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Zoo News Digest Nov-Dec 2017

Zoo News Digest
Nov-Dec 2017


Sea Shepherd eco group drops anchor in UAE

Sea Shepherd, a self-described “international direct-action ocean conservation organisation” has dropped anchor in the UAE waters with a view to spreading its 40-decade legacy of protecting marine life around the world, said officials on Monday.

With the Gulf waters under pressure from regional development and overfishing, the new chapter says it will focus on environmental awareness, fund-raising and marine conservation.

Known globally for engaging Japanese whaling ships on the high seas to stop the illegal slaughter of endangered whales, dolphins and sharks, Sea Shepherd said its new UAE chapter received approval to register in the UAE in September.

Paul Watson, Canadian fou




3 Seconds Can Make You Accept Failure

I don’t have any kids. I would like them though because I think it’s great to see such little creatures growing up and to be part of their adventures. Raising kids is hard and I have to give a lot of credit to my mom because if I look at myself…. Wow I wasn’t an easy one. My mom did a great job to “fix” me, my brothers and sister. I look at it and it seems like my mom had a very strong ingredient raising us. I still don’t know what it is but we have a thing in common and that is that we don’t get mad or frustrated quickly. We are willing to try more often and become more successful afterwards. We stay motivated to try a failure again and we see the best in every scenario. I still don’t understand how my mom did that. Although I find my mom the strongest woman in the world what makes me understand the underlying idea more and more. You get shaped by the experiences you get over time. This obviously with positive or negative thinking. I mean I consider my family quite the optimists. We try and many times we come out with success instead of going the other way of being a pessimist when we have more failure then success. Could this be because we accept our failures more and believe in reaching the goals?

I started




There Are Far Too Many Elephants In Southern Africa

Don’t get me wrong. I love elephants. Next, to the black rhino, they are my favourite animal but, as they say in the classics: “Enough is enough”.

The elephant is one of the most important animals in Africa at this time because the species has focussed world attention on Africa.

The continent’s whole wildlife future rests on:

(1) What we are going to do with our (own) elephants; or

(2). What the rest of the world is going to allow us to do with our (own) elephants; or

(3) how far we are going to allow the rest of the world to push us around – with regards to how they believe we should manage our (own) elephants. And the truth of the matter is that it seems neither they nor our own authorities, have any idea just what our management options are.

There is truly nothing mysterious about wildlife management; or about elephant management. The concept is actually very simple.




Pre-inquest review to be held into death of zookeeper Rosa King killed by tiger at Hamerton Zoo

A pre-inquest review is set to take place tomorrow (November 23) into the death of zookeeper Rosa King, who was killed by a tiger in a “freak accident” at a Cambridgeshire zoo.

Rosa was fatally injured by the Malayan male tiger after it entered an enclosure she was in at Hamerton Park Zoo near Huntingdon.

The tiger, eight-year-old Cicip, can still be seen at the zoo after Rosa's parents backed a public call for him to not be put down following the tragedy in May this year.




New greyhound rules in NSW after dogs raced against cheetahs in Shanghai

New South Wales authorities will introduce new rules to stop greyhounds being shipped to cruel and degrading conditions, after a large-scale export racket sent 70 animals to a Shanghai zoo known for racing dogs against cheetahs.

The new rules seek to place a greater onus on racing greyhound owners to prevent their animals being sent to places with shocking animal welfare records.

But critics have already dubbed it a “Band-Aid” solution that will mean little unless the federal government toughens its stance on greyhound exports.

Earlier this month, two family members – Mark and Stephen Farrugia – were fined for exporting 70 dogs to the Shanghai Wild Animal Park and another 96 dogs to the Macau Canidrome racetrack. A third family member, Donna Farrugia, was found guilty of knowingly aiding and abetting the exports, and suspended for a year and a half.

The Farrugias had bought the dogs from greyhound racetracks across the state, often when they were no longer wanted by their owners.




We don’t need to save endangered species. Extinction is part of evolution.

Near midnight, during an expedition to southwestern Ecuador in December 2013, I spotted a small green frog asleep on a leaf, near a stream by the side of the road. It was Atelopus balios , the Rio Pescado stubfoot toad. Although a lone male had been spotted in 2011, no populations had been found since 1995, and it was thought to be extinct. But here it was, raised from the dead like Lazarus. My colleagues and I found several more that night, males and females, and shipped them to an amphibian ark in Quito, where they are now breeding safely in captivity. But they will go extinct one day, and the world will be none the poorer for it. Eventually, they will be replaced by a dozen or a hundred new species that evolve later.

Mass extinctions periodically wipe out up to 95 percent of all species in one fell swoop; these come every 50 million to 100 million years, and scientists agree that we are now in the middle of the sixth such extinction, this one caused primarily by humans and our effects on animal habitats. It is an “immense and hidden” tragedy t




Zoo tigress suffers snake bite, critical

Nine-year-old Jaai, one of the two tiger cubs that was rescued from a belligerent mob 9 years ago from Mendki in Bramhapuri forest division in Chandrapur, is battling for life after a snake bite at the Maharajbagh Zoo.

"Though the movement of Jaai appears to be normal, blood report shows renal failure. Her both kidneys have failed," said zoo officer in-charge Dr SS Bawaskar.

According to sources, on November 5, Jaai was seen by visitors playing with a snake in her cage. The snake must be non-venomous otherwise some unfortunate would have happen.

The zoo, which is surrounded by agriculture land and a nullah, is vulnerable to presence of snakes. On Monday, a Russel's Viper was s




Uruguay Reopens Zoo After Almost Two Years of Construction

Among the 500 species, some of the most prized inhabitants are its hippopotami, coati, yacare caiman and big cats, which are a priority

Durazno, Uruguay reopens the doors to its zoo this week after a year and a half of renovations, the city’s mayor, Carmelo Vidalin said.

Over the last year, the former Washington Rodriguez Piquinela Zoo has been transformed into an animal reserve, home to approximately 500 specimens and 250 species of animals, birds, and reptiles.

Among the zoo's prized inhabitants are its hippopotami, coati, and yacare caiman, however, the conservation considers its big cats' high priority. The reserve houses lions, tigers, pumas, and jaguars, all of which are considered endangered in Uruguay.




The Tiger Subspecies Revised, 2017

There are certain animal species where – for reasons related to the charisma of the animal concerned, and the distinct nature of its various populations – we tend to learn about the various subspecies. Giraffes are one good example. Another is the Tiger Panthera tigris.

Most people interested in animals know that tigers vary enough across their extensive (historical) range that the naming of several different forms is warranted. There’s the ‘typical’ tiger of India (the Bengal tiger P. t. tigris), the comparatively gigantic Siberian or Amur tiger in far north-eastern Asia (P. t. altaica), the west Asian Caspian tiger (P. t. virgata), a Chinese form with distinctive stripes (P. t. amoyensis), some poorly known forms from mainland south-east Asia (P. t. corbetti and P. t. jacksoni), and the island-dwellers of south-east Asia (P. t. sondaica of Java, P. t. balica of Bali and P. t. sumatrae of Sumatra). Several of these forms were unable to avoid the persecution and destruction wrought upon them by our own species...




PHOTO: 'Huge, but well-behaved' elephants safe after tractor-trailer fire at GA-TN line

Well, this is an interesting site for a Monday morning commute - three African elephants on the side of the road.

The incident happened on I-24 East in Dade County, GA, just near the Georgia-Tennessee line, around 2 a.m. on Monday.

Firefighters posted at the tractor was on fire, but the trailer was not, and the elephants, who were called "huge, but well behaved," by the fire department's chief, were safely removed.

"The owners got the elephants safely out of the trailer and gave them some hay to munch on while firefighters put the fire out," the post says.

Once the owner made some calls, the elephants were placed on another tractor and headed to Sarasota, FL.

Meanwhile, first responder Tracy Beavers snapped a photo while she and her unit were responding to the tractor-trailer fire. By the time she responded, the scene was calm a




The voice missing from the elephant trophy debate? Africans.

The answers for conserving the Earth’s wild creatures seem easy from the office chairs of the affluent west. Ban trophy hunting! Hunt down the poachers! More tourism!

But the social media campaigns and President Trump’s flip-flopping on Twitter over the past few days on U.S. elephant trophy imports from Zimbabwe and Zambia highlight the deficiencies of this model of decision-making. We need a lot less shouting and lot more listening — and to different voices.

How can we help secure a future for wildlife? We know what the animal lovers and celebrities will say. We know what the hunting organizations will say. We’ve heard these voices before, loud and clear, with the same simple answers. But what might the people and government of Zimbabwe say (if they could look aw




Smoky mouse breeding boosted by food and flowers as scientists work to save mammal

For centuries, aspiring lovers have used flowers and exotic delicacies to woo their partners, and it seems the animal kingdom is no different.

Scientists have bolstered the numbers of one of the nation's most critically endangered species, the smoky mouse, by decking out the breeding enclosures of six adult mice with flowers and food.

The old-fashioned dating techniques have seen six new litters of baby mice welcomed at Australia's only smoky mouse captive breeding facility — spearheaded by the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH).

Breeding specialist Daniel Gowland said researchers played Cupid by creating the perfect breeding environment for the cute critters.

"Food is a stimulus for us all, it's one of the first little integrations we do … and it's one of the main things we had to work on," he said.




Zoo, university dig into prairie dog mystery

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo and the Biology Department at Fairfield University are teaming up to solve an underground mystery.

Staff from the two organizations are using ground penetrating radar to map the maze of burrows that’s home to the zoo’s two black-tailed prairie dog colonies. According to a news release from the zoo, the experiment grew out of an encounter between Ashley Byun, Fairfield University’s associate professor of biology and Brian Jones, state archaeologist.

Ground penetrating radar mapping equipment was brought to the zoo by Jones.

Rope lines and colored flags identified a path for the radar equipment to follow, corresponding to carefu




Leadership Change at Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute

Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute Director Dennis Kelly plans to retire after a temporary appointment as the interim president of Smithsonian Enterprises. Effective Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, Steven Monfort will become acting director of the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute.


Kelly has seved as the director of the Smithsonian’s National Zoo since February 2010. As director, he has led the operations of the public Zoo, created a visionary plan for the Zoo’s future, and has ensured that the important work of the conservation scientists continues to have a global impact.

Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University. After serving in the military, Kelly held positions with Procter & Gamble and Touche Ross & Co. From 1982 to 1999, he served in various positions at The Coca-Cola Co. in Atlanta. In 1999, Kelly joined Green Mountain Energy Co. and before coming to the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, Kelly was President of Zoo Atlanta for six years. Kelly recently completed a term as Chair of the Board of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, the most prestigious zoological accrediting body in the world.

Monfort has been at the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute since 1986. He is currently the John and Adrienne Mars Director, Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and deputy director of Smithsonian's National Zoo.

Monfort served for 20 years as a research veterinarian, and he founded and co-led the Zoo’s Endocrine Research Laboratory. He launched the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation and played a key role in a number of significant conservation initiatives, including the Sahara Conservation Fund, Conservation Centers for Species Survival, Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project, and the Global Tiger Initiative. He has been instrumental in reintroducing scimitar-horned oryx, which were extinct in the wild, to their ancestral Sahelian habitats in Chad—one of




Biology's Beloved Amphibian--the Axolotl--Is Racing Toward Extinction

When biologist Luis Zambrano began his career in the late 1990s, he pictured himself working miles from civilization, maybe discovering new species in some hidden corner of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Instead, in 2003, he found himself counting amphibians in the polluted, murky canals of Mexico City’s Xochimilco district. The job had its advantages: he was working minutes from his home and studying the axolotl (Ambystoma mexicanum), a national icon in Mexico and arguably the world’s most recognizable salamander. But in that first year, Zambrano couldn’t wait for it to be over.

“Let me tell you, I hated the project at the beginning,” he says. For one thing, “I couldn’t catch anything”.

Over time, however, he did catch some axolotls. What he found surprised him—and changed the course of his career. In 1998, the first robust study to count axolotls estimated that t




Zoo chief’s sexual harassment allegation draws pros and cons over sanction

A zoo director who allegedly sexually harassed a female worker received a pay cut, Yonhap News Agency reported Monday.

Lee Ki-sub, the director of the Seoul Grand Park, allegedly told the victim to sleep at his residence last December, when the workers at the zoo had to work overtime at night due to the outbreak of Avian Influenza. Doubts over his inappropriate remarks and physical contact in the past have also been raised.

Lee only admitted to parts of the allege




The Return of the Crested Ibis

I went to see Kin at the Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Preservation Center in the spring of 2003 only to find the last crested ibis in Japan blind and weak, huddled in a large cage about 2.5 meters square.

I learned of Kin’s death on October 10 of that same year from the TV news. She had apparently flung herself against aluminum siding at a height of about 1 meter and died from hitting her head. Perhaps she had hoped to make her weakened body fly once again in the great skies. She was 36 years old, well over 100 by human count.

Kin’s death reminded me of another. The place was the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio; the date, September 1, 1914. Martha—the last remaining passenger pigeon, named for the wife of George Washington, the first US president—fell from her perch in the zoo and died.

Prior to this, passenger pigeons numbered more than 3 billion and darkened the skies over the eastern part of the United States when they migrated. But they were decimated for their meat and their habitat destroyed as American pioneers cut down forests and cleared land. By 1901, wild passenger pigeons had disappeared.

Fortunately, Kin was not the last crested ibis, and her death did not mean the extinction of the species. The same species of crested




Can Freeing Captive Bears in Armenia End the Attitudes That Imprisoned Them?

A young family of three enjoys a delightful meal on an uncommonly warm fall day in one of Armenia’s many outdoor restaurants. A doting father leans playfully across the table to poke a fork at his cherub-like son. The child’s mother looks on lovingly. It’s a scene that would be the stuff of tourist brochures—were it not for its disturbing backdrop.

Visible from the family’s table is a wild brown bear, hovering despondently in the backdrop, pacing the length of its rusty cage to and fro, just meters from the happy family on the other side of the river.




Wildlife park worker, 37, is left with deadly illness after she was bitten by insect in Indonesian jungle while on a mission to save tigers

An animal conservation worker has been left with a deadly illness after she was bitten by an insect while trekking in the jungle to save the tiger.

Zoo owner Rebecca Willers, 37, has been diagnosed with a rare and incurable condition that she says leaves her body feeling 'like it is turning into stone'.

Known as Diffuse Systemic Sclerosis, the disease makes her body think its immune system is under attack and hardens her skin and connective tissues.

Ms Willers, who runs Shepreth Wildlife Park in Cambridgeshire, does not know how long she has left to live but doctors have told her one in ten people with the condition die within five years.

Since her diagnosis in September, she has cancelled her pension and is arranging to put he




What grosses out a chimpanzee?

Chimpanzees do some pretty disgusting things.

In their natural habitats, chimpanzees are known to pick up seeds from feces and re-ingest them. In captivity, some practice coprophagy: the deliberate ingestion of feces. These behaviors usually involve their own fecal matter, or that of their closest family members. If presented with feces and other bodily fluids from others, however, that's an entirely different story.

In 2015, researchers from Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute went to the Primate Center at the 'Centre International de Recherches Médicales de Franceville' (CIRMF) in Gabon to test whether chimpanzees are grossed out by some of the same things as humans, particularly those that are sources of infectious disease.

Avoiding biological contaminants is a well-known manifestation of the adaptive system of disgust. In theory, animals evolved with this system to protect themselves from pathogens and parasites, which are often associated with media or substrates that invoke our sense




Chimps found to use arm and mouth expressions to convey distance

A small team of researchers working at the Primate Research Institute at Kyoto University has found evidence that chimps are able to use gestures to convey distance to a person. In their paper published in the journal Biology Letters, the group describes experiments they carried out with chimps in a confined location, what they found and what their findings might mean for the development of symbolic communication in primates.

When people want to express distance to someone else they simply tell them using words or in some cases, use their hands to point. The ability to understand distance and convey it to another individual requires some degree of intelligence, which is why the research team in Japan wondered if chimps might the same abilities and if they did, how was it conveyed.

To find out, the team ran a series of experiments with eight chimps living at the institute. Each was allowed entry to a closed pen that was separated into two sections by bars preventing the chimps from coming into contact with the researchers. In the pen on the other side of the bars were two tables—one close to the bars, the other farther away. Each experiment consisted of a researcher coming into the table side of the pen and setting a piece of banana on one of two tables within sight of the chimp. The researcher would then leave the pen. Soon thereafter, another researcher would enter the room and begin interacting with the chimp, in effect, asking if they wanted the piece of banana. Regardless of how they c




Fate of lynx shot dead in Wales raises questions over 'hobby zoos'

When the Mee family bought Dartmoor Zoological Park in October 2006, it was in a state of complete dilapidation. The initial attraction had been the 12-bedroom, 18th-century house on the edge of the Dartmoor national park in Devon, with the attached zoo a “massive encumbrance” that was putting off buyers.

After some research the former science journalist Benjamin Mee decided the site could not only be a new home for his family, but also a new career. He concluded that if he “not only employed people who knew what they were doing, but also took their advice”, then he could reverse the fortunes of the 30-acre wildlife park, with its 200 exotic animals.

“It needed hundreds of thousand of pounds spending on it to get it up to licensing standard again,” said Mee. “So it was a huge gamble. But we just thought, if we don’t do it [the zoo] will definitely close … and it would just be wrong for those animals to be destroyed.” In 2011, Mee’s account of his family’s decision to buy, renovate and reopen the zoo was turned into the film We Bought a Zoo, starring Matt Damon.





The Zoological Society of East Anglia is delighted to report the appointment of Professor David Field as Chief Executive Designate. Professor Field will take over from the founding Chief Executive Martin Goymour in the spring of 2018. The two will work together to achieve a smooth transition in the management of this prominent local charity and wildlife resource.

Martin Goymour comments: “As you may imagine this will be a momentous change for us both, but necessary to ensure that ZSEA and its parks have every opportunity to progress, evolve and grow.  We are extremely proud of the contributions and achievements made to wildlife conser




The Big Game killing field: Sickening bloodlust of trophy hunters who kill endangered animals for sport exposed

A trophy hunter poses with pride beside the young elephant he has just killed. Philip Glass shows no remorse and even boasts: “God says we have dominion over the animals . That means we can do what we choose with them.”

He is so convinced of his divine right to shoot big game, he also agreed to be filmed hunting a lion and hippo in South Africa for shocking new film Trophy.

The documentary ’s grim footage comes after Donald Trump sparked fury by lifting Barack Obama ’s ban on hunters importing elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia to the US.

The Mirror today exposes the sick reality of trophy hunting in South Africa and the firms offering package holiday-style hunts. And we rev




A tranquiliser shortage is holding back rescue and rehabilitation of rhinos in India

“Watching a rhino get tranquilised is indeed an experience to cherish. It is hard to imagine that such a powerful animal can become so vulnerable too,” said Dharanidhar Boro, an officer on special duty at Manas National park, who has been working with greater one-horned rhinos in India’s Assam state since 1987.

He describes the frenzy as more than 30 trained elephants circle a grazing rhino to try and contain it and an official with a dart gun, riding atop one of the pachyderms, shoots a drug-laden syringe at the rhino’s rump or neck.

It takes eight to 10 minutes after the needle pierces the rhino’s thick skin for the animal to go completely under; it takes off




Even more good news for a Friday: first captive-reared vultures released

Yesterday was a momentous day in Nepal. Five captive-reared vultures were released back into the wild as part of the Saving Asian Vulture Programme (SAVE).  This is an important milestone in the programme established to try to reverse the catastrophic decline in white-rumped vultures, and two other species of Gyps vulture (long-billed and slender-billed) all Critically Endangered as a result of the use of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug called diclofenac. This drug was, until recently, a very widespread treatment for sick cows. Meat of a dead, recently ‘diclofenac-dosed’ cow, is lethal to vultures and, being sacred, cows are not eaten but taken to carcass dumps and left for scavengers. Thus, one toxic cow can kill an awful lot of vultures.




Pigs to debut at new zoo in the Muslim-majority north

ndia’s lone Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir has decided to showcase pigs at its upcoming zoo – a move that is bound to spark a fresh controversy. Pigs are deemed as unclean animals in Islam and hosting them in a zoo will have political consequences.

The state government has decided to dedicate a special area for pigs at the Jambu Zoo, also known as the Shivalik Biological Park in the Jammu region, on the national highway that connects it to the summer capital of Srinagar in the Kashmir Valley.




Fact Check: was it right to kill Lilith the escaped lynx?

An escaped lynx was recently destroyed by experts working on behalf of Ceredigion County Council in Wales after attempts to recapture it failed. Some people have responded angrily, arguing that officials should have tranquilised the animal rather than killing it. The council claimed it had done all it could and was left with no other option. So was there a way Lilith the lynx could have been saved?

Zoo animals all receive a danger category for their potential to cause serious harm. Animals such as tigers, lions, elephants, and lynx are classed as Category 1, the most dangerous animals, due to their natural behaviour and predatory way of life. Animals which may cause slight harm or injury are classified as Category 2, and those which are no threat to the public get classed as Category 3.

Within the UK, zoos are licenced by local authorities, who conduct inspections on a regular basis to ensure the health and safety of the animals, staff and the public that visit them. Safety from the animal enclosure side of things is always viewed to reduce the likelihood of the public getting in, and the animals getting out.

But zoos are home to some incredibly smart animals which are able to notice small gaps in the gates and doorways or when electric fencing ma




Zookeepers chase, beat kids with sticks at Hyderabad zoo on Children’s Day

Young boys can be seen fleeing from the khaki-clad men charging at them with sticks, some even fallen to the ground, as a crowd of many students look on from beyond a barricade. The fear is writ large on the faces of the boys’ as they try to escape.

The images were taken by Suresh Kumar, a photojournalist from Sakshi at Hyderabad’s Nehru Zoological Park (NZP) on Children’s Day.

The pictures have triggered outrage on social media, with one user even tagging the city police so that they can take action.




Study gives genetic clues to the extinction of the passenger pigeon

Martha, the last of her kind, resides in a glass case at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, perched on a thin branch. She’s a passenger pigeon, Ectopistes migratorius, and in the final years of her life, before her death in 1914 at the Cincinnati Zoo, she achieved fame as the last survivor of a species once so populous that its flocks could darken the noonday sky.

Martha is small and gray, with flecks of blue and green iridescence on the back of her neck. She is looking sharply to the right, as if looking over her shoulder — as if a bit wary.

“Some people find her a little plain-looking,” said Helen James, the Curator of Birds, who can put her hands




Elephant Keeper Diaries

Today was the day that the first crate arrived to begin the introductions with the elephants – Minbu (the dominant female known as a matriarch), Tara, Noorjahan and Esha (our three year old calf, born here at Twycross Zoo by Noorjahan). All of the keepers who work with our girls daily were present and emotions were high with excitement to begin the next steps of our elephants’ move.

Once all of our morning jobs were completed – which included cleaning and the daily animal checks – our girls were given their breakfast and sent off into the grass paddock which was set up with some exciting enrichment to keep them entertained. The safest thing for them was to keep them busy and away from the noises and vibrations of the vehicles delivering the crate.




Creating Serendipitous Experiences That Have An Impact: A Conversation with Sue Chin, Vice President of Planning and Design and Chief Architect at the Wildlife Conservation Society

Unlike most other institutions who hire design firms, the four zoos and one aquarium under the Wildlife Conservation Society have their own design department responsible for all their exhibits and graphics. The Exhibition and Graphic Arts Department (EGAD), particularly at the Bronx Zoo, has designed many ground-breaking immersive habitats recreating the natural environment of its animals. No other institution has won the Exhibit Award from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums as many times as the Bronx Zoo. Currently EGAD is headed by Sue Chin, one of the most well respected zoo designers in history. Along with John Gwynne and Lee Ehmke (her partner for nearly two decades), she and the EGAD team have been responsible for many of the incredible exhibits at the Bronx Zoo. This is her story.




The Ark in Lincoln Park: A Conversation with Mark Rosenthal

 One of the oldest zoos in the nation, the Lincoln Park Zoo has been a leader in the zoo field for over a century. No one knows this better than Mark Rosenthal, retired Curator of Mammals from the zoo. He has an intimate knowledge of its history few have both from personal experience and documenting the stories of others. Rosenthal authored The Ark in the Park, a book on the history of the zoo, and since retirement has run the Zoo and Aquarium Video Archives, which contain hours upon hours of video interviews with retired zoo professionals. Here is his story.




Cumbria zoo scandal: Govt minister Michael Gove to study case of animal deaths

County MP set for top-level talks as report compiled into tragedy at family attraction

SCANDALOUS failings at a Cumbrian zoo - which saw hundreds of animals die of starvation and neglect - are to form the basis of a government report aimed at preventing such a tragedy from ever happening again in the UK.

The Zoos Expert Committee is in the process of considering the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 500 animals at South Lakes Safari Zoo, near Dalton, over the course of just four years.

The committee, which provides advice to the government, has been tasked with identifying lessons that can be learnt from the case so that changes to the way zoos are licensed in the future can be implemented nationally.

Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock, who has campaigned for changes to the laws which govern how animals are kept in zoos, is set to meet environment secretary, Michael Gove, to discuss the issue once the report is complete.

Mr Woodcock has called for anyone who applies for a zoo licence to first pass a fit and proper persons test in a bid to ensure the highest standards of safety for animals, staff and the public.

He said: "Since the awful events at South Lakes Safari Zoo, I have been campaigning to reform the current zoo licensing system which has clearly been shown to be not fit for purpose.

"We need a fit and proper persons test so that those involved in running a failed zoo can be barred from obtaining a new licence and a more professional regulatory system that mirrors the high standards seen in other areas where health and welfare are at risk.

"It is a huge boost to the campaign that the govern




Explainer: mass coral spawning, a wonder of the natural world

During the late spring, corals on the Great Barrier Reef release little balls that float to the ocean surface in a slow motion upside-down snowstorm.

These beautiful events are studied avidly by scientists: the tiny bundles will become young corals, and unlocking their secrets is vital to the continuing life of our coral reefs.




Will SeaWorld ever be allowed to return trainers to the water?

On February 24th, 2010 SeaWorld Orlando Trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by the largest Killer Whale to ever be in captivity at any park in the world, Tilikum. The world changed that day in many ways, from the way many saw SeaWorld, to the way SeaWorld operated, to even what the whales were called.  Perhaps one of the biggest changes came from the removal of a staple of the park, and the very shows that they performed. That day would be the last that any SeaWorld trainer would be in the water with an Orca during a show, and the water contact between trainers and the whales would be minimal. It was a decision that would change the fabric of the company, and would tear apart the image of bonding nature and humans that SeaWorld worked almost 50 years to create and perfect. Seven years later, there are no trainers and Orcas in the water at Shamu Stadium, and the way that people and the whales interact has changed forever. Is there any hope of ever going back, even one little baby step? What would have to change so that trainers and Orcas could once again show that connection that we are one world, one ocean?




Primatologist Jane Goodall: ‘Tarzan married the wrong Jane’

Growing up in Britain during the second world war, Jane Goodall was often told her dreams were just that – fantasy, unrealistic, unachievable: “I had read Tarzan and fallen in love, although he married the wrong Jane, the wretched man,” she jokes. “I wanted to live with wild animals and write books about them. But people would say: ‘How can you do that? Africa is far away, we don’t know much about it. You don’t have any money in your family. You’re just a girl.’”

Now, at 83, the celebrated British primatologist tours the world, never stopping anywhere for more than a few weeks at a time, giving sold-out lectures on what she has learned over five decades of chimp study in Tanzania.

Angelina Jolie, Colin Firth and Judd Apatow are vocal fans. Michael Jackson, she says, wrote Heal the World about her. Goodall just wants to get on with the job of better protecting our planet from the effects of climate change, but now her schedule has been interrupted once again by National Geographic’s Jane, a film about her life (of which there are now more than 40). She sounds mildly annoyed when she tells me that she recently had to pause her activism to travel to the Hollywood premiere of the documentary,




Experts call for urgent action to protect Myanmar bears

Bears are being hunted with impunity for their gall bladder and bile in eastern Shan State, where the rule of law remains weak, conservationists said, calling for immediate protection of the species.

WWF Myanmar said Malay bears and Himalayan bears are being caught in forests and kept in small cages on livestock farms where their bile is harvested for traditional medicine.

“Bears are being kept inside small cages and their bile is harvested every day by piercing through their rib cages,” said U Tin Htun Aung, program officer at the Biodiversity and Nature Conservation Association (BANCA).

“They are forced to produce bile for many years. If the bear is killed, bile can only be extracted once so people resort to this cruel method to harvest bile for years,” he added.

The Sun bear, which can be found in Myanmar, requires full protection by law. The Himalayan bear, the other type of bear in the country, is included on the list of protected species, according to BANCA.

As Himalayan bears are rather large with big gall bladders, they are more targeted, the organisations added.

Conservationists lamented that although these bears ar




New program releases endangered whooping cranes into wild

A group of 12 juvenile whooping cranes were released into the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries’ Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge on Tuesday as part of an ongoing effort to protect the species from extinction.

The juvenile cranes join 49 other whooping cranes that are a part of an experimental population being monitored by LDWF.

Supported by donors like Chevron, LDWF and Audubon Nature Institute have been longtime leaders in whooping crane conservation and recently expanded their partnership with the goal of developing a self-sustaining population of whooping cranes in Louisiana.

Of the 12 cranes, seven were reared at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland, two were raised at Calgary Zoo in Canada and three were hatched from eggs collected from the wild in Wisconsin and reared at the Freeport-McMoRan Audubon Species Survival Center in New Orleans. All 12 cranes were brought to the Species Survival Center where they formed a “cohort,” the scientific term





Little Mama, the oldest known chimpanzee on record, died on Tuesday in her late 70s, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Born before the end of World War II, Little Mama lived into her 70s until Tuesday, when she died in the company of eight other chimpanzees and employees at the Lion Country Safari park in Loxahatchee, Florida. Although not yet confirmed, the cause of death is suspected to be kidney failure. According to the Post, a necroscopy will be carried out. 

As South Florida's Sun Sentinel reports, chimpanzees in captivity typically live to between 50 and 60, and their counterparts in the wi




Court allows appeal of order to edit Vancouver Aquarium documentary

Filmmaker was to remove some footage in piece that looks at treatment of dolphins and beluga whales.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of a filmmaker whose documentary criticized the Vancouver Aquarium’s practice of keeping beluga whales and dolphins in captivity.

It says a lower court judge erred in ordering the filmmaker to remove 15 segments of his documentary that the aquarium said could cause the facility irreparable harm.




Conservation by killing? Documentary asks if commerce can save threatened species

 Could a hunter’s bullet be a tool in helping save Africa’s endangered species from extinction? The question is one of the many complex ethical dilemmas raised by “Trophy”, a documentary that examines whether commerce can help wildlife conservation.

The film, directed by Shaul Schwarz and Christina Clusiau, assesses some of the ways that threatened species are used for commercial gain, from elephants being auctioned to hunters as prey, to rhinos being farmed for their horns.

While Schwarz and Clusiau began the project with the intention of shaming the hunting industry, they soon found that situation was more complex and nuanced than they had imagined.

“In Africa, for example, their relationship to animals is very different from our relationship to animals in the sense that,




From cooking pot to conservation, a turtle’s tale

A royal turtle once rescued from villagers who wanted to eat it was one of two handed over to a conservation centre yesterday.

The turtles had been raised by former Koh Kong provincial Fisheries Administration’s official Nay Ol, 60, for 17 years.

Tears welled up in his eyes when he spoke about his turtles during the inauguration of the Koh Kong Reptile Conservation Centre in Mondol Seima district.

One turtle weighed more than 30 kilos and was more than 50 years old. It was rescued in 2000 from villagers who were about to kill and cook it.

Mr Ol said his wife could not be there because she would cry if she saw the turtles being given away.

He joined the turtle conservation project in 2000 and went that year to Sre Ambel to educate people about royal turtles.




The Pittsburgh Zoo should want to be in the best league

Sean Hamill’s excellent article “Pittsburgh Zoo Was Kicked Out of Important Conservation Programs When It Left National Association” (Nov. 12) merits clarification. Most important, Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium did not leave the Association of Zoos and Aquariums due to “a dispute over how it cares for elephants” or “philosophical issues.” It left, plain and simple, because the zoo’s executive leadership did not want to meet AZA’s improved and stringent standards for maximizing occupational safety of elephant care professionals — standards designed by their colleagues and which our 62 elephant-holding members are meeting today.

This is a deadly serious issue. Zoo leadership also knew, in leaving AZA, that the zoo’s participation in member programs, like Species Survival Plans, would be restricted. And participation will likely get more restrictive in the months and years to come, as our members continue reviewing SSPs and raising standards for animal care.




The Pittsburgh zoo is world class

So it doesn’t matter if a single self-important organization criticizes us

I was greatly amused by the comments from Association of Zoos and Aquariums executive director Daniel M. Ashe, who has never visited the Pittsburgh Zoo (“The Pittsburgh Zoo Should Want to Be in the Best League,” Nov. 16 letters). Sadly, Mr. Ashe has been misled and wrote his letter in an attempt to protect AZA’s brand and self-proclaimed position as a zoo organization.

The Pittsburgh Zoo has always upheld the highest standards of animal care and welfare. We are now certified by the oldest national animal welfare organization in the country, American Humane, passing a rigorous third-party, independent audit. We have not only increased our expertise and standards in our animal care, but also have the Gold Stamp of the American Humane Conservation program’s Humane Certified seal to prove it.

Our zoo is accredited by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums Association and the Zoological Association




'Hobby zoos' face calls for crackdown after second lynx dies at animal park home of Lillith

A Welsh zoo is facing calls to close after it emerged a second lynx was accidentally strangled in  “a terrible handling error” days before Lillith the lynx was shot and killed following her escape from the same attraction.

Borth Wild Animal Kingdom near Aberyswyth was branded a “hobby zoo” after news of the death of the second lynx emerged, throwing a spotlight on fears that at some UK animal attractions well-meaning but underqualified owners are failing to look after creatures properly.

Launching a petition for Borth to close in the light of the two deaths, the Lynx UK Trust, a conservation group working to reintroduce the lynx to Britain, accused the zoo’s management of having “little to no understanding of wild animal behaviour or welfare needs”.

Dr Paul O'Donoghue, Chief scientific adviser to the trust, added: “What if it had been Borth's crocodile that esca




EXPOSED! Blood Rhino Blacklist

On Saturday 28 October 2017, I exposed the ‘blood rhino blacklist’ syndicate, live on air, on the award winning Radio New Zealand show with Kim Hill. Listen to the 30 minute interview here.

I am staking my life on this shocking expose you are about to read. I can only take it so far. It is now up to global citizens, environmental organisations, press and politicians worldwide to ensure that justice is done. Because if we fail, the rhinos of South Africa will tumble into extinction, and rapists and murderers will be set free.

I am the guardian of the ‘blood rhino blacklist’. I have already exposed two magistrates and two defense attorneys involved in the case of Zululand’s accused rhino poaching kingpin, Dumisani Gwala. But this is just one thread in a systematic web of corruption.




First-ever animal rights lawsuit filed on behalf of zoo elephants

Pachyderms are people, too.

That’s the argument being made by the Nonhuman Rights Project, which filed the first-ever animal rights lawsuit this week on behalf of captive elephants in Connecticut — claiming they are legal “persons” who deserve to be in sanctuaries, not zoos.

The nonprofit organization believes that because the creatures are autonomous beings, who live “emotionally, socially, and cognitively complex lives,” they have a fundamental right to be set free from the Commerford Zoo in Goshen.

Lawyers for the group are specifically requesting that their “elephant clients” — Beulah, Karen and Minnie — be released and sent the Performing Animal Welfare Society’s ARK 2000 natural habitat sanctuary in California, “where their right to bodily liberty will be respected.”

They announced the filing on Monday in a press release, saying they were seeking a common law writ of habeas corpus in Connecticut Superior Court.

“This is not an animal welfare case,” explained attorney Steven M. Wise, president and founder of the NhRP.




Tenerife marine park loses court battle over orca welfare

Tenerife’s Loro Parque has lost a defamation battle against an animal rights charity over treatment of orcas at the marine park.

A Spanish court has thrown out a defamation lawsuit bought against PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – in which Loro Parque sought €100,000 in damages.

The case was brought after PETA published photographs in 2015 showing the killer whales covered with scars and wounds, which it said had come from the animals being kept in too close proximity to each other.

Other images showed severe dental trauma, which PETA says captive orcas typically develop from gnawing on tank gates and walls. Another (above) showed an orca with a collapsed dorsal fin, which PETA says is the result of having inadequate space to swim and dive.

Dismissing the case, the judge ruled that PETA’s views, which are based on expert analysis and research, were protected under Spanish laws on freedom of expression. The judg




Unloved vultures fight for their survival in Pakistan

Once a common sight in the skies, today the white-backed vulture is facing extinction – its population devastated by the use of industrial drugs to breed the cattle whose carcasses they traditionally feed on.

Bird numbers have plummeted by more than 99 per cent since the 1990s, according to the local branch of the World Wildlife Fund [WWF], which is desperately attempting to ensure the species does not die out.

“Once vultures were found in a very good number in Pakistan,” explains Warda Javed, coordinator for the WWF backed Vulture Restoration Project. But due to several threats – principally the use of the anti-inflammatory drug Diclofenac, which causes kidney failure the birds are dying out.




Royal turtles released into wild

More than 20 critically endangered turtles were released into the wild yesterday after spending the last eight years in a conservation centre.

Som Sitha, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s technical advisor of theo Koh Kong Conservation Project, said the adult turtles were ready to return to their natural habitat in the Sre Ambel river system.

Each of the reptiles was equipped with a GPS device prior to the release.

“Each turtle is about eight-years-old and weighs over ten kilograms,” Mr Sitha said. “There are 13 females and 12 males, because we want these to breed in the wild.”

The royal turtle, or southern river terrapin, has been Cambodia’s national reptile since 2005. It is on the Red List of Threatened Species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The Sre Ambel River system o




Worst-case scenario: There could be only 30 wild Sumatran rhinos left

As we sit cross-legged at a restaurant in Java over plates of local delicacies — cow brains, avocado juice and dried fish you eat whole — Haerudin R. Sadjudin tells me a little about his life. Lanky, weathered, with a welcoming demeanor and an open smile, Haerudin, 62, started studying rhinos — both Indonesian species, the Sumatran and the Javan — in 1975. I tell him he’s been doing this job longer than I’ve been alive.

Haerudin, program manager at local rhino NGO YABI, has had the pleasure of seeing Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) 31 times in the wild. He’s been attacked by them three times, including once when he had to abandon his canoe and cling to a tree. But this isn’t what really takes my breath away. He’s actually seen Sumatran rhinos (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) in the wild — but only once in his 40-plus years of studying the animal.

This highlights just how endangered the Sumatran rhino has long been. Already by the 1970s they were virtually impossible to encounter. And today they are so rare, so nearly lost, as to be almost mythical: they’ve become like the Tasmanian tiger in the 1920s or Stellar’s sea cow in the 1760s.

The world knows exactly how many Javan rhino




Illegally Conceived Genetically Defective Liger Turns 7

A lion-tiger hybrid born on a tourist farm in 2010 in circumstances that breached Taiwan’s Wildlife Conservation Law turned 7 years old last month.

The animal’s low-key birthday was reported in various local media outlets today, after the story was originally posted on Facebook by National Pingtung University of Science and technology’s (NPUST) Center for Wildlife Conservation and Management October 23.

Ah Biao, as he is nicknamed, was born in 2010 at the tourism-oriented World Snake King Educational Farm in Tainan in 2010 after the managers cross-bred a male African lion with a female Bengal tiger. The result of the experiment produced three offspring which the breeders touted as the first Ligers produced in Taiwan.

One of the cubs died at birth, and another survived just one week. The surviving sibling, Ah Biao, was confiscated by the Council of Agriculture as his birth had contravened Taiwan’s Wildlife Conservation Law.

Ah Biao suffered from congenital defects, including a malformed tail, hip problems, spinal curvature, and an immobile left-rear leg. Ah Biao was taken to NPUST’s Center for Wildlife Conservation and Management, where he resides to this day. Weighing just 680 grams when he arrived, today he weighs 165 kilograms and has a body-length of 170 centimeters.





Sturgeon are more critically endangered than any other species. A number of factors contribute cumulatively to sturgeon’s endangered status: namely, overfishing, habitat destruction, and river fragmentation. But what makes the endangered status of sturgeon even more precarious is the world’s voracious appetite for their ‘black pearls’: caviar.

In the closing ceremony of ISS8, it was said that sturgeon are “living encyclopaedias” due to their long lifespans, and the fact that their bodies – much like the rings of the tree – tell stories of climatic disturbances and environmental change. These can be dated to past events, such as periods of nuclear testing.




Birth control at zoos is all about strategy

Animals take birth control too.

At the Dallas Zoo, zookeepers have to get creative with the birth control they give to their animals.

Chimps, who are similar to humans biologically, take birth control just like women, but the keepers have to sneak it into their food, according to the Dallas Morning News. Some chimps take the pill in their juice, while others eat it in their oatmeal.

Birth control at zoos is an important matter of keeping breeding in line with space and health concerns, while also balancing the natural social order of the animals and accounting for animals that just don't want to take their meds.




Beijing zoo under fire after tigers suspected to have been fed street dogs

A Beijing wildlife park on Monday denied feeding its tigers street dogs, saying the park had in fact merely put several dogs and wolves into a cage together.

A post which claimed Beijing's Badaling Wildlife Park fed its tigers and wolves street dogs has been circulating online over recent days. Some netizens have also posted pictures showing the park put dogs and wolves together, calling for intervention from the relevant government department.

A manager at the park told the Beijing-based newspaper The Mirror that several months ago, they did indeed put several dogs and wolves in a cage together, but that they never harmed each other.

The manager denied feeding tigers street dogs and said that all meat the tigers eat is purchased through legal channels and passes through quarantine inspectio




Twenty dolphins saved in Solomon Islands

Police and fisheries officials in Solomon Islands are urging the public to restrain from the illegal activity of trapping dolphins for export.

Earlier this month 20 dolphins were rescued and released from captivity in Rapata Village in Kolombangara Island.




US to allow imports of elephant trophies from Zimbabwe, Zambia

US authorities will remove restrictions on importing African elephant trophies from Zimbabwe and Zambia.

That means Americans will soon be able to hunt the endangered big game, an activity that garnered worldwide attention when a Minnesota dentist took Cecil, perhaps the world's most famous lion, near a wildlife park in Zimbabwe.

A US Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman said the move will allow the two African countries to include US sport hunting as part of their management plans for the elephants and allow them to put "much-needed revenue back into conservation."




Lions next in line of fire as US rolls back curbs on African hunting trophies

Hunting interests have scored a major victory with the Trump administration’s decision to allow Americans to bring home body parts of elephants shot for sport in Africa. Another totemic species now looks set to follow suit – lions.

As the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) was announcing it was lifting a ban on the import of elephant “trophies” from Zimbabwe and Zambia, it also quietly published new guidelines that showed lions shot in the two African countries will also be eligible to adorn American homes.




What if Cecil the lion died as part of a successful conservation business?

Think of Cecil the lion’s death in 2015. Were you horrified? Why? For many, the outrage over Walter Palmer’s decision to hunt the lion and then pose with his dead ‘trophy’ simply stemmed from the idea that this majestic creature had been needlessly killed when it may be soon facing extinction. But what if Palmer’s actions were actually part of an incredibly successful conservation business that in fact helped to stop the extinction of animals, and bought an economy to a struggling region? That’s the question new documentary Trophy aims to pose. Originally planned as an expose on the hunting community and those that save for years to fly to Africa and shoot an animal, it quickly became apparent to directors Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz that it was actually a more complicated and morally grey ideology. As Schwarz says, no one wants to hear about money and wildlife together, but as they began researching for the documentary, one ideal kept popping up: ‘If it pays it stays’. This ideology places a value on an animal; it says some animals are worth more alive than dead, and for that reason it is economically smarter to breed p




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




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

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