animal caught by biologists got so stressed out that it had to be released. The second died wit
 
 
 
Leaked Monkey Jungle Photos Show Injured Ape and Dirty Cages, Angering Activists
Monkey Jungle got its start in the '30s when Joseph DuMond released a troop of monkeys into a dense patch of South Dade wilderness and then opened it as a one-of-a-kind attraction "where humans are caged and monkeys run wild." More than seven decades later, the 30-acre roadside park — which allows some monkeys to roam freely while visitors gaze at them from an enclosed path — still makes that promise.
But the park has come under fire this week after a person who claims to be a former employee posted online dozens of photos that purportedly show real conditions behind the scenes at the facility, including dingy, soiled cages and bleeding sores on the park's gorilla, King.
 
 
 
Fundraising for a Better Zoo: A Conversation with Dr. Donna Fernandes, Retired Director of the Buffalo Zoo
 The Buffalo Zoo is one of the oldest in the nation and by 2000 was beginning to show it. The institution desperately needed new life and a more modernistic approach. Fortunately, Dr. Donna Fernandes led the Buffalo Zoo to a renaissance during her seventeen-year tenure as President/CEO. She efficiently redeveloped the zoo through $50 million worth of capital projects. Although she retired this summer, Fernandes will forever be remembered for changing the course of the zoo. Here is her story.
 
 
 
Zoo authority comes up with ‘kits’ to handle rescue operations
Each kit will contain a tranquilizer gun, drugs, other items needed to rescue , capture animals
With clinical precision, a young leopard was safely rescued on the premises of Mysuru zoo after it strayed into the premises recently, triggering panic in the city’s popular tourist destination. The animal was later released into the wild.
Taking it as a case in point, Zoo Authority of Karnataka (ZAK) is mulling over sharing its expertise on rescuing and capturing wild animals with mini-zoos located across the State in a bid to help the teams lend a helping hand when coming across such cases in other parts of the State.
Besides sharing its skills , Mysuru zoo, which has many experienced animal keepers who are adept in identifying animal behaviours and acting accordingly, will keep the directors and forest officers working at the mini-zoos updated on various issues for addressing man-animal conflicts.
“The recent leopard rescue shows the zoo’s strengths in successfully handling rescue operations. The animal was caught unharmed — thanks to the coordinated efforts of the zoo vets and keepers. If we share knowledge and protocols, it will be useful in handling suc
 
 
 
Zookeepers Don’t Exist
If I would tell you that you are not a zookeeper what would you say?
We have an instinctive survival mode like many other species. We know what we can eat and what we should’t eat and what we can do or what we should’t do due to dangerous outcomes. We also know that particular outcomes could be very joyfull. How do we know all those things? I find that a lot has to do with connecting the dots. When you eat this your stomach feels bad so you won’t eat it again. Or when you eat something that is very good you want more of it. There is an association between you eating it and the satisfaction that comes afterwards. This accounts for the behaviour we show on a daily base. When I work I get payed when I don’t work most likely payment won’t come. Back in the day you had to hunt to eat. When you hunt and you get something to bring back to the camp with you your hunt was successful because the association between the search and the animal you got to bring back to the camp makes the whole camp happy. There is a lot of associations going in in the world we are living in. People are made by their experiences and the outcomes of their actions. We call this Associative Learning.
Associative Learning or Classical Conditiong is discovered by I. Pavlov in the 1800s with his salivation experiment with dogs. He started to find out how animals associate events. He concluded that he might have discovered how animals learn. See the Video.
 
 
 
The wild ass returns
On 24th October 2017, a first group of nine animals was released into an acclimatisation enclosure on the edge of the Altyn Dala protected area in central Kazakhstan. The animals had been transported 1200 km by helicopter from Altyn Emel National Park in the southeast of the country. They will be released in early spring. This is the first step in a multi-year project that aims to restore the full range of large herbivores to this unique area of steppe habitat.
Kulan once ranged across the Middle East and Central Asia – from the Mediterranean to the east of Mongolia. During the last two centuries, their range has been dramatically reduced to less than 3% of their former range. Although the species is doing relatively well in Mongolia, the Central Asian subspecies is classified as Endangered and only persists in small isolated populations in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
 
 
 
Bonobos help strangers without being asked
A passer-by drops something and you spring to pick it up. Or maybe you hold the door for someone behind you. Such acts of kindness to strangers were long thought to be unique to humans, but recent research on bonobos suggests our species is not as exceptional in this regard as we like to think.
 
 
 
Twin baby chimpanzees make first public appearance at Nagoya zoo
A Nagoya zoo on Tuesday held the first public viewing of its twin baby chimpanzees, saying the pair — born last month — are growing well and are in good health.
The Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens said it is rare for both chimpanzees to be healthy. This is the ninth time that twin chimpanzees have been born in Japan.
If all goes well, the new arrivals will be the second brood of chimpanzees to be nursed by their mother, after a successful case at the Noichi Zoological Park of Kochi Prefecture.
In Nagoya, the 30-year-old mother chimp, named Kazumi, held her infants nonstop, wary of her surroundings as she moved around.
A nursery school toddler on a field trip pointed excitedly to the chimpanzees as the mother chimp, carrying her twin

 

 

7Nov2017

Female zookeeper is mauled by a tiger and left fighting for life before shocked visitors throw rocks to scare it away in Russia
This is the horrifying moment a Siberian tiger attacked a young female zookeeper in full view of visitors.
The big cat, called Typhoon, sprang on the keeper at Kaliningrad Zoo, in Russia, after its cage was accidentally left open while she brought food to the animal.
But her life was saved as shocked onlookers shouted and threw stones at tiger until it backed away.
Some men even lifted a table and chairs from a nearby cafe, hurling them over the fence to distract the predator so the keeper could escape.
 
 
 
New Great Ape Species Described: the Tapanuli Orangutan
A team of Indonesian and international scientists have described a new species of orangutan, in a paper published on November 2nd in the scientific journal Current Biology.
The researchers demonstrate that the Tapanuli orangutan, Pongo tapanuliensis, is genetically and morphologically distinct from both Bornean (Pongo pygmaeus) and Sumatran orangutans (Pongo abelii), and is therefore a separate species. According to the findings, the Tapanuli orangutan is in fact more closely related to the Bornean orangutan
than it is to the Sumatran orangutans living further north in and around the Leuser Ecosystem, in Aceh and North Sumatra Provinces. The three orangutan species —Bornean, Sumatran and Tapanuli—began to diverge from their common ancestor about 3.4 million years ago.
 
 
 
A new species of orangutan? I doubt it.
Until this week, there were two species of orangutan: the Bornean (Pongo pygmaeus) and the Sumatran (Pongo abelii), living on different islands. These were considered subspecies until 20 years ago, when the measured divergence of their mitochondrial DNA sequences led to them being separated as distinct species.
But now a new paper in Current Biology by Alexander Nater et al. (the “al.s” are numerous: see below for free reference, with the pdf here) adds a third species, P. tapanuliensis, also from Sumatra. Since new great ape species aren’t often described—the last was the Bornean/Sumatran orangs, and before that it was the bonobo, recognized as distinct from the chimp in 1933)—this has gotten a lot of attention, including in the BBC, in Science, and  the Guardian.
But this biologist isn’t going along. Not only do I see this new “species” as merely an isolated and genetically differentiated population (as are many human populations regarded as H. sapiens), but I’d also contend that there is only one species of orangutan overall, with these three groups all being subspecies. Sadly, a lot of systematists don’t see it that way, as they seem to think that any isolated population, if it can be told apart morphologically or genetically from others, warrants being named as a new species. Yet to evolutionists, a “species” is not an arbitrar
 
 
 
A new species of great ape: a family member we must urgently fight to save
If I could be a fly on the wall at any point in the history of science, it would be to watch the young(ish) Charles Darwin – long before his ideas on our shared ancestry with apes were published – enter the orangutan enclosure at London Zoo in 1838. Within the enclosure there resided Jenny, a young and playful orangutan acquired by the British empire. Darwin went to sit with Jenny and observe her; in his hand was a mirror.
His scrawled notes on what happened next (published here) tell it best. Jenny was apparently “astonished beyond measure at [the] looking glass, looked at it every way, sideways, & with most steady surprise … after some time stuck out lips, like kissing, to glass ... Put body in all kinds of positions when approaching glass to examine it.”
These hastily written words come from a time when there was still a great mystery about the apes, with many of the zoo’s punters considering them a charismatic perversion of human form, far beneath us on the great chain of being. This encounter was undoubtedly a big moment for Darwin. It’s possible that he came to view Jenny’s behaviour and playful and inquisitive style as differing from humans only by a matter of degree, not form
 
 
 
Former Jersey Zoo keeper leading efforts to conserve new great ape
The new species of orangutan, the Tapanuli, was first written about in an article in the scientific journal, Current Biology, by a team of Indonesian and international scientists.
Former Jersey Zoo keeper Dr Ian Singleton set up the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, which was founded in 1999, and has been working on improving protection of the Tapanuli orangutans and their habitat since 2005.
There are now fewer than 800 Tapanuli orangutans left in the world and the population has already been divided over three forest blocks separated by roads and agricultural land.
Researchers say that urgent conservation e
 
 
 
HOW MANY ZOOS ARE THERE IN THE UNITED STATES?
There are fewer zoos than you would expect in the United States. It’s commonly thought that there are over two thousand zoos in the country, but that number actually derives from an error in a National Geographic article almost fifteen years ago. The real number is actually much, much lower: data compiled in August 2017 indicates that were only approximately 500 zoological facilities in the country - a number which includes both zoos and aquariums. 
 
 
 
Dubai Zoo goes silent after 50 years of roaring success
After 50 years of creating fond memories, the Dubai Zoo permanently closed its doors on Sunday. The animals at the zoo are being shifted to the bigger and better Dubai Safari that is scheduled to open on December 2.
Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of the Dubai Municipality, honoured the keepers who developed and kept the zoo going strong, offering residents an educational and entertainment experience for the last 50 years.
Keepers and employees will also be shifted to use their expertise in operating the safari.
As the zoo closed its gates at 5:30pm, Dr Reza Khan, principal wildlife specialist at the Dubai Municipality - who served at the zoo for the past 25 years - said it's the end of an era, not only for Dubai but also for the Arabian Peninsula.
 
 
Roudsar leopard released back to wild
On February 5, Arezoo which is named after her habitat in Roudsar, northern Gilan province, was found while suffering from serious damages by getting caught in snare. 
The animal was transferred to Tehran. Given the extent of the damages the vets had two choices: medical euthanasia or spinal surgery. 
 
 
 
Whale learns same language as dolphins, research finds
A whale that was living close to a pod of bottlenose dolphins has learnt to speak their language, according to new research. 
Two months after the beluga whale was introduced into a new facility with the dolphins, scientists found that it began to imitate their whistles.
The four-year-old whale was moved in 2013 to live in the Koktebel dolphinarium in Crimea, with details of the discovery reported in science journal Animal Cognition.
 
 
 
Smuggled, Beaten and Drugged: The Illicit Global Ape Trade
 
 
 
Endangered vaquita porpoise dies after being captured off San Felipe
One of the last remaining vaquita porpoise has died just hours after being captured by scientists off San Felipe in Baja, Mexico.
The endangered marine mammal died as part of a last-ditch effort to establish a captive breeding program on the Sea of Cortez.  Only 30 of the porpoises remain in the wild.
The team of scientists – many based in San Diego – had been trying since October 12 to capture as many vaquita as possible in order to put them in seaside pens.  They hoped the effort would bring the vaquita back from the brink of extinction.
The team is meeting Sunday to determine whether the effort will continue, according to Sam Ridgway, the founder of San Diego’s National Marine Mammal Foundation (NPPR).  The group is in charge of the VaquitaCPR team of scientists on scene in San Felipe.
“They are having meetings today and going through their extensive checklist on what to do next,” Ridgway said.
“It’s very unfortunate.  It’s very sad that the animal died.  That’s al
 
 
 
Care for the Rare: A Conversation with Jake Veasey, Animal Welfare Expert and Director of Care for the Rare
Currently Director of Care for the Rare and Veasey Zoo Design working with governments, zoos and NGOs on wild animal welfare, conservation and zoo design, Jake Veasey is one of the world’s leading zoo animal welfare experts. He was central to the renaissance at both the Calgary Zoo in Canada and the Woburn Safari Park in the United Kingdom, Veasey is most passionate about the role of zoos at the interface between conservation and animal welfare. Here is his story.
 
 
 
Spotlight: Zookeeper enjoys bad weather, saving snails, in Tahiti
A business likely runs a risk when they send an employee for two weeks to Tahiti, that South Pacific paradise of cozy bungalows, black sand beaches and Gauguin vibrations.
The St. Louis Zoo, however, had nothing to worry about when Glenn Frei headed to the islands for two weeks in October to release an endangered species of snails into their original inland forest habitat.
“I’m not much of a beaches-and-ocean kind of guy really; I’m a bug person,” Frei said.
Underscoring that fact with emphasis, Frei noted that his most memorable moment had been visually “following a slime trail from one of the snails about 15 feet up the side of a tree.”
Frei has been an invertebrate keeper at the insectarium since 2005 and is a member of the zoo’s Species Survival Plan for the endangered snail.
That project began in 1993 and aims to save the endangered Partula nodosa snail and return it to the Papehue Valley in Tahiti.
This was the third year in which snails nurtured in St. Louis w
 
 
 
Peel Zoo, in Pinjarra, is up for sale for $699k
THE perfect business opportunity for an animal lover is on the market — complete with almost 100 creatures.
Anyone wanting to follow in the footsteps of Matt Damon’s character in We Bought A Zoo can buy Peel Zoo.
The 2.8ha zoo in Pinjarra, about 17km south of Mandurah, is home to a menagerie of native birds, mammals and reptiles.
The advertised price of $699,000 includes all of the animals and transfers the current long-term lease to the new owner.
Broker Brad Wallace said the business, which opened in 2005, was run under management and buyers need not have any previous experience with zoos.
After just over a decade of operation, current owners Narelle MacPherson and David Cobbold are selling up after buying the much larger Warrawong Sanctuary in South Australia.
Mr Cobbold said Peel Zoo had pro
 
 
 
Evolutionary history a better key for conservation targets
An “extinction crisis” is affecting every continent on earth, but a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has identified Australia, Central Asia, Spain and North Africa as among the most vital areas in need of protection “for conservation of the mammalian tree of life”.
Researchers led by Dan Rosauer from Australian National University have taken a new approach towards gaining the most conservation benefit from limited resources, both in terms of money and land.
Efforts that focus on preserving specific endangered species based on how many of each remain are well known and often highly visible. But the new study takes what its authors believe is a more realistic and effective global approach to conservation at the family tree level, taking into account a group’s evolutionary history — its phylogenetic diversity — and also how much territory is available to be set aside for the animals’ preservation.
The study uses maps of about 4700 land mammals’ habitats, and genetic information on how species are related to each other, to identify important places across the world for protecting mammal diversity. It identifies key places on every continent, including parts of coastal Queensland, Australian deserts near Alice Springs, Sumatra and Java, Madagascar, India, China and Spain.
The researchers say their method is a substantially more effective solution “for conserving the diversity of mammal evolution along with minimum target areas for habita
 
 
 
A Healthy Appetite for Innovation and Change: A Conversation with Alejandro Grajal, President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo
During his time at the Wildlife Conservation Society, National Audubon Society and Brookfield Zoo, Alejandro Grajal proved himself a great student in conservation psychology and an ambitious, forward-thinking zoologist ready to spark change. In 2016, he became President and CEO of Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, one of the best institutions of its kind in the world. Grajal is in the process of implementing his strong vision of zoos as social agents of change leading a social movement for conservation at Woodland Park Zoo. Here is his story.
 
 
 
The Takhi returns - Protect the Wild Horse and its Habitat
The Takhi returns23Protect the Wild Horse and its Habitat.
The unprecedented economic progress made globally over the past few decades is mindboggling. But you need not be technophobic to realize that the improvement of so many livelihoods comes at a huge price to other forms of life: they disappear. That should not be taken lightly, for once a species is gone, it will never come back. And some of the extinctions which we don’t even notice – under water, under soil – may cause irreparable ecological damage. Thus, one of my key duties in Switzerland and abroad is to find ways in which nature and people can co-exist, allowing both to thrive. Flourishing economy and flourishing ecosystems are not mutually exclusive. All it takes is respect for the needs of both and the determination to support both. This does mean self-limitation. The maximum is not enough. Only the optimum is. Fifty years ago, the takhi, venerated by our forebears, was on the brink of extinction. A handful of people cared enough to avert its disappearance. They considered it shameful for mankind that such an emblematic species should die out. This year we celebrate 25 years of the takhi’s return to its final refuge in Southwestern Mongolia. This brochure provides some insights into what – and who – made the return possible and how they did it. Bringing back a species that had been completely wiped out in the wild has not often been tried. The reintroduction of the Mongolian Wild Horse – a large mammal – to the Gobi semi-desert, one of the most challenging habitats on ear
 
 
 
In Makira, Flying Fox Teeth Are Currency…And That Could Save the Species
On the island of Makira, hunters use the teeth of giant bats known as flying foxes as currency. Now, perhaps paradoxically, researchers suggest this practice could help save these bats from potential extinction.
The giant tropical fruit bats known as flying foxes are the largest bats in the world. Of the 65 flying fox species alive today, 31 are under threat of extinction, and 28 of these threatened species live on islands.
Makira is one of the Solomon Islands, which lie roughly a thousand miles northwest of Australia. Makira is home to two types of flying foxes — the bigger Pacific flying fox (Pteropus tonganus), a common species that is not endangered, and the smaller Makira flying fox (Pteropus cognatus), which is threatened with extinction.
 
 
 
Circuses will cease to be ‘jumbo’ fun henceforth
Captive elephants had indeed been the mainstay of big circus companies for a very long time. But not any longer. The Central Zoo Authority(CZA) has refused to issue ‘no objection certificates’ to all the circuses for keeping the elephants, besides coming out with specific norms on elephant rehabilitation and rescue centres for the state governments.
The documents available with Express show the authority which deputed a team to evaluate the captive animal facility in various circuses, including Rajmahal, Ajanta, Natraj, Kohinoor, Great Golden Circus, Great Appollo Circus and Empire Circus, had found major violations by the circus companies following which their 
 
 
 
Galapagos species are threatened by the very tourists who flock to see them
Native species are particularly vulnerable on islands, because when invaders such as rats arrive, the native species have nowhere else to go and may lack the ability to fend them off.
The main characteristic of an island is its isolation. Whether just off the coast or hundreds of kilometres from the nearest land, they stand on their own. Because of their isolation, islands generally have a unique array of plant and animal species, many of which are found nowhere else. And that makes all islands one of a kind.
However, islands, despite being geographically isolated, are now part of a network. They are globally connected to the outside world by planes, boats and people. Their isolation has been breached, offering a pathway for introduced species to invade.
The Galapagos Islands, 1,000km off the coast of Ecuador, provide a great example. So far, 1,579 introduced species have been documented on the Galapagos Islands, of which 98% arrived with humans, either intentionally or acc
 
 
 
Zebra ‘poo science’ improves conservation efforts
How can Zebra poo tell us what an animal’s response to climate change and habitat destruction will be?
That is what scientists from The University of Manchester and Chester Zoo have been investigating in South Africa. Together the team have been using ‘poo science’ to understand how challenges or ‘stressors’, such as the destruction and breakup of habitats, impact on populations of South Africa’s Cape mountain zebra.
To measure ‘stress’ levels of the animals the scientists have been analysing glucocorticoid hormones in the Cape zebra’s droppings. Glucocorticoid hormones are a group of steroid hormones that help regulate the ‘flight or fight’ stress response in animals.The research, which is published in the Functional Ecology journal, found that zebras are facing multiple challenges, including poor habitat and gender imbalances, which are likely to compromise their health, have repercussions for their reproduction and, ultimately, a population’s long term survival.
Dr Susanne Shultz, the senior author from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences (SEES) at Manchester, explains: ‘Faecal hormone measurements are easy to collect without disturbing the animals and provide a window into the chronic stress animals are experiencing. Using these indicators we can establish the health of both individuals and populations.’
The team have used a ‘macrophysiological approach’ for the first time ever to evaluate the effectiveness of an ongoing conservation plan. A macrophysiolog
 
 
 
Small-minded? Shrews shrink their skulls to survive winter, study shows
They use echolocation to explore their habitat and produce an unpleasant scent to avoid being eaten by cats. But the common shrew has another survival trick: as winter approaches, its skull shrinks and then regrows in the spring.
Dubbed “Dehnel’s phenomenon” after the scientist who first spotted the effect, the shrinkage has previously been studied by looking at the skulls of shrews that died at different times of year. 
But since the changes weren’t followed in the same animals, it was not clear whether other factors might be responsible, such as smaller shrews being better able to survive the winter months.
Now researchers say they have finally shown the phenomenon is real.
“Now for sure we can say this is happening [within] individuals – we can really talk about the shrinkage and regrowth,” said Javier Lázaro, co-author of the research from the Max Planck Institute 
 
 
 
Recent Hurricanes Pushed Rare Island Species Closer to the Brink
As Hurricane Irma slammed into south Florida in September, Dan Clark, manager of a complex of four national wildlife refuges in the Florida Keys, had evacuated and was at his mother’s house near Tampa. His eye was on the weather and his mind was on the multitude of plants and animals that inhabit the unique refuge system he oversees, which includes the well-known Key Deer National Wildlife Refuge.
There are about 20 federally endangered species in the Keys, and many of them exist nowhere else on Earth. “The dang eye of the hurricane tore right through the prime habitat for many of our most at-risk species,” said Clark.
One animal of particular concern was the Key deer, a charismatic, small subspecies of the white-tailed deer. Key deer were nearly eradicated by poaching during the 1950s, when the population dropped to 25. North America’s smallest deer, the animals rarely weigh more than 95 pounds and stand about three-feet tall at the shoulder. They live only in the Florida Keys.
“The deer can swim well, even in a storm surge situation, but not in 130 miles-per-hour winds,”
 
 
 
Sharks now protected no matter whose waters they swim in
IT’S been a good week for beleaguered sharks. A cross-border conservation pact signed by 126 countries this week promises for the first time to extend extra protection to sharks and several other migratory species, whichever countries they stray into.
Among the biggest winners at the global Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) were whale sharks: the world’s largest fish. They are a vulnerable species and their population has been falling. Governments added whale sharks to appendix I of the convention, promising to protect them domestically from killing or capture, and to safeguard their habitats.
Conservationists welcomed the move because it means whale sharks will finally be protected at offshore “hotspots” to which they migrate, including Madagascar, Mozambique, Peru and Tanzania.
Several other sharks made it on to appendix II, which obliges countries within a species’ migratory range to collaborate on measures to protect them, for example by regulating fishing or banning finning.
 
 
 
Tracking Takhi on the Steppe
When I am not chasing elephants around in Myanmar or at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia, I spend the remainder of my time working with reintroduced Przewalski’s horses in Mongolia. The Przewalksi’s horse (pronounced shah-VAL-skee) is the only truly wild horse in the world.
A field with grass, flowers and mountains in the background in Hustai National Park in Mongolia
After going extinct in the wild in the 1960s, they have been successfully reintroduced at a number of locations in northern China and Mongolia.Our work in Mongolia is based around the population of Przewalski’s horses—or takhi, as they are called in Mongolia—at Hustai Nuruu National Park, where we study their movement behavior and ecology in collaboration with park ecologists and colleagues from the Minnesota Zoo. The takhi have a very strong social structure, and we currently track dominant mares in social groups of females, called harems, guarded by a single stallion.
Hustai Nuruu National Park is a two-hour drive from the capital Ulaanbaatar, a city that is rapidly expanding alongside foreign investment and mining money that has poured into the country in recent years. We usually stay in a hotel near Sükhbaatar Square, just outside the houses of parliament. Ulaanbaatar is a fun and strange city, in many ways, including the brilliant smiley faces that someone has painted on manhole covers. Traffic is insane, and things like traffic lanes and pedestrian crossings seem to be purely aspirational.A coal-fired power station in the middle of the city and the smoke from wood fires in the sprawling ger district somewhat dampen the environmental effect of nearly everyone driving hybrid cars from Japan. A ger is a traditional Mongolian circular tent referred to as a yurt in other countries. Ulaanbaatar also has a fantastic dinosaur museum full of brilliant fossils that I, unfortunately, failed to see during this trip.
 
 
 
Contractor Who Was Fired For Penguin Fiasco, Returns To Byculla Zoo
No lessons learnt The controversial firm, Highway Construction, has been awarded two contracts worth Rs 120 crore to construct 17 animal enclosures
The BMC seems to have enclosed itself into another controversy with the Byculla zoo, this time round for its revamp. The civic body has awarded Rs 120-crore contracts to Highway Construction, a firm infamous for bagging - and subsequently being kicked out of - the Humboldt penguin project over dubious claims.
 
 
 
Why Animals Do The Thing
 
 
 
THE NEW BIG CAT SANCTUARY ALLIANCE - DEDICATED TO ENDING ALL COMMERCIAL USE OF BIG CATS
Under critical scrutiny, it’s been apparent for a while that many animal rights organizations and sanctuary groups are far more intertwined than they appear to be. With the official announcement of a new alliance on October 27th, the relationships between these various entities and their long term goals are now much easier to discern. The eight members now publicly collaborating to end private ownership and commercial use of big cats in the United States through the Big Cat Sanctuary Alliance are not actually the discrete entities they appear to be at first glance; their executives and funding sources are so interconnected that the organizations have been aligned long before this alliance was officially formed.
 
 
 
Restoration of iconic native bird causes problems in urban areas
After a century-long absence, kākā were successfully reintroduced in Wellington in 2002—but the restoration of the iconic native bird has ruffled a few feathers.
Kākā are a delight, says Victoria ecologist Associate Professor Wayne Linklater. "They're wonderful birds to watch and listen to, and you watch kids' faces light up around them."
But, just like their cousins the kea, kaka are boisterous, brainy and also potentially problematic in urban areas.
An emerging challenge in Wellington's suburbs is kākā damaging property—gouging into trees, roofs and buildings.
"Kākā are cavity nesters and, like most birds, attract in numbers where there is food," explains Wayne. "They're quite happy living in cities, where there are human-made cavities and food everywhere."
This has led to neighbours arguing about whether people should be feeding kaka, says Wayne.
"Wellingtonians love feeding birds and connecting with wildlife—somewhere between 25 and 40 percent of residents at least occasionally feed birds in their backyard. It extends from throwing out some scrap food to placing large quantities in bird feeders.
"It could be that for many kākā their primary food source is people's backyards, and this is driving them to gather in particularly large numbers in some neighbourhoods."
Wayne and his research team are investigating th
 
 
 
How a Vaccine for Chickens Can Help Save the Lemurs
One of the many challenges faced by the Antaravato community is food security. Since time immemorial, they have hunted and eaten terrestrial wildlife for food, including birds, tenrecs, bats, carnivores and lemurs. While this meat is rich in nutrients and has historically been plentiful, wildlife stocks have steadily declined in response to overhunting and environmental changes. This scarcity is in part responsible for the severe malnutrition found throughout Antaravato, where approximately 35 percent of all children exhibit growth stunting. In contrast to its nutritional value, contact with wildlife presents a risk for infectious disease transmission, making it a risky source of food. To protect the health of both the Antaravato community and their surrounding wildlife populations, the MAHERY (Madagascar Health and Environmental Research) team is piloting nutritional interventions that provide sustainable poultry sources as an alternative to wildlife hunting.
 
 
 
Eurasian lynx escapes from animal park in Wales
A lynx has escaped from a wildlife park in Ceredigion.
The Eurasian lynx, which is about twice the size of a domestic cat, escaped from Borth Wild Animal Kingdom, near Aberystwyth.
Police said they have been told the animal went missing some time during the last five days.
Park operators said there has never been an attack recorded on people - but warned the public it could retaliate "if cornered or trapped".
Staff said the lynx should not be approached if spotted - as it is a wild animal and has sharp teeth and claws.
"We have fully-trained keepers on hand to deal with the situation," said a park official.
"She is not used to hunting live prey but will chase rabbits and rodents when she gets hungry.
"Lynx can travel about 12 miles a day, but the chances are she hasn't gone far.
"We will be putting out camera traps around the perimeter of the zoo and relying on sightings by the public. Once we learn her loca
 
 
 
A Conversation with Peggy Sloan, Director of the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher
Peggy Sloan, Director of the North Carolina Aquarium in Fort Fisher, thoroughly believes in the value of aquariums as opportunities for conservation and to inspire the public to take action. Throughout her career, she has been proactive in solving puzzles related to ocean conservation by participating in regional and national partnerships. Sloan has led the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher towards more involvement in field conservation. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA.) Here is her story.
 
 
 
Saving whales and dolphins the right way
The Senate has been dealing with a quiet controversy over a piece of legislation that falls into an all-too-common trap: it looks good on the surface but would have terrible and perverse consequences if passed into law. The bill in question is S-203, which purports to end the captivity of cetaceans, but would in fact have a profoundly negative impact on our ability to protect whales and dolphins.
Humans are pushing life on our shared planet to the brink, with ever-increasing pressures on other species and their fragile ecosystems. Earlier this year, scientists said a “biological annihilation” of wildlife in recent decades means the sixth mass extinction in Earth’s history is underway, and it’s worse than they thought. Entire families of plants and animals, including birds, amphibians, reptiles, arthropods and mammals, are disappearing—up to 140,000 species per year—making it the greatest loss of biodiversity since the extinction of the dinosaurs.
 
 
 
Virtual reality ‘paradise’ allows interaction with giant pandas
Cutting-edge virtual reality technology enables visitors to watch giant pandas in a new show which opens in 2018.
The Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding based in Sichuan province is fine-tuning the plans. The centre has finalised a contract with a Beijing company to provide the VR technology in July.
There will be high-res images of pandas at rest and play in bamboo forests in the new facility which will turn the first and second floors into the VR attraction. The VR glasses will make the views of the pandas incredibly crisp and authentic.
Visitors can “feel and hold” the virtual animals, according to Chen Cheng, an information officer at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
The entertainment centre also holds a cinema where visito
 
 
 
Traces of Alzheimer’s Disease Detected in Wild Animals for the First Time
An international team of researchers has uncovered tell-tale signs of Alzheimer’s disease in dolphins, marking the first time that the age-related disorder has been detected in a wild animal.
Until very recently, scientists thought that only humans were susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. That changed back in August of this year when researchers from Kent State University detected traces of the disease in chimps, or at least, the brains of chimps who died from natural causes at zoos and research centers. A new study published this week in Alzheimer’s & Dementia is now the first to find two key markers of the disease—protein plaques and tangles—in a wild animal, namely dolphins. This latest finding is further evidence that Alzheimer’s is not a human-specific disease, and that other animals can be used to study the dreaded condition.
Most animals die very shortly after the end of their fertile years, but dolphins and orca whales, like humans, tend to live past their reproductive years (cool fact: female orca whales go through menopause). This got Oxford University scien
 
 
 
For the Love of Rattlesnakes, Scrub All GPS Data from Your Nature Photos
Dr. Chris Howey, an assistant professor at the University of Scranton, slid over a Post-it with the coordinates I had come for. "Turn off anything that transmits location before you visit it," he said. "Make sure the GPS-embedding is off on your camera. And be careful."
The coordinates were for something better than a place that sold a really, really good cup of coffee, or an illegal outdoor marijuana patch known only to stressed out, local graduate students. They led me, sweating and crawling with spiders, to a special, out-of-the-way pile of rocks that soon promised to hold a slithering congregation of venomous timber rattlesnakes preparing to den for the winter.
As a species, rattlesnakes are almost quintessentially American. Some Appalachian Christians still practice their faith by holding the serpe
 
 
 
A Small Zoo That Does Big Things: A Conversation with Keith Winsten, Director of the Brevard Zoo
With the tagline ‘a small zoo that does big things,’ the Brevard Zoo is one of the best small medium sized zoos in the nation. Located in Melbourne, Florida, the zoo has established itself as a leader in conservation for zoos of its size especially in terms of Florida’s Atlantic coast. Nothing in the Brevard Zoo is over 25 years old and it has benefited from experiences such as kayaking and ziplining. The zoo is led by Keith Winsten, who comes from a zoo education background. He has a reputation for helping pioneer nature play in zoos. Winsten has proven himself to be an ambitious leader who has helped raise the reputation of the zoo. Here is his story.
 
 
 
Devon zoo pitches in to save species of tiny frog
A breeding group of tiny frogs has been set up in Paignton Zoo in an effort to save the species.
There are Europe-wide efforts to save the Majorcan midwife toad. The diminutive size, big eyes and shiny golden-green colouring make this toad extremely appealing.
Like all midwife toads, the male carries the eggs as they develop, wrapping the strings of eggs around its legs like pearl necklaces to keep them moist and protect them from predators.
 
 
 
Strange Circumstances Surround Mtahleb Zoo Fire
Wildlife Park zookeeper debunks media reports fire was caused by gas leak
It has been twenty days now since a major fire destroyed the Wildlife Park in Mtahleb, and a magisterial inquiry is still ongoing to discover the cause of the flames. However, the park’s zookeeper has now debunked the original media story claiming the fire had been sparked by a gas cylinder which had blown up inside a kitchen.
“The fire was not caused by a gas leak,” Christopher Borg told Lovin Malta. “Gas cylinders did explode but this was because they had caught fire and not because they had caused the fire.” 
Borg, who used to live in a house inside the zoo, said he had woken up at around 5am when the lights inside his house started flickering on and off due to a short circuit. He went outside to switch off the electricity and turn on the generator, when he saw a massive fire
 
 
 
Council approves new $1.6m elephant despite Sri Lankan court hold up
The only thing stopping Auckland from getting a third elephant is a court case in Sri Lanka.
In May 2011 Auckland Council approved $3.2m to transport two gifted elephants from Sri Lanka to New Zealand.
Anjalee joined veteran elephant Burma at Auckland Zoo in 2015.
 
 
 
Dubai Zoo to close on November 5
The 50-year-old Jumeirah Zoo will now be closed in preparation for the opening of the Dubai Safari project, Dubai Municipality announced on Wednesday.
In a press release, Khaled Al Suwaidi, director of Leisure Facilities Department at Dubai Municipality, said the zoo will be closed on November 5.
He said the Municipality has moved most of the animals in the Zoo to Dubai Safari, the  first of its kind Safari Park in the Middle East, which is slated to be ready by the end of November.
"The Zoo has been a testimony to the leadership's commitment and keenness all these years to be ahead in wildlife conservation and providing entertainment serv
 
 
 
Why wild animals can never humanely be used as photo props
Social media is fuelling global demand for wild animal selfies, but behind the holiday snaps is a lifetime of suffering for the animals and personal danger for the tourists.
The seemingly insatiable desire for likes, clicks and shares on social media means that people are going to extreme lengths for the perfect selfie, often endangering themselves and the animals they so desperately want to capture in that envy-inducing image.
At the same time, companies are coming up with ever inventive ways to use animals to entice tourists. Not only can tourists pay to see dancing bears, monkeys performing tricks and clapping sea lions but they can also visit crocodile farms, walk alongside lions, cuddle bears and kiss cobras.
It is a tragic cycle of exploitation and cruelty which, with greater awareness and by working together, we can stop.
 
 
 
The Emotions in Stereotypic Behaviour
I enjoy observing animals very much. The amount you learn by just sitting there and looking at your animals. Do we actually know our animals we work with or do we only know them from when we train them? It’s questionable if we actually know our animals. From people they say when you go through rougher times you get to know a person better and better. This does work the same with animals. I mean when you see animals being aggressive to each other you get to see more behaviours from that animal you thought you knew what sometimes has surprisingly funny outcomes.
When we discover by observations that our animals have particular stereotypic behaviours we tend to say the animals are bored. It’s hard to say what’s going down in the body of the animals we work with but what we know is that they do it for a reason. What that reason would be is the question. We tend to say that the animals are bored but isn’t that a problem we actually made ourselves?
Here is a link to a Video where you can see a
 
 
 
Conditions at Ponderosa zoo 'failed to meet Government standards'
Two separate inspections carried out within months of each other have given Heckmondwike’s Ponderosa zoo a clean bill of health, the Examiner can reveal.
Yet a vet’s report shows there was concern about clinical record-keeping and that veterinary records for the treatment and care of animals was inadequate.
Crucially, it failed to meet government standards.
And following concerns over the number of deaths it was suggested that more animals be subjected to post mortem examinations to ensure staff had a reasonable idea of the cause of death.
Officials had reported that 18 of the largest
 
 
 
On the trail of Sabah’s elusive clouded leopards
A wild Sunda clouded leopard trapped and fitted with a satellite collar by conservationists in Sabah’s east coast Kinabatangan will provide vital data to the elusive big cat in the area.
The male leopard weighing 24.75kg was captured in one of the purpose-built traps placed along the Kinabatangan River on Saturday.
It was collared as part of an intensive satellite-collaring programme to study the animal in the fragile Kinabatangan landscape.
The project by the Sabah Wildlife Dep­artment (SWD), WildCRU (Oxford University) and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) focuses on research and conservation of the leopard.
“We are planning to collar more along the
 
 
 
Rhinos to be kept in ‘boma’ before gifting to China
Discussions have been held with the Chinese officials regarding transfer of the rare one-horned rhinos to China from the Chitwan National Park.
An eight-member Chinese team including wildlife experts that arrived Nepal three days back toured the park and took stock of the situation, said Mana Bahadur Khadka, the Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Reserve.
“A kind of agreement was made to dispatch the two pairs of rhinos below four years old to China within three months if no hurdles come along the way,” said Khadka adding that the date for dispatch could differ due to the upcoming tiger census and election in Nepal.
One pair of rhino will be sent to the national parks in Guangzhou and Shanghai in China. These rhinos will be kept in a boma, a special enclosure, in Sauraha area in
 
 
 
Genetic study uncovers evolutionary history of dingoes
A major study of dingo DNA has revealed dingoes most likely migrated to Australia in two separate waves via a former land bridge with Papua New Guinea. The find has significant implications for conservation, with researchers recommending the two genetically distinct populations of dingoes be treated as different groups for management and conservation purposes.
 
 
 
Bye, turtles? Jurong turtle museum to close in March
The museum currently holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of tortoise and turtle items. It has 3,456 turtle items and over 500 live animals, spanning 40 different species.
 
 
 
Hope soars for imperilled vultures
The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is honoured to have played a key role in bringing hope to threatened vultures around the world, as a new and far-reaching global plan is put in place to protect these iconic birds in 128 countries.
Vultures are under immense pressure from a range of human activities. These threats have resulted in a rapid decline in Africa and Asia particularly, where most of these spectacular birds are now listed as Critically Endangered. But the 124 conservation actions contained in the newly-adopted and exciting Multi-species Action Plan (Vulture MsAP) mean that there is light at the end of the tunnel for Old World vultures.
The EWT has been working tirelessly to drive the development of this global plan, and at the recent Conference of the Parties (COP12) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), the Vulture MsAP was formally adopted. The adoption of this global plan will drive concerted conservation action to address the neg
 
 
 
Op-Ed: The hunting forum you didn’t know existed
In 2005 the Department of Environmental Affairs set up the Consultative Wildlife Forum as a way, it said at the time, to engage with private entities about wildlife policy, the prime objective being sustainable use. The composition of the forum – which excluded conservation NGOs and included a raft of hunters, crocodile farmers, bow hunters, taxidermists, sports anglers and wing hunters – gave lie to any impartiality.
Today South Africa’s little-known Consultative Wildlife Forum provides a platform for hunters and those with vested wildlife consumptive interests to shape government wildlife policy. It’s a space only a privileged few have access to and NGOs whose focus falls outside the interest of wildlife producing and hunting are denied access. It’s a body you didn’t even know existed – until now.
According to a report by Dhoya Snijders, the forum was set up on the recommendation by three panels of experts who were commissioned by the then Minister of Environmental Affairs, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, to study the sector of wildlife utilisation, hunting and ranching. The aim being to improve communications between government and stakeholders in the industry, while looking at how to involve local communities in the sector. However, the forum, which meets quarterly, spe
 
 
 
The Pacific Rim: A Conversation with Gary Geddes, Retired Director of Point Defiance Zoo and Northwest Trek Wildlife Park
Both managed by Metroparks Tacoma, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park concentrates on animals native to the Pacific Northwest while the Point Defiance Zoo focuses on animals, both from land and water, of the Pacific Rim. Much of their success is due to the tenure of Director Gary Geddes, who led Northwest Trek from 1981 to early 2017 and the Point Defiance Zoo from 2000 to 2017. Geddes’ vision and dedication helped both institutions reach record attendance and become at the forefront of zoo conservation. Here is his story.
 
 
 
Capercaillie's to breed in captivity in bid to boost numbers
SCOTLAND’S most threatened bird, the capercaillie, is to be bred at a wildlife park in a bid to help build a back up population of the disappearing species.
The popular native bird - whose Gaelic name translates as the “Horse of the Woods” - was reintroduced to Scotland in 1837 from Swedish stock after becoming extinct the previous century.
A steep decline in recent years has seen the largest member of the grouse family included on the “red-list” of species of highest conservation concern.
 
 
 
Scientific evaluation of rhino diets improves zoo
A recently published study in the journal Pachyderm highlights the ongoing effort of accredited zoos to address challenges and improve the sustainability of endangered species populations in their care. The study, co-authored by scientists from San Diego Zoo Global and Mars Hill University, evaluated fertility issues in captive-born southern white rhinos and determined that diets including soy and alfalfa were likely contributors to breeding challenges.
"The captive southern white rhinoceros (SWR) population is not currently self-sustaining, due to the reproductive failure of captive-born females," said Christopher Tubbs Ph.D, San Diego Zoo Global and lead author of the paper. "Our research into this phenomenon points to chemicals produced by plants present in captive diets, such as soy and alfalfa, as likely causes."
Soy and alfalfa are commonly included in feeds for many herbivorous animals under human care, however these diets have high levels of phytoestrogens that disrupt normal hormone functions in some species. The study reviews historical data on the reproductive success of southern white rhinos in zoos in North America. These studies discovered that female rhinos born in captive environments showed lower reproductive levels. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, animal care staff switched to a low phytoestrogen diet for southern white rhinos in their care in 2014. The nutritional change app
 
 
 
SeaWorld launches TV advert to combat ‘public perception issues’
Theme park giant SeaWorld has launched a new TV advert in San Diego to bolster its public image and broadcasts across the United States next year.
The Park to Planet TV slot features stunning views of the ocean, marine mammals, undersea exploration and the rescue of sea lion. A voiceover says: “From park to planet, see it here, save it here.”
At the end of the ad, viewers are informed that by visiting the parks, they could assist SeaWorld in contributing $10 million per annum, which goes towards conservation and animal rescue.
The 30-second TV ad began airing in San Diego two weeks previously. This follows a three-month digital-only campaign that the marketing team at SeaWorld say is receiving a positive response from online viewers.
 
 
 
The Wonderfully Unexpected: A Conversation with Vik Dewan, President and CEO of the Philadelphia Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo may be the first zoo in the United States but it has established itself as one of the most progressive zoos in the world.  In 2011, it began the implementation of Zoo360, a system of trails that enable animals to explore above and alongside of guests visiting the Zoo. This year, Philadelphia Zoo received The Innovation Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Zoo’s fearless leader is Vik Dewan, a banker turned exceptional zoo director and conservation advocate. Here is his story.
 
 
 
Polar bear death at Lincoln Park Zoo shines spotlight on the species
At the beginning of polar bear breeding season this year, both Brookfield and Lincoln Park zoos were full of hope. Each had a new female to complete a potential breeding pair and at Lincoln Park, the male, too, was relatively new, patrolling a state-of-the-art multimillion-dollar habitat.
But the zoos’ fortunes have taken a dramatically different turn. Brookfield's female, Nan, is denned up for the coming months in case a cub should result from her observed mating with the male, Hudson. Lincoln Park is mourning the death last week of its female, Kobe, a seemingly robust 16-year-old whose health went into sudden decline in recent weeks and who, after tests showed signs of kidney failure, was euthanized Oct. 19.
“It’s a tough loss,” said Dave Bernier, general curator in the animal care department at the Chicago zoo. “Our staff is still getting over it. She was a great animal to work with. ... Really an interesting bear. There was just something about her that was very endearing.”
Although her former partner, the 7-year-old Siku, searched for Kobe at first, Bernier said, polar bears are by nature solitary, and Siku showed no obvious ill effects from the loss Friday morning. First the animal rolled in the snowbank at one end of his 8,400-square-foot habitat, then he headed to the pool at the other, plunging in and repeatedly forcing an air-filled 55-gallon plastic drum beneath the water’s surface.
At the pool’s plate-glass front wall, third-graders from the North Side Walt Disney Magnet School jumped and dipped along with t
 
 
 
Analysis: The thorny ethics of hybrid animals
Ligers, the hybrid offspring of lions and tigers, may sound like mythological chimeras but they are, in fact, real.
The creatures are primarily man-made, since the habitats of these two big cats overlaps only in India’s Gir Forest. Their mashup names belie their origin stories, with an offspring taking the first half of its name from its father and the second half from its mother. Endless fun can be had with this naming convention:
Lion father + tiger mother = liger. Tiger father + lion mother = tigon. Leopard father + jaguar mother = jagleop. Lion father + jagleop mother = lijagleop.
The fun drains out of this exercise, however, when you learn of the health issues associated with these hybrids. Ligers, for example, grow big… too big for their own organs, in fact.
 
 
 
50 years of taking people close to animal world
With just one week left to close its gates forever, the Dubai Zoo in Jumeirah has completed 50 years of taking UAE residents close to the animal world.
One of the first zoos in the Arabian Peninsula, the facility opened its doors to the public in May 1967.
It was Otto J. Bulart, an Austrian engineer, who built the zoo after he was given permission to start an animal corner by the then Ruler of Dubai late Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Dr Reza Khan, principal wildlife specialist at Dubai Safari and Dubai Municipality, told Gulf News on Saturday.
Dr Khan has served the zoo for 25 years, including 20 years as its head, till he moved to the Dubai Safari project in 2014.
“During the first couple of years, it housed only a few animals like two lions, some monkeys, some hoofe
 
 
 
Bats And Tequila: A Once Boo-tiful Relationship Cursed By Growing Demands
At a Halloween happy hour recently in Washington, D.C., a small crowd gathered to celebrate the relationship between bats and spirits.
Not spooky spirits. Instead, think tequila and mescal.
"We're here at a bar tonight to talk about [bats], because they are intimately tied to agave," announced Mike Daulton, the executive director of Bat Conservation International, a nonprofit devoted to the well-being of bats.
You can't have tequila without agave, the spiky desert plant used as its base. And it's hard to have agave without bats — because a few species of these winged creatures are the plant's primary pollinators. Agave co-evolved with bats over thousands of years. As a result, it's one of the very few plants that pollinates at night. Daulton says industrial agave farming adversely affects both plants and bats.
 
 
 
New Hope for Threatened Iguanas of Cabritos Island
The Critically Endangered Ricord’s Iguana and the Vulnerable Rhinoceros Iguana can once again thrive on Cabritos Island, Dominican Republic after the successful removal of a suite of invasive species.
After extensive monitoring by a team of international organizations, the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources of the Dominican Republic, SOH Conservation, and Island Conservation confirmed Cabritos Island’s native iguanas are poised for recovery following the successful removal of introduced, damaging (invasive) donkeys, feral cats, and cows from the island. The effort began in 2013 with the training of a local field team in island restoration techniques. Since then, the Critically Endangered[1] Ricord’s and Vulnerable Rhinoceros’ Iguanas have gone through multiple breeding seasons where the invasive species populations were greatly reduced or absent, and evidence of recovery is everywhere. Wes
 
 
 
The Dallas World Aquarium, Peruvian Conservation Group Release Rescued Amazonian Manatees
Nearly 3,000 miles from Texas, in the remote Amazon rainforest of Peru, a team of veterinarians, biologists and conservationists from The Dallas World Aquarium’s manatee rescue project has successfully released five rehabilitated Amazonian manatees back into their natural environment near Iquitos, Peru.
 
 
 
Court bans zoo from letting children swim with crocodiles and alligators
At a unique zoo in Hesse, visitors can get up close and personal with deadly reptiles such as crocodiles and alligators. But on Thursday a court judge denied the zoo's appeal to be allowed to continue with these practices for children.
Crocodile Zoo in Friedberg, Hesse, has faced troubles recently as its maverick way of bringing visitors closer to its animals has been deemed too dangerous by regional conservation authorities.
In the zoo, visitors can touch, feed and even swim with the crocodiles without barriers or protection, as long as they are accompanied by an experienced guide.
But on August 25th, the nature conservation authority of Darmstadt's regional council decided that visitors could not come into contact with the animals without a barrier to protect them unless they were over the age of 18 and had
 
 
 
After 40 years, Cincinnati Zoo's Thane Maynard still exudes a contagious level of enthusiasm and fun
Forty years ago, University of Michigan grad student Thane Maynard received an offer to work at the newly built Procter & Gamble Education Center at the Cincinnati Zoo. After hearing the news, he said, the dean summoned him to the office to tell him not to take the job.
Maynard said he politely listened, but took it anyway. With a starting salary of $9,000 a year and his wife hailing from the area, he figured, "What the heck."
"I was fortunate, completely just the right place at the right time," Maynard said. "I talked to the director, one thing led to the next, and I started on Halloween day 1977."
 
 
 
How the panda became China’s diplomatic weapon of choice
A traditional Chinese gong clangs. Adoring sighs break out as a red curtain is pulled aside. Behind it are China’s newest ambassadors to the west — a pair of chubby black-and-white bears sitting on their haunches munching bamboo stalks.
Standing in front of the glass just metres from the pandas, German Chancellor Angela Merkel beams and pumps her hands up and down like an excited schoolchild. Beside her, Chinese President Xi Jinping watches like a proud parent as Ms Merkel coos at the animals, loaned by the Chinese government to Berlin’s Tierpark Zoo for the next 15 years at an annual cost of US$1 million (S$1.36 million).
“This event is symbolic of relations between our two countries,” Ms Merkel says as she introduces three-year-old Meng Meng (“little dream”) and her seven-year-old prospective mate Jiao Qing (“darling”). “We’ve worked very closely over the past year in the G20 framework and now w
 
 
 
What has the EU got to do with elephant protection?
There are two main answers to this question. First, Europeans are global citizens and elephants are an outstanding part of our global treasury of charismatic and irreplaceable wildlife. Secondly, Europe plays a surprisingly significant role in the continuing trade in elephant ivory which threatens their very existence as a species. This needs to be changed fast, and we have an opportunity to do it in the next few weeks.
A century ago, there were perhaps as many as five million elephants inhabiting Africa’s forests and savannahs.
Today, fewer than 500,000 remain.
The reasons for this devastating decline are complex. Expanding human populations are placing ever increasing demands on land, and elephant habitat is shrinking fast. Ancient migratory routes are being cut off as agriculture and infrastructure expand. As elephants come into ever closer contact with people, conflict inevitably results.
But the single most significant driver of decline is th
 
 
 
'Ban on rhino horn sales not protecting the animals'
 Calls to legalise the trade in rhino horn are to come under the spotlight at this week’s 2017 Symposium of Contemporary Conservation Practice, which gets under way in Howick in the KwaZulu-Natal midlands on Monday.
More than 350 scientists, conservationists, legal experts, wildlife managers and environmentalists will gather to share ideas about what can be done to address biodiversity loss, wildlife crime, habitat destruction and pollution of the ocean and river catchments.
Organised by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in association with Wildlands, the University of KwaZulu-Natal and the Endangered Wildlife Trust, the symposium aims to promote greater public engagement in conservation and strengthen environmental policies and laws to ensure survival of endangered species.
This year’s symposium covers a wide range of topics from converting whale watching into conservation action and the use of drones for conservation monitoring through to progress made by the Peace Parks Foundation in creating a massive transfrontier park incorporating areas of far northern KwaZulu-Natal, Mozambique and Swaziland.
Debris pollution of the Durban harbour, the impact of microplastics on fish and the Rethink the Bag concept in addressing plastic pollution also feature on the five-day programme. What is likely to spark the 
 
 
 
The Golden Triangle's Illegal Wildlife Trade
Tigers, elephants, bears and pangolins are four of the most widely traded species in the Golden Triangle, the border area where Thailand, Laos and Myanmar connect, according to a new report. 
Rhinos, serow, helmeted hornbill, gaur, leopards and turtles round out the list of threatened species that are openly sold in a region that is Ground Zero in the illegal wildlife trade.
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