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|Zoo News Digest May-June 2017|
Zoo News Digest
Animals shipped from Africa to Sharjah wildlife park
Fifteen giraffe are among 288 animals that were brought from Africa to their new home at the Elebriddi wildlife sanctuary in Al Dhaid.
Five rhinos, 16 gemsbok, 12 eland oryx, eight black wildebeest, 24 blue wildebeests, 36 impala and several other species of antelope were also released into the wildlife park in Sharjah’s central region.
"Sharjah has a proven leading position in wildlife protection and environment efforts under the directives of Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah," said Hana Al Suwaidi, chairwoman of the Environment and Protected Areas Authority.
"The authority strives to protect endangered species and their habitats in an effort to maintain biodiversity. The addition of these animals to the protected area will greatly assist with our ongoing conservation efforts.
"Through our continued efforts, we are striving to conserve many species of animals and birds and create breeding areas in the protected habitats in accordance with UAE reg
Demand for elephant skin, trunk and penis drives rapid rise in poaching in Myanmar
Case files and laminated photos of poachers spill out of captain Than Naing’s folder. As the chief of police in Okekan township, one of Myanmar’s recent poaching hotspots, he is trying to track down the men who have killed at least three elephants in the area over the past year. So far, he has arrested 11 people suspected of having assisted the poachers. Meanwhile the poachers themselves remain at large.
“These are the two men who we believe killed one of the elephants,” he says, pointing to two photos. “They are still on the run.”
Reported cases of killed elephants in Myanmar have increased dramatically since 2010, with a total of 112 wild elephant deaths, most of them in the past few years. In 2015 alone, 36 wild elephants were killed, according to official figures from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). The figures for 2016 are feared to be even worse.
Neighbouring China is the main destination for elephant products. Despite the ivory ban imposed by the Chinese government earlier this year, ivory is still the most valuable part of the elephant. But worryingly conservationists are now seeing a growing demand for other parts of the animal; trunks, feet, even the penis, to be used in traditional medicine. The hide or skin, which is believed to be a remedy for eczema, is particularly in demand.
Most elephants are killed in Pathein and Ngapudaw townships in Irrawaddy division – which is a major habitat for wild elephants – but recent killings have also been reported on both sides of the Bago mountain range in central Myanmar, as well as in Mandalay division.
In November, villagers in Okekan township discovered an elephant that had been skinned and mutilated, and alerted the authorities.
“It was found on the outskirts of Chaung Sauk village, drifting in a creek,” says Kyaw Hlaing Win, the village tract administrator, who believes there are a lot more elephants killed than what is reported.
It's a fact of life that most people who share their lives with animals (professionally or as companions) will get bit by an animal. As zookeepers, we spend a measurable portion of our guest interactions sharing this fact with people who appear to be surprised that the animals we care for bite...even in the case of top predators.
What baffles me about the question is that people get bit by their pets all the time. But what isn't so surprising is that I think many of us kind of cover up this fact when it happens. We are okay talking about the theoreticals (e.g. "Well any animal with a mouth can bite") but when it REALLY happens, especially to US, it feels like The Worst Thing Ever.
RHINO RESOURCE CENTER – NEWSLETTER 47 – JUNE 2017
Edited by Dr Kees Rookmaaker
The Rhino Resource Center is a repository of all publications about all species of the rhinoceros. This is a service to everybody working on the rhinoceros in zoos, museums, media in aid of research, education and conservation.
The total number of references in the database and collection of the RRC now stands at 21,290.
Please share your articles on rhinos, pictures of rhinos. Reply to this email with any information.Thank you to all contributors.
Donations are welcome. The RRC thanks the sponsors: SOS Rhino, International Rhino Foundation, Save the Rhino International, Rhino Carhire as well as individuals who have found the RRC useful in their research.
TO DOWNLOAD THE NEWSLETTER, CLICK HERE
Finding new homes won't help Emperor penguins cope with climate change
If projections for melting Antarctic sea ice through 2100 are correct, the vanishing landscape will strip Emperor penguins of their breeding and feeding grounds and put populations at risk. But like other species that migrate to escape the wrath of climate change, can these iconic animals be spared simply by moving to new locations?
According to new research led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), they cannot. Scientists report that dispersal may help sustain global Emperor penguin populations for a limited time, but, as sea ice conditions continue to deteriorate, the 54 colonies that exist today will face devastating declines by the end of this century. They say the Emperor penguin should be listed as an endangered species. The study was published in the June 6, 2017 edition of the journal Biological Conservation.
"We know from previous studies that sea ice is a key environmental driver of the life history of Emperor penguins, and that the fifty-percen
The Rich Men Who Drink Rhino Horns
As I turned down Lãn Ông street, two things struck me. The first was how quiet it is compared to the rest of Hanoi’s Old Quarter: The flow of motorbikes is less incessant, the lights a notch dimmer. The second was the smell: somewhat musty, sometimes sweet, and unmistakably herbal.
I was on Vietnam’s “traditional medicine street.” Shophouses all along the row were stacked with herbs and medicines. Dark-colored ointments filled glass bottles. Red ginseng and artichoke tea was packed in cardboard boxes. Plastic bags were stuffed with monk fruit, lotus seeds, and strips of bark. But I had come in search of something a bit more elusive: rhino horn.
Although banned in Vietnam, rhino horn is still available for purchase—if you know how to find it. The Southeast Asian nation is the largest consumer of rhino horns in the world, and the illicit trade is so strong that it’s fueling a poaching crisis in South Africa, where more than 1,000 rhinos have been killed in the past year alone. In one of the most recent arrests, police seized two frozen tigers cubs, four lion pelts, and nearly 80 pounds of rhino horns in raid
New South Carolina law will make private ownership of wild animals illegal
South Carolina will no longer allow lions, tigers and bears to be pets.
A new law, effective Jan. 1, makes it illegal to own a "large wild cat, non-native bear or great ape." That leaves just four states — Alabama, Nevada, North Carolina and Wisconsin — without rules against keeping dangerous wild animals as pets, according to the Humane Society.
It's unclear how many of the beasts are currently in someone's back yard because no one tracks it.
Tigers are fed a LIVE donkey at Chinese zoo after the animal is thrown into a moat with no escape
This is the gory moment Chinese zookeepers push a live donkey into the jaws of three hungry tigers.
The terrified animal can be seen clinging on for dear life as workers in raincoats push it down a ramp and off a steep ledge into a tiger compound.
After landing hopelessly in the water, the donkey is soon attacked by two nearby tigers.
The ferocious predators - believed to be kept at Changzhou zoo in eastern China - work together to deprive their prey of any hope of escape.
Live donkey fed to tigers in China zoo after dispute
A group of angry zoo investors have fed a live donkey to tigers at a Chinese zoo after a dispute with management.
The incident took place on Monday afternoon at Yancheng city in Jiangsu province in front of stunned visitors.
The zoo said the shareholders had tossed the donkey to the tigers "in a fit of rage", and apologised to the public for the incident.
Video clips and photos of the incident have gone viral on Chinese social media, triggering shocked reactions.
The donkey is seen being pushed out of a truck into a moat in the tigers' enclosure, where it is quickly set upon by the tigers. Zoo visitors can be heard exclaiming in the background.
Representatives at the Yancheng Safari Park declined to answer queries from the BBC.
Three giant pandas arrived in Chengdu from Japan
Three giant pandas born and raised at a zoo in western Japan arrived at Chengdu Airport in China today to participate in a breeding program at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.
Animal Farms in Southeast Asia Fuel an Illegal Trade in Rare Wildlife
World's Oldest Known Sloth Dies of Old Age
After a long and slow life, Miss C, likely the world's oldest known sloth, died on June 2 at 43 years of age.
The Hoffman's two-toed sloth lived for twice as long as the typical sloth of the same species and was humanely euthanized after age-related issues had deteriorated her quality of life.
In a statement, Adelaide Zoo Curator of Conservation and Native Fauna Phil Ainsley lamented the loss of one of the zoo's most iconic animals.
Elephant calf arrives month early at Pittsburgh Zoo's conservation center
It was an early arrival for the newest baby at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.
Seeni, one of the elephants at the zoo’s International Conservation Center in Somerset County delivered a female calf one month early.
The calf was born May 31. She weighed 184 pounds and was 32 inches at her shoulder.
“To say that we were shocked when we walked into the barn that morning is understatement,” said Willie Theison, elephant manager at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and International Conservation
Columbus Zoo’s polar bear cubs fight crime with their DNA
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium polar bear cubs aren’t just cute and cuddly.
They’re also helping the federal government fight crimes against their wild relatives in the Arctic, thanks to advancements in forensic science and DNA testing.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Forensic Laboratory in Oregon often relies on zoos to maintain its database of DNA samples from protected animal species. But when the Columbus Zoo sent DNA from its six polar bears to the lab in March, it came with payoffs for both parties — including a confirmation of whether the zoo’s three newest cubs are male or female.
The lab’s scientists analyze evidence during investigations of violations of federal wildlife protection laws, including poaching, illegal trading of animals, theft of rare plants and creating products from endangered species.
For example, the lab could use DNA to identify a decaying carcass as a protected animal or confirm that a business is selling items made w
Zoos Take a Step Backward in Pangolin Conservation
In mid-May, a group of 20 pangolin experts, scientists and conservation professionals gathered in Washington, D.C. to plan a way forward for further protecting pangolins—the most-trafficked wild mammal on earth. One of the points they agreed upon was that there is no conservation value in taking pangolins from the wild and bringing them to North American zoos, since they typically die very quickly in captivity. So why did a six U.S. zoos subsequently declare themselves leaders in pangolin conservation because they have acquired approximately 30 pangolins, probably wild-caught, to add to their captive collections?
By purchasing wild-caught animals, these six zoos in the U.S. are contributing to—and potentially further stimulating—the trade in pangolins, which is the leading threat to this highly endangered and unique species, found in Africa and Asia.
Wildlife hunting and poaching goes on Facebook
Poachers and hunters have now turned to Facebook as a platform to post their hunting spoils including photos of their "loot" before plating it up.
There are now groups on Facebook where hunters and poachers have been posting up their catch of the day, from the moment the animal is killed, to chopping it up and serving it hot.
These wild animals are butchered for their parts as well as their exotic meat.
Checks by theSun on one group, which appears to have most Facebook users in Sarawak, shows wild animals like the Malay weasel, Asiatic softshell turtles, macaque, clouded leopard, langurs, snakes, and pangolins, dead and some being cleaned to be eaten.
The more popular posts in the group are of wild boar and seafood.
This is not the first time Facebook has become a platform for the buying and selling of wildlife.
Last year, Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, published a report after monitoring some 14 Facebook groups that were facilitating online wildlife trafficking.
Traffic told theSun that hunting of protected wildlife and illegal online wildlife trade have become more obvious on social media.
"This isn't the first time the posting of hunted wildlife on Facebook has become an issue. This certainly isn't the only page or social media platform that showcases it and Sarawak isn't the only place where showing off protected wildlife kills on social media is a problem. We see this problem across the region," Elizabeth John, Traffic Southeast Asia senior communication officer, told theSun.
After checking the photos that appeared on the group, Elizabeth said the list of species paraded on this group is a real concern and Sarawak authorities should formulate a plan of action to deal with this.
Pangolins are a critically endangered species an
Critically endangered species should be left to breed in the wild
Captive breeding programmes offer a last resort to guard against extinction of critically endangered species such as Sumatran tigers and Arabian oryx.
But a new study published today in the Journal of Applied Ecology shows more should be done to prevent extinction in the wild.
Lead researcher Dr Paul Dolman, from UEA's School of Environmental Sciences, said: "Our research challenges the assumption that when a species is perilously close to extinction in the wild, it is always a good idea to set up a captive breeding population.
"Captive breeding can offer a last chance when species face imminent extinction, but ultimately depends on re-establishing a population in the wild. This has proved successful for some high-profile species, but in many cases it has not.
"Programmes can fail for many reasons, including delays in achieving successful breeding, failure to build up a self-sustaining population, domestication and loss of genetic diversity, and poor performance after releases into the wild.
"Captive breeding can reduce motivation and resources for conservation in the wild, with disastrous consequences.
"Our research reveals the importance of objectively weighing up potential outcomes of captive breeding and comparing them with efforts to support species in the wild."
The study, carried out in collaboration with BirdLife International, looks at the critically endangered Great Indian Bustard (Ardeotis nigriceps).
Once widespread in peninsular India, this majestic rare bird is now restricted to a few
David Gill announces he will seek judicial review of zoo licence refusal
CONTROVERSIAL zoo founder David Gill intends to seek a judicial review over the way his zoo licence applications have been handled by Barrow council bosses and government zoo inspectors in a bid to clear his name.
Mr Gill claims he received unfair treatment at the hands of Barrow Borough Council and Defra appointed experts while he was still in charge of South Lakes Safari Zoo in Dalton.
The 55-year-old, who was described as 'not fit' to run a zoo by government inspectors in January, has now said he will lodge an application to overturn his licence refusal through the courts.
In a statement to the Evening Mail, Mr Gill suggested Barrow Borough Council - the body that decides whether to award a zoo licence - has 'wasted' £500,000 of funds 'on activities intended to damage the standing, image and financial viability of the Zoo and its employees'.
He also alleges the authority used 'party political' influence to damage his reputation and employment.
Later in a broadcast interview, Mr Gill added: "Every zoo has issues to rectify, that's just the nature of the beast.
The Future of Zoo Conservation: An Interview with Dr. William Conway, Retired Director of the Bronx Zoo and Wildlife Conservation Society
Perhaps no one has had as much positive influence and impact on the modern conservation zoo as Dr. William Conway. He was the director of the Bronx Zoo in New York from 1962 to 1999 and president of the Wildlife Conservation Society, its parent group, from 1990 to 1999. Many have proclaimed Conway as being the greatest zoo director of all time and during his tenure he redefined what a zoo is and what role they should play in conservation. In New York he did this by creating groundbreaking immersive habitats recreating certain bioclimatic environments around the world and showing the importance of protecting the wildlife which live there. However, he claims his “biggest accomplishment was creating the international conservation program.” The Wildlife Conservation Society does hundreds of programs in 53 countries. “That’s where conservation takes place,” Conway remarked. “It’s great having gorillas in New York but you’ve not saving gorillas there.” Dr. Conway was very gracious and did a half hour interview with me about the future of zoo conservation.
Striking Toronto Zoo workers concerned about animal welfare, ready to resume negotiations
Striking workers at the Toronto Zoo say they're ready to return to the bargaining table due to concerns about the welfare of the zoo's 5,000 animals.
The unionized zoo workers have been on strike since May 11, but recently made an "unprecedented" decision to open the picket lines after the birth of two clouded leopard cubs at the zoo.
Scots ban on wild circus animals 'could close zoos'
However, he said a lack of clarity in the legislation about what constitutes a travelling circus and the definition of a wild animal, along with the emphasis on ethics, could have far-reaching consequences.
He said: "The economic impact on animal displays in shopping centres, on displays at outdoors shows of hawks and wild birds, on reindeer and Santa, and eventually zoos will be massive.
"Eventually that is where this will all go, this will eventually close your zoos."
Thoughts for Behaviour: Training Social Animals
Training Social Animals
You might agree with me that we as humans are very complicated animals. What could be easy, we make extraordinary difficult. Shouldn’t we just be eating, breeding and surviving? Sounds simple right? I do think it is that simple, but we as humans just do complicated things to survive I mean who grows its own vegetables sprays it with toxic stuff and then eats it and complains about the diseases they can get? Or who cuts trees down to make paper money to pay people planting new trees?
We are social animals like many other animals on this planet. I’ve been working with a huge amount of different social structures since I started my career, to tell you just some of them, Killer Whales, Dolphins, Chimpanzees, Takins, Bush dogs, Lions, Elephants etc. and not to forget humans. All of which have a completely different type of structure it seems like. Very interesting to look at.
I search for at a lot of training videos on social media, its very cool to see those videos so everybody keep up the good work and keep them coming. Although, I’m wondering if they had to do some separations or gating’s to get the animals on their own to be trained. This is what we at Kolmardens Zoo try to focus on from the start what is sometimes easy but can be very challenging as well. For example, Bush Dogs are very calm animals. For everybody who do not know what they are. They are small dog type animals who live in the forest of Brazil. They live in groups and there for must have a social bond between them. When we ask them to come to use they are very relaxed and don’t really fight for the food each and one of them gets. What makes me wonder, did we or train it well or they are just like this. At the moment I’m reading a book “Are we smart enough to know how smart animals are” by Frans de Waal and in his book there are a couple cool researches explained. One of them is about the cooperation in feeding of chimpanzees. We all know Chimpanzees are very social towards each ot
Striking workers and Toronto Zoo reach tentative agreement
The nearly month-long strike at the Toronto Zoo may be coming to an end.
CUPE Local 1600 and the Toronto Zoo say they have reached a tentative agreement, which, if ratified, could see the zoo open next week, management says.
The deal was made early Thursday morning after nearly 24 hours of continuous negotiations, according to CUPE.
More than 400 union workers had been on strike since May 11, citing concerns over job security.
Chimps don’t have same rights as people, appeals court rules
Two chimpanzees that were caged at a trailer lot and at a primate sanctuary don’t have the legal rights of people in New York, an appeals court said Thursday.
Nonhuman Rights Project attorney Steven Wise had argued to the appeals court in March that adult male chimps Tommy and Kiko should be granted a writ of habeas corpus, which for people relates to whether someone is being unlawfully detained or imprisoned and should be taken to see a judge.
Wise argued that the chimps, which were caged in a trailer lot in Gloversville, outside Albany, and at a primate sanctuary in Niagara Falls, should be moved to a large outdoor sanctuary in Florida.
Chimpanzees, which can walk upright and use sticks and stones as tools to help gather food, are considered to be the closest living relatives of humans. Some have been taught to speak simple human sign language.
But the appeals court, in a ruling tha
China’s tiger farms are a threat to the species
In 1986, in a thickly forested mountain valley in north-east China, eight tigers emerged from transport containers to find themselves in new and unfamiliar territory. Born in American zoos, these tigers had recently been shipped to China on the understanding that they would form the basis of a new captive breeding programme, to benefit the conservation of the species.
Instead, they were to become the founding population of China’s first commercial tiger farm. They had been brought together by the Ministry of Forestry at a fur farm in Heilongjiang Province to establish the Hengdaohezi Breeding Centre, a government-funded operation to breed tigers for profit, primarily to supply bones for medicinal use. The move marked the beginning of a cruel chapter in the history of their species, which was to have a devastating impact on tigers across the world.
Ambitious move to save world’s smallest porpoise, led by Hong Kong Ocean Park animal expert
A veteran Hong Kong animal care expert will help coordinate a daring project to capture and protect the world’s smallest cetacean – the vaquita, a porpoise indigenous to Mexico that is on the verge of extinction due to an illegal fisheries trade closely linked to the city.
Marwell Zoo placed on lockdown after monkey escapes from enclosure with visitors barricaded inside shops
A zoo has been placed on lockdown after all of its monkeys escaped.
Visitors at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire have reported being locked inside shops while keepers try to locate the animals, thought to be macaques.
One said: "Locked in the shop at Marwell zoo due to an incident. Don't know what is going on! Staff very efficient."
Pictures shared on shared on social media show one monkey on top of an enclosure at the wildlife park and keepers gathering at the site.
Mirror Online has approached the zoo for comment.
Zoo founder wants investigation into council conduct
THE founder of South Lakes Safari Zoo is seeking an investigation into the activities of a council that refused to grant him a licence.
David Gill, pictured, is applying to the courts for a judicial review into the actions of Barrow Borough Council and Government zoo inspectors over the last five years.
He claimed more than £500,000 of public funds had been spent on activities which he said had damaged the standing, image and financial viability of the zoo.
Mr Gill had been the licence holder of the Dalton attraction since it opened in 1994 until the council’s licensing committee refused an application. Alongside that refusal earlier this year, a closure order was made, casting the future of the attraction into major doubt.
Breeding assignment complete: Dozer the walrus leaving the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium
A 3,100-pound (1400-kilogram) walrus named Dozer who enthralled visitors the last seven months at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Washington state is leaving at the end of this month.
Officials at the zoo in Tacoma say Dozer mated with three female walrus and is being sent to another zoo for the same duties as part of the Walrus Conservation Consortium's plan to aid the species in aquariums and the Arctic.
In Kashmir, animals too fall prey to 'enforced' disappearances
In the conflict-ridden Kashmir valley, it is not people alone who go missing. Animals too are now falling prey to ‘enforced’ disappearances and a case in hand is a Hangul, an endangered Kashmir red stag that had been tagged with a satellite collar by wildlife scientists in 2013.
The decision to fit satellite collars on a group of Hangul at Dachigam Park was taken to find out the causes of extinction of the species, but ironically, the lone sample for the research remains untraced. It is being widely speculated that the Hangul died due to strangulation or a possible infection in its neck because the collar had been fixed too tightly. The probable death of the Hangul has also spurred a controversy on the use of radio gadgets on animals. There are no traces of the Hangul and officials have been maintaining silence over the issue.
Over 20 tigers die in Indian zoos every year
Over 20 tigers die every year in captivity in zoos across India, according to the Association of Indian Zoo and Wildlife Veterinarians (AIZWV), which analysed raw data available with the Central Zoo Authority. In 2015-16, there were 245 tigers and 99 white tigers in captivity in the country. In the same year, 16 white tigers and 28 ordinary tigers died in zoos, according to AIZWV.
Ordinary tigers are housed in 60 zoos, including large, medium and small-sized zoos, while white Bengal tigers are present in 27 zoos spread across the country. AIZWV stated that the number of ordinary tigers in captivity has been continuously decreasing for the past four years. From 295 in 2011-12, it came down to 245 in 2015-16. However, the highest number of deaths of white Bengal tigers in the past 16 years was reported in 2015-16 with the death of 16 tigers.
The Chicago Chimps and Gorillas: A Conversation with Steve Ross, the Man Behind Lincoln Park Zoo's Regenstein Center for African Apes
Ever since the days of famed gorilla Bushman, the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago has had a rich history with great apes. The zoo has long had some of the largest groups of apes at any zoo in the world, more than fifty gorillas have been born here and the zoo has been a leader in their research and conservation for decades, largely inspired by the passions and interests of the zoo’s retired director Dr. Lester Fisher. While the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House was state-of-the-art when it opened in 1976, it was considered outdated by the late 1990s and Lincoln Park Zoo wanted to build a facility deserving of the zoo’s legacy with gorillas and chimpanzees. This new facility would be carefully designed to allow exceptional husbandry and animal care and give the apes choices and opportunities to be challenged. It would also serve as a proactive research facility and educate guests about the complexity of these primates as well as the threats they face. The zoo brought in primatologist Steve Ross to develop the Regenstein Center for African Apes, one of the finest of its kind and a groundbreaking habitat for gorillas and chimpanzees. He still works at the zoo as the Director of the Lester E. Fisher Study and Conservation of Apes.
Wild animal cafes in Seoul operate in a risky legal blindspot
Places where customers can pet and drink tea with exotic animals offer only poor conditions for animals, and danger of disease or injury for customers
The place was an animal cafe in downtown Seoul on Apr. 27. One of the animals on view was a male joey wallaby, a type of kangaroo. An arctic fox tried to bite the wallaby on the scruff of the neck, forcing a cafe employee to intervene.
“Zoos have to adjust their numbers of animals. We got the wallaby because we know someone at a zoo,” a cafe staff explained.
Inside the cafe, animals like raccoons and civet cats roam freely between the patrons’ feet in a space measuring around 230 square meters. A few of them constantly
Australian greyhounds forced to race cheetahs at Shanghai Wild Animal Park
At one stage in their lives, these Australian greyhounds were the toast of their owners and were earmarked as future kings and queens of the track.
But after the curtain fell on their fleeting careers, they were onsold to China, where today their twilight years pass by in slow motion, trapped in a animal tourist park in Shanghai.
Orangutan escapes from enclosure at Perth Zoo
PART of Perth Zoo was evacuated today after an Orangutan and her baby escaped from their enclosure.
PerthNow reader Jess McConnell said people were evacuated from the nocturnal house while keepers attempted to get the animal back into the enclosure.
"Keepers are quite panicked asking people to keep calm then to move quicker as it's an emergency situation," she said.
The enclosure was reportedly reopened after about 20 minutes.
Beaver’s genome mapped for our 150th
To biologists, the beaver is known as Castor canadensis. Its scientific name flaunts unabashed ties to Canada. Its common English name, however, is the “North American beaver.”
The animal attracted shiploads of Europeans to North America, where they reshaped the landscape — in much the same way beavers reshape wetland environments. However, Canada specifically acknowledged the role the large, smelly, flat-tailed rodent played (albeit reluctantly) in shaping European headgear and this country’s development. In 1937, the country made the beaver the go-to imprint on the nickel.
Another milestone in Canada’s claim to the beaver occurred this year, when Canadian researchers published the animal’s genome sequence.
The leader of the research team, University of Toronto molecular genetics professor Stephen Scherer, says he chose the beaver genome because of Canada’s 150th anniversary and to “mark our territory.”
After starting his work, Scherer
Nemo finds Jerusalem: a new aquarium in the capital
The first aquarium in Israel is set to open in the Biblical Zoo in Jerusalem and will include sharks, sea turtles and thousands of fish and marine creatures. The new tank is made of 33 containers divided according to the three seas of Israel: the Mediterranean, the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.
Hunting Big Game: Why People Kill Animals for Fun
"The big beast stood like an uncouth statue, his hide black in the sunlight; he seemed what he was, a monster surviving over from the world's past, from the days when the beasts of the prime ran riot in their strength, before man grew so cunning of brain and hand as to master them."
Theodore Roosevelt, former U.S. president and renowned big-game hunter, waxed poetic about a massive bull rhinoceros in his 1910 book, "African Game Trails: An Account of the African Wanderings of an American Hunter-Naturalist," after glimpsing the rhino during a safari in British East Africa and the Belgian Congo earlier that year. [In Photos: A Museum Honors Teddy Roosevelt]
What happened next? Roosevelt shot the beast.
He fired with his gun's right barrel, "the bullet going through both lungs," and then with the left, "the bullet entering between the neck and shoulder and piercing his heart," Roosevelt wrote. A thir
Hamerton Zoo keeper dies in 'freak tiger accident'
A female zoo-keeper has died in a "freak accident" after a tiger entered an enclosure at a wildlife park.
The death happened at Hamerton Zoo Park, near Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, at about 11:15 BST.
Cambridgeshire Police said: "A tiger had entered an enclosure with a keeper. Sadly the female zoo keeper died at the scene."
Visitors were led away from the zoo. At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure, said police.
Officers investigating the death said it "is not believed to be suspicious".
Rosa King: Cambridgeshire zookeeper killed by tiger is named
The zookeeper killed by a tiger at a Cambridgeshire animal park has been named as Rosa King, aged 33.
Officers said they attended a serious incident at Hamerton Zoo Park in Cambridgeshire on Monday morning and that the female zookeeper died at the scene. The tiger entered the enclosure King was working in, with zoo management describing it as a “freak accident”.
“At no time did the animal escape from the enclosure,” said a Cambridgeshire police station. “The incident is not believed to be suspicious.”
Visitors were evacuated from the zoo at Steeple Gidding, amid rumours that a tiger was on the loose. But a spokesman for the attraction told the Guardian the incident did not involve an escaped animal.
Police confirmed that was the case, adding that no members of the public were in danger. The air ambulance service also attended the inc
Why Toronto Zoo workers went on strike
No one wants to go on strike, no one wants to be on strike.
Unfortunately, that is where the remarkable group of zookeepers, horticulturalists, trades people, administrative and public relations staff, concession and ride operators, and many others who work for the Toronto Zoo have found ourselves these past 18 days.
May 11 will probably go down as one of the hardest days in any Toronto Zoo employees’ life. It was the day our employer forced us to walk away from the animals in our care, from our world-leading, species-saving research and conservation efforts, from an attraction that helps to captivate minds.
It was the day we took strike action.
We had no other choice. The Toronto Zoo and its owner, the City of Toronto, have demanded workers accept a collective agreement which calls into question their commitment to their own mission laid out in the zoo’s strategic plan, which reads:
“A living centre for education and science, committed to providing compelling guest experiences and inspiring passion to protect wildlife and habitats.”
Let’s be clear, this strike is happening because the zoo and its owner refuse to negotiate further. This is incredibly frustrating and disappointing — for the visitors from around the world who come to be inspired by the 5,000 magnificent “animal amb
The NSPCA has laid animal cruelty charges against employees of the East London Zoo after a male baboon was found in such poor condition it had to be put down.
An unannounced inspection by the NSPCA last week Thursday found the male baboon‚ William‚ in a state of paralysis‚ the animal welfare organisation said.
Inspector Cassandra McDonald said charges had been laid against zoo staff responsible for the cruelty‚ suffering‚ neglect and unacceptable conditions at the facility. The NSPCA had warned the zoo that a veterinarian had to examine the baboon.
"The male baboon appeared lethargic… He moved by dragging his lower body. In the light of his severely limited movement and his general bodily condition which was considered to be shocking‚ the NSPCA inspectors issued a warning… requiring the baboon to be examined by a veterinarian by close of business and the report to be forwarded to them‚" McDonald' st
Peter Giljam, Standing Strong…
As our world starts to question what is best for our own sake without valuing scientists reasoning anymore, we tend to find it more important to push our own opinions through if they matter or not. I know plenty of people who are trying their hardest to educate people from out the science perspective but for some reason it is harder than ever. Social media has a big part in this.
Lions of Kandahar give pride back to Kabul zoo
For years, the lions enclosure in Kabul Zoo has remained largely empty.
Nestled between green hills, the zoo was once home to Marjan, the famous one-eyed lion of Kabul – who survived nearly three decades of war, mujaheddin attacks and several regimes, only to die in his sleep in 2002 as the zoo was finally being restored to a semblance of its former glory.
Except for brief periods when it hosted a couple of older lions, the zoo has not been able to fill the enclosure despite numerous requests to various donor nations over the past decade.
But last month, its director Abdul Aziz Saqib saw reports on social media that some rare white lions had been rescued in Spin Boldak, a town on the border with Pakistan in the war-prone Kandahar province.
"The border police in Kandahar had captured an animal trafficker attempting to smuggle six young white African lions out of the country," Mr Saqib told The National.
He said the lions – three male and three female – were about two years old.
"They were found hidden und
Taman Safari Indonesia makes great strides komodo conservation
Decades of hard work has finally paid off for the Taman Safari Indonesia conservation park in Bogor, West Java, with the recent birth of 21 Komodo lizards.
The park, which is located in a cool mountainous area south of Jakarta, saw in early March the hatching of 26 Komodo eggs, the results of mating between a male Komodo lizard named Rangga and a female, Rinca.
Both Rangga and Rinca arrived at the park in 1998 from their national habitat, the Komodo National Park in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT).
In mid-March, 21 of the hatched eggs produced healthy baby Komodo lizards, while four shrunk because of liquid deficiency and the remaining one disintegrated.
The successful captive breeding of 21 Komodo hatchlings was a significant achievement for the park after struggling with the program for around 30 years.
The achievement cannot be separated from Taman Safari Indonesia director Jansen Manansang’s ambition on his return several years ago from the Czech Republic.
In 2004, the Prague Zoo received a pair of Komodo dragons from Taman Safari Indonesia as part of a wildlife exchange program with the archipelago. The pair then laid three eggs and seven more in 2007 and 2009, respectively. All of those eggs successfully hatched.
After the experience in the Czech Republic, a countr
Understanding how slow predators catch faster prey could improve drone tactics
Since a gazelle can run faster than a lion, how do lions ever catch gazelles? A new model of predator-prey interaction shows how groups of predators use collective chasing strategies, such as cornering and circling, to pursue and capture faster prey. Without this tactical collaboration, the predators would have no chance of catching these prey.
What if breeding tigers were banned?
I’m usually happy when authorities tighten up zoo legislations around the world. For all of us zoos it’s better to be on an equivalent level when it comes to animal welfare. For the first time I have seen authorities creating laws in order to lower the animal welfare with the intention to close the parks. These laws are being used as a tool to get rid of certain speies in captivity and to undermine the purpose of zoos in general.
It is of great importance to see the breeding ban on dolphins as a large threat to not only the marine parks but to the zoo community as a whole. Not convinced? Here is why.
Zoo board responds to union's claims
As the chair of the board of management of the Toronto Zoo, I take great pride in the accomplishments of the Zoo and its employees and volunteers. The work they do contributes to the zoo’s status as a centre of excellence for conservation, education and scientific research.
The Toronto Zoo is a not-for-profit charitable organization that remains committed to providing our valued, unionized staff with a fair agreement. On May 19, the union stated publicly and in a letter to the zoo’s board of management, that both sides were 95 per cent of the way to a settlement with job security being the only outstanding item.
In response to this, on May 20, the zoo presented a comprehensive “offer to settle” package to the union’s negotiating team. This offer addressed the very job security issues raised by the union and should have provided that last 5 per cent. The offer presented was a fair and reasonable compromise, which was reached with the assistance of the provincially appointed mediator.
The zoo offered the return of the “150 clause,” which guarantees the continued employment of at least 150 permanent zoo employees, regardless of the circumst
Exclusive: Tiger death zoo warned about 'ageing barriers' and escape procedures four years ago
The owners of a zoo where a keeper was mauled to death in a “freak accident” were previously criticised for their inadequate escape procedures, it can be revealed.
Hamerton Zoo, where Rosa King was killed on Monday after a tiger entered the enclosure where she was working, was heavily criticised by officials following an inspection in 2013.
Chimps that burned to death, a jaguar that chewed off its paw and the snake that tried to choke a keeper: The shameful failings of Britain's cruel, decrepit and dangerous zoos are laid bare by inspectors' shocking reports
Appalling conditions in zoos across Britain can today be laid bare by the Mail.
Just two days after a keeper was mauled to death by a tiger at a wildlife park in Cambridgeshire, a damning investigation reveals serious failings over safety, security and animal welfare.
Using Freedom of Information laws, we were able to obtain almost 170 zoo inspection reports from local authorities across England and Wales.
At least 24 attractions appeared to have serious issues, while at least a further 17 were told they could only continue operating if they adhered to lengthy lists of conditions.
Director's blog: Zoo licensing and the BIAZA benchmark
Following recent events, The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is aware of a number of news items about British zoos and how they are licensed. As the National Association that represents the best and most progressive zoos and aquariums across the UK and Ireland we are committed to ensuring that our members have the highest standards of welfare. BIAZA is the benchmark for zoos and aquariums with regards to animal care and our members are recognised as leaders in their field in terms of conservation, education and research.
In accordance with the zoo licensing system, all of our members are subject to regular inspections. As such, the isolated cases that have recently been reported in the media have been rightly identified by the inspection process and addressed accordingly by each institution. Identifying improvements at any organisation, not just zoos, is essential for continuous development, something which our members are fully committed to.
The recent conflation of isolated incidents i
Dedicated breeding programme only hope for Sumatran rhino: WWF
An animal conservation programme dedicated to breeding Sumatran rhinos is crucial to prevent the critically-endangered species from going extinct.
World Wildlife Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF) executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said while the species is extinct in the wild in Malaysia, there is still hope for the rhino in Indonesia.
He concedes, however, that organising a breeding programme would be difficult.
“Experts have estimated that the current population in Indonesia is likely to be less than 100 individuals scattered in small, isolated groups in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
“The population is so thinly spread out that breeding is believed to be minimal, which means that this species could go extinct within the next ten years, if not sooner,” he said in a statement
He added that the case of Puntung, one of the last rhinos in Sabah, which is awaiting euthanasia due to terminal skin cancer, is a wake-up call.
Dionysius called upon the governments of Malaysia and Indonesia, and all Sumatran rhinoceros conservation organisations, to work together as a dedicated team.
He added that the focus of Sumatran rhinoceros conservation should be on rescuing all remaining wild individuals for management in advanced facilities; increasing the number of births; and facilitating the movement of individuals and gametes among facilities as a population management tool.
The application of advanced reprod
SA Zoo's Conservation VP Has a Lens on the World
Danté Fenolio spends his days documenting and working to save creatures most people have never heard of.
Waterfall climbing loaches, Günther’s Boatfish and candirú may not be star attractions at the San Antonio Zoo, where Fenolio serves as vice president of conservation and research, but he says that’s precisely why they require the most attention.
“There’s no shortage of zoos and nonprofits working to preserve pandas and lions and tigers and elephants and eagles,” he says. “The vast majority of wildlife that are in danger are these little nondescript things that nobody pays attention to. My department pays attention to them.”
Growing up in California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Fenolio couldn’t imagine a career that didn’t focus on wildlife. His father ran a business where he imported tropical fish from around the world and as clients learned that the younger Fenolio had a love of amphibians, they also b
UK vets help perk up pachyderms
Lecturer in zoo and wildlife medicine Lisa Yon has developed a workshop in collaboration with Valerie Hare and Deb Ng from the non-profit organisation Shape of Enrichment, which trains people in developing environmental enrichment for animals living in captivity.
Along with Gail Laule from the Singapore Zoo – an expert in animal training methods – they are working with the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation (GTAEF) in Chiang Rai, Thailand, to de
The TRUTH behind the tiger selfie: Undercover tourists capture footage of big cats being jabbed with metal sticks to make them roar for photos
Endlessly jabbed with metal sticks as visitors pose with them for pictures - for some of these tigers, this is the grim reality of everyday life.
Undercover tourists have secretly filmed two controversial parks in Thailand for a new BBC documentary that lifts the lid on animal exploitation abroad.
With hidden cameras, two Brits captured tiger cubs in minute cages at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo, and adults chained up and being forced to roar for photos with tourists at the Million Years Stone Park, both close to Bangkok.
This Va. roadside zoo is unaccredited. Its owner says that’s what makes it humane.
The first thing to know about Mark Kilby, aside from the fact that he owns the Luray Zoo, is that he thinks dogs make terrible pets. “Dogs are the worst thing on the planet. They’re dirty, they’re dangerous, they’re annoying,” he says. “They’re also socially acceptable.” He shrugs. “I think people are brainwashed.”
Kilby explains that he much prefers reptiles. According to its website, his small zoo boasts “one of the largest venomous snake collections on the east coast.” There are also monkeys, a tiger, lemurs, a coati and even a kookaburra — all in all, some 220 animals living on three acres just outside Luray, Va. The zoo’s front door is situated in a giant faux crocodile mouth that is propped open with a wooden beam. Atop the fence that surrounds the zoo, a large wooden sign painted like a tiger proclaims, “Trespassers will be eaten.”
When they are not cleaning enclosures or feeding a
Suit alleges 'toxic' culture of sexual harassment, intimidation at Louisville Zoo
The first woman to work as a maintenance supervisor at the Louisville Zoo alleges in a federal lawsuit that she was sexually harassed and intimidated for years by male co-workers and that the zoo’s director covered up the allegations.
Racheal Butrum, who still works at the zoo, alleges in a lawsuit filed this week that she was subjected to unwelcome sexual advances by a former supervisor who bragged about his penis size and that another worker mocked her by fashioning a semi-nude mannequin in her likeness. She also alleges that a subordinate was verbally abusive and threatened physical violence on numerous occasions.
Butrum claims longtime zoo director John Walczak did little to stop the mistreatment.
Walczak declined to comment about the case, citin
Smithsonian scientists release frogs wearing mini radio transmitters in Panama
Ninety Limosa harlequin frogs (Atelopus limosus) bred in human care are braving the elements of the wild after Smithsonian scientists sent them out into the Panamanian rainforest as part of their first-ever release trial in May. The study, led by the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, aims to determine the factors that influence not only whether frogs survive the transition from human care to the wild, but whether they persist and go on to breed.
"Only by understanding the trials and tribulations of a frog's transition from human care to the wild will we have the information we need to someday develop and implement successful reintroduction programs," said Brian Gratwicke, international program coordinator for the rescue project and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI) amphibian conservation biologist. "Although we are not sure whether any of these individual frogs will make it out there, this release trial will give us the knowledge we need to tip the balance in favor of the frogs."
The Limosa harlequin frogs, which were released at the Mamoní Valley Preserve, have small numbered tags inserted under their skin so researchers can tell individuals apart. The scientific team also gave each frog an elastomer toe marking that glows under UV light to easily tell this cohort of frogs apart from any f
In zoo strike, both sides dig in, shutting out thousands of visitors
With the Toronto Zoo strike in a bitter fourth week, both sides appear dug in for a closure into peak season when thousands of visitors normally stream daily through fare gates to see pandas and more.
Representatives of CUPE Local 1600, representing more than 400 striking zoo staff, and managers of the city-owned facility in Scarborough have not met since contract negotiations halted May 20.
In interviews and statements Thursday, they disagreed on who left the table, the nature of the sole sticking point, whether breeding programs continue normally, and who initiated a union member going inside the shuttered zoo to help save the lives of ailing newborn clouded leopards.
“I honestly can’t predict how long the strike will last,” Christine McKenzie, a zookeeper who heads the union local, told the Star. She said her team is prepared to resume talks quickly, but not on a management proposal that new hires be protected from layoff, caused by contracting o
Pangolin conservation won’t be achieved in American zoos
While it is great to see pangolins getting more public attention, I am shocked to hear that American zoos have acquired live pangolins under the guise of conservation. If they had talked to almost anyone involved on the ground in pangolin conservation, they would have gotten a very different opinion. As a matter of fact, a group of 20 pangolin experts, scientists and representatives of conservation groups gathered recently in Washington, D.C., and agreed that there is no conservation value to be gained from taking pangolins from the wild and bringing them to North American zoos.
As an African working in Africa on pangolin conservation, I believe it is irresponsible of zoos to claim to be furthering pangolin conservation in order to condone importing live pangolins. First, with very few exceptions, pangolins die quickly in captivity. Second, we know for every pangolin that is successfully shipped from Africa or Asia to the U.S., many others will have died during capture or on the long journey. And since pangolins have, with very few exceptions, never been successfully bred in captivity, I assume that all these are wild-caught pangolins from Togo, thereby contributing to the trade that is wiping out the species.
There are legitimate conservationists right now in Africa and Asia working hard under duress rehabilita
Meet This Newly Discovered Flying Squirrel
A new species of flying squirrel has been found in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been dubbed Humboldt’s flying squirrel, in honor of the great naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.
The discovery means that three—not two—species of the furred gliders live in North America, and it changes our understanding of how these squirrels evolved and spread across the continent, scientists report today in the Journal of Mammalogy.
The new species, Earth’s 45th known flying squirrel, also adds to the ongoing tally of our planet’s biodiversity—an increasingly urgent matter, given the high rate of extinctions.
Researchers will want to take a closer look at the role these gliders play in their ecosystem. And they’ll want to assess how well they’re doing, especially because they’re found in areas with threatened spotted owls, which often dine on flying squirr
Lincoln Park Zoo Responds to U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement
As an organization dedicated to science, conservation, education, and the highest standards of animal care, we were disheartened to hear yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Agreement. But we are also hopeful. Over the last 24 hours, we’ve watched world and local leaders, including Chicago’s own Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and businesses pledge to conform to the agreement and do more to reduce our carbon output. This pledge can have an enormous impact.
Here at Lincoln Park Zoo, our scientists and staff understand that climate change is one of the biggest threats to the wildlife populations we study and care for, as well as the people who share ecosystems with those species. Our Green Team is working hard to identify ways we can shrink our carbon footprint and other environmental impacts. We are looking ahead to determine new ways for humans and wildlife to share the planet in our rapidly urbanizing world.
With both local and global efforts, Lincoln Park Zoo will continue to work for conservation and biodiversity every day – here are just a few of the ways that we do so:
Lincoln Park Zoo hosts the Population Management Center (PMC) in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This center conducts demographic and genetic analyses and prepares breeding plans for Species Survival Plan species. In other words, the PMC supports a nationwide network of zoos and aquariums fighting to save species from e
Zoos must reach beyond their fences to aid animal conservation: Guest commentary
Few institutions have the perfect confluence of science, technology and expertise to confront the animal kingdom’s conservation issues head on. Few, that is, unless you consider zoos.
The local zoo is perfectly primed to tackle the challenges facing animals throughout the world.
In this new era of climate change and human population growth, it is every zoo’s ethical responsibility to reach beyond their walls and apply their resources and expertise to conserving animals outside the zoo, in their natural habitats.
Communities may think of their local zoo as a great destination to spend a Saturday and to discover the wonders of nature. Many may even appreciate how zoos are often cultural touchstones of the city they serve.
Zoos have nurtured and cared for animals of all types, and many have done so for generations. The Los Angeles Zoo, as an example, has served the L.A. community since 1966, and before that, Griffith Park Zoo since 1912. In all of that time, we have strived to be a beacon of the community we serve and a place where the many animals we’ve cared for can thrive.
But has our scope been too limited? Have
Life After Zookeeping, Part 1
Last week, I went to the Maryland Zoo. That was a significant trip for a few reasons:
1. It was my first time to the zoo since I moved here over a year ago
2. It was the first time my daughter could actually identify the animals and gave s*** about them
3. It was the first time I've been to a zoo or aquarium since I left the field in October
It's the last point I want to make this week's blog about.
I remember long before I got into the field, I read the book Lads Before The Wind by Karen Pryor. It quickly became one of my favorites, but there was one part that really bothered me. It's when she talks about returning to Sea Life Park after she left, seeing the animals she spent so much time wit
China hails Mexico for care, conservation of giant pandas
The Chapultepec Park Zoo in Mexico City Saturday received a special award from China for its conservation and care of pandas.
"The pandas are magnificent ambassadors of friendship that have joined our countries for over 40 years," said Qiu Xiaoqi, Chinese ambassador to Mexico, at the award ceremony at the pandas' enclosure in Chapultepec Park.
He said this event showed bilateral relations were better than ever and that Mexico was a strategic partner with excellent political ties with China.
At the ceremony, Mexico City's Secretary of Environment Tanya Muller said the city views "biodiversity and conservation as very important."
The pandas' enclosure now is home to Shuan Shuan, daughter of Pe Pe and Ying Ying, who will turn 30 on June 15, and Xin Xin, daughter of Tohui, who will turn 27 on July 1.
Pe Pe and Ying Ying were one of the most prolific breeding panda pairs in captivity, having given birth to seven cubs. Among them, Tohui became the most emblematic panda in Mexico before passing away in 1983.
The average life span of pandas in the wild is 15 years, while those
After their deaths, zoo animals can yield information vital to the living
Like a kidney donation from a car accident victim or the brain of a football player given for concussion research, death sometimes has a silver lining.
The same is true at the zoo.
When animals die at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, some begin a legacy after life. Animal remains can help paleontologists confirm the bones of a newly discovered species and they can help scientists battle diseases in wild populations.
Zoo veterinarians and zookeepers can learn how to provide better care to a breed’s surviving zoo family. And educators can use skeletons and hides to inspire a love and understanding of animals.
“It’s one thing for people to see a tiger and talk about tigers, but if they can touch a pelt, that’s going to add to their emotional response and hopefully their connection to that species,” said Dr. Doug Armstrong, the zoo’s director
New Zealand’s ambitious plan to save native birds: Kill every rat, stoat and possum
New Zealand has set itself an environmental goal so ambitious it's been compared to putting a man on the moon: ridding the entire nation of every last rat, possum and stoat.
The idea is to give a second chance to the distinctive birds that once ruled this South Pacific nation. When New Zealand split away from the supercontinent Gondwanaland 85 million years ago, predatory mammals hadn't evolved. That allowed birds to thrive. Some gave up flight altogether to strut about the forest floor.
Then humans arrived, bringing predators with them. Rats stowed away on ships. Settlers introduced brushtail possums — an Australian species unrelated to North American opossums — for the fur trade and weasel-like stoats to control rabbits. The pests destroyed forest habitats and feasted on the birds and their eggs. More than 40 species of birds died out and many others remain threatened, including the iconic kiwi.
Nine rhinos found massacred at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park
Nine fresh rhino carcasses have been found massacred at the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park, South Africa’s oldest game reserve and the cradle of global rhino conservation.
The mid-week massacre confirms fears that the historical park has become the new ground zero in the battle to save the species, rapidly matching casualties sustained by Kruger National Park.
This is despite the fact the domestic ban on rhino horn trade was effectively lifted when the Constitutional Court, in April, rejected a government appeal to preserve a 2009 ban on the domestic trade
Conservationists have warned that the lifting of the moratorium would spell a full-out onslaught by illegal poaching syndicates, putting the country's already battered rhino population at further huge risk.
Two suspected poachers from Hazyview in Mpumalanga have recently been arrested, and a .375 calibre hunting rifle has been recovered. It is not immediately clear whether the two were caught in the reserve, or out
'Extinct' Venomous Snake Rediscovered
Most people have never heard of the Albany adder—a small, venomous snake native to South Africa with a brilliantly patterned body and pointy eyebrows. The extremely rare reptile hadn't been seen in almost a decade, and scientists feared it was extinct—until now.
A team of herpetologists recently announced the discovery of a lifetime—four Albany adders, alive and well.
The expedition had set out last November to find the long-lost snake, and after a week of scouring bushes, lifting up rocks, and cau
Lahore Zoo's only elephant, Suzi dies
The only elephant in the Lahore Zoo, Suzi, died on Saturday morning.
Imported in 1988, Suzi was a popular attraction at the zoo and had captivated generations of audiences since its inception at the zoo.
Officials at the zoo could not confirm a cause of death before the medical report was made available.
Speaking to Dawn, the Director of the Lahore Zoo Mohammad Shafqat said, "We won't be bringing a solo elephant, instead we'll bring a pair the next time."
Up until Saturday, only Karachi and Lahore zoos had elephants.
Suzi had spent more than 25 years of her life at the Lahore Zoo. The natural life span of elephants according to Zoo officials is about 50 years.
Zoos usually experience an influx of visitors during the holidays as people throng recreational spots, with zoos being po
A Life Devoted to the Modern Conservation Zoo: A Conservation with Zoo Legend Rick Barongi
The year is 1990 and Disney wants to build a fourth Florida theme park around animals and containing a replicated African safari. However, there’s one problem: the Imagineers who design the park know little about how to build naturalistic habitats for animals and meet their needs. When Disney consulted legendary Bronx Zoo director Bill Conway, he recommended contacting Rick Barongi then curator at the San Diego Zoo. While others likely would have said a massive safari recreating Africa in Central Florida couldn’t be done, Barongi took on the challenge and within a few years was working full time as the designer of the animal habitats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which opened in 1998. Luckily, I got to do a phone interview with him about undertaking this challenge and his entire 40 year career for Zoophoria.
The OLD Dolphins
There are definitely many reasons why I consider myself lucky. One of those reasons is that I've had the pleasure of knowing more than my fair share of Old Lady Dolphins. Considering today is Mother's Day in the U.S., I think today's topic is pretty fitting. In fact, I'd like to go even further and talk about a very special lady I got to know at my last job.
Chimp escapes enclosure at Honolulu Zoo prompting evacuation scare
A chimpanzee at the Honolulu Zoo caused a small scare for zoo visitors and staff Sunday.
Honolulu Zoo exhibit to remain closed after chimpanzee escapes
Elvis the ape escapes from zoo enclosure, injures volunteer
According to a city spokesperson, a chimp scaled the wall of the exhibit around noon before jumping off into the chimp holding area.
The spokesperson says the chimp never made it into a public space, but some zoo patrons were cleared from the area.
It took zoo staff ten minutes to get the animal back into his pen.
The spokesperson says all chimps will be kept in their holding pens until zoo staff can complete assessment of the exhibit's wall.
This isn't the first time the Honolulu Zoo has dealt with animals on the loose.
Almost two years ago, a 15-year-old male chimpanzee named Pu'iwa jumped off a barrel to escape from his cage.
A worker shot the chimp with a tranquilizer gun after Pu'iwa was later found sitting on top of the high wall outside the enclosure.
In the summer of 2012, Elvis the ape was able to leap over a moat from a wooden feeding platform to grab on to the outside wall and climb out.
Zookeepers didn't think he was capable of making the 12-foot leap. In a successful effort to get Elvis back in to his cage, zookeepers used CO2 canniste
Zookeeping all in the family for mom, daughter
Mother’s Day is usually a time when moms and their children get together to reminisce over brunch and flowers or maybe a long-distance phone call. But for mother-daughter zookeepers Jane Kennedy and Katie Garagarza, every day is cause for celebration.
The two Escondido women have worked together at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for 21 years, after Garagarza decided to follow in her mother’s well-worn footsteps. Kennedy, 59, is one of the park’s lead zookeepers and is known as the “Rhino lady” for her decades of devotion to saving the critically endangered African species. Garagarza, who at 37 is a senior zookeeper and has spent more than half her life working in the San Pasqual Valley animal park, most recently with Australian mammals.
Besides the family connection the women are also close friends, colleagues, animal experts and passionate conservationists.
“Working together has made our relationship much deeper than just a regular mother-daughter thing,” Garagarza said. “We have so much more in common and we can bounce ideas off each other.”
The two don’t work in the same department, but they do cross paths every day and are frequently together in their off hours spending time with Garagarza’s three children: Sofia, 7, Tomas, 5, and Elena, who will soon turn 4.
“I’m very proud of who she is, what she’s become and what she’s doing with her life,” Kennedy said of Garagarza, who’s a single mom. “She’s a great mother and role model for her children. And I’m impressed by her dedication to conservation of all these species that are in such desperate need of our help.”
Another of the park’s longtime employees, associate nutritionist Michele Gaffney, said she’s enjoyed watching Garagarza grow from girlhood to motherhood at the park.
“I have spent a lot of time with bot
In Zoos We Trust (In A Post-Truth World)
Americans’ relationships with traditional authorities has been evolving. Our distrust of the media and obsession with ‘fake news’ is the strongest and most recent illustration of this erosion that in actuality, has been occurring over the last decade.
Penguin enclosure runs up Rs 10 lakh power bill
The cost of maintaining the seven Humboldt penguins at the Veermata Jijabai Bhosale (VJB) Udyan and zoo in Byculla only seems to be increasing by the day.
The BMC will have to shell out over Rs 1 crore every year only as the electricity bill of the interpretation centre where the seven flightless birds are currently housed. Zoo officials said they have been receiving an electricity bill of up to Rs 10 lakh every month for the interpretation centre since it wa
Abilene Zoo: Jaguar ‘wriggled' way out of enclosure to escape
An Abilene Zoo investigation has determined “the most likely chain of events” that led to a jaguar’s escape from its enclosure and ultimately resulted in the death of a spider monkey.
The escape occurred May 15.
“It has been determined that the escape began when the animal (Estrella) scaled a 12-foot-tall artificial rock wall and forced her way under the cable and netting top,” said Bill Gersonde, the zoo’s executive director.
“She gained access to a crawl space between that rock wall and a cinderblock wall, scaled the cinderblock wall and forced her way out of an approximate 8-inch gap between that wall and the exhibit mesh top.”
The investigation included representatives of the zoo’s veterinary, animal care, and maintenance departments. The team, according to the release, examined living quarters – shared by sister jaguars Estrella and Luna – in a search for clues.
According to the investigation, the fact that Estrella is 120 pounds and of “active age” as a two-year-old cat “certainly contributed to her ability to wriggle out of the enclosure.”
The spider monkey, after being attack
Girl dragged into water by sea lion receives treatment for rare 'seal finger' disease
The young girl who was pulled off a dock by a sea lion in Canada is being treated for a rare bacterial infection sometimes called “seal finger,” ABC News reports.
The sea lion yanked the girl into the Richmond, B.C. harbor on Saturday after some people on the dock started feeding the animal breadcrumbs.
Video of the incident quickly spread across the internet, showing the sea lion pop out of the water, bite the girl’s dress, and drag her under water. A man then jumps in to get the girl back to safety.
Officials at the Vancouver Aquarium tell ABC that the child is getting medical treatment because of concerns that bacteria from
Polar bear project at Doncaster's Yorkshire Wildlife Park wins top honour
The Gold Award was presented by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) for the park’s Project Polar initiative which created a unique 10-acre reserve which is home to four male polar bears. The award recognises the excellence of the park’s work in establishing the large, naturalistic polar bear reserve with dens, pools and rolling landscapes. The park’s enclosure, one of the largest in the world, is home to Victor, Pixel, Nissan and Nobby. “It is fantastic to receive the award for something we care passionately about and work hard at,” said Simon Marsh, animal collections manager at the park, based at Branton, near Doncaster. “We wanted to show that pola
Erik Meijaard: How to Stop the Rot in Orangutan Protection
With some 10,000 orangutans having died a premature death in the past five years, there clearly has been collective failure by governmental and non-governmental organizations to implement effective conservation management for these species.
Sumatran orangutans have been Critically Endangered for a while, indicating severe population declines in the recent past and projecting similar declines in the near future.
Bornean orangutans were slightly better off, so we thought. But based on the first robust population trend analysis, recently conducted for Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, indicating a 25 percent decline in 10 years, this species is also likely to be listed as Critically Endangered.
The facts speak for themselves. Based on extensive community interviews, some 1,500-2,200 orangutans are killed in Kalimantan annually. We further estimate that we are losing some 3,000-6,000 square kilometers of habitat every year on Borneo, and this similarly translates in the loss of several thousand animals. These dead orangutans are real, not the fiction of some science crackpots!
The Indonesian government officially concurs with the above findings and thus recognizes that there has been little if any progress on its own goal of stabilizing all wild orangutan populations by 2017. Last year's Laporan Kinerja of the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), the Indonesian conservation authority, indicates that in the nine sites where the government is monitoring Bornean orangutans, there have been average population declines of 26.5 percent and 28.2 percent in 2013 and 2014 respectively. If accurate, this indicates the orangutans are miles away from population stability, and rapidly heading towards extinction.
How is it possible that after nearly five decades of hard conservation action we are still largely failing to achieve results? Let me summarize a few reasons.
Animals still in cages a year after Buenos Aires zoo closure
he roars of lions, snorts of rhinos and trumpets of elephants still blend with the cacophony of honking buses and screeching cars passing nearby in one of the most heavily congested areas of Argentina's capital.
A year after the 140-year-old Buenos Aires zoo closed its doors and was transformed into a park, hundreds of animals remain behind bars and in a noisy limbo.
Developers last July promised to relocate most of the zoo's 1,500 animals to sanctuaries in Argentina and abroad, but they had made no firm arrangements to do so. And a new master plan announced Tuesday still doesn't specify how they will accomplish it. Many of the animals are so zoo-trained that experts fear they would die if moved, even to wild animal preserves.
Conservationists also complain that the remaining animals still live in antiquated enclosures widely considered inhumane by modern standards — and say the city government's new plan gives few specifics of how improvements will be made.
"It's gone from bad to worse," said Claud
GUEST BLOG – DEREK GOW: A STATEMENT TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF CONSERVATIONISTS
Today’s guest post comes from Derek Gow. Derek is an ecologist, farmer and specialist in reintroducing native species; he pioneered the captive breeding and reintroduction of water voles almost 20 years ago, is a key player in the return of beavers to Britain, and is currently working on projects to reinstate white storks to our countryside.
I have been lucky to work on Derek’s farm and field projects over the last few years, and recently he wrote the below speech for a Wildlife Trusts event. Keen to spread the message to a wider audience, I was happy to post it on his behalf.
Me and so many other young people are at a crossroads as we seek to spend the rest of our lives in nature conservation. How can we attempt to haul up the boat if it is already sinking? What follows is a plea to do better, think better, and to never give in.
Exported baby elephants distraught
Pictures and a video were recently published on the Focusing on Wildlife website of some of the calves that are at the Hangzhou Safari Park. They were shown being kept behind bars and walking on concrete floors. The images were obtained by an animal welfare advocate named Chunmei Hu, the former general secretary of the Chinese Green Development and Endangered Species Fund. The video has since been reviewed by elephant experts, including co-founder of the Kenya-based Elephant Voices, Joyce Poole, who concluded that “their housing is totally unstimulating. They look like sad, locked-up little kids.”
Although the government and ZimParks are not very keen on revealing how many baby elephants have so far been exported to China, conservationists who have been vigilantly following the developments believe 17 of the calves ended up at Shanghai Wild Animal Park, 15 at the Beijing Wildlife Park and six at Hangzhou Safari Park.
A 2016 report on elephants in Asia said a tot
An Open Letter to Vancouver Park Board Members
Dear Park Board Members,
I know you've gotten a lot of feedback over your recent decision about Vancouver Aquarium. As someone who lives on the opposite end of the continent, who am I to pitch in another voice? Well, I had a very successful career as a marine mammal trainer for the past 12 years, and just recently left to pursue another passion. However, I am still very connected to the marine mammal community.
There is something really, really special about that place. I've only been once, but it is - in my opinion - one of the best aquariums in all aspects: research, animal wellness, habitat design, conservation messaging, insanely advanced and open-minded veterinary care, rescue/rehabilitation...and it doesn't hurt that it's in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Please believe me when I tell you that Vancouver Aquarium lives its conservation message.
The Truth About the Deadly Cat Trade
There’s a missing link in South Africa, not the one between homosapiens and modern humans.It’s a link between cub petting and the fast growing trade in exploiting and killing lions, and it’s one to which tourists seem extraordinarily blind.
Cuddling playful lion cubs, volunteering to feed and care for adorable young cats or walking with them may seem like a once in a lifetime opportunity. But what visitors don’t see is that for these big cats, this seemingly innocent start in life leads to canned hunting of lions for the overseas trophy trade, to lion farming in cruel conditions, or to the slaughter of these kingly creatures in order to meet the demand for their bone in the Far East.
Endangered species conservation: Partners making a difference
Loretta Lynch once said, “We all have a responsibility to protect endangered species, both for their sake and for the sake of our own future generations.” Conservation of these species is an ongoing challenge that requires the help of many people working toward a common goal.
“We are a brand that stands for conservation,” says Carrie Kuball, Mazuri® Sales and Technical Support Manager. “Whether they are someone’s pets or an endangered species in the wild, we want to help make exotic animals’ lives better no matter where they are in the world.”
One of the ways Mazuri® supports endangered species conservation is through sponsored partnerships of organizations with similar goals.
Species360: Global information serving conservation
Species360 is an international non-profit organization that maintains the ZIMS online knowledgebase of wildlife in human care.
“Our database helps more than 1,050 institutions in 90 countries give the best care possible to their unique animals,” explains Peter Donl
Fight against deadly fungus wins Paignton Zoo a top award
How a Tiny Worm is Irritating the Most Majestic of Giraffes
What is a fly to a giraffe?
It’s difficult to imagine a single insect even coming to the attention of these peculiar animals, which weigh in at thousands of pounds and routinely stretch their necks to heights of more than 14 feet. In Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park, however, Michael B. Brown, a wildlife conservation researcher, has noticed something that might be harder to ignore: Whole clouds of insects swarming around the necks of these quadrupedal giants.
Kaufman Calls on North American Aquariums to Refocus on Conservation in the Wild
Les Kaufman, a Professor of Biology and a Faculty Research Fellow at the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, recently took part in the annual Regional Aquatic Workshop (RAW), hosted by the New England Aquarium (NEAq). The week-long workshop featured representatives from many of North America’s professional aquariums, in addition to vendors from industry and technology who support these institutions.
Prof. Kaufman organized a plenary panel, in collaboration with colleagues from NEAq’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life, to examine global priorities for aquatic conservation. The panel illuminated pathways to more effective conservation of aquatic habitats and species by drawing upon three case studies: sharks and rays (Hap Fatzinger, Director, North Carolina Aquariums), coral reefs (Joe Yaiullo, Long Island Aquarium), and tropical freshwaters (Mike O’Neill, NEAq, and a member of Kaufman’s team studying fish biodiversity in Lake Victoria). Prof. Kaufman framed and concluded the panel, while the other three speakers gave accounts of conservation successes achieved through regional coop
Vancouver park board worries whale fight could sour relations with aquarium
Vancouver Park Board commissioners are worried their relationship with the Vancouver Aquarium could suffer if their cetacean ban battle ends up in court.
“If it goes to court, that’s going to make things tough. (The relationship) soured a bit in 2014 when they took legal action on our jurisdiction on a (cetacean) breeding ban,” said park board chairman Michael Wiebe. “But we have a (lease) with them until 2029 and they will continue to be a world leader in marine science.”
On Monday evening, the park board voted six-to-one in favour of a ban on cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium. Three resident cetaceans — false killer whale Chester, Helen the white-sided dolphin, and Daisy the porpoise — will be allowed to live out their lives at the aquarium.
Erin Shum — the lone commissioner who opposed the ban — said the bylaw puts “millions of taxpayer and resident dollars on the line” should the aquarium decide to fight back.
“The legal and financial implications of this decision have not been adequately addressed,” said Shum.
Aquarium president and CEO John Nightingale has not rule
Ligers and tigons: activists aim to outlaw 'inhumane' breeding of frankencats
A coalition of US conservation groups has launched an attempt to outlaw the breeding of so-called frankencats, where big cats such as tigers and lions are crossed with each other to create unusual and often unhealthy specimens.
A petition filed with the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday calls for an end to the “inhumane” interbreeding of large felines, claiming that the practice clashes with federal animal welfare laws because of the increased probability of resulting health problems such as cancer, cleft palates, arthritis and depression.
Pairing a male tiger with a female lion creates a tigon, while a male lion and a female tiger produces a liger. Some breeders, such as Oklahoma-based Joe Schreibvogel, who also goes by the title Joe Exotic, have taken this a step further by breeding liligers, the offspring of a male lion and a female liger, and tiligers, the result of breeding a male tiger and a female liger.
Research has shown this cross-breeding can heighten the risk of various ailments. Tigons can experience dwarfism while gigantism is known to occur in ligers. Hercules, a liger who resides at the Myrtle Beach Safari wildlife reserve in South Carolina, was named the world’s largest living cat in 2014, weighing 922lb.
White tigers occur when two Bengal tigers that carry a recessive gene that influences coat colour are bred together. White Bengal tigers have also been crossed with Siberian tigers in order to create a larger animal, which can be affected by even more inherited health problems.
The offspring are prone to becoming cross-eyed, as well as facing other maladies, due to their genetic past. Scientists have found
Baby elephants to be exported to Dubai zoo
A spokesman for the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) has confirmed that all CITES requirements have been met for the issue of export permits, and that the United Arab Emirates CITES Scientific Authority has issued the necessary permits for importation of the elephants.
Eden Game Farm is a private game farm and registered game dealer in the Grootfontein district, near Etosha National Park. The farm is owned by a Swedish national.
The sale of baby elephants from Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park to China in 2015 attracted heavy criticism from wildlife experts and activists alike, after some elephants died and others showed signs of malnutrition and neglect.
The MET spokesman said he was not concerned about the same happening in this instance, as Eden Game Farm had satisfied all the relevant compliance procedures. He said that the baby elephants would be kept in isolation after capture, and inspected prior to
The vanishing animals that future generations will never see
Some of the world’s most exotic animals could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned, with future generations growing up in a world without many of the species that are alive today.
The WWF claims that some animals, such as the vaquita porpoise, could be wiped out in the next few months.
Some would now be extinct had zoos not provided a ‘Noahs Ark’ from which to reestablish populations.
Scientists to probe dolphin intelligence using an interactive touchpad
Using optical technology specifically developed for this project, dolphins at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, are at the center of research from an interdisciplinary team from Hunter College and Rockefeller University. The system involves an underwater computer touchscreen through which dolphins are able to interact and make choices. The system, the first of its kind, will be used to investigate dolphin intelligence and communication by providing them choice and control over a number of activities. Researchers believe this technology will help extend the high-throughput revolution in biology that has brought us whole genome sequencing and the BRAIN project, into the field of animal cognition.
Rescued – only to die of poor care
Thousands of protected animals seized by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) have died in the hands of the authority in the past year due to mishandling.
These animals, many of which are endangered species and exotic, were being smuggled or kept illegally by local pet owners when they were seized.
A source said the lack of expertise and knowledge to handle these animals in captivity led to their death.
Among the animals that died in Perhilitan custody were 1,000 Indian Star tortoises and 10 juvenile and baby langurs.
These two species were seized from illegal dealers in mid-2016 and March 27 respectively.
Other animals that have died in the Perhilitan rescue centres include Asian Leopard Cats, small primates including endangered gibbons, and exotic white-rumped Shamas (murai batu).
The source said these animals were among many other seized species kept at the department’s National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai, Perak, and at Sungai Tengi, Selangor.
These two husbandries are Perhilitan’s main holding cen
‘You’d come in and think, what’s dead or escaped?’: inside Britain's most controversial zoo
It’s 2pm at South Lakes Safari zoo. “Free entry!” reads the cheerful banner tacked on to the rustic wooden entrance gate. “Hand feed a baby giraffe!” But these enticements seem to have missed their mark today: I’m the only visitor. The enormous gift shop filled mostly with stuffed animals is empty of humans. The £20 family meal deals at the “Maki” zoo restaurant remain untouched. I trudge up the long, circular path, past sodden vultures hunched behind coiled barbed wire, pacing big cats and many upbeat, brightly coloured signs telling me the names all the animals have been given. The zoo’s miniature train is not in operation today, due to a lack of passengers.
Why is no one here? Perhaps because it’s a rainy, grey Wednesday in March. More likely, though, it’s the unsettling reports that have been appearing since last June.
When the zoo’s licence came up for renewal last summer, government inspectors revealed that 486 animals had died between December 2013 and September 2016, many of them in cruel circumstances. The zoo had already been in the headlines because, on 24 May 2013, a 23-year-
Learning from zoos – how our environment can influence our health
We are told that we are a nation of couch potatoes, lacking the will and the strength to turn around the obesity tanker. We all need a little help in our quest for a healthier life and design can play a crucial part. If we designed our towns, cities, homes and workplaces more like animal experts design zoos, we could be one step nearer to reaching our fitness goals – as long as we can have some fun along the way.
It is reported that British people will be the fattest in Europe by 2025 and that if we want to reverse this we should have a healthier lifestyle by exercising more and eating less. But we are often made to feel guilty for not sticking to theses healthy lifestyle plans. I would suggest that before we start blaming people for adopting sedentary lifestyles, we should be taking a step back to look at the design of the environments, towns and cities in which we live.
Chimpanzee drowns at Odense Zoo
Fleeing from the group, a male chimpanzee fell into the moat and couldn’t swim
Ricardo, a 20-year-old chimpanzee who came to Odense in 2015 from a French zoo as part of a breeding program, drowned in the moat of the chimpanzee enclosure at Odense Zoo earlier today.
The animal died after trying to escape from the others in the group – the consequence of a long period of escalating tensions between them.
How Tory U-turn on the antique ivory trade will threaten elephants in the wild
Back in January I wrote an article for The Conversation applauding China’s announcement to close its ivory trade and processing activities by the end of 2017. A shocked but delighted conservation lobby hailed the move as a potential turning point in the protection of wild elephants.
But now the UK Conservative party has quietly dropped a manifesto commitment to ban the ivory trade. I am as concerned today as I was happy back in January.
China’s announcement followed a major global conference in September 2016. CITES, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – imagine a sort-of UN for the illegal wildlife trade – recommended that its 183 member states “close their domestic markets for commercial trade in raw and worked ivory as a matter of urgency”.
In line with the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto promise “to press for a total ban on ivory sales”, the government also responded positively by announcing plans for a ban on sales of modern day ivory. Britain’s rules would be among the world’s most stringent.
There are more than 2,000,000 pieces of ivory in Britain’s h
Singapore now world’s second-largest shark fin trader
Despite various moves here in recent years, such as hotels removing shark’s fin from their restaurant menus, for example, Singapore has moved up the ranks to become the world’s second-biggest trader of the product, a report has found.
Traffic, a wildlife-trade monitoring network, and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), which published the report, noted that an in-depth analysis of the trade in Singapore was hampered by a lack of detail in the Singapore Customs’ import and export data, TODAY reported on Friday.
They urged the government department to begin recording data on the trade using the internationally recognised harmonised system (HS) codes developed by the World Customs Organisation, and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has told them that this was under way. The use of HS codes to classify goods, including shark commodities, was introduced in 1967, Singapore Customs told TODAY.
The report indicated that Singapore should “immediately scrutinise” its practices including its HS codes, which do not distinguish the different types of shark products or provide for all protected species.
The analysis of Singapore’s role in the shark and ray trade found that, on the export front, the country placed second after Hong Kong, with trade valued at US$40 million (S$55 million) between 2012 and 2013.
This was 11.1% lower than Hong Kong’s US$45 million. Singapore is also the second-largest importer of shark’s fin after H
Outstanding Student to Outstanding Professional: Alumna Rachel Emory's Role in the Care of Elephants in Captivity
In 2014, Rachel Emory won the Outstanding Undergraduate Academic and Promise in Zoology award. She was recognized at Michigan State for her performance aRachel standing next to an elephant in Indias an undergraduate inside and outside the classroom. She worked at the MSU museum in the care of vertebrate collections, participated in undergraduate research, had two internships in her field, and built a network of staff, advisors, and peers who supported her and learned from her during her time at state. Two weeks after graduation, Rachel moved to Oklahoma to take on her dream position as Elephant Keeper at the Oklahoma City Zoo. Since then she has traveled to India to work with rescued elephants and been promoted to Lead Elephant Caretaker. She is a member of a team that has built an incredibly successful platform of commitment to the health and care of elephants in captivity. I reached out to her to learn more about her role at the zoo and elephant care internationally, as well as her transition from being a student in the Zoology program at MSU to being a professional in the zoological field; here is what she had to say:
When animal rights extremism exposes the worst of humanity
It's hard to feel sorry for a man with a gun who hunts elephants for sport. But that's one of the many problems with animal rights extremists. In their religious zeal to place the world's beasts on an equal footing with people, they always manage to snatch defeat when an emphatic victory is handed to them. How ironic, really, that attempting to save animals sometimes exposes the worst of human traits.
But irony has been a word bandied about way too often in the past week. It's why I've come to feel such sorrow over the events following the death of Theunis Botha. Amid all the carnage inflicted on the world over the past seven days, you may have missed the news about the passing of this 51-year-old fo
Karnataka: What’s the beef! Our zoos hit hardest
There's a change of menu for the carnivores in all zoos across the state. Come Saturday and the big cats like the tigers, lions and leopards will be fed sheep and goat meat as the Union government has banned cattle slaughter
The move is expected to dig a deep hole in the zoos' pockets as mutton is much costlier. The worst hit could be the century-old Sri Chamarajendra Zoological Park or the Mysuru Zoo, the Bannerghatta National Park and Shivamogga Zoo which have fed their carnivores, beef for years.
With the ban in place, they will have to give up buying cow and buffalo meat for their animals as cattle covers all bovin
China’s ‘animal hell’ zoo displays dead snake, dazed bear and crocodile living with rubbish
Hainan zoo ordered to clean up its act
A zoo in southern China has been described as an animal hell by a visitor with one creature seen dead in its box by a reporter and a pond for a crocodile piled with rubbish, according to a news website report.
The Haikou Golden Bull Ridge Zoo on Hainan island looked like the area had been abandoned on Tuesday, according to the report by Hinews.cn.
Stem Cells for Zoos: Conservation with Cellular Technologies
Stem cells are recognized for their therapeutic promise in regenerative medicine. A contributor looks at how they are also used to save endangered species.
Four hours north of Nairobi, closely safeguarded by armed security, the last remaining northern white rhinoceros are waiting for extinction. Only three animals are left, all three of them living in a 700-acre enclosure within the Ol Pejeta Conservancy Park: there is Sadu, a 43 year-old male, the 27-year-old female Najin and her 16-year-old daughter Fatu. Once roaming great parts of Eastern and Central Africa, heavy poaching diminished their number to just a handful of individuals.
The last successful birth of a northern white rhinoceros was in 2000, with all following reproduction efforts in captivity staying unsuccessful. Natural reproduction is sadly out of reach for the last three individuals, with Sadu having a low sperm count, a difficult leg injury of Najin and a uterine disorder in Fatu that prevents her from becoming pregnant.
The sad truth is that many more species will share this dark prospect with the three rhinos. With largely human-made threats ranging from excessive poaching, loss of habitat, climate change and disease, many species are simply not capable of adapting fast enough to endure the ever increasing environmental pressure they are facing. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is providing detailed information on the co
SeaWorld Abu Dhabi
It is the first Seaworld marine park to be opened outside the US. Planned in Abu Dhab's Yas Island, the park is supposed to be the ideal ground for recreation as well as be a platform for awareness where people will be sensitized how endangered and rare species like dugong can be conserved and protected. Come 2022 and you will be able to soak in the exhilarating experience.
Scientists May Be ‘Vastly’ Underestimating The Extinction Risk Facing Some Species
The IUCN Red List paints a grim picture of the biodiversity loss we are facing as a planet. In 2016, tens of thousands of mammals, birds, insects, plants and other organisms were found to be under threat from extinction, according to the list. Of that number, more than 5,000 were considered critically endangered, including iconic species like the leatherback turtle, the Antarctic blue whale, and both subspecies of orangutan — all creatures right at the precipice of vanishing forever.
But as staggering as those numbers may sound, they may still be vast underestimates, according to a recent study out of Columbia University that challenged the accuracy of methods used by the International Union for Conservation of Nature to determine the status of species.
Specifically, the researchers concluded that the IUCN has been “systematically overestimating” the size of the habitat in which species can thrive ― errors that have possibly led to an underestimation of the number of organisms under threat of extinction wor
Zoo Knoxville finds 'toxic agent' likely killed 34 reptiles in March
Leaders at Zoo Knoxville believe a "toxic agent" caused the deaths of 34 reptiles in one of its reptile buildings in March.
No animals have been kept in that building since then, and the zoo said Friday the building will no longer be used to house animals.
Originally, the zoo said 33 reptiles died overnight in late March. Zoo Knoxville President and CEO Lisa New now connect 34 reptile deaths to the possible toxic agent, including a hatchling that died a week later.
The reptiles died sometime between the hours of 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 21, and 8 a.m. Wednesday, March 22, the zoo said.
Veterinarians at the University of Tennessee College of Vet Medicine determined that the necropsy results, which showed swollen blood vessels and changes in the liver and the heart, were most consistent with a toxic agent.
However, the zoo added, substances like carbon mono
Edinburgh’s giant panda was artificially inseminated two months ago, zoo reveals
EDINBURGH Zoo panda Tian Tian has been artificially inseminated after coming into season at the earliest time since arriving in Scotland.
As a result, zoo chiefs are now more confident than ever that the giant panda will produce a cub – the UK’s first – this summer.
The decision to go ahead with artificial insemination came after the zoo decided there was now no prospect of Tian Tian and Yang Guang mating naturally.
Panda experts at Edinburgh Zoo began monitoring her hormone levels in December and artificially inseminated Tian Tian mid March when she hit peak oestrus levels.
PANDA BREEDING FURY Edinburgh Zoo bosses blasted after revealing fifth attempt to get giant panda Sweetie pregnant
Watch: Inside South Lakeland Safari Park
As the new team in charge of South Lakeland Safari Park formally take over, ITV Border goes behind the scenes at the zoo to see what's on the new owner's agenda.
Cumbria Zoo Company Limited was granted the new licence on Tuesday, to run the troubled zoo where hundreds of animals and a zoo keeper died.
The Chief Executive told Hannah McNulty animal welfare is their top priority.
Dreamworld animals depressed during park closure in wake of Thunder River Rapids tragedy
DREAMWORLD’S animal stars suffered extraordinary depths of depression in the wake of last year’s Thunder River Rapids tragedy — and joy at the park’s reopening — research has revealed.
More than six months on from the disaster which claimed four lives, Dreamworld life sciences manager Al Mucci has told a Zoo and Aquarium Association Australasia conference that mood levels of animals in the park plummeted during the two-month closure, but quickly rebounded when visitors returned.
Taking samples from the droppings of Dreamworld’s tigers and koalas, biologists from the University of Queensland were able to measure levels of cortisol, a hormone which varies depending on triggers such as stress, fear or anxiety.
Cortisol levels typically spike after visits from the Dreamworld vet for injections or following periods of construction in the park.
Readings skyrocketed after the park closure in
John Nightingale's song to save a place for whales hits some wrong notes
Vancouver Aquarium president John Nightingale raised some eyebrows this week as he defended the need to keep rescuing and capturing cetaceans.
As the debate about cetaceans in captivity enters a new round of debate, Nightingale's level of rhetoric and his revisionist history of the charged issue rose.
Nightingale claimed the Aquarium didn't deliberately use whales for entertainment —"we never did shows" — and described displays as feeding and training sessions with onlookers.
He said a ban on cetaceans would mean many more of them would die and that he was "flabbergasted" that politicians would even suggest such a thing.
The Role of Architectural Design in Promoting the Social Objectives of Zoos
A Study of Zoo Exhibit Design with Reference to Selected Exhibits in Singapore Zoological Gardens
Cowbirds' Secret Identity Is Unlocked By A Vocal Password
Cowbirds have a big problem: because they are raised by foster parents of different species, they are faced with an identity crisis. But they deal with this by relying on a vocal password to unlock their inner secret identity and to trigger learning of who they really are
Battling to save the Ethiopian wolf – Africa’s rarest carnivore
Most members of the Canidae family, such as wolves, dogs and foxes, are versatile and opportunistic animals, thriving in many habitats and some even living in urban and suburban settings. In contrast, Ethiopian wolves are highly specialised to life in the Ethiopian highlands. Also called the “Roof of Africa”, it encompasses 80% of Africa’s land above 3,000m.
They are remarkable rodent hunters, with long muzzles and slender legs. Their tight social bonds help them protect their precious family territories from competitors. For a canid of their size (about 14-20kg - the weight of a medium-sized dog), Ethiopian wolves are unique at surviving on small prey (most highland rodent species weigh less than 100g) and are solitary foragers. With their striking red coats and black and white markings, they appear physically distant from their closest relative, the grey wolf.
These qualities made them successful colonisers of an expanding ecosystem as the African glaciers retreated during the end of the last ice age, but paradoxically have contributed to their demise.
Due to a warming continent, in the last 100,000 years the tree line has gone up by 1,000m encroaching on open Afroalpine grasslands and meadows. Due to the pressure of humans, livestock and domestic dogs, the wolves are now restricted to tiny
Parasite living inside fish eyeball controls its behaviour
A common parasite that lives in fish eyeballs seems to be a driver behind the fish’s behaviour, pulling the strings from inside its eyes.
When the parasite is young, it helps its host stay safe from predators. But once the parasite matures, it does everything it can to get that fish eaten by a bird and so continue its life cycle.
The eye fluke Diplostomum pseudospathaceum has a life cycle that takes place in three different types of animal. First, parasites mate in a bird’s digestive tract, shedding their eggs in its faeces. The eggs hatch in the water into larvae that seek out freshwater snails to infect. They grow and multiply inside the snails before being released into the water, ready to track down their next host, fish. The parasites then penetrate the skin of fish, and travel to the lens of the eye to hide out and grow. The fish then get eaten by a bird – and the
Three new sub-species of snow leopard discovered
A recent research paper in the Journal of Heredity reveals that there are three sub-species of snow leopard. Until now, researchers had assumed this species, Panthera uncia, was monotypic.
Studying snow leopard scat from wildlife trails and marking sites revealed three primary genetic clusters, differentiated by geographical location: the Northern group, Panthera uncia irbis, found in the Altai region, the Central group, Panthera uncia uncioides, found in the core Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau, and the Western group, Panthera uncia uncia, found in the Tian Shan, Pamir, and trans-Himalaya regions. This is the first range-wide genetic analysis of wild snow leopard populations.
The snow leopard is considered the world's most elusive large big cat and inhabits a vast area of around 1.6 million km2 across 12 countries in Asia. It is a high-altitude specialist that primarily occupies mountains above 3,000m in elevation, a habitat characterized by low oxygen levels, low productivity, temperature extremes, aridity, and harsh climactic conditions. The snow leopard is the largest carnivore in its high-altitude habitat in many areas and is under substantial threat throughout its range.
The snow leopard remains the last of the five big cats to be the subject of a comprehensive subspecies assessment. This gap in research is a direct result of three challenges: the snow leopard inhabits remote regions that are often politically unstable and therefore harder to access, opportunities for radio or GPS tracking are limited because snow leopards are difficult to obser
Sexual dimorphism in African elephant social rumbles
This study used the source and filter theory approach to analyse sex differences in the acoustic features of African elephant (Loxodonta africana) low-frequency rumbles produced in social contexts (‘social rumbles’). Permuted discriminant function analysis revealed that rumbles contain sufficient acoustic information to predict the sex of a vocalizing individual. Features primarily related to the vocalizer’s size, i.e. fundamental frequency variables and vocal tract resonant frequencies, differed significantly between the sexes. Yet, controlling for age and size effects, our results indicate that the pronounced sexual size dimorphism in African elephants is partly, but not exclusively, responsible for sexual differences in social rumbles. This provides a scientific foundation for future work investigating the perceptual and functional relevance of specific acoustic characteristics in African elephant vocal sexual communication.
Seoul Zoo eager to restore Korean leopards
Seoul Zoo said Thursday it is pushing to introduce Amur leopards in an effort to restore Korean leopards, which died out in the region during Japanese colonial rule in the early 20th century.
To that end, the zoo will hold a seminar on the conservation of Amur leopards by inviting renowned zoologist Jo Cook, the head of the London-based Amur Leopard and Tiger Alliance on Friday, Seoul Zoo head Lee Ki-seop said. Cook is also the chief manager of a program to breed and manage Amur leopards at the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
"We plan to intensively introduce our preparations, including a leopard pen, as Jo Cook's judgment is crucial in introducing Amur leopards," he said.
While in Seoul, the ALTA leader is scheduled to discuss the zoo's introduction of Amur leopards from Russia or Europe after inspecting their breeding facilities, Lee said.
According to the zoo, extinct Korean leopards are genetically identical to Amur leopards, which are currently found only in the Russian Far East and northeastern China. The Korean Peninsula was their major habitat in the past.
Many Korean leopards were found on the peninsula even until the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910). Their population rapidly declined due to indiscriminate poaching during the Japanese colonial rule (1910-45). Moreover, their habita
French marine park challenges ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins
A French marine park plans to fight a newly introduced ban on breeding killer whales and dolphins in captivity, saying that putting it into practice could be cruel.
The ban was announced last week as part of government attempts to improve the living conditions of captive marine mammals in marine parks.
It mirrors a move in California to outlaw breeding of killer whales and which was aimed at bringing an end to the practice of holding the creatures in tanks for human entertainment.
Jon Kershaw, Wildlife Director at Antibes' Marineland in southern France, told Reuters TV that the new law communicated by the environment ministry on Saturday could hurt the animals.
"To impose this law, and I am talking about imposing, on the animals, we will have to put them under stress. We will separate them. We will give them chemical treatments for fear of them reproducing. I am sure that this will have an effect on the animals' life expectancy, so it's not normal, it's not logical to establish on the one hand a decree made for protecting animals, and on the other hand harming them like that. I don't understand," he said.
He said he intended to fight against implementation of the law, first by establishing what legal action can be taken and by launching petitions.
French activist Caroline Camus of 'Sans Voix PACA,' an organisation in the Provence, Alpes Cote d'Azur (PACA) region whose name trans
Not a lizard nor a dinosaur, tuatara is the sole survivor of a once-widespread reptile group
Have you ever heard of the tuatara? It’s a reptile that decapitates birds with its saw-like jaws, lives to about 100 years old, and can remain active in near-freezing temperatures.
It’s also the sole survivor of a lineage as old as the first dinosaurs.
May 2017 marks 150 years since the tuatara was first recognised not to be a lizard.
Most tuatara exist on windswept offshore New Zealand islands, where they spend their days in burrows or basking lazily in the sun.
In the evening they are more active, and use their large eyes to spot a variety of prey such as beetles, spiders and snails. They also occasionally eat lizards, frogs, baby tuatara and birds – the headless bodies of birds are not infrequently reported from their island homes.
Although capable of bursts of speed, tuatara have a reputation for slowness. They grow slowly, they reproduce slowly and they live for a long time.
Interestingly, they are most active at cool temperatures (5-18℃) that would put many other reptiles out of action. New Zealand lizards have similar traits, suggesting that these characteristics are relatively recent adaptations to local conditions.
The tuatara is often referred to as having a third eye because of a light-sensitive organ on the top of its head, similar to the ones found
Why India is going bananas over birth control for monkeys
On a typical afternoon in a posh neighborhood here, a troop of rhesus macaque monkeys climb the wall of an apartment building to the rooftop water tanks with a specific goal.
Swinging like circus performers until one of the water pipes snaps off, the monkeys rush to drink the spraying water.
Government responds to turtle concerns
Government has defended the decision to relocate turtles from the Great Sound during the America’s Cup after questions were raised by Greenrock.
In a statement this afternoon, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Environment said: “It is well known in the sea turtle conservation community that where there are turtles and boats, there will be collisions.
“Every year, noticeably during boating season, the BAMZ Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre sees turtle injuries resulting from strikes from marine craft.
“After considering the options, it was decided that the risks to the turtles resulting from collision outweighs the risks associated with a temporary holding period until there is a reduction in boating traffic.”
The plan was initially announced on Sunday, with a statement saying that turtles would be caught in the Great Sound and transported to a purpose-built ocean enclosure near the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo this month and next.
Jonathan Starling, executive director of Greenrock, responded that while the charity understood the reasoning for the action, it had concerns about the impact of the relocation on the turtles and the wider environment.
Among the specific issues raised by the charity were the risk of the turtles harming each other, spreading illnesses and disruption of the animal’s eating habits.
In their latest statement, government responded to many of the questions, saying that efforts were being made to minimise any impact on the turtles.
“Turtles are currently captured and released annually via netting procedures as part of local research and conservation efforts,” the statement said. “Bermuda has established procedures with experienced personnel. This effort will build on that expertise.
“The turtles will be released inside a purpose-built enclosure. The enclos
Rescue plan could stress out turtles
A plan to relocate sea turtles in advance of the America’s Cup has sparked concerns from environmentalists about the impact on the animals’ health.
The plan is intended to protect turtles from the heavy marine traffic anticipated in the Great Sound.
However, Greenrock executive director Jonathan Starling said confining the turtles could lead to illness and stress while failing to prevent other turtles from entering the race area.
“We recognise the reasoning behind the action,” Mr Starling said.
“We are hopeful that this action will, indeed, reduce the potential for sea turtles to be injured or killed during the heightened marine activity of the America’s Cup. If it even saves one turtle that otherwise would have been killed, that’s great.
“Despite this, there are questions that need to be asked.”
The Ministry of the Environment announced on Sunday that it would be temporarily relocating sea turtles from the Great Sound to a “purpose-built ocean enclosure” near the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo until the end of the event.
In response to the news, Mr Starling posed a range of questions about the feasibility and ecological impact of the plan, including what the impact would be on the relocated turtles.
“There are welfare considerations about keeping a concentrated number of turtles in a much smaller enclosure to what they’re familiar with,” he said.
“There is a risk of increased disease in such a situation — particularly fibropapillomatosis, a form of highly contagious tumours. There is a risk of turtles hurting each other f
Overfishing is hammering South America’s rare river stingrays
Argentina’s giant river stingray can grow up to 1.5 meters long and weigh more than 200 kilograms. But its massive size is no protection against fishermen, who are hunting freshwater stingrays at a worrisome pace, according to a new study. Scientists have long known that saltwater rays, sharks, and other cartilaginous fish face daunting challenges including overfishing and loss of coastal habitat. But this is the first look at the population status of river stingrays, which have evolved to live exclusively in freshwater. South America boasts the greatest diversity, with 32 species in the Amazon and other rivers. In the new study, researchers netted stingrays from six species in Argentina’s Paraná River from 2005 to 2016 and used those numbers to estimate their population. Their finding: Five species saw their numbers plummet up to 25% a year, they report in the current issue of Biological Conservation. To find out why, the team checked each stingray for a missing tail—a sure sign that a fisherman had once caught it. When fishermen hook stingrays in Argentina, they typically cut off the stingers to make them safer to handle before throwing them back into the river. The researchers discovered a higher proportion of healed tails in smaller populations, which suggests that fishing is taking a tol
10 selfish reasons to save elephants
It sometimes feels as if we are living in the elephant’s darkest hour. China may be closing down its domestic ivory trade and the EU getting to grips with smuggling, yet the poachers continue their bloody business. Meanwhile, forests are being destroyed, herds’ migration routes are being blocked, and humans and elephants are competing ever more fiercely for land, food and water.
So this is a good time to point out that humans have plenty of selfish reasons to make space for elephants. It’s not a question of giving them a free lunch: they can pay their own way.
Reintroducing flamingos in the British Virgin Islands
There are few things I enjoy more than waking up in the morning, looking up to the skies and seeing a flamboyance of flamingos flying past. But until very recently, flamingos didn’t exist in this part of the world.
I spend a lot of my life working on animal conservation. One cause very close to my heart is trying to reintroduce species that have previously disappeared from British Virgin Islands. Many of you will know about our conservations efforts with lemurs on Necker Island, which continue to thrive here in the BVI. But our efforts with flamingos may be less well known.
Millionaire zoo owner at centre of RSPCA cruelty probe ‘made £300k by flogging a herd of buffalo to a HUNTING ranch’
A ZOO owner at the centre of a cruelty probe made £300,000 selling buffalo to be killed by hunters, it is claimed.
David Gill is also accused of flogging deer knowing they would be shot at a ranch.
They were among almost 2,500 animals he is said to have sent to a ranch as he could not afford to feed them.
Wildcats are returning to the Netherlands
Wildcats are making a comeback in the Netherlands and their numbers are increasing, Trouw writes on Wednesday. The occasional wildcat (Felis Silvestris) had already been spotted in the southernmost tip of the country in the 1990s but according to research carried out by nature organisation Ark Natuurontwikkeling in 2014 and 2015, wildcats are crossing the border with Germany into Limburg more frequently and in greater numbers. Wildcats are very difficult to distinguish from a normal tabby and the only real way to identify them is to look at their dna which usually happens when one is run over by a car, Trouw writes. ‘We knew drifters came to South Limburg e
Breaking news: Zoo licence granted by councillors after seven hour meeting
The future of a controversial zoo has been secured for the next four years during a crucial meeting today.
Cumbria Zoo company ltd was granted a licence to operate south lakes safari zoo by members of Barrow Borough Council's licencing regulatory committee.
But directors of the new company, formed in January, have been told they must meet a long list of conditions not risk breaching their licence.
Cumbria Zoo boss Karen Brewer said it felt 'liberating' to finally be in control of the Dalton attraction's destiny.
"This is the first time that I can sit before you and give you my own thoughts rather than those of my former employer.
"It feels like all the hard work of the last 17 weeks have finally paid off.
"It also feels liberating to be in control of the destiny of the zoo," she added.
The decision was made following a site visit to the zoo this morning and a tense six hour meeting at Barrow Town Hall.
Written evidence was read out from former zoo employee James Potter while a representative from the Captive Animal Protection Society also urged councillors to reject the licence application.
But Cumbria Zoo directors attempted to allay fears for the welfare of animals with the introduction of the firm's new curator; Austrian zoo consultant Andreas Kaufmann.
Mr Kaufmann confirmed he had been offered a job at Dalton zoo last year but had turned it down because he did not want to work under the leadership of its founder David Gill.
He said: "The main difference now is that there are professionals in place who cooperate with each other and know the value of expert veterinary advice.
"Now, there is nobody ignorant or non-edu
Dan Fumano: Will rocky relationship between park board, aquarium end up in court?
The head of the Vancouver Aquarium said he’s not ruling out the possibility of taking the Park Board to court over the future of whales and dolphins in Stanley Park, with tensions between the two sides at an all-time high.
On Tuesday, members of the public — as well as aquarium management — will get their first look at details of proposed bylaw amendments to ban the import and display of live cetaceans in Vancouver parks.
A staff report, including the proposed amendments, will be available online Tuesday, and the park board will then vote on the proposal at a meeting next Monday evening (May 15). If the board votes to enact the amendments, the change would take effect immediately.
“Until we see the exact wording of the bylaw, nobody is quite sure what the park board is intending to do,” said Aquarium CEO and president John Nightingale. Asked if a legal challenge could be a possible response, Nightingale replied: “All options are open.”
Nightingale, who has worked at the aquarium for 24 years, said the relationship between his organization and the park board, right now, is “as tense as it’s ever been.”
And as the two sides have exchanged increasingly pointed barbs in public over recent months, it becomes tougher to imagine how the relationship can be salvaged.
There’s a recent precedent for a legal skirmish between the two sides, but there was never a resolution. In July 2014, the park board passed a
Malaysia seizes $2m pangolin scales
Malaysia has seized more than $2 million worth of scales from pangolins, the world's most poached animal, at Kuala Lumpur airport in the largest haul seen in the country, officials said on Monday.
Customs officials acting on a tip-off discovered 712kg of scales at the airport's cargo warehouse, where they had been shipped in 18 sacks using false documents, Customs Department assistant director-general Paddy Abdul Halim said.
Wildlife and National Parks Department deputy director of enforcement Rozidan Md Yasin said an estimated 1,400 pangolins had been killed to produce the amount of scales seized.
Malaysia has previously been singled out by wildlife conservationists as a transit point for the illegal trafficking of endangered species to other Asian countries.
Shy and near-sighted, pangolins only venture out from the safety of their burrows or tree-top homes at night to scour for insects. When startled, they curl up into a ball -- a technique that is futile against the cable snares set by hunters.
All eight of the world's species of pangolin, which range from 30cm to 100cm length, are threatened with extinction.
The scales were shipped from Africa in two se
Vietnam works to end bear bile farming
Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development statistics from 2015 revealed that only about 1,200 bears are kept on bile farms across the country. A record of 4,300 bears bred in Vietnam was reported in 2005.
However, the Vietnamese Government, organisations and community must make greater efforts to close bear bile farms forever.
According to the Education for Nature-Vietnam, the Republic of Korea sterilised all captive bile bears to prevent the expansion of the population of bears that are exploited for their bile. About 660 sterilised bears on 36 farms will be the last to suffer for their bile.
Gilbert Sape, head of Bears and Traditional Medicine at the World Animal Protection (WAP), said the sterilisation programme is a landmark step towards phasing out the bear bile industry in the country.
The 14-year programme, funded by the Korean Government with the support of the WAP and Green Korea United (GKU), aims to prevent new bears from entering the industry, he said.
It sends out a clear message that it is unacceptable for g
Taiwan seizes 3 'world's most expensive' tortoises at airport
A Malaysian tourist was caught on Sunday at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for trying to smuggle into Taiwan three angonoka tortoises, which are listed as critically endangered species by international wildlife conservation organizations and reputed to be the most expensive tortoise on earth - worth about NT$1 million (US$33,150) each.
The Malaysian man arrived at Taiwan's main international airport via Malaysia Airlines at around 3:30 p.m. and three tortoises were found in his luggage, Taipei Customs said.
The three animals were identified as angonoka tortoises (Astrochelys yniphora), a critically endangered land tortoise species endemic to Madagascar that has been included in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and is listed as one of the world's three most threatened turtles in the Worl
Czech Zoo First in Europe to Help Save Endangered Crocodile
The Crocodile Zoo in Protivín made a world record last week, as it succeeded in being the first country outside of tropical lands to rear one of the most endangered species of crocodile – the Indian gavials (Gavialis gangeticus).
On May 4, 2017, a total of 14 small and healthy Indian gavils hatched at the Protivín zoo, after the zoo had spent six years of working with gavials from India.
Houbara bustard rebounding due to UAE efforts
Once on the brink of disappearing in the UAE and beyond, migratory Houbara bustard populations have rebounded, thanks to the introduction of 250,000 birds bred in captivity and released into the wild by Abu-Dhabi-based International Fund for Houbara Conservation (IFHC).
Today, untold numbers of the birds flock from Asian countries to the UAE to winter in warmer climes and this is a testament to decades of work to bring back the Houbara, said Ali Mubarak Al Shamsi, acting head of Communications and Public Relations at IFHC.
It’s one of many success stories being celebrated on May 10, World Migratory Bird Day, held every year to recognise efforts to protect bird species, their resting sites and habitats along the many wintering routes.
Organisers of the Migratory Bird Day said they laud efforts such as the IFHC to protect birds on often perilous journeys to their wintering grounds.
“Migration is a perilous journey and exposes the animals to a wide range of threats, often caused by human activities. As migratory birds depend on a range of sites throughout their journey along their flyway, the loss of wintering and stop
Will optimistic stories get people to care about nature?
Nature doesn't make the news often these days. When it does, the story usually revolves around wildlife on the brink, record-setting climate extremes or ruined landscapes. However, that is not the whole story. There is also good news, but it often receives little attention.
Lazarus species: Five cool animals we wrongly believed extinct
Will Bill Laurance and his team find Tasmanian tigers lurking in Australia’s remote Cape York peninsula? Numerous animals that were thought to be extinct have recently been rediscovered. Here are our top five species that came back from the dead – and two more that might also have been written off too soon.
Guest Speaker: Grey Stafford – Observations From an Ageing Zoo Guy
I had the privilege to meet Dr. G. Stafford several times. We had some great talks over time what gave me more inspiration to make sure our community goes forward in what we are good at. Dr. Stafford is one of the advocates that fights for the animals we care for. I can honestly say that he would be one of the guys who I’m looking up to. The first time I came in contact with him was actually not in person nor by email. Dr. G.Stafford wrote a book called Zoomility. The Book is a great asset in my assortment and I keep on telling others to read it as well. The book is simple to read and gives you flashbacks to your own animal training experiences, definitely one to suggest for the trainers out there. The book gave me the first contact with Grey.
Armed men occupy Subic's Ocean Adventure: official
Around 70 armed men have taken over the Ocean Adventure theme park in Subic Bay, the chair of the government agency overseeing the free port said Thursday.
It was not immediately clear why the suspects occupied Ocean Adventure since Feb. 13 and barred employees from entering, Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) chairman Martin Diño told DZMM.
"Nakakalungkot kasi supposed to be, dapat hindi nakapasok ang mga iyan," Diño told radio DZMM.
(It saddens me because they should not have been allowed to enter in the first place.)
"Full coordination na kami ngayon sa kapulisan at lahat ng authority para ma-takeover kasi that's a continuing threat, 'yang nangyayari d'yan."
(We are coordinating with the police and the authorities to take over, because what's happening there is a continuing threat)
“THUGGERY” IN OCEAN ADVENTURE TAKE-OVER
IN WHAT employees and guests initially thought was a terrorist attack on Valentine’s eve, a group claiming to be majority shareholders of the company over-powered security personnel to take control of Ocean Adventure, a marine theme park in this former US Naval Base, some 79 km. northwest of Manila.
“We have come under attack by nearly 70 armed mercenaries, who came in the night,” Robert C. Braun, chairman of the Board of Directors of Subic Bay Marine Exploratorium, Inc. (SBMEI) which runs Ocean Adventure, said in a statement, “first abusing and evicting the women from the staff dormitory, displacing security… they broke down doors, forced open a vault and coerced scared staff to attend to their demands… nothing about this is other than thuggery.”
Immediately after the physical take-over, the intruding group convened a “majority shareholders” meeting and appointed Scott N. Sharpe, said to be one of the founding owners of the company, as Chairman, vice Braun, and also President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), vice Arthur D. Tai.
Name sought for rare albino orangutan rescued in Indonesia
A conservation group is asking the public to name a rare albino orangutan that was rescued from villagers on Borneo island last month, hoping it will become a symbol of efforts to save the critically endangered species.
The 5-year-old female great ape is being kept in a dimly lit quarantine enclosure with round-the-clock veterinarian care after being rescued in the Indonesian part of the island on April 29, Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation spokesman Nico Hermanu said Wednesday. She's the first albino orangutan to be encountered by the foundation in its 25 years of conservation work.
The foundation said in a statement that the orangutan has become an ambassador for her species and it wants a "meaningful" name for her that will reflect the significant conservation challenges that orangutans face in the wild.
It said she is sensitive to sunlight due to a complete absence of pigmentation and physically fragile, which is com
Strike deadline looming for Toronto Zoo workers
The Toronto Zoo and the union representing its workers will be back at the bargaining table on Wednesday, ahead of a midnight strike deadline.
CUPE Local 1600 said while some of the issues have been resolved, other issues the union considers critical remain outstanding.
Job security is a key part of the talks. The union said it is concerned the zoo could contract out work.
“We haven’t made enough progress and I am concerned about our ability to conclude negotiations before the deadline,” Christine McKenzie, president of CUPE 1600, said in a release.
McKenzie said if they are close to reaching an agreement, the union is prepared to negotiate past the strike deadline.
“Ultimately, that decision will hinge on what level of commitment to achieving a settlement we see from the zoo throughout the day,” she said.
The union represents more tha
Staff at Canada's largest zoo walk off the job in contract dispute
More than 400 employees at the Toronto Zoo have walked off the job to back their contract demands.
CUPE Local 1600 says the walkout began at midnight Wednesday at Canada's largest zoo after the two sides failed to come to terms on the key issue of job security.
"We are incredibly disappointed to have to take strike action, but the Toronto Zoo's refusal to move on job security left us with no alternative," said local president Christine McKenzie in a statement.
Chester Zoo duped into handing over £1.2m to fraudsters in email scam
Chester Zoo was tricked into paying a £1.26million invoice into the bank account of a gang of fraudsters who claimed to have built them a new "safari experience", a court heard.
The attraction fell victim to a scam after receiving an email that purported to be from a contractor informing them their bank details had changed.
But the letter was a forgery and the new account related to a closed tapas restaurant owned by 40-year-old Ashad Ali.
Beaver Water World speaks out over death of Colin the caiman and apologises for misleading public
Beaver Water World has "sincerely" apologised after admitting to misleading people over the death of one of the zoo's most beloved animals, which Tandridge District Council is investigating.
Colin the caiman – a reptile from the same family as alligators and crocodiles but typically smaller – was found dead at the Tatsfield zoo and charity on April 9 having been let into an outdoor enclosure where it was colder.
Despite this, a sign on the glass of Colin's former enclosure had been displayed for several weeks afterwards stating that he had been rehomed.
Baby Endangered Royal Turtles Hatch in Koh Kong Province
After being guarded for three months, nine royal turtles—an endangered species found only in Cambodia—hatched in Koh Kong province this week and were taken to a nearby conservation center, an NGO said on Wednesday.
There are fewer than 10 royal turtles left in the wild, but the new hatchlings are among 216 being protected at the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Center, said Eng Mengey, a communications officer for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), in an email on Wednesday.
France bans captive breeding of dolphins, killer whales
France on Saturday banned the breeding in captivity of dolphins and killer whales under tighter rules that campaigners hope will eventually herald the end of shows involving the animals.
Environment Minister Segolene Royal had on Wednesday signed a version of the legislation introducing "tight controls on the reproduction of dolphins", her ministry said in a statement.
But she has since decided the rules need to be "more radical", her ministry told AFP on Saturday, particularly after learning that "some animals were drugged" in aquariums.
The new rules ban the captivity of all whales, dolphins and porpoises, except for orcas and bottlenose dolphins already held in authorised aquariums.
Animal rights activists hailed the ban as a "historic French advance".
"In plain terms, this means the end of breeding, exchange and import programmes," five conservation groups including One Voice and Sea Shepherd said in a joint statement.
"Without possible replenishment, this quite simply means the scheduled en
Captivity conditions for whales and dolphins set to improve
New decree imposes a ban on whale breeding and guarantees larger basins for animals
An order to "guarantee the welfare" of animals in France’s dolphinariums and marine mammal parks – including banning whale breeding in capitivity - has been signed off after almost two years of discussions.
The text, worked out by the government, industry professionals, associations and the National Museum of Natural History, repeals obsolete legislation dating back to 1981. It imposes more draconian standards on parks containing whales and dolphins.
The decree was signed on March 28 by ministers, but its publication had been blocked at the last minute by Environment Minister Ségolène Royal to "reassess things with NGOs" (non-government organisations).
According to several sources, Mrs Royal was concerned about the negative publicity that animal welfare associations, particularly One Voice and the Brigitte Bardot Foundation, would create, and so wanted to amend elements of the text. These organisations are fighting for a full ban on cetacean captivity.
On April 10, five NGOs - led by C’est assez! and the Animal Rights, Ethics and Science Foundation - wrote to the minister asking her to publish the order before the end of the current government’s five-year term.
It was ultimately the intervention of Allain Bougrain-Dubourg, president of bird charity LPO which prompted Mrs Royal to go ahead. "The associations asked me to be their ambassador,” said Mr Bougrain-Dubourg. “I spoke with the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and Robin des Bois [an environmental NGO], who admitted it was a first step. This reassured the minister."
Dalton Zoo whistleblower claims he had to 'beg' for kitchen scraps to give animals fresh food
A WHISTLEBLOWING Dalton zoo worker claims he was regularly forced to beg for kitchen scraps in order to provide healthy food for animals kept on site.
In an explosive letter to council bosses, South Lakes Safari Zoo employee James Potter states he was chastised for throwing away mouldy bread meant for some exhibits before he eventually resorted to buying reduced price fruit and vegetables from a Barrow supermarket in order to keep them fed.
And while Mr Potter has informed licencing officials within Barrow Borough Council that the poor feeding practices went on under zoo founder David Gill's regime, he alleges they have become WORSE since the attraction was taken over by Cumbria Zoo Company Ltd, led by chief executive Karen Brewer, in January.
EXCLUSIVE: ZOOKEEPER CONCERNED ABOUT EUTHANASIA DECISIONS AT SF ZOO
A zookeeper is at odds with zoo management over a recent animal euthanasia decision at the San Francisco Zoo. Last month, the zoo euthanized a sick baby monkey but his caregiver says it didn't happen soon enough.
That zookeeper spoke exclusively to ABC7 News.
The animal keeper, Dayna Sherwood, loves her job and all the animals she cares for at the zoo. But she's worried publicity concerns factored into the end of life decision instead of just the health and well-being of the animal.
She also disagrees with zoo management about when the monkey's euthanasia was scheduled.
"He was breathing through his mouth because his nose was pushed to the other side of his face." Sherwood describes the rare cancerous tumor that suddenly appeared on a young patas monkey's face, shocking San Francisco
Plans underway to rebuild endangered golden bandicoot population
They are more valuable than diamonds and smaller than an Aussie Rules football, but they are in trouble.
The golden bandicoot used to roam across much of the country, but now you can only find them in small patches across Western Australia.
"Our great grandparents would remember them fondly," Australia's threatened species commissioner Gregory Andrews said.
"Until the 1930s, they were a common species."
Mr Andrews has a target to see the number of golden bandicoots start increasing by 2020.
"Golden bandicoots are a stunning little animal.
Elephant Herpes Virus: Find Out Why The Disease Endangers Young Elephants
Elephant herpes virus is described to have different types. The virus might cause an infection leading to deaths of young elephants.
According to Phys Org, the carriers of elephant herpes virus types 1, 4 and 5 were commonly mentioned to be Asian elephants. On the other hand, types 2, 3 and 6 of the virus was noted to be carried by African elephants. The first carrier Asian elephants were considered more dangerous than the latter due to its virus inflicting animals in wildlife and zoos worldwide.
Daytripper: Shenzhen Safari Park
Daytripper is a regular column that aims to help people get the most out of their PRD experience by proposing fun excursions that can be made in a single day to explore the local culture and nature of the region.
They were a media sensation.
Though small, and identically dappled, the arrival of the black-and-white pigs at Shenzhen Safari Park was covered by CCTV, the Shenzhen Television Station and Hong Kong's South China Morning Post. Why?
Their DNA has been adjusted, rendering them pet-sized for life.
A short jaunt in Shenzhen Safari Park – which we can safely call a ‘zoo’ – leads to a concrete paddock, where the pigs are asleep in all their genetically modified glory.
Though not snatching headlin
Slaughter ban will reduce cow to a zoo animal; RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat should take note
RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat wants a ban on cow slaughter across the country. It does not surprise given that it has always been the pet demand of the Sangh Parivar. But coming from him at a juncture when cow vigilantism is on the rise, it is certain to make the debate over the issue more intense. Now, will the debate address the big question: Will such a ban be actually beneficial for the cause of the humble cow?
Let’s be clear on a few things about the cow debate in the country. It’s not about cruelty to animals. If that was the case, the advocates of cow protection would be sympathetic to buffaloes and other animals being killed for food and other human uses. It is not about vegetarianism. In that case the demand would be for a wholesale ban on meat. It is not for the well-being of the entire cattle population either. The m
Be prepared to pay 20 times more to enter Byculla zoo in Mumbai
You may soon have to pay 20 times more to visit Veermata Jijabhai Bhosale Udyan, also known as Byculla zoo. The proposal to increase the entry fee from Rs5 to Rs100 likely to be approved by the market and garden committee on Monday.
Political parties in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), barring the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), have already given their nod to the proposal last month. The move comes after members of Save Rani Bagh Botanical Garden Foundation, along with former civic chiefs Sharad Kale and DM Sukhtankar, met BMC chief Ajoy Mehta last month and asked him not to increase the entry fee for the botanical garden — one of the largest open spaces in the city.
The proposal, if approved by the markets and garden committee will be tabled before the standing committee, where Shiv Sena, which holds majorit
Patricia Randolph's Madravenspeak: Despite extinction crisis, hunters push to kill wolves and sandhill cranes
As humanity hurtles toward catastrophe, our legislators turn a blind eye to reality and continue to pander to forces of destruction and death. Instead of caring for the fragile life of this earth, legislators like state Sen. Tom Tiffany and U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson continue to ignore the science of the Endangered Species Act, pushing to kill our endangered wolves.
And the hunters want to kill cranes. They apparently are bored with killing other wildlife. Maybe they want a wolf with a crane in his mouth to hang on their walls.
It is not that difficult to connect the dots between the status quo and certain trajectory toward an unlivable and desolate home planet. The skies are emptying, as are woods and oceans — not through any natural force, but only by the violence of man. Chris Hedges writes in his recent “Reign of Idiots”: “Europeans and Americans have spent five centuries conquering, plundering, exploiting and polluting the earth in the name of human progress. ... They believed that this orgy of blood and gold would never end, and they still believe it.”
Tiffany held yet another wolf hate conference, in early April, that was completely skewed to myth, lies, and fearmongering. He should be reminded that Richard Thiel, retired DNR wolf biologist, said on Wisconsin Public Radio, “I have worked with wolves in Wisconsin for 30 years. I have pushed them off of de
Kakapo conservation – grasping at straws or crowdfunding conservation icon?
The ever-increasing human population is pushing more and more species towards the brink of extinction. With over 600 endangered species, New Zealand is struggling to prioritise ever decreasing funds from a stretched Department of Conservation (Kirk, 2015). So, how are these tough decisions reached? Many empirical methods have been used to assess whether a species is ‘worth’ conservation intervention. Some are simple and straightforward equations, while some are very convoluted involving many different variables. A novel term coming to the forefront as we realise that not all species can be saved, is triage. Triage in this sense, is the process of prioritising conservation activities; allocating scant resources to achieve maximum conservation returns (Bottrill et al., 2008).
Kakapo are an example of a species that may be designated a ‘lost cause’ if the triage approach were implemented by DOC. This nocturnal, flightless, extremely vulnerable bird was decimated by the combined efforts of human and invasive mammal predation, helped along by habitat loss. Now listed as ‘extinct in the wild’ by the IUCN red list, the only known kakapo are managed on pest free islands (Clout & Merton, 1998).
The history of kakapo is a sad and altogether too familiar one. Once, you could supposedly, “shake six from a single tutu bush” (Langton, 2000, p. 250). But follow
Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre to expand education program
AARAKIN Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre is “ecstatic” to have secured grant money to bolster its education department.
The not-for-profit organisation was awarded a $20,000 grant earlier this year that will significantly boost the centre’s education program.
The facility acts as a rehabilitation centre for injured black cockatoos before re-releasing them into the wild.
All three species of black cockatoo in Western Australia – Carnaby’s black cockatoo, Baudin’s cockatoo and Forest red tailed black cockatoo – are all under threat of extinction.
Kaarakin volunteer co-ordinator Kathy Dewhurst said the grant was a “godsend” and would expand its education program.
“It will enable us to go out to the schools and speak to them about the plight of the cockatoos,” she said.
“Funding the staff is something we have trouble doing, but now (education officer) Julie Loxton
Monkey trio escapes zoo enclosure, attacks two humans
Two (human) individuals were injured over the weekend when a group of monkeys escaped from their cage and caused a bit of havoc during their few hours of newfound freedom.
The incident took place at the Yangon Zoo around 9am this past Sunday. A zoo employee wanted to clean the monkey enclosure, and so temporarily moved the animals to another cage. However, the door of the temporary cage was only ‘secured’ with a piece of wire that one zoogoer thought would be funny to remove, consequently letting out its inhabitants.
The three monkeys were eventually caught, but not before they attacked two women, one local and one Australian.
According to the local woman’s son, his mother was bitten while trying to protect her grandchildren and pregn
Thought for Behaviour: 3 Schedules to Motivate Your Animal
Do you know that us people work on a fixed ratio schedule? Or that we have a fixed interval schedule on a daily basis? That a lot of us in between what we do have a variable interval schedule? You might wonder what does he mean? Im going to explain how those 3 schedules work. Before I get there I want to talk about where the schedules of reinforcement come from.
The psychologist who invented Operant Conditioning, what was based on the theories of Thorndikes “Law of Effect”, Yes, I’m talking about B.F. Skinner. He made a discovery about how animals can learn in a faster rate by focusing on the consequence of the behavior presented. One of his famous quotes what I use on a daily base is:
“The way positive reinforcement is carried out is more important then the amount” B.F. Skinner (1952)
It’s a very interesting thought process and definitely not new these days in animal training. The skill within animal training I personally try to develop is to see what else will motivate an animal by focussing on the consequence of the behaviour that’s asked for. Schedules of reinforcement is the overall explanation of the consequences we give our animals. But reinforcement goes way further then just a piece of meat, a piece of fish or some tasteful fruit. Reinforcement can be as well the excitement, energy and enthusiasm the trainer brings with him. Remember the blog about the 3 E’s? Read it right here. I’m very passionate about
Rescued pangolin paves way for repopulation plan
After three months of rehabilitation, an orphaned baby pangolin rescued by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) will go home to the wilderness in a few months.
But Sandshrew will continue to be monitored after its release into the forests here, where wild Sunda pangolins roam. Sandshrew was named for its resemblance to the character in computer game Pokemon.
Its health and movements will be tracked by scientists, researchers and veterinarians, who hope that Sandshrew's rehabilitation could be a model for an eventual pangolin re-introduction programme.
We Asked the Government Why Animal Welfare Records Disappeared. They Sent 1,700 Blacked-Out Pages.
In January, the USDA deleted a public database that included inspection records from zoos, circuses, and research labs. In the agency’s response to our FOIA request, it still refuses to say why.
They exposed abuses at roadside zoos, uncovered controversial government-funded animal experiments, and revealed the mistreatment of circus elephants. They confirmed dog breeders weren't running puppy mills and that horse trainers weren’t exploiting their racers and jumpers. The records in U.S. Department of Agriculture’s online animal welfare database allowed journalists, investigators, and the public to look up inspection reports and violations of animal welfare laws.
But nearly three months ago, the the USDA removed its database of animal abuse records from its public website, with no explanation.
National Geographic wanted to know why. We filed a Freedom of Information Act request in February for records relating to the decision to take the database offline.
In bold disregard for transparency, the department’s response Friday consisted of 1,771 pages of completely black
Mongoose pups conceal identity to survive
Young mongooses may conceal their identity—even from their own parents—to survive.
Killing of pups is common in mongoose social groups, and researchers from the University of Exeter believe offspring may do best if they hide which adults they are related to.
Concealing identity reduces the risk of attack by less-related adults, the researchers say.
But it means mothers may not be able to tell pups apart, and therefore cannot pay special attention to their own young.
"In most species we would expect mothers target care at their own offspring, but mongooses seem unable to do this," said Dr Emma Vitikainen, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation on the University of Exeter's Penryn Campus in Cornwall.
"We think this is because mothers synchronise birth to the same day, and pups may have evolved to conceal their identity.
"In the banded mongoose infanticide is common, and it might be too dangerous for the pups to advertise which adults they are most closely related to, as this could expose them
Long lost monitor lizard 're-discovered' on Papua New Guinean island
Scientists have recently found and re-described a monitor lizard species from the island of New Ireland in northern Papua New Guinea. It is the only large-growing animal endemic to the island that has survived until modern times. The lizard, Varanus douarrha, was already discovered in the early 19th century, but the type specimen never reached the museum where it was destined as it appears to have been lost in a shipwreck.
The discovery is particularly interesting as most of the endemic species to New Ireland disappeared thousands of years ago as humans colonized the island.
The monitor was discovered during fieldwork by Valter Weijola from the Biodiversity Unit of the University of Turku, Finland, who spent several months surveying the monitor lizards of the Bismarck Islands. It can grow to over 1.3 metres in length and, according to current information, it is the only surviving large species endemic to the island. Based on bone discoveries, scientists now know that at least a large rat species and several flightless birds have lived in the area.
- In that way it can be con
Dubai officials tour the safari project
A delegation of officials from different local departments in Dubai visited the Dubai Safari project and were briefed about the progress of the facility on Tuesday.
It may be recalled that Dubai Municipality is all set to open the doors of this prestigious project’s first phase, housing 3,500 animals, after the end of the summer months this year.
The delegation included Hilal Al Merri, director-general, Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM); Yousuf Lootah, executive director, Tourism and Investment Development Department at DTCM; Khalifa Bin Dari, executive director, Dubai Corporation for Ambulance Services; Abdullah Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, deputy director, General Department of Operations at Dubai Police; Brigadier Abdullah Al Gaithi, director, General Department of Protective Security and Emergency at Dubai Police; and Brigadier Rashid Khalifa Al Falasi, director, Office of the Director General for Rescue and Firefighting at Civil Defence.
Mohammad Mubarak Al Mutaiwe’e, assistant director-general of Dubai Municipality for Communications a
New study defines the environment as an influencer of immune system responses in dolphins
Two populations of wild dolphins living off the coast of Florida and South Carolina are experiencing more chronically activated immune systems than dolphins living in controlled environments, raising concerns of researchers about overall ocean health, and the long-term health of bottlenose dolphins. The research, publishing May 3 in the scientific journal PLOS ONE is the first study of its kind analyzing the role the environment plays in the overall health and immune response of dolphins in the wild compared to those in human care.
Wild dolphins are sicker than captive ones: US study
Wild dolphins are exposed to more pollutants than their captive counterparts, which could explain why they face higher rates of illness and disease, US researchers said Wednesday.
The study in the journal PLOS ONE analyzed the health of two wild dolphin populations -- one group in Florida and another in South Carolina.
They were compared to two populations of captive dolphins in Georgia and California, which turned out to be far healthier.
Fewer than half the wild dolphins studied were "clinically normal," and many had chronically activated immune systems, signaling they were fighting off disease.
"This is likely a result of encountering pathogens, parasites and anthropogenic pollutants in the ocean that do not exist in closely managed zoological habitats," said lead author Patricia Fair, research professor at the Medical University of South Carolina.
In humans, this kind of chronic immune response has been linked to cancer, heart disease and increased vulnerability to infectious disease.
Co-author Gregory Bossart, chief v
Inspectors back new licence for zoo where nearly 500 animals died within 4 years
Councillors are being recommended to grant a fresh licence application for a Cumbrian zoo where almost 500 animals died within four years. David Gill, the owner and founder of South Lakes Safari Zoo, was refused a renewal of his licence by Barrow Borough Council in March but the tourist attraction stayed open as he lodged an appeal against the decision. Since January the zoo h
Like the idea of swimming with dolphins and cuddling tigers? Campaigners reveal the dark side of the animal tourism industry
For any animal lover, the chance to get up-close with the world's most exotic creatures sounds like a dream come true.
Peer behind the curtain, however, and according to campaign group Peta, you'll find it's actually a living nightmare for the animals involved, such as dolphins, tigers and elephants.
Here, MailOnline Travel speaks to the largest animal rights group in the world to reveal ten holiday attractions you might want to think twice about visiting this summer.
Komodo dragon attacks tourist in Indonesia
A komodo dragon, one of the world's largest lizards, attacked a tourist in Indonesia who was trying to photograph the giant creatures feasting on a goat, police said Thursday.
Singaporean Loh Lee Aik, 67, was rushed to hospital with leg injuries after being pounced on by the venomous creature.
Sudiyono, the head of the Komodo National Park—islands in central Indonesia that form a protected habitat for the lizards—said it was the first attack by one of the creatures on a foreign tourist since 1974, when a visitor from abroad was killed.
Loh had been staying at a village on Komodo island before setting off in search of the lizards Wednesday.
But he failed to take a park ranger with him, something all visitors to the islands are advised to do.
"He was probably very excited taking pictures of the komodo, he didn't realise another komodo was approaching him and then he was bitten," l
Endangered dholes to run free in Eastern Ghats
Captive-bred population of wild dogs from Vizag zoo could establish itself in forest habitat
Endangered and hard-to-spot dholes, or Indian wild dogs, will soon test their fortunes in the Eastern Ghats. The Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP), running a conservation breeding centre for the species, plans to reintroduce a pack of 16 into the forests.
A suitable site for the “soft release” is under study, curator of IGZP B. Vijay Kumar said. “We are looking at 10 to 15 acres around Narsipatnam and Chintapalle regions near Visakhapatnam. A team will monitor the released animals and their progress for a season. Before they enter the forest, we will radio collar them,” he said.
The Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad will map the genetic variability of the packs before they go into the wild. “The pack should be genetically strong and have th
Meerkat call patterns are linked to sex, social status and reproductive season
Within a group of meerkats, call patterns vary with factors including sex, rank and reproductive season—but not with stress hormones, according to a study published May 3, 2017 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Jelena Mausbach from University of Zurich, Switzerland; Marta Manser from University of Pretoria, South Africa; and colleagues.
Elephant herpes: Super-shedders endanger young animals
Many herpesviruses infect only a few animal species. Elephants also have their own spectrum of herpesviruses, which can cause infections that end in death. Asian elephants are carriers of virus types1, 4 and 5, while African elephants carry types 2, 3 and 6. Type 1 is particularly dangerous for young Asian elephants and has led to numerous deaths in the wild and in zoos worldwide. In Switzerland as well, three animals have died of "Elephant Herpes" in the last 30 years. How the elephants transmit the disease, however, and how they become infected, has been largely unknown until now.
Toxic coral spores suspected of poisoning seven people south of Adelaide
A family of seven living just south of Adelaide is in hospital because of suspected poisoning from spores released by coral from a household aquarium which was scrubbed with a cleaning brush.
Ambulance crews were called to the house on Sunday Parade at Aldinga Beach, about 2:30am, when the residents fell ill.
They were taken to Flinders Medical Centre and remain in a stable condition.
Decontamination crews have worked at the home throughout the day.
The Country Fire Service (CFS) and police were then called to the scene, which has been cordoned off.
The CFS said it traced the problem to the aquarium because of what the family members had said and the symptoms they were displ
Toronto Zoo workers could be off the job next week
Contract talks continue with Toronto Zoo’s management, but a strike or lockout could start by May 11, according to a CUPE president.
About 500 unionized staff at Toronto Zoo could soon be off the job, raising questions about whether the animal-filled attraction would remain open to the public.
Contract talks continue between CUPE Local 1600 and zoo management, but there is a possibility of a lockout or strike as early as May 11, local president Christine McKenzie told reporters Thursday at city hall.
“They want to eliminate all of our job security (contract) language which would really threaten the conservation and the education and the research work that we do . . .” she said before a meeting of the zoo board.
Contracting out staff positions to the private sector would threaten the integrity of behind-the-scenes programs including the breeding of endangered Canadian species and getting them back in the wild, McKenzie said. The u
Lion cubs born in Chile after world first veterinary procedure
wo baby lion cubs were presented to the public at a zoo in Chile on Thursday, born after a pioneering veterinary procedure that involved a reversed vasectomy of their father.
The cubs' mother "Masai" became pregnant after the father "Maucho" underwent the procedure, which vets at Buin Zoo in the suburbs of Santiago said took months of planning and a five-hour operation.
Both parents had been rescued from circuses.
"This is the first successful reversal of a lion vasectomy reported in the world," said Marcelo Marconi, a urology
Researchers one step closer to understanding deadly facial tumor in Tasmanian devils
New findings in research funded by Morris Animal Foundation offer valuable insight on how to fight devil facial tumor disease (DFTD) that has resulted in a catastrophic decline in wild Tasmanian devils. Researchers have shed light on how the tumors successfully evade the immune system, which may offer possible strategies to protect the endangered devils from this devastating disease.
Denmark gets its first wild wolf pack in 200 years
A wolf pack is roaming wild in Denmark for the first time in more than 200 years after a young female wolf journeyed 500km from Germany.
Male wolves have been seen in Denmark since 2012 and the new female could produce cubs this spring in farmland in west Jutland after two wolves were filmed together last autumn.
It is further evidence that the wolf is returning to well-peopled landscapes after centuries of persecution, with wolf packs also re-establishing themselves in France and Germany and individuals sighted in Holland and even Luxembourg. Before the new population, Denmark’s last wolf was killed in 1813.
“We expect that they will have cubs this year or the next,” said Peter Sunde, a senior researcher at Aarhus University.
“People were very surprised when wolves first appeared in Denmark but they are highly mobile and are just as adaptable to cultural landscapes as foxes are. The only problem historically is that we killed them.”
DNA from two faeces samples have
Dubai Safari Park will offer Dubai Zoo animals a better quality of life
Forensic scientists caught a deer munching on a human carcass for the first time ever
Forensic scientists have to do a lot of weird things in order to solve crimes and identify bodies. Sometimes that involves leaving corpses outside to rot, to better understand what happens during and after decomposition. In fact, there are entire facilities devoted to studying the decay of donated human remains, like the 26-acre Forensic Anthropology Research Facility (FARF) in San Marcos, Texas.
In July 2014, researchers left a body in a wooded part of FARF. They wanted to learn about how different scavengers leave their marks on human remains, so they set up a motion-sensitive camera to see who would stop by. In this part of Texas, it’s not unusual to see foxes, turkey vultures, raccoons, coyotes, and other carrion-gobblers picking at a corpse. Bu
Slovak lynx Cyril released in Germany
The biggest forested area in Germany became the new home for a Eurasian lynx from Muránska planina. Environmentalists from Zoo Bojnice released Cyril the lynx in the Palatinate forest. It’s the fourth lynx from the Slovak wilds to be released in this area.
“When saving animal populations that have almost disappeared from a large part of Europe, international cooperation is very important. Lynxes from Slovakia are helping to repopulate this predator in Germany,” said Rastislav Rybanič, the head of the Environment Protection, Biodiversity and Landscape Department of the Environment Ministry, as quoted by the TASR newswire.
He added that Slovak lynxes released in Germany in 1970s settled down, but a small gene pool was a problem..
The project of saving the lynx in Germany is organized under the supervision of experts for saving felines from IUC
Exotic pet cafes in Thailand cause delight and concern
It is a Sunday afternoon and a sunlit cafe on Bangkok's outskirts is buzzing with patrons. The air smells of french fries and disinfectant. Kittens and corgis are darting around between the legs of customers, who are trying to poke at two parakeets shuffling warily along the edge of a wooden shelf.
Excited murmurs ripple through the crowd as a waitress announces that the playpen is ready for the next round of customers. One by one, the patrons squirt disinfectant on their palms and enter a glass-walled room to cuddle a squad of meerkats.
Asia may have seen its share of pet cafes, but none quite with the menagerie offered in Thailand. Aided by relaxed laws and a thriving wildlife market, at least four exotic pet cafes have sprung up recently around the capital.
Another Embarrassing Work Story
Okay, last week got heavy. But thanks to all of you who responded! I got a lot of great, supportive feedback :)
This week though, I think I owe you guys not JUST a light-hearted entry, but one where I make myself look like a complete and utter moron.
Albatrosses counted from space
They are using the highest-resolution satellite images available to gauge the numbers of Northern Royal albatrosses.
This endangered animal nests almost exclusively on some rocky sea-stacks close to New Zealand’s Chatham Islands.
The audit, led by experts at the British Antarctic Survey, represents the first time any species on Earth has had its entire global population assessed from orbit.
The scientists report the satellite technique in Ibis, a journal of the British Ornithologists' Union.
Hope, love prevail in conserving endangered Philippine cockatoo
Veronica Marcelo, 51, wakes up early in the morning to go to the coconut-fringed shoreline facing the Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary – the stronghold of the critically endangered Philippine cockatoo, locally known as the katala.
She has been doing this for nearly 17 years now, bringing with her a logbook and a pen to monitor the number of katala moving off the island to forage for food.
Marcelo serves as a volunteer for Sagip Katala Movement (SKM), a community-based organization formed under the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP). SKM is mostly composed of women who devote time to look after the threatened bird species that visits the coastal barangay of Panacan every day.
"I manually count the katala I see flying over and perching on the coconut trees," says Marcelo. "I don’t find it mundane. When you’re used to doing this task and truly fall in love with it, your day won’t be complete without attending to it."
Rasa Island is one kilometer off the coast of Barangay Panacan in Narra, a first-class town in southern Palawan. From the mainland, you will be stunned by its verdant mangroves set against the azure sky and cerulean sea.
Five wildlife wardens from the indigenous group Tagbanua a
Parachuting birds into long-lost territory may save them from extinction
Saving the Spanish imperial eagle was never going to be easy. This enormous bird, which once dominated the skies above Spain, Portugal, and northern Morocco, saw its numbers drop to just 380 breeding pairs in 2014, thanks to habitat loss, poaching, poisoning from farmers and hunters, and electrocution from power lines. Now, a new study highlights a potential way of restoring eagle populations to their former glory: dropping them into long-abandoned habitat.
One common approach for bringing threatened species back from the brink is to reintroduce them to the places they were last known to live. For example, the sea eagle in Scotland—which was hunted to extinction on the Isle of Skye in 1916—was successfully reintroduced in 1975 to Rùm Island near its last known breeding ground. But not all such efforts bear fruit: When scientists tried to release the same bird to its former range in western Ireland in 2007, the newcomers fell victim to the same poisoning that had done them in 107 years earlier.
“The tendency is to think that the last place that an animal was present is the best place for the species, but this isn't always the case,” says Virgini
zoOceanarium named consultant for China’s mammoth-scale Taihu Longemont Animal Paradise
Leading zoo and aquarium consultancy, The zoOceanarium Group, is providing consultancy services to the Taihu Longemont Animal Paradise in Huzhou, China.
Believed to be the biggest project of its kind in the world, the attraction encompasses three animal theme park attractions and occupies over 7 square kilometres.
zoOceanarium’s role relates to the design and review of the three parks: a 12-km Drive-through Safari, a Zoological Park and a Marine Life Park.
Once complete, the mammoth-scale facility is planning to exhibit 11,500 animals, representing 425 species.
The project aims to deepen the visitor experience with wildlife exhibits and interactive experiences. It will also be a centre for scientific research and conservation education.
Taihu Longemont Animal Paradise is part of a vast, $2.9 billion leisure complex situated to the south of Taihu Lake.
Aside from the animal attractions, the development will incorporate a theme park, an ancient Chinese town and an international circus. Further amenities include hotels, theatres, a convention centre, a bonsai garden and a wetland.
Back in March, zoOceanarium announced its decision to become a corporate sponsor of zoological organisation, Species360. The non-profit maintains a database of all the animals and species in the care of its 1,054 members around the world.
GUEST COLUMN: Common ground exists on issue of mistreatment
The guest column the Northwest Florida Daily News ran by the fringe group with the misleading name “Center for Consumer Freedom” could not have been more off-base. This group is a constant apologist for various animal-use industries like puppy mills and factory farms, so it is not surprising to hear them say they are saddened to see the doors shuttered on an era of elephants and other wild animals being carted across the country for days on end, coercively trained, and living in near constant confinement or tethered to chains.
Having worked to end the mistreatment of elephants and other wild animals in circuses and travelling shows for nearly two decades, I cannot express to readers enough just how terrible the long suffering of these animals is. As is usually the case with any organization Will Coggin and the Center for Consumer Freedom attack (and the list of groups include not only The Humane Society of the United States, but Mothers Against Drunk Driving, th
Mum of Scots zookeeper mauled to death by tiger hits out over 'atrocious' wildlife park's new licence application
Fiona McClay, whose 24-year-old daughter Sarah was killed at South Lakes Safari Zoo in Cumbria in 2013, said there were issues about how the park was being run after almost 500 animals died in four years.
The mother of a zookeeper who was mauled to death by a tiger says the wildlife park should be refused an operating licence, despite it being given backing from government inspectors.
Fiona McClay's daughter Sarah, 24, from Glasgow , was killed at South Lakes Safari Zoo, formerly known as South Lakes Animal Park, in Dalton-in-Furness, Cumbria, four years ago.
She says it should not receive any official sanction as there continue to be concerns about how it is being run.
In March, then owner David Gill's claim for a licence to run the zoo was unanimously refused by Barrow councillors after they heard there were 486 animal deaths at the zoo between January 2013 and September 2016.
Bali mynah conservation project gets international support
Indonesia’s efforts to conserve the Curik Bali (Rothschild’s mynah) by involving local communities living in areas around the Bali Barat National Park (TNBB) have received attention and support from international conservation bodies and zoo associations.
Curik Bali Conservation Association (APCB) chairman Tony Sumampau said that since 2004, the association had striven to breed of the myna, which is on the brink of extinction, by involving local communities in activities to conserve the species.
These efforts were strengthened with the issuance of a decree from the environment and forestry minister, which permits local people, especially those who lived in areas around the TNBB, to breed Curik Bali, he said.
The initiatives conducted by the APCB to save the Curik Bali from extinction has drawn attention from international conservation bodies and zoo associations from Europe and Asia.
“They include the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Asian Species Partnership, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria and EAZA Passerine TAG [Taxon Advisory Group],” said Tony, who is also director of the Indonesia Safari Park, recently.
He said there were 17 Curik Bali breede
A Huge Tragedy
Rumors have abounded since Monday 24th April but as yet I am unaware of the tragic story appearing the press anywhere.
Tragedy struck the bachelor group of elephants at La Reserva del Castillo de las Guardas near Seville in Spain. Six out of the seven animals has succumbed to some sort of poisoning. The exact cause has yet to be confirmed but it is believed to be botulism.
My sincere condolences to the
Elephant kills handler during feeding time at Bali park
A male Sumatran elephant killed its keeper on Friday morning in Bali when the man entered its enclosure to feed the animal.
I Nyoman Levi Suwitha, 60, also known as Mangku Levi, had been the owner of Bakas Levi Rafting, an elephant park and adventure tour company based in Bali’s Klungkung regency. The company is known for offering elephant rides through the jungle, along with rafting trips.
Levi had just entered the elephant’s enclosure to feed it when the elephant suddenly wrapped its trunk around his body and threw him as far as 12 meters, according to a report by Detik.
Staff on duty immediately moved to evacuate Levi. The man was rushed to Klungkung General Hospital, but was pronounced dead upon arrival. His body was later sent to the morgue at Sanglah
Delhi zoo quizzed on smuggled animals replacing the dead
Accused of illegally capturing wild animals, like the Indian civet, to replace dead ones to avoid an enquiry, Central Zoo Authority (CZA) has sought explanation from the Delhi Zoo, a document accessed by IANS revea;s.
"The Central Zoo Authority had requested Director, National Zoological Park, New Delhi to submit a factual report" on the "illegal capture of Small Indian civet and other wild animals" within seven days. "However, it has been 19 days but the factual status has not been submitted to this office," CZA Member-Secretary D.N. Singh said in a letter dated April 19.
This was the second reminder by the CZA seeking an explanation from the Delhi Zoo.
The allegations, termed "quite serious" by the CZA, were made by green activist Ajay Dubey.
A senior official of the Delhi Zoological Pa
The other ivory trade: Narwhal, walrus and... mammoth
They may not attract the same headlines as African elephants, but there are several different species traded on the international market today
Considered to be a “sea unicorn” in the centuries before the Arctic was properly explored, the “horn” of the narwhal was an object of fascination for Europeans, and particularly monarchs, who paid for the tusks with many times their weight in gold.
Queen Elizabeth I is said to have spent £10,000 on a narwhal tusk, a fortune in Elizabethan England, roughly equivalent to £1.5m today, and had it placed within the crown jewels
Couple to be charged with illegally keeping lions after boy dies
Police have opened an inquest into the death of a 12-year-old boy who was attacked by a lion in Limpopo three weeks ago.
The child, Kristian Prinsloo, died just one day after his 12th birthday, and had been in an induced coma in the ICU at Muelmed Mediclinic in Pretoria since the April 8 attack.
It has also emerged that the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has opened charges against the couple who owned the lion.
Kristian was visiting his grandmother, Marie Strydom, who lives on the luxury estate with the lion’s owners Cor and Alet Vos, outside Lephalale, on the Mogol River bank, when the attack happened.
Best Zoos in America for Chimpanzees
Chimpanzees share 98% of the same DNA as humans but are in danger of extinction because of deforestation and hunting. It would be a tragedy if these animals are lost since they are so interesting, complex and similar to us. They communicate through a sophisticated system of facial expressions, body postures, gestures and vocalizations like we do, live in complex communities who all know each other through large gatherings but feed, travel and sleep in much smaller groups, have a pecking order that is complex, fluid, flexible and subject to change and use tools like us. Their communities are so different from each other in communication, diet, tool use and behavior they are sometimes considered by researchers to amount to cultural difference. Here are some zoos with outstanding exhibits for these great apes and work towards saving them.
Lawmakers in Mexico approve reforms to ban captivity of marine life
After two failed attempts, representatives of the political parties PVEM, PRI, Encuentro Social and Nueva Alianza endorsed the reform of Article 60 of the General Wildlife Law on marine mammals with 242 votes in favor and 190 against it.
Without debate or abandonment of the meeting room by deputies of Morena, PAN, PRD, and of the Citizen Movement, as happened at the sessions of April 6 and 20, the plenary approved the reform to prohibit the use of marine mammals of any species, such as whales, dolphins and manatees, in fixed or itinerant shows.
Conservation-oriented research, carried out by higher education institutions and in accordance with applicable regulations are exempt from the new reforms.
The approved reform states that the owners of marine mammals in captivity will have a period of 30 calendar days to complete an inventory, w
Colorado Animal Sanctuary Euthanizes All Its Animals After It’s Denied Permit To Move
Local officials say other sanctuaries had offered to take in the lions, tigers and bears.
A Colorado community is in shock after an animal sanctuary battling housing problems resorted to euthanizing all 11 of its exotic animals, despite the county planning commission claiming other facilities had offered to take them in.
Lion’s Gate Animal Sanctuary in Agate announced in a statement last week that it had euthanized five bears, three lions and three tigers. The statement blamed the deaths on the Elbert County’s planning commission for refusing the sanctuary’s request to move to another site because of flooding.
“The flooding and resulting damage prevents us from reasonably continuing our operation and caring for our animals safely,” the organization had said in an earlier online petition for their move.
Facility owners Peter Winney and Joan Laub reasoned in their statement last week that they wouldn’t have had to euthanize the animals if the local government officials had not denied their request to move. They identified the animals killed as “Victims of Elbert County Commissioners.”
Government office razed after ban on hunting, logging
Protesting efforts to prevent them from hunting wildlife and felling trees, villagers in Ratanakkiri’s O’Yadav district set fire to the local Environment Department office on Saturday.
According to Acting Department Director Thon Sokhon, nearly 200 villagers gathered around the office around 9am to demand that he and other officials return wood they confiscated from the villagers and stop preventing them from hunting and clearing forests.
Sokhon said some villagers came armed with machetes, stones and axes and proceeded to set the office’s stairs on fire, along with some of the confiscated wood and a table. Some of the villagers, said Sokhon, escaped with two phones as well as knives and axes stolen from the office.
He said he and his colleagues did not pursue the villagers and that his team is
In Missouri, Mexican Wolf pup proves artificial insemination can help save species
An endangered Mexican wolf gave birth this month to what conservationists say is the first such pup born using previously frozen sperm and artificial insemination.
The wolf was born April 2 at the Endangered Wolf Center in Eureka, using semen collected last year by St. Louis Zoo research and animal health staff and stored at the zoo’s cryopreservation gene bank. A University of California-Davis professor and veterinary doctor administered the insemination Jan. 27 with assistance from zoo animal health staff.
Endangered Wolf Center spokeswoman Regina Mossotti said the wolf pup received its first health checkup Monday and was in good shape. The pup weighs about 5
Banded mongooses target family members for eviction
Banded mongooses target close female relatives when violently ejecting members from their social groups, University of Exeter scientists have found.
Most animals are less aggressive towards family members, but dominant members of banded mongoose groups target relatives.
The reason for this surprising behaviour is that unrelated mongooses are more likely to fight back - making it more difficult to evict them.
Females are the prime targets because the pups of dominant mongooses are less likely to survive if there are too many females breeding in the group.
"Targeting close relatives for eviction like this is the opposite of what we would expect social animals to do," said lead author Dr Faye Thompson, of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation
What Do College Students Think of Blackfish?
Recently, I skyped in to discuss Blackfish and SeaWorld’s care of orcas for a college class at the University of Central Florida. From my understanding, the students were asked to analyze the movie and conclude the reliability of the film. The first question I asked the class was, “how many of you believe that the information in Blackfish is true and SeaWorld is a terrible, evil corporation?” In a class of I would estimate 50+ students, not one person raised their hand. Of course, some students may have wanted to raise their hand but were too afraid to considering I used to work at SeaWorld.
I answered their questions, gave them my experience of working with the whales highlighted in the film. Then, a few weeks later, the teacher sent me feedback from the students. I was shocked. Not only did almost every student’s research conclude that Blackfish was mostly untrue but I was surprised that so much of what I shared was new information to them – primarily the fact that the whales found water work with the trainers reinforcing.
With permission from the teacher, I have published comments fr
Bear rips off a nine-year-old boy's arm and EATS IT at West Bank zoo
A bear ripped off the arm of a nine-year-old boy who tried to feed it during a school trip and then ate it.
The incident happened at Qalqilya zoo, in the Palestinian city of Qalqilya, on the western edge of the West Bank.
A police spokesman today said the boy approached the caged bear with food when the animal pounced, severing the limb at the elbow.
The bear then ate the arm. The boy is currently being treated at a local hospital.
The zoo, the only one of its kind in the West Ban
Mysuru Zoo is on a mission to breed animals in captivity
Homemaker from Kerala, Shailaja Raj, has a special bond with Mysuru Zoo. A resident from Kozhikode, she has been doing her bit for the conservation centre in taking care of a wild animals. Thanks to a special initiative of the zoo, hundreds of commoners share similar bond with it.
Sometime ago, the homemaker was on a visit to the tourist hub with her family. While touring the facility, she fell in love with it, while the family members came to know about the animal-adoption scheme offered there. "While we elders were enlightened about the scheme, my sister's children asked me to adopt a ring-tailed lemur. We adopted the lemur for one year by paying Rs 5,000. It is a rare opportunity to serve wildlife and I feel privileged," she told TOI.
While zoos across India are educating people abo
Sri Lanka overturns ban on adopting elephants
Sri Lanka said Wednesday it was overturning a ban on adopting baby elephants, drawing sharp criticism from the animal protection lobby.
Elephants are revered as holy in the mainly Buddhist nation, where the high-maintenance beasts have become a status symbol for the wealthy elite.
The animals are also kept by temples for use in religious ceremonies, and the ban had led to worries there would not be enough tame elephants for Buddhist pageants.
"Wildlife conservation is good but we also need to conserve our cultural pageants," said government spokesman Rajitha Senaratne after the cabinet overturned the ban on adoptions.
Senaratne said the government decision had been motivated partly by overcrowding at Pinnawala, a 27 hectare (66-acre) coconut grove that was originally set up as an elephant orphanage and now also runs a successful breeding programme.
He said strict conditions would be put in place to ensure the animals' welfare. Individuals would have to pay 10 million rupees ($66,000)for an elephant, although temples would get them for free.
But Asian elephant expert Jayantha Jayewa
China's rare milu deer return in victory for conservation
he newborn fawn walks unsteadily among the trees that were once part of the Chinese emperor's hunting grounds, where more than a century before its forebears died out in their native China.
This April marks the start of the birthing season for the milu deer, which has long been famed as having the head of a horse, the hooves of a cow, the tail of a donkey and the antlers of a deer. As the herds across China grow each spring, they mark a rare conservation success story in a country suffering from pollution and other environmental challenges.
"Our protection of the milu is about protecting our living cultural heritage and natural heritage," said Guo Geng, vice director of the Beijing Milu Ecological Research Center, where they expect about 30 fawns this year. Known as Pere David's Deer in the West, the milu's significance to Chinese culture is embodied in its a
Should penguins be an animal attraction?
A group of small honking and flapping penguins gathers around an aloe vera plant in what seems to be the wildlife equivalent of a chat at the water cooler. Others dive into a nearby pool with a splash as some territorial neighbors - two ducks - defend their patch.
The scene is probably a common one in coastal Peru and Chile, the places these Humboldt penguins traditionally call home. But it's the last thing a visitor to a sauna in a small town in rural Brandenburg, around 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the German capital Berlin, might expect to find.
Lübbenau, with its network of canals, is known as the city of punts and pickles. In 2008, the Spreewelten Bad added penguins to its list of attractions. The spa houses 18 Humboldt penguins in a small enclosure equipped with nests, rocks and a pool. Visitors can even swim alongside the penguins - albeit separated by a large pane of glass.
"Of course, the people think the penguins are great," Laura Schäfer, one of the spa's animal keepers, told DW. "Because when the penguins are swimming through the tank behind me and the visitors come up to the glass, the penguins react and play with the v
How Fiona and Namsai told the world our story
On January 24, 2017 the history of Cincinnati Zoo would change forever. A premature calf, Fiona, was born six weeks early. Being the first hippo born in Cincinnati in 75 years, the birth of Fiona was big news in itself. But the fact that the calf was in a critical condition made it go all around the world. We all saw the pictures and videos of the mini-hippo in its keepers arms, and later on taking her first steps, her first swim and at last her first meeting with mommy.
Its not the first time a cute baby animal steal the hearts of millions. We have had them here in Kolmården too. It started with Nelson in 1995, the first rhino to be born in Sweden. He had a brain damage and did not survive more than a week. On the floor in the locker room the zookeepers had placed him on blankets and with veterinarians by his side TV could follow his every breathing. Eleven year
First bison calves born in Banff National Park in 140 years
The first bison calves to be born in 140 years in Canada's oldest national park are taking their first steps.
Conservation staff at Banff National Park in the western province of Alberta say they hope the three calves will be joined by seven more in coming weeks.
A herd of 16 plains bison, including 10 pregnant females, were successfully reintroduced to the park in February.
There used to be some 30 million bison in Canada until they were hunted almost to extinction in the 1800s.
About a quarter of a million remain on a sliver o
The Illegal Wildlife Trade: Sample Retail Market Prices
In the illegal wildlife trade, like all transnational crime, the majority of participants are involved for financial gain. Retailers generally face little enforcement risk while realizing strong profits, as the value of a particular commodity, be it a wild African grey parrot or grams of bear bile, increases dramatically as it makes its way from source to market country.
African grey parrots are endemic to the rainforests of equatorial Africa, however rampant poaching, deforestation, and habit loss, among other threats, have led to a sharp drop in the size of wild populations. This species is one of the most traded birds in the world and can retail for approximately US$2,000.
Slow lorises appear cute and cuddly, but their illegal capture and treatment are anything but. An undercover investigation by Freeland Foundation found slow lorises for sale for approximately US$5,000 in Pattaya, Thailand. Asian elephants, particularly babies, are popular in Southeast Asia’s tourist trade. Poachers will kill adult elephants in order to capture and sell their babies, which can retail for approximately US$7,000 in Thailand.
While more great apes are killed for the bush meat trade, some are poached for the exotic pet, animal park, and zoo trades. The United Nations Environment Programme reports that traffickers who illegally sold gorillas
All mammals big or small take about 12 seconds to defecate
Everyone poops, and it takes them about the same amount of time. A new study of the hydrodynamics of defecation finds that all mammals take 12 seconds on average to relieve themselves, no matter how large or small the animal.
The research, published in Soft Matter, reveals that the soft matter coming out of the hind ends of elephants, pandas, warthogs and dogs slides out of the rectum on a layer of mucus that keeps toilet time to a minimum.
“The smell of body waste attracts predators, which is dangerous for animals. If they stay longer doing their thing, they’re exposing themselves and risking being discovered,” says Patricia Yang, a mechanical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
Yang and colleagues filmed elephants, pandas and wartho
Opinion: Rhinos should be conserved in Africa, not moved to Australia
Rhinos are one of the most iconic symbols of the African savanna: grey behemoths with armour plating and fearsome horns. And yet it is the horns that are leading to their demise. Poaching is so prolific that zoos cannot even protect them.
Some people believe rhino horns can cure several ailments; others see horns as status symbols. Given horns are made of keratin, this is really about as effective as chewing your finger nails. Nonetheless, a massive increase in poaching over the past decade has led to rapid declines in some rhino species, and solutions are urgently needed.
One proposal is to take 80 rhinos from private game farms in South Africa and transport them to captive facilities in Australia, at a cost of over US$4m. Though it cannot be denied that this is a "novel" idea, I, and colleagues from around the world, have serious concerns about the project, and we have now published a paper looking into the problematic plan.
The first issue is whether the cost of moving the rhinos is unjustified. The $4m cost is almost double the anti-poaching budget for South African National Parks ($2.2m), the managers of the estate where most white rhinos currently reside in the country.
The money would be better spent on anti-poaching activities i
Of course you can learn from a mahout how to handle people
His current objects of love are Radu and Madu, the beastly sisters from India. He has been with them for just over six months. But their PDA is on full display. He hugs and caresses them, feeds them, sweet-talks to them. His patience: their devotion; his care: their trust - they make for poignant lessons for those willing to learn.
"Taming an elephant is exactly like wooing a woman. They will play hard to get. But you win them over ultimately with loads of patience and care."
"Can you dare touch a woman without first winning her trust? You invite her out on dates, give her flowers, shower her with compliments and gifts, right? It is the same with elephants. I have to woo them, romance them and train them to love me the way I want them to."
Mudenda fell in love 17 years ago, and he is still going strong. It all began when he took up a job with Wild Horizon, an elephant safari company in Zimbabwe in 2001. "I was working with baby elephants who were orphans. Their mothers got killed by poachers and in other accidents. I beca
Officials suspended for dehorning rhinos
Two Mangaung Metro officials from the Bloemfontein Zoo have been suspended for allegedly dehorning two rhinos without permission.
Mangaung Metro Municipality spokesperson, Qondile Khedama, said in a statement that the two officials were suspended on Monday after it was discovered they had undertaken the dehorning process of two rhinos without the official authorisation from the city manager, Tankiso Mea.
He says the city manager has to be informed of the process of dehorning before it is done and
Shaving Manatees—for Science!
Manatees are not beautiful or buff, but they have something no other mammal does: body hair with super powers. Body hair is a defining feature of all mammals. We all have it, some more than others, but no mammal is known to use it quite like the manatee.
Scientists have been curious about the manatee’s fuzz for a while now. Unlike seals, with their thick, warm pelts, or dolphins and whales, which are sleek and bare, manatees have a scraggly sprinkling of individual hairs here and there. What’s more, under a manatee’s skin, beneath each hair, is another oddity—a blood sinus.
“Pumping blood to the surface to supply 3,000-plus hairs across the body? That’s an expensive endeavor,” says Joseph Gaspard, director of science and conservation at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium and lead author of a new study on manatee hair. So Gaspard and his colleagues set out to see wha
Vancouver Aquarium pushes back on cetacean ban
The Vancouver Aquarium is making a last ditch effort to thwart a park board bylaw amendment which would ban the importation and display of cetaceans, like dolphins and belugas.
Aquarium officials hope a campaign to drum up public support will sway park board commissioners, who in March, voted unanimously in favour of making a change to the bylaws.
Randy Pratt, incoming board chair at the aquarium, argued on Thursday the ban would put the Marine Mammal Rescue program at risk — a program responsible for helping more than 100 animals in distress in B.C. each year, though the vast majority aren't cetaceans.
Vietnam's national Elephant Conservation Centre gets one step closer
This week we finalised the layout of Vietnam's Elephant Conservation Centre based just outside Yok Don National Park in Dak Lak province. This has been two years in the making and has involved working alongside the Elephant Conservation Centre, Animals Asia Foundation, Wild Welfare and local architects; IDIC.
As well as supporting the conservation of the country's remaining wild elephants, the centre's unique design has been formulated to provide a home for Vietnam's last tourist elephants and any injured or orphaned wild elephants that cannot be returned to the wild.
Based on my own research into the needs and welfare of elephants in captivity, as well as fifteen year
How Social Media Saved One of the World’s Last Sumatran Rhinos
Millions of people around the world rely on social media platforms like Twitter to receive minute-to-minute updates on news breaking globally. It isn’t every day though that a single tweet can cause a domino effect that led to the rescue of a severely endangered Sumatran Rhino named Puntung.
A few weeks ago, South Africa-based environmental journalist Adam Welz clicked on a link to an article about one of the last two female Sumatran rhinos in Malaysia, and the facial abscess that threatened to take her life.
Only Captivity Will Save the Vaquita, Experts Say
It was not the first time Robert L. Brownell Jr. had seen a dead vaquita, the rare and endangered porpoise that was lying on the stainless-steel necropsy table inside the Tijuana Zoo on Monday. But it might well be one of the last.
Mr. Brownell, a senior scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, had in effect discovered the porpoise, finding the first full, dead specimen in 1966. The world’s smallest member of the cetacean grouping, which
Elephant tranquilliser: The new, deadlier trend in the raging opioid epidemic
Law enforcement agencies across the country are raising alarms about the increasing trend of finding heroin laced with an extremely lethal elephant tranquilizer called carfentanil, The Washington Post reports.
The drug is 10,000 times stronger than morphine and 100 times stronger than fentanyl, just two milligrams of which is lethal—that’s about one toss of a salt shaker. Carfentanil can be absorbed through the skin, and just a puff from re-sealing a plastic bag can be lethal, raising risks for first-responders. Just a whiff can kill a drug-sniffing dog.
Though authorities are struggling to identify it in overdose cases—and sometimes not trying due to the health risks—carfentanil has been linked to dramatic increases in overdoses, which were already at alarming levels amid the nationwide opioid epidemic.
Penguins in the Byculla Zoo: Why not?
Mast! It’s rare to hear that classic Marathi word expressing appreciation in Mumbai’s Veermata Jijabai Bhosale Udyan, also called the Byculla zoo, where the happiest mammals invariably look like the fruit bats that hang lazily from the vast canopies of rain trees. You can hardly blame the 64-year-old elephant for not competing. But these days the word echoes in the area where the zoo’s newest inhabitants, seven Humboldt penguins, are housed.
There were eight but Dory died after she contracted a bacterial infection. When the city imported the birds from South Korea, Mumbai’s globalized elite was aghast. It’s okay to go skiing at a snow park in Dubai or spend time with the Polar bear at the Singapore Zoo
The litigon rediscovered
On 18 January 2017, two litigon cubs were unveiled for public display at a safari zoo in Haikou, China1. The cubs represent an important biological phenomenon, being born of a fertile tigon (a tiger-lion hybrid) and an African lion. They also raise important questions on the biological species concept and the fertility of hybrid individuals.
Earlier, in July 2016, scouring through the archives of the National Library in Kolkata, India, an information scientist* and a librarian** laid their hands upon a rare photograph published in 1980 in the daily newspaper The Statesman2. The photograph, procured and reproduced here (Figure 1) was that of a male litigon. It was described in an accompanying news report as a hybrid of a male Asiatic lion Panthera leo persica and a female tigon (hybrid of a male tiger Panthera tigris and a female African lion P. leo of unknown subspecies) from the Alipore Zoological Gardens in Calcutta (now Kolkata)2. The litigon was named Cubanacan by Jose Lopez Sanchez, the erstwhile Cuban Ambassador to India, and photographed on the cub’s first day of public viewing in the zoo.
The litigon grew up to be one of the world’s largest big cats of the time, weighing around 363 kg, a record 3.5 m long and 1.32 m wide at the shoulders3. However, this second-generation hybrid was forgotten in subsequent literature, although sporadic discussions of tigons and ligers (hybrids of male lions and female tigers) continued in popular media.
Cubanacan was born after 15 years of hybridisation attempts that started in 1964 at the Alipore Zoo4. The zoo reportedly produced its first hybrid cat, a tigon called Rudrani, on 13 October 1972 in the sixth litter of a female African lion Munni and a male tig
Meet the visionary who restored 5,500 acres of wrecked Texas land to paradise
Fifty years ago, the wildly inspiring David Bamberger bought the worst land he could find with the aim of bringing it back to thriving life.
Although David Bamberger was born into poverty, he went on to become an immensely successful fast food tycoon before cashing in his chips and assuming the role of Totally Inspiring Steward Of The Land. It's not the storyline one might expect from somebody who started a fried chicken empire – but it's a beautiful story.
After selling his company, Bamberger took to the hills to begin his work. "My objective was to take the worst piece of land I could possible find in the Hill Country of Texas and begin the process of restoration," he says in the short film Selah: Water from Stone. He settled upon a wasteland of 5,500 overgrazed acres of "wall-to-wall brush, there wasn't any grass, there wasn't any water, nobody wanted it," he says – and thus, Selah, Bamberger Ranch Preserve was born. By "working with Mother Nature instead of against her," he says, he was able to bring it
Half of All Species Are on the Move—And We're Feeling It
The shrubs probably responded first. In the 19th century, alder and flowering willows in the Alaskan Arctic stood no taller than a small child—just a little over three feet. But as temperatures warmed with fossil fuel emissions, and growing seasons lengthened, the shrubs multiplied and prospered. Today many stand over six feet.
Bigger shrubs drew moose, which rarely crossed the Brooks Range before the 20th century. Now these spindly-legged beasts lumber along Arctic river corridors, wherever the vegetation is tall enough to poke through the deep snow. They were followed by snowshoe hares, which also browse on shrubs.
Today moose and hares have become part of the subsistence diet for indigenous hunters in northern Alaska, as meltin
El Salvador zoo: Prosecutors investigate 'suspicious deaths'
Prosecutors in El Salvador have opened an inquiry following the suspicious deaths this week of a puma and a young monkey at the National Zoo.
Prosecutors suspect the animals became ill through neglect.
The investigation will also look into the death of a zebra at the same location earlier this month.
Those deaths follow that of a hippo called Gustavito at the National Zoo in February, which caused outrage in El Salvador and beyond.
Staff initially said that the hippo had been stabbed and beaten by unknown assailants.
Following the death, zoo director Vladlen Hernandez said he did not believe employees were involved in any attack and a
Kristian dies a day after his 12th birthday following attack by lion
Kristian Prinsloo has died a day after his 12th birthday.
He was attacked by a so-called tame fully grown lion outside Lephalale nearly three weeks ago, Netwerk24 reports.
Kristian has been in an induced coma in the ICU at Muelmed Mediclinic in Pretoria since the attack on April 8. He was in a critical condition and connected to a respiratory device the entire time.
After undergoing both a MRI and a CT scan, his parents, Herman and Adri were told about two weeks ago that the doctors couldn’t pick up any brain activity. Two of his neck vertebrae were damaged during the attack and doctors were unable to perform any operation because of swelling on his bra
Opinion: Rhinos should be conserved in Africa, not moved to Australia
Rhinos are one of the most iconic symbols of the African savanna: grey behemoths with armour plating and fearsome horns. And yet it is the horns that are leading to their demise. Poaching is so prolific that zoos cannot even protect them.
Some people believe rhino horns can cure several ailments; others see horns as status symbols. Given horns are made of keratin, this is really about as effective as chewing your finger nails. Nonetheless, a massive increase in poaching over the past decade has led to rapid declines in some rhino species, and solutions are urgently needed.
One proposal is to take 80 rhinos from private game farms in South Africa and transport them to captive facilities in Australia, at a cost of over US$4m. Though it cannot be denied that this is a "novel" idea, I, and colleagues from around the world, have serious concerns about the project, and we have now published a paper looking into the problematic plan.
The first issue is whether the cost of moving the rhinos is unjustified. The $4m cost is almost double the anti-poaching budget for South African National Parks ($2.2m), the managers of the estate where most white rhinos currently reside in the country.
The money would be better spent on anti-poaching activities in South Africa to increase local capacity. Or, from an Australian perspective, given the country's abysmal record
New population of rare cat species discovered
Researchers working in Borneo have found a new population of a secretive wild cat.
Scientists carrying out wildlife surveys in the Rungan Landscape in Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, have captured footage of a bay cat.
This camera trap video was recorded 64 km south-east of the species' known distribution range.
New details emerge about elephant deaths at Fellsmere center | Video, digital extras
For the first time since The National Elephant Center closed last August, longtime supporters of the shuttered site are learning new details about how three pachyderms and a baby, during delivery, died over a two-year span.
The 225-acre compound just outside Fellsmere near the Brevard County line remains dormant, but Craig Piper, the director of city zoos at the Wildlife Conservation Society in New York City, recently said it’s possible that zoo animals may return someday. Piper served as vice chairman of the center’s board of directors.
“The Fellsmere facility remains a wonderful site that could be mobilized when a need is determined to house elephants or a number of other species,” Piper said in an email about the former citrus grove property.
The $2.5 million complex, a collaborative effort of zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, opened in 2012 and began housing elephants the next year. It was touted as a place for aging and transient elephants and was designed to provide a home for males and females whose original zoos could no longer keep them.
Four African elephants — brothers Tufani and Tsavo, their pregnant mother Moyo and Thandi, an unrelated female — came to the center tog
Study finds bonobos may be better representation of the last common ancestor with humans than common chimpanzees
A new study examining the muscular system of bonobos provides firsthand evidence that the rare great ape species may be more closely linked, anatomically, to human ancestors than common chimpanzees. Previous research suggested this theory at the molecular level, but this is the first study to compare in detail the anatomy of the three species.
Threatened Species? Science to the (Genetic) Rescue!
This still-controversial conservation technique will never be a species’ panacea. But it might provide a crucial stop-gap
ike the doomed passenger pigeon in 1914, the pink pigeon of Mauritius is standing on the edge of a precipice. After watching all of its other pigeon cousins on this remote island go extinct—including the dodo, its infamous island-mate last seen in 1662—this rosy-hued bird is now looking down the dark gullet of extinction itself.
After yo-yo’ing down to a population of just around nine individuals in the 1990s, the studly birds are back up to a population of about 400 today. But that number is still small enough to leave them dangerously vulnerable. The pink pigeon’s lack of genetic diversity has left it increasingly susceptible to a parasite-causing disease called trichomonosis, which kills more than half of its chicks and limits population growth.
Why this zoo is putting gigantic, slimy ‘snot otters’ back in streams
Herpetologist Don Boyer inevitably drew attention when he drove into town. People would notice his truck, with “Bronx Zoo” emblazoned across the side, and want to know what he was doing in their corner of western New York.
“Releasing hellbenders,” he told them.
“People were like, 'Hellbenders? Why are you releasing them?' " Boyer recalled Friday.
One glance at the creatures was unlikely to assuage nervous onlookers. The Eastern hellbender, the largest salamander in the Western Hemisphere, looks as though someone yanked out a giant's esophagus, gave it legs and taught it to swim. The two-foot-long amphibian has slime-covered skin, beady eyes and a paddle-like tail. Its ruffled torso resembles the edge of a lasagna noodle, inspiring one of the creature's many colorful nicknames, “old lasagna sides.” Other monik
Why this British woman is fighting to save African lions from extinction
Africa’s lion population is agonisingly low. In Tanzania, Amy Dickman, a Devon-born conservation biologist, is working to help local tribes live in harmony with these wild beasts, and to save them from all-too-possible extinction.
Amy Dickman has always been fascinated by big cats, and as a student, on her first project in Tanzania, she felt she had arrived. She had been working with cheetahs in Namibia for six years, and now she would be working with lions. Pitching up at the camp on the edge of the Great Ruaha River, she was impressed with the accommodation: spacious canvas tents built securely on wooden platforms.
She was less dazzled when she was shown her own quarters – a small two-man ‘pup tent’ of the type that people take to Glastonbury and throw away afterwards – and even less impressed when she noticed tracks in the mud indicating that the tent was parked directly on a hippo trail from the river. So she moved it off the hippo trail and went to bed.
But, she says, on such a project, in the daytime you are 95 per cent trained biologist and five per cent terrified human. At night it’s the other way round. Darkness fell, acco
PANDAS, PANGOLINS, AND CHINA’S FITFUL ATTEMPTS AT WILDLIFE CONSERVATION
In late February, a three-and-a-half-year-old cub clambered into a crate marked “Contents one panda” to begin a sixteen-hour, one-way flight to China. Bao Bao was born at the National Zoo, in Washington, D.C., and this was her first trip overseas. Her parents have lived in the American capital since 2000, but they, like all giant pandas, remain the property of the Chinese state, which lends the animals to foreign zoos for around a million dollars per year. Any products of overseas panda unions also belong to the Chinese motherland.
Initially, Bao Bao had trouble adjusting to life in her ancestral homeland. The local dialect (Sichuanese) and diet (supplementary steamed buns, rather than biscuits) bedeviled her. Nevertheless, by the time the American-born panda ended her quarantine last month at the Dujiangyan Panda Base, in the hills of Sichuan province, she was, as David Wildt, a senior scientist and the head of the Center for Species Survival at the National Zoo, described to me, “doing really great.” Indeed, species-wide, giant-panda news is positive. China’s captive-breeding program, into which Bao Bao will be seconded once she reaches sexual maturity, has produced a bumper crop of piebald babies. More important, the giant panda was taken off the endangered-species list last September because China’s efforts to safeguard its mountainous habitat have allowed the population to grow. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) now classifies the animal as merely “vulnerable.” In Beijing, considerable political will is dedicated to protecting the panda. After all, it would be awkward should China’s furry ambassador to foreign governments end up extinct.
The panda may be protected, but other animals are not so fortunate. China’s craving for bits of other beasts—elephant tusks, rhino horns, pangolin scales, bear bile, tiger bones, sea-horse skeletons, donkey hides—has decimated fauna populations worldwide. In addition to an ancient fascination with decorative ivory, Chinese demand is tied to traditional Chinese medicine, which has for centuries claimed efficacy in dubious ingredients. Rhino horn, to take one example, is considered helpful in treating blood disorders and even cancer, despite being largely composed of keratin, the ingestion of which is not much different from chewing one’s fing
Leigh Clayton, Director of Animal Health at the National Aquarium, speaks about being an aquarium veterinarian. Listen to the PODCAST.