Friday, January 31, 2014

6 international conservationists named finalists for $250,000 Indianapolis Prize

6 international conservationists named finalists for $250,000 Indianapolis Prize

Champions of birds, primates and sea life are among six finalists for this year's $250,000 Indianapolis prize for animal conservation.
The Indianapolis Zoo announced Thursday the finalists include Conservation International's Russell Mittermeier, who developed one of the first global primate conservation strategies; the Blue Ocean Institute's Carl Safina, a leader in banning high-seas drift nets; and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust' Carl Jones, who has saved Mauritius kestrels, echo parakeets and other species.

The others are Stony Brook University's Patricia Wright, who found Madagascar's golden bamboo lemur, once thought to be extinct; the Wildlife Conservation Society's Joel Berger, whose helped create Wyoming's federally protected Path of the Pronghorn; and Gerardo Ceballos, a leader in passing Mexico's Act for Endangered Species.

The winner will be announced in mid-2014.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Lets Hear It For Beaver

Credit - Phillip Rice

Beaver Trial Wins Prestigious Conservation Award

The Scottish Beaver Trial, the first ever licensed reintroduction project for beavers in the UK, has won ‘Britain’s Best Conservation Project’ in the 2013 BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards.
The Trial was up against two other conservation projects in this category: a basking shark tagging project aimed at understanding the world’s largest fish and a campaign against the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which are having a detrimental effect on bee populations.

A partnership between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and Scottish Wildlife Trust, the five year study is now in its final monitoring year and fieldwork is scheduled to wrap up in May 2014. There will then be a holding period while Scottish Government reviews data collected throughout the trial and makes its decision on the future of beavers in Scotland.

Simon Jones, Project Manager for the Scottish Beaver Trial, said:
“We are honoured to accept the award for Britain’s Best Conservation Project in the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards, especially in the final year of the project. This is amazing recognition for the project and its conservation value. The team’s devotion to the Trial, including raising awareness of the ecological benefits of beavers, has been tireless over the past five years.
 “As the first licenced mammal reintroduction project to take place in the UK, the Trial is hopefully paving the way for potential reintroduction projects in the future. Research conducted by our field team is also being used to advise international programmes on areas including beaver health and management.”

Dr Rob Ogden, Director for Conservation for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said:
“It is a tremendous achievement for the Scottish Beaver Trial to win Britain’s Best Conservation Project; this accolade highlights the excellent work RZSS is doing for conservation science and research, not only within Scotland, but also around the world. With conservation and reintroduction projects becoming ever more crucial for sustaining the world’s ecological diversity, we will continue to strive for excellence in these areas.”

 Simon Milne, Chief Executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, said:
“This award is great recognition of the pioneering work to return the beaver to the wild in the United Kingdom. Over the past five years, everyone involved in the trial has worked extraordinary hard to ensure this project has the best chance of success.
 “I am thrilled that the team and all those associated with the project are being recognised in this way.  It is good to be appreciated – not least for those who spent countless dark nights up to their knees in cold water monitoring beavers!

 “The Scottish Wildlife Trust congratulates the Scottish Beaver Trial team on this brilliant award.”
Launched in 2009, the Trial is a five year scientific study that is monitoring the re-introduction of a group of wild Eurasian beavers into the Knapdale Forest in the Heart of Argyll. Consisting of four beaver families, the Trial aims to assess the effects beaver reintroduction has on the local environment as well as tourism and the community.

 Now in its third year, the BBC Countryfile Magazine Awards are a celebration of the British countryside and its people – from great heritage attractions and favourite countryside writers, to the best conservation projects and the finest market towns. The 2013-14 awards were launched in the August 2013 issue of BBC Countryfile Magazine and feature 10 categories.

BBC Countryfile Magazine asked experts in each field to draw up shortlists of candidates in each category. The awards were then voted for by readers of the magazine and members of the public via post, email and on the BBC Countryfile Magazine website,

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Top of the Pandas

Tian Tian Wins Gold in Top International Panda Awards

Edinburgh Zoo’s female giant panda Tian Tian, also known as Sweetie, has been voted the favourite panda outside of China, scooping gold in the panda version of the Oscars. Capturing 19% of the category votes, Edinburgh’s feisty female shot into the lead to claim gold.

Panda fans and enthusiasts from all over the world have been voting in great numbers in the Giant Panda Zoo Awards 2013. Launched last year, this is the second time the panda awards have been held. Results were announced at 10am Eastern Standard Time (3pm GMT) at special ceremony at the panda enclosure in Zoo Atlanta.

However, Yang Guang (Sunshine), fans need not feel sorry for the big male, as last year in its inaugural year Edinburgh’s male proudly took silver place in the very same award category.

This is Tian Tian’s second award, as controversially the black and white bear appeared in the 2011 BBC’s Women of the Year List alongside names like Pippa Middleton and Adele.

Alison Maclean, Team Leader for Giant Pandas, said:
“I’m absolutely delighted to accept the award on behalf of Tian Tian for Favourite Panda Outside of China. Of course, she is now on equal par with Yang Guang as he got silver last year for Favourite Panda Outside of China! We think it’s absolutely amazing that everybody feels the same way about our female panda as we do; it’s just great and thank you to everyone for voting for us.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Study: Skin infection linked to exposure to aquariums is under-diagnosed

All Reptile, Aquarium, Aquatic Mammal Keepers need to be aware. Believe me....infection HURTS...Big Time!!!

Study: Skin infection linked to exposure to aquariums is under-diagnosed

A skin infection linked to exposure to contaminated water in home aquariums is frequently under-diagnosed, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.
Researchers say diagnosing and managing Mycobacterium marinum infection is difficult because skin lesions don’t appear for two to four weeks after incubation, leading to delayed treatment and unnecessary and ineffective use of antifungal and antibacterial agents.
During the incubation period, patients also fail to remember the source of the exposure, which is often traced to them cleaning their aquarium. Infection results when bacteria in the non-chlorinated water attacks an open skin wound on the arm or hand.
“People just don’t know or think about their fish tank harboring this bacterial organism,” says George Alangaden, M.D., a Henry Ford Infectious Diseases physician and the study’s lead author.
“And unless they’re directly questioned about it by their physician, who may or may not have adequate knowledge of Mycobacterium marinum and its prolonged incubation period, appropriate treatment often gets delayed.”
The study was presented at the Infectious Diseases Society of America’s annual meeting in San Francisco.
In a retrospective study conducted between January 2003 and March 2013, researchers identified five patients ages 43 to 72 treated at Henry Ford forMycobacterium marinum, which resemble reddish skin lesions or bumps on the hands or arms. Skin biopsies performed on all five patients confirmed the infection.
The incubation period before skin lesions appeared ranged from 11 to 56 days. While all five patients responded effectively to antibiotic treatment, it took on average 161 days from the time of initial presentation to time of treatment.
Mycobacterium marinum is not a life-threatening illness, but it remains an unrecognized cause of skin infection,” says Dr. Alangaden. “To accelerate diagnosis and treatment, physicians are encouraged to ask detailed questions about the patient’s history, especially questions about potential exposure to aquariums.”
The study was funded by Henry Ford Hospital.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Zoo News Digest 1st - 11th January 2014 (ZooNews 886)

Zoo News Digest 1st - 11th January 2014 (ZooNews 886)

Dear Colleagues,

As expected the press is mostly full of stories about zoos counting their animals. It is the same every January, in fact the stories and text could be used again from the previous year. The big puzzle is why it has a constant appeal to the press. I'm not knocking it. Stocktaking is essential and any time the zoos get in the press can only be a good thing. This said I have not included a single link to this subject.
Then there is the cold. Okay it has been exceptionally cold for some this winter so there is a round of tales of how animals are being kept warm. On the other hand other parts of the world have been experiencing extremely hot weather and so their press is putting out their shower and popsicle features. Again, I haven't bothered to include these either.
What I have put together in Zoo News Digest, as in other editions, is news which will be of interest to those working in zoos around the world. The sort of thing that would be talked about in zoo offices and staff rooms everywhere. If you are hot or cold I do hope conditions improve for you soon and you are not affected by floods or drought and that 2014 is that we see more bad zoos close down, that common sense dawns on the Animal Rights groups, that no more Rhinos or elephants are poached...I could go on. Take care.

My surface mail mail box is just not working out. Mail is going astray. Even lost my last but one passport for a while. So for now please send all paper mail, books for review etc to :

Peter Dickinson
10 Cheshire View
Appleyards Lane

Bear in mind it is NOT where I live. My mail will be forwarded to me to wherever I am from there. My contact phone number remains the same:

00971 (0)50 4787 122


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

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Birds Can Smell, and One Scientist is Leading the Charge to Prove It
For more than a century nearly everyone believed birds sense of smell was poorly developed or nonexistent. They were wrong.
Gabrielle Nevitt's supply list for her first Antarctic research cruise in 1991 contained some decidedly odd items. The huge kites and vats of fishy smelling liquid wouldn't be a problem, the macho National Science Foundation contractor told her. Then she asked for hundreds of boxes of super-absorbent tampons. "He just kind of stammered," recalls Nevitt a petite brunette who was then a 31-year-old zoology post-doc at Cornell University. "Then he said, 'Uh, I don't think I can get those for you, ma'am.' " So Nevitt lugged them onboard herself and set to work. She was hoping to lure albatrosses and petrels from the open sea with the scent of dinner, like a street-food vendor might entice passersby with a hot pretzel. She dipped the tampons in pungent compounds found in marine fish and small crustaceans called krill, and painstakingly attached the briny bait to parachute-like kites that she let fly off the rear deck. Then she waited.

It was an outlandish experiment, and not just because of the tampons. For more than a century nearly everyone believed that the sense of smell was poorly developed or nonexistent in most birds. So no one had ever fully investigated to what extent tube-nosed procellariiformes--petrels, albatrosses, and shearwaters--use their olfactory anatomy to pinpoint prey in the vast, featureless ocean. The long-lived birds spend nearly their entire existence at sea, soaring for hundreds to thousands of miles in search of ever-shifting schools of krill, fish, and squid. On the day Nevitt ran her experiment, dozens of them swooped in so close that she feared they would tangle in the line and drown. So she grounded the kites and improvised, releasing vegetable oil into the water, some of it laced with the fishy compounds. Albatrosses and petrels flocked to the stinky slicks. She was ecstatic. But she still had no idea how they used olfactory cues to home in on their ephemeral quarry. "I was really passionate about figuring this out, so I wasn't giving up," says Nevitt. "I knew I'd be back again soon on another cruise."

Nevitt is 53 now and a professor at the University of California-Davis. She is a woman obsessed with smell. As head of a sensory ecology lab, she's spent the past two decades picking apart how seabirds' ability to detect scents is key to their survival. Nevitt had the good fortune to arrive in the field on the heels of a handful of pioneering bird olfaction studies. Yet changing long-held beliefs takes time, and the scientific community is no exception. Dozens of Nevitt's grant proposals have been rejected because of the birds-can't-smell fallacy. A program officer once called to say her application was the worst he'd ever seen. "Your idea that birds can smell is ridiculous,"he said. "This will never be funded, so stop wasting your time." She ignored him, and her perseverance and inventive methods have inspired others who share her fascination.

"Gaby's been very influential," says Julie Hagelin, a wildlife biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who has conducted several studies on the role of odor in bird behavior. "Her work propelled me forward and helped me develop several ideas." Nevitt, Hagelin, and other avian olfaction trailblazers have pushed past criticism, failure, and even bodily injury in their quest to disprove one of biology's most pervasive myths. "In science," says Nevitt, "we rediscover the obvious sometimes."

Nevitt could blame John James Audubon, of all people, for the incredulity she's endured. In the 1820s the famous naturalist set out to prove that turkey vultures use their superior eyesight, rather than their nostrils, to find carrion. He stuffed a deerskin with grass and added clay eyes, sewed up the imposter, and placed it in a meadow with its legs in the air. He watched as a vulture swooped down on it. The duped bird ripped out the eyes and tore apart stitches, flying after failing to find any meat. Audubon later placed a dead hog, its carcass reeking of decay in the July heat, in a ravine and covered it with brush. This time vultures circled but didn't descend. The results were "fully conclusive," he wrote. Vultures did not scavenge by smell.

Audubon's ego would've taken a hit had he lived to see Kenneth Stager put his findings to the test. In 1960 Stager, an ornithologist at the Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, showed that turkey vultures prefer fresher carcasses--typically no more than four days old--to putrid ones like Audubon

'Be Different or Die' Does Not Drive Evolution, Bird Study Finds
A new study has found that species living together are not forced to evolve differently to avoid competing with each other, challenging a theory that has held since Darwin's Origin of Species.
By focusing on ovenbirds, one of the most diverse bird families in the world, the Oxford University-led team conducted the most in-depth analysis yet of the processes causing species differences to evolve.
They found that although bird species occurring together were consistently more different than species living apart, this was simply an artefact of species being old by the time they meet. In fact, once variation in the age of species was accounted for, coexisting species were actually more similar than species evolving separately, opposite to Darwin's view which remains widely-held today.
"It's not so much a case of Darwin being wrong, as there is no shortage of evidence for competition driving divergent evolution in some very young lineages," said Dr Joe Tobias of Oxford University's Department of Zoology, who led the study. "But we found no evidence that this process explains differences across a much larger sample of species.
"The reason seems to be linked to the way new species originate in animals, which almost always requires a period of geographic separation. By using genetic techniques to establish the age of lineages, we found that most ovenbird species only meet their closest relatives several million years after they separated from a common ancestor. This gives them plenty of time to develop differences by evolving separately."
The study, published in Nature, compared the beaks, legs and songs of over 90% of ovenbird species. To tackle the huge challenge of sequencing genes and taking measurements, Oxford University scientists were joined by colleagues at Lund University (Sweden), Louisiana State University, Tulane University (New Orleans) and the American Museum of Natural History (New York).
Although species living together had beaks and legs that were no more different than those of species living apart, the most surprising discovery was that they had songs that were more similar. This challenges s

Thousands protest State Government shark policy
Thousands of Western Australians gathered at Cottesloe Beach on Saturday morning to protest the State Government's controversial shark mitigation program.
The crowd, estimated to be over 4000 strong, braved the windy conditions to condemn the program, which will see baited drum lines placed one kilometre off-shore at Ocean Reef and Mullaloo, Trigg and Scarborough, Floreat and City Beach, Cottesloe and North Cottesloe and Port and Leighton beaches.
It goes against all available science

Shark fishermen will patrol WA waters and kill any shark bigger than three metres spotted in the designated zones, while any sharks hooked on the drum lines will be killed and disposed of off-shore.

Reconstructing the New World monkey family tree
When monkeys landed in South America 37 or more million years ago, the long-isolated continent already teemed with a menagerie of 30-foot snakes, giant armadillos and strange, hoofed mammals. Over time, the monkeys forged their own niches across the New World, evolved new forms and spread as far north as the Caribbean and as far south as Patagonia.
Duke University evolutionary anthropologist Richard Kay applied decades' worth of data on geology, ancient climates and evolutionary relationships to uncover several patterns in primate migration and evolution in the Americas. The analysis appears online this week in the journal Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution.
Today, more than 150 species of monkeys inhabit the New World, ranging in size from the pygmy marmoset, which weighs little more than a bar of soap, to the muriqui, a long-limbed monkey that tips the scales at 25 pounds.
"We know from molecular studies that the monkeys have their closest relatives in Africa and Asia—but that doesn't explain how they got to South America, just that they did," said Kay, a professor in the evolutionary anthropology department and division of earth and ocean sciences at Duke.
South America split from Africa long before monkeys evolved, and the scarcity of monkey ancestors in the North American fossil record ma

Cause of Polar Bear Knut's Death Found
The culprit of the sudden death of famed polar bear tot Knut has been found, says an international team of scientists. An exhaustive analysis shows a viral form of encephalitis, or brain swelling, led to the seizures and untimely death.

"After a detailed necropsy and histology that took several intense days to perform, the results clearly suggested that the underlying cause of Knut's seizures was a result of encephalitis, most likely of viral origin," Claudia Szentiks, of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin (IZW), said in a statement.

Born in captivity at the Berlin Zoo on Dec. 5, 2006,

Dog virus killing tigers, red pandas and lions
Endangered tigers, red pandas and lions in the country are succumbing to infection caused by canine distemper virus (CDV), a disease common in domestic dogs.

The scientists at Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) in Bareilly found the presence of CDV in the blood samples of dead animals.

"Since last one year we have found many blood samples of dead tigers, red pandas and lions, who were positive for CDV. The disease has been found in Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Patna Zoo and many areas of West Bengal and Darjeeling," said AK Sharma, principal scientist and in charge of Centre for Wildlife, IVRI.

CDV affects different systems of the body including nervous and respiratory system in these animals. It breaks down the immunity system and causes various secondary bacterial infections which leads to their death.

"As this disease damage the brain, it badly affect their decision making power. Due to this, the animals go beyond their natural habitat and enter human settlements. It leaves them an easy prey for poachers," Sharma said.

The source of CDV among tigers, lions and red pandas is the direct contact like licking. Even these animals are eating dogs infected with the virus. The disease is also spreading through infected material such as drinking water from same source. Sh

Shocking Truth About Piranhas Revealed!
In the languid news week after Christmas, hungry media outlets swarmed over a report of piranhas attacking swimmers on a river in Argentina. “Massive Piranha Attack” cried The New York Post. “70 Christmas Day Bathers Are Savaged” added The Daily Mail, promising “the truth about the fish with a bite more powerful than a T. rex.” ABC News called it a “Christmas Day feeding frenzy.” In fact, the injuries ranged from minor cuts to at least one missing finger part — not exactly as newsworthy as, say, the 800,000 Americans who require medical treatment for dog bites each year.

Piranhas have always been among our favorite subjects for sheer, sputtering nonsense. Theodore Roosevelt, on a 1913 expedition in South America, called piranhas “the most ferocious fish in the world.” More recently, multiple “Piranha” movies have ridden this hysteria to the bank.

This is an awful lot of hype for piranhas to live up to, and predictably, they disappoint. To test the colorful mythology of the ferocious piranha, I once climbed into a tank of hungry red-bellied piranhas at the Dallas World Aquarium. (They fled to the opposite corner.) In the Peruvian Amazon, I stood waist-deep in the Rio Napo while catching and releasing piranhas on a hook-and-line. (The nibbles were strictly of the usual kind.) In the flooded grasslands of Venezuela, I drove around tossing a chicken carcass into various bodies of water to time how long it took for the flesh-maddened swarms to strip it to feathers. (There was enough chicken left at the end of the day to feed a family of four.)

The point of this exercise, recounted in my book “Swimming With Piranhas at Feeding Time,” was that piranhas do that swarming, blood-crazed, flesh-ripping thing only in a couple of rare circumstances, both involving a highly concentrated food source: They will swarm around bird rookeries, where the fledglings leaving the nest often tumble straight down into the water. And they’ll do it around docks where fishermen clean their catch and heave the guts into the water.

Otherwise, you can swim without fear.

I didn’t worry about piranhas, for instance, when the only place to bathe, on a recent trip deep into the backcountry of Suriname, was the river running past our camp.

Then one day, sitting in a canoe, I watched the fish biologist on our expedition, Jan H. Mol of the University of Suriname, pull a 12-inch-long black piranha out of the same water where we took our daily baths. As this extremely toothy creature wriggled in his hands, Mr. Mol started talking, in his somewhat ponderous way, about a paper he had published on piranha-bite incidents, complete with color photos of amputated toes.

Like me, Mr. Mol believes the piranha threat is wildly exaggerated. He has spent more than 20 years wading in South American rivers and hauling up every imaginable fish without ever being injured by free-swimming piranhas. “Free-swimming” is, however, the operative phrase there: If you get careless while trying to untangle one from a net, or you let one flop around the bottom of the boat, things can get painful.

As he spoke, Mr. Mol was using the soft pad of his index finger to hold down the piranha’s sharply serrated lower jaw and give me a better view. It was a formidable mouthful. But that index finger rather spoiled the effect of another recent study, in the journal Nature, which found that the black piranha’s bite is more powerful, pound for pound, than that of a great white shark or a killer whale. Yes, yes, that article also mentioned T. rex, but “pound for pound” (or as the authors put it, “removing the effects of body size”) turns out to be another of those pesky

4th Southeast Asian Animal Enrichment & Training Workshop

Work on Safari Park completed
Sri Lanka’s first safari park at Ridiyagama in Hambantota will be declared open in April this year.

The construction work at the first Safari Park started in 2008 under the direction of The National Zoological Department. The park covers a land extent of about 500 acres and it contains a public entertainment zone extending to about 69 acres.

Four of the park's six zones will be reserved for carnivorous animals while the remaining two zones will be set apart for the herbivores. Two zones of the carnivore section will be exclusively reserved for the dangerous animals such as lions, tigers, and leopards.

The officials of the National Zoological Department the road network within the safari park is currently being constructed and will be completed before the opening in April. The Safari Park has been constructed at a cost of Rs. 1.6 billion.

Secretary of the Ministry of Botanical Gardens and Public Enterta

Noah's Ark Zoo Farm wins 'green' award
NOAH'S Ark Zoo Farm at Wraxall near Bristol has won an award for being "green".

The 100-acre family park has been given a gold award in recognition of its green innovation and environmentally sustainable efforts, the only zoo in the south west of England to achieve the award.

Noah's Ark has invested significantly in renewable energy and waste management systems to further advance the zoo's sustainable operation.

It has received the award under the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GTBS).

It now joins only three other zoos in Britain to achieve the top accolade.

Anthony Bush, owner of Noah's Ark, said: "As a team we've been working hard to develop in an environmentally and socially sustainable way, considering local wildlife and the communities in our area.

"I have a commitment to cr

Zoo goes to Hyd lab to DNA-test tortoises
38 star tortoises await rehabilitation, as the Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park initiates special tests to ensure they are sent back into their original habitat after rescue
The Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park and Research Centre’s administration has come out of its ‘shell’ with a unique decision. In an effort to rehabilitate a highly-endangered species — the beautiful Indian Star Tortoises housed in the Katraj Rescue Centre within the park — the zoo will now subject the specimens to DNA testing at the Hyderabad-based Laboratory for Conservation of Endangered Species (LaCONES), to determine the exact location of their origin.

The decision has been taken by authorities to ensure that the frequently-smuggled species is rehabilitated into their original habitat after being rescued.

Over the last decade or so, the smuggling of this species has been observed to be on the rise, given that it is not only a popular exotic pet but also a delicacy in some countries Malaysia and Indonesia. It’s occurrence has become so rare in the wild that the Centre is one of the few repositories in the country housing specimens legally.

Park director Suresh Mahadev Jagtap told Mirror, “Star tortoises, endemic to India and Sri Lanka, are classified as a Schedule 1 species under our Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

We have around 38 of them currently housed at our rescue centre. If they are not rehabilitated into their original environment, they might not survive. We have made this decision to ensure their survival.”

Zoo authorities plan on contacting LaCONES, a joint venture of the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, and the Central Zoo Authority. LaCONES has been conducting DNA tests on star tortoises since 2004 to aid the preservation of the species.

Dr Ajay Gaur, senior scientist at LaCONES, said, “The DNA-based identification of these tortoises is important, because if they are not released in

Animal Keepers, Trainers and Wildlife Professionals of the Middle East

‘Zoo of Death’ Claims New Victim
A wildebeest was found dead in its cage over the weekend at the Surabaya Zoo, which has been a subject of much criticism from the local and international public for its poor treatment of the animals in its care, an official at the zoo confirmed on Monday.

“The wildebeest is thought to have died on Sunday evening,” Surabaya Zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat said.

He said signs of the wildebeest’s deteriorating health had been noticed for a few days prior to its death and that its keeper had reported its illness to the zoo’s medical team, which then moved the animal to conduct tests and a medical evaluation.

Despite the evaluation and medications, the wildebeest’s health worsened.

According to Agus, an autopsy showed the animal died of an intestinal condition.

“The autopsy showed that the animal had been suffering from gas that had accumulated inside its intestines, which caused bloating,” Agus said.

The issue raised speculation that poor maintenance and upkeep of the animals had contributed to the latest death.

But Agus denied allegations that officials had not been feeding the animal appropriately, citing the medical team’s autopsy results, which showed the wildebeest still had food in his stomach at the time of death.

He added that poor weather conditions may have been a contributing factor.

“The weather could have been one of the main factors that had caused the wildebeest’s bloating and its subsequent death, because, as we all know, Surabaya has seen torrential downpours in the last few days,” he said.

It was not the first time Surabaya Zoo officials had blamed the weather as a cause of death of animals in its care.

In October, an orangutan named Betty was found dead after suffering from pneumonia, an illness zoo officials were quick to blame on the city’s heat.

The death of the wildebeest reduces the zoo’s colle

African Lion Strangled in Surabaya Zoo
Only two days after a wildebeest was found dead in its cage, an African lion was also found dead at the Surabaya Zoo, which has been globally slammed on for its poor treatment for the animals in its care.

The 18-month-old male African Lion named Michael was found dead after its head got stuck between steel cables in his cage.

“Michael was found dead on Tuesday morning when the zoo keeper was checking his cage,” Surabaya Zoo spokesman Agus Supangkat said.

Each of the zoo’s lions spends its days in two different cages. Every morning the lions would be taken to a display cage where zoo visitors could watch them, then in the afternoon they would be moved to another cage where they slept, Agus explained.

He said the zoo used steel cables to secure the cage so zookeepers did not have to manually open or close the cage door with their hands — a safety precaution, which prevents them from being attacked by the animals.

“We are still investigating how the steel cables could entrap the African lion’s head,” Agus said.

He declined to confirm that Michael’s needless death was caused by zookeepers’ negligence.

“Michael was relatively young, he was only one-and-half-years old; it could be that he was playing around and somehow his head got stuck,” he said.

With Michael’s death there are only four African lions left at the zoo. The young lion had been rescued by East Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) before he was sent to the Surabaya zoo in March last year.

Surabaya Police have meanwhile started an investigation into the lion’s death.

Surabaya Police detectives chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Farman said a team has visited the zoo to gather evidence but the lion’s corpse had been removed.

Farhan would not say whether police believe the zoo w

Everything you need to know about ivory poaching
A ban was imposed in 1989 banning the international trade in ivory to reverse a rapid decline in the population of African elephants. But to no avail. Illegal hunting and killing of elephants remains a sad reality in Africa despite the ban. Here we examine how the beasts continue to be slaughtered to satisfy global demand for ivory.

Rare crocodiles 'discovered' in Copenhagen Zoo
Two crocodiles have lived with false identities for over 30 years
New crocodiles have been 'found' at the Copenhagen Zoo. Well, actually they have been there for over three decades. 

Thanks to DNA samples, zookeepers have discovered that two crocodiles that have lived at the zoo in Frederiksberg for 32 years are actually West African crocodiles and not Nile crocodiles as previously believed.

The zoo had long wondered why the two crocs were smaller and more docile than the average Nile crocodile.
Clues from Zurich
So when Flemming Nielsen, the zoo curator, heard that DNA testing of a croc in Zurich Zoo had revealed that it was in fact a rare West African croc, also sometimes known as a desert crocodile, he immediately became suspicious.

“Because of the information I concluded that the Copenhagen Zoo’s crocodiles were also of this species,” Nielsen said in a press release. “It would fit with the crocodile in Zurich because it was also imported at the same time as ours.”

Based on Nielsen’s premonitions, the Zoo decided to DNA-test the reptiles, the results of which showed that they were West African crocodiles.

“It’s fantastic and completely crazy that that my predictions came true. Imagine, that Zoo has one

Online Zoo Nutrition Course

Stimson Center Report Calls for Global Effort to Cut Poaching and Other Wildlife Crimes That Fund Terrorists
Governments around the world should work with each other, local residents and the private sector to reduce poaching and wildlife crimes that are funneling an estimated $19 billion annually to terrorists and other criminals, a Stimson Center report issued today recommends.
The report – based on projects Stimson is running in East Africa – says that "wildlife crime is no longer only a challenge to conservation, biodiversity and development. Poaching is – just as the illegal trade in arms, drugs and counterfeit goods – a serious threat to national and international security and economic developm

Audubon and San Diego Zoo begin animal breeding center in Algiers
The Audubon Nature Institute and San Diego Zoo Global are moving forward on a partnership that could help rebuild threatened species for generations to come, breaking ground Wednesday (Jan. 8) on an Algiers facility to house larger groups of roaming animals in an environment that the entities hope will help create more sustainable populations.

The so-called Alliance for Sustainable Wildlife, which will house more than two dozen endangered and threatened species, is expected to be completed in 2017, said Joel Hamilton, Audubon’s vice president and general curator.

The partnership's 1,000-acre breeding site, which will be one of the largest of its kind in the nation, is based on the model that certain animals will more easily breed, and will breed with more genetic diversity, when they can roam in large herds or flocks.

While zoos and aquariums around the nation often work together to help repopulate just one species, the partnership between Audubon and San Diego marks the first time two organizations are tackl

South Lakes Wild Animal Park boss David Gill has set out his vision as the Dalton attraction prepares for major expansion in 2014.
Mr Gill said on the park's facebook site last night: "2014 is going to be the most exciting year since 1994 when I first built the zoo from an empty field of grass.

"Three times larger, new branding and name, new very unique enclosures and experiences... if you want to feed a Snow Leopard, Jaguar , Lion or Tiger

Texas rhino-hunting auction prompts death threats
The FBI is investigating death threats made against members of the Dallas hunting club that intends to auction off a rare permit to kill an endangered black rhino, an FBI spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Katherine Chaumont said the agency is reviewing multiple threats against the Dallas Safari Club. The club on Saturday plans to auction a permit the African country of Namibia granted for the hunt. The group has said all proceeds will go toward rhino conservation efforts.

Blackfish Exposed
We recently sat down with former SeaWorld Trainer Bridgette M. Pirtle to talk about her involvement with the production of the film BlackFish. We were amazed by what we learned, and we think you will be too.

Bridgette Pirtle first visited SeaWorld when she was 3 years old, and immediately became obsessed with whales.  In 2000, Bridgette was accepted into the killer whale apprentice program at SeaWorld San Antonio and began working with sea lions, otters and bottlenose dolphins, which lead to 10 years of experience with killer whales and eventually becoming a Sr. Trainer.
On February 24, 2010, Bridgette and the other trainers were all called in by management and informed that there had been an incident in Orlando, and that it had resulted in the death of Sr. Trainer Dawn Brancheau.  Bridgette was devastated by this news. Dawn was her hero, a person whom she looked up to.   In the days and weeks after this incident, Bridgette’s parents and grandparents would tearfully plead with her to stop working with whales out of fear that what happened to Dawn could happen to her.  In the end, Bridgette decided to leave SeaWorld in March 2011.
In September 2012, Bridgette began to look for ways that she could share her love for the animals that she worked with at SeaWorld, and this is when she discovered “Voices of the Orcas,” which is run by four ex-SeaWorld Trainers, Samantha Berg, Carol Ray, Jeffery Ventre and John Jett.  When Bridgette initially spoke to the trainers, they told her that there was a movie in production about Dawn and Tilikum and that they were going to tell the truth.

When I asked Bridgette what that “truth” was, she explained:

“The truth is that it wasn’t Dawn’s fault.  And that was the most important thing to me.”

It was after this call that Bridgette was introduced to Gabriela Cowperthwaite, the director of Blackfish. Here’s Bridgett’s account of what Gabriela told her the film would be about:

“I thought she was making a movie that was going to be more respectable to the memory of Dawn, more understanding of the unique lives of killer whale trainers, the unique circumstances under which killer whale training is conducted now, and the loss that the current trainers felt and currently feel.  I thought it would give some sort of closure; that it would give some sort of answer, create harmony, and it didn’t.”
We then asked Bridgette what her contributions to the film were. She responded:

“I contributed footage and insight into the recent context of killer whale training at SeaWorld. I was invited by the executive producer, Tim Zimmerman, to attend the film’s premiere at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Although I was asked by the director if I could provide an interview for the film, I declined due to time constraints and an uncertainty about the path I was going to tread in this unknown and foreign territory. I did take part in a few ‘Q&As’ and agreed to hold off on sharing my own story and experiences until later, once a distributor had been obtained.”

Why the passenger pigeon became extinct
Imagine that tomorrow morning you woke up and discovered that the familiar rock pigeon—scientifically known as Columba livia, popularly known as the rat with wings—had disappeared. It was gone not simply from your window ledge but from Piazza San Marco, Trafalgar Square, the Gateway of India arch, and every park, sidewalk, telephone wire, and rooftop in between. Would you grieve for the loss of a familiar creature, or rip out the spikes on your air-conditioner and celebrate? Perhaps your reaction would depend on the cause of the extinction. If the birds had been carried off in a mass avian rapture, or a pigeon-specific flu, you might let them pass without guilt, but if they had been hunted to death by humans you might feel honor-bound to genetically engineer them back to life.

This thought experiment occurred to me while reading “A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction” (Bloomsbury), Joel Greenberg’s study of a bird that really did vanish after near-ubiquity, and that really is the subject of Frankenpigeon dreams of resurrection. Even before the age of bioengineering, Ectopistes migratorius could seem as much science-fiction fable as fact, which is why it is good to have Greenberg’s book, the first major work in sixty years about the most famous extinct species since the dodo.

The passenger pigeon—sometimes called “the blue pigeon,” for its color, though the blue was blended with gray, red, copper, and brown—should not be confused with its distant cousin, the message-bearing carrier pigeon, which is really just a domesticated rock pigeon in military dress. Unlike the rock pigeon—domesticated six thousand years ago, now feral, and brought to these shores by Europeans in the early seventeenth century—the passenger pigeon was native to North America, where it roved over a billion acres of the continent searching for bumper crops of tree nuts. It was here, like the American bison, when Europeans arrived, and it was here when the peoples we consider indigenous migrated across their land bridge thousands of years before that. It evolved on the unspoiled continent and was allied with the big trees that once covered much of the Northeast and the Midwest.

The passenger pigeon was also the most numerous bird species in North America, and possibly the world, do

Elephant Mali to get friends, stay at Manila Zoo
 Elephant Mali will stay at the Manila Zoo, which will be turned into a world-class facility for animals, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said Friday.

Estrada said major changes and renovations will be done at the zoo starting this year.

He plans the Manila Zoo to be renovated similar to that of Singapore, where there are rides going around the facility.

He said the zoo will retain Mali and add more maintenance for the animals.

Estrada said foreign donors have agreed to finance the zoo's renovation and upkeep.

He earlier rejected appeals by international celebrities singer-songwriter Paul McCartney, Hollywood actress Pamela Anderson, British rock singer Morrissey, American rock band The Smashing Pumpkins, and Kapamilya stars Kim Chiu, Xian Lim, Gerald Anderson and Maja Salvador to transfer the Philippines's lone elephant from Manila's rundown zoo to a Thai sanctuary.

In an interview with Agence France-Presse, Estrada said sending the country’s lone elephant from the Manila Zoo “would be embarrassing.”

“It means we are not capable of tak

SeaWorld's "Blackfish" Controversy Performed Another Trick
Aquatic amusement park company SeaWorld  was back in hot water last week after a business journal caught the company inflating the results of an online poll. The poll question dealt with whether the recent documentary Blackfish had changed reader opinions about SeaWorld.

In the failed attempt to alter poll results, SeaWorld pushed itself back into a difficult public-relations battle that's taken the wind out of share prices. Can SeaWorld improve its performance? Or should investors instead turn to the amusement park companies Walt Disney or Cedar Fair ?

SeaWorld's woes stem from the documentary Blackfish, which tells the story of a SeaWorld orca responsible for the deaths of three employees. Blackfish debuted at Sundance early last year, but it gained a much larger audience when it was broadcast on CNN in October. The film became available on Netflix last month.
Backlash intensified as Blackfish found more viewers. And that backlash started to hit SeaWorld where it hurt when a number of musicians began canceling shows at the parks. In the midst of all the negative press attention, SeaWorld reported a dwindling summer attendance.

That raised an important question: Do SeaWorld's problems run deeper than this controversy?

Fanning the fire
SeaWorld naturally went on the defensive, but one attempt backfired last week. The Orlando Business Journal had posted an online poll asking readers: "Has CNN's 'Blackfish' documentary changed your perception of SeaWorld?" Results poured in that indicated 99% of respondents had voted "No," which seemed an oddly high number to vote in either direction. So the Journal conducted an investigation and tracked more than 54% of the votes back to a single IP address. And that IP address belongs to SeaWorld.

The Journal points out that the tampering wasn't even necessary, since 95% of the non-SeaWorld respondents had actually voted in favor of the company. But the true results don't necessarily mean customers don't care about Blackfish. The total number of votes was 328 at the time the Journal began investigating -- and that counts SeaWorld's votes. So it's a small sample size.

Online polls aren't the best evidence that c

Forbes Blogger Resigns Over SeaWorld Dispute
Last week, journalist James McWilliams posted a brief, stinging, eloquent blog at about how the low-budget film "Blackfish" is taking on a multi-billion dollar company, and may be winning. The piece won him few friends among editors at the website, who told him to alter it to include favorable information on SeaWorld. He refused, quitting his freelance gig and earning high marks from whale and dolphin lovers everywhere. Sadly today, too many reporters just do as they're told, like stenographers. Not this one. As McWilliams told me in a recent interview: " went right, and I went left."

Q) What inspired you to write this piece?

I write almost daily about animal-related issues, either on my own blog or for various publications, so I'm constantly seeking relevant topics to cover. In this case, my son, who is eleven, kept pushing me to watch the documentary "Blackfish." We viewed it together and, indeed, that kid was onto something. It was a powerful film. So I decided to post a brief piece at

Q) How did you research the blog?

My research involved exploring the question at the core of the film: do the conditions of captivity frustrate orcas to the point where they harm their handlers? It strikes me as a fascinating hypothesis. An overwhelming body of evidence, much of it presented in the film, indicated that the answer was "yes." This point seemed worth highlighting for my Forbes readers. But, do note, the post did not require tremendous investigative work. After all, the point of it was simply to show how a low

21 officials suspended over poaching claims
THE Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has suspended 21 Wildlife Department staff for allegedly colluding with poachers to kill elephants.
Deputy Minister Lazaro Nyalandu told reporters that the suspended employees join their colleague in Singida Region, Augustino Lori, who was recently suspended over poaching and corruption allegations.
He said investigations have shown that there are certain members of the ministry’s staff who were directly involved in wildlife sabotage acts in collaboration with criminals, warning that they would be exposed and charged in court.
The suspended staff include 11 from the Anti-Poaching Unit in Arusha, four from the Rukwa- Lwari Forest Reserve , one from the Anti-Poaching Unit in Bunda, three from Maswa Forest Reserve, one from Selous Forest Reserve and one from the Lukwika-Lumesule- Msanjesi Forest Reserve.

We will have Isabelline Pandas
I have little doubt in my mind that we will soon have Isabelline Pandas. The Dysfunctional Zoos of our planet appear hung up on producing unnatural colours, hybrids and freaks. So the Isabelline Panda will fairly soon be on its way.

Many of you will have forgotten QiZai (Little Seven) so let me remind you. QiZai is presently the only Isabelline Panda in captivity. QiZai is a Qinling panda and presently lives in the Shaanxi Wild Animal Research Centre in Northwest China (Louguantai Wild Animal Breeding And Protection Center).

The Quinling Pandas are a rare subspecies of the Giant Panda and are said to number only around three hundred in the wild. Although known for several decades the Quinling Panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca qinlingensis was only recognised as a subspecies in 2005.

The Quinling Pandas tend to be smaller than the common Giant Panda and are brownish and white rather than black and white. The brown colour is not usually as pronounced as it is in QiZai and is more often in patches rather than all over the body. QiZai is, as far as anyone is awar

Elephant and Rhino Workshop

Zoo News Stories I would like to see less of in 2014

Arabian tahr making comeback at Al Ain centre
Management of Nature Conservation centre on track to reintroduce endangered species into the wild
Ten years ago, the fate of the endangered Arabian tahr — found only in Oman and the UAE — was bleak.
But hope for the species was renewed when a dedicated centre in Al Ain stepped in to protect the goat-like species, with the ultimate goal of reintroducing them back into the wild.
The Management of Nature Conservation (MNC) at the foothills of Jebel Hafeet in Al Ain now houses 345 Arabian tahrs, believed to be the world’s biggest Arabian tahr population in captivity. The centre operates under the Department of the President’s Affairs. It is a research and breeding facility that is not open to the public.
The centre’s current Arabian tahr population is a far cry from its starting point of only 10 Arabian tahrs in 2005. The population sample came from the private collection of President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
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Currently, the Arabian tahr is considered endangered in Oman and “possibly extinct” in the UAE based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
MNC’s recent findings after scouting for Arabian tahrs outside Abu Dhabi rendered negative results. It is believed the remaining UAE Arabian

Dolphins getting high on fish toxin? Or just a load of puff?
A bite of puffer fish can paralyze and kill a human, but dolphins have been seen using the spiky lethal creatures as a chew toy, leading humans to wonder if the sea mammals were getting a buzz off the neurotoxin found in the fish.

Rob Pilley, a zoologist and producer on the crew of "Dolphin: Spy in the Pod" documentary, airing in the U.K. on BBC1, told the British Sunday Times, "This was a case of young dolphins purposely experimenting with something we know to be intoxicating ... After chewing the puffer gently and passing it round, they began acting most peculiarly, hanging around with their noses at the surface as if fascinated by their own reflection."

Dolphin researchers say they’ve yet to observe intoxicated dolphins in the wild. But, “it is very possible that dolphins are doing this,” Jason Bruck, a research fellow at the University of Chicago, who studies dolphin memories, wrote to NBC News in an email. After all, “there are examples of elephants getting drunk on fermented fr


Zoos, museum mark a horsey new year
Special events whose theme is this year’s zodiac animal, the horse, are being held at zoos and other places around the country.

Ueno Zoo in Taito Ward, Tokyo, is holding an event titled “Eto Ten: Uma Zukushi” (Horse-o-rama: A zodiac exhibition) through Jan. 26. Visitors can see five indigenous breeds of horses, including Kisouma, Yonaguniuma and Tokarauma, raised at the zoo.

The exhibition also features information on the history of horses native to Japan as well as a photo timeline illustrating the growth of a Kisouma horse born last spring.

Sapporo Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo is planning a hands-on event at which visitors will get a chance to brush a miniature pony measuring about one meter long. The event starts at 3 p.m. from Sunday through Jan. 31. Participation is offered on a first-come, first-served basis with 20 spots for children younger than middle school age.

The Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium in Nagoya is featuring an exhibit titled “Uma ni Chinanda Ikimono Tachi” (Marine creatures with a horse connection) through Jan. 19. Sea creatures such as the black scraper, which has a long face and is in the same family as the threadsail filefish, are among the critters on show.

An art exhibition titled “Hakubutsu- kan ni Hatsumode,

Medical Legacy Of Knut The Polar Bear
Keeping wild animals is an important component of the mission of zoos to educate the public and preserve endangered species. When animals die, tracking the potential cause becomes an investigation of pathogens from around the world. This is because zoo animals are not only potentially exposed to pathogens occurring where the zoo is located, but also to those pathogens harbored by other zoo animals. In other words: the diagnostic challenge is enormous.

In the case of Knut, researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research Berlin (IZW), the Freie Universität Berlin, the Friedrich Loeffler Institute – Insel Riems, the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, the University of California at San Francisco and many others combined their efforts to investigate Knut’s death. Classical pathological, bacteriological, serological, molecular, histological and electron microscopical methods were combined with high throughput microarray and next generation sequencing methods to undertake the most extensive and exhaustive evaluation of the cause of death of any zoo animal to date. The necropsy was headed at the IZW by Dr Claudia Szentiks of the Department of Wildlife Diseases.

“After a detailed necropsy and histology that took several intense days to perform, the results clearly suggested that the underlying cause of Knut’s seizures was a result of encephalitis, most likely of viral origin,” says Dr Szentiks.

Encephalitis can be caused by a large number of viruses, bacteria and parasites, and identifying novel pathogens in wild animals is a huge and often insurmountable challenge. In the case of Knut, the team screened gene sequences from plausible causative pathogens from tens of millions of individual DNA sequences. “The sheer number of experiments undertaken and the sorting of results by many of the top diagnostics groups in Germany and beyond was extremely time consuming but also informative as to what we can and cannot do with current technologies. Many new directions for improvements and novel developments should come from this,” says Professor Alex Greenwood, head of the Department of Wildlife Diseases of the IZW. Although frequently suspected by many to be the likely culprit, the e

Op-Ed: Best achievements in cetacean advocacy for 2013
The documentary Blackfish certainly made it the year of the orca, but there were several other notable achievements for cetaceans in 2013. These are the accomplishments voted on by advocates themselves.
As 2013 draws to a close, the year will end as it began, with killer whales headlining the news.
Last January, in an event reminiscent of the 1988 grey whale rescue in Point Barrow, Alaska, northern Quebec boasted a miracle of its own, after a number of orcas became trapped in ice near Inukjuak.
At risk of death from ice closure and unable to reach freedom, news of the orcas' plight grabbed the world's attention. Residents of Inukjuaq swiftly rallied around the marine mammals as they joined others in seeking out viable solutions to keep the orcas alive.
Nations came together, and Kasco Marine, Inc., the Minnesota company featured in the movie Big Miracle, offered to step in and provide de-icers for the orcas if necessary. But much to the relief of advocates, on January 10, Mayor Petah Inukpuk announced that the whales had left the area under their own steam.
After a subsequent flyover by the townsfolk revealed no sign of the pod, people rejoiced in their freedom. And in their wake, the orcas gifted locals and ou

2-Headed, 6-Legged Baby Gecko Found In Thailand (VIDEO)
GEICO may soon have a new mascot.

This week, a two-headed, six-legged baby gecko was found in Phuket, Thailand. Apparently, three men living in an apartment discovered the reptile so soon after its birth that it still had egg shell on one of its heads. The gecko, according to the men, was about the size of a baby's finger.

Dr. Sansareeya Wangkulangkul, a biology professor at Prince of Songkhla University, said this particular find is quite special.

“This is very unusual," she said. "House geckos usually live about one year, but I’m not sure about this one because it’s deformed

Bloemfontein Zoo to breed the rare white lions
The Bloemfontein Zoo is now part of a programme to breed the rare white lion.

Three white lions have arrived at the zoo. The two females and one male will form part of the zoo's special breeding programme to ensure the survival of the rare colour strain.

Zoo spokesperson, Qondile Khedama says the city has brought in the str

21 most expensive U.S. zoos
U-T San Diego surveyed more than 40 public and nonprofit zoos to identify the most expensive in the U.S. Family admission prices, and membership costs, were based on tickets for two adults and two children, 8 and 13.

Animal safety
Kind treatment towards animals is a concept seemingly lost on zoo caretakers. The recent death of Bubli, a chimpanzee at Safari Park in Karachi, adds to the lengthy record of zoo animals lost allegedly due to neglect by zookeepers. According to sources, Bubli was living in a small cage, separated from her male partner, for 17 days. The zookeepers probably had little idea of the vast psychological and health factors associated with keeping social animals in isolation, which is supported by extensive research. However, due to a lack of government concern and laws regarding animal treatment — not even leveraging so much as a small fine to animal abusers — zookeepers may not even care.
The cases of animal neglect in 2013 are many. In June, an Uryal fawn was injured by zookeepers during transfer to another cage. The only consequence was that the innocent fawn died from the broken leg injury without any ramifications for the zookeepers. In another incident, a Nilgai died after falling into a pond in

The Irish Clan Behind Europe's Rhino-Horn Theft Epidemic
When the phone rang at about 3 a.m. on April 18, Nigel Monaghan was asleep on the floor in his office in Dublin, tangled in a sleeping bag. In his job as Keeper of the National Museum of Ireland’s natural history section, he was overseeing filming of the latest episode of a children’s TV special, Sleepover Safari. Ten children, their parents, and a film crew were spending the night in the museum, known locally as the Dead Zoo, surrounded by Ireland’s foremost collection of taxidermy.

The call was from the museum’s central security office. Four stuffed rhino heads—ones Monaghan had sent away for safekeeping a year earlier—had been stolen from the museum’s storage facility near the airport. At 10:40 p.m., three masked men forced their way in, tied up the single guard on duty, and found the shelves where the heads were kept. The trophies were heavy and awkward. Expertly stuffed and mounted by big game taxidermists at the turn of the 20th century, they were monstrous confections of skin and bone, plaster and timber, horsehair and straw. When Monaghan and his team had come to move the largest—that of a white rhino shot in Sudan in 1914, with a horn m

Top dogs: Highest zoo CEO pay (from May)
With the Australian Outback exhibit opening this week at the San Diego Zoo, the U-T decided to review zoo CEO salaries. Although San Diego's zoo attracts the most visitors in the U.S., its CEO is not the top paid among more than 40 public or nonprofit institutions in our survey.

Arrests Made After Break-In At Tuttle Tiger Safari Park
A couple ended up in jail after a bizarre crime at an exotic animal park. The two were arrested by Grady County Sheriff Deputies on New Year's Day for breaking into the Tiger Safari on the night of Dec. 27.
Tammy Whygle was spotted in a restricted area of the park by an employee on Wednesday. According to owner Bill Meadows, Whygle had previously asked to volunteer at the park, which is why the employee recognized the woman.

Meadows found her picture and posted it on a Facebook page and within minutes had tips about the woman.

"That was probably the only reason we actually caught her," explained Meadows.

He said he passed those tips along to deputies who showed up within minutes. They arrested Whygle, who tried hiding in the park. Her boyfriend, Jason Matt

Let Them Eat Carcass
We Americans have a funny relationship with food. We may not be apex predators, scientifically speaking, since we augment our meat with grains and plants, but we are predators all the same. But most of us haven't the slightest idea about the magical transformation by which cow becomes beef. The modern supermarket provides us with something called "psychological distance" between ourselves and our food, allowing us to abstract away the cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, and all the other critters at the other end of the meat industry. Few of us know how to butcher a chicken, feathers and feet and all, let alone how to ethically, safely slaughter it.

That psychological distancing has crept into the way we feed our animals as well. Cats, for example, are obligate carnivores, meaning that they need meat to survive. Their domestication began because it was handy to keep them around for their natural rodent-hunting abilities. And yet we'd rather our housecats eat processed food from a can than go hunting. We might think it's gross and unseemly when the cat drags in a dead pigeon or lizard, but cats are predators. So why not provision the housecat with the occasional humanely slaughtered sparrow carcass? Why not let the dog eat an ethically dispatched squirrel?

Setting aside the environmental damage our

New rules for animals in captivity
People keeping wild animals captive in KwaZulu-Natal will, from this month, have to follow a rigid new set of terms and conditions relating to their licensing. Also regulated is the size of the animals’ enclosures, their treatment, and their use for commercial gain.

The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Board has announced that it had approved and adopted these new terms and conditions after a six-year-long public consultation process.

Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said non-conformity would be illegal.

One of the major changes to the rules is the

Zoo Is Not a Dirty Word
A small, vocal group of animal activists in Los Angeles is mounting a campaign to halt construction on the new elephant exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo, and to send the Zoo's Asian bull elephant, Billy, to a sanctuary.

As a writer, I know the power of words, and "sanctuary" is one of those wonderful words that packs a lot of emotion. Serene, safe, peaceful, idyllic -- all come to mind. Murmuring the word sanctuary through half-slitted eyes while conjuring the images the word evokes is enough to make me want to sign up to live in one.

Depending on your experience, "zoo" is also an emotionally loaded word. My own mental associations with the word have evolved dramatically over my lifetime. Childhood visits to the Bronx Zoo and others sparked a lifelong love of animals and fascination with their behavior. My family still laughs over an incident 30 years ago, when my little sister dropped her spending money into the monkey moat and then watched as one showy simian plucked the dollar bills from the water, held them up for all to see, and then promptly ate them.

In my twenties, I began to question the motives of zoos: Were they jailing animals for our entertainment who could otherwise be allowed to roam free?

My compassion for animals and my fascination with monkeys and apes in particular not only inspired my novels Monkey Love and Monkey Star, but also led me to pursue a degree in primatology and to work in both zoo and sanctuary settings.

Having worked at both, I can tell you what zoos and sanctuaries have in common: people who love the animals and are passionate abou


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