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Zoo News Digest May-June 2017

Zoo News Digest
May-June 2017


13May2017

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.

 

 

8May2017

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.

 


1May2017

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.
Conservation cost
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.
Fake allegations
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.
Bleeding stopped
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.
Conservation cost
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
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