Monday, September 30, 2013

Personal thoughts from a Toronto Zoo Elephant Keeper!

Personal thoughts from a Toronto Zoo Elephant Keeper!
(With kind permission of the author)

  • Elle LePhant

I woke up this morning, a slight pain in my lower back, both my knees aching, my wrists sore, all there to remind me of what I have chosen to devote my life to doing… and that is ensuring that the elephants I work with are given the highest quality of life that I am capable of providing them with. I go into work everyday and look at the exhausted faces of my friends and coworkers knowing that they had the same sleepless night as I did… again, to utilize every minute of the day (willingly or not) to try and think of something that we can do to ensure that a terrible mistake is not made. One that we are all terrified could put these three amazing animals, Toka, Thika and Iringa in harms way. 

But we do this with pride, despite the fact that online there are those who can’t wait to take their next shot at us and explain to the public their newest conspiracy theory on why the Toronto Zoo elephant keepers are fighting the fight we are. Some of these people KNOW that they are lying when they post these statements, and others have just been caught up in these lies. In this fight we are completely outgunned. They have money, connections, and friends in high places. All we have is our devotion to these animals and the truth.

There are two reasons we continue to fight. The first is an admittedly sometimes wavering but never undying belief that the truth and facts will win out over the lies of select government officials, “sanctuary” (a term I use loosely, “sanatorium” would be far more accurate) owners who are manipulating this situation as best they can to ensure their next $880,000 donation is right around the corner, and the animal rights activists that for some reason can’t see that the keepers are not the ones who stand to gain by spreading falsehoods. 

These people accuse us of sabotage, abuse and only being in this to protect our jobs. I can assure you that we have never done anything to hurt these elephants or sabotage their training. I can also assure you that we do this despite threats of disciplinary recourse rather than promises of job security and I would gladly give up my job and find a new career to if it would ensure that these elephants get to spend the remainder of their lives in the best place possible, one chosen by the experts that know them and their needs best. The second reason is the elephants. While most people are still in bed we keepers are with the elephants giving them their breakfast. When people are settling in for the evening we are with the elephants. While people are enjoying their weekends and holidays we are with the elephants. When you watch your family opening their gifts on Christmas morning we are with the elephants doing everything in our power to ensure that all their physical and emotional needs are being met as best we can. I spend more time with these three elephants than I do with my own family because in many ways these animals are my family. That is my motivation.

They are amazing animals that I have been fortunate enough to work with. Iringa is incredibly smart, and has an unwavering faith in us. That faith is a testament to this elephant program that I have been fortunate enough to be a part of. Toka’s enthusiasm is enough to snap any person out of a bad mood, she is eager to please and an amazing elephant to work with. Thika… well, Thika is a brat… and is the favourite of many keepers because of this. 

I am not going to get into all of the reasons that we feel there is a better option than PAWS because these reasons have been made available online for anyone who wants to look, but I will state one -it is hard to place any faith in an organization that openly lies about the elephants it houses. Only after vigilant people found proof that PAWS was treating elephants for TB did PAWS go public about the issue stating that they had two elephants that had tested positive for the deadly airborne disease. They continued to say however (and I am admittedly paraphrasing) that just because their elephants tested positive and they are treating them for TB doesn’t mean they have TB and that things are safe. This argument would not hold up in any courtroom. They then insulted zoo officials for trying to find this information (that they admit to hiding in the same article) by accusing them of being on a “witch hunt.” They also tried to invalidate the test. They claimed it couldn’t be trusted and the only real way to know was with a trunk wash, despite the fact that they had flown out to the Toronto Zoo a month earlier insisting that our elephants get the very same blood test they now claim is useless. They insisted upon this because of the fact that our elephants had ONLY been tested by a trunk wash which could not be trusted. These contradictions do not inspire confidence. If you say the test means nothing why do it in the first place? 

If we keepers were shown the medical records from PAWS perhaps we could sleep a little easier, but they refuse, so rather than sleeping easier we are more restless, increasingly concerned about what else they could possibly need to hide if they have already openly stated that their elephants have tested positive for Tuberculosis. 

Select Toronto City councillors are planning another visit to PAWS to evaluate the facility, again, without any of the Toronto Zoo keeping staff or veterinarians. Perhaps on the way they can also do the safety check for the plane they will fly in without the help of any engineers or airport staff because they are equally unqualified to perform that task, and about as unlikely to spot any errors. Some things call for a trained and educated eye.

In many ways I am broken from this experience, but I owe it to these elephants to continue this fight. People are welcome to continue to lie about my coworkers and I, we’ve gotten used to it. We live in a society where those with the loudest voices are not always those with the right answers. I ask anyone who reads about this issue to keep that in mind. Look at the facts, they speak for themselves. Their story does not add up. I write this for the elephants. People can sit at their computers and post their opinions all they like, but I deeply care about these animals and the ultimate proof is that I go in everyday and do everything I can to do right by them. To me they are not names and pictures on a computer screen, “city property”, or my ticket to another donation from a retired celebrity. They are living, breathing creatures that are relying on my coworkers and I to ensure they are safe and taken care of. That is my job and that is what I am doing now. Please prove to me that common sense and logic will win out in this battle. Help us do what is right for Toka, Thika and Iringa. 

On an end note, I would like to sincerely thank the many people (locally and internationally) whose unwavering dedication to ensuring that the elephants have a happy and healthy future has been nothing short of inspirational. You have never given up and neither will we. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Zoo News Digest 14th - 28th September 2013 (ZooNews 875)

Zoo News Digest 14th - 28th September 2013 (ZooNews 875)

Dear Colleagues,

Without doubt the biggest story of the week was Chessington Zoo banning animal print clothing. When I saw it I thought, what a stroke of genius...the press will love that....and they did. It has gone right around the world and back again. I have been sifting through links for Zoo News Digest since the dawn of the internet and this, as a story, is unique. Credit to them. But in all seriousness does the clothing visitors wear actually make any impact on our animals? In my experience it some animals. Colour of clothing or skin does cause reaction in some. Even body shape and stature. Some of the excellent photographic prints on 'T' shirts can raise the ire of a few. Animals are not stupid. As to Chessington? Well who knows? Maybe some of their animals are affected. It matters little, it was a wonderful press coup.

Sticking with the subject. I have long puzzled about the dress of some zoo visitors. If I go out for the day I consider whether it is likely to be hot, cold or if it may rain. That's as far as it goes. I will dress accordingly. It is obvious to me that some of the customers to our zoos go a few steps further. You will all have seen them. They turn up in their Gorilla, Chimpanzee or Tiger 'T' Shirts or wearing a Safari Suit. Their choice of garment is destination rather than practically dictated. I can't quite figure....but then people, like our animals, are different.

I don't know where time has gone this past couple of weeks.....or rather I do. Time is short enough as it is but when I set myself a new project something has to give. In my case it is losing a part of a day in which I do something else. I decided to write a book which has been whizzing around in my head for a year now. It has nothing to do with zoos....I do have another life. Truth is stranger than fiction. I hope I can stick with it.

I am off to the UK again next week for a few days. I hope the weather is as pleasant as it was earlier this month. Strange really. I don't go to the UK for years and then twice in a month.


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

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The Art And Science Of Hand Rearing

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As Zoo Board meets, CUPE 1600 renews call to ‘live up to commitments’ and do ‘what’s best’ for the elephants
 As the Toronto Zoo Board meets in Scarborough for the last time before three African elephants are chained in crates and driven for 80 hours to California, the union representing their keepers and animal professionals renewed their call for politicians and administrators to live up to their commitments and ‘do what’s best’ for Toka, Thika and Iringa.

“The system has failed these elephants. Politicians and administrators have failed to live up to their responsibilities to put the elephants’ best interests at heart,” said Matthew Berridge, Vice-President of Local 1600 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE 1600).

In 2011, Toronto City Council, which has ultimate responsibility for the Zoo, voted to move the elephants to the Performing Arts Wildlife Sanctuary (PAWS) in California. An alternative endorsed by zookeepers, animal care professionals and ethicists was deemed too risky for the elephants because it involved a one-and-a-half day ground transport.

“We disagreed with the decision, but said if they are to be moved, the best place is in Florida and the best way is by air,” said Berridge.

“The best professional advice from zookeepers and animal care experts was ignored. These elephants are going to the wrong facility and in the wrong mode,” he added.

“Councillor Berardinetti, who championed sending the elephants to PAWS, specifically cited the fact that the PAWS option would only see the elephants in transport for a few hours, while transporting them by ground to Florida would take a day-and-a-half, while urging her fellow councillors to ‘do what’s best for the elephants,’” said Berridge.

“Can she now explain why she thinks transporting them chained in crates for 80 straight hours over land to PAWS is ‘what’s best for the eleph

New Safari Park for Bacolod
Metro Safari Resort Bacolod
Metro Safari Resort will soon open in Bacolod City, this was revealed by owner Mr. Francis Rey Cabuna. The zoo resort will be located in Brgy. Alangilan,The first of its kind in the region and will be completed in 10 months. Metro Safari Resort will house tigers, lions, crocodiles and other exotic animals conf

Orangutan Caring Week - November 10-16, 2013
We want you to participate in this worldwide event.  Help build a "critical mass of concerned voices" each  November to focus attention on the species through your efforts and those of other supporters.

We would like people to come to understand that the habitat of the orangutan, the tropical rain forest, is vital to not only orangutans but to other wildlife and to all of us on this planet. Rainforests and related ecosystems provide important services from climate moderation, to water quality and erosion control, to storehouses of genetic, species and ecological biodiversity.  Rainforests need to be sustainably managed to maintain these services. We want to inform citizens in our own communities of this connection and continue to enlighten local people in areas near orangutan habitat.

Mystery surrounds suspension of Longleat Safari Park supremo
Mystery surrounds the reason behind the suspension of Longleat chief executive David Bradley, with Longleat confirming this week that an investigation is being carried out.

The Wiltshire Times understands that Mr Bradley was removed from the site last week, with all locks to the Estate office and his office replaced.

Longleat confirmed that Mr Bradley had been temporarily suspended from his role as the head of the safari and adventure park while a review is carried out.

Mr Bradley, formerly managing director of Legoland, was brought in by the Viscount of Weymouth Ceawlin after his father Lord Bath retired in 2009, with the new CEO tasked with bringing the park into the 21st century.

A spokesman for Longleat said: “David Bradley has been temporarily suspended from Longleat and we are currently carrying out a review. We’re unable to comment further on any claims as it would be unfair to those involved.”

Longleat’s PR agency Pelham Bell Pott

celebrates its twelfth year of existence

Questionnaire for zoos on palm oil communication
Dear All,
Orangutan Land Trust is developing a new, adaptable toolkit for zoos to use to help them communicate to their public about the palm oil issue. In order to make this toolkit as successful as possible, we have compiled a very short survey to help us gauge where zoos are presently and where their needs lie. I'd be very grateful if you could help by completing the survey or by passing it onto someone in your zoo who is able to do so. All responses will be kept confidential.

The survey can be found here:

Your help is greatly appreciated, and if you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Kind regards,

Michelle Desilets
Executive Director
Orangutan Land Trust

Former Las Vegas Zoo animal care manager speaks out
Their exodus marked the beginning of the end for the Las Vegas Zoo and now for the first time former zookeepers are breaking their silence. They spoke exclusively to Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.

They told Darcy the zoo was plagued with problems and the longer they stayed, the more they realized they couldn't be part of the solution.

Zoo Director Pat Dingle owns the land, the animals, and has the final say on everything. That, according to the former zookeeping staff, was the biggest problem.

They said the animals needed more shade, more food, more enrichment and they needed more help to provide all that, but Dingle wouldn't let them do it. A refusal despite recent directives from the United States Department of Agriculture.

"When you look the USDA in the eye as an animal care manager and agree with them and say I want to do that and then you can't, now you gotta start questioning your integrity. So if you're not doing that then that's when you really have to take a step and make some decisions on do you need to leave and unfortunately all of these things drove me to finally have to exit and I didn't want to," said Jeannie Akins.

Akins said for two of the seven years she was there, she alone was responsible for caring for the zoo's 182 animals. When the other zookeepers were hired, th

Panda Extinction: Should we let it happen?

Death of blackbucks: Lucknow zoo director removed
The state government on Friday removed Lucknow zoo director Renu Singh for alleged laxity in the management of the zoo where as many as 20 blackbucks have died since September 7.

Minister of State for Zoological Gardens Shiv Pratap Yadav said the transfer followed the report of a two-member probe committed formed by the state government.

Yadav said the deaths of blackbucks indicated "laxity".

The two-member committee of Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Training and Research) Ashwani Kumar and veterinarian J K Pandey submitted its report to the government last week.

Yadav said the state govenrment was still considering the report of the committee in order to take further action.

While the postmortem revealed they died of lung infection, the pathological tests conducted by Bareilly-based Indian Veterinary Research Institute found the

New chief executive taking the reins at Twycross Zoo
TWYCROSS Zoo will welcome a new chief executive next month after nearly a year without an ‘official’ boss.
Sharon Redrobe, a member of the zoo’s board and its director of life sciences, takes up the role from October 14.
The 44-year-old was appointed following a “lengthy, rigorous and independent selection process” according to chairman, Susan Bell.
Mrs Bell added: “We are confident we have a capable and enthusiastic new chief executive with the right skill set and experience to lead Twycross Zoo through the next phase of its development.”
Acting chief executive Mary-Lorraine Hughes, a trustee, stepped into the breach when former CEO of just one year, Dr Susie Jackson-Morgan resigned on November 2 2012.
Her departure came just weeks after revelations of alleged abuse to two elephants by three keepers and the start of a police investigation.
The matter came to nothing last month when the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to act on the allegations.
Dr Jackson-Morgan, nee Boardman, had also served for around seven years as director during which time the zoo invested in the new Himalaya visitor centre and relaunched itself as the World Primate Centre.
But her reign was also troubled with the loss of £3.5 million when US bank Lehman Brothers went bankrupt.
New chief executive, Mrs Redrobe, a vet with distinction in zoo medicine, launched her own exotic pet vet service before being appointed head of veterinary services at Bristol Zoo Gardens. By 2010 she had taken a clinical associate professorship at Nottingham University and joined Twycross’s board.
Mrs Bell added: “We are very grateful to our fellow trustee, Mary-Lorraine Hughes who stepped into the role

Al Bustan Zoological Center 

What does it mean to lose zoo accreditation?
Among the nearly 3,000 zoos across the United States, less than 10 percent boast national accreditation from the prestigious Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Jackson Zoo has been among the fortunate few since 1989, but that soon could end.

The AZA will not renew Jackson’s membership, it told the zoo earlier this month, citing financial instability.

Zoo leaders have appealed and will keep provisional accreditation until a hearing in March, but if it fails, it could lose more than just cachet. It also could forfeit dozens of its most popular animals.

AZA accredited zoos belong to a Species Survival Program, which allows them to share animals with other accredited zoos.

Jackson houses 43 such animals through this program, including its Sumatran tigers, white rhinoceros, red wolves and orangutans.

Losing accreditation wouldn’t necessarily result in the automatic seiz

More zoo animals ill with foot-and-mouth disease
At least 20 animals at the Bannerghatta Biological Park are showing signs of the contagious and often fatal foot-and-mouth disease.

These include bison, nilgai and spotted deer, said executive director of the zoo, Range Gowda.

The contagious viral disease, which has killed scores of cattle in the State, has already claimed the lives of three spotted deer and a nilgai at the zoo’s herbivore safari. The safari has remained closed for two days to keep the disease from spreading.


The enormous task of vaccinating the 300-odd animals at the herbivore enclosure is proving difficult, Mr. Range Gowda said. “We have been darting drugs through tranquilising guns, but the herds startle and run away the moment we begin firing them.”

As a result only a few dozen animals have been vaccinated so far, senior veterinary scientist B.C. Chittiappa told The Hindu. Medication being administered includes antibiotics to prevent secondary infection and B complex to build up resistance.


Meanwhile, the zoo authorities have begun putting in place “bio-security measures” to destroy traces of the virus in the environment. “We’ve had to

The below links are just some of those posted daily on the ZooNews Digest Facebook Page. Several have comments and additions if visited there.

4 elephants call former citrus farm home
Forget peanuts. In the heart of Florida's citrus grove region, it's the oranges elephants are after.

At the newly opened National Elephant Center in Fellsmere, Fla., the pachyderms have discovered how to pluck the fruit from the trees with their trunks and pop it into their mouths.

Fresh Valencia oranges are not the only thing that makes the 200-acre center unique. It is also the only such site operated by the U.S. zoo community to house displaced elephants.

The center is open to two categories of the mammoth mammals: those sent for a limited stay by zoos that need to temporarily free up space for renovations or breeding; and elephants that need a p

Chimpanzee escapes from the zoo
Don’t worry, it’s nothing like Rise of the Planet of the Apes or any other animal escape-themed Hollywood blockbuster gone awry.

Sudi, the lone chimpanzee at the Emperor Valley Zoo in Port of Spain, escaped her enclosure yesterday morning and was just about to start taking a stroll through the zoo when zookeepers noticed the shaggy, greyish-black three-and-a-half-foot upright-walking creature roaming the primate section was Sudi.

In a release yesterday, the zoo said that around 8.30 a.m., Sudi escaped her cage into the general zoo compound.

As soon as her escape was discovered, almost immediately after it happened, zoo curator Nirmal Biptah initiated standard operating procedures for such an event, which proved quite effective in containing and recapturing Sudi.

The zoo opens at 10 a.m. so there were no members of the public v

Endangered Orangutan Dies at Surabaya ‘Zoo of Death’
An endangered Bornean orangutan has died young at Indonesia’s notorious “zoo of death” in Surabaya after succumbing to a tumor in her large intestine, the zoo confirmed on Wednesday.

“The autopsy result showed that there was a tumor in her large intestine,” Surabaya Zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat said. “Her appetite had dropped drastically.”

Nanik, who was also found to have liver problems, was found dead on Sept. 21 at the age of 12 — Bornean orangutans should live to around 60 in captivity.

Agus said a group of veterinarians at the zoo had become aware of the animal’s health problems around two months ago. Vets described the animal’s declining energy levels and increasingly asthenic appearance before she was moved to the zoo’s quarantine facility on Sept. 19.

Animal doctors administered antibiotics, vitamins and an analgesic in quarantine but Nanik made little progress in the following two days.

At 2:45 p.m on Sept. 21, Nanik exhibited difficulties breathing. She died shortly after.

Indonesia’s largest zoo has proved itself to be a macabre animal dungeon, incarcerating some of the world’s most endangered species in shambolic squalor. A giraffe was found dead with almost 20 kilos of plastic in its stomach. A steady diet of formaldehyde-laced meat corroded a Sumatran tiger’s digestive tract. More than 150 pelicans lived

Toronto Zoo Elephants – A diplomatic sacrifice in the name of Trade Deals
As the Toronto Zoo braced for the arrival of two pandas from Chengdun, China I could only stop and wonder; If the three Toronto zoo elephants were iconic pop culture images of conservation as pandas have become around the world would more people care about how they were sacrificed to aid the Prime Minister in a trade deal with China?

In fact to aid a multiple of people’s careers and self interest causes?

They are now slated for an inhumane 4200km road transport and transfer to the PAWS sanctuary in California which has proven tuberculosis risks and a now documented TB outbreak. All facts, science and expert industry opposition to this transfer is ignored. But alas when it comes to pandas and elephants the issues are not just black an

Merlin secures Turkuazoo Aquarium acquisition
Merlin Entertainments has announced the acquisition of Istanbul's Turkuazoo Aquarium from Dutch-based company Global Aquariums BV for an undisclosed sum. The aquarium is Merlin’s first acquisition in Turkey’s largest city, which the attractions brand sees as a catalyst to potentially develop a ‘cluster’ of its global midway brands in the city. The aquarium, which first opened in 2009, will have its displays and infrastructure upgraded to enhance the overall visitor experience. Merlin owns and operates Sea Life, the largest aquarium brand in the world, which attracts around 14m visitors a year through its 45 aquariums and marine sanctuary attractions. “Istanbul offers us both a very significant domestic market as well as a fast growing tourist trade and this wonderful site – big enough to be awe inspiring, but also very accessible for visitors,” said Glenn Earlam, managing director for Merlin Entertainments Midway Attractions. “Our obje - See more at:

Hippo swims out of flooded zoo in China
A hippo escaped from the zoo Sunday during heavy rains brought by Typhoon Usagi in the city of Shantou, south China's Guangdong Province.

The super typhoon Usagi made landfall on Guangdong Province on Sunday evening, which affected 5.48 million people and displaced 310,000 residents.

The escaped hippo was detected by local residents in a river near the zoo.

According to officials from the zoo, the hippo swam over the guard railing as the rain water was as high as two meters in the zoo.

"The hippo's legs are only 20 centimeters long. So it is unable to jump out of the railing. However the hippo was able to swim out of its home as the water level was 80 centimeters high

Leopard print clothing banned at zoo as it 'confuses animals'
A wildlife park has banned visitors from wearing leopard print clothing because it is confusing the animals.
Chessington World of Adventures Resort introduced the zero-tolerance policy on animal print and brought in bouncers to enforce it.
Zookeepers noticed the trend for animal print clothing had caused animals to try to communicate with those wearing it or to run away in fear.
The ban follows the launch of a new experience 'ZUFARI: Ride Into Africa!', which sees visitors journey off-road on a safari adventure.
In this they come face-to-face with white rhinos, giraffes, flamingos, waterbuck and other antelopes such as blesbok.
Since the launch of the 22-acre Serengeti-style trail, Chessington's zookeepers have noticed the wildlife 'becoming puzzled' when spotting visitors that look like them.

Zoo closes after entire zookeeping staff quits
The troubled Las Vegas Zoo is facing even more problems. This time with their employees.

Contact 13 has learned the entire zookeeping staff has quit.

Chief Investigator Darcy Spears has been looking for answers, but the man who owns the zoo isn't talking.

The big empty space on the zoo's front fence is where their "open hours" banner used to hang.

As of Monday morning, the sign was gone and the only activity we saw was a rodent running across the zoo's entryway.

There's a new sign hanging here now that says, "The zoo is closed to the public while we upgrade."

But the last of the three zookeepers, who quit on Friday morning, says none of them were aware of any upgrades going on at the zoo and they're wondering, who is taking care of the animals?

That's what animal welfare advocate Linda Faso wants to know. She filed a formal complaint with the USDA on Friday.

"I just asked them to please check on the facility as soon as possible, that the zookeepers have all left and that I didn't know if the animals were gonna get properly taken care of, who was going to feed them," said Faso.

Animal Care Manager Jeannie Akins was the first of the zoo's three keepers to quit. She left the zoo two weeks ago, and the two women she t

Op-Ed: Bad PR and lies for new Qatar dolphin facility
A newly planned dolphin aquarium in Souq Waqif, Qatar, lied about a National Geographic sponsorship and then launched an incredible display of bad PR.
At the end of August and in preparation for opening, Qatar Dolphin Discovery & Research (QDD) announced on its Facebook page that its new marine mammal show was being sponsored by the National Geographic Society.
The announcement immediately raised several red flags after learning that the temporary lease dolphin show was being run by Ukrainian company NEMO or Nerum LLC, a business that has purchased and imported dolphins captured in the cruel Taiji dolphin drives.
Requests for denial or confirmation were sent to NatGeo's media office on Sept. 16 and 19, but went unanswered. Finally on Sept. 20, the National Geograph

And this little panda went to....14 adorable cubs shown off to an admiring Chinese public
THESE innocent little panda cubs look all worn out and ready for bed, or perhaps in need of Goldilocks and 14 bowls of porridge, Chinese-style.
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In all 20 Panda cubs were born this year with 17 surviving.

The Chengdu Panda Base was founded in 1987 with six giant pandas rescued from the wild.

Today, 83 of the captive speci

Elephant handlers protest in Ayutthaya
A large group of elephant handlers and their animals gathered at Ayutthaya Historical Park in Ayutthaya province Sunday to protest the government's plan to transfer supervising authority for domesticated elephants from the Provincial Administration Department to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNWPC).
The elephants were brought from Lae Paniad Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya while the handlers were from the Northeast and the South.

The government has drafted a bill to transfer the supervision of domesticated elephants from the Provincial Administration Department to the DNWPC.

A public hearing on the "elephant bill" will be held on Monday.

Laithongrian Meephan, owner of  Lae Paniad Elephant Kraal in Ayutthaya, said elephant handlers had been given no part in the drafting of the bill and mo

The great rhino cash con
Conservationists fear money donated by the public to help save the endangered rhino, could be lining the pockets of opportunistic fly-by-nights posing as NGOs.

Bandile Mkhize, chief executive of Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said “everyone was jumping on the bandwagon” proclaiming to help rhinos, but not everyone cared about the endangered animal. Conservationists were asking where the money raised from the public to help fight rhino poaching ended up.

Chris Galliers, the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa’s Rhino Initiative co-ordinator, said as there were numerous NGOs and non-profit organisations operating to save the rhino, there was a need to ensure that the public’s money went to the right places.

“A database of this nature is long overdue, and will help see who is doing what,” said Galliers.

He said there were many organisations capitalising on pretending to save the rhino.

There is so much alarm in environmental circles about scams involving fund-raising for rhinos that the government has stepped in and asked all organisations and individuals involved in anti-poaching and conservation projects to register with the Departme

Profit over Killer Whales
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I have had the good fortune to see killer whales on several occasions from shore or boats. My dream is to view them underwater while scuba diving. Once after having surfaced from a dive in Saanich Inlet, I was told a pod of killer whales had swam past behind me. I was upset at the dive instructor who explained that he hadn’t informed me because he was afraid the other diver in our group might panic.

So I was particularly keen to watch the documentary on captive killer whales, Blackfish, which reminded me of La Planète Sauvage (Fantastic Planet) in reverse. La Planète Sauvage is a thought-provoking French animation from 1973. On this savage planet were humans, called Oms, but there were also giant blue humanoids, called Traags. The Traags would capture the Oms and keep them as pets. On Earth, many humans believe they have the right to capture animals and place them in zoos and aquariums for their viewing pleasure (and, in the case of the owners, for their profit). There appear to be no limits. Humans will capture large sentient sea mammals with brains that surpass a human’s brain in size, creatures that demonstrate complex thinking and exhibit a high level of communication.

Blackfish dove home the topic matter on the morality of killer whale captivity effectively, but its probing of related issues came off as shallow. Another quibble is the lack of labeling so the curious vi

Secrecy divides Idaho Aquarium board
Idaho Aquarium board member Josh Cook was told this week he cannot have access to recent board minutes, bank statements or billing records unless he signs a confidentiality agreement. And if he wants to see the nonprofit organization's tax returns, he can dig around online.

"I am not signing a confidentiality agreement," Cook said Friday. "As a board member, I have a duty to investigate the allegations being made against the aquarium. I want answers. I cannot get answers."

Earlier this month, the aquarium had all employees sign confidentiality agreements.

"We are not giving him that information until he signs the agreement," board president and aquarium director Ama

Casino king’s last roll of the dice to save wildcat
DAMIAN ASPINALL, the millionaire casino operator and conservationist, is turning a remote island into a breeding centre for the Scottish wildcat, in a last attempt to save it from extinction.

Aspinall, son of the famous gambler and zoo keeper John Aspinall, is creating the sanctuary on the uninhabited island of Carna, on the west coast of Scotland, after warnings from scientists that the species could die out within a few years.

The animal, of which there are only an estimated 35 to 100 left in the wild, is threatened by mass crossbreeding with feral domestic cats. Most “wildcats” are already hybrids with just a handful of pure-br

Furry furore as Rihanna poses with endangered loris
The US-based Barbadian R&B singer arrived in Phuket last week and has posted several photos on her Instagram account, including ones with the endangered loris and elephants at an unidentified location. Local...
The US-based Barbadian R&B singer arrived in Phuket last week and has posted several photos on her Instagram account, including ones with the endangered loris and elephants at an unidentified location. Local...

How Marineland Is Using the Law to Silence Protestors
Even if you don't care about beluga whales or how animals are treated in captivity, you may still be interested in what's happening at Marineland. In this age of widespread protest -- from the Occupy Movement to the Québec student protests to the Arab Spring -- Marineland reminds us that it is not just governments that may seek to silence their critics.

Marineland, a marine mammal park in Niagara Falls, Ontario, was the subject of an investigative series by the Toronto Star last year. The series was based in part on allegations by former employees, of abuse and mistreatment of animals. Marineland has denied and responded to the allegations, and is suing the Star as well as several of the former employees. Marineland has also set its sights on protesters and activists who demonstrate outside the park -- launching lawsuits against at least two protestors -- and has gone to Ontario courts for injunctions to order that protestors refrain from certain activities.

The Ontario government recently introduced a Bill that would make it easier for individuals faced with lawsuits like Marineland's to get the cases dealt with quickly. Where the lawsuit aims to curb expression on a matter of public interest, it could be dismissed on an expedited basis. This anti-SLAPP legislation (a SLAPP is a strategic lawsuit against public participation) is designed to keep threats of legal action being used as a way to silence debate and discussion on issues of interest to the public. We should encourage the government to pass this legislation

Family of girl savaged by tapir will not look for compensation
Zoo forced to stop close interaction with animals after incident
The family of a two-year-old girl nearly torn apart by a tapir at a zoo will not look for a cent in compensation.

The horrific mauling left little Katie Frost in Temple Street Hospital with serious injuries last month.

But her parents aren’t looking for any cash from Dublin Zoo following the attack on August 8.

A family source said: “Everyone has been through the ringer but the main thing is that Katie is OK.

“There was a lot of talk that they would be in for a massive amount of compensation if they wanted to go down that route but they don’t.

“It is all about making sure Katie is OK and that she makes a full recovery. The family are friends of the zoo.”

The mauling happened when the toddler and her family had a private visit to see the tapir, a pig-shaped mammal known for being calm and approachable, in its enclosure.

But when Katie let out a shriek of delight after she spotted a baby tapir, the mother pounced on her, knocking her unconscious.

It emerged after the attack that the Frosts were regular visitors to the zoo and had entered many of the animal pens for a closer look.

Katie’s mother Patricia, who is originally from Limerick, was also injured as she tried to protect her little girl.

The family source added: “Katie was in a very bad way. The animal managed to grab on to her side and rip a six-inch tear in her stomach.

“The tapir also managed to grab her arm and take a large slice out of it.

“The skin and muscle was pulled away from the bone. She will be scarred for life.

“But the main thing is she’s on the mend.”

After the attack zoo director Leo Oosterweg


September 2013 | Vol. 28 | No. 9 | Date of Publication 25 September 2013

If you wish to download the full magazine or certain articles click on <>
Feature articles
Report on Kabul Zoo Veterinarian Training at Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai
-- Jamshid Noori, Pp. 1-4
Technical articles
Chimpanzee Enclosure Enrichment in Kanpur Zoo
-- K. Praveen Rao, Pp. 5-7
First photographic record of albino chital with its albino fawn (Axis axis Erxleben, 1777) in Ranthambhore Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India
-- Charles Leo Prabu, Ayan Sadhu and Devlin Leishangthem, P. 8
Andaman wild pig (Sus scrofa andamanensis): A preliminary report on phenotypic and haematological characteristics
-- Arun Kumar De, S. Jeyakumar, M.S. Kundu, A. Kundu and Jai Sunder, Pp. 9-11
Announcements: ATEC 2013 - First call for Papers & Poster Abstracts
P. 11
Study of Neoplasms in Non-human Primates of Assam
-- Bichitra Gopal Nath, Apurba Chakraborty and Taibur Rahman, Pp. 12-14
Population Status of House Sparrow, Passer domesticus in different areas of Agra region, Uttar Pradesh, India
-- Saurabh Vashisth and Natasha Sethi, Pp. 15-18
Sighting of Demoiselle Crane Anthropoides virgo at Haripura Reservoir, Uttarakhand, India
-- Zaara Kidwai, Pp. 19-20
Announcements: National Seminar on ‘Invertebrate Taxonomy - Current Trends and Future Prospects’ 12-13 November 2013
P. 20
On a small collection of Aquatic Beetles from Dudhwa National Park, Uttar Pradesh, India (Order Coleoptera: Noteridae, Dytiscidae and Hydrophilidae)
-- Sujit Kr. Ghosh and V.D. Hedge, Pp. 21-22
A note on the taxonomy and distribution of Thunia alba var. bracteata (Orchidaceae) in India
-- C.R. Magesh, P. Lakshminarasimhan, K.N. Reddy and C.S. Reddy, Pp. 23-25
Announcements: Advanced training course in ornithology, 29 December 2013 – 09 January 2014, Coimbatore
P. 25
Prevalence of gastrointestinal parasitism in free ranging rhesus macaque (Macaca mulatta) of Himachal Pradesh
-- Pardeep Sharma, Vipin Kumar, B. Pal, R.K. Mandial, K.P.Jithendran and S. Rastogi, Pp. 26-27
A Preliminary assessment of Butterfly diversity in Utkal University campus, Odisha
-- Rajesh Kumar Mohapatra, Arun Kumar Mishra, Satyanarayan Mishra and Siba Prasad Parida, Pp. 28-31
Education Report
Report on International Tiger Day - 2013 conducted at Pilikula Biological Park, Mangalore
P. 32

When I read the first story below, I started thinking about how surprising predation can be.  And that got me thinking about plants –which are usually prey – and their response to predation. September’s news (NEWS/Botanical News) follow the trail:
·        Big, bad predators who eat and disperse seed. Crocodilians discovered to be fruit eaters.
·        Predators and pests cause plants to accumulate more carbon. The brighter side of stress.
·        Plants actually anticipate predator attack and become less palatable. You have to sneak up on your cabbages.
·        Warning! Warning! Plants use soil fungi to raise alerts when attacked.
·        House plants meet fewer predators than their outdoor cousins. And their health actually suffers from the coddling. So go attack your philodendron! It’s for its own good.

If the links were stressful then here is an antidote: slow motion HD film of birds in action. Beautiful and rather calming.

Please share these stories with associates, staff, docents and – most importantly – visitors! Follow on Twitter:  – a new story every day as well as hundreds of stories from the past few years.

Journal of Threatened Taxa
The International Journal on Conservation & Taxonomy
ISSN 0974-7907 (online) | 0974-7893 (print)
September 2013 | Vol. 5 | No. 13 | Pages 4725-4824
Date of Publication 26 September 2013 (online & print)
Callerebia dibangensis (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Satyrinae), a new butterfly species from the eastern Himalaya, India
-- Purnendu Roy, Pp. 4725–4733
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Re-description of Hypselobarbus lithopidos (Teleostei: Cyprinidae), based on its rediscovery from the Western Ghats, India, with notes on H. thomassi
-- J.D. Marcus Knight, Ashwin Rai & Ronald K.P. D’souza, Pp. 4734–4742
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Back from obscurity: notes on the current distribution, threats and conservation status of a poorly known cyprinid, Hypselobarbus lithopidos (Day, 1874) from the Western Ghats of India
-- Anvar Ali, Siby Philip & Rajeev Raghavan, Pp. 4743–4751
Functional composition of benthic macroinvertebrate fauna in the plateau rivers, Bundelkhand, central India
-- Asheesh Shivam Mishra & Prakash Nautiyal, Pp. 4752–4758
Notes on some skipper butterflies (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae) from Panbari Forest and its adjoining areas, Kaziranga-Karbi Anglong, upper Assam, India
-- Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, Pp. 4759–4768
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
Length-weight and length-length relationship of three species of snakehead fish, Channa diplogrammaC. marulius and C. striata from the riverine reaches of Lake Vembanad, Kerala, India
-- Anvar Ali, Neelesh Dahanukar & Rajeev Raghavan, Pp. 4769–4773
New records of reptiles and amphibians from Bhutan
-- Jigme Tshelthrim Wangyal, Pp. 4774–4783
New regional record and notes on historical specimens of Günther’s Toad Duttaphrynus hololius with comments on other southeastern Indian congeners
-- Bhargavi Srinivasulu, S.R. Ganesh & Chelmala Srinivasulu, Pp. 4784–4790
An updated checklist of birds of Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India
-- Aisha Sultana, Pp. 4791–4804
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
New fungi from Kerala, India
-- V.B. Hosagoudar, A. Sabeena & B. Divya, Pp. 4805–4807
New distribution record of the endemic and rare Ficus dalhousiae Miq. (Moraceae)
-- K.K. Sampath Kumara, A.N. Sringeswara, K.B. Sadananda & H.S. Prakash, Pp. 4808–4810
CEPF Western Ghats Special Series
On the occurrence of Memecylon clarkeanum Cogn. (Melastomataceae) - a vulnerable species from Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
-- C. Udhayavani & V.S. Ramachandran, Pp. 4811–4813
Some hydroids (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa: Hydroidolina) from the Konkan coast, Maharashtra, India
-- Pooja Nagale & Deepak Apte, Pp. 4814–4818
Feeding behavior of Harlequin Shrimp Hymenocera picta Dana, 1852 (Hymenoceridae) on Sea Star Linckia laevigata (Ophidiasteridae)
-- Sanjeevi Prakash & Thipramalai Thangappan Ajith Kumar, Pp. 4819–4821
Bat mortality due to collision with wind turbines in Kutch District, Gujarat, India
-- S. Ramesh Kumar, A. Mohamed Samsoor Ali & P.R. Arun, Pp. 4822–4824

Hello ZooLex Friend, 
We have worked for your enjoyment!



Plans to renovate two adjacent exhibits at Newquay Zoo Environmental Park in Newquay, Great Britain, resulted in the creation of a Madagascan exhibit, a new theme area that showcases the zoo's involvement in conservation programs in Madagascar and allows to breed several endangered Madagascan species. Moverover, narrow-striped mongoose and crowned lemurs are kept together for the first time which turned out to be a success.

We would like to thank Amy Plowman from the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust for preparing this presentation for the ZooLex Gallery:



Thanks to Eduardo Diaz Garcia we are able to offer the Spanish translation of the Madagascan Exhibit at Newquay Zoo Environmental Park in Newquay, Great Britain:


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