Monday, May 21, 2018

Zoo News Digest 21st May 2018 (ZooNews 995)

Zoo News Digest 21st May 2018  (ZooNews 995)

This is ZooKeeping

Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

Lot's of rumors flying about the zoo world at the moment. Zoo News Digest would be a completely different creature if I did not have to respect the confidences of the various bits of news people share with me. I can make waves but prefer the diplomatic ripple approach and continue to have more secrets than a Catholic priest.

The articles posted on Trip Advisor confused me a little, especially as most travel companies seem to be moving away from animal activities. For myself I am not against animal activities....just some of them, and all should be judged on their own merit. Posing with Tigers and Orangutans is a definite NoNo for me but riding elephants ain't necessarily so. Depends on the background. What really gets me though is those people who condemn the use of Tigers and Orangutans for posing but are only too happy to pose for similar photos on social media when they "rescue" the same. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. How are people expected to learn?

RIP Murray Roberts.

 "good zoos will not gain credibility from their critics until they condemn the bad zoos wherever they are." Peter Dickinson

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 78,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 78,000 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 823 Zoos in 154+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,

Two women attacked by warthogs at exotic wildlife park
A warthog attacked two employees at an exotic wildlife park in Texas Thursday.

It happened at TGR Exotics Wildlife Park in Houston. The park gives visitors a chance to get close-up views of animals like giraffes, tigers and monkeys, KTRK reported.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said the employees were attacked while feeding two warthogs. They were left with severe cuts and scrapes.

They were taken to a local hospital for treatment.

"Well it was described to me as they were severe injuries. Obviously, the warthogs have tusks. The male warthog has tusks, so it could be punctu

Giraffes surprise biologists yet again
New research from the University of Bristol has highlighted how little we know about giraffe behaviour and ecology.

It is commonly accepted that group sizes of animals increase when there is a risk of predation, since larger group sizes reduce the risk of individuals being killed, and there are 'many eyes' to spot any potential predation risk.

Now, in the first study of its kind, Bristol Ph.D. student Zoe Muller from the School of Biological Sciences has found that this is not true for giraffes, and that the size of giraffe groups is not influenced by the presence of predators.

Zoe Muller said: "This is surprising, and highlights how little we know about even the most basic aspects of giraffe behaviour."

This study investigates how the grouping behaviour of giraffes differed in response to numerous factors, such as predation risk, habitat type and the characteristics of individuals.

Habitat type had some effect on group size, but the main effect on group size was in the behaviour of adult females, who were found to be in smaller groups when they had calves.

This is contrary to another popular belief that female giraffes form large groups to communally care for their young—this study, published this week in the Journal of Zoology presents the first

Wellington's longest-serving zookeeper spent 50 years working with the animals
After more than half a century caring for the animals, Wellington Zoo's longest-serving keeper Murray Roberts has passed away.

When Roberts first started at Wellington Zoo he was allowed to work in sandals and take his favourite elephant for a walk in the town belt.

After retiring in November 2016, Roberts remained on with the zoo in a casual role, but finally stopped working in recent times due to health reasons.

Chimpanzee nests have fewer fecal germs than human beds, study finds
We all have our nightly rituals: A nightcap and a bestseller, a vigorous floss, a last compulsive scroll through Twitter. Chimpanzees, our closest genetic relatives, have their bedtime habits, too. Every evening, a chimp makes a new bed, in the literal sense, weaving branches and sticks into baskets that hang as high as 30 feet above the forest floor. Humans who have slept in these nests, like anthropologist Fiona Stewart, describe them as cramped but effective wards against predators and bloodsuckers.

For the first time, scientists have probed the nests to see what sort of insects, other creepy-crawlies and microbes share a chimpanzee’s bedding. The researchers say they wanted to compare wild-nest inhabitants with bugs of a more familiar sort — meaning what skitters or lurks between our sheets.

The chimpanzee lifestyle, with regard to their microb

Safari ranger injured in bear attack
A Bukit Gambang Safari Park senior ranger is recuperating in hospital after he was mauled by a bear yesterday.

Ishak Rashid, 51, who was attacked by a male bear about noon, was injured in the face and legs. His condition has been described as stable.

In a statement today, the safari park’s communications department said Ishak, from Kedah, had been traumatised by the unexpected incident.

Exclusive: Overweight and inbred, banned exotic animals are handed over to Dubai Safari under amnesty
Exotic pets including chimps, baboons and lions that were illegally held in homes across the UAE have been handed in to Dubai Safari as part of an amnesty.

It has been 16 months since Federal Law 22 on the trade of wild animals took effect - stating that only zoos, wildlife parks, circuses, breeding and research centres are allowed to keep dangerous, wild or exotic animals.

The law also revoked permits issued to other authorities to import such animals.

It has been a busy first six months for Dubai Safari under the stewardship of its technical director, New Zealander Timothy Husband.

The Art of Elephant Training
Elephants are by far some of the smartest creatures on our planet. They have complex social structures, readily engage with people and other animals, and have even been shown to exhibit self-awareness[1]. Being able to bridge the communication gap with elephants has proven to be a straightforward endeavor overall; elephants in human care are talking to us all the time through body language, rumbles, grunts, trumpets, and even chemical signals[2] (which unfortunately we are unable to perceive without laboratory analysis![3]). Training in SE Asian range countries has evolved quickly over the past thirty years much like it has in the West. Animal behavior has become more and more understood and developed into a science with measured actions and definable results. However there is an art to what has been handed down generation to generation in the mahout culture and much of it is exactly what has proven to work in textbook training methods.

Tethering: Integral to Elephant Care
Tethering is an integral part of responsible, everyday elephant management in human care. Facilities all around the world use ropes and chains for restraining their elephants for a wide variety of reasons. A regular husbandry routine that includes tethers habituates the elephant to the use of tethers and ensures that they can be used at any time, without stress or discomfort to the elephant. Whether during routine check-ups, socialization, birthing or at nighttime, this training can greatly help mahouts, keepers and veterinarians give a higher standard of care to their elephants.

When we talk about tethers, it usually means chains or ropes. While chains may look menacing, there are many reasons that they are preferred to ropes: chains are strong, durable, easy to clean, able to be repaired without compromising the integrity of the tether and, when used properly, lower the risk of injuring the skin. Ropes do have a proper place in the restraining and training of animals, but for the purposes of this article, we will focus on the importance of chains in elephant management.

First and foremost, elephants in human care benefit from the use of chains because chains allow keepers to work more closely with the elephants. While an elephant may have a lifelong bond with and trust its keeper, it doesn’t necessarily feel that way about a ve

Elephant Nutrition and Diet
Elephant nutrition can best be understood when their natural history is taken into consideration. Because they are the largest land animal, they must eat a lot of food to keep that huge body fed. As megaherbivores, elephants have a voracious appetite and consume so much plant material that they actually have an effect on shaping their environment. They are known as “ecological engineers” or “keystone species,[1]’” terms that come from the Owen-Smith Keystone Herbivore Hypothesis. In conjunction with this, elephants are hindgut fermenters and only process about 40% of their food. On average, elephants spend 20 hours a day foraging and four hours a day sleeping. An elephant’s diet is priority number one in human care. An elephant’s diet not only provides proper nutrition to keep it healthy, it accounts for almost the entirety of its daily activity.


Wallace’s enigma: how the island of Sulawesi continues to captivate biologists
“We now come to the Island of Celebes, in many respects the most remarkable and interesting in the whole region, or perhaps on the globe, since no other island seems to present so many curious problems for solution.” (Wallace 1876)

Wedged in between the continental landmasses of south-east Asia and Australia lies the vast island realm of Wallacea. Named after Alfred Russel Wallace, the 19th-century explorer and naturalist who traversed this area, it hosts floras and faunas that are incredibly rich and often include species found nowhere else on Earth. The natural history of Wallacea is complicated, and heavily dictated by geological forces such as plate tectonics and volcanism.

As the oldest and largest island within Wallacea, Sulawesi (formerly known as Celebes) hosts a rich fauna with a large number of species that are unique to the island. Although its fauna is predominantly Asian in origin, it is the only island in south-east Asia with marsupials (the bear cuscus and dwarf cuscus), a typical Australian element. In addition, it hosts the smallest primate in the world, the tarsus tarsier, which fits in the palm of your hand. You can find miniature buffaloes, or anoas, whose lovable appearance is said to hide an aggressive demeanour.

Zoo director's departure came amid questions on finances, communication, culture
Former Cameron Park Zoo Director Jim Fleshman was asked to resign last month amid top-level discussions about the zoo’s culture, communication failures and perceived favoritism in hiring practices, messages between representatives of the city of Waco and the Cameron Park Zoological and Botanical Society reveal.

The Tribune-Herald obtained text messages and emails related to Fleshman’s April departure, through the Texas Public Information Act. The communication also shows efforts zoo society officials took to conceal the reasons behind the sudden leadership change.

Stephen Holze, president of the zoological society, which operates and helps fund the city-owned zoo, did not respond this week to requests for comment for this story.

Fleshman’s resignation, finalized April 16 and publicized April 24, came amid an inquiry into cash-handling practices at the zoo, conducted by the accounting firm BKD LLP. The inquiry is ongoing, Assistant City Manager Br

Lion attack Brit Mike Hodge finally released from hospital after vicious mauling by Shamba the lion – as his South African safari park reopens
SAFARI park lion attack survivor Mike Hodge has reopened the Marakele Predator Centre where he was viciously mauled live on a tourist video and nearly killed three weeks ago.

British born Mike, 72, was attacked by Shamba the lion who he had raised since a cub and suffered such severe injuries that he had to be airlifted by air ambulance for life saving surgery.

Canterbury: baby gorilla born at Howletts Wild Animal Park breaks world record
Howlett's Wild Animal Park is celebrating the birth of a beautiful western lowland gorilla - and a new world record.

The latest arrival means the total number of births at the breeding sanctuary is 139, firmly cementing the Bekesbourne park’s reputation as the most successful breeders of the endangered species in the world.

The baby, born last Saturday, will be named when keepers can determine the sex. The offspring is mum Dihi’s fifth, however, for proud father, Ebeki, this is his first and he is reported to be taking to his new fatherly role very well.

‘Huge milestone’ as Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park joins BIAZA
After a year as a provisional member of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA), the Alameda Wildlife Conservation Park (AWCP) has been awarded full Membership of BIAZA.

BIAZA is the professional body representing over 100 zoos and aquaria in Britain and Ireland.

Members must comply with specific codes of practice and standards of animal husbandry, as well as undertaking significant work in the field of animal welfare, conservation, education and research.
The AWCP, set in the stunning Gibraltar Botanic Gardens, is one of the smallest zoos in the association.

This is a huge milestone for the AWCP, w

A new population of at least 700 blue whales has been found living between the North and South Islands of New Zealand.

The gigantic marine mammals are genetically distinct from whales found in the neighbouring Pacific and Antarctic Oceans, suggesting they are a separate group that lives permanently in the region.

While they are not as large as their Antarctic cousins, the New Zealand population can still reach lengths of around 22 metres.

Caged tigers can get stressed and dangerous at prom. Did we really have to say that?
Less than a century ago, about 100,000 tigers roamed the Asian continent. Today, because of poaching and habitat loss, there are only about 3,200 of them left on Earth. But how is anyone to take the plight of these magnificent, noble, endangered animals seriously when they see them being used as party props, like the one recently displayed at Miami's Christopher Columbus High School prom?

The tiger, a lemur, birds and an African fennec fox were hauled out in the midst of pounding music, flashing lights, fire dancers, and a crowd of rambunctious teenagers. Instead of immediately acknowledging that a colossal mistake had been made, school officials offered the dubious "reassurance" that two Miami-Dade police officers were present the entire time.

The stressed tiger was frantically pacing and trying to find a way out of this horror show. If the animal had succeeded in making a break for it, do school officials think that the police opening fire would have been a reasonable

International group of scientists suggest that octopuses might actually be aliens
Normally when you see a story about someone claiming that aliens are hanging out here on Earth its origins can be traced to a misguided conspiracy theorist or crackpot ranting on YouTube. So, when an international group of actual scientists releases a report theorizing the existence of an alien species living right under our noses, it’s worth a look.

The paper, which was published in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, attempts to tackle the question of how life originated here on Earth. The researchers embrace a number of different proposed explanations and discuss their implications, but one particularly interesting note is their proposal that cephalopods (squid, octopus, and cuttlefish) may have originated somewhere other than Earth. Woah.

Magic Number: A sketchy "fact" about polar bears keeps going ... and going ... and going
When Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species in May, the political trench warfare over global warming flared up anew.

Environmental groups professed surprise that a reluctant Bush Administration acted at all. Global warming deniers said the decision was ludicrous. They cited a polar bear population — a five-fold increase since the 1970s, a doubling since the 1950s, a quadrupling since the 1960s.

After wading through about thirty such references from readers of our CNN blog and hearing them from multiple radio and TV pundits, I got to thinking: Are any of these numbers true? And where do they come from? I embarked on a global quest, traveling by phone, email and Google, to find the truth.

My first stop was Bjorn Lomborg's 2007 book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming." Lomborg, the Danish economist whose work provides a torrent of talking points for Conservative pundits, says there were "probably 5,000" polar bears in the 1960's.

The book's footnotes cryptically attribute the Number to "Krauss, 2006."

Lomborg confirmed for me that the "Krauss" in question is Clifford Krauss, a reporter for The New York Times, who wrote on May 27, 2006, about the conflict between polar bear protectors and trophy hunters: "Other experts see a healthier population. They note that there are more than 20,000 polar bears roaming the Arctic, compared to as few as 5,000 40 years ago."

Krauss, now a Houston-based correspondent for The Times, told me he couldn't recall the source of the 5,000 number, but said that he understood the number to be "widely accepted." Lomborg also emailed me a reference for another, different figure he said he'd discovered after the book's publication: A report from the Soviet Ministry of Agriculture's S.M. Uspensky,

Southern White Rhino at San Diego Zoo Safari Park Pregnant Through Artificial Insemination
Researchers at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research announced Thursday morning that they have confirmed a pregnancy in one of the southern white rhinos living at the Nikita Khan Rhino Rescue Center.  The pregnancy, created through artificial insemination with sperm from a male southern white rhino, is an important milestone in the ongoing work to develop the scientific knowledge required to genetically recover the northern white rhino, a distant subspecies of the southern white rhino. Only two northern white rhinos currently remain on Earth (unfortunately both are female).

“The confirmation of this pregnancy through artificial insemination represents an historic event for our organization but also a critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino ,” said Barbara Durrant, Ph.D., director of Reproductive Sciences, San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. “The sperm had excellent motility and the procedure went very well –  we are excited to confirm a pregnancy has occurred but we have a long time before we can declare a real success with the birth of a healthy southern white rhino baby.”

Rhino gestation lasts from 16-18 months. The artificial insemination of a rhino named Victoria, occurred on March 22 at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park . Victoria is one of six female sou

Turning Things Around: A Conversation with Ralph Waterhouse, Retired Director of the Fresno Chaffee Zoo
Ralph Waterhouse began his career at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and learned a lot from the zoo's director, the late Earl Wells. He then went on to be the first general curator of the Minnesota Zoo, dubbed the zoo of the future when it opened in 1978. Waterhouse would then direct the Blank Park Zoo (1982-1987), the Kansas City Zoo (1987-1991) and the Fresno Chaffee Zoo (1991-2003.) He is credited with improving all three zoos he directed and setting them up for the future. Waterhouse also served as Chair of the Accreditation Commission of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Here is his story.

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Nations Step Up to Protect Pangolins in The Face of Strong Demand in China And Vietnam
It may come as a surprise to many to discover that a lowly anteater tops the list of the world’s most trafficked endangered mammals.

The pangolin, also known as a scaly anteater, can vary in size from only 12 to 39 inches long.

But the small creatures can fight off animal predators with their sharp claws and scales that act as a kind of armor.

Pangolins, however, possess little defense against human predators.

A rising demand in China for the meat and scales of pangolins reached the point several years ago that all eight varieties of the animal were deemed vulnerable or critically endangered.

According to the Swiss-based International Union For Conservation of Nature (IUCN), pangolins account for as much as 20 percent of all illegal wildlife trade.

The IUCN says that more than a million pangolins wer

Before you visit a zoo or aquarium… look for the logo!
The Cape May County Zoo is proud to have been accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) since 1989. The AZA logo is the most reliable way for people to choose zoos and aquariums that meet rigorous accreditation standards.

Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium. It’s the easiest way to know that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you and a better future for all living things. Fewer than 10 percent of the approximately 2,800 animal exhibitors licensed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture are AZA accredited. AZA is a global leader in wildlife conservation and your connection to helping animals in their native habitats.

AZA accreditation provides the Cape May County Zoo access to the Species Survival Plan (SSP), the hallmark conservation initiative of all accredited zoos and aquariums. The SSP cooperatively manages captive populations of threatened or endang

Hungary boy gets death threats for inadvertently killing meerkat
A 12-year-old Hungarian boy has received death threats on social media after he inadvertently killed a meerkat that bit his finger at a zoo.

The boy was visiting the Kecskemet zoo in central Hungary when he reached through a fence and was bitten.

He then shook the meerkat so hard to the ground that he broke its back.

Zara the meerkat was one of the prize attractions at the zoo and the incident, which occurred on 14 May, has been met with anger and condemnation.

The boy, who was on a visit to the zoo as part of a school outing, is said to have ignored warning signs that meerkats bite before reaching through a fence to get closer to the animals.

News of the death of Zara, who was pregna

Asian elephant gives birth to a calf in Chester zoo three months after her keepers thought she had lost the baby
An elephant at Chester Zoo has 'astonished' keepers by giving birth on Thursday, nearly three months after her due date.

The baby boy was born to experienced mother Thi Hi Way, who is already a great-grandmother and matriarch of the herd.

The newborn was the seventh calf born to 35-year-old after a 25-month pregnancy.

Zoo Logic
Zoo Logic with host Dr. Grey Stafford is a weekly conversation with zoo, aquarium, and animal experts about Nature, pets, animal training, welfare, research and education, sustainability, zoo politics and legislation, and all things animals! On Zoo Logic, we’ll go behind the scenes with animal professionals and influencers from around the world to explore the latest Zoos News and issues affecting wildlife, wild places, and people. Communicating with humor, cool stories, and candor, we’ll discover the interdependent connection between civilization, conservation, and commerce.

What it Means to be Critically Endangered
Of the five living rhino species, three – the black, Sumatran and Javan rhinos – are classified as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The Red List is maintained by IUCN, the World Conservation Union. “IUCN” stands for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the world’s first global environmental organization, founded in 1948. The world’s oldest and largest global environmental network, IUCN is a democratic membership union with more than 1,000 government and NGO member organizations, and almost 11,000 volunteer scientists and experts in some 160 countries. IUCN’s work is supported by more than 1,000 professional staff in 60 offices and hundreds of partners in public, NGO and private sectors around the world. IUCN’s headquarters are located in Gland, near Geneva, in Switzerland.

Essentially, the IUCN functions as a “United Nations” for conservation. Dr. Bibhab Talukdar is IRF’s Asia Coordinator and Chairman of IUCN’s Asian Rhino Specialist Group. Dr. Susie Ellis, IRF’s Executive Director, serves as a Red List Authority and is responsible for assessing the status of

Elephants Have Surprising Level of Self-Understanding
“Elephants are well regarded as one of the most intelligent animals on the planet, but we still need more empirical, scientific evidence to support this belief,” said Rachel Dale, a Ph.D. student at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, and first author of a paper reporting the results in the journal Scientific Reports on April 12, 2017.

“We know, for example, that they are capable of thoughtful cooperation and empathy, and are able to recognize themselves in a mirror. These abilities are highly unusual in animals and very rare indeed in non-primates. We wanted to see if they also show body-awareness.”

Self-awareness in both animals and young children is usually tested using the ‘mirror self-recognition test’ to see if they understand that the reflection in front of them is actually their own.

Only a few species have so far shown themsel

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If you have anything to add then please email me at
I will include it when I get a minute. You know it makes sense.

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About me
After more than 50 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, an introvert, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.

"These are the best days of my life"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | | Skype: peter.dickinson48

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Zoo News Digest 17th May 2018 (ZooNews 994)

Zoo News Digest 17th May 2018  (ZooNews 994)


Peter Dickinson


Dear Colleague,

The link which caught my greatest attention in this latest collection was Emirates Park Zoo and Resort Wins ‘Best Zoo Operator Award in the Middle East’...never heard of the award so perhaps it is a completely new thing and perhaps they deserve it. It is though going to depend on exactly how you judge just a thing. For me the primary role of a zoo is conservation and in that the main part of that is being a participant in recognised official breeding programmes. Emirates Park Zoo does not spring to mind here. I would be extremely interested to know which other UAE, or for that matter Middle Eastern Zoos were entered. There again conservation may well not have been a consideration.

I was disgusted at seeing the tiger that was taken to the school prom. The animal was so very obviously distressed...and hardly surprising given the wholly inadequate cage it was being displayed it in. Who exactly supplied the animal? We need to name them because it is organisations like that who are giving other zoos a bad name.

 "good zoos will not gain credibility from their critics until they condemn the bad zoos wherever they are." Peter Dickinson

Lots of interest follows. 


Did You Know?
ZooNews Digest has over 77,000 Followers on Facebook( and over 78,000 likes) and has a weekly reach often exceeding over 350,000 people? That ZooNews Digest has subscribers in over 823 Zoos in 154+ countries? That the subscriber list for the mail out reads like a 'Zoos Who's Who?'
If you are a subscriber to the email version then you probably knew this already. You would also know that ZooNews Digest pre-dates any of the others. It was there before FaceBook. It was there shortly after the internet became popular and was a 'Blog' before the word had been invented. ZooNews Digest reaches zoo people.

I remain committed to the work of GOOD zoos,

What’s In the Word “Conservation?”
In this theme, I cover some of the key questions surrounding the ambiguities of the definition of ‘conservation’. Throughout my many years working professionally in the captive koala sector, I have noticed a gradual shift in the meaning and understanding of the word ‘conservation’

The Definition of “Conservation”

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, ‘conservation’ is the “preservation, protection, or restoration of the natural environment and of wildlife”.

What it doesn’t say, however, is how to preserve species and environments, what conservation is meant to look like, an

Holiday giants including TUI and TripAdvisor 'profiting from animal cruelty'
The world’s biggest tour group has been promoting tourist trips to an elephant “orphanage” in Asia where it’s claimed “many animals were bred – rather than rescued – and are chained for long periods and threatened with bullhooks”, an investigation claims.

TUI, which is also Britain’s leading holiday company, was also allegedly found selling elephant rides to tourists, even though it claimed to have stopped in 2015 on ethical grounds.

The tour giant – and some of the world’s other best known names in travel – are accused of profiting from animal cruelty by promoting attractions worldwide where animals may be caused to suffer behind the scenes to make them compliant for holidaymakers.

19 Exceptional Zoos and Aquariums Achieve AZA Accreditation
Twice a year, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) independent Accreditation Commission (the Commission) evaluates accreditation applications from the world’s best aquariums, nature centers, science centers and zoos. Most recently, the Commission reviewed 21 accreditation applications and 2 applications for certification. As a result of these rigorous assessments, AZA proudly announces that the following facilities are accredited:

Alexandria Zoological Park, La.
Audubon Zoo, La.
Brevard Zoo, Fla.
Dolphin Discovery Cozumel, Mexico
Dolphin Discovery Isla Mujeres, Mexico
El Paso Zoo, Texas
Fort Worth Zoo, Texas
Georgia Aquarium, Ga.
Houston Zoo, Inc., Texas
Jenkinson's Aquarium, N.J.
Louisville Zoological Garden, Ky.
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, Conn.
Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Fla.
Ocean Park Corporation, Hong Kong
OdySea Aquarium, Ariz.
Rainforest & Aquarium at Moody Gardens, Texas
Sacramento Zoo, Calif.
San Antonio Zoological Society, Texas
Seattle Aquarium, Wash.
“AZA’s accreditation standards are widely acknowledged as the ‘gold-standard’ in the zoological profession, and our independent Commission grants accreditation only to those who have reached this level of achievement,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “AZA-accredited facilities are proven leaders in animal care, welfare, and conservation, contributing $216 m

There's an enormous difference between animal rights and conservation
I stopped buying Lush products a while ago, largely because of this issue (I didn’t want to give money to charities that use fear-mongering, hand-wringing anthropomorphism to actively fight biodiversity), and their treatment of the Little Fireface Project only solidified this. Now Lush has sponsored a conference whose end goal is essentially dead elephants, whether they want to admit that or not.

Animal Training VS Enrichment Programs; What Is More Important?
Throughout my career I discovered that the phycology of animals interest me most. Questions like why animals do their thing and why they have certain responses etc is an interesting part of why I enjoy what I do. Animal Training in general is a passionate part where I try to get better at and discover how my style of training works and what I’m actually doing. Meeting individuals that need different strategies that give you another perspective about the science of operant conditioning. Its cool to see how different species act different and are completely different on many different aspects when you train them. How you thought an animal would be is not at all what it is working with them up close. We learn so much through those interactions what helps us respect these animals even more.

Team Fiona: A Conversation with Christina Gorsuch, Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo
After spending time at three other zoos, Christina Gorsuch became Curator of Mammals at the Cincinnati Zoo in 2015. She oversees the care and husbandry of a wide variety of animals from lions to black rhinoceroses to Asian elephants to Mexican wolves to African wild dogs. However, soon Gorsuch would become most associated with hippos when she became social media famous as Coach of Team Fiona, the animal care team responsible for caring for the zoo's prematurely born hippo. Here is her story.

Lizards with toxic green blood may have evolved it to fight disease
Coursing through the veins of some New Guinean lizards, is blood so toxic it would kill a human 40 times over.

Besides being deadly, what makes it even more striking is its colour. It is such a bright shade of lime green it makes the reptiles’ muscles, bones and tongues green as well.

This colour comes from high levels of biliverdin – a green bile pigment produced as a waste product that causes jaundice in humans.

Not only are these reptile perfectly healthy, scientists think the prevalence of green blood among New Guinean skinks means counterintuitively this toxic b

Hippos Poop So Much That Sometimes All the Fish Die
At first, Chris Dutton and Amanda Subalusky had no idea why the fish were dying.

At a bridge on the border between Kenya and Tanzania, they noticed that whenever the Mara River rose by a few feet, dead fish would wash up on its banks, sometimes in the thousands. Storks, vultures, crocodiles, and hyenas made short work of the carcasses, so “if you weren’t there to see it, you’d never know it was happening,” says Dutton. Local rangers knew about the die-offs, but they blamed the events on farmers who sprayed pesticides in upstream fields.

It wasn’t the farmers. Through an increasingly bold set of experiments, involving remote-controlled boats, computer simulations, a makeshift dam, and vast tankers of excrement-filled water, Dutton and Subalusky identified the real culprits: hippos.

The duo, who are married, published their results in a paper with the remarkably polite title of “Organic matter loading by hippopotami causes subsidy overload resulting in downstream hypoxia and fish kills.”

At The Zoo, Harvard Medical Students Get A Different Kind Of Training
Sofina is sedated, sprawled out on an examination table as four medical professionals hover over her. The 8-year-old has had Type 1 diabetes most of her life, but it seems like her normal insulin isn’t helping. Sofina’s doctors worry she might have developed Cushing’s disease and they’re taking blood samples to figure out what’s wrong.

Joseph Rosenthal, a fourth-year Harvard Medical School student, will be the one drawing Sofina’s blood. This is a bit of a unique experience for him. He’s drawn blood before, but up until recently, the process has mostly been with humans. Sofina, who resides at the Franklin Park Zoo, will be his first ring-tailed lemur patient.

Veterinarian Dr. Alex Becket coaches Rosenthal through some of the unexpected hurdles, like spotting a vein and not something that just looks like a vein.

“Now keep in mind, that with fur, it might bunch up on y

When Conservation Is Just Another Way To Spell Exploitation
Anyone involved with the conservation of lions in South Africa knows, and shudders, at the mention of Ukutula Lodge & Conservation Center (usually and more aptly referred as Ukutula Lion Farm) Anyone who is not deeply involved with lion conservation is still most likely familiar with Ukutula’s name, and not for any good reason.
One of the largest predator breeding facilities in South Africa, Ukutula’s name has become synonymous with the cub petting industry, as well as with the canned hunting industry. In recent years, Ukutula has begun insisting that it “tracks” all the lions it sells as offal from its massive cub petting farm “in order to assure that they aren’t used for canned hunting”. All of the information which supposedly proves that claim, however, is “confidential” which means that the public can only take the word of a company which breeds and exploits lions for profit, as proof that they don’t actually sell them for yet another tier of profit, to the canned hunting industry.
And frankly, even if Ukutula published the names of the buyers of their lions, it’s not difficult to legally avoid “selling to canned hunting facilities”. An entity like Ukutula can sell their lions to anyone who is “unassociated” with any canned hunting facility, and legally state that they “do not sell to canned hunting facilities” while the person they sold all their lions to, will then turn around and hold a dispersal sale, auctioning or selling all the lions to canned hunting farms. And it’s not illegal. Nor is it illeg

Lions and Tigers and Bears Are Going Extinct
A research paper published April 12, 2018, in the online journal PLOS Biology, identifies the 10 most “charismatic” animals known and loved by humans that may soon become extinct, perhaps, in great part, because, most of us don’t realize how few of them actually exist.  They’re talking about elephants, giraffes, lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, polar bears, gorillas, gray wolves, and, of course, pandas, that are all going the way of the dinosaur. Why don’t we know this? Why aren’t we paying more attention?

Most of us are captivated by and naturally attracted to animals, especially mammals. We often feel an emotional connection. The animals that are most popular with humans are everywhere we look, in the form of stuffed animal toys and cartoon and realistic images used in ma

'A rich conservationist is a rare species'
The Whitley Fund for Nature is celebrating a quarter of a century and looks set to successfully continue providing financial assistance to conservationists across the globe. To date, almost £15 million has been awarded to over 197 wildlife pioneers in 80 countries.

No mean feat in a competitive and challenging field not always financially sufficient or fortunate enough to provide long-standing support.

Seen by many as the 'Green Oscars', the awards target those working in nature conservation regarded as international advocates for bio diversity. Notable emphasis is on local projects in resource poor areas and funding  is provided for proven grass-roots conservation leaders in developing countries. Emphasis is on people and wildlife working in a mutually beneficial way.

Best in the field

The 2018 recipients of the prestigious prize consist of  six 'of the best in the field', from various backgrounds and regions.

Munir Virani's Kenyan project is saving the region's threatened vultures who due to negative cultural perceptions are often poisoned. The project aims to reverse this misguided thinking and it's hoped it will serve as a model for other African countries.

Symbio Wildlife Park’s Jarrad Prangell has been named Australasian Zookeeper of the Year
Symbio Wildlife Park is celebrating one of its team being named the best zookeeper in the nation.

Jarrad Prangell, 26, won the title of Australasian Zookeeper of the Year at the Australasian Society of Zoo Keeping (ASZK) Conference.

While finalists are not told who nominated them he is pretty sure it was Symbio’s owners Matt and John Radnidge.

Mr Prangell started working at the family zoo when the Radnidge family gave him an opportunity at 21. He has always had a passion for working with animals but growing up in Sydney’s Inner-West meant he would take every opportunity to explore the bush during camping trips and family holidays to the Blue Mountains and South Coast.

He loves all animals but his particular interest has always been reptiles. Now he gets to look after reptiles and amphibeans at Symbio.

“I grew up watching Steve Irwin. I always knew what I wanted to do and the Radnidge family gave me a chan

Zoo workers injured when 800-pound animal escapes
Two employees of a Rhode Island zoo suffered minor injuries when an 800-pound animal described as a "goat-antelope" escaped its enclosure.

The takin, native to the eastern Himalayas, escaped just after 9 a.m. Tuesday and was back in its enclosure by 10 a.m., before the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence opened to the public.

VIDEO: Florida school ‘sorry’ about live tiger at prom
A Florida high school has apologised for exhibiting live wild animals including a caged tiger at a jungle-themed prom in a hotel.

Friday night’s event for final-year students at Christopher Columbus High School, an all-male private school in the suburbs of Miami, featured typical prom entertainment such as a disco and dancers.

However, the party also included more controversial “entertainment”: a display of live animals, included a lemur, macaws and a tiger.

Video footage shared online by the sister of a student showed the animal pacing a small cage in the middle of the dance floor, surrounded by a crowd of excited prom-goers.

Edinburgh Zoo welcomes endangered rockhopper penguin chicks
RZSS Edinburgh Zoo are celebrating the hatching of three endangered northern rockhopper penguin chicks. The chicks mark the most successful northern rockhopper penguin breeding season at the zoo in over 27 years. Only days old, the chicks will remain on their nests with their parents until they reach around 3 months. READ MORE: Edinburgh Zoo’s penguins have a new bubble machine and they love it Dawn Nicoll, senior penguin keeper, said, “We are very excited to welcome three new chicks to our rockhopper colony. It has been amazing to watch the new parents caring for their young and being very attentive, though we aren’t out of the woods yet as the first 30 days are crucial for a newborn chick’s development.

Puerto Vallarta Zoo will appeal decision of Profepa inspection
After revealing that personnel of the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and Environmental Protection (Profepa) seized 54 animals from the zoo in Puerto Vallarta, the site’s director, Martín Castañeda, has prepared a criminal appeal against the federal agency for irregularities in documentation.

According to Castañeda, the agency, in the report, said that the animals were in perfect health and in appropriate environments for their stay, a contrast to the bulletin issued to the media, which indicated that there were no conditions for the healthy recreation of the animals seized.

“It is verified that in the development of the activities that the inspected person performs, related to the management of the wild life, no acts of cruelty are carried out, in turn they are observed in general in good apparent physical condition in all the housed specimens as well as it was observed that in the interior of the cages of each animal are troughs and drinking troughs”, dictates the inspecti

Appearance of exotic animal suggests possible existence of 'illegal zoo'
It is thought the animal, barely alive, had fled a cruel master, seeing as its neck and legs were bruised. It was caught by employees of the Mežavairogi animal sanctuary, who located and caught it after being tipped off that an exotic animal was roaming free between the Iecava and Baldone areas near Rīga.

It was delivered to the Rīga Zoo, and specialists are trying to wring it away from death's embrace. The animal was famished to the point that specialists at the Rīga Zoo weren't able, at first look, to tell if it's a male or female mara.

People with information about its possible master are asked to inform the authorities. Seeing as it's not the first exotic animal to be seen in the vicinity, it's possible there's a sinister scheme at work.

"It can't be excluded there's an illegal mini-zoo somewhere, or maybe someone is keeping exotic animals for fun," said Rīga Zoo director Ingmārs Līdaka.

Authorities were unable to find the owner of the wallaby, which had been taken into the zoo earlier. As it was discovered during freezing temperatures, the wallaby was named Sp

Students, parents outraged by caged tiger at high school prom in Miami
Some parents and students are outraged after organizers of a Miami high school prom featured a caged tiger for its jungle theme. The caged animal's presence angered some who called it animal abuse for the sake of entertainment, CBS Miami reports.

The Christopher Columbus High School prom took place Friday night at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport and Convention Center. The sister of one student posted video of the event on Facebook and called the decision "shameful."

She told CBS Miami that she and her family are longtime animal rights activists who consider the act animal abuse. They said the entire act was done in poor taste.

"Tigers are wild animals. They don't need to be displayed as objects for our amusement. They don't like the fire, the cage

Matchmaking for zoo animals
Zoos have always been places where people come to marvel at, and connect with, the wonders of the animal world. But with more and more species endangered in their natural habitats, zoos have had to change their stripes. They've shifted their focus to conservation, and gone is the old practice of bringing in exotic animals from the wild. But without them, zoos today have to re-populate from within. And it's complicated. It turns out that behind every baby animal crowds flock to see and biologists want to protect, there's an elaborate mix of science, software, genetics, and moving vans. It's no longer the old-fashioned birds and the bees at the modern zoo -- it's more like

Animals with babies -– always a sure-fire hit at the zoo. It's what all living creatures are biologically programmed to do: mate, rear young and pass their genes onto the next generation. But you might be surprised to learn that long before the babies. And even long before the making of the babies. There is this

Alleged wildlife smuggling kingpin jailed in Thailand
A court in Thailand has sentenced a Thai man believed to be a kingpin in the illicit wildlife trade to 2 ½ years in prison for smuggling rhinoceros horns, an organization that works with police to combat trafficking said Friday.

The group Freeland said the court in Samut Prakarn province convicted Boonchai Bach this week in the shipment of 11 kilograms (24.2 pounds) of rhino horns from Africa worth $700,000. The rhino horns were seized in December when a Chinese smuggler was arrested at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport. A wildlife quarantine officer at the airport accused of assisting the smugglers was also arrested.

The group said a relative of Boonchai's was caught when he sought to pick up the shipment, implicating Boonchai as the financier and leading to

Emirates Park Zoo and Resort Wins ‘Best Zoo Operator Award in the Middle East’
Emirates Park Zoo & Resorts received a well-deserved recognition as it took home the ‘Best Zoo Operator Award in the Middle East’ during the 4th Theme Parks & Entertainment Development Forum, which was held at Meydan Hotel, Dubai on May 8th, 2018.

The 4th Theme Parks & Entertainment Development Forum is a platform that brings key decision-makers from across the MENA region to discuss, establish partnerships among industry experts and learn the ways of profiting from local and global investment opportunities in the leisure and entertainment division.

The award recognized Emirates Park Zoo & Resort’s excellence in service and efforts towards habitat preservation, while promoting safety and cleanliness habits at the highest level. The zoo continues to exceed in customer expectations providing them with an exceptional experience in terms of hospitality, entertainment and recreational activities in the Middle East.

zoo concepts for the 21st century shift focus to animal welfare
architectural competitions platform archstorming presents the three winning teams of its latest competition titled ‘coexist: rethinking zoos’. challenging the traditional concept of zoos, submissions propose interactive and imaginative alternatives such as elevated and non-intrusive paths, autochthonous species adapted to the climate and even 3D virtual animals. the winning proposals focus on improving the well being of animals and enhance the educational and scientific aspects of a zoo by including spaces for art, history and reflection.

Is that selfie really worth it? Why face time with wild animals is a bad idea
The phenomenon of kangaroo selfies hit the headlines earlier this month, when several tourists were injured while feeding wild kangaroos in Lake Macquarie, north of Sydney. They may have wanted a memorable holiday snap, but ended up with rather more than they bargained for.

One news report described how the "cute and cuddly" animals had begun "viciously attacking people".

Is that really fair on the kangaroos? Of all the adjectives you could use to describe an animal that is territorial, fiercely maternal and has large claws, "cuddly" is pretty far down the list.

The problem with that description of the incident is that it suggests that the kangaroos were to blame for the injuries. In reality, it was the fault of the people getting too close and offering them the wrong food. Having become so used to being handed carrots, we can hardly blame the kangaroos for being "hopped up", as the news coverage punningly put it.

In India, another recent case ended in tragedy when a man attempted to take a selfie with a bear. The man reportedly turned his back on the bear and was then mauled to death.

World’s first different-sex Francois' leaf monkey twins debut in China
A pair of Francois' leaf monkeys made their public debut on Sunday at Guangzhou's Chimelong Safari Park in south China’s Guangdong Province.

According to the zoo, the pair is the first set of different-sex Francois' leaf twins ever born in captivity.

Currently, there are a total of 14 Francois' leaf monkeys living in the park. Xiao Xiao, their mother, gave birth to the pair in April. The babies were born with bright orange fur which will turn black within two to three months, reports Chinese news portal China News.

Maritime Aquarium Eliminates Nearly All Single-Use Plastics
As a leader in Long Island Sound and ocean conservation, the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is doing its part for the environment by significantly reducing its employ of single-use plastics.

According to a news release, gone from the aquarium's cafeteria and theater concessions stand are all drinking straws. Guests now have the option of boxed water or beverages in glass and aluminum containers, instead of in plastic bottles.

Additionally, plastic silverware, coffee lids and food containers have been replaced by biodegradable substitutes. In the Aquarium's gift shop, plush animals no longer are stuffed with plastic beads, toys no longer have cellophane wrapping and purchases no longer go into plastic bags.

"Plastics are pervasive in the consumer wo


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About me
After more than 50 years working in private, commercial and National zoos in the capacity of keeper, head keeper and curator Peter Dickinson started to travel. He sold house and all his possessions and hit the road. He has traveled extensively in Turkey, Southern India and much of South East Asia before settling in Thailand. In his travels he has visited well over 200 zoos and many more before 'hitting the road' and writes about these in his blog

Peter earns his living as an independent international zoo consultant, critic and writer. Currently working as Curator of Penguins in Ski Dubai. United Arab Emirates. He describes himself as an itinerant zoo keeper, one time zoo inspector, a dreamer, a traveler, an introvert, a people watcher, a lover, a thinker, a cosmopolitan, a writer, a hedonist, an explorer, a pantheist, a gastronome, sometime fool, a good friend to some and a pain in the butt to others.

"These are the best days of my life"

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant
+971 50 4787 122 | | Skype: peter.dickinson48