Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Zoo News Digest 28th - 31st March 2010 (Zoo News 661)

Zoo News Digest 28th - 31st March 2010 (Zoo News 661)

Dear Colleagues,

I find it interesting to note that over the past year or so that in the media the descriptives 'zoo critic' and 'animal expert' are starting to mean the same thing. Clearly they are not. We seem to be getting lost somewhere.

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Girl, 3, walks wire above tigers
A Chinese zoo has been slammed for letting a three-year-old girl walk a tightrope eight metres above a tiger enclosure.
The little girl walked along the 130 metre long high wire above six hungry Siberian tigers at Changzhou Yancheng Zoo in Jiangsu province.
She was part of a routine which also involved two adult acrobats who crossed the wire using a bicycle and a ladder as props.
But the crowd gasped when three-year-old Zhang Xiaoyan started to walk along the wire, with a thin safety rope attached around her waste.
Witnesses said people screamed when she nearly lost her footing on the first step, as a strong gust of wind nearly blew her off the wire.
The little girl walked along the wire without even a pole, using just her arms for balance, as the tigers prowled below. One even jumped up towards her.
Horrified visitors criticised the zoo for putting on the stunt which they said amounted to child abuse.
"If she was my child, I would never let her do anything like that no matter how talented she is," complained one parent.
A zoo spokesman said they had hired a professional group, the Jiangxi Elite Children Arts Troupe, to put on the routine which met all safety requirements.
Zhang Shenwen, director of Jiangxi Elite Children Arts Troupe, said Xiaoyan was the world's youngest high wire walker, and had been training since she was just one.
"She has very good psychological control," he added, saying she would

Campaign against shark sales scores first victory
The Hurghada Environmental Protection and Conservation Association (HEPCA) launched a campaign earlier this month aimed at raising awareness about the importance of sharks to Egypt's ecosystem and economy and to inform the public about the dangers associated with consuming shark meat.
The first phase of the initiative, dubbed the "Stop Shark Sales" campaign, aims to halt the sale of shark meat at French hypermarket chain Carrefour. The campaign's long-term objective, meanwhile, is to have shark fishing banned outright countrywide.
Unbeknownst to much of the public, shark meat is currently being sold on the Egyptian market as well as being exported to markets overseas. According to HEPCA, studies confirm that increased demand for shark meat has led to overfishing, the result of which has been an estimated 97-percent decrease in the Mediterranean Sea's shark population.
Though most sales of shark meat take place at local fish markets, HEPCA has targeted the prominent hypermarket chain in particular

Second Nature: Environmental Enrichment for Captive Animals
To purchase click HERE

SECOND NATURE brings together the work of animal behaviorists, zoo biologists, and psychologists to explore innovative strategies for environmental enrichment in laboratories and marine parks as well as in zoos. Providing a theoretical framework for the science of environmental enrichment in a variety of settings, the book renews and extends a humane approach to the keeping and conservation of animals. 28 illustrations .

Death of a tiger
After poachers, it is sustained official insensitivity, and the human-animal conflict that threatens the endangered species of the great Indian tiger
Akash Bisht Ramnagar/Dhikala
Every night, the Kiari village on the fringes of Jim Corbett National Park in Uttarakhand attracts several intruders from the wild who pillage the fields of farmers, dependent on the little produce that the land yields. The increasing loss of crop over the years has forced farmers near the park to wage a war against herds of wild boars and elephants. Wild boars, the most frequent among these uninvited guests, are considered 'enemy number one' as they destroy an entire crop with amazing speed. This phenomenon has pushed farmers to lay traps (wire snares) near their fields. Ironically, the tragedy is that in this battle for survival, these ugly confrontations sometimes claim innocent victims - precious tigers and leopards.
On March 16, one such wire snare killed a tiger near the Phata range. This was the fifth tiger death in the past four months that even had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sit up and take notice at the recently held National Board for Wildlife meeting.
Corbett has the densest population of tigers in the world and some tigers are bound to die owing to natural causes like ageing, diseases and animal-animal conflict. Out of the five tiger deaths, one was poisoned, while the rest, except for the Phata tiger, died of natural causes. The Wildlife Protection Society of India
Humidifying Bugs at ZSL London Zoo
JS Humidifiers has supplied and installed three Neptronic SKE resistive steam humidifiers at the BUGS exhibit and Invertebrate Conservation Centre of ZSL London Zoo. The humidifiers are helping maintain high humidities around exhibits such as Giant Fregate beetles, Partula snails and colonies of Leaf cutter ants. The humidifiers have fan units fitted to the top that disperse steam directly into the room. One of the steam generators is located in the Cool Humid room where it maintains a constantly humid and comfortable atmosphere for stick insects, leaf insects and leaf-cutting ants. Another is located in the Fregate Island Room, which contains rare species only found on Fregate Island in the Seychelles, including Palm Beetles and Fregate Island Enid Snails, both endangered species. The room is kept at a sweltering 28oC and 70-80%rH due to the requirements of the animals. The third humidifier will be fitted in a display breeding room for sensitive Polynesian Tree snails, most of which are extinct in the wild. Dave Clarke, Team Leader at London Zoo's Bugs Exhibit, comments, “We selected the Neptronic SKE as we wanted an industrial unit that could withstand the type of intensive use we put them through, and required steam humidification to provide totally hygienic conditions for the staff working in the area. Since the humidifiers have been in they've been performing really well and have required minimal maintenance.” Unlike electrode boiler humidifiers, which need replacement boiling cylinders when they become full of limescale, the Neptronic SKE has a cleanable boiling chamber. The heating elements are made from scale-resistive Incoloy 825 super alloy, which when heated causes any limescale that does build up to crack from the surface in small manageable pieces. These are then mostly washed to drain during normal operation. When combined with RO water, the scale that builds up inside the humidifier is dramatically reduced. As very few minerals are in the RO water
Students to get hands on at Paignton Zoo open day
Paignton Zoo Environmental Park and the Royal Veterinary College are teaming up to give young people a unique taste of life as a vet.
It's the first time the Royal Veterinary College has done anything like this in partnership with a zoo.
The students will even get to handle genuine animal organs. Paignton Zoo educator Katy Barton said: "The plastinated organs are impregnated with polymers Students get hands-on at Zoo vet open day to preserve them for teaching purposes - they are the real thing!"
The open day, which is during the Easter holidays, is aimed at 16 to 19 year olds with a keen interest in veterinary nursing or surgery. The event will be staffed by the RVC and by Paignton Zoo educators and will feature talks, videos and practical sessions.
Katy Barton: "The students will try getting into a surgical gown while keeping sterile, bandage a toy dog, learn how to do the correct knot that vets use when they sew up wounds, discover how micro-chipping works and test a teddy bear to see if they can read its microchip. They will also be looking at x-rays and doing anatomy exercises using the plastinated organs. It's a great way to find out more about veterinary science as
To purchase click HERE
To save a species
Performing IVF on a giant - and dangerous - mammal is a tricky but exciting business, writes Deborah Smith.
"She has eggs.'' The animal reproduction expert Dr Thomas Hildebrandt is carrying out an ultrasound on an 800-kilogram black rhinoceros and tells everyone around him the good news visible on his computer screen.
It is early morning in a dusty enclosure at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo and an Australian and German team of more than 25 has gathered to attempt rhino IVF.
Each part of the procedure has been specially adapted for the giants, from the harness attached to a bulldozer that lifts the anaesthetised rhino, Rocket, onto an operating table, to the long thin needle used to flush out her precious eggs.
It is more than 30 years since the first human IVF baby was born but rhinos present big challenges, says Hildebrandt, of the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.
Rather than the 15-centimetre distance to an ovary in a woman, the team must collect the eggs from 1.5 metres inside the animal. ''We had to develop new equipment and concepts,'' he says.
The same applies to the electrical stimulator he uses the next day to obtain sperm from a male rhino, Kwanzaa.
In the neighbouring yard, a little black rhino - the latest arrival in the zoo's natural breeding program for the critically endangered species - is leaping about beside her mother. Now six weeks old, she is the 11th black rhino calf born at the zoo.
But Rocket is unable to conceive naturally because of uterine problems, making the creation of an IVF embryo the only option if she is to contribute to the genetic diversity of the breeding stock, says the zoo's reproductive biologist, Tamara Keeley. ''And we don't want to lose her genes.''
The day starts at 7.15 with a warning from senior veterinarian Dr Benn Bryant. Humans are particularly sensitive to the anaesthetic he will shoot into Rocket, so great care must be taken. ''A very small exposure could be very dangerous to you,'' he tells the team.
There is also the possibility the rhino could rouse at any point. ''You always need a clear
Cash donation will make zoo wheelchair accessible
A SMALL zoo has been given a massive funding boost for its extension plans.
Shaldon Wildlife Trust has been given £20,000 to build new walkways into its newly extended coastline home.
The money came from Ugbrooke Environmental Limited, funded by Viridor Waste Management.
The new boardwalks will go through the whole £150,000 extension, due to open this Easter, making the zoo wheelchair accessible for the first time.
The extension also includes new and enlarged enclosures for some of the animals and an education building.
Shaldon Wildlife Trust's director Tracey Moore said: "The directors of Ugbrooke Environmental Ltd have said they were delighted to help with the funding towards this project and hope many more visitors will now be able to enjoy seeing this diverse collection of animals and birds and learning about their conservation.
"The trust has been fortunate enough to receive legacies totalling £90,000 which will go towards the extension and hopes to secure funding for the remaining £60,000.
"Without the generosity of contributions
Educator's Activity Book about Bats

 To purchase click HERE
Primarily for grades K-5, this book includes 18 games, craft projects, and many more fun activities that enable children to learn the facts about bats before negative stereotypes become established. Grade level guidelines and pertinent background information are included to help teachers plan study units on bats.
E coli scandal at zoo that left dead animals to rot
AN investigation has found a potentially deadly strain of E coli at a popular children’s petting zoo where dead animals were openly left to rot for weeks.
An undercover reporter who spent several weeks working as a volunteer at the unlicensed zoo discovered:
- Corpses of animals left to decompose near where visiting children play.
- Staff alternating between working with the animals and helping out in the visitors’ cafe, wearing the same clothes and shoes.
- Cafe food stored next to dirty parrot cages.
- No hot water for handwashing except in the cafe kitchen. One worker said there had been no hot water in the toilets for five years.
- Animals suffering with painful diseases and fed inappropriate food such as chocolate, lollipops
Tiger Splash at Out of Africa Wildlife Park near Sedona, Arizona
Eagle Heights owner fears closure of animal park
A ZOO keeper claims he has been given an ultimatum by a council to get rid of his animals or face closure.
Eagle Heights owner Alan Ames has been told he needs to upgrade his wildlife park’s perimeter fence because he has potentially dangerous animals on site such as cheetahs and a camel.
Sevenoaks District Council met with Mr Ames on Thursday (Mar 25) following a routine Defra inspection which concluded his current fence needs upgrading before his zoo licence expires in two years time.
But the council has told Mr Ames he is unlikely to get planning permission to put up the type of fence required, as the zoo falls on green belt land in Eynsford.
However it says he would
Films drive trend for keeping pet monkeysRSPCA condemns trade in 'cute' primates and says that they suffer distress in captivity
Hollywood movies and popular television shows featuring cute monkeys and other primates are driving demand for them as exotic pets, only to leave the animals psychologically damaged.
The RSPCA and Wild Futures, a Cornwall-based sanctuary which cares for distressed primates, are increasingly concerned at the new fashion. Figures on the UK's primate trade are difficult to obtain, partly because some of it is underground and illegal. But the RSPCA said it had been told by one dealer that there are now some 20,000 pet primates in the UK, about four times original estimates. The trade is lucrative. Prices for the popular marmoset monkey reach £800, while capuchins can fetch £2,000.
Recent changes in legislation have made it easier to own many types of primate. The government has removed a number of smaller primates from the dangerous animals list, which means they can be bought and sold freely.
Larger primates kept in private residences are subject to checks every two years, rather than the original one year, leading to concerns that it is more difficult to monitor their welfare. Many pet primates will live for decades and there are examples of some living into their 50s, which means that they require long-term care.
Taken from their mothers at an early age to live alone in small cages, often without access to the outdoors, many primates kept as pets will suffer acute psychological distress.
Wild Futures, which is looking after 23 rescued monkeys, said all the animals in its care are suffering from
Keeper of the Animals - A Dream Job at Out of Africa Wildlife Park
Forest dept plans making tiger safari a zoological park
The forest department has decided to give the status of zoological park to Tiger Safari, which is the only zoo in the city. Authorities have forwarded a proposal to senior officials in Delhi. The proposal of extension and upgrade of the zoo has also been sent under Compensatory Afforestation Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) project where the mini zoo will get a new look with improved facilities for visitors and animals.
According to information provided by an official, this year, the zoo would get tigers, leopards, crocodiles and few species of the birds. Along with that, for visitors, an interaction centre would be constructed where the models of animals would be displayed. He added that a control room would be established where animal behaviour would be monitored through closed circuit television cameras.
The zoo has a dispensary for the animals, however, if their condition gets too bad, they are taken to Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences University. From this financial year, it has been planned that the dispensary would be conducted into a full-fledged veterinary hospital, so there is no need to take the animals outside the zoo.
"The only facility in the city where residents can take children to inform them about birds and animals is the Tiger Safari. An upgrade of facilities in the safari is bound to help it in attracting more visitors," said Preeti Sabharwal, a resident of the city.
While talking to TOI, divisional forest officer Vishal Chauhan said a detailed plan for the upgrade had been prepared. He mentioned that the proposals sent for the purpose included one for the financial year and another for the master plan, which
Cute Grizzly Bears (Emma B's Animal Adventures at Out of Africa Wildlife Park)
Giraffe at zoo butts heads with keeper
A playful giraffe at Roger Williams Park Zoo reached down and bumped heads with its keeper Saturday afternoon during a routine cleanup near its indoor enclosure, officials said.
The keeper was working in an access area between the exhibit and the public viewing section, when Griffy, a 20-year-old, 18-foot-tall giraffe, took a swipe at the keeper, said Jan Mariani, director of marketing and public information at the zoo.
The keeper remained conscious and was able to walk to safety. She was taken to Rhode Island Hospital, treated for minor head injuries and released.
Griffy is not an aggressive animal and is known for trying to make contact on occasion, Mariani said.
“[He] does have a tendency to reach,” Pat Sharkey, the general curator, said in a release. “Keepers are always on alert. This time, unfortunately, he made contact.”
Adds Mariani: “[Griffy] likes to get close to folks. He likes to get his head petted.”
Mariani said the keepers assigned to the giraffe exhibit frequently come in and out of the access area, which is in front of the exhibit.
They do a number of things, such
Jellyfish brought 'miracle' to ailing aquarium
As Tatsuo Murakami watches the jellyfish gracefully swimming in the large tanks at the Tsuruoka municipal Kamo Aquarium in Yamagata Prefecture, he cannot help but get emotional.
As far as Murakami is concerned, it is all thanks to the jellyfish that the aquarium is even open today.
"We've come this far thanks to them," Murakami, 70, who has served as director of the aquarium for more than 40 years, said as he watched the jellyfish in the darkened exhibition room.
Indeed, the aquarium has been through its share of rough patches. It closed down once, faced the threat of closure again, saw visitor numbers dwindle and had previous attempts to revive its fortunes fall flat.
The aquarium could be a thing of the past if it were not for the jellyfish at the "Kuranetarium," a combination of the Japanese word kurage (jellyfish) and planetarium.
Murakami started his career at the aquarium as a staffer in charge of breeding in 1966 after studying freshwater fish at Yamagata University. The following year, the municipal government sold the aquarium to a public corporation. As Murakami, then 27, was the eldest of the three remaining employees, he was appointed aquarium director.
However, at the end of 1971, the public corporation dropped a bombshell on Murakami and other aquarium staffers.
"We can't run the aquarium any more. We'll have to lay all of you off," the official said. The public corporation had become virtually bankrupt.
The aquarium was forced to close its doors, leaving seals, penguins, monkeys and other animals without a place to go. Murakami, who was fascinated with living creatures, decided he would take care of them with other staff members from his own pocket.
"I just can't abandon these animals," he recalled thinking.
"My life was at its lowest point, and I had no solid future prospects," Murakami said. His wife resorted to borrowing money from her parents to cover their living expenses, but never once let on why.
Fortunately, after a wave of requests from the public, the aquarium reopened a few months later and Murakami got his job back.
After the aquarium reopened, the number of visitors increased. However, the initial euphoria did not last long as a string of bigger aquariums opened in the 1980s and left the Kamo Aquarium
Let's put the endangered Bengal tiger out of its misery and open the Indian jungle to everyone
If you had to choose, who would you save first: the endangered Tiger or the Indian call centre executive? It’s a toughie on so many levels. Who doesn’t want to save the noble Shere Khan, king of the jungle? Who hasn’t at least once in their lives wanted to do terrible things to a poor unsuspecting call-centre operator guilty of nothing more than doing their job, talking by numbers and forcing you to take half an hour out of your day to answer a ten second query?
But as I press into my fifth year in India, the charm of the subcontinent’s wildlife has worn thin, and I find myself in increasing and unlikely solidarity with unwanted phone pests. Throughout India, and despite several decades of ‘Save the Tiger’ campaigns, the king of the jungle is threatened with extinction as never before. Until a few weeks ago there were just 1411 tigers living in the wild in India, but today the number is down to 1,409 after two were poisoned in Ranthambore National Park. Every day television advertisements here – featuring a man with feline handlebar whiskers – shame us with these figures, and urge us to play our part in saving Stripes.
But a different story emerges in Corbett National Park, where, inexplicably, the tiger and leopard populations are rising. This tremendous success story is measured in the number of attacks by man-eaters on locals. One woman was recently killed by a tiger, and a group of three boys were attacked by a leopard. Wildlife officials fear more humans will be
Letter of the day: Zoo funding is beastly mistake
Wait a minute. So the state will spend $20 million to make a better entrance and education center, among other things, at the Minnesota Zoo, yet our schools are in need of funding ("The zoo's extreme makeover," March 25)? Field trips and resource centers are being discontinued; teachers' pay is being cut, and class sizes are increasing. So who exactly will get to enjoy the remodeled zoo education center? I think the future of our students is more important than the remodeling of the entrance of the z
'Zoo enclosure is saddest place on earth for elephant'
Animal experts have stated that continuously teasing zoo animals, especially large animals like elephants, and trespassing into their territories are the main provocations that cause the animals to react, sometimes fatally.
The secretary of the Bombay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BSPCA), Lt Colonel (Retd) J C Khanna, told TOI, “There is not adequate discipline among the visitors at the Mumbai zoo. They generally tease the animals. But what is more shocking about Sunday’s incident is that a stranger somehow managed to stray into the elephants’ enclosure. The elephants can see this as a major threat.’’
Khanna added that if one is not familiar with large, emotional animals like elephants, one must never violate their space, leave alone trespass into their enclosures. It could be met with a sharp, deadly reaction from the large animals, he s
Cornish Choughs head to Jersey
Two pairs of Cornish choughs have been sent to Jersey to try and re-introduce them into the wild.
They were born at Paradise Park in Hayle and are being looked after by the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.
It's hoped they will breed and their young can be released.
Nick Reynolds from Paradise Park says: "It's taken a lot of time and perserevance and just getting the birds fit and giving them the right diet."
The Cornish Chough is recognised by its striking red feed and elegantly curved bill.
It was a well known sight throughout the UK, but after years of decline it disappeared from the county in 1973.
But the decline of the chough in Cornwall is believed to have started at the end of the 18th century. Back then there were concerns that choughs were suffering at the hands of sportsmen.
Here in Cornwall the chough
CCTVs, barbed wire, revised roster in jumbo security rejig at city zoo
A day after Laxmi the elephant killed a trespasser in her enclosure at the Byculla zoo, the BMC announced it would install CCTV cameras in the enclosures, fence the boundary walls in barbed wire, repair the enclosure walls, rework the weekly off system for guards, and press for the shifting of slumdwellers from outside the zoo.
“There are slums outside the zoo and trespassers get in by jumping walls or fences. We are going to press for the shifting of these slumdwellers and also repair the wall immediately,” said Chandrashekar Rokde, deputy municipal commissioner, on Monday.
He said 32 CCTVs will monitor visitors and anyone teasing the animals would be dealt with strictly, he said. “Vigilance will be tightened around the enclosures of animals that are most prone to get harassed by people,” he said.
The 45-acre zoo currently has 36 guards, but an average five of them have their we
Firefighters pull lazy S.F. Zoo tiger from moat
San Francisco firefighters got a call Monday to help rescue a cat — a really big cat.
Battalion Chiefs James Blake and Lorrie Kalos and their crew arrived at the San Francisco Zoo at 8:30 a.m., after zoo officials decided their geriatric Siberian tiger Tony was spending too much time alone in his moat.
A little more than two hours later, a drugged and subdued Tony was pulled from the moat and temporarily moved to the Lion House, where he will remain until the zoo figures out how to "geriatrify" the outdoor exhibit.
San Francisco Zoo keepers waited four days before requesting the assistance of the fire department to fetch Tony, who is 18 years old — the equivalent of 90 human years, according to a news release issued by the zoo.
While zoo spokeswoman Lora LaMarca said it is not unusual for Tony to crawl down into his moat, too many days had passed since he took the keeper steps down into the moat on Thursday afternoon.
While Tony was keeping himself entertained in the moat, zoo officials were concerned that accumulating water mingling with food would attract flies and pose a health risk.
In order to move the 360-pound tiger, a crew of firefighters and zoo keepers first anesthetized the big cat, then moved Tony onto a board and lifted him out with a combination of people-power
AGW Today: Biofuels May Kill Off The Flat Headed Cat
Torquay's Living Coasts wins award
A seaside zoo in Devon has won a national award.
Torquay's Living Coasts was voted best all-round seaside attraction by the readers of Coast magazine.
The coastal zoo - believed to be the only one of its kind in the UK - has netted aviaries and underwater windows for watching seals and penguins.
As a registered charity, Living Coasts is involved in education, research and conservation - all of which gained praise from the judges.
Living Coasts director, Elaine Hayes, said the award was a tribute to the hard work of staff and volunteers and was particularly important because it was voted for by the public.
The attraction was competing against aquariums, piers and leisure complexes from around the coastline of the UK.
It was also named as runner
Cannibal croc ends fast with chicken dinner
The manager of a Sydney wildlife park says a saltwater crocodile that made a name for itself in Darwin after eating two prospective mates has put its life in the Top End behind it.
The 4.6-metre reptile, known in Darwin as Igor, is now called Rex and lives in Darling Harbour in a specially designed enclosure where the water is warmed to 30 degrees Celsius.
It was sent to the harbour city in December after killing two prospective mates at the Darwin Crocodile Farm.
Concerns were raised over how Rex was settling in to his new surrounds after he lost his appetite.
The crocodile broke a three-month fast yesterday when it devoured a chicken.
Sydney Wildlife World's life sciences manager, Mark Craig, says there is nothing unusual about the reptile's three-month fast.
"If after six months he
Zoos or tiger farms?
After the starvation deaths of 11 tigers in Northeast China, animal rights campaigners this week attacked owners of private zoos for “caring more about profit than animal welfare”.
The scandal at Shenyang Forest Wild Animals Zoo, which was exposed by disgruntled staff last week, not only raises fears about the poor management of these facilities, but also highlights the government’s lax supervision, experts claimed.
The Siberian tigers, which died of malnutrition between December and February, were among 40 at the zoo. “Another three are in critical condition and one of them is on the verge of death,” said Zhang Chenglin, director of the veterinary hospital at Beijing Zoo and one of three experts who investigated the tragedy. “We are not sure if the tigers can be saved.”
It is not the first time the zoo has been mired in scandal. In 2009, two tigers, allegedly also dying of starvation, were shot dead after they mauled their handlers in separate incidents.
The park in Liaoning province is currently closed to the public, according to a security guard on duty on Tuesday. Almost two thirds of its 145 staff went on strike over unpaid wages on March 10 but city officials said the dispute has been settled.
Most workers at the zoo refused to comment. However, a 51-year-old technician, who gave his surname as Qi, insisted that the animal handlers treated the tigers very well. “They just did not have enough meat to feed them,” he said.
The animals were fed just the bones of one or two chickens a day for at least two years, said staff. However, according to the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums, big cats need 5 to 6 kg of meat with bones a day, which costs an average of 150 yuan in China.
All 11 tigers died of heart, kidney and lung failure, showed a report to the city’s forestry bureau. Liu Mingyu, a professor in life sciences at Liaoning University, explained that the heart and kidney are the first organs to fail during malnutrition.
However, starvation may not the only cause of this tragedy, added Bi Yantai, director of animal management at Dalian Forest Zoo, who was with Zhang on the investigation panel. “The extreme cold weather, the poor environment of the cages they are kept in and their overall weak physical condition could also have contributed to this tragedy,” he said. “Several of the surviving tigers are weak and one is in danger. We must wait to see if the treatment is effective.”
Shenyang Forest Wild Animals Zoo has been struggling financially for some time. In 2006, owner Yang Zhenhua closed it, claiming the ticket price failed to cover costs. He called on residents to donate money and, within months, received 1 million yuan ($140,000) from the municipal government, which has a 15-percent share in the business.
The zoo has been supported with an annual 2 million yuan ever since and, last weekend, was given 7 million yuan to help end the pay dispute, said an official in the municipal government’s publicity department.
A breeder surnamed Zhao, 33, said that before the strike he had not been paid for three months, nor had he been insured. Yang, who rarely visits the zoo, arrived to make a full apology to his staff last Sunday, said Qi.
As the investigation into conditions at the zoo continues, experts have discovered deaths among other rare species including bears, red-crowned cranes and monkeys. In just a decade, the number of animals has almost halved to 518, with the number of species falling from 61 to 49.
A draft for the Anti-cruelty to Animals Law was published on the Internet on March 17, and it will be submitted to the National People’s Congress — China’s top legislature — in April. The law bans animal fighting and makes it illegal to mistreat an animal raised for commercial purposes by not giving them adequate food and water.
However, the death count uncovered by investigation should be a wake-up call to the central government, say animal rights groups, who are calling for an end to the country’s large-scale farming of tigers.
Although there are only 50 tigers living in the wild in China, the number at private zoos and farms has risen sharply to 6,000 — the largest in the world — over the past two decades, according to the State Forestry Administration. However, this increase is more due to the growing commercialization of tiger breeding, rather than efforts to conserve an endangered species, warned Hua Ning, China program manager for the International Fund for Animal Welfare. “Tiger farms have made lots of money from breeding lots of tigers for one purpose: to sell them and their parts,” she said. “Conservation is only a cover. The presence of these farms and private zoos stimulates the illegal trade of wildlife and threatens wild species.”
Animals Asia Foundation launched an undercover investigation into Xiongsen Bear and Tiger Mountain Village, a breeding farm on the outskirts of Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, last September. They found that it not only had a tiger bone museum, but also sold tiger bone wine, bear bile wine and lizard wine, as well as vials of bear bile, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
The park was in bad physical and financial shape, according to a foundation report. Most tigers were kept in barren 8-square-meter cages, while only some of the large encloses had pools and shade.
Not all private zoos and animal farms are bad, argued Cao Liang, director of the China Wildlife Conservation Association. He said the country’s best zoos are all private operations. “We’ve seen more private zoos in recent years and many are making big money thanks to the prosperity of the domestic tourism market,” he said.
Zoos began to open up across China about a century ago and, although it reached a peak in popularity in the 1950s, there were still 212 nationwide in 2006, according to the Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens, a network based in Beijing. Local authorities still control most zoos but there is increasing investment from the public sector.
Cao blamed the tragedy in Shenyang on extremely poor management, not the nation’s zoo system.
Just 30 km from Shenyang Forest Wild Animals Zoo in the city’s Shenbei district is the Guaipo Tiger Zoo, which keeps 18 Siberian tigers, two lions and a dozen bears on 2 hectares of land in a larger public park owned by the district government.
Sun Changzhi has handled tigers at the park for more than two years. He said he feeds each animal 10 kg of raw meat every day, costing the park an average of about 100,000 yuan a year.
“Private zoos are not running well because fewer visitors are coming, but that does not mean we will starve the tigers. Our boss is not bothered about the deficits,” he said.
Han Qi, a 61-year-old retired civil servant, opened Guaipo Tiger Zoo in 1998 and so far she has spent more than 3 million yuan on keeping big cats. She originally wanted to have 100 tigers but money has become too tight. “Our financial situation is becoming urgent. We have not received a penny from the local government,” she said.
Tickets for the park cost 30 yuan, which goes straight to district government coffers. However, visitors must pay an extra 30 yuan to visit the tiger enclosure, which goes to Han.
“Tigers belong to our country, so the government should pay for them, or at least subsidies a zoo’s income to make sure tigers are sufficiently cared for,” said Han. She said her tigers, which are the main attraction, helped increase the park’s ticket revenue from 2 million yuan to about 7 million yuan last year, and argued that they should get a share of the local authority’s profits.
Han, who refers to her animals as “her babies”, insisted that her management style is very different to Yang. Chicken bones are typical food for tigers and Han has bargained her suppliers down to 1.8 yuan per kilogram. “I make sure the tigers get the food they need,” she said.
Another burden was the need to freeze dead parts, she said. As it is illegal to trade tiger parts, the zoo must store them until they can be disposed of. “But I cannot find a government department that will advise me on how to deal with the parts,” said Han. “It costs me 30,000 yuan a year to freeze tiger parts.”
Supervision of China’s zoos comes under too many different departments to be effective, with responsibility shared among construction, forestry and tourism officials, said Liu Nonglin, program director with Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens.
“Because of lack of effective supervision, we are seeing many problems, particularly with private zoos and farms,” he said. “We see late payment of workers’ wages, growing debts, low feeding standards and inadequate management techniques.”
Forestry officials at local levels are charged with overseeing zoos but they are not in charge of their finances or resources, said Liu Xiongying, a senior information official with the State Forestry Administration.
There are more than 1,000 tigers at farms in Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, and in Guilin, according to Liu Nonglin. As most of them were established in the hope of commercializing tiger products, the ban on such trade has left many businesses with too many tigers to feed and not enough money with which to do it. Some of them have even resorted to trading tiger parts, mostly tiger bone wine, on the black market, said Liu Nonglin.
The variety in zoo ownership and lack of legislation against animal abuse are letting zoo owners run wild, said Hua with International Fund for Animal Welfare. “Zoos do not have standards to stick to, or guidance on the management and medical requirements of rare animals. It makes it difficult to hold anyone responsible when they are working with a loophole in the law,” he said.
Considering the number of tigers kept at Shenyang Forest Wild Animals Zoo, it is difficult to say whether Yang, the owner, has collected so many animals to exhibit them for the purposes of education or to commercialize them, said Xu Hongfa, China program for TRAFFIC, a joint conservation program by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature and the World Conservation Union.
“Normally, zoos control the amount
Circus or Zoo?

Czech zoo to cooperate with India to save crocodiles
The local zoo, specialising in breeding crocodiles, will cooperate with Indian breeders on saving endangered species from extinction, the Protivin zoo owner Miroslav Prochazka has told CTK.
Under a fresh agreement, seven gharials will be imported to Protivin from Chennai, India, and five Cuban crocodiles will leave Protivin in the opposite direction.
The goal of the transfers is to preserve the gene pool of these endangered animals in captivity at least, Prochazka said.
There are the last several tens of gharials living in the wild in India. The species is dying out as a result of water pollution, hunting and changes in the landscape.
The population of Cuban crocodiles is estimated at 3000 to 6000. It is endangered as a result of the small area it inhabits and also of crossbreeding with other species.
The Protivin zoo will cooperate with the Indian centre Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, the world's best-known crocodile breeding and protection centre.
Two experts from the station visited Protivin at the weekend. They pledged to send three gharial males and four females to the Protivin zoo and take two male and three female Cuban crocodiles to India.
Prochazka has bred crocodiles since 1996. At present he keeps 101 crocodiles of 20 species, reportedly all but three existing crocodile species. The g

The Phoenix Zoo is used to hosting birthday parties, but this one was a little different.
Duchess the orangutan turned 50 on Saturday, and the zoo treated her to gifts, an ice cake filled with fruit and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" by hundreds of zoo visitors.
Her keeper, Bob Keesecker, said Duchess didn't seem too stressed about the milestone.
"I told her it was her birthday today and she didn't seem to be overly concerned about it," he said. "I made sure her hair looked good before she went out."
Keesecker said Duchess has quite a sweet tooth and worked pretty hard to get to the fruit in the ice cake.
Zoo officials say Duchess is the nation's oldest captive Bornean orangutan, and is now 10 years older than the 40-year life expectancy of orangutans in the wild.
Duchess was just 2 years old when the zoo opened in 1962, and is one of only a few remaining original animals. She has given birth seven times

Owner of killer tiger resumes business
In 2007, Kim Carlton's fiancee, Tania Dumstrey-Soos, was killed by a tiger at Siberian Magic, his exotic-animal zoo near 100 Mile House.
The tragedy spurred the government to regulate dangerous-animal ownership. But Carlton is back in the exotic-pet business with a film agency called the Vanishing Kingdom.
And he's already facing charges for violating the very laws stemming from Dumstrey-Soos' death.
Environment Minister Barry Penner confirmed that two African lion cubs were seized from Carlton in connection with allegations of "the unlawful breeding of controlled alien species contrary to the B.C. Wildlife Act."
The new breeding laws were phased into effect last spring, Penner said. The cubs are being kept in a safe, undisclosed location, he added.
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said charges are

Thailand fails to be delisted from ivory 'shame file'
Nation still ranked as 'third worst offender'
Thailand has failed to convince the international body on wildlife trade to delist the country from the illegal ivory trade watchlist.
Thai wildlife officials proposed the delisting during the triennial general assembly of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) in Doha, Qatar, which ended last Thursday.
Thailand is ranked the third worst offender on Cites's list of nations where the ivory trade has been most rampant since 2006, after Congo and Nigeria.
Adisorn Noochdamrong, of Thailand's Cites office, said Thai authorities had successfully confiscated large amounts of smuggled ivory, but this had not helped improve the country's status on the watchlist because the listing was based on how many ivory confiscations there are, not the seized amount.
Mr Adisorn, a member of the negotiating team, said his team had proposed a revision of the ranking system, but failed to get support as the adjustment could affect other countries negatively.
Failure to remove Thailand from the watchlist, however, would not hamper authorities' attempts to crack down on the illegal ivory trade.
"To prove that we are serious about cracking down on the illegal ivory trade in order to be delisted from the watchlist, we will focus more on legal enforcement and confiscation of the illegal items," he said.
"This means wildlife officials need the closer cooperation of related agencies

Will China kill all Africa’s elephants?
Aidan Hartley investigates the illegal ivory trade in Tanzania, and discovers that hundreds of kilos of bloody tusks from poached elephants are being smuggled out each year
At first he was coy. ‘Yes my brother,’ Salim the dealer smirked. ‘How many kilos you want?’ It had taken us only a day to find a man in Tanzania who would sell us ivory tusks from poached elephants. We met Salim in a Dar es Salaam hamburger joint and the whole exchange was ridiculously easy. I asked him: ‘How many kilos have you got?’
‘I have 50, 100, 200 kilo. How much you want?’
‘How about 200 kilos?’ I challenged. Salim licked his lips. At Tanzanian prices, this was worth $24,000. On the international black market, it could fetch $200,000. That meant dozens of dead elephants.
This week CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) quashed an appeal by African countries to relax a 20-year trade ban in ivory. Many conservationists argue that keeping ivory off the market will kill the trade in dead elephants’ tusks, but there is nothing to prove that on the ground in Tanzania.
But even with a trade ban, what I witnessed with my TV producer Alex Nott while filming in East Africa suggests that the elephant population is in freefall. Tanzania’s wildlife chief Erasmus Tarimo recently called poaching in the Selous — the country’s biggest game reserve — ‘minimal’. But by the government’s own figures, the Selous has ‘lost’ 31,000 elephants in just three years.
The Selous still has 40,000 surviving elephants, but when I visited this huge wilderness I became sickened by seeing so many fresh elephant carcasses: bullet-riddled, heaving with maggots, skulls hacked up with axes where poachers extracted the tusks. And what astonished me was that this was going on under the noses of foreign tourists, each of them paying a fortune to visit Tanzania’s game parks.

Zoo visitors get into the swing of a chimpanzee's way of life
IT'S the perfect way to keep those little monkeys occupied on a day out.
After watching chimpanzees swinging from the trees in their adventure playground, visitors can now try the same themselves.
Edinburgh Zoo has opened its SkyTrail, featuring rope bridges and beams, six metres above the ground. People can test their physical strength and nerve, while seeing the world from a chimpanzee's eye view.
Situated next to the award-winning Budongo Trail chimps' enclosure, the attraction is the first of its kind in a British zoo.
Visitors will be secured to a full body harness, as they navigate the bridges with their hands

Thailand announces world's 2nd in vitro Eld's Deer birth
A Thai veterinary team has announced the country's first successful birth of an Eld's Deer conceived by a hind that was artificially inseminated.
The female fawn was born at Kasetsart University's Kamphaeng Saen campus last month.
The month-old fawn is very healthy, Nikorn Thongthip, head of the Eld's Deer insemination project, said yesterday.
The fawn is only the second Eld's Deer in the world to be born from an artificially-inseminated embryo. The United States' Smithsonian Institution recorded the first such birth 17 years ago, said Dr Nikorn.
The sperm used in the project, which aims to increase the local Eld's Deer population, was collected from a Burmese Eld's Deer at Huay Sai Wildlife Propagation Research Station in Phetchaburi province in 2008.
Four Eld's Deer hinds, from Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chon Buri province, were inseminated with the sperm last June. But only one became pregnant.
"The Eld's Deer is a very sensitive animal. A minor mishap during the insemination process could be fatal for them. So we have to take very good care of them," said Dr Nikorn.
Boripat Siriaroonrat, of the Zoological Park Organisation of Thailand's research centre, said the project's successful insemination of a Burmese Eld's Deer gave hope that the practice could also work

Doctors applaud Perth Zoo smoking ban
A new proposal by Perth Zoo to ban all smoking within its grounds has been welcomed by the Australian Medical Association.
It was reported today that the government-run venue would introduce a complete smoking ban as part of a lucrative sponsorship deal with WA health promotion agency Healthway.
The deal follows last year's decision by the Perth Royal Show to go smoke-free as part of a similar sponsorship arrangement.
"Perth Zoo has followed the lead of the Perth Royal Show by putting the health and wellbeing of children first," said association president Gary Geelhoed.
"But there's many other major outdoor venues like Gloucester Park and the Ascot and Belmont racecourses which still haven’t got the message

Sushi-cide: Secret ballot kills hopes for bluefin tuna protections
The triennial meeting of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is still underway in Doha, Qatar, this week, but so far news coming out of the conference is a mixed bag. Some trees have been protected, tigers gained a few friends, and a rare salamander got some attention, but all hopes to save the critically endangered bluefin tuna were sunk in a secret ballot that put commerce ahead of science and conservation.
As I've written here before, populations of Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus) have dropped 97 percent since 1960, but the tasty fish remains in high demand in Japan, where sushi bars are willing to pay up to $100,000 or more per fish. A possible

Mideast animal trade under fire
Animals thought to be the 3rd largest illegal trade
A 2-year-old lion, emaciated and barely breathing, is found in a tiny cage off a Beirut highway. Monkeys are hauled through the dark tunnels of Gaza, bound for private zoos. Rare prize falcons are kept in desert encampments by wealthy Arab sheiks.
The trade in endangered animals is flourishing in the Middle East, fueled by corruption, ineffective legislation and lax law enforcement.
"It's a problem in the Arab world that we can no longer ignore," said Marguerite Shaarawi, co-founder of the animal rights group Animals Lebanon.
The group is pushing for Lebanon to join the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, whose signatories are meeting this month in Qatar. It is the first time the 175-nation convention is meeting in an Arab country.
Lebanon and Bahrain are the only Arab countries yet to sign the convention.
Delegates at the U.N. conference are considering nearly four dozen proposals on a range of endangered species from rhinos to polar bears.
John Sellar, chief enforcement officer for CITES, said it is difficult to estimate the extent of the illegal trade in the Arab world, but Animals Lebanon estimates that it is the third largest illegal trade in the region, after weapons and drugs.
"Much of the illegal trade that takes place here is of a specialized nature," Sellar said, citing the example of prize falcons, kept by many Arab sheiks in desert encampments, particularly in the United Arab Emirates.
"We've also seen some smuggling of very exotic species ... like very rare parrots, young chimpanzees, gorillas and leopards that seem to be for the private collections of some of the rich individuals in the Gulf area," he said.
Abusers fined just $15
Several recent incidents have underscored the plight of animals in Lebanon — a country where the only law that refers to animal rights stipulates that anyone who purposely harms an animal has to pay a fine of up to $15.
Willem Wijnstekers, the secretary-general of CITES, said countries must have strong laws in place to discourage animal smuggling. Otherwise, he said, smugglers will simply see the penalties as part of the cost of doing business, and not a deterrent.
In December 2009, Animals Lebanon began a campaign against Egypt's Monte Carlo Circus after it received a tip that the circus animals — six lions and three tigers — did not have proper certificates and had not received water or food during the six-day trip from Egypt to Lebanon.
The group sent several activists and a veterinarian to the circus grounds to investigate, and they reported the animals were malnourished and that one cub had been de-clawed.
The circus was declared illegal in January after Agriculture Minister Hussein Hajj Hassan sent the ministry's own experts to investigate, but the circus has appealed. While the case continues, the circus is still giving daily performances attended by small crowds.
"The case of the circus, and the trade of the lions and tigers, highlighted the urgent need to have Lebanon join CITES and protect these endangered species," Hajj Hassan said.
A circus employee at a recent performance denied the animals were treated badly.
"They say we are not feeding them. Look at them, do they look hungry to you?" the employee asked the audience as lions and tigers dutifully performed acrobatics around a caged tent near a highway just north of Beirut.
There was no official comment from the circus.
The animals looked healthy at the performance, weeks after the allegations were made.

UN blue helmets to airlift nine orphan gorillas to DR Congo nature reserve
..... Nine orphan gorillas will start new lives in a nature reserve in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), thanks to assistance from peacekeepers serving with the United Nations mission in the country, known as MONUC.
Following a request from the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and the Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund, blue helmets will airlift three young primates from Goma, in North Kivu province, and six adolescents from neighbouring Rwanda, to Kasugho, near the Tayna Nature Reserve.
Scientists believe that ground transportation would be too difficult and traumatic for the gorillas, and the decision was made to move them by air. They will be accompanied on their trip by veterinarians and other helpers.
“Caring for the Earth we all share is not just the job of governments,” said Alan Doss, head of MONUC, who announced the decision to help relocate the gorillas at a conservation awards ceremony yesterday in the capital, Kinshasa.
“It requires us to reach across boundaries and do things we would not normally expect to do.”
In DRC, Rwanda and Uganda, there are only about 750 Mountain Gorillas and 5,000 Eastern Lowland Gorillas surviving in the wild.
“Transferring these animals will help replenish the population and will contribute to restoring an ecosystem that has suffered, just as the human population has suffered from war and violence,” Mr. Doss, who is also the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for DRC, said.
Hundreds of thousands of people in North Kivu have been uprooted from their homes by violence in recent years.
Last night’s awards ceremony honoured 19 Congolese men and women, eight of whom died last year trying

Penguin Parade at Welsh Mountain Zoo

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October 9-10, 2010
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2011 Rhino Keeper Workshop

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Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

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