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Zoo News Digest Mar-Apr 2013



Zoo News Digest
Mar-Apr 2013



Zoo to build power plant that uses panda poop to produce electricity
Not content with housing a pair of celebrity pandas that attract hordes of avid onlookers, a zoo in France has decided to put their droppings to good use by recycling them into gas and electricity.

Yuan Zi and Huan Huan — "Chubby” and "Happy” in Chinese — arrived at Beauval zoo in central France in January last year, on loan from China for 10 years at a cost of around a million dollars a year.

The zoo announced Friday it would build a facility that would process the dung of the two pandas and of other animals, as well as plant matter, to produce biogas that will

Why are these lions starving in a Buenos Aires zoo?
What's going on in the Colon Zoo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that could explain why these lions are apparently starving? We don't know — especially when just down the road there is a dangerous animal petting zoo where the caretakers claim the animals are mellow because they are so full — but these big cats sure look like they could use a good meal. Badly. A campaign is growing in Argentina to "feed or free the animals in the Colon
Using animals as gifts has a long history in diplomacy
With the arrival in Toronto of Er Shun and Da Mao on their very own Panda FedEx Express last week, almost all Canada stopped to welcome the darling bears to what will be their new home for the next decade.

Although not quite a gift, as the pandas are only here for 10 years and then must return,
hopefully with a third little panda in tow, it has been crafted as a show of generosity and friendship by the Chinese people to the Canadian people.

Animals, especially exotic ones, have a long history of being used in diplomatic gestures. Pandas in particular have been great ambassadors for China, helped by their intense cuteness factor. The practice even has its own particular term as these arrangements are referred to as "panda diplomacy.”

One of the more famous was the gift of two pandas to the U.S. in 1972 after president Richard Nixon’s landmark trip to China. Not to be

Land for Zoo Negara
Selangor approved 33.7 acres of state land for Zoo Negara to set up an animal training and research centre last month, said executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.
"We hope this will help in their conservation and fundraising effort,” Wong told Selangor Times yesterday.
Wong said the land approval was given on the condition that the society cannot sell the land for commercial purpose.
"If they attempt to sell, the land title will be reverted back to the state,” she said.
The Malaysian Zoological Society, which has managed the national zoo since it was opened in 1963, has waited for half a century to secure land titles

Brigitte Bardot's elephants to retire to Monaco 
Fate has smiled on two sick elephants in France, who are to move from death row to a retirement fit for a king as guests of Princess Stephanie of Monaco, thanks to Brigitte Bardot.
Highland Wildlife Park denies camel distress claim 
BOSSES at a Scots safari have denied accusations by animal rights campaigners of exploiting a rare camel and causing it "distress” by making him chase off a Land Rover.

• Only male camel at the Highland Wildlife Park has become protective of female companions during mating season
• The camel, Karanli, has been chasing passing vehicles to ‘display his ownership’
• Park has denied claims by Captive Animals Protection Society (Caps) that they are exploiting the camel Karanli, the only male Bacterian camel at the Highland Wildlife Park, has become protective of his two female companions during the mating season.
So much so, any passing vehicle which drives through the open zoo now becomes "open competition” and he "displays his ownership” by chasing them away.
Staff invited photographers to witness the "completely natural show of territorial activity”, but were condemned by the Captive Animals Protection Society (Caps).
Caps director Liz Tyson, said: "The idea that a zoo would deliberately create a stressful situation for one of the animals in its care in order to facilitate a cheap publicity stunt is repugnant.
"To suggest that there is no problem because the camel ‘enjoys’ being goaded by having

Wildlife Reserves Singapore's newest addition, River Safari opens
The $160 million river-themed wildlife park, River Safari - home to Pandas Kai Kai and Jia Jia - opened on Wednesday morning
Waiting for the gates to open were groups of kindergarten and primary school children, tourists, as well as Singaporeans who took a day off work for the occasion.
One such person was Mr Albert Foo, 66, who arrived around 8.30am for the opening ceremony and was one of the first in line to enter. "I've always liked animals and plants," he said. He took a day's leave from his job as a hotel front desk assistant and woke up at 5.30am to make it in time to see the gates open.
The River Safari is the newest addition to the Wildlife Reserves Singapore's portfolio of parks, which

Semeru, Perth Zoo orangutan released into wild, killed by snakebite
PERTH Zoo's history-making orangutan Semeru, released into the Indonesian jungle, has died from a venomous snake bite.
Semeru, who would have turned eight in June, was the first male zoo-born orangutan to be released into the jungle back in 2011.
Perth Zoo Director of Animal Health and Research, Peter Mawson, said Indonesian trackers who monitored his movements each day had found Semeru’s body in a night nest that they had watched him build the previous afternoon.
It appeared he was bitten by the snake while he was settling the sleeping nest in a Kasai tree.
Dr Mawson said the vet in Sumatra who had examined Semeru’s body had found two puncture marks on his upper back.

World’s Most Dangerous Zoo, Lujan Zoo in Argentina, Allows Guests To Ride, Cuddle And Feed Lions, Bears [VIDEO]
The Lujan Zoo, outside Buenos Aires, removes the electric fences and plexiglass partitions to give visitors an up-close-and-personal experience with wild creatures, doing everything from posing with the freely roaming animals, to cuddling, feeding and even riding them.
The zoo, whose logo is a man squatting next to a feline, allows visitors to frolic with lions, bears and cheetahs for $130 Argentine pesos (about $25.30).
In a video from a guests' 2011 visit,
Zoos with poor facilities may lose elephants
Zoos that can’t provide enough space and proper facilities for the upkeep of elephants - one of the star attractions at the zoological parks - may not be able to retain them and will have to relocate them to other zoos or wildlife sanctuaries better equipped to handle their welfare.
The proposal was made at a meeting of the consultative committee of the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) last week that assessed the condition of elephants in zoos across the country and found that wanting.

The final decision on the re-location will soon be taken by Environment Minister Jayanthi Natarajan, a committee member told IANS.

"Elephants are kept chained for long hours in zoos due to lack of space for them to move. Some zoos don’t even have the required manpower to take care of them,” said the member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"The condition of elephants is really bad in some zoos and the meeting was held in this context. All members unanimously agreed to shift elephants from zoos with poor facilities,” he added.

The member said a team of experts will identify such zoos and the jumbos will be shifted to other zoos that have enough space and staff for their upkeep.
State zoo parks allowed to keep elephants
In a move that comes as a relief for zoos in the state, the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has reversed its earlier decision to not allow them to keep elephants. It was in 2009 that the CZA had ordered that elephants should not be kept in captivity but instead be sent to dedicated camps in forest areas.

Even though zoo authorities in most states said that they were adequately equipped to take care of the pachyderms, nearly 40 of the 115 captive elephants across the country were moved to camps.
However, the zoos in Andhra Pradesh did not relocate the elephants as the facilities at the camp in Nanyal in Chittoor district were found to be inadequate. The facilities were enough for only two elephants, officials said.

The state zoo authorities then requested the CZA to reconsider its decision on the grounds that the animals may not be able to adapt to the new surroundings which lacked enough facilities. But the CZA constituted an expert committee to examine the matter in 2010. In the meantime, the state zoo also kept in abeyance its plans to improve infrastructure for elephant upkeep.

The expert committee proceeded to examine 19 facilities, including zoos in Hyderabad, Visakhapatnam and Tirupati, and submitted a detailed report. According to Nehru Zoo officials, the committee was satisfied with the facilities present at elephant enclosures in the state and made recommendations to expand existing facilities.

"We have been exempted from the ban, which comes as a relief as we were in a dilemma for the last few years. We could not take up any improvement works in the enclosure as we were not sure if we could retain the elephants. But now that the elephants are not going anywhere, we will expand the enclosure by three acre," said a senior forest official. At present, there are five elephants in the city zoo.

The official added that Visakhapatnam zoo has benefitt
Thailand mulls combined legislation to protect elephants

Thailand's Elephant Bill, drafted several years ago, will be revised and submitted to Parliament to protect the diminishing pachyderm population in Thailand, according to a Natural Resources and Environment Ministry official.
Currently elephant affairs are dealt with by four separate laws. Theerapat Prayurasiddhi, deputy director general of the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant
Conservation Department, said the bill is aimed at cracking down on the hunting, smuggling and illegal trade of elephants, and promoting elephants as the kingdom’s national animal.

The legislation will assign the department as the core agency in management of domesticated and wild elephants.

Elephants in Thailand have been under an enforcement net of four separate laws including the Transport Animal Law B.E. 2482 (1939) of the Local Administration Department of the Interior Ministry, the Animals’ Communicable Diseases Law under the Livestock Department, the Wild Animals Conservation and Protection Law B.E. 2535 (1992) under the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department, and a law on trading of elephants tusks under the Commerce Ministry.

Mr Theerapat said the centralisation of elephant supervision concerns to a single ministry, or of as few agencies as possible, will contribute to a clear management and minimise

Rare White Tigers Cubs Wow at Japanese Zoo
White tigers are extremely rare species, with only 100 to 200 world-wide and about 30 kept in

 Scandalous inbreeding of white lions at Paradise Wildlife Park
Charities denounce inbred white lion programme at Paradise Wildlife Park.

Two leading animal protection charities, the Captive Animals’ Protection Society and LionAid, have criticised a major UK zoo for its continued programme of inbreeding big cats to create unusually-coloured animals. Spokespeople for the two organisations say that there are "serious animal welfare implications” for white lions bred at Hertfordshire-based Paradise Wildlife Park and that the animals "serve absolutely no purpose whatsoever in conservation terms”.

Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire is promoting a competition to name a new white lion cub born there recently and is using the competition as a fundraiser over the Easter period. In addition, the Park is earning considerable funds by allowing members of the public to "cuddle” the new cub for a fee of £999 for two people. Such intimate public interactions are highly controversial as the cub has to be separated from her mother, is likely stressful, has no benefit at all

The United Arab Emirates Enters The Canned Hunt Market
This week the the Mourouj Hotels and Resorts announced that it will open the Barari Hunting Resort, near Al Ain, in September. 

Guests to the resort will be able to "hunt, cook and eat a variety of UAE wildlife".
Those unfamiliar with the wildlife of the UAE may well get the impression that it is a country teeming with game. It is not, and all wildlife is protected. The newspaper reports state that they "will offer people





Poachers target rhinos at Kent wildlife park
A wildlife park in Kent is being targeted by animal poachers. The Aspinall Foundation which runs the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park says they've recieved a warning from the police over their world famous herds of black rhino.

The park is home to the most important collection of black rhinos, outside Africa. It's believed to be the first time that poachers have plotted raids in the UK.

Are animals born free or in captivity the key to saving species?
In your leader (23 March) you implied that animals of wild species which had been bred in captivity cannot survive in the wild. Relocation into wild habitats 
has been achieved in many cases already. True, it requires great care and a lot of ongoing effort. What makes the process now an impossibility for many 
species is nothing to do with the genes of the captive-bred animals. It is to do with the state of the wild. Wild habitats are being reduced at alarming 
rates, over-populating what is left. The short-term prospect, until such time as our own species stops trashing the planet by its own gross over-population, 
is bleak, but it is not hopeless.
The problem facing all wild species

Penguins and trainers break the ice at Ski Dubai
Teachers at Ski Dubai love their pupils and their sunny disposition
Despite the sub-zero temperature inside their winter home at Ski Dubai, the special bond between the 20 Snow Penguins and their trainers, Amy Barr and 
Claudia van Klingeren, seems to be enough to keep the latter warm.

Physical contact — a stroke here, a tickle there, and lots and lots of cuddles — abound between the trainers and their eager students.
" Communicating to the penguins was initially a challenge. Eventually, they learned to understand one-word sentences and hand gestures. They also learned to 
react when their names were called.” 

All 20 penguins — 10 King Penguins and 10 Gentoos — were flown into the region’s first indoor ski resort a year ago for the Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai 
programme. Born and bred in captivity, these penguins are part of a multi-generational conservation breeding programme at SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas.

Ski Dubai’s Snow Penguins, they’re a cool lot
Crowd pullers win international award within an year of arriving in UAE
The 20 Snow Penguins at Ski Dubai have not only won the hearts of their Dubai friends and tourists but recently won an international award, just one year 
after the programe was launched.

"Ski Dubai has been awarded second place in the People’s Choice Award’s category at the International Marine Animal Trainers Association [Imata] annual 
conference for its Snow Penguin programme, making history by being the only first-time participant in the 40-year history of the Imata to win this award,” 
Sharif Hashem, Marketing Manager of Ski Dubai

Sentoria to open largest safari park by mid-2013
Sentoria Group Bhd, the operator of Bukit Gambang Resort City has opened three sections of the largest safari park in Malaysia, the Bukit Gambang Safari 

In a statement on Friday, the group said the safari park is targeted to be fully opened by mid-2013.

The safari park spans over 138 acres of land and will feature a total of eight dedicated sections namely Forest Land, Primate Trail, Bird Valley, Land of 
Predators, and Wild Savannah.

"Given the tremendous response for our first theme park, we are very excited to add this new attraction to Bukit Gambang Resort City. We are positive that 
once it is fully opened in mid-2013, it will not only draw Malaysian tourists to Kuantan but also

Panda-monium or public relations? (Interesting letters)
The Star writes: "Given the cost of hosting these animals, including a $1-million annual fee paid to China, the creatures may not generate much profit. On 
the other hand, if they are successfully bred and deliver a healthy baby panda, there could be extra visitor interest.”

In other words, we have put a colossal sum of taxpayers’ money into a venture whose success depends on the amatory prowess of two Chinese bears, both members 
of a species that is famously standoffish. 

Needless to say, as a public investment, this represents no departure from the present government’s long, hideous track record. Still, one wonders what 
guarantees have been obtained. 

Have the pandas received the necessary technical training? Have they been given reading material (Fifty Shades of Black-and-White) that might inspire them to 
get on with the thing? Do we have evidence adorable Kung Pao and identically adorable Lo Mein actually like one another? Any coy glances, furtive paw-
holding, anxious exchanging of telephone numbers?

Da Mao’s Dear Diary: ‘Me, I pretty much just eat bamboo’
They know pandas have sensitive hearing, and yet they insist on bringing along a damned brass band to the arrival ceremony. And, predictably, moments after 
my plane had touched down in Canada, some schmuck in a suit mounts a podium and belted out the same speech we caged pandas always seem to inspire, "blah, 
blah ‘deepening relationship’ blah blah ‘mutual respect’ blah blah ‘growing collaboration.’” As a gaggle of slack-jawed gawkers pressed in to bombard me with 
camera flashes, I overheard someone mention that I was "far from my

The Unexpected Return of the Asiatic Wild Ass
Scientist know now that there are at least 250 of these hard-to-track beasts alive in the Israeli desert—and they seem to be doing just great.
Don’t be deceived by its everyday equine exterior—the Asiatic wild ass is no horse or run-of-the-mill donkey. It is the notoriously untamable ungulate of the 
Mongolian desert steppes, the Arabian Peninsula and remote regions of Russia, whose Greek name simply means "wild.”

In the 1980s and 1990s, a small group of asses was reintroduced to one of its favorite stomping grounds in the Negev desert of southern Israel from a zoo in 

Unfortunately, for concerned conservationists trying to track its progress, the ass lived up to its name and disappeared back into the wild. Until recently, 
no one had any idea how the wild asses were doing or even how many had survived. 

Thanks to new techniques to extract DNA from dung and the help of a dart-shooting prodigy from Australia, scientist

Man presumptuously kidnaps 13 percent of an entire turtle species
There are only 400 — that’s 400, a number you can count to in less than five minutes — turtles in the whole entire world that can call themselves Astrochelys 
yniphora, or ploughshare turtles (if turtles could speak, or could in fact do anything other than eat lettuce with stupid expressions on their faces). So 
naturally, since humans are perhaps even dumber than how dumb turtles look eating, a man took it upon himself to try to smuggle 54 of these turtles through 
the Bangkok airport. That’s 13 percent of the ploughshare turtles in the world.

The man seems to have been in cahoots with a woman who traveled from Madagascar to Thailand with the turtles. She brought them in, he picked them up, and, 
just in case later on you want to cast the movie Stupid Turtle Stealers at some point, she is 25 and he is 38.

There used to be millions of ploughshare turtles, which are found only in Madagascar. But

Situation of Egypt's Giza Zoo Needs Improvement
For Egyptian families, the Giza Zoo is an affordable place to take the children and see the animals. For tourists it is a place to while away the hours and 
see the lions. But with Egypt's tourism dwindling, now the animals in Giza Zoo are being affected.
They say an elephant never forgets. And at Giza Zoo, feeding the elephants no doubt provides a memorable experience for children. The two old elephants at 
Giza Zoo are perhaps the most iconic creatures there and are at least 60 years old.
Built in 1891, the zoo is based on the design of London Zoo. Located on the western side of the River Nile, the zoo covers about 80 acres of green land, and 
is home to many rare animals and plant species.
The zoo contains about 175 different species of mammals, birds and reptiles. It is a popular place for Egyptian families despite the decline in Egypt's 
tourism. Sayed Hussein is a visitor at the zoo. 
"My children's favorite animals are the monkeys, lions, elephants and the seals. I guess they are loved by all children."
And while the zoo remains popular with families, activists say the conditions at the zoo are getting worse. Some of the animal enclosures are in need of 
upgrading and more should be done to improve animal welfare.
Giza Zoo recently introduced some new animals to the Zoo such as a rare Asian white lion and three African giraffes replacing the late African giraffe that 
died back in 2002.
But activists such as Dina Zulfakar say the zoo should focus on upgrading the enclosures for its existing animals, and not spending limited resources on new 

Man caught after rare £2k tortoise stolen from Woburn Safari Park and sold on Facebook for £30
A MAN who sold an endangered tortoise he stole from a safari park on Facebook was caught after his DNA matched saliva on a beer can left at the scene. 
Eighteen-year-old Adam Steff initially tried to flog the reptile named Flo for how much she was worth - £2,000 - but accepted an offer of £30. 
The two stone Aldabran Giant tortoise, which Steff of Highfield Road, Flitton, nicked from Woburn Safari Park overnight between January 4-5, was sold to 19-
year-old Aiden Mckinstery. 
On Tuesday, Bedford Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Mckinstery received a call from Steff in the early hours of the morning to say he was outside with the 
Mr Mckinstery, who claimed he had no idea the animal had been stolen, posted a picture of it on Facebook asking for name suggestions for his new pet. 
However this was seen by a member of staff at the park who realised it was Flo. On Tuesday prosecutor Camille

Peaceful zoo protest set to take place over Easter
A PEACEFUL protest is set to take place at Twycross Zoo over the bank holiday weekend urging an end to keeping animals in captivity.
Leicester and Derby Animal Rights will be on hand with signs and banners outside the popular tourist attraction as part of ‘Zoo Awareness Weekend’ event, 
organised by the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS).
The group will be aiming to raise awareness and encourage people to withdraw support for captive animal entertainment facilities such as Twycross Zoo.
CAPS director Liz Tyson questioned the educational merit of zoos and wildlife parks when quizzed by the Mail.
She said: "Zoos teach visitors, and particularly children, that humans can control nature.
"They demonstrate that if an irreplaceable natural habitat is destroyed by our actions, we can pluck individual animals out of the destruction, manipulate 
their breeding habits and produce more of them to live in city centre zoos or safari parks thereby ‘saving’ the species.
"In my opinion, the idea of future generations buying into this premise is a very frightening prospect.”
Zoo Awareness Weekend was first started in the early 1990s by CAPS in order to create better understanding of the animal rights and conservation issues 
surrounding zoos.
A spokesman for CAPS said: "The concept of holding animals captive in zoos is increasingly under question as our

Myanmar: ‘Save Our Zoo’ Campaign
The government of Myanmar wants to relocate the Yangon Zoological Gardens which has been a city landmark since 1906. In fact, about 450 animals were already

transferred to another zoo in Nay Pyi Taw, the country's new capital. Minister Soe Thein argued that the zoo is already a health threat for residents in the

city. He added that the zoo can be transferred to Hlaw Kar National Wildlife Park which is outside of Yangon.

Netizens have launched an online campaign to block the relocation. Mahar Kyaung, who posted the "Save Our Zoo” photo 

Tayto Park banned from bringing in new animals to zoo for five months
A POPULAR theme park was banned from adding to its wildlife collection after zoo inspectors found it had a number of "inadequate" enclosures and "high levels

of aggression and stress among animals".
Tayto Park in Co Meath, owned by crisp manufacturer Largo Foods, was ordered not to introduce any new animals by the National Parks and Wildlife Service

(NPWS) until it complied with a number of stringent conditions.

Inspectors from the NPWS ordered the ban after a series of worrying findings.

Records seen by the Irish Independent reveal:

• NPWS inspectors found staff levels, experience, and qualifications were "not considered adequate for (the) animal collection" 

Argentine zoo shows 4 recently born white tiger cubs
Buenos Aires zoo is showing off four new white tiger cubs.

Zoo officials say the blue-eyed cubs with coats of black stripes on white were born there two months ago and bring the number at the zoo to nine. They say the cubs will soon be able to eat meat.

White Bengal tigers have a rare genetic anamoly and have always been extremely rare in the wild. Several hundred white tigers have been bred in zoos and wild animal parks around the world, though many conservationists say efforts should be focused on less inbred tiger varieties

The U.S. Association of Zoos and

Will we kill off today's animals if we revive extinct ones?

De-extinction hopes to revive mammoths, gastric frogs and other missing species, but it might undermine the conservation of creatures that still survive.
The rebirth of an extinct frog species may come from the freezer, not the stomach. The gastric brooding frog, when it existed on Earth, swallowed its eggs, transformed its stomach into a womb and vomited up its young once sufficiently grown. But the frog disappeared from the mountains of southern Australia shortly after it was discovered in the 1970s, persisting only as a few frozen specimens in the bottom of a scientist's freezer.

The cells in those tissues should have been ruptured by the swelling ice crystals that formed within and around them. But some of the cells remained reasonably intact, according to paleontologist Michael Archer of the University of New South Wales in Australia, who is attempting to resurrect the species via his Lazarus Project. He and his colleagues transplanted the nucleus of that cell and others like it into hundreds of eggs fr

Resurrected mammoths and dodos? Don't count on it

Let's focus on conserving living animals, not on an expensive quest to bring back extinct ones – or some variation of them
I recently spoke at Revive & Restore's TEDx DeExtinction event at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC. Most of the speakers were brilliant 
geneticists working on ways to revive species that no longer live on earth by injecting DNA from extinct species into eggs of living relatives. The atmosphere was electric with the hopes and claims of top scientists bent on bringing back the woolly mammoth, the passenger pigeon, and other vanished species. I was the invited skeptic, and here's what I told them, more or less.

The poster child for de-extinction is the passenger pigeon. The first European visitors to North America saw flocks so huge that they darkened the skies from horizon to horizon. Even in the 19th century, when the pigeons were starting to decline, observers estimated over a billion birds in some flocks. A market hunter with a shotgun could kill 50 or 100 with a single shot. The combined weight of the pigeons could bring down giant tree limbs with a sound like cannon fire. Yet the last passenger pigeon, a bird named Martha, died in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.

Bobcat attacks 3-year-old boy at Carlsbad's Living Desert Zoo
When 3-year-old Ethan Kennedy begins to tell people the story of being rescued from the mouth of a bobcat, it's not his active imagination. The youngster

really did have a scary encounter with the wildcat.

He is recovering at home with a laceration to his eye and stitches to his skull, his mother, Courtney, said.

On Monday, Ethan, his mother and uncle, all from Carlsbad, visited the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens State Park. The mother refuted allegations that they

crossed the double safety barrier and got too close to the bobcat's wire fence enclosure, allowing the animal to reach for Ethan.

"Ethan was in my arms and we were at the barrier. But we leaned over the barrier to look at the bobcat," she said. "I turned my head for a second and heard a

noise and about the same time, my brother heard it. It happened real quick. The bobcat ripped Ethan out of my arms

Zoo to get cheetahs, lions
The Nehru Zoological Park in the city would soon get a pair each of African Cheetahs and lions.

Saudi Prince Bandar Bin Saud Bin Mohammad Al Saud had promised to gift these animals to the Nehru zoo during his visit in connection with the recently-held

CoP-11. Following this, officials from Saudi Arabia sent a message a few days ago to the zoo authorities, requesting them to complete formalities for handing

over the animals.

"We will discuss the issue during the

Don't let good zoos go extinct

Ruth Padel argues that good zoos, such as London Zoo, are not about entertainment but conservation
'You must see Jae Jae, Sumatran star of London Zoo's Tiger Territory," I said. "Charging past you three feet away, in a huge enclosure full of trees – 
breathtaking!" (The Tiger Territories has just opened.) "I don't agree," my friend said, "with keeping wild animals in a capital city for entertainment."

But their wild homes are vanishing, they're not there for entertainment and the aim of good zoos today is conservation.

Most zoo animals are born in zoos. The days of whisking them from the wild are long gone. Zoos breed wild animals co-operatively, internationally. Genetic software – ensuring diversity, building a hedge against extinction in the wild – decides which tigers meet up. Jae Jae comes from Ohio; his mate from Australia. Jae Jae wouldn't last a week in a Sumatran jungle. He doesn't know about kraits, cobras and poisonous lianas or how to catch live food. He'd be done in by another male if he didn't starve first. What he's doing in London is supporting the world's 3,000-odd wild tigers.

Since the 1970s wild animals' habitats have disappeared. Responsible zoos have become places of education and science whose prime concern is conserving the 
wild. They house animals in the social groups and habitats they like. London's famous modernist Penguin Pool is an example of how not to house wild animals – as art. The design was egg-inspired, but no penguin eggs appeared. Today, London's penguins breed in a pool that reproduces their natural habitat. Tiger

Nong Nooch celebrates elephant day with call to end ivory trade

Nong Nooch Tropical Garden celebrated Thai Elephant Day with a call to stop the ivory trade.

Sattahip Mayor Phawat Lertmukda, Tourism Authority of Thailand Pattaya office Director Athapol Wannakij, and Chonburi livestock officials joined park General

Manager Phattanan Khantisukphan at the March 13 exhibition attended by students, tourists and government officials.

Nong Nooch organized an elephant parade and invited Jum Nhujan, 59, of Chaiyaphum to perform the "baisree” ceremony for elephants and to spray holy water

over mahouts and 52 pachyderms 

Perth orangutans go back to Indonesia
Perth Zoo, the only zoo in the world that introduces orangutans born there to the wild, is planning to send their third to Indonesia.

And orangutan keeper Kylie Bullo recently reunited with Semeru, the second Perth-born male to be released into the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem in Sumatra.

It was an emotional reunion after 12 months apart, since Semeru's release in 2011.

"As soon as he saw me, he came straight down (from the trees) to visit, whimpering and held his arm out," Ms Bullo told reporters on Saturday.

"I gave him a good physical check and gave him some food treats, so it was a really happy reunion."

He was faring well, foraging and interacting with other orangutans, but was a little lazy with his nest-building - although that was 

Peta's Ingrid Newkirk: making the fury fly
Ingrid Newkirk compares factory farming to the Holocaust and SeaWorld to slavery. Carole Cadwalladr crosses swords with the founder of Peta
My favourite story about Ingrid Newkirk, the founder and head of Peta, the animal-rights organisation, involves her storming the dining room of the Four Seasons hotel in New York, depositing a dead raccoon on Anna Wintour's dinner plate and calling the veteran editor of American Vogue a "fur hag". Wintour, a long-time Peta hate figure for her support of the fur industry, calmly covered it with a napkin and then ordered coffee.
There are no raccoons – living or dead – when I meet Newkirk in her office in Washington DC, though her evangelical zeal doesn't seem to have dimmed. At times it feels less like interviewing the CEO of a $30m-a-year-foundation, one which boasts 360 employees and thousands of volunteers, than arguing the toss in the sixth-form common room.
It's all so personal to her. Newkirk has been interviewed dozens of times over a 40-year-plus career. She's the head of the largest animal rights organisation in the world. And yet there's a quaver in her voice that on several occasions threatens to bring tears. There are accusations. There's more than a touch of suspicion. And, at times, outright hostility. This in response to asking what we in the journalistic trade call "questions". "Ingrid," I say at one point, "can we just leave

Rules for animals in captivity up for debate
Anyone who wants to have their say on the rules for keeping animals at zoology parks, aquaria and other facilities needs to hop to it.

 At present there are different rules for keeping different types of animals.

 The Zoo and Aquarium Association has made an application asking for one standard set of rules and guidelines, which it says will make life easier for keepers, auditors and inspectors.

 The application also proposes 15 new rules including a requirement that the facility have a long term financial plan, and a plan for what will happen 

Endangered Iberian Lynx Embryos Frozen
The embryos from two critically endangered Iberian lynx females were collected and frozen in February, scientists from Germany’s Liebniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) announced on Friday.

According to the International Union for the Conservation of Wildlife red list, there are at most 143 adults of the species remaining in the wild. There may be as few as 84. And it gets worse, since the IUCN noted that there are probably only around 50 mature adults still capable of breeding. 


Op-Ed: OSHA obligated to ensure SeaWorld's work environment is safe
The tragic death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau killed by the orca Tilikum in 2010, captivated global media. Brancheau's death sparked a high profile

lawsuit between OSHA and SeaWorld, plus a book, then a movie. But where does OSHA stand now?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration initially went after SeaWorld with guns blazing. At the conclusion of OSHA versus SeaWorld 2012, Judge Ken

Welsch ruled that following the death of Brancheau (Feb. 2010), park staff and trainers had to be protected during their interactions with killer whales.
 The ruling sidelined all orca-trainer interaction (called waterwork) during shows, and as the primary focus of SeaWorld's shows, the corporation wasn't

happy. The ruling has prompted the company to fight the case with appeals and other legal maneuvers. Still ongoing, SeaWorld's actions imply that it will

stop at nothing to get its shows back on track, and its trainers in the water.
 With the passage of time, Brancheau's gruesome death 

Jaipur Zoo gets male Royal Bengal tiger after two years
A seven-year-old Royal Bengal tiger today joined Jaipur Zoo under an exchange programme, for which a tigress from the zoo has been sent to Bhopal.

There was no male tiger at Jaipur Zoo since 2011 while there are three tigresses now.

After the tiger's arrival, the Jaipur Zoo will conduct tiger breeding which was on a halt for the last two years in absence of a male

Foreigner involved in fracas at Delhi zoo
There was high drama at the National Zoological Park on Sunday when the security guards near the ticket-checking gate tried to stop a woman,  allegedly a

foreigner, from taking food into the zoo, resulting in a brawl.

Food items are banned inside the park, popular as the Delhi Zoo. The zoo administration claimed that the female visitor, accompanied by two men, wanted to

take food inside. The trouble started when these visitors were near the separate ticket window meant for foreigners (as they are charged Rs. 100 against the

regular Rs. 20 for Indians).  Also, all bags, purses and containers are checked to prevent food items, cigarettes and other prohibited items

Egypt remains a hot spot for illegal chimp and ivory trade
In September, customs authorities at Cairo International Airport seized 17 endangered falcons. The following month, a man was caught smuggling a cobra in his hand luggage on a flight from Cairo to Kuwait, forcing an emergency landing. And most recently, in January, customs authorities confiscated two shipments of ivory at the airport.

These latest confiscations are a smaller piece of a much larger, problematic picture: the increased demand for "exotic” wildlife in Egypt, and around the world, is fueling the illicit trade of wildlife.

In recent years, the world has witnessed a dramatic spike in the illegal trade of wildlife. It is an incredibly lucrative business, worth an estimated US$19 billion, on a scale comparable to drug trafficking, arms trafficking and human trafficking, yet it receives a fraction of the attention.

CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, is tasked with setting the global controls for trade of endangered wildlife and wildlife parts. Countries that ratify the treaty are then responsible for monitoring and enforcing its regulations. With 178 member states, CITES is the largest international conservation treaty in the world.

Egypt has been a signatory to CITES since 1978, but its long track record of flagrant violations leaves little room to deny that Egypt has played, and continues to play, a complicit role in this growing illegal trade. 

Boss aims to buy zoo again to create £6m animal research centre
Dartmoor Zoological Park boss Ben Mee is planning to invest up to £6 million to build a top-class research centre and secure the future of the business.
Mr Mee also wants to create enclosures for elephants and orangutans, the most intelligent animals allowed in captivity, so scientists can study their minds

and behaviour.
Architects have already met him to discuss the ambitious plans, which would also involve turning the zoo's operating company into a charity.
He could then look to access research grants from various sources, including Europe, and take advantage of tax breaks too.
Mr Mee took over the 30-acre attraction at Sparkwell, near Plymouth, in 2006, but in 2010 had to put his house on the market to fund investment after the

operating company went into liquidation.
A new company was set up, and the zoo has seen visitor numbers swell from 80,000 a year to 120,000, and last year saw turnover double on the back of the hit

Hollywood movie We Bought A Zoo, staring Matt Damon as Mr Mee.
But Mr Mee said despite this the business, like many in the visitor economy, is facing severe challenges.
"The future of the place has to be through research," he said. "Education is its raison d'etre. There's a possibility of building an animal research centre. 

WWF finds traces of supposedly extinct rhinos on Borneo
Footprints thought to be from the critically endangered Sumatran rhino have been found on Borneo island, where the species was believed to have been extinct for 20 years, environmental group WWF said Thursday.

The Sumatran rhino population has dropped by 50 percent over the past two decades and there are now believed to be fewer than 200 left in the world.

A team from WWF-Indonesia in February found several fresh footprints, mudpools and other evidence in West Kutai district, East Kalimantan province, suggesting the species is roaming Borneo, an island Indonesia shares with Malaysia and Brunei.

"The findings are a breath of fresh air since the Sumatran rhino in Kalimantan was believed to be extinct since the 1990s," WWF said in a statement.

Experts at Mulawarman University in 

Quebec zookeeper expected to live after tiger attack
The Quebec zookeeper who was attacked by a Siberian tiger at a Lac-St-Jean area zoo this morning is expected to live.

"Right now he's at the hospital. His life is not in danger,” said Christine Gagnon, the zoo’s director of conservation and education.

"We are really lucky for that.”

The 51-year-old man was cleaning the inside of the enclosure before 9 a.m. Thursday when a female tiger at the St-Félicien wild zoo attacked him.

He sustained injuries to his neck but was conscious when he was rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Roberval, about 25 minutes south of St-Félicien.

Normally, the zoo’s Siberian tigers — two males, one female and two cubs — are kept in their nighttime enclosure whil 





'He was just being a lion': Co-worker of 24-year-old intern killed by a lion says the animal was not to blame as she reveals new details about the tragedy  
The headkeeper at a Central California big cat sanctuary where an intern was killed by a lion last week spoke out for the first time about the tragedy, 
saying that the 24-year-old woman’s death was an accident. 
Cat Haven employee Meg Pauls, 27, was making her regular rounds feeding the animals and cleaning enclosures with Dianna Hanson just moments before the young 
volunteer was killed.

Speaking to ABC News this week, Pauls explained that she and Hanson took separate trails. When the headkeeper got to the end of her pathway, however, she 
became alarmed because Hanson did not make it to their usual meeting

Qatar’s efforts lift hopes for rare bird
Al Wabra Wildlife Preservation, Qatar’s globally-recognised conservation organisation, has reaped yet another success by breeding Bulwer’s pheasant, 
classified as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Established by Sheikh Saoud bin Mohamed bin Ali al-Thani in central Qatar, Al Wabra has earlier been credited for the stellar conservation work on the Spix’s 
macaw, Beira antelope, Somali wild ass and the Birds of Paradise.

"Naturally occurring in the lower montane forests of Borneo, Indonesia, the Bulwer’s pheasants are extremely difficult to breed and have not successfully 
bred in several decades in captivity,” Al Wabra’s director Dr Tim Bouts told Gulf Times.

The efforts of the bird team have been rewarded by the hatching of two Bulwer’s pheasant chicks, a first for Al Wabra, and their successful rearing.

"Breeding behaviour was observed and afterwards the female laid three eggs,” Dr Bouts recalled. Once candling revealed that two eggs were fertile, they were 
moved to the incubation room just before hatching.

INTERVIEW: Navy SEAL leads team to save South Africa’s rhinos
Craig Sawyer is too cool to be called anything but "Saw.” He’s a former Navy SEAL who seems to eat tactical jargon for breakfast. Determination? Check. 
Dedication? Check. Driven? Check.
Now, let’s go save some rhinos.
Sawyer and a team of fellow Special Ops members, including two other SEALs and a Green Beret, are the subject of Animal Planet’s new three-part 
miniseriesBattleground: Rhino Wars, an up-close look at the deadly issue of rhino poaching in South Africa.
"I understood that there was a crisis and an issue with it, but I didn’t understand the full extent of it,” Sawyer said recently during a phone interview. 
"And the head of the production company out of South Africa contacted me about it, and that’s when I started studying a little more and realizing just how 
pressing this issue really is.”
When contracted for the job, Sawyer began rounding up his team members, men he’s worked with over the course of his accomplished military career. He wanted 
to know whether his friends shared his passion for wildlife, his desire to help distressed animals an ocean away.
For six weeks, the team members "immersed” themselves in the daily struggle of the rhino wars. The group

Zoo owner to live with lions for a year
A zoo owner has pledged to live with lions for a year.
Alexander Pylyshenko will join the lions at his Ukrainian zoo to raise funds for the construction of a rehabilitation centre for lions and other big cats.
He hopes to raise around 365,000 Ukrainian hryvnia (£30,000), reports Oddity Central.
Pylyshenko holds the Ukrainian record for the most time living with lions after he spent 35 days in a big cat enclosure in 2011. During the stint, he stayed 
in the cage the whole time, only eating the raw meat that was passed through the bars.
Due to the longer time period of the new challenge, he and the animals will split their time between the lions' den and his country house

Calgary zookeeper fired for letting gorillas into kitchen wants his job back
A keeper at the Calgary Zoo who was fired after leaving a door unlatched, allowing several gorillas to escape into an off-limits kitchen, says he wants his 
job back.

Garth Irvine, 49, told Metro Calgary he has been doing regular tasks at the zoo for nearly 25 years, but last week he encountered a situation unlike any 

He went into a staff kitchen area next to the gorilla enclosure to find three female apes inside. He said he moved quickly to usher them out, but startled 
the troop’s biggest gorilla — a roughly 205-kilogram silverback named Kakinga.

"He charged — and I had played it out in my mind a million times what would happen in a situation like that. He did exactly what I always thought he would do 
… He pinned me down. He gave me a small bite. He flipped me over and dragged me about six feet and then he ran away,” Irvine told Metro.

He managed to get to his feet and radioed for help. Irvine

How the Internet is speeding up the extinction of elephants, rhinos
What is the connection between African ivory, rhino horns and the Internet? 
According to conservationists, the Internet is the new threat to the survival of Africa’s endangered wildlife. 
Illegal tusks and rhino horns are being traded on countless website forums, including Google, with increasing frequency, according to activists. Wildlife groups attending the 178-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in Bangkok this week are calling on global law enforcement agencies to do something about it.   

"The Internet is anonymous, it is open 24 hours a day for business, and selling illegal ivory online is a low-risk, high-profit activity for criminals,” Tania McCrea-Steele of the International Fund for Animal Welfare told The Associated Press. 
Ivory is often advertised with code words like "ox-bone,” "'white gold,” "'unburnable bone,” or "cold to the touch,” and

The extremely endearing, scary, and gross lengths zookeepers go for the their animals
Dressing up in urine-soaked panda costumes is not even the worst of it

Ever wonder what it's like to be a zookeeper? Do you ever think, as I do, how lucky they are to spend their days ogling adorable animals? Well, my friends, you don't know the half of it. Sure, the proximity to cute newborns is a perk, but when giant poop patrol isn't keeping these dedicated workers busy, zookeepers can often be found risking their lives, pride, and settled stomachs to ensure their charges are healthy and safe. Here, 6 examples of zookeepers going to extreme lengths for their animals:

Private zoo owners decry pressure from DENR 7
We love our animals so much. This is an extension of our home.” 
This was the statement of the owner of BG Rainforest Park Cebu, Butch Guillen who talked to the media together with his family to vehemently deny maltreating their animals displayed in their mini zoo as they consider them their babies, including four Green Sea turtles which will be released to the wild today. 
"We know they can’t propagate here. Even before we were called for a technical conference, we really intended to release them to the wild once their shells (carapace) are hard enough. We are willing to release it. But now we feel harassed, Guillen said in a press conference. 
He said the allegations of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and environment advocates are baseless, biased and unjust because they have been taking good care of these animals hiring three caretakers, a veterinarian and an aquarist who maintains the sanitation and health of the water in their aquariums. 
BG Rainforest Park Cebu was opened more than a year ago after their family decided to venture in this kind of business. They started as a restaurant and then later decided to make it into a park. 
"We are animal lovers. We have a lot of animals at home, said Tara Guillen, vice president for marketing. 
Everyday they get to entertain 300 to 500 guests on a weekday and higher on weekends. 
The park includes the Oceanarium Restaurant, Amazon’s Aviary and Tarzan’s House, Jungle Adventures, Oasis Spa and Salon, Zoofari Cafe, Tribe’s Bar and the Rainforest Gift Shop all located in a 3,000 square meter leased property. 
Tara said approximately 32,100 students from 214 different schools in Cebu have visited their park since they opened in August 18, 2011. 
The park was recognized as the Best Park in 2012 by the Business Achievement and Recognition Awards and was told to receive the same recognition on April 2013 by the same award-giving body. 
"The main purpose of this establishment is to create educational awareness pursuant to the Wildlife Act of the Philippines. Our primary intention is to campaign

Keeper injured as Calgary Zoo gorillas invade kitchen
A zookeeper was injured Friday while trying to corral some gorillas that managed to get into a kitchen at the Calgary Zoo.

Malu Celli, a zoo curator, said the man was treated in hospital for undisclosed minor injuries and released.

"The public was never at risk and the zoo’s emergency response team was very quick on the scene,” she said. "They prevented the situation from becoming serious.”

Celli said staff are not sure how many of the western lowland

OSPCA failed to investigate animal mistreatment, say ex-zoo employees
A member of Ontario’s Society for the Protection of Animals did not investigate complaints that would have revealed animal mistreatment at Papanack Park Zoo in Wendover, Ontario, according to former employees.
Kent Allen, who worked at the zoo from the summer of 2010 to February 2011, says that a member of the OSPCA failed to return to Papanack Park Zoo after Allen warned that they had been misled by the zoo’s owner, Keith

Coroner: Zoo Intern May Have Been Killed After Lion Lifted Cage Handle
A woman killed by a 550-pound male lion at a conservancy near Fresno, Calif., earlier this week may have been caught by surprise after the animal escaped its cage, investigators say.
According to a preliminary autopsy, Dianna Hanson, a 24-year-old intern for Cat Haven, was killed Wednesday when the lion snapped her neck.
Hanson, whose father has described her as a "fearless" lover of big cats, died quickly from a fractured neck and "some suffocation," said Fresno County Coroner David Hadden. The body had "numerous claw marks and bite damage" elsewhere, probably inflicted after the initial swipe, he said.
The 5-year-old lion, named Cous Cous, apparently escaped from a feeding cage while Hanson was cleaning its main enclosure. Hanson was talking with a co-worker on her cellphone moments before she was killed, the coroner said. The co-worker called authorities when the conversation ended abruptly and Hanson failed to call back, he said.
"The lion had been fed, the young woman was cleaning the large enclosure, and the lion was in the small cage. The

Virginia Zoo bars volunteers from exotic animals
Because of safety and liability concerns, the Virginia Zoo has barred volunteers from working with exotic exhibit animals.

Two weeks ago, the zoo discontinued its Keeper Aide program, which allowed volunteers to have behind-the scenes access to all of the zoo's animals. Those 35 volunteers helped prepare meals and feed animals, including tigers, bears and giraffes. The volunteers also helped clean habitats and shift large animals between exhibits and holding cells by using special protective gates and barriers.

Now, volunteers will be allowed to work only with small, mostly domestic animals. Two participants have left the program since the zoo implemented the new rules.

The changes come on the heels of a December inspection

Port Lympne Park posters 'risk wildlife'
THE "desperate" request from Port Lympne for dead animals to feed carnivores could affect populations and cause safety issues, according to a concerned resident.

The wild animal park has printed posters, headed "Urgent!", asking anyone who shoots rabbits or pigeons to get in touch, offering to pay £1 per head for fresh or frozen meat.

Half of the world's penguin species threatened by global warming
The future of half of the world's 18 penguin species is in doubt, according to a new study in the Journal of Science.

Warming temperatures are causing a decline in their number one food source: Krill, tiny crustaceans found in the southern ocean supported by ice and frigid waters.  
West Antarctica  - a major penguin habitat - is one of the regions hardest hit by climate change. The average temperature there has risen by 4.4 degrees in the past 40 years - three times the overall rate of global warming. 
Worldwide, temperatures are warmer now than any other time in the past 4,000 years. 
For more information, take a look at

Calgary Zoo fires keeper after gorillas escape enclosure, invade kitchen
A zookeeper has been shown the door after being found responsible for the escape of some gorillas at the Calgary Zoo.

Last Friday, several western lowland apes — which can weigh as much as 270 kilograms — got into what is known as the gorilla kitchen from their enclosure in the rainforest exhibit.

The zoo says a review of what happened determined a keeper, who received a minor injury during a confrontation with one of the gorillas, failed to properly latch a door.

"There could have been terribly tragic consequences,” said curator

British Zoo Sends 6 Endangered Macaws to Bolivia
Six endangered macaws have been flown from Britain to Bolivia in hopes that they can help save a species devastated by the trade in wild animals, international conservation experts said Tuesday.

The birds, with blue wings and a yellow breast, arrived last week at a conservation center in northeastern Bolivia, close to their natural habitat, and the local Noel Kempff Foundation said it hopes to breed or release them.

The birds were long captured for sale as pets and no more than 130 of the blue-throated macaws are believed to still exist in the wild, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which lists the birds as a critically endangered species.

"Thousands of the birds were taken from the wild in the '70s and '80s," said Alison Hales, director of the Paradise Park zoo in Hayle, a town in England's Cornwall district that bred

Costa Rican Zoo Welcomes First King Vulture Born in Captivity
Costa Rica’s Zoo Ave has managed the first birth in captivity in Latin America of a king vulture, the zoological park said Wednesday.
Zoo Ave, a respected animal rescue center, operates a zoological park located about 30 kilometers (18 miles) from San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica.
The king vulture chick emerged from its egg on Tuesday at the zoo, which had been trying to hatch one of the birds in captivity for 20 years.
This is one of the few successful hatchings of king vultures in captivity in the world, Zoo Ave scientists said.
"The animal was incubated by both parents. A day before it was born, it was taken to the incubator. There it received an adequate temperature that allowed the chick to break through the egg,” Zoo Ave spokesman Ronald Sibaja said.
The chick will remain with its parents at the wildlife

Chester Zoo efforts help rare bird’s survival hopes 
THE FUTURE of one of the world’s rarest birds looks brighter after conservationists from Chester Zoo helped to release eight Bali starlings back into central Bali for the very first time.
Four pairs of the birds, classed by conservation organisations as critically endangered, were released into a carefully selected area in the heart of the Indonesian island.
Illegal poaching reduced numbers to a critically low level in 2001, when the wild population was estimated at just six birds, but conservation breeding efforts have since seen a small recovery to between 50 and 115.
This number is still perilously

Gang trafficking of endangered great apes prompts global action
The illegal trafficking of great apes by organized crime gangs and others prompted international action Wednesday that was hailed by experts as a major step toward saving them from extinction.
For the first time, governments agreed to set up a global reporting system in a bid to establish how many of the animals are being taken from the wild to perform in theme parks or to be shown off by wealthy collectors.
The decision was made by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora, which has 177 member countries, including the United States

Can you worry about an animal you’ve never seen? The role of the zoo in education and conservation.
"He had black fur and a horn on his head,” my sister said. She came to DC for a few weeks and spent many afternoons visiting the National Zoo. After one of those visits,  she hurried to Google Chat to report that a big tall bird was chasing her behind the fence of his enclosure. My sister described the bird as having long fur-like feathers and a horn. She has never seen anything like that before and was genuinely curious. She was familiar with the belligerent bird’s neighbors, the rheas (ratite birds like ostriches and extinct moas). Rheas are native to South America, as are we, and we’ve seen them before while growing up in south Brazil. "Mystery bird” was about to become a perfect example

Former handling of zoo elephants draws criticism
A former Virginia Zoo volunteer is criticizing what he said was the zoo’s longtime practice, ended last year, of striking elephants with a metal rod called a bullhook, or ankus.

Dave MacDougall came forward with the claims after being terminated from one of the zoo’s volunteer programs last month. The 65-year-old Navy veteran volunteered for 4½ years and has donated money to zoo projects. He is a member of the international nonprofit Elephant Managers Association.

Zoo officials acknowledge using the tool on elephants for years, saying it is a common industry practice.

At issue is the manner and force with which the tool is used. MacDougall alleges that it inflicted pain. Zoo officials say there is no evidence of abuse.

Zoo leaders looked into MacDougall’s claims last year. Following the inquiry, executive director Greg Bockheim issued a memo instituting a new policy.

"Striking an elephant with an ankus or any similar object is now forbidden,” he wrote. "It is not acceptable to strike an elephant as a form of positive punishment or to establish a dominance based relationship.”

"Positive punishment” is a disciplinary technique that uses a stimulus to produce a desired behavior, assistant zoo director Roger Sweeney said. At the Virginia Zoo, an ankus had been used as a stimulus.

"Historically, in zoos, including this one, it’s been used as a punishment to tap an animal,” Sweeney said. "It’s a psychological impact more than a physical impact, and we’ve never had any sort of injury.”




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