Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zoo News Digest 28th - 30th September 2012 (Zoo News 832)

Zoo News Digest 28th - 30th September 2012 (Zoo News 832)


Dear Colleagues,

Back in Dubai. Glad to be back too though I enjoyed every minute of the congress in Singapore and of being back home in Thailand. The birthday party (part one) went very much as expected....wild, and a lot of fun....and all night. This left next to no time to catch my plane from Bangkok. Couldn't sleep on the plane either. I lay down eventually at eight in the evening and did drop off only to be woken by a phone call from Lilli. She wanted me to come and see her right away. I did of course, not getting home till three thirty. Back to work today. I have missed it, the staff, especially Team Awesome at the Penguins and the Penguins themselves of course.

Conservation? Conservation? Conservation? Does he have even an inkling of understanding what this is about? Almost certainly not. And as to the 'Feline Conservation Federation' well this has lost ALL credibility in my eyes. See in links 'Doc Antle, chairman of the accreditation board, visited the preserve and was so impressed he donated to it a trio of his very rare tiger cubs. Visitors can now view a golden tabby, a royal white and a standard orange Bengal tiger playing together'. Really it beggars belief and gives me a sour feeling in my stomach. This is another damaging 'gift' such as were sent to Thailand a few years back.

So John Varty has gone onto the John Hume and proposing to sell off Rhino Horn. I'll bet that he has quite a bit to sell off as well. I would expect no less from 'Tiger Man' Varty who is another who has not the faintest idea of what conservation is about. Burn the horn stockpiles now. Hit these investors where it hurts. Rhino farming for horn should not be encouraged and this is exactly what these people are doing.

Check out the latest edition of International Zoo News. It is always an interesting read and this edition has some especially interesting articles and accompanying photos. There was a time when every zoo subscribed to this excellent publication. They still should. This latest edition has details of a Photo Competition. Please make your staff aware as I am sure that many of them will have a contribution to make.
Still not a whisper about the baby Orangutan and Gibbon from Abu Dhabi (see past Digests). As the recognised world organisations that the collection belonged to knew that they had these you would think they would be just a little concerned as to where they went. It doesn't smell right to me.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.


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Reston Zoo director guilty of drowning wallaby
The curator testified that animals had been euthanized in shocking ways at the Reston Zoo: Some were shot, rabbits were slammed into walls and chickens were fed to pythons.
But in a Fairfax County courtroom Friday, Ashley Rood said she reached her breaking point after uncovering evidence that the zoo’s director, Meghan Mogensen, had drowned an injured wallaby named Parmesan in a plastic bucket.
Rood confronted Mogensen, resigned in protest and later called police.
“I think you and your father are sick and sadistic people, and I don’t want to be part of this anymore,” Rood recalled telling Mogensen, whose father owns the zoo. “It’s one thing to euthanize an animal, but it’s another thing to drown it.”
Mogensen, 26, of Silver Spring, was convicted of animal cruelty and sentenced to 30 days in jail after Rood’s whistleblower complaint. A judge also found her guilty of possessing animal anesthesia without a license.
The unusual trial featured testimony about a wallaby autopsy known as a necropsy, veterinary forensics experts and fingerprint analysis as prosecutors sought to show that Mogensen cruelly killed the wallaby and then mounted an elaborate coverup.
The testimony also raised questions about the zoo’s care of its animals. Other zoos owned by Eric Mogensen have also come under scrutiny in recent years, according to media reports.
Meghan Mogensen’s attorney, Caleb Kershner, contended that his client, who didn’t testify during the trial, had humanely euthanized the wallaby using a lethal injection and was acting out of compassion for

Henry Ford once said; “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is a process; and working together is success!”
As a conservation facility, we constantly promote the voice of preservation with the goal of educating the public on the plight of our many endangered animal residents. Considering the effort it takes to commit to this initiative, it remained an easy decision. It is not just our duty to protect the species… it is a global duty, and one that we are proud to be a part of.
International Vulture Awareness Day, on 1 September, was something that we were eager to support! It was enlightening to see like-minded facilities around the world join hands in promoting much needed awareness for the vulture species. At Cango Wildlife Ranch we have four Cape Griffon Vultures (Gyps coprotheres) – our very own Adams family consisting of Gomez, Morticia, Lurch and Pugsley. We proudly provide a safe-haven for these birds, of which two have been rehabilitated.
In the weeks building up to Vulture Awareness Day, our staff cut and painted a life-size vulture wing-span board and built a vulture donation box, while our curators and volunteers collected vulture feathers on the ranch! We sold the feathers to members of the public, as well as photo’s of our grumpy Adam’s family, while visitors of all ages measured their wing-span against our mighty vulture board! Our informative guides included extra information into their tours, explaining the plight of the vultures and the importance of International Vulture Awareness Day! In doing so, our donations box gained a lot of attention, as did our posters promoting the Endangered Wildlife Trust!
We are proud to announce that during the ‘Vulture-Weekend’ we raised a total of R1204.05! All the proceeds were donated to the Birds of Prey Programme, which is a conservation branch of the Endangered Wildlife Trust.
As a proud PAAZAB member, our confidence lies in knowing that we can all make a difference in the fight for conservation… and through working together - success is inevitable!

Zookeeper Blues

Four Leopards a week enter India’s illegal wildlife trade
New Delhi, India, 28 September 2012—At least four Leopards have been poached and their body parts entered into illegal wildlife trade every week for at least 10 years in India, according to TRAFFIC’s latest study “Illuminating the Blind Spot: A study on illegal trade in Leopard parts in India” launched today by Dr Divyabhanusinh Chavda, President, WWF-India.
The study documents a total of 420 seizures of Leopard skins, bones and other body parts reported from 209 localities in 21 out of 35 territories in India during 2001–2010.
Statistical analysis is used to estimate the additional levels of “undetected trade” and concludes that around 2294 Leopards were trafficked in India during the period—an average of four animals per week over the 10 year period.
Leopards (Panthera pardus) are fully protected under India’s domestic legislation, and commercial international trade is banned under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
“TRAFFIC’s objective analysis has cast new light onto the sheer scale of the illicit trade in Leopard parts in India, which has hitherto been overshadowed by the trade in another of the country’s national icons, the Tiger,” said Dr Chavda at the launch of the report.
“Without an effective strategy to assess and tackle the threats posed by illegal trade, the danger is that Leopard numbers may decline rapidly as happened previously to the Tiger” he further added.
Uttarakhand emerged as a major source of Leopard parts in trade, while Delhi was found to be a major epicenter of the illegal trade, along with adjacent areas of Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Haryana.
Dr Rashid Raza, Coordinator with TRAFFIC in India and the lead author of the study said: “Even though reports of illegal trade in Leopard body parts are disturbingly frequent, the level of threat to Leopards in the country has previously been unrecognized, and has fallen into our collective ‘blind spot’.”
Close to 90% of reported Leopard part seizures in India comprised solely of skins, making them the dominant body part found in illegal trade during the 10 year period. Other body parts, particularly bones, are known to be prescribed as substitutes for Tiger parts in traditional Asian medicine.
It is believed most Leopard parts are smuggled out of India to other countries in Asia, often via the porous border with neighbouring Nepal. Earlier investigations indicated many of the Leopard parts found for sale in northern Myanmar, northern Laos and the ethnic Tibetan regions of China originated from India.
The report recommends the establishment of a Task Force to tackle illegal trade in the areas identified as having the highest levels of Leopard-related crime, as well as better regional co-operation between source, transit and market countries through initiatives such as the South Asia Wildlife Enforcement Network (SAWEN).
An official database along the lines of “Tigernet” (, used for Tiger conservation in India, would also help monitor the illegal Leopard part trade. Studies are also needed to assess the levels of threat from human-Leopard conflict in the country, according to the report.
Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India said: “The Leopard is among the most charismatic large animals in the world, and plays an important ecological role in the forests it inhabits”.
“Any increase in external market demand could easily lead to a decimation of Leopard numbers in India, but I am hopeful this latest analysis will provide the impetus to catalyse effective conservation action; particularly increased effectiveness of law enforcement initiatives to curtail the illegal trade in Leopard body parts”.
TRAFFIC’s work on the Leopard trade in India is supported by WWF-India and WWF-UK.

Zooland: The Institution of Captivity (The Cultural Lives of Law)


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Two Oceans Aquarium hosts the 2012 International Aquarium Congress  
Held every 4 years, The International Aquarium Congress is the world’s leading event for professionals working in public aquariums.  2012’s IAC took place 9th to 14th September in Cape Town and was hosted by the city’s Two Oceans Aquarium.
The popularity  and number of public aquariums is growing and with so many challenges facing the marine environment, the conference was a great opportunity for many of the aquarium industry’s conservationists, executives, developers, and curators to meet and exchange information, network and hear from their peers about latest trends and developments in the aquarium world.
Related:  Two Oceans Aquarium's Dr. Pat Garratt on the International Aquarium Congress (IAC) 2012 /  David Kimmel, COO Georgia Aquarium on Exceeding Expectations /  Managing Guest Experience at The Monterey Bay Aquarium - David Rosenberg / Aquariums are good for you! Dr Dave Gibson, MD, National Marine Aquarium / Interview with Ted A. Beattie, CEO, Shedd Aquarium
There was a theme of sustainability running through the conference with a keynote presentation from Dr Camille Parmesan on climate change and its impact on the world’s oceans.  As one of the world’s most biodiverse habitats – Table Mountain alone has more indigenous species than the British Isles –Cape Town was a fitting location for the 8th IAC, and the city provided a vibrant and stunning backdrop to the much anticipated event.
The opportunity to host the IAC is a highly competitive affair and Two Oceans Aquarium, after winning the bid, had clearly worked hard to make the event successful.  The first evening saw a drinks reception at the aquarium itself, with a welcoming address by Dr. Pat Garratt in front of the aquariums “predator tank”.  Amarula (think South African Bailey’s) and biltong were served and delegates were given a behind the scenes tour of the aquarium. Education and conservation are key components of the aquarium’s mission and the classrooms and outreach programmes of the aquarium were particularly impr

Water park to open in Shanghai
A 600-million-yuan ($95.45 million) water park, Playa Maya, is scheduled to open to tourists in western Shanghai on May 1 next year.
The water park will be near and affiliated with the Shanghai Happy Valley amusement park, and will become one of the city's major entertainment facilities, said Wang Dansheng, deputy general manager of Shanghai Happy Valley, owned by Shanghai OCT Co Ltd.
Playa Maya, which will occupy 120,000 square meters, will have 12 sets of aquatic amusement facilities from the US and Canada, Wang said at the opening ceremony of Happy Valley Magic Festival, which will run from Sept 30 through Oct 7.
More than 20 magicians from dozens of countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, India, Indonesia and South Korea, will perform for visitors, he said.
"Facilities are being equipped at the water park, and things are on schedule," Wang said.
Shanghai Happy Valley, which opened in 2009, has more than 2 million visitors annually and earns about 60 million yuan ($9.5 million) a year.
"We need a new park to expand our business," Wang said.
The 900,000-square-meter amusement park has used 650,000 square meters for the first phase of its construction and set aside 120,000 square

Baby Gorilla born at Durrell

Durrell is delighted to announce the arrival of a bouncing, baby western lowland gorilla. Proud mum, Hlala Kahilli gave birth to a healthy baby in the early hours of yesterday morning.

It will be a while until the Jersey based Wildlife Park can ascertain whether it’s a boy or a girl as mother is keeping the baby close to her chest.

This baby is the first to be born at Durrell for nine years following the introduction of new dominant silverback Badongo, who incidentally also celebrates his thirteenth birthday today. Whilst this is Badongo’s first baby, Hlala Kahilli is an experienced mother and this is her fourth baby.

Mark Brayshaw Head of Animal Collection at Durrell said, “We are delighted with the great news and so far the mother and in fact are doing well, but as with all births we need to be extra cautious during the first few days. At the moment the group including the new parents are all very relaxed and our keepers are remaining as hands off as possible as the group appears quite settled.”

Discussing the importance of the birth he continued “The new arrival is a great success for Durrell and the breeding programme of these critically endangered primates.”

Western lowland gorillas are classified as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.

Whilst the group is being run normally outside, Visitors are able to see the mother and new baby but as we have to be cautious in this sensitive period there may be times when mum and baby are off show.

Email from Dina Zulfikar - Check out Dina on Facebook. Fighting for animals in Egypt.



The Toronto Zoo Elephants and the Elephant Risk
Listen to the interview with the chief vet
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Abidjan zoo survives crisis and financial hardship
After 10 years of political crisis in Ivory Coast, including 10 days of heavy fighting in the capital Abidjan in April last year, the city's zoo almost disappeared altogether. Although it remains in a precarious financial situation, staff are trying their best to keep the attraction open

Liger, liger, burning bright,
Such huge weight and such great height,
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

Huge as pony, hearth-cat tame,
Unlike the cats for whom you're named
Tigress mother, lion sire,
But you inherit neither's ire.

Your threat to man not wrath, but size;
While there's no malice in your eyes,
The hazard lies in frame and strength -
In play you may endanger men.

Liger, liger, burning bright,
Half-hearted in both mane and stripe,
No place does nature have for thee,
Bred by men's curiosity.

By Shubhobroto Ghosh

A gift to you from ZOO on the occasion of the 57th Indian Wildlife Week
Zoo Outreach Organisation is pleased to send you an Educator Manual featuring recently created and earlier items having to do with kind treatment of wildlife, both captive and wild. This 600 page Manual includes an extensive variety of booklets, teaching guides, projects, games, drama, power points etc. to help people who want to teach. Anyone interested in wildlife enjoy flipping through it.
As an educator you are welcome to use any of the printed material, illustrations and Power Point presentations. We request that you credit Zoo Outreach Organisation. If you would like to get a better quality electronic copy of any material you can order it from Zoo Outreach Organisation on a minimal payment basis. Likewise items such as masks and posters, also on payment basis. We will not be able to send you long printed sections or the manual on paper … ever.
The PDF is 90MB when you download it. You may want to use the other, Calameo Site, which pops up when you enter the correct URL into your browser. There are some simple instructions for the Calameo site below.
We hope you enjoy this Manual, a gift from ZOO to YOU on the eve of 57th Indian Wildlife Week.
With best wishes,
Sally Walker and the Zoo Crew
Zoo Outreach Organisation, ZOO & Wildlife Information Liaison Development WILD, ZOO’s Educator Network ZEN, and Universities Federation for Animal Welfare UFAW
To read the manual directly from Calameo site
Instruction to read the Calameo publication
1. Select "Read Publication"
2. Manual will open with navigation toolbar : see top right of Calameo player
3. Read page wise by clicking left and right arrows
4. Select chapters – click on "Table of Contents"
5. Click on Chapter
To download the manual as pdf (90 mb)


The WEIRD Psychology of Elephants
In 1976, psychologists John and Sandra Condry of Cornell University had 204 human adults view videotaped footage of an infant boy named David and infant girl named Dana, and asked them to describe the infants’ facial expressions and dispositions. They described their findings in an article in the journal Child Development. In the video, infants were shown responding to various stimuli, which were not visible to the viewer. For example, they’d be shown a teddy bear, so that their reaction could be recorded. They were also videotaped responding to a loud buzzer and to a jack-in-the-box. Participants described David’s response to the jack-in-the-box, for example, as “anger,” while they described Dana’s response to the same toy as “fear.” Participants rated David’s emotional responses to all three stimuli as more “intense” than Dana’s.
Here’s the catch: David and Dana were the same infant. Each of the experiment participants were shown the same video of the same infant. Half of them were told the infant was a nine-month-old boy named David, and half were told the infant was a nine-month-old girl named Dana. That they described the “two” infants in such different ways was evidence that the participants’ perceptions were at least based in part upon pre-existing biases and preconceptions about the different ways in which boys and girls experience the world.
Now, a group of researchers from Tokyo and Berlin have published a new finding about the relationship between personality and genetics in captive elephants. They collected genetic information from the blood, feces, tissues, cheek swabs, or hair of 196 Asian (Elephas maximus) and African elephants (Loxodonta africana) in Japanese, American, and Canadian zoos, and sanctuaries in Thailand. Personality information was collected for a seventy-five of those elephants by distributing to questionnaires to their keepers. Each elephant was assessed by more than one keeper.
An improved understanding of elephant personality would be not only extremely interesting from a basic science perspective, but also extremely useful for more effectively maintaining captive elephant populations in zoos and sanctuaries. The better that zookeepers and curators understand the psychology of the animals in their collections, the better the quality of care can be, which directly impacts animal welfare.
Every personality psychologist probably has their own nuanced understanding of the word, but a reasonably broad definition of personality might be something like “an observable pattern of thoughts or behaviors, ultimately derived from a set of genes, that an individual expresses consistently over time, in a variety of situations.” In other words, personality is reliable: it holds constant across environments, such as home, school, or work. And stable: it doesn’t change significantly as an individual ages.
That genetics underlies the stable behavioral patterns of personality is not a particularly controversial idea. Nor is the idea that non-human animals and humans alike have personalities. It is also not particularly controversial to collect personality information from third parties rather than from the individuals who are being studied. For example, in studies of infant or child personality, researchers often distribute surveys to parents or teachers. Indeed, the parent-child or teacher-student relationship is roughly analogous to the keeper-animal relationship at a zoo.
The researchers claim to have detected a correlation between a variant of a gene called ASH1 and neuroticism, for Asian elephants. They also found genetic polymorphisms – variations in composition – in two other genes that they looked at: AR and NUFIP2, but they did not detect correlations for these genes with personality. To be clear, this was not a GWAS, or genome-wide association study, a method plagued by false positives. They looked only at seven regions on six genes that had hypothesized relationships with personality and were known to be expressed in the brain in other species, including humans and domestic dogs. The researchers also concluded that there are at least five factors that comprise elephant personality: dominance, neuroticism, agreeableness, curiosity, and impulsiveness. “This is the first report,” they write, “of an association between a genetic polymorphism and personality in elephants.”
Unfortunately, the personality assessments were problematic. The researchers noted that the “elephants in Western zoos were rated as being more curious, and less dominant, impulsive, and nervous than elephants in Japanese zoos.” Could Western elephants really be more curious than their counterparts living in Japanese zoos?
What could explain this apparent group difference? It could be that the distinction is legitimate. Perhaps, as a result of random chance, the more curious elephants wound up in American and Canadian zoos, and the more dominant, impulsive, and nervous ones were placed in Japanese zoos. It is more likely, however, that the assessments measure the keepers’ perceptions of elephant behavior rather than elephant behavior per se. The differences that the researchers found might therefore reflect differences among Japanese and Western keepers! It’s the problem of David and Dana, all over again.
Recall that personality should be independent of environment. That is, if you took an elephant from an American zoo and placed it into a Japanese zoo, its basic personality would remain unchanged. This study suggests that it’s personality assessment, however, might not. And that’s a problem. To avoid the issue, the researchers looked at the gene-personality correlations only among the elephants from Japanese zoos. And so seventy-five elephants with both personality and genetic data became forty-five. Those forty-five were really one group of seventeen Asian elephants and a second group of twenty-eight African elephants. Here’s why.
The elephants in the study came from two different genera: Loxodonta and Elaphas. Genera is the plural of genus, which is the level of taxonomic classification above species. These two elephant species share designation at the family level, Elephantidae. By comparison, the family Hominidae includes four genera: Pan (chimpanzees and bonobos), Gorilla (gorillas), Homo (humans), and Pongo (orangutans). The African and Asian elephants diverged from their common ancestor approximately seventeen million years
Minnesota Zoo Completes Heart of the Zoo Project


Palm Oil to be revoked in Aceh (Sumatra) creating history
Withdrawal of Kalista’s Permit: First time In The History of Aceh

Senin, 24 September 2012 14:30 WIB
MURDANI ABDULLAH | Free translation by Adji Darsoyo
BANDA ACEH – Head of the Legal and PR Office of the Aceh Regional Secretariat, Makmur Ibrahim, said that the plan to withdraw Klaista Alam’s permit by the Government of Aceh under Zaini Abdullah is the first within the whole history of Aceh. This is considered important and to show high commitment of the current Government of Aceh to protect forest conservation, especially in Tripa Peat Swamp. “This is the first in the history of the Government of Aceh,” said Makmur on Monday, September 24, 2012. Makmur continued that being staff member he is ready to implement the Governor’s instruction and will immediately process the plan. He hopes that this will be accepted by all parties in Aceh. As reported earlier, the Governor of Aceh, Zaini Abdullah, requested the head of BP2T on Monday September 24, 2012 to immediately prepare a draft for the revocation of Kalista Alam’s permit, which relates to the recently announced decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan. The Governor of Aceh, through the Head of Legal and PR Office, Makmur Ibrahim, also said that this decision of the Administrative High Court of Medan is final. “We wait for the draft of the revocation from BP2T. If this can be process within 2 days, then we will also withdraw in 2 days,” said Makmur.

Original article:

Translation to English:


Three Animals in Infamous Surabaya Zoo in Critical Condition
Three animals in the notorious Surabaya Zoo are in critical condition and currently undergoing intensive medical treatments, an officer with the zoo has said.
Anthan Warsito, the spokesman of the zoo, said the three animals were a 14-year-old American grizzly bear called Beno, a 24-year-old babirusa and a Sumatran tiger.
“The grizzly bear has been suffering from skin tumor since 2010,” Anthan said in Surabaya on Saturday.
The aging babirusa’s health has been deteriorating and is often ill, while the Sumatran tiger is suffering from a digestive problem, Anthan explained.
He admitted many animals in the zoo were in poor health condition, suffering from diseases, as 20 percent of the zoo’s inhabitants were over 20 years old.
Anthan said the aging and ailing animals were no longer fit for display, but the zoo would not opt euthanasia for them, hoping they would somehow survive.
“The aging animals, including some camels, elephants and deer, surely need more attention,” Anthan said, as quoted by the Indonesian news portal
The zoo, reportedly Indonesia’s largest, has become notorious since Antara news agency reported that it had turned into a “place of horror” and “death camp” for animals. A zoo officer said in March some 500 animals died there between 2010 and

L.A. Zoo privatization negotiations fall apart
A money-saving plan to privatize the Los Angeles Zoo has stalled after city negotiators failed to reach an agreement with the nonprofit seeking to run the facility.
The announcement that the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. was pulling out of talks Thursday because of a disagreement over whom the zoo director should report to puts the fate of the facility in jeopardy, City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana warned.
With the city government looking at a deficit of half a billion dollars over the next two fiscal years, the zoo will be "forced to fight with public safety and other city priorities for its own survival," Santana said. "Inevitable cuts" to the zoo budget could lead to hikes in ticket prices and other changes, he said.
Santana, who has pushed for privatization despite protests from city employee unions, says public-private partnerships are a way to maintain service levels in an era of declining revenue. He has called for similar arrangements at the Los,0,3467406.story

'Tiger man' Varty issues rhino horn challenge
"Tiger Man" John Varty has suggested that breeders should defy the government's trade ban and stage a high-profile global auction of horns.
In an open letter to the world's largest rhino breeder, Mpumalanga-based John Hume, published on his own JV and the Big Cats website, Varty said Hume should ask the environment minister for permission for a one-off auction of all privately owned horns.
"Point out that the precedent was set in the 1980s when South Africa's National Parks had ivory auctions in which Japanese, Taiwanese and Chinese buyers participated in the purchase of ivory from culled elephants in Kruger National Park," he said. "The money from those auctions went back into the protection and conservation of elephants in South Africa."
If the minister did not grant permission for the auction, he wrote, Hume should "create a global event", similar to the way Kenyan conservationist Richard Leakey focused attention on elephant poaching when he persuaded then-president Daniel arap Moi to burn 12 tonnes of ivory in 1989.
"In your case, you go ahead with the auction, informing the South African government of your intentions. If you would like me to stand beside you, I will do so," Varty said.
"You invite 100 private individuals who have rhino horn from dead or dehorned rhino to join you in the auction.
"If you were on your own, the government could arrest you. I doubt if the government could arrest 100 high-profile private individuals trading openly in rhino horn and advertising the auction globa

Varty courted controversy when he defied conservation dogma in the 1990s by setting up a tiger-breeding project in the Free State because he believed the Indian government was not doing enough to save the big cats from extinction.

CALLS were made last night for an investigation into the way Britain’s leading zoos are hired out for drug-linked music festivals and boozy office parties.
Undercover filming by animal welfare campaigners shows ­clubbers taunting gorillas and hurling objects into enclosures during a three-day rave at Prince William’s favourite zoo .
The partygoers mingled with shocked young families at the zoo when their rave tickets gave them free access to the Port Lympne Wild Animal Park, in Kent, a ­fortnight ago.
The owners, the Aspinall Foundation, whose trustees include millionaire Tory MP Zac Goldsmith and casino tycoon Damian Aspinall, had hired out a large area 500 yards from their main entrance for the Ibiza-style Zoo Project dance festival weekend.
It also let the Hevy Festival, a weekend of punk, heavy metal and rock bands, use it with similar access rights in August, just two months after Prince William toured the zoo to back its black rhino breeding project.
Many zoos are now using their animals as exotic backdrops for events. London Zoo offers “Black Tie with a Hint of Animal” functions for office parties. Animal

Wolves were aggressive prior to fatal attack
The pack of wolves that killed a zookeeper at the Kolmården animal park earlier this year had displayed aggressive behaviour toward zookeepers in the past, according to a newly discovered report which contradicts the zoo’s initial assessment of the attack.
When the zookeeper was killed by the wolves at Kolmården in June 2012, management at the park said the incident happened without warning or provocation.
However, a 2011 incident report reveals that the wolves had previously threatened a zookeeper who entered the wolf enclosure alone, the Aftonbladet newspaper reported.
In the report, the zookeeper tells of being encircled by the wolves, who were behaving ever more threateningly.
“I screamed and made a lot of sudden movement. But it felt like that just triggered them even more,” the report reads.
The zookeeper became frightened and hit one wolves with a shovel – but the blow had no effect.
In the end, the zookeeper managed to escape from the enclosure.
Mats Höggren, zoological head at Kolmården, said that “thorough assessments and analyses” were carried out following the incident.
“The measures we implemented were to be more careful and make note of behavioural deviations among those particular individuals,” he told Aftonbladet.
Kolmården said the incident didn’t result in any major changes to procedures.
”All incidents have been documented and investigated according to existing regulations,” the animal park said in a statement.
On Monday, Kolmården will provide answers about the fatal June attack to the Swedish Work Environment Authority (Arbetsmiljöverket), the agency responsible for investigating work place fatalities.
In the report detailing the circumstances surrounding the accident, Kolmården is expected to present the measures it has taken to prevent similar incidents from

Tigers for Tomorrow on Untamed Mountain Approved for Feline Conservation Federation Facility Accreditation
Tigers for Tomorrow on Untamed Mountain meets the high standards of feline care and facility management that are hallmarks of the Feline Conservation Federation facility accreditation. Doc Antle, chairman of the accreditation board, visited the preserve and was so impressed he donated to it a trio of his very rare tiger cubs. Visitors can now view a golden tabby, a royal white and a standard orange Bengal tiger playing together in their roomy new habitat on the mountain preserve. The accreditation committee reviewed the extensive written application and approved Tigers for Tomorrow for FCF accreditation.
Tigers for Tomorrow on Untamed Mountain is a 140-acre piece of property in Attalla, Alabama, nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. In the six years since the facility moved from Florida to Untamed Mountain, the animal population has grown to 87 predators

MBARI researchers discover diet of vampire squid
Vampire squid aren't blood suckers. They're "snot" suckers to put it not so politely. Researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute have discovered that these unearthly creatures don't eat live prey, as their closest relatives, octopus and squid do. Instead, they drift in the ocean, relying on long filaments to capture floating debris that they coat with mucous before pulling it into their mouths. "They live life in the slow lane," said Henk-Jan Hoving, the researcher who conducted the new study, along with Senior Scientist Bruce Robison.
Vampire squid live in the deep ocean depths where there is little oxygen. Most of their diet consists of "marine snow," which is made up of organic matter that drifts down from upper ocean layers where there are a lot more animals.
With their deep red skin and webbed arms lined with spiky-looking "cirri" (which are actually harmless), it's no wonder they were dubbed with the scientific name, Vampyroteuthis infernalis -- latin for "vampire squid from hell."
Vampire squid, about the size of a football, belong in the same class of animals as octopus and squid, collectively known as cephalopods. In fact, vampire squid were originally mistaken for an octopus


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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Zooland: The Institution of Captivity (The Cultural Lives of Law)

Zooland: The Institution of Captivity
 (The Cultural Lives of Law)


This book takes a unique stance on a controversial topic: zoos. Zoos have their ardent supporters and their vocal detractors. And while we all have opinions on what zoos do, few people consider how they do it. Irus Braverman draws on more than seventy interviews conducted with zoo managers and administrators, as well as animal activists, to offer a glimpse into the otherwise unknown complexities of zooland.

Zooland begins and ends with the story of Timmy, the oldest male gorilla in North America, to illustrate the dramatic transformations of zoos since the 1970s. Over these decades, modern zoos have transformed themselves from places created largely for entertainment to globally connected institutions that emphasize care through conservation and education.

Zoos naturalize their spaces, classify their animals, and produce spectacular experiences for their human visitors. Zoos name, register, track, and allocate their animals in global databases. Zoos both abide by and create laws and industry standards that govern their captive animals. Finally, zoos intensely govern the reproduction of captive animals, carefully calculating the life and death of these animals, deciding which of them will be sustained and which will expire. Zooland takes readers behind the exhibits into the world of zoo animals and their caretakers. And in so doing, it turns its gaze back on us to make surprising interconnections between our understandings of the human and the nonhuman.

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Zoo News Digest 24th - 27th September 2012 (Zoo News 831)

Zoo News Digest 24th - 27th September 2012 (Zoo News 831)


Dear Colleagues,

Birthday Party number one tonight so I thought I best get this out before I am incapable. If you are passing Dao's Bar on 3rd Road in Pattaya tonight at eight o'clock do drop in. It will be busy but the more the merrier.

There is a certain Indian gentleman who I have been having a conflict of opinions with for a number of years now. We differ on so many subjects surrounding zoos. I accept that, we are not all the same. We are shaped by events in our lives, people we meet, books we read and more. He is probably unlikely to change his point of view on zoos. I could be. I am always prepared to change and be re-shaped by convincing argument and am on some issues. Anyway I digress. What I was leading up to was what he wrote when he sent me a link this week ..."This man like you, speaks his mind and I respect him the way I respect you". That counts for a lot to me and I thank him for it. It is a similar sentiment that was expressed by several who spoke to me at the International Congress of ZooKeepers in Singapore. They were pleased that I spoke out on issues that they were unable to.

If 'Zoo-tiger fans go to maul' is anything to go by I daresay that the Bronx Zoo has had quite a large increase in attendance since the unfortunate incident with the tiger.
I am delighted that there will be further discussion on the Toronto Zoo elephants. Now lets hear it from the zoo side and not the bunny huggers who will even now trawling around for some tame vets to drag into the ring.

The Liliger? Short answer...Euthanase. Okay I fully appreciate that it is not the unfortunate creatures fault but Euthanasia does not hurt. Letting this zoo profit from this cruel and despicable experiment will give a green light to Dysfunctional zoos everywhere. I imagine that Mr Antle is giving the idea some thought.

'Steve Irwin's Son Robert Fearlessly Feeds Crocodiles At The Australia Zoo'...okay it is just a story for the press but every crocodile feeding should be fear-less. There is or should be no risk at all. Crocodiles small or large don't need handling to be fed. In fact you don't need to be within an arms (or two...cut out the pretence) length of them. I wonder if the same paper would have said 'Michael Jackson fearlessly holds son out of window' there there were risks involved.

Still not a whisper about the baby Orangutan and Gibbon from Abu Dhabi (see past Digests). As the recognised world organisations that the collection belonged to knew that they had these you would think they would be just a little concerned as to where they went. It doesn't smell right to me.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos, not DYSFUNCTIONAL zoos.


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Tiger Killed and Butchered in Itanagar Zoo in India

Four Itanagar Zoo officials sacked for negligence of duty over tigress death
Two days after miscreants killed a tigress in Itanagar Zoo, the forest department on Wednesday terminated the services of three contingency staff and suspended one forest guard of the zoo for negligence in duty.
Miscreants sneaked into the zoo in the cover of darkness and broke open the enclosure of Oni, a third generation tigress on Monday night. They killed the tigress and left with her flesh. However, they did not take with them valuable parts like teeth, skin and claws, leaving the zoo officials in a dilemma about the motive behind the gruesome act.
"We performed the last rites of the six-year-old tigress within the zoo campus on Wednesday in the presence of the magistrate and police," deputy conservator of forest (wildlife) P Ringu said.
He said police have launched a search operation, but no arrests have been made so far. The zoo authority also informed the Wildlife Crime Control Bureau (WCCB

With panda deaths, zoos need to reprioritize
A week-old baby panda no bigger than a stick of butter died at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, D.C. on Sunday.
The official cause of death is still unclear, but the initial necropsy said there was fluid in the abdomen and some liver damage.
Only four zoos in the United States actually have panda enclosures, according to The Washington Post. The newspaper reported that borrowing a panda for a year from China costs about $1 million. That doesn’t include habitat upkeep, research requirements made by federal import permits and the basic care of animals.
Dennis Kelly, director of the National Zoo, said that over three years, the Washington, Atlanta, Memphis and San Diego Zoos spent $33 million more than they received in revenue for their pandas. Zoos, like colleges, are just businesses. Their main focus is to keep their animals safe and content, but they also need money to function.
It has reached the point that some zoos take shortcuts to support themselves. The vice president of Animal Care at the Columbus Zoo in Ohio said the zoo uses mirrors in the flamingo exhibit, according to the Columbia Monthly. These mirrors not only made the enclosure less costly but also make the flamingos believe they were kept in a bigger space than they were.
Similarly, in Rob Laidlaw’s book “Wild Things in Captivity,” he talks about research of elephant enclosures in zoos. The habitats were found to be 1,000 times smaller than animals’ natural one. Animals also act unusually when kept in these types of enclosures, according to a report in The New Scientist.
The principle behind a zoo is admirable. We should know what kind of animals are out there, what they eat and how they live, especially endangered ones. But zoos get lost in the money. While we still don’t know the exact cause of the panda’s death on Sunday, the facts don’t lie: Financial

Dubai plans Middle East's first crocodile park
Dubai is planning to establish a crocodile park in the emirate as its latest tourism attraction, officials said on Tuesday.
The Dubai Municipality said the crocodile park would be set up "in the near future", adding that it was studying similar parks in France, Tunisia and Belgium.
Abdulla Rafia, assistant director general of Dubai Municipality said the civic body has assigned a team from the investment section of Asset Management Department to study best practices around the world.
In comments published by news agency WAM, he added: "The Municipality seeks to build a new world tourist attraction in the emirate of Dubai through the partnership with the foreign investors to establish the crocodile park project in the

Dubai is planning the Middle East's first Crocodile Park

Plight of 2 baby Grauer’s gorillas raises fears others killed in Congo, only 4,000 remain
The plight of two infant gorillas, rescued after being kidnapped from their wild families, highlights the dangers confronting the endangered Grauer’s gorillas that have become victims of ongoing violence and a new rebellion in eastern Congo.
A decision to allow oil exploration in a national park there may put the gorillas at greater risk.
Virunga National Park said Monday that wildlife authorities rescued two baby gorillas in the space of a week this month.
“Baby gorilla trafficking is terribly damaging for endangered gorilla populations because many members of the gorilla’s family will probably have been killed to obtain the infant,” said the park’s director, Emmanuel de Merode.
Fighting between rival militia groups is making it impossible for wildlife authorities to find out how many of the Grauer’s gorillas have been killed. Grauer’s, also known as eastern lowland gorillas, exist only in eastern Congo. Experts estimate that fewer than 4,000 remain, down from about 17,000 in 1995, de Merode said in a statement.
The poaching comes as the park itself faces oil exploration. Congo’s Hydrocarbons Minister Crispin Atama Tabe announced Monday that the government is authorizing the British firm SOCO to explore

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Zoo-tiger fans go to maul
Bachuta, the tiger who mauled an intruder in his Bronx Zoo lair, kept a low profile in his enclosure yesterday as dozens of fans lined up for a chance to see him.
“We wanted to see the tiger,” said Jeff Jones, 52, who waited 20 minutes for the monorail ride through the zoo’s Wild Asia exhibit, where Bachuta has remained out of sight since Saturday, the day after the mauling.
Billy Muntner, 49, who had also hoped to catch a glimpse of the 400-pound beast, said no one should blame the animal.
“The tiger did what the tiger is supposed to do. I’m very glad he’s not in trouble,’’ Muntner said.
A zoo volunteer said Bachuta has “been on exhibit since the incident.’’ Yesterday, he “just didn’t want to come out,” the worker said.
David Villalobos, 25, was mauled after jumping from the monorail and scaling a protective fence, claiming he “wanted

World's largest oceanarium set to open soon in S'pore (Watch the Videos)
There's no exact date given but the world’s largest oceanarium, Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), will open its doors to the public by 7 December, officials said at a press conference this mormning.
On 7 December, the integrated resort will hold its grand opening.
The Park will feature some 100,000 marine animals in more than 60 million litres of water. Some of the highlights include the Adventure Cove Waterpark which will be the region’s only water park with marine life elements and the Southeast Asia Aquarium which will house a diverse range of marine life including manta rays and hammerhead sharks.
There’ll be water coasters for those seeking wet-and-wild thrills and opportunities to snorkel amongst thousands of colourful fish at the Rainbow Reef.
Finishing touches are being carried out at the Park, which will have 90 per cent of its marine life ready for showcase by the time it opens.
Details of ticket prices have yet to be confirmed.
Those waiting to catch a glimpse of the controversial 25 bottlenose dolphins will have to wait till sometime in 2013.
Animal rights groups and activists have criticised Resorts World Sentosa over its decision to house the dolphins in the Park.
Initially 27 dolphins, which were caught in the wild, were meant be housed at the Park but two died from a water-borne bacterial infection in 2010.
The remaining 25 dolphins are currently at a facility at Subic Bay in The Philippines.
Director of the Education and Conservation team at the Marine Life Park Biswajit Guha said: “We recognise that there will always be divergent viewpoints and from a Marine Life Park perspective, conservation, research and education are the pillars of the Marine Life Park and what we do".
"Essentially, the dolphins will be ambassadors for marine life, their counterparts in nature and more importantly, it’s their ability to actually inspire

UAE to host shark conservation forum
30 species of sharks in Gulf ecosystems under pressure from over-fishing
Top marine scientists from around the world will converge in Dubai next week for the inaugural Shark Conservation in Arabia Workshop.
Organised by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), the four-day forum is to be held at City Seasons Suites from October 9-11 in coordination with the Ministry of Environment and Water to find solutions to thinning shark stocks in the Gulf.
Roughly 30 species of shark in the Gulf are facing fishing pressures that could have long-term impacts given that sharks take a long time to reproduce, experts say.
Dr Al Syed Mohammad, Middle East regional director of IFAW, said the UAE’s strict laws allowing fishermen to catch sharks only in the off season when sharks are not producing pups is a good example of protection measures needed to stave

Spray-on repellent could outwit incorrigible kea
Kea are renowned for their curiosity but can clash with humans, as anyone who has had rubber stripped from their cars at southern skifields can attest.
But the Kea Conservation Trust is developing repellents to stop the endangered parrots in their tracks.
Its efforts attracted praise last week at the West Coast Conservation Awards.
Trust chairwoman Tamsin Orr-Walker said the move was prompted by an urgent need to protect kea from aerial drops of 1080, which caused high death rates, particularly on the West Coast.
Initial trials of a non-toxic bird repellent in bait have proved successful on captive kea.
It worked by making them feel sick when they ate repellent-laced bait so they learnt to avoid trying it again, she said.
Studies are under way to ensure the repellent does not deter rats and possums from eating 1080 bait.
The trust is also investigating surface repellents to stop other problem kea habits, such as attacking sheep to peck the fat around their kidneys, and destroying equipment, such as kill traps or bait stations, foiling efforts to kill introduced predators.
The first trial of surface repellent, which is released when a kea lands on it, was done on a Queenstown farmer's merino sheep in June.
It makes kea feel sick if it lands on the animal then later preens,

Google adds coral reef panoramas to Street View maps
Panoramic images of several coral reefs have been added to Google's Street View service in its maps, allowing users to navigate their way around the sites.
The material was gathered by the Catlin Seaview Survey - a project studying the health of the reefs, including the impact of global warming.
The programme's director said the effort would help scientists analyse ecosystems and raise general awareness.
It is also a publicity coup for Google at a time of growing competition.
Google has previously offered computer-generated views of the sea floor terrain, but this is the first time it has incorporated underwater photographs into its mapping product.
"We want to be a comprehensive source for imagery that lets anyone explore anywhere," Jennifer Foulkes, Google's ocean programme manager, told the BBC.
"This is just the next step to take users underwater and give them the experience of an area that most people have been been to - seeing sea turtles, seeing manta rays, crazy pencil urchins and beautiful fish."
Locations added to the service

UN recognizes wildlife crime as threat to rule of law
Poaching and the illicit trafficking of wildlife products were raised on the floor of the United Nations General Assembly for the first time this Monday, during discussions on strengthening national and international governance.
World leaders gathering in New York for the global body’s 67th annual meeting highlighted wildlife trafficking along with other severe threats to the rule of law such as corruption and drug running.
In a written statement, permanent Security Council member United States highlighted “the harm caused by wildlife poaching and trafficking to conservation efforts, rule of law, governance and economic development.” The rapidly-growing illicit international trade in endangered species products, such as rhino horn, elephant ivory and tiger parts, is now estimated to be worth $5 billion per year globally.
“Such organized crime is increasingly affecting the environment and biodiversity through poaching and illegal fishing,” Gabon’s President Ali Bongo said during the High-level Meeting on the Rule of Law. “Gabon intends to strengthen its criminal justice

Zoo Director Speaks Out On Elephant Complaint
Topeka Zoo Director Brendan Wiley spoke out Tuesday night (9/25) out on the latest complaint against the zoo. It's from animal activists to the USDA, and it calls into question video you'll only see on 13 News and
In the video, you can see Asian elephant Sunda run toward the zoo's African elephant Tembo. In Defense of Animals members call it an attack from Sunda. The complaint states that the Topeka Zoo violates the requirement that animals in the same enclosure must be compatible. IDA member Catherine Doyle calls the behavior aggressive, adding that according to the Animal Welfare Act, animals must have sufficient space to make normal social adjustments.
Zookeepers say the move shows Sunda telling Tembo not to take her food. Wiley says "attack" is a strong word.
"Elephants live in a social structure that has a dominance to it, not unlike dogs or pets at home, if you have more than one," Wiley said. "When you see behavior like this, it's really important to evaluate not only what is going on right then, but what occurs before and after."
Wiley says the animals showed healthy behavior and began eating together after the incident. He says the complaint is part of a plan from In Defense of Animals.
"They are very open that they operate a campaign against the Topeka Zoo and its elephants. And so this is one of those tactics that typically you see in those types of campaigns. So is it surprising to us? No. It's really not. Does it give us an opportunity to look at the situation and explain it to the community? Yes it does," Wiley said.
The USDA did cite the

TB Concerns put transfer of Toronto Zoo elephants back in limbo
The tug-of-war over retirement plans for Toronto’s three aging elephants is far from over, with councillors being asked to rethink their controversial decision to order the animals sent to a California sanctuary.
The Toronto Zoo board is asking Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee and council to consider a new report from zoo staff that outlines several roadblocks preventing the move. These hurdles include the zoo’s top veterinarian saying he cannot back the plan because of active tuberculosis at the 80-acre facility run by the Performing Animals Welfare Society.
The latest move by the zoo board opens the door for a possible reversal of council’s decision last year.
Graham Crawshaw, the zoo’s senior veterinarian, outlined his concerns to zoo board members Tuesday, including evidence discovered earlier this year that the PAWS sanctuary has one elephant with active TB. That elephant is a female Asian elephant and would not be housed with Toronto’s African elephants. Dr. Crawshaw said he is not satisfied PAWS has sufficient quarantine measures in place to protect the Toronto animals. “Based on what I know, I cannot recommend it,” he said about the planned move.
Zoo CEO John Tracogna said the animal transfer also is being held up because of problems with shipping containers, aircraft

Croc bank to chip in for online zoo database
The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust (MCBT) has joined an international initiative to preserve endangered wildlife by contributing data to the largest online zoological knowledgebase.
The crocodile bank will use the Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) application to establish an online database where they can record and preserve data. "ZIMS is a database that allows zoos to enter data pertaining to most of their management operations. Selected information can then be shared with other zoos," says MCBT director Colin James Stevenson.
The application has been created by the International Species Information System (ISIS), a global collaboration of more than 800 zoological institutions from round the world. The organisation works to strengthen knowledge about animals in human care and uses the information to save vulnerable populations. The croc bank has been a member of ISIS since 2011.
"ZIMS allows us to record not only data about the animals but also information about their care and maintenance," says Stevenson. This will help zoos improve the way they maintain their facilities. "We can enter details of the animals' diet and care, enclosures, records of weights, measurements and any medical treatment given," he says. So zoos can track and modify the way they are treating the animals under their care more accurately. "Since it is a global, real-time system, we can select a species and obtain up-to-date informatio

The 48th issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa is online at We thank all the subject editors, reviewers, language editors and authors for their contributions in producing this issue.

Journal of Threatened Taxa

ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)

September 2012 | Vol. 4 | No. 11 | Pages 2993–3084

Date of Publication 26 September 2012 (online & print)


Cave bats of the central west coast and southern section of the Northwest Panay Peninsula, Panay Island, the Philippines

-- Antony Mould, Pp. 2993–3028

Land snails (Mollusca: Gastropoda) of India: status, threats and conservation strategies

-- Sandeep Sen, G. Ravikanth & N.A. Aravind, Pp. 3029–3037

CEPF Western Ghats Special Series

Balitora laticauda, a new species of stone loach (Teleostei: Cypriniformes: Balitoridae) from Krishna River, northern Western Ghats, India

-- Sunil Bhoite, Shrikant Jadhav & Neelesh Dahanukar, Pp. 3038–3049

Seasonal variation of Hemiptera community of a temple pond of Cachar District, Assam, northeastern India

-- Kankana Das & Susmita Gupta, Pp. 3050–3058

Notes on two species of the genus Atemnus Canestrini (Pseudoscorpiones: Atemnidae) from China

-- Jun-fang Hu & Feng Zhang, Pp. 3059–3066

First record of the Borneo Earless Monitor Lanthanotus borneensis (Steindachner, 1877) (Reptilia: Lanthanotidae) in West Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo)

-- B. Yaap, G.D. Paoli, A. Angki, P.L. Wells & D. Wahyudi & M. Auliya, Pp. 3067–3074

Ecological studies on Aerangis biloba (Lindl.) Schltr. (Orchidaceae) in NACGRAB field gene bank, southwestern Nigeria

-- Temitope Israel Borokini & Adedotun Onoyinka Afolayan, Pp. 3075–3081

Additional record of Resplendent Bush Frog Raorchestes resplendens (Anura: Rhacophoridae) from the Western Ghats, India

-- Jobin Joseph, K.M. Jobin & P.O. Nameer, Pp. 3082–3084

In case you wish to receive Table of Contents every month please send an email to <> with no subject or text.

What's In Store For Russia's Little Lion-Tiger Hybrid?
Zookeepers and biologists at Novosibirsk Zoo in Siberia believe they have produced a taxonomic first. They have shared images of a "liliger," called Kiara, whose birth earlier this month raises a number of questions.
Like what's a "liliger"?
Lions and tigers share a common ancestor, and are extremely close on an evolutionary scale. Thus their shared genus (Panthera).
But big-cat cross-breeding is not unheard-of in captivity. As they're different species, the resulting offspring are hybrids.
Outside of the public imagination and a cottage industry, the lion-tiger hybrid is perhaps best-known as the favorite animal of the unlikely hero in the cult indie film "Napoleon Dynamite," "bred for its skills

Steve Irwin's Son Robert Fearlessly Feeds Crocodiles At The Australia Zoo
Following in his father’s footsteps, Robert Irwin, son of the legendary “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, has made his first public appearance feeding a crocodile at the Australia Zoo.
Robert, 8, appeared in front of crowds at the Zoo’s “Crocoseum” in Beerwah, Queensland. The young boy seemed entirely comfortable around the crocodiles, which were babies and not the full-size monsters that his father routinely appeared alongside.
However, despite the danger of the creatures, Robert appeared entirely fearless, feeding them, dancing around them, and even picking one up. A zoo staff member was right next to Robert on the off-chance that anything went wrong.
"It's awesome because every single croc we feed is different," Robert told Australian news outlet Sunshine Coast Daily. "It's really fun and exciting."
His mother Terri seems just as excited as her son about his love for wildlife.
"Robert's finally worn me down, so he gets to feed something in the show for the first time as well," she told Sunshine Coast Daily.
Robert seems to have spent his entire life around crocodiles. A famous photo of Steve Irwin shows the TV personality and naturalist feeding a crocodile with

Elephant, Ranger Protections Endorsed—But Do They Have Teeth?
Motions passed amid spike in African elephant poaching.
Amid an unprecedented spike in African elephant poaching, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last week passed two motions it hopes will bolster protection for elephants and the park rangers who look after them.
The motions were approved without debate at the World Conservation Congress in Jeju, South Korea. (Related: "In War to Save Elephants, Rangers Appeal for Aid.")
The highest recorded rate of elephant poaching in a decade occurred in 2011, with tens of thousands of the animals slaughtered, their ivory smuggled out of East African seaports en route to East Asia. A 1989 CITES treaty banned international trade in elephant ivory.
One motion calls on all countries with African elephants to "prioritize the protection and conservation of elephant populations" and to ensure adequate legislation, penalties, and incentive programs for local people living among elephants.
Mary Rice, head of the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency, said by email that she has concerns about the elephant-protection motion, which "does not call for curbing the ongoing international illegal trade in ivory through coordination with key authorities such as INTERPOL."
"This is crucial for tackling illegal wildlife trade, which is serious transnational organized crime."
In the second motion, Africa's rangers asked the IUCN leadership "to encourage member states, governments, civil society, and local and international NGOs and foundations to provide support for the initiative of improved wildlife-resource protection."
The IUCN also made the unusual move of calling for a "high-level" meeting of conservationists as soon as possible to "recommend urgent measures" to stop the killing of elephants. (See pictures of ivory poaching in National Geographic magazine.)
"Road Is Long" for Protecting Rangers
Tim Snow, whose organization, the Game Rangers Association of Africa (GRAA), sponsored the motion to fund new training programs and equipment for rangers, said he’s delighted that the IUCN has recognized the issue of protecting rangers.
But, he said, "The crux is that the IUCN motion has merely exposed the problem and elevated it to international awareness levels."
Already this year, increasingly well-armed and violent poachers have killed dozens of rangers in Africa, many of whom lack adequate training or equipment with which to respond.
"We don't just need more guns, we don't need escalating warfare—we need more trained rangers on the ground, so you can let people qualified to deal with the problem deal with it," Snow said.
"That should be the status quo in all conservation areas, not just [those] with rhinos and elephants," he added.
The first step, he said, will be for the GRAA to work with IUCN's regional offices to survey the current standard of ranger training in their areas, and then begin to work out what needs to be improved.
But helping out with the survey will likely be the IUCN’s only financial contribution to keeping rangers safe, Snow said.
"We as rangers in GRAA will have to continue to fight for the support we need.
"The load is still heavy, and the road is long. And the problem is real."
Cameroon Boosting Ranger Force
At least one government isn't waiting for new ranger training programs.
Cameroon has already padded its ranger force and increased the days of a ranger's military training from 45 to 120, Ngole Philip Ngwese, Cameroon's minister of forestry and wildlife, said during a press briefing last week in Jeju. About 500 rangers will soon be graduating from that course.
The boost is in response to an incident in January, when "poachers of a different class, extraordinarily violent, well equipped and well trained" entered Cameroon's Bouba Ndjidah National Park on horses and camels, Ngwese said.
The Sudanese poachers, individually skilled in killing elephants and removing their ivory, slayed 200 animals. (See a graphic of where ivory poaching occurs in Africa.)
The ten rangers, or "ecoguards," on duty could not stop the surprise attack, and the government had to call in elite members of the army who drove out the poachers within a month and are still monitoring the situation.
"Our ecoguards are not as trained and equipped as these people who came to massacre the elephants—obviously they had the upper hand," Ngwese said.
The increased ranger training will also ideally save human lives—between two to three ecoguards are killed on duty each year in Cameroon.
Local People Need Incentives
The poachers who invaded Cameroon were also successful because they could melt in among the local people, to whom they gave meat from the killed elephants, Ngwese said.
But some locals also saw the elephant deaths "as a relief," he said.
That's because elephants sometimes wander outside park boundaries, destroying villagers' crops and homes and even killing people.
That's "something we in the West have to keep in

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